I Broke My Kindle, But Amazon is Amazing

When I turned on my Kindle before going to bed last night my heart sank when I saw the screen wouldn’t redraw properly and that my screen was probably broken. Yesterday my Kindle was involved in an unfortunate accident. I take full blame for what happened. I called Amazon’s customer service today to see what they might be able to do for me even though the broken Kindle was my fault. The problem was certainly not a manufacturing error but an error on my part.

First Customer Service Rep

Kindle 3The rep on the phone took the information about my device and what happened. I told her that the Kindle was in a box that got hit by a large object. The Kindle was the only thing in the box that was damaged (thankfully my computer survived) and there was no physical evidence that the device was harmed in any way other than the screen would not redraw.

The kind rep (who spoke fairly good English) said that Amazon would allow me to buy a replacement device for $65 (which is 1/2 the price of a new Kindle Keyboard with the same features). To me that was more than fair since I am the one who broke the Kindle. It was not a manufacturing flaw in any way. However, I don’t have $65 at the moment and told her that. She said it would be flagged in my account if I wanted to buy a replacement at any point in the future I could get the reduced price.

Amazon was more than fair and the story should have ended there.

Second Customer Service Rep

However, I searched my account and found out that my device was out of warranty by 5 days. Certainly that should not make a difference. They had no obligation to do anything for me, yet they offered me a 50% discount on a new unit. But…seeing that it was only 5 days out of warranty, I wondered if it would make any difference if I pointed out to them that the warranty just expired (knowing full well that even under warranty my mistake should not be covered).

I jumped back onto the Amazon site and, instead of calling this time, I used the live chat feature. I quickly explained my scenario to the rep. Upfront I told him that I thought Amazon was more than fair to offer a new Kindle for 1/2 price and that the problem was one that I caused. At no point did I try to hide the fact from them that I was at fault. Then I asked him if it would make any difference if my Kindle was still under warranty. Without answering my question he asked me to do a couple of tests on the device to determine if it was really broken (if he could see it he wouldn’t question its brokenness). I patronized him.

I then said that I knew Amazon had no obligation to replace the device and that 50% reduction for a new Kindle was more than generous. But I also knew that Amazon was a kind and thoughtful company. Would they consider replacing the unit for me.

My Pleasant Surprise

Without hesitation the rep said he would send me a new one. He just needed a few bits of information to proceed. I excitedly provided the info he needed and he told me that a unit would be delivered by Monday. I got an email from Amazon later in the day today (Thursday) telling me that my new Kindle had shipped and that it would be delivered at my house tomorrow (Friday before the proposed Monday delivery).

Amazon is amazing!

Will they do this for you? I don’t know, but if you have a broken Kindle it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask. I think the biggest thing in my favor was that I didn’t demand anything from them and I didn’t try to pretend that the screen just broke on its own.

A Bicycle Tire Miracle?

I had to change a bicycle tube last week because I got a piece of glass in it. After patching it, I unknowingly pinched the tube and tore a big gash in it. I could not patch it because of the size and position of the pinch. Fortunately I had an older tube that is the wrong size, but was still in good condition. It worked for a few days, but then started loosing air. It was not a fast leak, but would be flat overnight. I decided to get another tube of the right size instead of trying to patch it.

A couple of days ago I stopped into the bike shop around the corner from our house and bought a tube. I did not get a chance to install it until yesterday. I asked for a 26″ tube, but they gave me a 28″ one. Frustrating, but no big deal. I had my son take the tube back to the bike shop to exchange it. He came home again with a different tube, but it too was 28″.

I have had an up and down relationship with this bike shop. While they are convenient and have fair prices, they tend to do these types of things. They have no attention to detail. My 86-year-old bicycle friend, Victor, has great respect for the man who started that bike shop. But now the shop is run by the man’s son and Victor has trouble finding anything nice to say about the shop. I would go to Victor to get my supplies, but he never lets me pay for anything. I feel like I am robbing from a good friend if I get parts from him.

So I sent my son back to the shop with the second wrong tube and asked him to exchange it again. He came back with a 26″ tube. Great! Almost. It was now the wrong diameter. It was time for me to go to the shop and get the right size.

Turns out they didn’t have the size tube I wanted. Wouldn’t have one for a couple of days. But they didn’t think that telling my son that information was important. I need my bike most over the weekend. Waiting until Monday was not something I could do. I asked them for my money back. He gave me most of it. I wasn’t willing to lose my temper and testimony over $1, so I let him keep that. I went to another bike shop near the house. They only sell high-end racing bike parts and did not have a tube that would fit my bike.

So I went back home and put my bike together with a tube that did not fit right. This is the tube that would lose air overnight.

By the way, for you bike geeks, I also rebuilt my rear hub with new cones and bearings while I was at it.

Last night when I went to bed the tire was still holding air. This morning it was still well inflated. This evening it was still holding air. Is this a bike tire miracle?

Though I have been tempted to abandon the local bike shop many times, I think this was the last straw. They just don’t seem to care about the customer. They only want to sell parts. If a shop doesn’t care about me, then I have trouble caring about them.

In contrast, the hardware store near the bike shop has all my respect and business. One time I was in there and they didn’t have enough change for me. They told me I could pay them the next time I was in, even if it took a few days. A couple of weeks ago I sent my son to buy some nuts, bolts and washers. Because I only needed 5 of each, they gave them to my son for free. While I can easily pay $3 for the hardware I need, they are a business that understands $3 is a small price to pay to have a loyal and faithful customer.

The next closest place I know about to buy tires, tubes and parts for my bike is about 3 miles away. Even though they are further away, I have always gotten exactly what I asked for. I guess they will get more of my business in the future.

New tires for the bikes

tiresMy wife was in desperate need of new tires. When you buy a used bike you don’t always get a good set of tires. We got a good price on it anyway. It really is a nice bike for getting to and from the store. However, the tires were really bad. We have been using the bikes as our primary transportation for the last month, and even more so recently as we have gotten used to where things are and how to get there.

She needed tires and I have been wanting narrower tires for my bike. Her’s is a “beach cruiser” style bike; a single speed bike that you sit up-right on and has fatter, mountain-bike style, tires. Mine is a mountain bike with 18 speeds, of which I generally only use 4. I had fairly good used tires on mine (it was a used bike too), but wanted the narrower tires for lower rolling resistance. I picked out the tires I wanted at the bike shop, but he only had one. He ordered a set for me on Tuesday which were to be ready for pick-up on Thursday. I knew that meant that it might not be until sometime next week before I got the tires, but at least they were on order. When I stopped by the shop on Friday morning the tires were not there yet. I had not planned to go back to check on them until Saturday, but ended up having to buy a new tube later on Friday afternoon. I was pleased to find that my new tires had arrived by then.

The reason I needed a tube that afternoon was that my wife’s front tire was so bad that the tube protruded out of one of the holes and got punctured. I patched the hole in the tube, but when putting it back together I broke the valve stem. That tube already had 3 patches in it. It had served its time.

A simple 45 minute job of removing her tires and transferring mine onto her bike while installing the new tires on my wheels ended up taking 2.5 hours. On top of that I managed to puncture one tube so badly that it needed 3 patches! I also broke another valve stem, but was ultimately able to salvage it.

The narrower tires roll better and will be much faster with less effort. There are downsides to the skinnier tires though. The ride is smoother on smooth roads, but much rougher on rough roads. Any linear crack in the road (going the same direction as I) tends to suck the tires in and makes it harder to control the bike. Those were things I knew and was prepared for since I have done my time switching between a road bike and a mountain bike back home. What was a funny surprise though is that the new tires make my bike considerably shorter. My kickstand is now too long!

Cold Cokes cost more than warm ones

On our way to church to take our son to a youth activity we stopped at a corner grocery store to pick up a Coke. We were in a hurry since the bus was to leave in 5 minutes (it really left 40 minutes late, but not because they were waiting on us). I ran into the store and saw a display of 2 liter Cokes. I grabbed one and took it up to the check out counter. And waited. And waited. And finally the clerk finished talking on his cell phone and came in to let me pay.

Frozen CokeWhen he punched up the price on his calculator he put in $6.70 (Argentine Pesos). I would not have cared most of the time, but I happened to notice that the price was $6.40 when I picked up the bottle. I didn’t want to let him get by with charging me too much. What if I had to go in there again? Would I stand for him charging me more for every purchase? I decided to nip it in the bud and pointed out to him that the price was $6.40 on the display.

He said, “That is the price for the warm ones, not the ones from the cooler.”

Most of the little stores I have been in charge more if you buy a drink already cold. It makes a little sense because they are paying for the electricity to cool it down for you.

“But, I didn’t get it from the cooler. I got it off the display.”

He said that it was cold; therefore, it had to have come out of the cooler. I told him that was fine, I would take the Coke back to the display and swap it out for another one so he could see I got it from the unrefrigerated display. I grabbed another one and handed it to him. He thought it was too cold too. So he went to the display and dug through the bottles until he found a hot one and shoved the 2 that I had already tried to buy into the cooler.

Did I mention that it was 54 degrees and all the windows and doors were open at the store? Everything was cold in there! But he managed to find one that made him feel better about loosing a little profit.

I didn’t care. I was going to put the Coke on a bus and let it sit there for 3 hours before consumption. It would be the same temperature as the outside air by the time they drank it, which ended up only being 57 degrees for the day.

Orderly Chaos

Yesterday my wife and I were part of the craziness that is Black Friday. We went to Target to get a hard drive for a great price. We arrived a couple of minutes after 5:00 and the parking lot was full. There was a line that people were voluntarily stepping into and filing orderly into the store. There were no police officers and no one yelling and screaming. I knew right then that we were no longer in Mexico.

This video was taken at about 10 minutes after the store was to have opened. There were already people leaving the store when we got in line. That makes me think that they opened early. There were no hard drives left. They had a space for the drives that could not have held more than 10 drives to start with. I ran across the street to Wal-Mart while my wife paid for a couple of items. At Wal-Mart I found the drives in a stack of about 80. They had plenty of them. They price-matched Target and I got a good deal.

People bash Wal-Mart all the time, but all in all I think they are doing many things right.