Our Kindle eReader Order Is Snuffed Out by Amazon

On Friday afternoon, I went into our library Kindle/Amazon account to order five more Kindles; however, when I went to process the order with our corporate account, I received a message that I had exceeded my quota and that the Kindles had been removed from my shopping cart.  Now while I knew you could only order 5 at a time because of the demand on the Kindles, I truly thought this message was a technical blip, and wanting to leave work before 6PM on a Friday night, I left and decided to try again on Monday.

Today I attempted to place the order and received the exact same message.  Puzzled, I submitted an email help ticket and received this message:

Hello,

Due to strong customer demand, the current quantity limit is 3 Kindle devices per customer. We will forward your inquiry to the Kindle team and someone will contact you if we can meet your requirements and schedule.

Thank you for your interest in Kindle.

We hope to see you again.

Thank you for your recent inquiry. Did I solve your problem?

If yes, please click here:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A2Q8HO5KFZMPT3&k=hy

If no, please click here:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A2Q8HO5KFZMPT3&k=hn

Best regards,

xxxxx {I’ve removed the name of the rep}
Amazon.com
Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.

Thinking that surely this was still an error, I initiated a help ticket  around 3:25 to have Amazon Customer Service call me; 40 minutes and three customer service representatives later, I was told the exact same message in the email:  in spite of the fact we have a corporate account and are a K12 institution, not an individual consumer, our request to order more Kindles could not be approved “at this time.” The last agent I spoke with did submit a request “higher up” (he was with the “Bulk Order” division), but he could not promise that my request to try and get at least 20-25 more Kindles would be honored, nor could he say if or when this policy would be changed.

Needless to say, I’m still dumbfounded this evening.  While I appreciate the laws of supply and demand, I don’t understand (and maybe I’m naive here) why Amazon is not being more accommodating in helping educational institutions continue to order the Kindles in bulk.  Even the local stores in my community (Canton Best Buy, Staples, Target) don’t have the model we want (3G + WiFI) in stock, and they have not been able to tell me when they’ll come in to stock. Even if they did, I doubt they would have enough to meet our purchasing wishes.

While we had planned to also purchase Nooks, it looks like we now have been pushed into moving up that plan a little earlier than planned.

If you are a school or library of any kind that has been doing some higher volume purchasing of Kindles, what kind of responses are you getting as you try to order additional quantities of Kindles?

22 thoughts on “Our Kindle eReader Order Is Snuffed Out by Amazon

  1. Good Gravy! I don’t get it. I realize that the eReader universe does not revolve around libraries — or perhaps I should say that we are something akin to Pluto in their view (recently downgraded to a minor player)– but, still, I would think that one of the big dogs (Amazon in particular) would be clamoring to become *the* education device. Obviously not, as this definitely isn’t the way to do it.

    I had my own eReader drama today, but it revolved around people in my own school system. So far, our experience with Barnes & Noble has been pretty much flawless.

    Anyway, I hope this wrinkle is ironed out soon. Your Kindle journey is important to many people – both in and out of the unquiet library.

    *hugs*

  2. Oh no. I got a grant to purchase 6 Kindles and have not gotten through all the district red tape to actually order them. I have a meeting this morning to (hopefully) get the order going. Having them limit to 3 is devastating. I wonder if I should chose Nook instead. My kids have been waiting so long for these to come.

    1. FWIW Nancy, I like the nook and the Sony eReader much better than the Kindle. Both devices can use many more formats than the Kindle, and you are not locked in to the vendor for book purchases. Plus, Barnes & Noble just came out with (or is getting ready to) a color eReader!

  3. Amazon may be coming down with Netflixitis. This is a condition where they cannot deal with libraries because it (maybe) violates their DRM scheme by allowing one copy to circulate to more than one person, thereby reducing the profitability of their business model, which makes their publishers feel sick about having made this deal in the first place. This in turn makes Amazon’s shareholders sick, ultimately reducing the value of the company.

    By limiting the number of Kindles going out in the first place, it makes it harder for the invading organisms (librarians who see the future) to bring on the condition.

    Of course, it could also just be a simple supply and demand issue, but I don’t think so. Amazon is able to do sales forecasts and provide those to the factories that make the Kindle, who can then adjust their production schedules accordingly.

    I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV, and I didn’t sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night🙂

  4. Why not get the Certified Pre Owned Nooks that B&N is flogging all over the place, both their own website, ebay, buy.com, & overstock. The 3G models on overstock are $119!!

  5. This is OT to your post, but I’m just wondering if your library knew that it’s now possible to read overdrive library books on the iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad? Most students already have one of those devices. There’s a free app called ‘Bluefire’ on iTunes that does that job.

    That way, there’s an added way for people to avail of your library ebooks.

  6. I love Amazon and the fix was easy. Just add another Amazon account. You can keep the same email address attached to all accounts just use a different password and user name. I made 3 accounts to order 12 Kindles then re-registered them on 2 accounts of 6 each. Since each ebook can be loaded on 6 devices (on the same account) any title we order goes on 6 eReaders. We catalog a bit differently than you also. Kindles 1-6 are on one MARC record and the titles on those are part of the record(730 tag); the individual Kindle is cataloged as a copy. If a student wants to read “Looking for Alaska” a title search will show it’s available in print AND on one of those Kindles. Kindles 7-12 have different eBooks. I’m not loading them up with free downloads unless there’s a request. We began circulating 11/5/10 and all 12 Kindles are out with a wait list. Grouping in sets of 6 gets maximum bang for your buck, and creating additional Kindle accounts to get the eReaders is a minor obstacle. Thanks for all your posts!

    1. Patty, before I fully respond…
      1. are you using a corporate account and POs to purchase your Kindles? I thought only one email could be tied to a corporate account?
      2. are you able to edit your own MARC records? We cannot, and that factor impacted some of our cataloging decisions.

      Thanks, and I will write more back at you soon!

      Best,
      Buffy

      1. I’m using a personal Amazon account and being reimbursed through a grant. I did talk to a very helpful man at Amazon (with a cute British accent – sorry can’t remember his name) who gave me the option of going through a corporate account to purchase all 12 at once. It would have taken more time but it was possible. If you call Amazon Kindle support perhaps they could direct you to someone who can help. I was shocked to see comments on your blog from folks who don’t like Amazon. Amazon has been very helpful and I purchase from them often.
        Yes, I edit our MARC records all the time! I’m surprised you can’t. The way our Kindles are cataloged works well and is visually appealing too.

      2. Hi! Yes, we have a corporate account with the ability to do purchase orders, but even those are under the three per account limit–as I mentioned in the blog post, I spent nearly an hour on the phone and talked all the way up to “Bulk orders” (the ones who handle the large corporate accounts). I don’t think the negative comments re: Amazon earlier were a matter of not liking their customer service but are bigger issues/philosophical differences with some of their corporate policies that may or may not relate to Kindle. We have 30+ schools in our district, so when we converted from InfoCentre to Destiny in 2007, our ability to edit MARC records was removed in an effort to clean up and keep uniformity in the MARC records across the district. Hence, that is why we made the cataloging decisions we did since we can only work with copies and would not have the ability to modify/update the 730 tag.

    2. Thanks for the suggestions about using different passwords and usernames. I’ll try that at school on Monday. I, too, am a librarian and was getting ready to submit an order last Friday, but our bookkeeper was out. Hopefully everything works out well on Monday.

  7. I’ve followed this thread with interest. As library media specialists, we’re so used to fiddling with little glitches in every new technology we touch that we are way too patient! And this isn’t even a tech glitch, just lousy customer service. But before we bash Amazon too badly, I’ve had just as many wrong answers/mixed responses from Barnes &Noble online and phone support. Here was my solution: I bought 50 Nook ereaders and completely bypassed online ordering and support. I dealt directly with the corporate account and community relations manager at the closest large Barnes & Noble store. I ordered the devices from them, they delivered them to my school and spent several hours troubleshooting. They’ve been very interested in learning how our needs are different from an individual or business account and have actually worked to solve all the little account/access/credit card issues so we can get these into readers’ hands. My advice is get offline and deal with someone local who has a customer service mindset.

    1. Paula: I agree that the online/phone communication can get tricky at times—being able to visit a Barnes and Noble store (if there is one close to you) is definitely an advantage of the Nook; being able to deal with a sales rep face to face can sometimes improve the communication process as well. Unfortunately, the only way to go local with Kindle is to hope that a local Best Buy, Target, or Staples has them in stock. That has not been the case where I live, and no one at the any of the stores has been able to know when more stock might come; obviously, those kinds of feeder stores are not really equipped to handle bulk orders from corporations or schools. Short of spending an hour on the phone, I am not sure what other recourse I really have at this point since visiting an Amazon physical store is not an option. The bigger issue, I think, though, is that any company/vendor–whether it be Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble–should offer excellent customer service at any point of contact whether it be in person, via phone, or online. Being able to physically visit a vendor’s store is not always possible or feasible.

      In defense of the salespeople I talked to, they were courteous but most likely not authorized to override Amazon policy, which I do understand. However, I am still hopeful that upper management at Amazon will listen to these concerns and be responsive to those in a way that is a win-win for both parties.

      If you know of any other means to deal with Amazon face to face, I welcome your suggestions!

      Best,
      Buffy

      1. Wow! What a timely thread to read. I got a grant to purchase 12 Kindles. I placed my order last week and ran into these “limiting” issues you describe. I was able to order 6 (1 Wi-Fi 3G & 5 Wi-Fi) on my personal account that I’ve had for years and use often. When I got the message that I couldn’t get more than 6, I proceeded, as a previous poster suggested, to create a dummy account to get more. Interestingly, the nice man with an Indian accent that I spoke with before beginning the order process, never mentioned anything about an order limit. In any case, with the new dummy account, I was only able to purchase 3 Kindles, which I’m waiting to receive. I may end up getting a few Nooks to make up the balance instead of battling with Amazon. While I understand supply and demand, this is nonetheless aggravating and could get more than a little complicated for busy librarians, trying to keep up with multiple accounts and which books are on which Kindle and the like. I must admit, though, I do like the Kindles. I also very much like your “Make Your Momma Proud” commercials!

        I’ll be flowing your blog to see how this all pans out. Thanks for sharing your experience and your resources.

  8. Woohoo! While cleaning off my desk (in anticipation of a budget meeting) I found the note with contact info for the helpful individual at Amazon corporate. I’m not posting it here but you can contact me through the Kindle, Nook, eReader Ning and I’d be happy to pass it along.
    What a shame you can’t modify MARC records. Giving patrons the ability to see what’s on each Kindle is such a plus. It’s easy to update, and saves paper and time for all involved. Enhancing the print book’s MARC 530 tag makes the search more visually appealling. There’s a link to my catalog on the Ning so you can see how it works for the patrons.

  9. Our school just received a grant for 12 Kindles and I’ve run into the same limitations. We have a corporate account with a line of credit. I tried setting up sub-accounts under my main account, but still could not purchase more than three. I spoke with two representatives from Amazon who could not offer any solutions. Our school board office was able to order one more for me and our bookkeeper is going to try to set up a separate account and order me three more, but I’ve been toying with the idea of purchasing Nooks to make up the difference. We do not have a Barnes and Noble close by, though, so it would have to be taken care of on-line. Very frustrating!

  10. While this article is out of date, I felt it necessary to let you know that around the time this article was posting there was indeed a limit of 5 Kindles that can be purchased, regardless if it was a corporate account or personal account the Kindles were being purchased under.

    That was later reduced to 3 to ensure anyone who wanted a Kindle could get one and no one person or entity could purchase up what we had left. I do recall we were fairly regularly out of stock on Kindles at that time as well.

    I do not have the specifics as to exactly why bulk orders had that restriction because I am merely Kindle Support and specific reasoning is not information I am privileged to. But what I do know is we wanted to ensure Kindles were available as some bulk orders…can be pretty large.

    After the holiday season last year it turned out the 3rd generation Kindle had actually surpassed the sales of all other models in previous years hence what I perceived as a supply/demand issue.

    However, the purchase limit was lifted around Christmas. It seemed that last holiday season was just not a good time to order in bulk.

    Please note, this is not posted in any official capacity with Amazon.com. I simply wanted to provide an answer, if late, in my off time to an educator as to the likely reason why you had trouble ordering multiple Kindles at that time🙂

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