Amazon's Kindle may be selling incredibly well and transforming the publishing world, but it looks like some users are finding its build quality lacking. A $5 million class action has just been targeted at Amazon, in fact.
The suit centers on Kindle 2s that were also bought with Amazon's optional $30 protective case. This fastens onto the white plastic body of the Kindle with a set of metal clips. According to the person who filed the suit, Matthew Geise, after only about three months the Kindle he'd bought for his wife began to crack around or underneath the point where these clips squeeze its body. In just two months the cracks grew significantly and then obviously transferred some stress onto the device's internals because the screen corrupted and froze and the entire device stopped working (pictured.)
A quick trawl of Amazon's own Kindle review section shows that the same or similar problems have hit a number of other Kindle 2 owners, and some complainants suggest Amazon's not being very helpful. The company has intimated more than once that its warranty will cover the damaged screen but not the cracks, which are caused by improperly opening the cover.
Geise's case seeks refunds, triple damages and legal costs, and it's expected to amount to over $5 million for the hundreds of people's Kindles Geise suspects may be suffering with the problem. Though that figure seems enormous, it's actually pretty small compared to the average class action which is now netting somewhere between $35 million and $90 million, if you look at all different sorts of suits. But need things really descend to the low of filing a law suit? There're two things at play here: Amazon's product may be causing harm, and some Kindle 2 users may be overly rough with their gadgets. It's made of cheap injection-moulded plastic, not titanium or indestructible unobtainium after all, despite its $300 price tag. Amazon should investigate, fix the design if needs be, sort the situation out and replace the damaged Kindles for little or no charge. This would likely be cheaper than loosing the lawsuit. And users should get used to the fact that gadgets are delicate.
Update: Amazon appears to have reacted to this event by doing more or less as I suggested. The company's waving a $200 fee to fixed damaged the screens, and is suggesting case owners who are concerned about potential damage can send theirs in to Amazon while it works out what to do.
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