Amazon.com really knows how to treat its customers.
Although I've read a few dozen books on my Kindle by now, my use of it is erratic. I use it heavily for days or weeks at a time, then set it aside for a while to address the stack of paper books by my nightstand. (When Montalvo Systems shut down, I had two 2.5-foot stacks of unread books. After a long summer of unemployment, the unread stack is down to a mere five titles.)
Last Tuesday, I found an e-book I wanted to read, so I got out the Kindle and saw it was dead. (The battery lasts only a few days even if I'm not using it, which really isn't good enough.) I charged it overnight and moved the book onto the Kindle on Wednesday. Later that day when I wanted to read the book, I found the Kindle was out of juice already.
I charged it overnight again (with the radio off in case it was having some kind of issue), forgot about it Thursday and remembered it this morning. But it was dead again. I started it charging again before going out to a lunch interview. When I returned, I turned the unit on and just sort of kept an eye on it, pressing buttons occasionally to keep it mostly awake while doing some other work on my computer.
The battery ran down in less than two hours.
So I just went to the "Kindle Return Policies" page on Amazon and used the Request Call Back option. Within a few minutes, I was speaking with an Amazon rep. We discussed what I'd done and seen, and she decided it would be easiest to send me a new unit.
Since I was at my computer, she asked me to order a new Kindle from the Amazon Web site. As soon as it was in my cart, there was already a $359 credit in place, so the order was free. She changed the shipping to one-day delivery at her end, and the unit will be here Monday. I'm told it will come with a prepaid UPS label.
This really is the best Internet product return experience I've ever had. Seriously, how much easier could it be? I suppose Amazon could put a "RETURN ME" item on the Kindle's own main menu, but that wouldn't help in the usual situation where the Kindle itself is dead.
As much as I'm looking forward to better e-book readers in the future (see my post about the snazzy new prototype from Plastic Logic), this kind of service will make it more difficult for others to compete with the Kindle--just as the convenience of the Apple stores makes it tougher for anyone else to sell MP3 players against Apple's iPod.
If anything goes wrong with this Kindle replacement process, I'll be sure to say something about it here.