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Five Broken Kindles: Why Amazon’s Warranty is Ideal for Travelers

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I don’t have the best luck with technology while travelling.

In the two years I’ve been on the road, I’ve managed to house a small colony of ants in my laptop. I poured a margarita over my replacement Macbook Pro when it was just one month old.

I smashed the screen of my iPhone when I placed it at the bottom of my backpack… and then dropped said backpack. I’ve accidentally thrown my camera across a park, smashing the lens.

I think it’s fair to say I’m more than a little clumsy when it comes to looking after my tech.

Hard as it is to believe, the examples mentioned above are not the worst mishaps I’ve had.

In the space of one year, I have managed to break FIVE Kindles.

Broken Amazon Kindle

I think Kindles are fantastic for travellers, and it was one of the first items I bought for my trip. I soon fell in love with it, and couldn’t imagine travelling without one.

After breaking my phone, I didn’t replace it for the first 18 months of my travels, so the free cell data on my Kindle Keyboard 3G was invaluable. Whether it was keeping in touch with friends and family while I was without Wi-fi, or loading up Google Maps to find out how to get to my hostel, I couldn’t live without it.

Imagine how disappointed I was, then, when my first Kindle lasted exactly one week.

Kindle 1: Croatia

I had just landed in Croatia and decided to head into Dubrovnik’s Old Town to explore the ancient city walls. After wandering around in 40-degree heat for several hours, I needed a rest. Pausing at a nearby bench, I decided to sunbathe and read a book for a while, but that soon became unbearable due to the heat.

As I stood up to leave, I managed to trip over a rock and went flying into a wall, completely destroying the screen of my Kindle. I was devastated.

I returned to my hostel, called Amazon’s customer service and was surprised to find they were happy to replace my broken Kindle under warranty for free. It arrived at my parents’ house in the UK within 24 hours. I had 90 days to send back the dead one — and Amazon would even pay for the postage. 

Broken Amazon Kindle screen

Kindle 2: China

My second Kindle lasted slightly longer than the first.

It was two months into my travels and I was queuing to board a plane to Taipei in Shanghai airport. We’d been waiting in line for over 30 minutes and it didn’t look like we would be moving any time soon, so I decided to entertain myself with a book.

I pulled my Kindle from my bag just as an elderly Chinese lady shoved past me, elbowing it out of my hand. It flew through the air, smashing the screen as it fell face-down on the floor.

I didn’t expect much to come from my second call to Amazon but was absolutely astonished when, yet again, they replaced my Kindle for free, without question. 

Kindle 3: Philippines

I had my parents send my third Kindle to a friend in Hong Kong and picked it up the night before my flight to the Philippines. I arrived in Boracay and decided to spend my first day at the beach.

I took my Kindle with me, planning on reading for a few hours in the sun. After a few hours, I wandered out into the sea to cool down, taking my bag with me to make sure it didn’t get stolen.

I was standing in knee-high water when an enormous rogue wave hit, soaking me, my bag and, erm, breaking my Kindle within 24 hours of me receiving it.

This was starting to get ridiculous. I loved my Kindle and, without a phone, it was the only way for me to get online when I didn’t have access to wifi.

It was because of this that I forced myself to swallow my pride and call Amazon once more. It was the same story — they replaced my Kindle free of charge, sending out a replacement the next day.

Broken Amazon Kindle screen

Kindle 4: Thailand

My next destination was Thailand, where I was renting an apartment in Chiang Mai for 3 months. I was able to get my parents to send out my new Kindle, this time with a protective case to try and prevent it from breaking.

Two months later, I went on a scooter road trip around Northern Thailand, cramming my laptop, camera, Kindle, and a week’s worth of clothes into my tiny daypack. The combination of tight packing and bad roads meant it was only a couple of days until I took the Kindle out of my bag to find a huge crack across the screen.

By this point I had no shame. I called Amazon once more to explain what had happened. They happily replaced my Kindle once more. 

By this point, my parents were understandably fed up with receiving and posting Kindles every few weeks, so I left my new one at home to collect when I arrived back in England. I even bought a brand new bag to use just for holding my Kindle. There was no way I could break this one!

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Kindle 5: Turkey

It lasted just three months. I was in Turkey when I climbed out of bed and stepped straight on my Kindle that had somehow ended up on the floor. I knew what had happened before I even looked down.

I called Amazon and wasn’t surprised when they didn’t offer me a free replacement Kindle. The warranty only lasts a year from my original purchase of the Kindle, and I’d unfortunately passed that mark a few weeks earlier. It wasn’t all bad though — they still gave me a $50 discount on my replacement!

I received my sixth Kindle just three months ago and I’m pleased to say it’s still in perfect condition, despite being used every few days. The combination of a strong case and keeping it in a pocket in my bag away from everything else seems to be the winning combination. I hope.

Broken Amazon Kindle screen

So why does Amazon replace Kindles for free without question?

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently said, “We want to make money when people use our devices, not when people buy our devices”. He then went on to explain “If someone buys one of our devices and puts it in a desk drawer and never uses it, we don’t deserve to make any money”.

It’s clear that Amazon thinks of the Kindle not as a profitable device (it doesn’t make any money on the current models) but as necessary infrastructure for far more lucrative electronic content.

Whatever the reason, the Kindle warranty is fantastic for travellers, who tend to use their device in more challenging situations than most. The Kindle is fragile and it does easily break. Knowing Amazon will replace it for free, no matter how it gets damaged, makes it even more of an invaluable product on the road.

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Photos via: Kodomut, Curious_e, isriya, linkartcentre.

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  1. Avatar Audrey | That Backpacker says:

    5 times?! I am amazed! I haven’t had any issues with mine, but it’s good to know that they send out replacements.

    Even though I’ve only had mine for a few weeks, I couldn’t imagine travelling without one now. It’s crazy to think that I used to carry around a handful of books…

    1. Lauren Juliff Lauren Juliff says:

      Aren’t they amazing?! I was pretty skeptical when I first got one but it only took a couple of days to realise I couldn’t live without it!

  2. aaaah totally wish I knew this when Dave sat on our kindle a couple months ago! I didn’t even bother to ask Amazon for a replacement assuming they would just say no! Such a shame!

    1. Oh no! Well, at least you know for next time, right? 🙂

  3. Avatar Adam @ SitDownDisco says:

    This is the problem with tech and travel. The more stuff you carry, the more likely it is to break. And when you’re talking iPhones MacBooks and SLRs with big lenses, the chances of having lots of money go down the drain increases. I take all this crap around with me and I’m now a little introspective because I had my own disaster yesterday when I fell in the Mekong with my phone in my pocket. Only bought it a few months ago for $900.

    So yeah, having the kindle break 5 times does suck, but it’s kind of inevitable to have our tech stuff break when we travel so much. Maybe these companies should sponsor us?? #galaxyworld

    1. Exactly. I was never this clumsy when I was at home and all of my tech stayed in one place!

      Hope you manage to get your phone fixed! 🙂

  4. That is an amazing story of product support which it is good to see being publicised. One sees so much on T.V. about companies that quibble with faulty products that Amazon’s approach is totally refreshing. I took my Kindle on our trip last year and will definitely be doing so again in September.

    1. Yep, Amazon is amazing! 🙂

  5. Avatar Lauren, Ephemerratic says:

    Hrm. I came out of this with another ugly story of planned obsolescence (not you, Amazon!). Knowing these products get a little roughed up, I’d rather they sell a better-built product that isn’t so easy to break (tho your breakage stories are very…extreme). I’m just imagining your many broken Kindles sitting in a garbage dump somewhere.

    1. Yeah, I agree. The warranty is great for travellers, the product not so much, hey?

  6. I’ve broken and then had two replaced so far. One of the ones I sent back didn’t arrive at amazon and they didn’t seem to mind.

    1. That’s good to hear Joe. I think I took a bit longer than 3 months to send mine back and didn’t have any problems with it.

  7. Aw I have the same problem with breaking phones, so I’ve given up buying expensive ones! I really want to buy a Kindle after reading this though, I can’t believe Amazon replaced them all!

    1. Kindles are awesome and you should definitely buy one.

  8. I’ve had my Kindle 3 for about 3 years now, still going strong and it goes everywhere with me. Fair dinkum, Lauren, you really are death for tech! 🙂

  9. 12 times in a year. I beat you.

  10. This is called the abusing of a good company.

    1. Did you read the last part of my post, where I said that Amazon makes money from the sale of ebooks not the Kindle itself, and that’s why they have such a great warranty? And let’s face it, if people were spending $100 on a product that doesn’t last for even a year, they’d obviously not buy a replacement, would give it bad reviews, and Amazon would make far less money over the long term. If Amazon thought it was *abuse*, they’d have a limit on how many replacements they’ll send out, but they don’t, because they know it’s worth it for them.

      And as for Amazon being a good company: lol.

  11. Avatar Christian says:

    Owned 5 kindles and never broke one before, today i broke my oasis 2 (cost 279 usd new as a preorder) after owning less than 4 months has a crack in the screen and amazon says i can buy a new one for 15% off, 213 dollars. Amazon not so helpful to me as they were to you. I am glad that you were taken care of so nicely but wish i were as lucky.

    1. Avatar Christian says:

      Edit and update to my last comment. I called again and they sent me a replacement! Made my day. Thanks Amazon!!!

  12. Avatar Megan Patrick says:

    Hi! Do you purchase the additional warranty, or are they honoring the included one year warranty which is standard with all kindles? I have kindle paper white I purchased less than 2 years ago and I am heartbroken as it is my 4th kindle and I can’t imagine life without it! Of course, I would love to buy myself the new oasis for my birthday this week, but with a price tag of approx $250 I’d rather wait until I absolutely HAVE to. So, before I call cust service, I’m wondering if I’ll even have any luck trying to replace mine (being older than one year)
    Thanks and I just linked to your travel blog and look forward to checking it out!
    Peace, Megan in Nashville

    1. It’s just the standard warranty, not the additional one. I suspect you’ll probably get offered a discount rather than a replacement, since your Paperwhite is out of warranty, but it’s always worth asking!

  13. Do you buy a lot of books through the Kindle store or do you load your own books or use library loans? I ask because I’m curious if they reference your purchase history to your likeliness of getting a replacement. If you’re a “big ticket” buyer or something. Like a high roller at a casino. I’m the opposite and have never loaded a book from the Amazon store to the device and only use it for personal documents and library books! I’d love to know!

    1. Lauren Juliff Lauren Juliff says:

      Hi Paul! At this point, I’d actually never bought a book from the Kindle store. So I was especially shocked when they kept replacing it because I was just putting my own books on to the device.

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