Guess What? Amazon Still Doesn’t Care That Your Kindle Was Stolen
Amazon has a well-deserved reputation for good customer service, but sometimes they fall down on the job. It seems that whenever something unusual happens they don’t know how to respond and end up blowing you off.
Surprisingly, lost and stolen Kindles continues to be one of those areas where Amazon keeps dropping the ball. Not only will Amazon refuse to give info to an owner whose Kindle was stolen, they also won’t assist the police in recovering a stolen Kindle as one Polish blogger informs us today:
Recently, my Kindle Paperwhite was stolen (let’s not go into details on how that happen now). I did not have much of a hope that it’ll be recovered, but still, I went to the local police station in Wroclaw, Poland to report the theft.
Ausir goes on to note that he checked on the status of his Kindle Paperwhite while he was at the police station and it turned out to have already been registered. That is actually a silver lining, because as Kindle CS told the blogger they will assist the police in the investigation:
While we’re unable to tell you the location of your Kindle, we’ll respond to requests for information from law enforcement officials. To file a police report, please contact your local police department.
That sounds like a rational, reasonable policy, doesn’t it? Well, no. Amazon’s idea of responding to a request for info does not quite match what you or I would expect.
Ausir reports that the police sent all the necessary info, and they even sent it from an official email address. Unfortunately Amazon wasn’t going to release the info short of a court order:
Yesterday, I got a call from the police officer that was assigned to my case, and was told that Amazon refused to disclose any information on the user who registered my Kindle to his account, and despite all previous reassurances, they stated that they will only disclose it if ordered to do so by a court (I assume they mean a US court, at that).
I don’t know about you but that’s not exactly what I expected when Amazon said they’d "respond to requests for information from law enforcement officials". Like Ausir, I kinda thought Amazon would actually help their customer.
Don’t get me wrong; I understand that Amazon CS can’t access account info by searching for a Kindle serial number. That’s not an issue. The problem here is that a part of Amazon’s legal/fraud/abuse departments, the folks that you would think could override the restrictions placed on the CS dept, instead refused to share the info they possessed.
That is far from reasonable. Furthermore, what is the point of having a contact point for law enforcement officials if they are simply going to be told NO?
kurt February 8, 2013 um 11:40 am
from their point of view not only do they now have a new customer but most likely will keep the old one since he already has so much "invested" – – – win/win for amazon
Robert February 8, 2013 um 12:05 pm
You took the words out of my mouth… even if a Kindle is stolen, Amazon will have another customer for books. I have too much invested in Amazon books to more somewhere else.
Greg M. February 8, 2013 um 12:27 pm
Can it be determined that Amazon always refuses to report to police on stolen Kindled? Are there known cases were they did? The devil may be in the details.
For example, let’s say I left my Kindle at a public lunch counter. Billy Bob finds it and keeps it, registering it his account. Has he stolen it? Or is it a case of finders keeper losers weepers? Even I report it to Amazon and the police as lost or stolen, I’m not sure if Amazon has the right to release information has unless a crime was committed by Billy Bob during the "transfer" of Kindle ownership. If Billy Bob mugged me by holding gun to my head, I think Amazon would be obliged to release the information.
Nate Hoffelder February 8, 2013 um 12:35 pm
If you pick up a Kindle left on the counter, take it home, and re-register it to yourself, then I would argue that you stole it. There is no finders-keepers on this.
Craig Peterson February 8, 2013 um 12:28 pm
Sucks for the person who had their Kindle stolen, but as far as I’m concerned this is a good thing. Amazon has purchase histories for millions of people, and any number of those things could be an embarrassing/incriminating/abusable item that those people don’t want known about. Better that Amazon has a firm policy of only releasing information on a court order than to have some half-assed policy like "We’ll do it if we think it’ll help the customer."
Nate Hoffelder February 8, 2013 um 12:33 pm
That’s a good argument for not handing out info willy-nilly but IMO not enough of a reason to require a court order.
Ausir February 10, 2013 um 6:18 am
Well, here the police did not require purchase history or any such information, just the identity of a person who misappropriated a kindle owned by someone else.
Ralph Hummel February 8, 2013 um 12:48 pm
Well, I think there are actually two sides to the story here. There is the client’s side and his reaction, which at first glance is totally understandable, BUT on the oter side there is Amazon being careful about customer data protection. You know, nowadays it is pretty difficult to verify legitimate contacts from law-enforcement from fraudulent ones, particularly if the contact happens via an Email. Particularly in a country that is most probably not the home coutnry of Amazon CS agents and which they don’t know much about. The CS agent has actually no way of assuring himself, and therefore Amazon, that the claim is real AND legit.
Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that was has been reported is not true, I am just playing devil’s advocate here, but what if…
The whole story were (conditional, mind you!!) made up and it all turned out to be a hoax and the Email sent by a police station was a fraud and Amazon CS had responded by giving out customer data. What do you thing you guys would say to that? I think that the response of CS was correct in view of the above, personally I would have not reacted differently unless the identity of the law enforcement agency had been established without the shadow os a doubt beforehand.
BlueDevil February 8, 2013 um 12:55 pm
Are you telling me that my [email protected] doesn’t sound legit? WTH!!!
Ralph Hummel February 8, 2013 um 1:04 pm
Doman February 9, 2013 um 12:44 pm
Kind of understand your point, but hey, AFAIK there’s no country where you can freely register .gov address.
Mike February 9, 2013 um 3:26 pm
It would be [email protected]
Just as in United States, you cannot just get .gov domain just by asking nicely. It’s also trivial their Law Enforcement Liason to verify that policja.gov.pl is indeed official domain for Polish Police force (or, they could verify it by any other channels).
Ralph Hummel February 10, 2013 um 4:02 am
Point is, any electronic address can be faked… Sometimes it is easy, sometimes, as should be the case with official adresses, it is harder. But not impossible.
For Amazon to insist on a court order it only means that they do not just follow any lead that comes along but have set up a procedure to first protect all customer data unless there is a legitimate need for disclosure. What’s wrong with that. I certainly would not want amazon to disclose my data because someone accused me of having stolen their Kindle without a due diligence process initiated by Amazon BEFORE they hand out my data.
Please all think about this twice before accusing Amazon of not caring about customers or protecting thieves…
Verena Block February 8, 2013 um 5:25 pm
A good reason to keep track of the serial numbers of all devices a person owns.
mw February 9, 2013 um 3:42 am
So Amazon decide to protect the thief… it is complicity in crime or hiding thief from penalty, nice one Amazon. New branch of CS support, help in crime 🙂
Bill Harting February 9, 2013 um 11:01 am
I’m sorry, I have to disagree on this one. Amazon is not protecting a thief, they are insisting on due process. They, or any other company, should not give up personal info on any account without a court order. This isn’t to protect a thief, this is to protect EVERY Amazon customer.
Ausir February 10, 2013 um 6:16 am
Well, here they were contacted by the police AND by the actual owner of the device, so it’s a pretty obvious case of a theft.
Mona May 3, 2013 um 11:01 am
Amazon should flash a warning. This kindle has been reported stolen.you can drop it off at your local postoffice so amazon can return to the rightful owner.
Jon May 27, 2013 um 8:43 pm
"Or is it a case of finders keeper losers weepers?" Maybe in kindergarten. Are you a moron? It is still the crime of conversion. Jeez.
Fran June 9, 2013 um 4:09 pm
Due process is important. There have been cases where a person sold a kindle and then turned around and reported it stolen–preventing the person who brought from using it with Amazon (you can still side load non-drm ebooks on a bricked kindle). Amazon does brick Kindles that are reported stolen if they are reported before it is registered.
Felix S July 11, 2013 um 9:52 am
From the perspective of someone who found a Kindle:
I asked Amazon if they could inform the owner and send them my contact details so I could return the device but they said they couldn’t do that.
So I went ahead and created a little website that lets you register the serial number of the device. If a device is sumbitted as lost and as found, the site informs both sides so they can exchange the device.
Let’s see if I can find the owner of my device this way and maybe help other with the same problem
C Bob August 26, 2013 um 12:35 pm
The privacy act does not allow them to release this information with out a court order. If the kindle is stolen and the police send in the information they will still need a court order. This will protect Amazon from being sued by the theif. Yes, even if the person broke into your house and stole it they can still be sued.
George October 7, 2013 um 9:26 pm
I have a Kindle Paperwhite that was reported lost/stolen in June. If you’ve lost one, reply to my comment. I’m in Austin, Tx.
Andy March 8, 2014 um 11:00 am
I think I may have left my a paperwhite on a plane yesterday. Do you have a way of helping me?
Barbara October 20, 2013 um 11:43 pm
I just left my Kindle on a plane yesterday and it is already de-registered. I even had it named as "555-555-1212 Reward if found" so anyone who found it could call me. I wrote to amazon but am now reading that it’s very unlikely they will help me even though they undoubtedly know who has it. That stinks.
Mikecoriky November 9, 2013 um 5:36 pm
My Kindle was stolen on Oct 31, 2013. I just realized it was gone today November 9, 2013. I contacted Amazon and was told it had been deactivated and reactivated on Oct 31st and was being used. I was also told because I hadn’t reported it stolen within 3 days I’d lost my chance and they would not deactivate it. In other words, "Screw You!" So just go and steal a Kindle, wait 3 days and it’s yours..
12thRobot November 16, 2013 um 11:53 pm
I seem to have misplaced my Kindle. Bought an old Kindle Keyboard at a secondhand store. It would not register to my existing account through settings…. some blather about wifi connection not good (even when I’m 10 ft from the router and I’ve got good signal strength). So initiate a customer service chat over a PC and give them the serial number.
Amazon says the new to me Kindle was reported "lost or stolen" and therefore they cannot register it to my account.
OK so it will go back to the shop. Out of curiosity I go back to the kindle settings and see if it will let me create a new account. I don’t get any warnings about poor wifi signal… in fact they let me create a user name and password and offer to take my credit card and payment info. I bail at this point, but is this creepy or what? Seems like if a "new" customer finds a lost or stolen Kindle, great, we will sign you up, while if an existing customer finds one, nope, you will need to buy a new Kindle. Is this company congenitally dishonest or is their software worse than my spelling? Open to other interpretations.
Barbara November 17, 2013 um 1:29 pm
My guess is you still wouldn’t have been able to register the Kindle, that it would have come back with a "Sorry lost or stolen." Clearly it should have done that sooner. Why don’t you go through the whole process just to see? Nothing to lose, right?
BTW, I posted above on 10/20 and I have gotten my Kindle back! Someone tried to register it, got the "lost or stolen" message, and was kind enough to turn it in to a local police station in Seattle. They called amazon, amazon called me, and I sent the police a stamped box to send it back to me.
What I’ve since done is set up parental controls so that it can’t be de-registered and the store can’t be used without a password. I also put my phone number and "reward" back in the name. So if someone finds it, they can’t do anything with it except call me and ask for their reward.
I did not password-protect it, because when it asks for the password, you can’t see the title, so if someone finds it, they can’t do ANYthing with it, including try to return it. I’m going to suggest to amazon they let you add info to the PW screen that would let people contact the owner.
Scott Bryant December 2, 2013 um 9:54 pm
Well, got a little surprise today from Amazon.com. I had my identity stolen. Someone set up an account in my name and stole $54.75 out of my bank account! Amazon was able to stop 1 transaction for $15.50, but the other for $39.25 can not be stop! They refused to tell me what was ordered, who ordered it, or where it originated from. I will be visiting the bank tomorrow to dispute both charges. I told the lady by not giving me any of the information about the false account, they are protecting the thieves! DO NOT BUY FROM AMAZON.COM!!!!!
Jen December 10, 2013 um 6:10 pm
Mine was just stolen and the only good thing is that Amazon can completely deactivate the device. Meaning an average thief can’t use at all, even if they have already registered it to another account. Doesn’t get it back but at least it is worthless to them.
Larry January 2, 2014 um 1:22 pm
I recently found a Kindle which I tried to return to the owner. I contacted Amazon just to ask them to notify the owner which police station to pick it up at. Amazon absolutely refused to contact the registered owner saying it was a matter of safety. Utterly ridiculous! Fortunately, I located the owner today through signs I posted in the neighborhood.
Barbara January 3, 2014 um 1:17 am
In my case, the police contacted Amazon, who then contacted me. The thief just handed it in at a random station. Maybe that would have worked in your case. But I’m glad you found the owner.
Milan February 21, 2015 um 7:23 pm
My dad bought a "used" kindle fire from kijiji; we tried to register it but found out it was stolen, we notified the police and amazon but they were no help. We asked amazon if they could give our contact info to the original owner but they said that was a security issue. You would think that amazon would help its customers better, so far the only people who are at a loss are my dad and the original owner, and the person who stole it is up $200. It seems like it’s easier to steal a kindle than return it to its original owner. Also amazon won’t let me post on their site because I do not have any purchased items from them (I only created an amazon account for this), so I have to spend money to do the right thing. If your kindle fire hdx 8.9″ was stolen please contact me and if you still have the box message me the serial number. I’d rather not post the serial number and get people making false claims.
sorrytruthhurts February 20, 2016 um 4:18 pm
This is classic "He said, She said" No reputable company is going to break all privacy policies for any independent issue no matter how many singular unrelated issues there may be. The OP may be able to provide proof there was an existing value exceeding a certain amount (Rules and amounts vary greatly state/province/cave? to state/province/cave?) but amazon already provides great service cancelling unlawful purchases and retrieving original data. So any other hypothetical. So last is serial number which hopefully you wrote down or in which is retrievable by calling in and assuming you bought it from amazon to prove you did so pretty smart huh? NOPE. Amazon has to assume that you sold it/gifted it lawfully as much as they the "thief" stole it unlawfully. Don’t be mad at Amazon. Practically EVERY company shares this ideology. Unless you believe a back door policy that would allow untold detrimental destruction will be enacted because of your singular loss. But unfortunately re activating it and hiring a legit hacker that feels sorry and trusts your not lieing will provide great results but such services are $$$$ for best results pay in cash for obvious reasons.
Jack Faire May 16, 2016 um 5:50 pm
Actually that’s very reasonable. In most first world countries a cop can’t just come to your home and collect evidence he needs a court order aka a warrant. What the police officer is telling the person is "they won’t just tell me over the phone on my word that I am a cop doing an investigation" instead they told the police officer to do his job and get a court order that will cover Amazon from violating anyone’s privacy.
If after the court order they still refuse to divulge said information then they are the ones not doing their jobs. However since the cop is blaming the company for not just giving him the information then more likely he is not doing his job and feels your kindle isn’t worth getting a judge’s court order to do.
Michelle S June 20, 2016 um 10:19 am
I got one thing from amazon and never again will I go on there again. My kindle froze beyond repair even after hard reset. So went to go send back but since I do not know the email address I put it under they can’t help me??? I don’t understand how that happens shouldn’t they have the name address and also device on a account?? I talked to 5 people and didn’t get anywhere I have everything for it but not the email address. Only a couple month old was definitely a waste of money. If anyone has ideas I would love to hear what you have! Anything helps thanks!
Linnea K McCrary June 25, 2020 um 5:56 pm
Still to this day they do nothing. The worst CS ever. I mean even your doorbell camera is replaced if stolen and you haven’t bought a cover and invested in hours upon hours of downloads and reading!