Conan O’Brien parodies Jeff Bezos…and I tell you real complaints people have with the Kindle Fire

Conan O’Brien parodies Jeff Bezos…and I tell you real complaints people have with the Kindle Fire

First, let me assure my long-time readers…I’m not just writing about the Kindle Fire. 🙂 One of my readers whom I especially respect brought that up to me in a private comment, so I did some analysis.

It may seem like I’m writing about it a lot, and certainly, it is the individual model which is getting the most attention in the blog right now. My analysis showed me that I am doing quite a few posts of global (to Kindle owners) interest.

However, I always try to keep this blog eclectic. If you don’t like the subject of one post (and I figure every post is disliked by somebody…not my intent, but that’s just recognizing the diversity of the human mind), just wait for the next one (or the one after that). I try to make sure all of my subscribers get their ninety-nine cents a month worth. 🙂

That said, Conan O’Brien (or at least Team CoCo) has posted a mock commercial of Jeff Bezos apologizing for problems with the Kindle Fire:

Conan starts out by calling the Fire “Amazon’s answer to the iPad”, and then says in part:

“…a lot of customers are complaining about a bunch of problems they experience with the Kindle Fire.”

They then go into a fake statement from Jeff Bezos.

I have to say that Conan has done some great comedy in the past…but I wasn’t crazy about this one.

For one thing, the actor playing Jeff Bezos was nothing like him. Jeff is a distinctive personality…he wouldn’t have been hard to parody a lot more closely. Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory could have nailed it (with a partial  bald wig). I’m sure he could do Jeff’s laugh. 🙂

I like Jeff, by the way…I think he’s charming. Amazon’s CEO seems to have the kind of enthusiasm for life I admire.

They mention one real complaint people have (about the power button being easy to hit by accident), but the rest of it is…unrelated to reality.

It’s a coincidence, because I was considering writing something tonight about what complaints I really am seeing. I’m going to go ahead and do that…even if you don’t have a Fire, I think you’ll find this interesting. It’s not all technical.

I should start out with my having gotten two Kindle Fires now (I returned one because the screen was scratched…not sure if we did that or it came that way), and it hasn’t been hard to set them up on my network.

That is one of the big complaints I’ve seen, though. People (understandably) angry because they got the Kindle Fire for Christmas for somebody, and they couldn’t get it to work.

The first thing that stands out for me about those complaints is that many of them had been frustratedly trying to get it to work for hours.

That tells me that they aren’t experienced with Kindle Support.

I wouldn’t sit there with an unworking product from Amazon trying to fix it myself while somebody was waiting.

I’d contact Kindle Support through

There’s a

Contact Us

button on your right.

You can e-mail them, call them, or have them call you.

People were going to send the Fire back without calling Kindle Support first.

I would guess, in many cases, that Kindle Support could have talked them through the process in just a couple of minutes.

I’m not sure how Amazon could promote their superior service better. I suppose many people don’t want to call a Customer Service line because they’ve had bad experiences with them elsewhere.

Here’s another thing: people are getting the Fire with no idea what it is or how it works.

They don’t know if they have a wi-fi network in their homes, for example.

That’s a bit like buying a car and the returning it because you don’t know how to drive. That’s not an unreasonable decision, but it does say something about the buying process.

The 3G Kindles actually did set up very easily, with no need for technical knowledge.

Wi-fi Kindles require knowing how to put something on your home wi-fi network (to use them as most people will), and many folks don’t know how to do that. It probably seems simple to many of us, but we’ve done it before. We know where the wi-fi password is, how to scan for a network, and so on.

A 3G Kindle Fire would resolve all that, but that’s pretty complicated to do. You’d likely then be dealing with a data plan..;paying a monthly fee. We don’t pay one with 3G RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles), but an e-book requires a tiny bit of bandwidth, compared to a movie, for example.

This also applies to RSKs…I’ve seen people complain about getting on the network with their new Kindle Touches.

The other major complaint would require reworking the way Kindles are used and viewed by Amazon…but I think it may be coming.

The Kindle Fire is clearly being given to a lot of children.

RSKs were given to children, too, but I’d guess that the percentage of Fires going to children is much higher than the percentage of Kindle Touches going to children.

That means that content that might not be appropriate for children is an issue.

This is more than just parental controls. Maybe one parent/legal guardian gets romances, and the other one gets shoot-em-ups. They might want to keep both of those away from their kids.

The long-term solution is something I’ve been talking about for some time…device specific archives. Those would have to be set up at

It would require a lot more active control by the account “Manager”…allowing certain content but not other content.

That Manager is just a customer who has the username and password for the account.

Again, that would be a major change…but I think something like that is inevitable.

In the mean time, they could simply lock the Cloud (archives) on the Fire with a user set PIN (Personal Identification Number). You wouldn’t see it without entering the PIN. Enter it, download, and lock it again.

That’s not as sophisticated as I picture device specific archives. With those, you designate a number of books for a device, and the user of that device can download those (and only those) when they want to do that.

Those are the two main complaints.

I also see a lot of confusion about the Kindle Owners Lending Library…people don’t get how it works, and I’ve seen people say they ordered several books expecting them to be free. I’ve run into a couple of people whose Kindle (the $79/$109 model that I call the Mindle) has gotten switched so that the menus are in a different language. I’m not at all sure how that would occur…it’s not something you could just change with one accidental click.

Anything else you’d say you are hearing about a lot? If so, let me know…I’ll see if I can give you an answer.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


20 Responses to “Conan O’Brien parodies Jeff Bezos…and I tell you real complaints people have with the Kindle Fire”

  1. Clint Bradford Says:

    Great post. There are a couple “categories” of electronics products that I seem to get along well with and, when I read others’ alleged horror stories, I immediately think (but not write), “What the heck are they talking about?” Then there are those who blindly complain about “lack” of support: Even just last week, I was speaking to an Amazon rep within seven minutes on the phone who was able to cure my problem. Amazon has not disappointed yet – with either our K2, K3, or Fire e-readers.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Clint!

      I sometimes think that people are complaining about things that were true years (or decades) ago. That makes some sense…it’s easier to stay with a “secret” you’ve found out, than to keep testing. I always try to keep re-examining my beliefs (although of course, like everybody else, I’m not always successful in that).

      There is a mental effort advantage in simply eliminating something and not looking at it again. I’ll admit, we’ve done that with stores. If a store has a policy about something, or we have a bad interaction that seems to be due to a system issue, we simply never shop there again.


      Well, I think part of that is that the next time we go shopping, we don’t have to consider that store in our calculations.

      Fewer choices, less effort to decide.

      Obviously, that could also mean missing out on something positive.

      We don’t do that consciously, but I think that’s part of people not calling Customer Service, because they decided at some point it was “bad’. They also may have decided that only “suckers” believe Customer Service actually provides…service to customers. 😉 Rather than get fooled by what they think is a majority error, they can feel smarter by not doing it.

      Wow, that’s a bit more of a philosophical discussion than I expected this morning! Thanks! 🙂

  2. jane shepard Says:

    i saw the tv show he did on the fire. he said people were complaining that the fire was catching on fire. i was horrified. iknow he is a comedian but that crossed the line. jane shepard

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, jane!

      Well, the joke is obvious (which was one of the things that didn’t impress me about th piece), but I can see how that’s going to get out there as an urban legend…and probably not tied specifically to Amazon or the Kindle.

      Hmm…some time in the future…three siblings are in an antique store:

      Al: “Hey, look a paperbook! I’m going to buy that.”

      Harry: “You can’t do that.”

      Al: “Why not?”

      Harry: “Don’t you know they can burst into flames?”

      Al: “What? No, they can’t.”

      Jimmy: “Sure they can. I’ve heard that, too. That’s why they stopped making books out of paper. Paper’s flammable. People used to have metal boxes they could throw a book into when it started spontaneously burning from the friction of turning the pages.”

      Al: “I didn’t know that.”

      Harry: “Sure, it’s just like rubbing two sticks together.”

      Al: “Well, they do have a 1978 Pinto out back…that looks cool.”

      Jimmy: “I heard those could explode.”

      Harry: “Oh, that wasn’t true…it’s just something a bunch of people believed after some news story…”

      Al and Jimmy together: “Road trip!”


  3. Pineapple Says:

    Bufo – I’m still seeing alot of people complaining that they can’t read their books after they’ve downloaded them without wi-fi. They download it, start to read it and then go somewhere without wi-fi and can’t open it.

    There were at least a dozen new threads on this Tuesday that I saw. Very strange.

  4. Rose in PV AZ Says:

    Even though I don’t own a K Fire, I still enjoy reading about them and potential pitfalls/solutions. One day I might want to get one and like knowing ahead of time how to do things like set up, buy apps, get freebies, etc.

    For people like me, without smartphones and wifi at home, it’s all an education.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Rose!

      I really appreciate that feedback! I always like to read about…well, pretty much everything. 😉 I understand that people don’t want the blog to be overwhelmed by Fire coverage. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that some Kindleers were bragging about not having backlighting…

  5. Alison Mitchell Says:

    I am an avid Kindle keyboard user, and my daughter just received a Fire. My complaints so far are few, but I haven’t gotten to play with it too much. The first complaint has been an issue for me before the fire. If I have a gift card balance I want to choose when to use it. Now that my daughter and I are sharing an account it is hard, because she received several gift cards for her new Fire. If I want to buy anything I either have to gift it to myself or keep track of what I accidentally use on her GCs.
    My other issue is directly related to the Fire. She now has all of my books, but doesn’t know what they are about. On the fire there is now way to get a book description of a book on your device or on the cloud without going to the store and looking it up. I bought the books and can’t always remember what they are about! I think that should be changed.
    We haven’t had the inability to finish a book that was downloaded yet, but we are new to the device. That woud be a huge deal for us, as my daughter travels to see family that doesn’t have wifi and the new Fire is a big plan for those travels.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Alison!

      You aren’t the only person who doesn’t like the gift card thing, although that’s unrelated to the Fire, of course. Kindle books are bought through 1-click…I’ve always kind of guessed that’s because prices can change at any time. The problem is that it’s all lumped together…so any time you use 1-click it draws from that gift card balance.

      However, the interesting thing is that the Special Offers are able to keep things separate. I recently redeemed a discount for an MP3 album, and a different one for a video. My tracking right now looks like this:

      Your Balances

      While I know the others aren’t gift cards, it does seem like separate tracking is possible.

      I hadn’t thought about the book description, but I didn’t see a way to do it when I looked. You could, of course, put a note in the book…a lot of people do that. That would be available on the Fire (although you’d have to open the book to see it).

      You could also use an app…

  6. wildsubnet Says:

    I suspect a lot of the wi-fi problems people are having are caused by too many devices on the router. Older cheaper routers can handle around 5 or so devices. A lot of households have exceeded that number at this point and it causes problems. Upgrading to a higher end router solves it. Seems a lot of people who complain about the Fire’s wi-fi always seem to state they have multiple devices on. Some go on to say their router manufacturers helped them solve the issue (in that case I wonder if they are running out of DHCP addresses).

    Could also be the Fire. I bought one for my daughter and it’s performed will so far but there were a couple wifi dropouts when streaming videos. Nothing I would call a pattern yet and it was Christmas day…

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, wikisubnet!

      That’s a good point.

      I’ve only seen a tiny stutter once…but I don’t think I watched videos on Christmas. 🙂

  7. Gwen Says:

    Having spent the last couple of weeks addicted to the forums, I have come to the conclusion that the price point of the Fire has made it a sort of gateway drug into the tablet market and then more advanced mobile computing. People that have never thought of going wireless, didn’t even know what it meant, are snatching these puppies up. Not saying that it is a bad thing, just that the learning curve is HUGE for many.

    So many of the problems and questions have to do with basic stuff, like what is wifi, do I have it, and what is my password? What baffles me even more is that many of these same people, not even knowing the basic terminology and whether or not they have it, expect so much for that $200 price point.

    The Luddites, god bless them, have made the jump and there are many of ready to explain/help so that jump doesn’t lead them off a cliff or make them run away angry. Still, it is hard to give help, over and over and over and over again. You, however, seem to do it with aplomb. Cheers and what’s your secret?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Gwen!

      Yes, those forums are addictive, aren’t they? 🙂

      I do think you are right that people are buying Kindle Fires as their first tablets…and that they not unreasonably expected them to be as easy to use as an RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle).

      After all, one of the reasons for the success of the Kindle, in my opinion, is that it was so much easier to use than most of the other EBRs (E-Book Readers) that were available in the USA at the time. How many people actually wanted to tether an eBookwise reader to get books? It was much cheaper than the Kindle 1, but not as popular.

      I maintain that it would have been if Amazon hadn’t called it a Kindle Fire…an Amazon Fire would have been fine. It’s given people a false idea about what it is, as far as I’m concerned.

      I don’t think there is a secret to dealing with people with respect and patience, any more than “eat less, exercise more” is a “secret” for weight loss. 😉 If somebody asks a question I’ve answered a hundred times before, that doesn’t bother me…this is a new person, and the question is just legitimate the 101st time.

      I’ve written before about one of my “triggers’…multiple, repetitive exclamation marks. You know, when someone says, “How do you download a book???” I refer to people who do that as “serial puncs”. 😉 I can get past that gut reaction, though. The same question sincerely asked multiple times by different people? Not a trigger for me…why should it be? They don’t know it’s been answered before, generally. It’s seeing things from their perspective, not mine, that matters. As a professional educator, that’s part of my skill set…or should be. 🙂

  8. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I’m not seeing many of the problems that people are reporting (save the power button one, which is easily handled by using the KF in an upside down position). The one big deficit in comparison with my KDX is the lack of collections. I have so many books from so many sources that I’m loath to put much on the KF. Instead, when I buy, it gets delivered to the KDX and put into a collection, and then moved to the KF if necessary. The KDX has kind of become my book/media database device.

    While I have had almost no problems with the KF, the Kindle Touch SO is another matter. I had about 30 books on it, and I was noticing that every time I powered it on, it was taking longer and longer to start up. It would also out of the blue from time to time decide to reboot, or display the SO page. Yesterday, I bought a couple of books, and it got excruciatingly slow (like 10-30 seconds between each character that I typed on the virtual keyboard). Then it stopped seeing the wifi network (all my other devices saw the wifi just fine). I tried restarting it — no joy; then I tried to do a factory reset, and it just did a normal restart. I tried the factory reset a 2nd time, and it did it, and wifi came back along with my collections, but no books (after I reregistered the KT). I now have 1 book on it, and it seems fine. I looked on the kindle community forums a bit and I found at least one thread reporting similar behavior.

    This doesn’t fill me with confidence — before this I would have said the KT was an excellent mass market reader. I’ll probably call customer support later today — just so they know about the issue.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Interesting…I haven’t experienced anything like that with my Kindle Touch, but I never put very many Kindle store books on any of my Kindles. I also haven’t seen a lot of comments about that.

      However, I trust your report of your experiences…as a regular commenter, I feel like I know you. 🙂

      My intuition is that they are going to replace it for you. I’m not sure what would be different about a Kindle Touch generally that would cause those problems. Sure, the interface probably requires some more intense processing than physical buttons, but it seems odd that would cause all of the problems you are seeing.

      I’d be reluctant to presume it’s the Kindle Touch design…I’ve heard horror stories about different Kindle models…just like there are problems with any technology.

      I’m curious to hear what they tell you…thanks for sharing that!

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        Thanks for your reply. I went back to the Amazon forums for a more detailed look-see. There were two different threads (one with 21 participants, the other with 19). Many reporting similar issues as mine; some others saying: “gee, I’m not seeing that). One pattern is that it appears to be happening after around 1 month of ownership, and out of the blue. Some have called CS and Amazon is replacing their KT’s.

        Many like me find that factory reset clears it up (at least temporarily — who can say if it will reappear).

        A question: I tried “restart” and “factory reset” both from the menu. Some, on the forums, held the power button for 20-30 seconds, and did a “hard restart” which seemed to clear it for them. Do you know if this holding the power button is the same as the menu-initiated restart or factory reset, or is it a third reset mode, different from the two menu-initiated ones?

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        “Restart” and “Reset” are two very different things (or at least, they should be) and a “hard restart” versus a “soft restart’ are also two different things…but, as I understand, not as different.

        Anybody can restart safely pretty much whenever they want to do that. It’s like rebooting a computer…it stops current processes and clears temporary memory. When the Kindle restarts, it probably also performs a number of checks.

        I’ve certainly heard of people who said that, after a restart, the clock was off or the homescreen wasn’t showing anything…until it did a sync again with Amazon’s servers.

        That makes sense to me.

        Amazon recommends doing the “soft restart” (using the menus…the software) over the “hard restart” (using the power button…the hardware) when possible. The hard restart does not allow a graceful exit from running processes…it’s like pulling the power cord on a computer, rather than shutting it down.

        I still generally don’t hit the “X” to exit computer programs for the same reason…I use “File, Exit” or whatever the choice.

        Interrupting a process in the middle can be a bad thing. Let’s say a program is moving a file. It’s cut it from one place, and is going to paste it somewhere else. If you interrupt the program, it may lose that file. If you tell the program to exit, it will do something with it…maybe even ask you what to do with it.

        A factory reset wipes your Kindle back to the state it was in when you got it…except for Kindle software updates you’ve done. You lose all sorts of things:

        Personal documents on the device
        Internet bookmarks
        Wireless networks you’ve had it memorize
        The local copies of Kindle store books you’ve downloaded (but they should still be in the archives)

        I’m always reluctant to even tell people how to do that…there are times it makes sense (when you are going to sell/give the Kindle to somebody not on your account, for example), but I think the effects might dismay some people.

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