Kindle ebook readers are incredibly popular and regularly do well in Which? lab tests, but some users have reported reliability problems. Frozen screens are most common – has your Kindle’s screen broken?
The new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite goes on sale tomorrow, and unless you’ve pre-ordered, you’ll be lucky to get your hands on one before the end of November. And it’s not just the new model that’s proving popular – last Christmas more than 1.3m ebook readers were bought as presents, 92% of which were Kindles.
Aside from this week’s gaff where Amazon wiped ebooks from a Norwegian woman’s Kindle, it’s easy to understand why they’re so popular. You can carry thousands of books on a device that weighs little more than a mobile phone, and all instantly downloaded from Amazon’s store.
‘All is not well in the land of Kindle’
Kindles also do very well in our lab tests, but a number of owners have told us that their devices haven’t been as reliable as they’d expect. Willispi228’s user review features one of the most common complaints – a frozen screen:
‘After first being very impressed and delighted, I have now to report that all is not well in the land of Kindle. My Kindle screen developed a problem all on its own – switched it off one night and when I picked it up the next day, the screen had partially frozen.’
Amazon provides a 12 month manufacturer’s warranty and will replace or repair faulty Kindles during this period. However, some owners told us that their problems began shortly after their warranties had run out. Although Amazon usually agrees to replace these faulty devices, owners have typically had to pay £40-50 for a refurbished model. And these ‘new’ devices only come with a three month warranty. David Bradshaw’s Kindle user review picks up on this:
‘I am now on my third one of these. On the first one, the screen failed within the warranty period and it was replaced for free. The second one failed outside the warranty, and I was charged a “special fee” of £50 for the replacement.’
What about the Sale of Goods Act?
So, although these Kindles are outside of their warranty period, can’t you just rely on the Sale of Goods Act (SOGA)?
In April this year our Computing team investigated the case of Anne. Her son’s Kindle had failed just three weeks after the warranty had expired. Since you’d expect an e-reader to last more than 13 months, we suggested Anne made a claim to the retailer (in this case the retailer was Amazon itself) under SOGA, which should entitle her to a repair at no extra cost.
Instead, Amazon offered Anne a replacement Kindle, but asked for £40 to cover the use her son had had out of the old one. Amazon is entitled to do this.
We’re investigating these alleged reliability issues and have conducted a major survey of over 1,200 Kindle owners to find out how widespread this problem might be – we’ll report our findings in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you have experienced any problems with your Kindle please share your stories below, including how Amazon dealt with your complaint.