I Want To Reunite Lost Kindle And Its Owner, But Amazon Won’t Help

Matt is trying to do a nice thing. The previous occupant of his seat on a plane left a Kindle behind in the seatback pocket. He took it with him, planning to reunite the device with its owner. But that person has a very common name, and Amazon has no interest in being a go-between to help reunite lost Kindles with their owners.

If nothing else, let this story serve as a reminder to have contact information, even if it’s just an e-mail address, available somewhere on your easily lost electronic devices.

Matt writes:

I recently found a Kindle in the seatback pocket on a flight. Thinking
that I would be able to look up the owner’s contact information, and
knowing how unhelpful airport lost and found is, I took the Kindle
with me to see if I could mail it back to its owner.

Unfortunately, the owner only left his name (a very common one) on the
Kindle. However, since I had the serial number of the Kindle, I
thought that Amazon would definitely be able to either give me his
contact information or email him with my contact information.

I called Amazon, and after a long time on hold, I was told that they
couldn’t do anything and that I should turn the Kindle in to an
electronics recycler. Thinking that this was just some rogue person in
the call center, I checked online and found this, which seems to
confirm that they will not help reunite lost Kindles with their owners.

I’m hoping that if you make this plea public, Amazon will take the
information I have and help me reunite this Kindle with its rightful
owner.

Just to be clear, I’m not doing this for any reward (and explicitly
will not accept one). Instead, I am doing this because I have had
several run ins with unhelpful lost and found people and I just want
to help one person be reunited with something that they lost.

Please contact me with any questions. I’d be happy to provide the
important information to Amazon if requested.

Kindle fans of Consumerist, any other ideas for how Matt can reunite this lost, lonely device with its owner? (If you’ve misplaced one on an American Airlines flight recently, we’ll pass your information on to Matt.)

Comments

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  1. deathbecomesme says:

    Finders keepers losers wheepers! Buy a bunch of books on it then sell it. /s

  2. Blueskylaw says:

    I suggest Matt start downloading movies, songs, and books (50 Shades of Gray) along with
    ordering stuff from Amazon. You will be amazed at how fast this problem will be resolved.

    • George4478 says:

      I don’t see how downloading books and movies means Amazon will contact him with the owner’s information. They’ll just disconnect the Kindle from the owner’s account.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        Amazon doesn’t have to give Matt the owners information, Matt gave Amazon HIS information to pass along to the owner. This could be a Triple Win situation:
        1). Amazon helps reunite owner with Kindle
        2). Matt does a good deed
        3). Owner gets Kindle returned with Amazons help

        What’s Amazon’s advice instead? Bring the Kindle to an electronics recycler? What the hell for. If Amazon doesn’t want to help me return the Kindle then I’m sure as hell not going to bring it to an electronics recycler, I’m keeping the damn thing for my troubles and frustration.

        • notovny says:

          You are entitled to nothing for your “troubles and frustration.”

          If you didn’t want to deal with the potential hassle of doing a good deed, leave it where you found it plane, or notify the airline staff.

        • George4478 says:

          Amazon already has Matt’s info and they won’t contact the owner. Ordering movies won’t suddenly make Amazon reverse their policy — they’ll just disconnect the Kindle from the account (if they haven’t already based on Matt’s first call to Support)

          So I still don’t see how ordering stuff will, as you put it, resolve the problem and cause this Matt-owner linkup to happen .

          • jsibelius says:

            Because the owner will complain about unpurchased items showing up in their account. The owner’s complaint will make Amazon take notice. Probably. We hope.

        • ZenListener says:

          They would like it brought to an electronics recycler so the original owner will have to buy a new Kindle.

  3. George4478 says:

    I have my contact info on the Kindle, but it’s buried inside a menu setting.

    I’ve always wanted my Kindle to have a customizable power-off screen where I could put contact/emergency information. That’s be more useful to me than the picture of Emily Dickinson, etc.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      That would be really helpful. Am I the only nerd who uses a passcode to lock his Kindle? I wish I could say otherwise, but I’d rather be sure there will be no unauthorized purchases on my account and lose the device rather than rely on the kindness or integrity of strangers.

    • SpiffWilkie says:

      I did just that for my mother’s kindle. I rooted it, removed the standard screen savers and replaced them with one that had her contact info. There really should be an easier way to have that info more visible for cases like this.

      • Gehasst says:

        Would be nice to post a tutorial or links for that. I’m sure several folks would be happy. The story never did state what type of Kindle it was though. I have a kindle Touch which is quite different from a Fire obviously. Would think a Fire has more info on it (like an email address) than a simple Touch would….

    • TheWillow says:

      My parents have this on their iphone – there’s an app that helps you add contact info to your lock screen. they each have gotten their phones back because of it.

    • tbax929 says:

      I keep my business card in the pocket of my Kindle leather cover. I left it at a restaurant a few weeks ago, and it was promptly returned to me.

      • jsibelius says:

        Lucky for you. I left a whole stack of my business cards in my PDA case a few years ago. Two months later, I finally got a call from the restaurant where I left it. It had been sitting in their office all that time. Nice. (It didn’t occur to anyone to find out when I called to ask about it…) ‘S okay. The one I bought to replace it was much nicer.

    • Hirayuki says:

      Good news! Now you can make your own at home. (There are plenty of other links out there for this, too.)

    • GreySoul says:

      You can, google it. I have my contact info super imposed over every image, as well as a dozen or so custom images (book covers, famous geeks, etc)

    • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

      You can do what I did – Kindles can read PDF’S, so I made one titled “YOU FOUND MY KINDLE!!!” that contained a thank-you as well as my email address and stated that I would be willing to pay shipping the kindle back to me as well as a small reward for doing so. I keep it on the main page listing, and not buried in a folder so that its easily found.

  4. Uncle Don says:

    Good intentions but I wouldn’t want Amazon giving out my personal info. It’s only $79…keep it and enjoy it and see it as a reward for wanting to do the right thing.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      True, that was a dumb thing for him to request; Amazon should have taken Matt’s contact information and passed it on to the owner connected to that serial number.

    • j2.718ff says:

      Amazon doesn’t need to provide any personal information. But they could go above and beyond, and allow the finder to ship the kindle to them, and they can send it to the owner. Even if the owner has to pay for shipping, this would be great customer service.

      Come to think of it, this could be useful marketing. Amazon should print their address on the back of each kindle. “If lost, drop this in the mail, and we’ll reunite it with its owner.” This would be in Amazon’s best interest — they don’t make money selling hardware, they make money selling electronic books.

  5. mramos says:

    It seems like if he would have just turned it into the airline there would have been a better chance of reuniting the kindle with it’s owner.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Right. Because airline employees are legendary for their honesty.

      • Costner says:

        We have seen several stories of airline employees going out of their way to locate the owner of a device left behind. It won’t be 100% but it can happen…. and it seems more likely that would work since Amazon has no intention of helping.

      • penuspenuspenus says:

        Ya, and Joe Shmo off the street is probably a saint too. The guy should have handed it off to lost and found rather than take it home.

        Had a somewhat similar situation at a bar. Credit card mix up, leading to my card and another patron’s being switched and I went home with his card (dimly lit bar). I returned the next day to the bar to find out that the waitress took my credit card home to “find” me. Anger ensued.

        • dwtomek says:

          His options were not limited to airline employees or joe shmo. He also had the option of himself doing the legwork, and he could be fully confident in the intentions of himself to return the kindle to it’s owner. That amazon would be the opposite of willing to assist was clearly not an assumption he was going off of. Frankly, I would have assumed some minor assistance on their part, and clearly I would have also been mistaken.

    • portwineboy says:

      I’m with you, it should have been turned into the airline lost and found as that’s probably where the owner would look for it. I don’t believe airline employees are any more inherently dishonest than anyone else.

      • longfeltwant says:

        You don’t? I do. I absolutely do.

        I would tell the airline I had it and ask for the traveler info, and offer the airline my info. Perhaps the owner could find his way back to me that way.

        Contacting Amazon is also the right thing to do. It’s terrible that Amazon won’t simply email the owner and say “this person may have your kindle; please contact them.”

        • MarkFL says:

          Matt also could try contacting Expedia, Travelocity, etc., explaining the situation and giving his contact info. It’s quite possible the flight was booked through there, and the Kindle owner may have selected the seat when booking the flight.

    • balthisar says:

      I hate to admit my stupidness, but I left my iPad 2 in a seat back pocket. When I arrived home, I realized it, went back to the airport, talked to the counter people. They took me through security to the luggage area lost and found, and there it was.

      China Eastern, I dislike your seat pitch, but your customer service is awesome!

  6. Scott Grey says:

    … But why should Amazon help a customer find a lost kindle? After all, there’s only one place for him to buy a new device to read the books he’s already paid for…

  7. RandomHookup says:

    That plan failed. Now contact the airline with the owner’s name and see if they are willing to make the connection (no pun intended).

    • deathbecomesme says:

      I’m sorry, that connection requires two lay overs in the cities of “I could care less” and “GFYS”.

  8. Real Cheese Flavor says:

    Why would Amazon help you return a Kindle that a customer lost when they can sell a new Kindle to that customer to replace the one they left behind?

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Ding, Ding, Ding. No more calls, we haaaaaaave a WINNER!!!

    • Big Cheese Make Hair Go Boom says:

      Because Amazon is not in the hardware business quite yet. In the electronic space, they are more of a content delivery service. IMHO, it would behoove them to reunite said Kindle with the owner for many reasons mentioned above.

    • MarkFL says:

      If the Kindle is anything like the Nook, they’re making a paper thin profit on the device. I worked for a store that sold the Nook, and the margin was so small we had to exclude it from the discount members received with their membership card. We made money on them by selling accessories and extended warranties.

      Also, if the reader loses his Kindle, he may consider buying a Nook instead, and Amazon may lose a lot of e-book sales. But if Amazon helps reunite him with his Kindle, he’s going to become more loyal.

  9. chiieddy says:

    Is there anyway to determine the account the Kindle is linked to? Then email the owner at that address?

  10. FranSeaLou says:

    I renamed my kindles “first name last name 555-555-5555.” My name and phone number appear on the top line of both my kindle touch and fire. Haven’t misplaced them yet, but I suggest everyone do that to help make it easy for someone to find you to return it.

    In my husband’s job, he often finds lost kindles and other electronics. If you can’t ID yourself like you can on the kindle, at least tape a business card to the unit.

    • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

      I stick a tiny label on all my portable devices (camera, DS, etc) with my name, P.O. Box, and phone number. I haven’t lost anything yet, but that’s the best bet if it ever happens.

  11. JimmyKumbaya says:

    On mine (not the latest version), on page 3 of the settings there’s a section called “Personal Info” where the user can put essentially whatever he wants. That assumes the device password isn’t enabled, but the article reads as if the finder has full access to the contents.

    I have a very limited imagination when it comes to nefarious threats, but I don’t see how providing that information is risky (or much different than enclosing a business card).

    • raydeebug says:

      Well, if you set a password on a kindle, you can also select an option to add a “password hint.” That can easily be contact info instead of a hint.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        Oooooh, I hadn’t noticed that. I’ll have to try it when I get home. (Mine is an ancient 2nd gen.)

  12. Firemedic510 says:

    The Kindle has a mailto kindle feature. if this is enabled, perhaps the owner will check his email? All of that should be in the settings on the kindle.

  13. jpx7777 says:

    Self-publish a book named “I found your Kindle on Flight 123″, add in relevant details, then buy it on the kindle. The owner will get an email confirming the purchase. You may even sell a few copies to impulse buyers/loners.

  14. nopirates says:

    you know the person’s name, flight number, and seat number. why not have the airline return it to the person that lost it????

    • Kyle says:

      Matt knows their name and seat number, but not flight number—his flight number is not the same as the flight number of the person who lost their Kindle.

      And if I had lost my e-reader, I’d trust someone like Matt more than the airline or airport lost-n-found.

      • jsibelius says:

        Who needs a flight number when you have date, point of origin (or most recent departure), and destination, plus time of day?

  15. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Ye gods! Why didn’t he just turn it in to the airline and be done with it? Where the heck did he think the owner would go looking for his Kindle? At Matt’s house or at the airline lost & found? All this foolishness about taking the Kindle, trying to find the owner by contacting Amazon, etc. is ridiculous. Matt is being disingenuous.

    • dullard says:

      I don’t think Matt is being disingenuous at all. I think he is well meaning. I also think he took the wrong approach, that turning it in to the airline would yield a greater chance of the Kindle being returned to its owner than going through Amazon.

      It would be a nice PR move on the part of Amazon to help return lost Kindles, but it could also be a logistical nightmare.

    • Smiling says:

      My tho

    • Smiling says:

      Enter text…

    • Smiling says:

      I can tell that he was well meaning, but he made it a real pain in the ass for the person to get their device back. I agree that the best thing would’ve been to take it to the lost and found. It might have had a decent chance of getting back to it’s owner that way. Now, it looks like it has very little chance of getting back to its owner. Sometimes a well meaning person ends up screwing things up really bad. Following standard societal protocols is generally your best bet in cases like this.

    • longfeltwant says:

      “Why didn’t he just turn it in to the airline and be done with it?”

      Probably because he wanted the owner to get his gear back.

      • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

        Well then, that’s not working out too well, is it? The owner would have had a better chance of getting it back if Matt had just turned it in to lost & found.

        Looks like Matt has a new Kindle.

    • MGW4368 says:

      This is the OP. I’m guessing by your suggestion that you have never dealt with the airline’s lost and found. I have had the misfortune of leaving a few things on the plane, including things that clearly had my contact information on them and had no economic value to be stolen (like my wife’s law school diploma) and no one made any effort to return it to us.

      My wife also left her Kindle a few months ago and that is when I learned that Amazon should be able to help reunite them. From looking online, I think that Amazon used to provide this service, but has since stopped.

      All that being said, I fly almost weekly, so if i’m unsuccessful with this, I will simply drop it off at the airport lost and found in a few days. I maintain that the person has a much higher chance of getting it back from me than from the airline.

      Also, I’m shocked at the suspicion displayed here in the comments. I would never dream either 1) keeping something that wasn’t mine or 2) accepting any sort of reward. It’s troubling to me that people seem to think that either one of these is acceptable. The right thing to do when finding something is to try to get it back to the person who lost it.

      • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

        The logic here is that the owner undoubtedly has already contacted lost & found and has been told the Kindle was not turned in – and no doubt has written it off. I suspect that if you drop off the Kindle it will be too late. Airlines, in my experience, won’t try to actively pursue a return – they’ll wait for someone to contact them about lost items.

        Over the years I’ve dealt with airlines over lost items three times and successfully recovered them twice. One article was probably never turned in by whoever found it. I seriously don’t believe that airline personnel are inherently dishonest and that the owner of that Kindle would probably have it in his hands right now had it been turned in to the airline when found.

  16. abucsfan says:

    I’m not sure why helping someone locate an address of a lost Kindle owner would be a logistical nightmare. I can’t believe that there’s that many lost Kindles per day that will be tying up an employee all that much. If it is, great, they’re doing a killer business and can afford to hire someone to do that favor to owners. I believe my Kindle is the best birthday present I’ve received in years and would hate to lose it.

  17. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    As i got into an airplane seat one day one a fast turnaround, I noticed a Gameboy in the seat pocket in front of me…

    I held the unit up in the air and looked at a flight attendant and said “Ummmm…”

    She saw it and said “Oop!”, grabbed it, and ran out of the plane.

    A few seconds later from the jet bridge I thought I heard a little kid yell “Yay!”

    • RandomHookup says:

      How quick was the turnaround on that plane? Generally, the departing passengers are long gone by the time the new bunch gets seated (unless he was waiting around for a connecting flight).

  18. Smiling says:

    I’m guessing it’s a money grab on Amazon’s part. If someone loses their Kindle and can’t get it back, there is a pretty good chance they will buy a new one.

    • Costner says:

      They don’t make money on the hardware – they make it on the content. This customer could decide to purchase a Nook or a tablet PC other than a Kindle and they will have lost a customer. It is in Amazon’s best interests to reunite it with the owner, but the logistics of making that happen could be rather difficult. The last thing they need is being the middleman between two people when one of those people could be a con-artist, thief, or someone looking to pick a fight.

  19. Harry Greek says:

    Send it to me, I’ll find the owner,…

  20. Hi_Hello says:

    Don’t worry about it. The owner already contacted Amazon and got a new one two days after they realized they lost it.

  21. 180CS says:

    Okay, so this is -1 for Amazons customer support, but why not try telling the airliner that you found a kindle in row ABC seat 123 on flight XYZ, see if they can confirm that a John/Jimmy/Jake was sitting there earlier, and then forward him your contact info?

    I mean, it’s 1 in a million, since airlines are about as friendly as rabid dog, but it’s worth a shot.

  22. chancyrendezvous says:

    He can also try posting a thread on the Kindle forum discussion board. It’s a long shot, but I’ve seen folks try to contact owners that way as well.

  23. The Beer Baron says:

    I say, did anyone else read Matt’s missive in iambic pentameter? Also, I am surprised at Amazon’s non-responsiveness. I was under the impression that they were paragons of above and beyond service.

  24. StevePierce says:

    Contact the airline, they may be able to get in touch with the person that was in the seat before you. And I would start at the top, it is too crowded at the bottom. send a quick not to the airline CEO. If the Airline comes through, you both win and the airline will have a very happy customer.

  25. czadd says:

    I lost a Kindle 3G touch on a flight from Minneapolis to Orlando back in May (details included just in case this is mine ;). After my trip the kindle was already gone from my Amazon account. It was not a good experience. I wish the person who found it had been as diligent as the OP.

    • Golfer Bob says:

      Can you add more details? How was it removed from your account? Did you call Amazon? Did you report it stolen? What was Amazon’s response?

  26. moonunitrappa says:

    I received a totally different answer from Amazon but I was the lose-ee (or rather my Mother was) in this situation.

    Her Kindle was in a bag that fell out of her trunk after an accidental press of the trunk button from inside. We assumed it was gone for good on the road but just in case I bricked it via Amazon and they said that yes, if someone finds it, they can get the serial number off it, but nothing else. I’m assuming this is to help find it’s owner and that’s the impression I got from Amazon should someone find it.

    That sucks they won’t help. I definitely won’t be upgrading to a new device when they offer one. These are expensive suckers, I hope the person who lost their’s calls and or bitches Amazon out for not helping.

    But if their Kindle is still on and operational, they probably don’t have the where with all to call and do what I did.

  27. smcclosk says:

    I actually had the opposite happen. I found a kindle. I called Amazon and the customer service rep was really surprised that I called and said she wished more people would do this. She explained that they could not give out the owners information but that they would e-mail me a postage paid label to send it to Amazon and that Amazon would send it to the owner. She then asked if I would be willing to receive a message from the owner if they wanted to send one. I that that would be fine. About a week later I received a message from the owner through Amazons message center thanking me for turning in the Kindle. Thought it was really neat that Amazon would do this. Maybe a month later I found an iPod Touch and I tried to do the same thing but Apple said they don’t do that. So now I have four iPods that I don’t use.

  28. shahlo02 says:

    I found an iPad left on a Metro train in D.C. Unfortunately, the owner put a code on the device and plugging it into a computer didn’t give me any meaningful data. I called an Apple Store and they had no means of addressing it. I really wish Apple would utilize their stores to reunite owners. It just so happens that I watch my own iPhone and iPad like a hawk but I feel for those who will never get their devices back.

  29. eldergias says:

    To Amazon: As a person considering getting a Kindle, this does not install much faith in your Kindle service.

    I found a kindle in a leather case at an airport once. I turned it in, and helped them find the owner’s information on the kindle so they could announce the owner’s name over the PA. If a completely indifferent entity such as an airport would do more to help restore a lost Kindle than Amazon would, what does that say about Amazon?

  30. Chiclet says:

    Did you try posting it on the Craigslist of the city you flew out of? You could use the seat number as a means of “proving” the Kindle’s real owner (a detail only he/she would know). It wouldn’t hurt.

    But I love the “I Found Your Kindle” book idea.

  31. anime_runs_my_life says:

    To the OP – okay, call it a weird idea, but have you thought of posting a link to this article to Amazon’s facebook page and asking them why they’re making it difficult for you? Just a thought. If it doesn’t work, then I guess returning it to the lost and found is the best way to go.

  32. SJActress says:

    Well, if the airline asks for it back, Matt will have to give it to them. It’s mislaid, not lost, and thus the owner of the establishment (in this case, the airplane) has a higher right of ownership than Matt does.

    Not that they would bother.

    • kaleberg says:

      That’s not true under English common law on which most law in the US is based. In England, the rule is finders-keepers. The original case involved some lost item found in an ale house. The finder turned it over to the ale house owner to give to the original owner if he or she asked for it. After some time, it was clear that the original owner had given up the item as lost. The ale house owner claimed the item. The finder sued and won the case.

      Matt was the finder, so he has a higher claim than the airline.

  33. skrolnik says:

    Depends on whether or not the kindle’s lock screen is password protected. If it isn’t, sign up for one of those accounts where Amazon lets you self-publish e-books. Make a bogus e-book with the title “Found your lost kindle, email throwawayaddress@freeemail.com” then purchase that title through the kindle’s one-click interface. Repeat until the kindle owner notices.

    (as an aside, this is why I swapped my lockscreens out with custom ones that have my contact info.)

  34. Kitten McNuggets says:

    it might be a longshot, but the person that found the Kindle might be able to try and find the owner on Facebook. it might be a pain in the ass (especially since the OP said the Kindle’s owner has a common name), but it might be worth a shot. the OP might want to see if anyone with that name has an account on Facebook, and then see if there’s anyone with that name located in the same states that the plane took off from and landed in.

  35. Golfer Bob says:

    Although the idea of Amazon offering a Kindle lost and found service sounds good, it doesn’t make sense from a customer service point of view. While I get a warm feeling knowing that one person out there may go out of their way to return my lost Kindle, I don’t think many people are going to wait for the process to unfold. I’m going to immediately call Amazon to deactivate the device. Can you imagine the call to Amazon to deactivate your account? “Oh, I’m sorry, we can’t do that untitl the prescribed 10 day good samaritan waiting period has passed.”

    If you call Amazon and deregister the Kindle as stolen, they serial number will be blacklisted and cannot be reactivated. At least the thief or the buyer of stolen goods won’t have the benefit of using your stolen Kindle.

  36. Agozyen says:

    The OP is pretty ignorant. He should have turned the Kindle in to the gate agent. Amazon is playing it safe because they have no idea if Matt is some crazy stalker-type or some guy trying to do a good deed. A company like Amazon would open themselves up to all kinds of liability if they started handing out their customers data to anyone that requested it no matter the reason.

    • ogman says:

      Good point. You do have to wonder why he didn’t turn it over to the airline. They have the seat number and manifest, and could easily have contacted the owner. In fact, they would very likely have been contacted by the owner looking for the Kindle. The OP just got in the way of the most natural path of return to the owner.

  37. K1i1 says:

    Yikes. I’m actually very relieved to hear that Amazon doesn’t give out contact details of its customers to just anyone. Ever heard of the Data Protection Act?

    • SavageFTW says:

      As bad as it is by losing a Kindle, I am also happy that my personal affairs are kept private.

  38. mschristinedwyer says:

    Hello, Hello, Hello. I’m a pathetic Kindle Fire owner who left her Kindle behind on 7/4/12 in Texas. Matt, if you found this kindle in a Texas related flight, please, contact me. I’m paying a $100 reward. Thanks so much.