The cloud of invisible information that surrounds is is a wonderful thing, but there are dangers as well. Brandon ordered a Kindle as a gift for his girlfriend, and upgraded to one-day shipping, but the package went astray. Amazon overnighted a new Kindle and things were glorious…until Brandon started receiving purchase confirmations of Kindle apps and content using his credit card and e-mail address. His girlfriend wasn’t making the purchases. So who was?
Last week I placed an order on Amazon which I use frequently like most of the universe for various purchases. I was ordering the Kindle as a gift for my girlfriend. Wanting to expedite the process, I decided to pay for the one day shipping for only $15. The next day I watched as the tracking info never updated. This isn’t uncommon for quick deliveries because often the package arrives before the systems know what’s going on. When it didn’t arrive that day, I was disappointed, but understand things happen.
Knowing Amazon usually has exceptional customer service; I called up rather late at night (10:30pm EST) and spoke to a friendly agent. She refunded me my $15 for shipping and explained to me the package seemed to hit a snag at some point and it would arrive within the next two days. Again, I was irritated by the delay but understand things happen and went on with my life.
Two days go by and the package still does not show up. Now frustrated one notch higher than I was before, I called up customer service again. This customer service agent again was very friendly, but explained the Kindle had been lost in shipment. Explaining how I’ve now waited several days past when I originally wanted the package, they offered to next day me another Kindle as soon as they possibly could. Amazingly the Kindle arrived 14 hours later, and on a Saturday no less!
I gave the gift to my girlfriend and she was very happy with it. I was happy with the response Amazon gave me despite what happened being beyond their control.
Over the past few days I started getting weird emails from Amazon. I would get a dozen plus emails at a time displaying purchases made on a Kindle. I asked my girlfriend if she had used my email to register the Kindle thinking that could explain the purchases showing up in my email. This wasn’t the case as she explained to me that she used her own information to register it. I let it go for a day thinking it may be just an error of some sort. All of the purchases up to that point were for free apps.
The next day I got another hoard of emails and that’s when it hit me. The first Kindle that was lost in shipment was being used by someone, and better yet, this someone had access to all of my information including the credit card I used to purchase the Kindle!!!
I immediately called Amazon and explained what was going on. This time it took some effort to really get the customer agents to understand what I was saying. At first they thought I was telling them that my girlfriend was making purchases on her kindle using my credit card. After I explained to them that this wasn’t the case and she had registered the Kindle with her own card and email, they finally understood what I was saying.
My suspicions were confirmed. Someone else had gotten their hands on the first Kindle lost in shipment and because the Kindle came preloaded with my name, email, address and credit card information, this person(s) was able to make purchases on this Kindle. I spoke with the customer service agents who after understanding did their best to help me. They refunded all the purchases that were made. By the time I discovered this, the fraudulent user had made several big purchases of entire TV seasons. They also deactivated the Kindle so the person could no longer use it.
I was chatting with my girlfriend as this happened while I was at work, and as soon as the deactivation occurred my girlfriend informed me that now her Kindle had been shutdown. The customer service agents had deactivated either the wrong one, or both Kindles. I now had to reinitiate a chat and explain this to another customer service agent. Now that the story had grown more complicated, it required yet even more details and time to get the agent to understand the situation. Better yet, now my girlfriend had to call Amazon and prove to them that she was who she was, and that I was who I was so they could reactivate the Kindle.
Forty-five minutes later, my girlfriend’s Kindle was back in action. I have yet to receive any more emails informing me of purchases being made on my account which is a good sign.
I love Amazon. They make my life so much easier. What I do not like is them sending out extremely critical information pre-loaded onto Kindles. No one should be able to simply open a box and begin purchasing items on someone else’s credit card. I am lucky the user of the lost Kindle seemed to not really understand this because they didn’t begin purchasing anything until they were 3 days into it.
I am usually quite careful with my personal information, and it really bothered me that it was so available to someone else. I just wanted to let the Consumerist know about this so prospective buyers of Kindles or other electronic products can be wary of what is being stored in the device before you ever get your hands on it. I will admit I made the purchase rather quickly, but I didn’t see anything about having the Kindle pre-loaded with information. While they are trying to make people’s lives convenient, and I’m sure for anyone who got their Kindle it was, it had the opposite effect on mine.
By the way, my girlfriend loves the Kindle. I like it too, but it immediately left a bad taste in my mouth for dealing with all the issues in getting one (and subsequently getting rid of one which I never got in the first place…)