Kobo – We need to have a talk

by Nesler

I know that you’re trying to win over new users with exciting, flashy new features like social network integration and the like. That’s understandable. You want to expand.

But frankly, as someone who’s owned a KT for a while… I can’t see myself telling someone, “Yeah, the Kobo is awesome. Buy it.” It’s a bit of a mess right now. Each new firmware update fixes one thing, and introduces a host of new problems with the next update. It’s like a Hydra–cut off one head, and two more appear. I haven’t been hit with the nastier bugs (like the storage error that was causing huge headaches for some), but I have had some of the goofier ones, like the line cut-off issue that was resolved in 1.9.11. I don’t know why this is, but it seems like each successive update makes one-half of the Kobo family happy, but screws up things for the other half. Ultimately, everyone gets hit sooner or later.

I own a Kindle, and I own a Nook Color. All of them have had their quirks. But none of them have had as many issues crop up as the Kobo Touch has. To be fair, you really have done your best to incorporate the wants and needs of the many, but maybe that isn’t the greatest strategy… You might impress people who don’t know anyone who owns a Kobo, but when someone asks me what I think of my Kobo, I have to say, “You know, its awesome, it’s a great reader, I love the features, but… you need to know what you’re doing, and you’re gonna have to expect things to go wrong.”

Kindle versus Kobo is a bit like an iPhone versus an Android phone (FYI – I own a phone that runs Android)–the Kobo has a lot of flexibility and great features like the Android OS does. But with that flexibility and freedom comes a lot of problems and quirks to overcome. The Kindle is a bit more locked down like the iPhone is, but it runs solid, and it just about never has a problem.

You might lure in some new customers due to the features you’re offering, but the word of mouth might kill you.

I’ve tried to get into the beta group to help things out. I contacted one of the Kobo reps about it, and I was very impressed with how quickly he got back to me and forwarded the necessary info to the guy running the beta test group. But then… nothing. I haven’t heard a thing in weeks. Even a response saying, “Hey, we appreciate your interest, but right now the group is full. But I would love to add you when we have an opening,” would have given me a sense of… order. But I’ve heard nothing.

So things are a bit wonky, and I want to be a part of the crowd helping out, but right now I apparently can’t do that. And as things stand right now, I can’t really be an advocate for Kobo products without some serious misgivings. I like my KT, but I don’t want to be responsible for getting someone I know stuck with a serious bug like the ones we’ve been seeing lately. I play tech support for friends enough as it is.

I like that you guys support expansion via the use of micro SD cards. I like that you support an open standard with your use of ePub–though at the same time, the vast differences in your treatment of “kepubs” versus stock epubs is disconcerting. It’s clear to me that Kobo really is trying to make a name for itself as a good company that exemplifies the Canadian spirit.

But… right now… you aren’t really hitting the mark.


  1. James9 October, 2011

    This is what happened to me. I read all the benefits of the Kobo. I read/watched the reviews. Then I went to look on forums. The constant updates which fixed some problems but caused others made me stay away from them.

  2. RicDay9 October, 2011

    This post largely mirrors my experience with the Touch. Bought one for staff to use but it is both flaky and (for first time users) too confusing. Two months in, it is back on my desk. No one wants to use it. Sad, because I want Kobo to succeed, but I can’t recommend their product.

  3. Anonymouse10 October, 2011

    This is what you call pissing in the pool. If you truly wanted to help them improve their device, this is not the way to do it. Poor thing. You’ve been waiting weeks for the beta to begin. How dare they not accelerate their development schedule to accommodate you.

  4. Jean10 October, 2011

    I am sooo with you. My Kobo Touch was virtually unusable until I removed the SD card (this following the last firmware update). Every single update has broken something different. I do like the device, but their software seriously sucks.

  5. […] hesitated to post this complaint, given that I posted someone’s open letter to Kobo Sunday night.  But eventually I decided that the Kobo Touch is a premium e-reader, and the public […]

  6. Gareth6 November, 2011

    Have to agree with most of the comments here. Had my touch since summer 2011 and it’s had a host of problems including the storage/reset error which was probably the worst one. Have still got the double page turn thing. Interesting thing about this is if you don’t get a response to the first forward page turn tap, tap for a back page turn. It refreshes the current page and then the next forward tap works properly. Go figure!

    My KT now seems to have reset itself since yesterday. All the settings (power, wifi etc) were reset and I discovered that all my reading data is gone. The library is intact as are the awards without having to do a sync. I did download a library book from Adobe DE yesterday. Coincidence? Also, we switched back to standard time which the KT did automatically overnight. Coincidence?

    The platform is still pretty buggy, but I still enjoy the device. They just need to get the firmware stable and bug free.

  7. HG1 September, 2012

    not quite as severe for most, but also issues, and wondering whether Kobo will fix them. Sometimes pages don’t turn, other times I can only mark one section in a page, not two. Marking a section is cumbersome. I am surprised that major stores continues to sell this thing that looks like having huge teething problems. And yes, I’d gladly pay more money for a platform that actually works.

  8. HG1 September, 2012

    oh, and reading progress is not measured properly at all.

  9. sheree2 October, 2012

    DO NOT BUY ANY KOBO E-READERS! This company is a disgrace! I purchased a Kobo Touch on 20 August 2012 and after just 9 days it stopped working! (through no fault of my own, it is a fauly product.) Kobo customer service then dragged out my issue before finally telling me to send the kobo back to them and to insure it upon shipment, (despite it already not working and and photos provided to evidence this!)

    To send the kobo back and insure it I had to pay £15 out of my student bursary which could have been put to better use and bought me an academic e-book or paid towards my weekly travel expenses! Kobo customer service tell me I will NOT BE REIMBURSED for these costs which is a complete disgrace!! I also now have to wait up to 3 weeks to receive my replacement kobo!

    I advised customer service that I purchased the kobo for the purpose of starting university so that I could store all my academic books on an e-reader because I am disabled and cannot carry around heavy books! I am now 4 weeks into my course and have been unable to buy/access ANY academic reading books and the customer service were completely ignorant when I was contacting them they would simply ignore my questions or statements! STAY AWAY FROM KOBO! KOBO SUCKS AND SO DOES THEIR CUSTOMER SERVICE!! 😐

  10. Dan7 December, 2012

    Firstly, I have to say that I love my KT. The screen is beautiful for extended sessions of reading and the battery life is acceptable. I use a Micro SD card, and the KB’s operating system is pretty stable outside of a handful of times it has frozen completely in the year and a half that I’ve had it.

    But therein lies the rub… I’d LOVE to recommend it to my friends, but there are a couple of very very simple things that seem to elude Kobo….

    Make it respond to a tap to turn the page… it worked well when I first got it, but somewhere among all the updates it has lost it’s willingness to respond to my, well, my “touch”… I would have bought an original Kobo with buttons if I knew it was going to be this frustrating to do something as simple as turn a damn page.

    Second, give me the option to display the time of day in an upper corner while I’m reading. How hard can it be?

    It seems that I have to hard reset the KT every time I connect it to my computer. 15 minutes after gracefully disconnecting the device, then unplugging it from the computer, it still thinks it’s connected to the computer and will not respond to anything other than a pin in the reset hole…. Awful, this product is not exactly new to market, how about you get this one right before rushing other products into the marketplace?

    Thanks…. Otherwise I love the form factor, weight, look, and overall concept of the KT. Fix these issues and I’ll be all too happy to recommend it.

  11. Art31 January, 2013

    KOBO has the worst hardware of any comopany in existance.
    Tech support is a bad joke
    Emplolyees either are ininformed or bad faced liers
    no one from head office answers their phones or returns calls.
    2nd level support must nmot existr because although I keep being told 24 to 48 hours response there is NEVER a response
    11 months and counting with technical problems

  12. Dee28 February, 2013

    Me too! I’m so disgusted with my Kobo I want to throw it into the snow drift outside my door. I bought my Kobo a couple of years ago, the one I’m using now is my 4th Kobo, I returned the other 3 because of issues with the touch, freezing, pages not turning, etc. The other day I was reading the Kobo and tried to turn the page, but instead of the page going forward it went backward. Today the Kobo won’t sync; it also won’t connect to my wifi and says it’s not connected to the internet even though I did a sync when I did a factory reset this past weekend; I cannot connect to my d-link (wifi) because for some reason the Kobo won’t recognize the numerical touch keys. I’m sick to death of this piece of junk. Last week I contacted customer service with questions on why I was experiencing so many difficulties after an update; the answer I got was to do a factory reset, no answers to the questions I posted. I hope all this makes sense, like I said, I’m sick to death of this piece of junk.

  13. Frustrated in Koboland1 June, 2013

    I have just come back from the Book Expo America 2013. I was going to bring my non-working Kobo with them to get rid of the negative energy sitting in my home. I decided not to. Didn’t want to carry negativity around with me on a day I should be surrounded by wonderful book energy. I went to their booth and spoke with one of their representatives. I told him my Kobo story (I have had two that have both lasted less then 8 months) and was met with a sales pitch of how 14 million people own Kobo’s worldwide and are completely satisfied blah, blah, blah. I mentioned that perhaps he should go online and look at the number that continually have to deal with Kobo’s poor customer service and no positive results that last as long as War and Peace had been written. He asked how he could help me and told me if I’m going to be aggressive he wouldn’t help. That is when I realized I was once again, with Kobo, wasting my time. And he dismissed my comment by saying that is social media and has no merits. So, the truth, Kobo just does not care if it has a faulty product, does not want to help anyone and is going global to sell as many ereaders as they can.

  14. Kathy Meredith29 July, 2013

    I have a Kobo touch. I have experience most of the problems relayed on this site. I purchased the Kobo January 2012. I had a problem downloading a book and did not get much help from customer service. Disgusted I put the book away. Just recently I thought I would try again. The KT would not charge. I tried through the computer and using an adapter. Called customer service. They told me to try many things reset and the factory reset. No go. Eventually customer service gave up. Their reason, nothing they can do and after all it is out of warranty. Does not matter that it was used for only about 3 months. Now looking for another kind of ereader

  15. Sam25 September, 2013

    Wish I saw this site sooner. Now I’m stuck with this piece of crap.

  16. Brent24 October, 2013

    I have had similar problems with a Kobo Touch. Within a few months of the end of the warranty, it died. Customer Service was no help. After many, many emails back and forth and requesting that my concern be ‘escalated’, they offered to send me a refurbshed model for $35 and only a 3 month warranty. Why on earth would I shell out more money on another piece of crap. This is not a complicated device. It is an ereader for crying out loud. It doesn’t do much else but let you read books. I wish companies like Kobo would just stand behind their product.

  17. Pink19 July, 2014

    totally agree with everyone. this is 2014 and obviously nothing’s improved. i’m only using the kobo app, and one of my purchased books wouldn’t open for reading.
    i emailed customer service for technical support after instructions from their online help page didn’t help one bit. 3 emails later and still zero progression.
    what’s so difficult about fixing an ebook?
    totally agree with Art above their tech support is an absolute joke. from the way they replied you, you know those guys know NOTHING about tech.
    one dumb question tech support asked in their emails to me was: “what were you attempting to do when the error occured?”
    just downright ludicrous. somehow i suspect their tech support ‘department’ is nothing but simply a call centre of sorts.


  18. Gill Trembeth19 July, 2014

    I fully agree with all the negatives posted here. Kobo customer/technical support are absolutely useless. I have been unable to access my £250 worth of books for over 2 months, and now Kobo want to close down my complaint as ‘resolved’. I am disgusted with the service and support. Do not buy a Kobo!

  19. Ann18 August, 2014

    I really wanted to support Kobo and my husband and I both have one (original e-readers with wifi) but I think I’m throwing in the towel…
    I’ve put up with buggy issues for 4 or 5 years now on both of them (don’t remember exactly when I got it) and the number of times I’ve had “locked content”, deleted books, issues with syncing, issues with desktop application are getting too numerous to keep track off and I’ve factory reset mine probably every 3 or 4 months since I got it.
    My latest issue is that when I turned mine on it indicated it was updating e-reader software, then promptly deleted all my content. I tried to connect to wifi but can’t get beyond the “store loading” before I get an “oops you’ve been disconnected” message. I can’t transfer from my desktop as it no longer supports original e-readers so I’m stuck. Note – my husbands is still OK I’ve already tried a factory reset but it didn’t work. They no longer have a functioning phone line – the message says in order to provide you faster more efficient service please e-mail us from our customer care site. …which I did but the turnaround time they estimated was 48 to 60 hours!!!
    How is this customer service in the 21st century?
    I feel like they’re holding my books hostage…I think I’m going back to paper!!!

  20. Baghead Kelly9 January, 2016

    I like the Kobo Touch but every single time I log onto the pc app it wants to update. Every time with no option. I don’t even bother anymore so I’m not sure how they think they’re going to gain on going revenue from me.

  21. I Hate kobo26 June, 2016

    I’d like to see a class action suit against this company so we can recover some of the funds we paid for a device that just doesn’t deliver
    Fire all the top executives, and keep the few developers that are in the know. and have the ability to complete the usability task

  22. Teuchter29 December, 2016

    Do yourself a favour and do not deal with this company. Stay with books. They are terrible to deal with and the customer service sucks


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