At last the wait ends. If there is one thing I couldn’t wait to get my hands on, it is my brand new kindle. I had been scheming and strategizing to buy one forever now it seems.
And it wasn’t a smooth journey at all. The plan just got foiled the first time I placed the order, and my hopes went for a mighty toss. There was some unprecedented problem with Amazon’s logistics and my kindle just wouldn’t get delivered. Every day I waited in bated anticipation for the courier guy to ring the door bell. But it was always the courier guy handing out some bill or the other instead of my Kindle. My worst fears came true when I got an email intimating that my order was cancelled and my money was credited back to my account. I thought that God seemed to be scheming here and was deliberately trying to keep me away from Kindle for some unexplainable reason. You know how we start over-thinking when something we wish, doesn’t turn out the way we want. We suddenly become philosophical and we try finding hidden meanings behind everything and when finally nothing works, we retire saying ‘whatever-happens-happens-for-good’.
So I lay low for a couple of days and sulked just like a child who has been denied a toy for some reason. I don’t know why I felt the need to have that device in my hands so strongly. So after a few days I replaced the order and had it shipped to my sister’s home in the US. She was coming to visit us in India and I thought she can carry it along with her and be my very own dependable courier-girl.
So how did my love story with Amazon and more specifically Kindle actually begin?
When I was placing my order on Amazon, I was offered one-month free trial of Amazon Prime membership. For the uninitiated, Amazon Prime is borrowing-library group that allows its members to read, borrow and share books, which otherwise cost you a few dollars, for free. And right below was a ticker mentioning that on the expiry of one-month trial membership, I will be automatically charged $79 for the yearly membership. I deliberately did not uncheck that box because I thought that my Kindle would reach me in another 20 days when my sister arrives. So I would still have about 10 days to use the benefits of the membership. But I did set a reminder on my phone to uncheck the box before the expiry. Somewhere in between those 20 days I even contemplated unchecking that box, in case I forget later and am made to pay $79. But then I thought against it. How could I possibly forget to unsubscribe when I have a reminder set on my mobile phone and in my mind?
After 20 days, my sister arrived but my Kindle did not. And she told me that she lost her luggage en-route to India. That revelation left me thunderstruck. I just didn’t know how to react and I just can’t find the right words here to explain how I felt at the poor joke that nature was playing on me. I tried to calm my breathing down and asked her that question, “Was my Kindle in there?” Ok don’t judge me, for I know I didn’t really express my sorrow over her other lost items and just worried about my Kindle, but I am sure you can understand the state of my mind then. Had you been in my shoes, how would you feel? She studied my expression for good ten seconds and told me that Kindle wasn’t in there and it was in absolute safe hands. I breathed a sigh of relief! So I asked her to give me my Kindle. She said that she didn’t carry it with her at all. She had to be kidding. Why would she do that? I was certain that it was delivered to her. Why, she had pinged me on Gmail to announce its arrival! And before I could make some sense out of the cruel joke happening on me, she told me that her hubby, who was coming to India in the next four days, would get it. Reason being, she had more luggage then she could manage. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Once again. I was glad that she decided to not carry my Kindle with her. Or I would be mourning over the fully-paid-for-but-lost -now–kindle. I had completely forgotten about the trial membership in this confusion and had also adjourned the reminder absent-mindedly.
Her hubby dear came one day before the expiry date. But I did not get a chance to meet him that day and hence obviously I did not get my kindle.
The next thing I know is my mobile beeping and the sms saying that my bank account has just been debited by $ 79. I was so dumbfounded I just didn’t know how to react at my own folly. I had just been charged $79 for a service that I didn’t really need. Ok, the free benefits were welcome but didn’t I have every intention of unsubscribing just in time? Didn’t I set a reminder for that very purpose? How can I absentmindedly dismiss such an important reminder? I was feeling like kicking myself. I really didn’t need that expense at this point in time, especially when I had splurged one month’s salary on vanity-shopping. And besides, I was planning to get started with millions of free kindle books and hence Prime membership was not very lucrative to me at that point. I felt guilty of my carelessness and burdened with unneeded expenditure. What could I possibly achieve with this entire fuming-at-self-exercise now, I reasoned? The fact remained that my card had been charged. And that too with my knowledge that it will be charged upon expiry. So instead of thinking what-I-should-have-done-and what-I didn’t, I consoled myself by saying that it was a peanut amount of close to INR 500 per month. And if I spent that amount on books, which I loved reading, it was an expenditure worth it. I was finding meaning behind God’s ulterior motives. May be he wanted me to read more and more books J
And what is funnier, I hadn’t even laid hands on my Kindle yet. It was still with my sister. I digested the events and went to bed. Next morning I decided to check my Amazon account and see if it was possible to revert what had happened already. In my heart I knew this cant be possible, but one can always try. So I logged on to my account and checked the possibility. I couldn’t believe my eyes and my luck when I saw that such a thing was actually possible. I was sold on to Amazon forever. They were not there to just rob customers, they actually were customer-focused. Here was a company genuine enough to return my money back and every penny that too. I quickly did the needful and my bank account was credited back on the 3rd day. And the Kindle was still wasn’t yet in my hands. But I was so glad to get that money back, even though I knew that paltry sum wouldn’t have dug a big hole into my savings. But the funniest part about this story was, I made a small profit when the money got credited back, since the rupee had fallen against dollar in those few daysJ
Now why I really love Kindle:
- Over 11 lac books to choose from at nominal cost
- Platform to read authors who are not famous but have written great stuff
- Access to zillion blogs, magazines, newspapers
- No backlight, it reads just like a normal book page and hence doesn’t stress eyes.
- Very light and handy
- Battery goes on for weeks
- Many good free books
- One can adjust the font size
- One can read meanings of new words just by taking cursor over the word; and even grammar, usage and stuff
- One can store hundreds of books on the device.
- It doesn’t break easily
- I can take it anywhere
- And for reasons I haven’t discovered yet but I am sure there would be many more reasons to love it
- And it goes to bed with me every night J
- It is a complete experience of Customer-delight
Now why I shared this story is because I feel our Indian companies can learn a lot from Amazon about customer retention!