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Rakuten Responds to Complaints About the Hidden Reviews

Earlier this week I broke the news that the Kobo Touch launch was not going well in Japan, and after getting a lot of negative reviews Rakuten decided to hide the problem rather than deal with it.

I happen to still be waiting for a response from Kobo, and to be honest I don’t expect to ever hear from them (their marketing dept doesn’t like me for some reason). But Rakuten has chosen to respond to the issue and I have a quote from them here:

Following the launch of Kobo Touch in Japan we saw a tremendous consumer response. Unfortunately, some users were able to gain access to the system before our official launch timing of 15:00 on July 19th. Users began writing reviews and comments about the service that was not yet ready for public release. We then launched on schedule, but considering the review board had been populated by feedback not relevant to the actual service we decided to temporarily suspend the review board feature, which we felt was not fully reflective of the service at launch time and was misinforming consumers.

However, we understand that we did not meet the high expectations of our loyal customers. We have been listening to their feedback through our customer support center and having been working around the clock to resolve all outstanding issues.

So according to Rakuten they let the site go live before the service was up and running. This let people get in and post reviews before Rakuten was ready.

I don’t believe that is the core of the issue, but even if it were it would only explain some of the problems reported. They’re glossing over a number of other issues.

For example, Rakuten promised 30 thousand Japanese language titles; they launched with only 18,894. What’s more, the statement above ignores the fact that (according to one of my readers) Rakuten/Kobo pushed out a buggy firmware update.There are also reports of activation issues for the Kobo Touch as well as problems with the Kobo Desktop software.

And Rakuten is also failing to mention how their customer service fell down on the job. This was clear in a number of reviews posted (though Google translate isn’t the best at Jap-Eng), and there were even complaints about Rakuten 's CS dating from the 20th through the 22nd – which means that the early access wasn’t relevant at all.

Folks, Rakuten & Kobo are pitching themselves as the only real answer to Amazon on the global ebook market. If this launch in Japan is any indication of their combined abilities I think we might want to save some effort and go buy Kindles right now.

Rakuten can’t even come clean on their mistakes – not even after they’re know to the world. Is this really going to be someone you’d trust to sell you anything?

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Rashkae July 27, 2012 um 1:41 pm

As the owner of several E-ink devices, (not including Nooks, since I’m not in the states,) I can oppine that *anything* is better than the Kobo. However, the problems with Kobo are mostly in the attitude to customers, rather than the device hardware itself. Kobo, as a prime example, is the only device that, by design, does not work out of the box, and requires the extra step of sotware and account set up on the pc before you can even play with the new toy.

That, combined with forced firmware updates which completely re-work the user interface every 6 months, and it’s easy to see how Kobo is always upsetting one segment of their customers or the other. Hopefully, the result of this Japanese launch will prompt Rakuten to clean house on Kobo product management.

Nate Hoffelder July 27, 2012 um 2:30 pm

No, I’m pretty sure the Kindle needs to be registered before it works. And even the Nook either has to be registered – unless you know the bypass trick.

fjtorres July 27, 2012 um 7:25 pm

With Kindles it depends on where/how you buy them.
If you buy them direct and don’t specify it’s a gift, they arrive pre-registered. You just turn them on and they’re good to go. (At least the KT I bought direct from Amazon arrived that way. And all the FIRE reviews said they were pre-registered.)
Retail units need to be registered but they don’t need a PC to register.
It sounds as if the Kobo needs to be registered via the PC app and if the PC app won’t work…

Name (required) July 28, 2012 um 6:12 am

You need to register Kindle before using ALL the features, but it is not totally unuseable without registering. An unregistered, or a blacklisted Kindle is still able to read a side-loaded book. You just can’t use some features, such as Collections. So when you unpack your shiny new toy, you can still use it, even if the server is down, or you are not in the WiFi range at the moment. Plus, most of the Kindles do come registered automatically. Not that I defend Amazon here, I just provide examples why Kobo is even worse.

Some companies – like Kobo here or Apple – decide to hold your device a hostage until you register. I very strongly dislike that. "I see you have bought an expensive gadget, now before I allow you to use it you have to jump through following hops:
Get a windows computer (*) with Windows version recent enough,
Download installation media,
Install this pathetically bad Windows desktop software,
Give us your Credit Card number (**),
Link the device wih account with a CC, so you can purchase things accidentaly, and your kid too,
Register with us, put up with advertisments on device or books we try to push on you"
No. Thank you.

(*) I for example do not have Windows computer with an installation recent enough at home, and there are quite a few such users, who use Apple computer, Android or Apple tablet, Linux of perhaps Asus Transformer as their Home devices
(**) again, I do not have Credit Card and I do not plan getting one in foreseeable feature (Yup, right, I do not live in USA)

Rashkae July 28, 2012 um 11:03 am

Personally, I like leaving my devices unregistered, but that’s not what I was complaining about here. The Kindle can regsitger itself, thank you very much, as soon as it’s in sight of a Wifi connection. (With or without real verifiable id data.) Either way, it works out of the box with no set-up necessary to put on some documents and read them. For that matter, Amazon is the only e-reader company that goes out of it’s way to publish downloadable updates with instructions on how to install them for non-syncing devices. (Sony does as well, but you need a bit of google foo to find them.)

Jay Mills February 8, 2013 um 9:35 am

Nook is a piece of crap!!

Riaz Ahmed March 21, 2013 um 12:09 pm

Lately I am experiencing fraudulent charges in my credit card while shopping in Rakuten. It happened to me twice. First there was more than $4000 of fraudulent charges, luckily the bank recognized the fraud transaction and did not approve. I have no problems with the product, they have good products but there is too much to lose shopping in

Prasad March 30, 2013 um 5:24 am

Shopped on rakuten, loved the site delivery, customer experience and had no problems.

But few days credit card was frauded.
I came to this blog by searching on google to see if anyone else had a cc fraud after using a cc on

Ok user April 9, 2013 um 11:48 am

I just got cc stolen after using it on Rakuten too. Googled to search if anyone else suffered the similar situation, then found your comments here.

Pissed April 20, 2013 um 1:02 pm

Just had my CC stolen right after using Rakuten, too. First time I used the store and the first time I have ever had my number stolen. Remember to report to the police. They picked up a large item at a store and I got the store to save the surveillance tape for the police.

Will April 22, 2013 um 10:13 pm

Also had my CC stolen after using Rakuten. Rakuten employees asked me to fax my driver license and credit card prior to charging the item. I felt that it’s not wise to fax the DL. Fortunately, I didn’t, otherwise all my info may have been stolen as well. I’m not sure if this asking DL online practice is legal or not. But really, Rakuten needs to investigate their employees.

A.S. 2606 May 5, 2013 um 1:29 am

Rakuten.comn is TRULY ANND UTTERLY UNRELIABLE & MISLEADING. Let me stress this again: TRULY AND UTTERLY UNRELIABLE & MISLEADING. They cheat customers like you would not believe. For example, their advertised promotions say "As always, free shipping on all email products". This was not true. At checkout, I see the "shipping & handling" was $15.03. I expected this $15.03 to be waived per their advertisement but it did not. My total still included this shipping & handling. When I called, the customer representative told me the advertisement meant "Free Shipping" on certain products listed on this one page. No, the advertisement did not mention this at all. So when you are looking forward to getting free shipping on your online order, they cheat you by hiding the truth of "ONLY CERTAIN ITEMS ARE ELIGIBLE FOR FREE SHIPPING". In addition, the customer service representaive does not attempt to make an unhappy customer into a satisfied customer. If they cared about and their customers, she should have at least been trained to say something along these lines: "I know the advertisement read 'As always, free shipping on all email products' and this would mislead customers into believing this. I will honor the free shipping for you since our advertisement was very confusoing & misleading". I believe this could have been the minimum should have done for me as a customer.

There is much more: Not only do they mislead with their false advertisements/promotions, but they have the longest wait time I have ever experienced. I was on hold waiting to speak with someone to assist me in the complaint above. I waited about 15 minutes and when I finally got someone on the phone, that same representative I mentioned above, put me on hold, but really hung up on me (it was definitely not my phone as it said "call ended" and my phone never drops calls). I’m thinking she probably could not handle my complaint because it was clearly a mistake on thier part so she got rid of me the fast & easy way of simply hanging up.

There is more: About 2 weeks ago,they sent me an email "Ealy Bird Special 20% off on all orders placed before 1:00pm". I saw this email at about 1:23pm and really wanted to purchase something. I couldn’t locate a customer service phone # anywhere so that I can call and ask if they could still honor this promotion for me. I just found an email address for their customer service. I sent the email at about 1:30pm (they sould have seen what time I sent this to them) stating that I saw the email a little too late, but if they can still honor it since I wanted to make a big purchase. In response, they wrote "Unfortunately, the promotion was only good for purchases made before 1:00pm. We invite you to keep watching out for our ongoing promotions". What I don’t understand is why couldn’t they just make me happy and override this "Ealy Bird" discount? What was so difficult to make your customer happy in this way? I asked to speak with a supervisor and was told that the supervisor is on another call and will call me back within 1-2 hours. After waiting over 3 hours, no one bothered to call me back so I called again. The representative told me the same thing (supervisor is on another call). She reassured me that my complaint is noted in the system and a supervisor will call me back today. Guess what? It is now the day after I spoke with these representatives and no one ever bothered to call me back. I have never experienced such poor, distrustful and unreliable customer service. I can not fathom how they are still in business and why an internal investigation has not been started on the business.

Lastly,two of my credit cards information used on was stolen. I noticed these fraugelent charges right after ordering from them. Please avoid, avoid, avoid, and stay far away from You are completely better off without them. They have fake/misleading promotions and the worst customer service out there. Experiencing them will just get you frustrated like I am. My one star rating is really too much for them. This kind of customer service is surreal and I only thought I see this in movies.

Rob May 14, 2013 um 2:20 pm

The deals and points with Rakuten are occasionally quite good. HOWEVER, there seem to be many reports (and add me to the list) of unauthorized transactions on customer’s credit card accounts after Rakuten ( purchases. (My credit card was new and only used at Rakuten, so that’s enough proof for me.)

Quote from another site where almost 100 users have reported credit card fraud after Rakuten purchases:
"Please be cautious about providing Rakuten ( with your real credit card account number. Please consider other services (, PayPal or a virtual account number) instead. More than 88 SD Users have had their credit card account number compromised as a result of recent Rakuten ( purchases. There are many more instances now appearing on other deal boards too.
(This is not meant to say anything negative about deals that may exist at Rakuten. It’s only meant to draw attention to the integrity of their order processing department.)"

Jason Bell May 23, 2013 um 8:07 am

This company is a complete fraud. Avoid at ALL COSTS. Fraudulent credit card theft going on their for months, I have read back as far as January on Slick Deals.

I had over $800 in fraudulent charges on my Visa. Sounds like the mgmt of Rakuten is in on the scam.

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