Does the Kindle 2 have a design flaw? Lawsuit says yes

A consumer has dropped a million class action suit on Amazon after his wife's Kindle 2 developed cracks. Amazon had refused to replace the maimed Kindle free of charge.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
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David Carnoy
2 min read
The cracked Kindle 2 that's at the center of the lawsuit.

Amazon prides itself on customer service, but it now finds itself the target of a $5 million class action lawsuit because it failed to replace a Kindle 2 that a customer alleges was damaged by Amazon's own $30 protective case.

Matthew Geise, executive director of a Seattle property management firm, and his wife, Alisa Brodkowitz, are behind the suit (the $5 million sought represents damages for all Kindle owners who are affected by the problem, as well as legal costs).

The story goes like this. Brodkowitz's Kindle 2, which she received as a gift from her husband, developed cracks around around the points "where the cover attaches with metal clips," Geise told Seattle Times reporter Brier Dudley. On July 6, the screen froze and the device stopped working.

In user reviews of the e-reader, other Kindle owners have complained about cracks in the area around the clasps, so the issue is apparently not isolated.

Brodkowitz spoke with a customer rep, who said the screen freeze was covered under the Kindle 2's warranty, but not the cracks, which the rep allegedly said "were caused by improperly opening the cover backwards." A $200 repair fee was required to fix the maimed Kindle.

Instead of paying, Geise and his wife decided to file a class action lawsuit. According to the suit, what seems to have ticked the couple off was an Amazon customer service supervisor telling Brodkowitz that the cracks are a "common problem," but that the $200 repair fee still had to be paid. Brodkowitz says she never did any backward bending of the cover.

Here at CNET, we didn't have any issues with the cover causing damage to our initial review sample, but we only had it for three weeks. We recently obtained another review sample, but we've only had that unit for about two weeks and haven't had any problems. That said, I do treat the thing very carefully because I've heard plenty of stories of people accidentally dropping a Kindle and having the screen crack--even with the cover on.

Having dealt with Amazon customer service over the years, I can say that it can be great--or it can be a nightmare, especially when you can't reach a real, live person. At the end of the day, Amazon runs a tight ship--which is part of the reason why it's so successful--but I can see how its rules and regulations might end up being too rigid in certain situations.

The fact is, the device shouldn't develop cracks from opening and closing the case or bending it back and forth. If it's really happening (again, we haven't had a problem) and is "a common problem," Amazon needs to do something about it.

What do you guys think? Anybody else have a cracking Kindle 2?

(Source: Geise v. Amazon.com via Seattle Times)

Additional reading: Top Kindle 2 covers and accessories (Amazon's cover is the top Kindle 2 accessory.)