Amazon Will Replace Cracked Kindles

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Putting the cap on a bubbling PR nightmare, Amazon has reversed course and will replace cracked Kindles free of charge.

The decision applies to e-book readers with damage caused by the Kindle's official $30 protective case, which appeared to crack the second-generation Kindle around the hinges of the cover. Amazon was previously charging $200 for a replacement, as the problem wasn't covered by warranty.

That led to a $5 million class action lawsuit, reported on Tuesday by The Seattle Times' Brier Dudley. Now, the attorney for plaintiff Matthew Geise, Beth Terrell, told the paper the lawsuit will go on. They're seeking a court-approved process to ensure that customers are treated fairly.

Amazon had stayed silent after the original story broke, but the Times' Dudley finally got a hold of the company after "countless calls and e-mails." It probably helped that over the course of Tuesday, the story was picked up here and at other major publications, morphing from a small blip into a significant image problem for Amazon.

That sounds familiar. Remember in April, when Amazon was removing gay and lesbian-themed books from its sales rankings? The company was painfully slow to respond then, offering minimal details until the story grew out of control. As with the Kindle situation, Amazon could've looked like a caring company with an apology and assurances of looking into the matter.

Even now, Amazon won't say it's sorry. The company's about-face was carefully worded to avoid admitting fault; there is a lawsuit going on, after all. Here's what spokesman Andrew Herdener told The Seattle Times: "We do not comment on active litigation. Nevertheless, we encourage anyone who has an issue with the cover-attachment mechanism to return the cover and device for a free replacement so we can investigate further."

It almost sounds like Amazon just wants the broken Kindles back so it can create a better case (no pun intended). Now, I'm no attorney, but would a simple "we apologize for the inconvenience" really cause more damage than has already been done?

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