“Mayday? I’m bored…”

“Mayday? I’m bored…”

Amazon’s newly announced Kindle Fire HDX line is going to have a new “Mayday” button, which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has called the “…greatest feature we’ve ever made”. It’s going to allow Kindle Fire HDX users to tap a button, and get live tech help on the screen, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The Mayday tech can draw on the screen, and can take over the device to do things for you.

If this works as (heavily) promoted, it could cause a revolution in Customer Service expectations.

People might start expecting that kind of instant service everywhere: insurance claims; online classes; and maybe even healthcare.

That got me thinking: what might some of those Mayday calls be like?


Mayday tech: “How can I help you?”

Customer: “Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi.”

Mayday tech: “Hello. Did you have a question?”

Customer: “Why?”

Mayday tech: “Why what?”

Customer: “Poop. Hahahhahahahahahah!”

Mayday tech: “Am I speaking with a child? How old are you?”

Customer: “Me three.”


Mayday tech: “How can I help you?”

Customer: “My husband is an hour late coming home from work again.”

Mayday tech: “Oh, hi, Jane. That’s the third time this week, right?”

Customer: “Fourth. I didn’t push the button the first time.”

Mayday tech: “I’m sorry to hear that. Do you remember how to text him? I showed you that on Tuesday.”

Customer: “Yes, but I don’t know if he’s telling the truth on not in those texts. I wish I could see his face!”

Mayday tech: “You can. Let me show you how to use Skype…”


Mayday tech: “How can I help you?”

Customer: “I just spilled ketchup on my favorite shirt: can you help me?”

Mayday tech: “Sure can! I’m guessing that’s the blue one, right? You’ve ordered it twice before. I can get you a replacement out in two days. Tell you what: why don’t we order two this time, and I can throw in a stain stick as an Add-on item. If the stick works and it turns out you don’t need the shirts, just tap Mayday, and I’ll send you a return label.”


Mayday tech: “How can I help you?”

Customer: “My thirteen-year old is asking about s-e-x, and I was wondering if you had some sort of book to recommend.”

Mayday tech: “Actually, it shows here that someone on your account ordered a sex education book yesterday. Looks like it was your child.”

Customer: “Oh, I’m so  embarrassed! I hope that kid isn’t doing anything yet!”

Mayday tech: “If they were, they wouldn’t have ordered the book, right?”

Customer: “You’re right! I feel so much better.”


Mayday tech: “How can I help you?”

Customer: “I want to finish up that movie I was watching yesterday, but I’m too lazy to do it myself. Would you start it for me?”


Mayday tech: “How can I help you?”

Customer: “I’m supposed to do a stupid book report on stupid Lord of the Flies!”

Mayday tech: “Have you read it yet?”

Customer: “I don’t read.”

Mayday tech: “You should…it’s good for you. When is the report due?”

Customer: “Tomorrow.”

Mayday tech: “That’s not enough time to read it, then. Tell you what: if you promise me you’ll read it later, I’ll download the movie for you. In the mean time, let me you what happens in the book…”


Mayday tech: “How can I help you?”

Customer: “I’m bored.”

Mayday tech: “Do you want to read a book? Watch a movie? Listen to some music?”

Customer: “Nah…let’s just talk…”


Mayday tech: “How can I help you?”

Customer: “I can’t get my cellphone company to help me clean up my contacts. I’ve got the guy on the phone: would you talk to them?”


Mayday tech: “How can I help you?”

Customer: “Teach me to laugh like Jeff Bezos. I want to disrupt industries, too.”



Seriously, I do think this could be a problem for everybody who does Customer Service remotely. It’s going to depend on the execution and on the market penetration of the devices…but this is a quantum leap type advancement, and that’s going to put the pressure on everybody else to catch up. Ooh, that’s an idea…Amazon may start charging other companies for Mayday to take care of their Customer Service for them!

Thanks, Amazon!

Update: here’s a link to the commercials for Mayday…and the way I’m describing it fits right into what they show. 🙂


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

21 Responses to ““Mayday? I’m bored…””

  1. tellthetruth1 Says:

    Got a good chortle outa this one. Mayday button. S’a wind up, yeah?

  2. EJC Says:

    My mom (age 73) has been talking about getting a tablet and when I read the Amazon description of Mayday, I thought this version of the Fire would be great for her. It would also save me a lot of phone calls and emails with how-to questions.

    Now, my only issue is how to politely suggest she get one of these because it would help her to stop bugging me. *grin*

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, EJC!

      It’s a good idea. It’s definitely a lot easier to help people when you can remote into their computers (tablets, in this case)!

      I have a very techie parent…wrote a book on DOS that was used as a textbook for years. 🙂

      Here’s my suggestion:

      “Mom, I want to make sure that during the time we spend together, you really get to find out everything about my life that you want to know, and you can tell me all about what’s going on with you. So, there’s this great new thing where you’ll be able to get the help you need whenever you need, from a real person. Not only that, we can do videocalls, so you can see the kids/house/whatever.”


      Too much? Perhaps…

  3. jjhitt Says:

    I’m wondering if the Mayday Blonde is even a human being or just a Max Headroom animation.

    “I failed the Turing test? No, YOU failed the Turing test.”

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, jjhitt!

      It’s a real person…you can see the commercial for it here:


      • jjhitt Says:

        So far I’ve seen two different North American Young Pretty White Girls.

        That kind of scares me. I’m in the support industry, and I’m a Balding Old Fat Hippy who isn’t camera ready.

        I think an animated character might have been a better choice (just so long as it isn’t that Microsoft paperclip). Kerrnit the Frog would be perfect.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, jjhitt!

        I did immediately notice the public face they put on Mayday, although the first one I saw didn’t fit a couple of your generalizations. I’ve commented before about Amazon using young people in their Kindle ads, especially when that didn’t appear to be the primary group using the device in the beginning.

        I can see all sorts of challenges to internal policy here, similar to what we’ve seen at Disneyland with “cast members”. What restrictions will exist on the Mayday team? Certainly, no eating on camera, but I’m picturing other concerns: neck tattoos; face piercings; religious icons; facial hair; and the list could go on and on.

        I don’t think an avatar is yet sophisticated enough to do this without probably blowing out the bandwidth requirements which would be part of the cost. Also, this will likely attract non-techies…and they might prefer a carbon-based life form. 😉

  4. cardinalrobbins Says:

    LOL! Love your situations, Bufo, because those are exactly some of the things Mayday will bring to the CS Techs.

    And how is Amazon going to pay for this? A subscription service like Amazon Fresh? Fresh is a $300 upfront charge, because you need a special version of Prime, which is obviously a way for Amazon to recoup delivery charges before you even get to start the Fresh service. (Which is a good plan, considering the predecessor, Webvan, ended its life $840 million in debt.)

    Will the cost of Mayday be built into each Kindle — putting it out of the financial reach of most customers — or will it be an option you need to pay for upfront, before the Mayday button is enabled?

    There is no free lunch. 😉

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, cardinalrobbins!

      Ah, yes, TANSTAAFL, as Robert Heinlein would say…There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

      In this case, they pay for it by encouraging people to own Fires, which encourages them to become Prime members (they get a free month), which encourages them to buy the physical items (“diapers and windshield wipers”)…which is where the profit is.

      Initially, at least, nothing to pay up front, nothing to pay later.

      I could see them eventually maybe, possibly, limiting it to Prime members, but not at first.

      One of the big pushes is to business this time…and they would love to not have to have their tech support (which knows mainframes and whatever they’ve specifically bought) support tablets!

      • jjhitt Says:

        It’s possible (I won’t say likely) that there are savings using Mayday over the way they are dealing with support issues now. A “dumb user” issue handled by email may take weeks to resolve, and a customer feels that it’s Amazon’s fault it took so long.

        The “let me do it for you” approach is over in minutes and leaves the customer in a much better mood.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, jjhitt!

        Yes, there may be some cost savings, in part because of the speed of resolution of an issue. However, there are also clearly costs involved. The cost of the videocall, which is essentially what it is, have to be higher than the cost of an audiocall. At least, I would think that’s the case. With video, reps need to have a different appearance, and probably need to take more breaks away from the customers so they can maintain that chipper attitude.

        Some reps may also have eye-muscle injury, from restraining themselves from rolling their eyes at the questions… 😉

      • jjhitt Says:

        This could be the beginning of a concierge service.

        “You need a vampire themed wedding cake and a case of grape jelly delivered to the County Jail? I can have that ready in three hours. Will that be on your VISA?”

  5. D. Knight Says:

    Bufo, Loved this! You do a great job on spoofs. For your next one, you can spoof how unemployment drops dramatically because of all the people Amazon has to employ for MayDay — and how itaffects the world economy.

    Meanwhile, back at Amazon: sales are up, profits are flat-lined – as usual 🙂

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, D.!

      I appreciate the kind words!

      Hey, lemme tell ya…flat-lining for profits at Amazon would be like Apple hitting a thousand percent. 😉

  6. tellthetruth1 Says:

    I looked into this a bit further later. There really is techie support with this as you said. I thought you were havin’ a laugh! 😉 Loved this page.

  7. cassie Says:

    Thanks for making me laugh out loud. Sharing with kindlers!
    Keep up the good work.

  8. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I’m thinking that you still have to know the basics of the Fire in order to interact with the “Mayday” person. And if you’re having major problems, chances are you won’t be able to contact Mayday anyway! And your mention of “add ons” gives me a chance to rant about the concept of the “add ons.” Last year I ordered a rain gauge from Amazon that I really liked. Unfortunately, my neighbor’s puppy really liked it too, as a chew toy. When I tried to reorder a new one, I discovered that it’s now considered to be an “add on item,” which means I can’t order another one until I manage to get together an order of $25, and I don’t need anything other than the rain gauge, and I can’t find one locally now because summer is over and they’re selling Christmas trees in the aisle where the rain gauges used to be. I HATE ADD ONS! Why bother with Amazon Prime if your order has to total $25 anyway?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I’ve had that some experience with Add-Ons…which is part of why I put it in the post. When you have Prime, you aren’t likely to be ordering $25 worth of stuff at a time, I think. We just order in dribs and drabs as needed…we don’t sit around and wait for things to build up.

      At least give us the option to pay more and get the add-on item without waiting! I’d often pay $5 more just to get something I can’t otherwise get.

      Edited to add: as to reaching Mayday, the main requirement is likely to be a wireless connection. I suspect that when people unbox their Fire HDXs, there will be something on the screen showing how to invoke Mayday…

  9. Round up #208: AZTV, books on a plane? | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Fun and information about the Kindle and the world of e-books « “Mayday? I’m bored…” […]

  10. A brand new (May)day…a big change for Amazon’s “greatest feature” | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] “Mayday? I’m bored…” […]

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