/ Technology

Frozen Amazon Kindle screens – reading between the lines

Amazon Kindle

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.

jeffry says:
20 June 2014

Just for the record…Amazon do not do a repair service at all. You cant send your kindle in to them to fix it and send it back. If the kindle is duff, they will replace it

Megan from PA says:
26 June 2014

I am on my 3rd kindle. It is two weeks old. Just tried to do a little reading and found the screen partially frozen. Same problem as the other two kindles. Very annoying.

kezzie says:
24 July 2014

my kindle is two and a half years old but i have hardly ever used it, i got it out of its case yesterday for the 1st time in about 6 months, charged it, and one quarter of the screen is frozen on the screensaver. i suppose that means i may as well throw it in the bin as i am not going to get any free replacement after all this time. i have probably read about 10 books on it, not impressed!

tabletoni says:
29 August 2014

I had the same problem with my kindle: partially frozen screen after some months out of warranty. I think Amazon is not offering a good product and I’m going to acquire another manufacturer e-reader, probably Sony.
Bye bye Amazon

@tabletoni – I believe you will find that, despite how good they are, and mine is now over six years old and in full working order, except that the battery seems now to need more frequent charging, Sony are ceasing production.


Barbara says:
20 September 2014

I have had similar problems with my kindle. I am on my third kindle and my screen froze. What confidence do I have in buying a new one. They don’t last. I work in an area where I have seen other people who have been on their second and third kindle. I think I might look elsewhere until they get the problem resolved.

Diane says:
3 October 2014

I’ve had my kindle paperwhite (£69) for 2 years and a couple of months ago the screen suddenly froze with a quarter of it permanently showing part of the screensaver. As it was over its one year warranty I assumed there was nothing I could do as they don’t seem repairable. However I decided to google this problem and came across a blog by a Japanese girl whose kindle was also out of warranty and had suffered a cracked screen. She basically told Amazon that she was aware of other people who had their kindles replaced free of charge and she required the same service (basically asking why all customers were not treated the same). So, I went on ‘chat’ with Amazon today to at least try and I was given the same spiel about it being out of warranty but they could offer me a ‘deal’ on a replacement. I said I wasn’t willing to pay anything towards a replacement and as this was a well known problem with kindles then why would I pay to risk this happening again. I said I had friends and colleagues who had suffered the same issue and they received free replacements therefore I require the same service. The advisor spoke to a supervisor and came back saying as I was a valued customer they would replace my kindle free of charge in this instance. I have now received an email confirming this and I am due to receive it next week. All I need to do is return my faulty kindle which I am happy to do as it is useless to me. You just need to be polite but firm and be confident in what you are saying. I don’t like talking on the telephone to these type of places so found the ‘chat’ service ideal. The advisor was helpful and professional and I made sure I took their name and the supervisor’s who authorised the replacement. I definitely would recommend this approach first before buying something else or like I nearly did, just assume it wouldn’t be replaced free of charge.

My experience has been the same as yours … except that I am on my fourth Kindle in as many years. Always the same frozen screen problem. You are absolutely right — be polite, be firm, be persistent, don’t get angry, and they will eventually replace the item for free. The “valued customer” bit may be relevant in these cases. I spend hundreds of pounds a year on books & ebooks DVDs & electrical stuff via Amazon — I wonder if they are more helpful to high-spenders than others?
PS After the first two times they dropped the “I’ve never heard of this happening before” and “this must be a one-in-a-million fault” line employed by “surprised” customer service staff!

Gabi says:
7 October 2014

I bought my kindle in February 2013 so I’m a few months outside the warranty period. Today the on/off button stopped working, although it has been sitting in my handbag by my desk at work all day, so has not been subject to any rough treatment since I last used it. The only way I can switch it on is to plug it into my laptop, but then I can’t switch it off, or back on again when it turns off automatically, unless I have a computer handy. Upon phoning Amazon, we did some tests over the phone and they said it was a hardware problem, and that because it was outside the warranty period, but I am a “good amazon customer” they would offer me a new kindle with a discount, which would cost £68. I asked about simply repairing my existing kindle (which I’d be perfectly happy to pay for), as it could easily be a duff circuit or wire and would be a much cheaper solution, and they said they don’t offer repair services. From trawling the internet, neither does anyone else, except for a few dodgy looking websites. Amazon know they’ve got a virtual monopoly on eReaders, so they know if people want the product they’ll have no choice but to cough up for new ones rather than repairing the existing products. Have to say though, one year’s warranty is pretty short for such an expensive product.

I really do think it is time Amazon increased its warranty to at least 3 years. I am on my 3rd kindle. My first froze after 4 months and was replaced free of charge without quibble by Amazon. My second stopped working after just over 3 years. I saw no point in trying to negotiate with Amazon on this occasion. I considered just reading my books on iPad, phone or laptop but found this to be less comfortable than reading on the kindle. Also, I was quite keen to try the paperwhite version. I managed to buy one with £10 off at my local store who also gave me a discount on a 3yr extended warranty. I don’t usually buy extended warranties but with my track record decided on this occasion it might just be worth it. I am still not happy that Amazon is selling products that they clearly do not expect to last longer than 1 year. Even given our throw away society with regard to technology most people’s phones last 2years and – certainly in my case – get far more use. Come on Which? You have the power to fight for us.

Maureen says:
16 October 2014

I have a kindle keyboard, bought for me 3 years ago. I too have had a frozen screen, but was able to fix it by sliding and holding the on/off button. I have now had a frozen screen again, performed the ‘fix it’ method, however, as it rebooted, all my books had disappeared and then started to reload. I was then able to read a few more pages before the same thing happened again, and again…etc.
Amazon weren’t able to help, other than to offer a refurbished kindle or to purchase a new one.
As my kindle is all but useless, I thought there may be instructions online for repairing it, I probable can’t make it worse, except I don’t know if it’s the battery, screen or whatever. I do know that YouTube has various video instructions for removing the back and replacing said items. So if anyone who has a kindle that isn’t working, with an idea of what’s wrong, help is out there, if you’ve an inclination to ‘tinker’.

My kindle fire hdx screen starters flickering at 10 months old,had it replaced by amazon with a refurbished item,not told it would be refurbished,thought it would be new.this had same problem,which I now find out is quite common,from first switching on.amazon have offered a replacement but cannot say wether it will be new or refurbished,or up to 80% refund?still within original guaranty.is this legal.

Had a Kindle for about 3 years before the screen froze and then the replacement one’s screen froze exactly 5 weeks after the guarantee ran out. My husband’s Kindle froze just before the guarantee ran out and he was able to replace it free of charge however I have just been offered the possibility of a new one or reading the books I have on other devices.

Pete Doyle says:
16 December 2014

I bought a kindle fire hd for my dad last Christmas as it worked fine up until last night the 15th December and then this morning it wouldn’t switch on. I charged the kindle and then tried to restart it and it won’t go passed the loading screen. This is four days out of warranty and know body wants to know with regards to fixing the problem.

Colin says:
9 January 2015

I’ve had 4 Kindles since Xmas 2010.The current kindles both failed in the last 3 weeks.The one that failed in December 2014had a faulty screen after going through a Geman airport security scanner(this machine was a 6 month old refurbished version supplied as a free replacement in June 2014)
The second Kindle to fail was a Kindle Touch which is frozen on the screen saver .This happened three days ago the Kindle is 29 months old.Amazons technical response on this one took 45 minutes on the phone and involved a hard reboot and re registration .The Kindles still frozen.
Neither machine now works and Amazon are only prepared to offer a discount on a refurbished paperwhite despite me escalating the problems.4 kindles in 4 years three with screen faults is too much,so two customers lost to Kindle

Lisa says:
25 January 2015

I’ve just had a screen issue with my Kindle Paperwhite which is only a couple of weeks out of warranty. Amazon refuse to accept that this is a known problem and only offer a replacement at a cost. Definitely would never buy a Kindle again. I can’t actually believe they can get away with selling these to be honest as they are definitely not fit for purpose.

Steve Hayes says:
28 May 2015

I thought electronic items had to have a TWO YEAR WARRANTY by law in the EU., in fact yes they do http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/ecc/consumer_topics/buying_goods_services_en.htm

So how Amazon think they can get away with saying the warranty is one year defeats me. I’m going to email Which directly after posting this

Alistair says:
15 September 2015

Yes, they’re just trying it on, I took several goes to get a refund.
Same frozen screen problem, they gave me a load of grief before I got my money back.

Julia says:
12 June 2015

I just phoned Kindle about my screen which sudently went one third blank while charging. They advised resetting it, and when that didn’t work they said they would replace it free of charge, which I’m pleased about as the device is about 30 months old.

Steven Williams says:
26 July 2015

My kindle keyboard has developed black lines on the screen recently – no screen damage, it’s been well looked after. The lines tend to blank out a complete line of any book and so make reading very difficult.
Research on the internet shows that this is a VERY common fault with all e-ink kindles, and also other makes of e-ink readers. It seems that I was lucky having had 3.5 years of use out of mine – many others seem to develop this fault just outside the warranty period. Other than change the screen there seems no way to resolve the issue.
I spoke with Amazon and they have offered a 10% discount of any new reader – which, I suppose, is a fair offer – but personally I would expect at least a 5 year life out of any ereader, after all, they cost enough given that the price difference between an ebook and print is so negligible.
When the Xbox 360 developed the notorious ‘red ring of death’, Microsoft offered a replacement unit even if outside the warranty period – given how widespread this particular Kindle fault is, perhaps Amazon should adopt a similar attitude.

yI had a similar conversation with amazon with a similar offer

I said not good enought, it’s unfair, I’ll see you in court and acadabra, chnge of attitude and foc replacement arrived 3 days later

colin hall says:
30 July 2015

I have had two kindles that have frozen so decided to buy a kobo reader and guess what it froze, recently borrowed my partners kindle only using it for a week and that has frozen,makes me think its something to do with me.

I’ve had a Kindle keyboard since December 2012, I’ve used it fairly regularly since then but always looked after it – it’s always been kept in a rigid case and I’ve never dropped it or mistreated it. It has now died on me after 3.5 years, won’t charge up, and all Amazon will do is offer me a few pounds off a new Kindle. I’m not sure I want to buy another – I’d rather get mine repaired, but that’s not an option. This seems like a crazy policy, I don’t want to add to the mountain of e-waste we currently have to deal with and of course I’d have to buy another cover too for a new device, yet more expense. If I can’t get it repaired, I’m considering whether to abandon e-readers – or to use my smartphone to read e-books … come on Amazon, we need repairable devices rather than just throw these things in the bin and buy new.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Hi, I purchased a kindle paperwhite in 2013 and loved it, but problems occurred just outside the warranty period. They replaced it ( with a reconditioned kindle) and this has now failed, frozen screen with battery charger image. I tried all the recommendations for restarting/ charging etc. and nothing has worked. Amazon have refused to replace it as it is outside the warranty period of my initial purchase. I did not know the initial replacement was a reconditioned model. I tried to explain that the device was not of saleable quality if it was faulty and I do not think that an electrical item should need to be replaced so often. Amazon were totally unhelpful. I want an e-reader that is a reasonable price but am reluctant to ‘throw good money after bad’ and have no confidence in the product.

This comment was removed at the request of the user