Oh boy. I've been dreading typing this up. Because it takes so much time. And I'll look like a whinger (I am). On the other hand, companies often ignore you until you go public with your problems. The suddenly it all gets fixed. I've found this many times with other websites I write for. I proved it again recently when Lulu ignored a long-term issue: as soon as I did a blog post and pointed them to it someone got on the case, and the issue was fixed. I literally sigh to myself that you have to do it this way. Big companies are always the worst. The answer is to support the small companies, where customer service comes from someone who cares, rather than being a branching script that ends by looping back to the top! Okay, on with the epic saga. I shall call this one "Sigeon Fighting The Great Amazonian Fire-breathing Beast". And so, back in the mists of time...
Sunday 12th May
Well, quite recently, actually. I was given a Kindle Fire HD. "Goody! I can do all sorts of fun things with this! Photos. Video. Games. Email on the move. E-books. Even testing my own e-books work properly. Exciting!"
I played around with it before I tried to connect it to wi-fi. And found out the first very surprising thing, and a warning to anyone thinking of buying a Kindle Fire - a lot of the functions and apps only work when you are online. I'm used to Android and its semi-open nature. On my smartphone I can run apps without being online, apart from those that obviously require it. However, Amazon has fiddled with Android for this device. They've taken away much of the Android openness, and also tied it in to their own store (so you can't install Google Play apps on this Android device). And every one of the games and apps I tried wouldn't work, because I wasn't online. What a pile of crud! It's built so that if you take it on the train a chunk of the fun apps won't even work. So much for being useful.
I decided I'd take it online and see if my first disappointment would be overcome. And thus began the real saga. It wouldn't connect. Now I know my basics. I set up my wi-fi network. By default I use a 64 bit WEP key and only give access to devices with registered MAC addresses. I know what channel I use, and what mode. But the Kindle wouldn't connect. Even stranger, its MAC address wasn't showing up on my router as a device trying to connect, as if it was sending out no signal. Oh well, I turned off access control on my router. Still no joy. It was always 'Authentication failed' or 'password is not accepted' displayed on the Kindle screen. I read up on this online - it is a common problem. I followed the suggestions. I turned my router off and on again twice (once for 10 mins, once overnight). I restarted the Kindle Fire many times. I did a full factory reset once. I tried changing wi-fi channel. I even turned off WEP security completely, leaving an unsecured network. And the Kindle Fire still couldn't connect, which means it isn't the WEP key that is the problem because there was no password to enter. The Kindle couldn't talk to my network. That took a whole evening. Oh joy. I love spending my evenings with faulty hardware.
The next evening (Monday 13th) I used Amazon online chat support. Was told to do all the things I'd tried - again. Obviously it didn't work this time either. In the end I was told to try it on a different network.
Tuesday 14th May. I tried it on two networks. The Kindle Fire wouldn't connect to either of them. In one case I got technical support from an IT professional. They agreed with me - the device wasn't sending out any signals. It wasn't showing up in logs. It was obviously faulty.
That evening I went back to Amazon online customer support chat. Had to explain the issue all over again, and everything I'd tried. At which point I was told: "I've checked your previous conversation. Have you tried performing a factory reset on your device?"
Hello? The previous conversation showed that I had done this more than once already! I was asked to repeat other details, then eventually told that this had to go to another department. They would ring me up in a few minutes. And fair play, they did do that, though it was automated at first and I had a long wait just sat there listening to crappy music until someone at amazon picked up the line. And then I was told to try things I'd already tried multiple times... Another evening wasted.
This was followed by an email saying "our technical team to research this case and look for a solution".
Reassuring eh? I waited.
Monday 20th May
I still hadn't heard anything back from Amazon. I replied to the email I'd received the week below. I was told to use live chat.
You know what I hate about that? There is no quick link to it. You have to go through various help options, fill in forms, select boxes on the Amazon site just to get to the chat option. It's hidden behind menus, which is a faff.
I went through this hoopla again. Then I was told that the technical team had no updates. I pointed out that it was the technical team who had told me to contact live chat! At which point the Amazon staff member started to make me go through all the same things, try and connect to wi-fi again etc. It was just wasting my time repeating procedures done again and again already with a device that could not connect because it was faulty!
I was getting quite frustrated by now. Once I was asked to do something yet again, I said "I have done that already, every time. Probably about 20 -25 times by now. We would 'forget network', then try to reconnect. Triple checked passwords each time; even disabled passwords completely. Tried on various networks."
The response was to try it again and see if it works this time... Against my better judgement I did so. Three more times, as requested. Then I disabled all passwords and access control on my router, again. As requested. Then I tried to connect, again. As requested. The device still said "Authentication failed" even when there was no authentication. It was not showing up as trying to connect on the router. I said to the Amazon staff member: "Please, this is really wasting my time. We have done all this! The device cannot connect to a network and isn't sending out a signal. I've got to go. This is very frustrating. We've tried everything. Please can I be told how to get the thing looked at/repaired so it can be used."
Another chunk of an evening wasted.
I got an email from Amazon:
"I'm really sorry to learn that you are unable to connect wifi to the kindle device. Even after trying all the steps it didn't helped. I suggest you to once again, follow below steps to connect kindle fire device to wifi by following below steps:"
I skipped pages of information telling me to try the things we'd done a ton of times. At the end it asked for the logs from the device and the answers to some questions I'd already answered. I dutifully followed the procedure. Sent the logs and the information.
Tuesday 21st May
Update: later the same day
I went to online chat. Pasted in this link. The response was: "I'm sorry I'm not authorized to view the above link."
This feeling is akin to hitting your head against a brick wall.
Update: 14th June 2013
I had passed all the details on to Amazon Customer Support again, by chat and various email addresses. They have my contact details. Guess what? No response at all. They've just ignored it. Formal complaint time next.
This is pretty much the worst Customer Service I've ever come across!
Update: 19th June 2013
On 14th I wrote to Elaine O'Toole, Senior Manager of Amazon.co.uk Digital Customer Services. No reply or even acknowledgement yet.
Update: 21st June 2013
All resolved now. Seán Murphy of Amazon Executive Customer Relations has replaced the faulty Kindle. Once he was involved it went very smoothly and I should get the new one very soon. I have returned the faulty one and am happy again. The downside is, I will probably spend even more on Kindle books now that I have a Kindle (I already bought some books to read on my smartphone, especially those from fellow indie authors). Faith in things is restored again now. Have a lovely weekend everyone!