In Conclusion

I have heard from many people who use their debit card to purchase Amazon Prime. That is as it should be, in my opinion. Debit should be accepted like a credit card.

I didn’t jump to conclusions when I wrote my post. I spent over an hour with customer service trying to get it figured out. Two reps gave me the same information, telling me they do not accept debit for Prime. One was finally able to produce a link. Unfortunately, I can no longer find it. I don’t know if it has been removed or if I am looking on the wrong page. And that’s part of the problem. The information that I need is not readily available, nor is it always available to customer service.

It is too frustrating to deal with a website and wonder if there is a clause hidden on a page somewhere that is designed to take advantage of me. Just because I haven’t found it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. I bet I am not the only person who is uncomfortable with that thought.

For example, the bit about gift cards not being accepted for Prime is not available here. Nor is it available here. And if you, like my husband, went straight to the page to purchase a Kindle gift card,  you could even click the terms and conditions there and not see that information.

So this is why I am done. It’s not possible to know the fine print. It’s not possible to know which of the fine print they actually enforce. And it’s not as easy as contacting a customer service rep. They often don’t know. It’s big business. It’s bad business. And it’s not for me.

.And I’m not the only one who has had issues. Read here for story that may actually end up worse than mine.

For my regular readers, thanks for hanging in there with me! I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled silliness on Monday. I am hard at work on Volume II by popular demand. It should be finished later in the week.

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Attention Impulse Shoppers (and kids!), Amazon Wants YOU!

If you received a Kindle Fire that was purchased for the holidays, you may have until January 31 to return it. If you know someone who purchased one, especially if it was for a child, be sure to share this information with them, as there is a new policy that may be a deal breaker. I posted about my frustration about Amazon’s credit-card only policy. It stinks. But this one is scarier.

Now that lots of people have brought home that awesome Kindle Fire for the holidays, a brand new policy has been implemented. Downloading free apps now requires that users enter some form of payment. Of course, your account won’t be charge for the free stuff.  And it can even be a gift card, so long as it has a balance of at least $.01. But here’s the problem. This new policy means that users who would like to download free apps must activate 1-click payment.

What this means for parents is that the device you put in your kid’s hands would now be connected directly to a payment method without the added step of password protection. They click it, they buy it. And it bothers me.

The timing of this policy is interesting, I think. It wasn’t on their site three weeks ago when I was first considering returning my Fire. But with only two weeks left for holiday shoppers to return the goods, it has made its magical appearance. And I’m not okay with it. Yes, you can usually return the things that were bought on impulse or by accident, but dealing with customer service can sometimes take hours. And it can take several days for the money to be credited to your account again.

One of the concerns I initially had with the Fire was the 1-click payment. If you check reviews, some users experienced what amounted to identity theft when their device fell into the wrong hands and someone simply changed the shipping address and had a nice spree. Amazon did respond and create a way to disable 1-click. But now users will have to reactivate it if they would like to take advantage of free apps.

The important thing is for users to decide if this new policy is a deal-breaker. There are workarounds.  If you choose to keep the device, you can:

Purchase an Amazon gift card to connect to the account. I contacted Customer Service because the smallest increment I could find was $50. You can purchase cards for as little as $1, but you may have to contact customer service in order to do it. I couldn’t find a way through the normal links.

Disable 1-Click after you download the free apps you want.  This may be a hassle. You’ll have to reactivate it each time you find new apps you want to download.

But there’s not a lot of time to decide. There are only a couple of weeks left for holiday returns. Good luck.

Dear Amazon, You Can Have My Kindle Fire Back

Don’t get me wrong.  After a very rocky start, I came to love the device. It was my first gadget, and it took some getting used to, but I did enjoy it. I loved snuggling under the covers with Squish and watching an episode of Sesame Street, and hiding in the dark reading a good book. When I discovered that all seven seasons of Malcolm in the Middle were available free using Amazon Prime, I was hooked. But I’m letting it go.

My husband bought me the reader for my birthday, and I wanted to send it back within 12 hours. The device would not let me complete the steps to register it, and it was unable to connect to the internet. The Fire does not come with any instructions besides a simple illustration showing how to turn it on. The entire owner’s manual is contained on the Kindle itself, but sadly, I couldn’t access it without being able to register the device in the first place. I spent a Saturday on chat with customer service and discovered something totally fun. The software was obsolete right out of the box. And despite its $200 price tag, it does not come with a USB cable, so  couldn’t just upgrade to the new software. They had to ship me a new unit. And I had to front the money for shipping, though it was later refunded.

But when I finally got it working, it was great. For Christmas, my sweet bought me a cover and some accessories, but the big item was an Amazon gift card so that I could purchase a year of Amazon Prime and have access to my favorite old TV shows.

Today, I sat down and entered the card number into my account and tried to purchase Prime. Turns out, I can’t. I spent much time with customer service to discover that the only payment type they accept is a credit card. We follow the financial teachings of Dave Ramsey and cut up our credit cards years ago. We have no interest in going into debt. Pre-paid cards have fees of up to 18% attached. Besides, the money we would have used is tied up in a gift card that they say can’t refund.

Legally, Amazon is probably covered. Even though their gift-card page does NOT list Amazon Prime under “limitations,” and even though it took even the customer service rep about 5 minutes to find it, there’s a clause buried on the Prime page requiring a credit card. They have me. And my money.

Without Prime, there’s no reason to have the Fire. I’m not a gamer, so the apps are not my thing. We don’t have cable. We wanted to stream shows. If I can’t do that, I don’t need the extra features of the Fire. I can get a different reader for less. So the Fire is going back. I spent my afternoon on e-chat with customer service reps and got everything I need. I’m heading off to print the shipping labels in just a few minutes.

Here’s the kicker. I don’t get a refund. They credit to my account. Apparently, I missed my window to send the device back for an actual refund. So I can’t vote down a crummy policy with my dollars and go elsewhere. This time. Once I’ve used all my credit, I’m finished with Amazon.

Amazon, if you are listening, here are my biggest complaints.

A customer should be able to purchase a product if they have actual money. And if we cannot purchase what we would like with the money we give you, we should be able to get it back to spend elsewhere.

When your customers show great patience with a poor product, treat them better. I put up with a lot over the first several days of owning this stupid device. I spent hours of my time working with customer service, had to make a trip to find a UPS store to ship it back, wondered if I had made a mistake in getting it to begin with. And now you won’t let me use the money I have spent.

There is no way to get in touch with a person with any authority.  Customer service is limited to a person in a cubicle. Those people have been fabulous and so kind, please don’t get me wrong. But their hands are tied. The only thing they can offer is empathy and a promise to “forward on the feedback.” Not good enough for me.

I am reduced to one tiny voice in the great clamor. And it’s unfortunate. My dollars won’t make a bit of difference to Amazon.

But my kids see. They see that being debt-free is way more important to us than a stupid electronic device that will be out-of-date before Squish is old enough to start school. They will see that when a business treats them like they are nothing, there are plenty of other companies to do business with.

.

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UPDATE: I have heard from  many people who have shared that they paid for Amazon Prime with their debit card. And I think that is how it should be.  I don’t know if this means that the policy is different from actual practice, or if it is a new policy. Interestingly, as I look for it this morning to take a screen shot, I cannot find it. Is it because they have now removed that clause? Is it because I have looked on the wrong page? No way of knowing.

I just wanted my readers to know that I didn’t jump to conclusions before I published this post. I spent an hour or more with customer service on this very issue, and they insisted that the only way to pay is with an actual credit card, not a debit. They were finally able to chase down a link where the information was posted. I now wish I had taken a screen shot of that one.

In the end, it’s too frustrating. If I have a question about policy and can’t find it on the website and their customer service reps can’t tell me, I really need to take my business elsewhere. I can’t always wonder if there is some clause buried somewhere on their site that is designed to stick it to the consumer. It’s not worth it. I don’t need stuff that much.

To those who have taken the time to read all of this, I say thanks. It’s a lot of information.

It’s Sunday, and I am now closing this post for comments, as I’d like to encourage visitors to read the update. If you’d like to comment and have read the update, the place to leave a comment is here.

Call of Duty: Black Friday Ops

Dear Amazon,

Thanks for being all warm and cozy and providing me with endless cups of coffee and a dog to pet while I do all of my Christmas shopping. Oh, wait. That’s right. That’s my living room. A month ago. So I didn’t have to stand in the freezing-cold dark waiting for some soulless big-box store to open. Bless your soulless little free-shipping heart! Not only do I avoid the cold and the crowds, but by shopping at home, I’ve got a less than 10% chance of being pepper-sprayed by some psycho. Yes, Phoebe’s got designs on my leftover turkey, but as she lacks both opposable thumbs and the intelligence to even pick my husband out of a lineup if he’s wearing a hat, the odds are still in my favor.

TURKEY! I will cut you for some turkey! Wait...do I know you? My apologies.

 

 

Happy Black Friday!

Love, Me