Kindles crack, Amazon sued

Those who opted for a US$30 protective case with the e-reader are reportedly seeing the Kindle itself crack under pressure

The irony is beautiful: To protect your Kindle, don't buy protection.

Those who opted for a US$30 protective case with the e-reader are reportedly seeing the Kindle itself crack under pressure, and one customer is suing Amazon for his troubles.

Matthew Geise, executive director of a property management firm in Seattle, bought the second-generation Kindle for his wife, and the device's screen started freezing after cracks developed on the frame. He filed a federal class action lawsuit seeking more than $5 million in refunds, treble damages, and legal costs, The Seattle Times reports.

Brier Dudley, who wrote the story, doesn't specify the exact case model, but it's likely Geise is referring to the $30 leather cover that Amazon hawks immediately under the Kindle's "Add to Shopping Cart" button. The product has a 4.5-star customer rating, but on the low end, complaints of cracking abound.

"I loved this cover," wrote J. Nichols of Oakland, California. "It's high quality and attached to the Kindle securely. And then I noticed that the bottom hook was made in such a way as to crack the Kindle. Now my Kindle has a hairline crack in it which as you can imagine ticks me off."

Other customers reported similar problems, originating from where the hinges of the cover meet the device. A customer service representative reportedly told E. Priestley of Seattle that the damage is caused by resting fingers between the back of the Kindle and the cover, separating the two, and recommended putting a piece of Velcro tape in between to keep them together.

A customer service rep told Geise's wife that cracks are a common problem, but she would nonetheless need to pay $200 to get a replacement, because the damage isn't covered by warranty. The rep said the damage comes from improperly opening the cover backwards, which the customer denies doing.

Geise's attorney is Beth Terrell, who represented customers in a class-action lawsuit against Best Buy and Microsoft for unwanted MSN trials in Windows Vista. She estimates that "scores, if not hundreds" of Kindle owners have cracked frames.

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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