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International Kindle users: here's how Amazon is screwing you

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I am the proud owner of a brand-spanking-new WiFi-only Kindle. The coveted device is currently en route, and I can't wait to be reading off its crisp E-Ink screen in all of its greyscale glory.

Since I'm so anxious to start using it, I decided to get a head start on building up my electronic library. I decided to start with the classics – for example, Moby Dick. Yes, I know it's available for free online, but this edition is typeset for the Kindle so I figured it must be worth the modest sum Amazon asks for it ($2.95, as you see in the screenshot above).

When I sent the link to my friend, who has an Amazon account with a Canadian billing address, we were amazed to discover that Amazon list the same exact item at $0.95 when she's looking at it.

This two-dollar difference holds across the boards – for all Kindle titles. It is most noticeable on the cheap ones (for Moby Dick, it's actually a 200% markup!), but it's there also for the more expensive ones.

Next to the jacked-up price, it says "International shipping included". In plain English, this means "roaming charges for 3G". Okay ... but:

1) Amazon constantly touts its 3G kindle as "Free 3G" – here, it's right in the product name – Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6" Display, Graphite, 3G Works Globally - Latest Generation!

2) I bought a WiFi-only device. So even if international 3G users do have to pay some sort of a roaming charge (which is very underhanded in itself), surely there should no be such charge for WiFi-only users!

Thinking this must be some mistake, I called Amazon up (Thanks, GetHuman.com).


The first service rep I got gave me an optimistic prediction – she said they could probably fix this, and she's putting me through to the Kindle department. Great.

That's where the "nice" part of the call ended, pretty much. Upon holding for another five minutes, I finally got to the Kindle department. There, the rep told me that the price mark-up is due to roaming charges. I patiently explained that my device is technically incapable of incurring any roaming charges, since it's WiFi only.

The rep said, "yes, I understand it is WiFi only, but there are roaming charges because AT&T is the service provider". Upon which I proceeded to explain yet again that I do not have a 3G chip in my device, physically. This intelligent exchange went on for a few minutes, until I finally asked to speak to her manager.

Upon getting the team leader, he basically told me the same thing. I would be required to pay for a roaming charge, even though Amazon advertises its 3G as free and that my device is WiFi only.

I then emailed them to kindle-feedback@amazon.com, and got the same exact reply. I am attaching the complete exchange below, just so you see how much Amazon (doesn't) care about this at the moment.

Bottom line: International Kindle users, caveat emptor. Amazon is basically charging you for services you're not using, don't want to use, and explicitly opted out of, and it can come to a 200% markup for some books. Way to go, Amazon!

Email exchange follows:


-- Original message: --

Hello,

I have recently purchased a WiFi-only Kindle.

I am located in Israel, and was amazed to discover all Kindle titles cost $2.00 extra for my account, as compared with an account that has a Canadian billing address.

Upon calling Amazon, I discovered that this is due to 3G roaming charges. That would make sense, only my Kindle does not support 3G at all (It's the WiFi-only model, as I said).

Thus, Amazon is effectively charging me $2.00 extra per each book, for service it is not delivering (and which I explicitly opted out from, by ordering a WiFi-only device).

Will this be remedied? If so, when?

I would appreciate a prompt response as I intend to cover this for AOL's Download Squad within the coming week, and would like to have a complete picture.

Best regards, Erez Zukerman, DownloadSquad.com


Hello, Thanks for writing about the pricing of Kindle content for International Customers.

All items available in the Kindle Store are listed in U.S. dollars (USD), and the availability and pricing of titles from the Kindle Store varies by your home country or region.

Availability and pricing of titles from the Kindle Store varies by your country or region. If you're browsing in the Kindle Store and the country or region displayed doesn't match your actual home country or region, you may see a different price during checkout that is specific to your home country or region.

You'll also find helpful information on our Using Kindle If You Live Outside the United States Help page (http://www.amazon.com/kindleinternationalsupport).

Customer feedback like yours helps us continue to improve the service we provide, and we're glad you took time to write to us. The Kindle Team will carefully review your comments.

I hope this information helps. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

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Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.

To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.

Best regards,

Aditya M Amazon.com Your feedback is helping us build Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company. http://www.amazon.com/your-account

Tags: 3g, amazon, customer service, CustomerService, honesty, kindle, service, whispernet, wifi

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