I've been a Kobo user for a year or so, since deciding that I no longer wish to contribute to Amazon's takeover of the publishing industry. I've bought hundreds of titles from Kobo, who are now my exclusive source of ebooks. I'm a steady customer (because Kobo are, despite glaring faults, the best option currently available) but I'm not an entirely happy customer. If Kobo want to turn me from a steady customer into a loyal one, they're going to have to deal with some of these things:
- Kobo customer care is awful. Horrible. Pathetic. Amazingly, stupefyingly, ridiculously bad. Every time I have to deal with them I end up asking myself "why am I still giving my money to these bozos?" My most recent contact with customer care was to report that a particular (major publisher) title that I wanted to buy was missing from Kobo's store, but available from every other major ebook retailer. I provided detailed information, including links to the ebook's page on the publisher website and to the same ebook's listing on the Kindle, Nook and Google Play stores. Customer care replied with a canned list of inanely irrelevant questions, 'is there a particular ebook that seems to be causing these issues?'. Every one of my multiple interactions with customer care has been characterised by similar idiocy. And the one time I ever tried contacting Kobo executive care I never received a reply.
- Speaking of problems trying to report content issues, I have purchased many major publisher backlist titles that don't have the right cover art or, in a few cases, any cover art at all. I once tried reporting some of these to Kobo customer care but nothing ever came of it.
- I don't even want to think about the depths of masochism I'd have to plumb to try reporting OCR errors, typos and bad formatting.
- Kobo ereaders don't synchronise "finished" status. I have two ereaders connected to my Kobo account. A book finished on one will, after everything is subsequently synced, show up on the other as 1% done. I don't use any of the Android, iOS or desktop applications so I don't know whether they behave similarly.
- The devices are very good, but they're not perfectly rock-solid. My Kobo Glo, for example, like the Kobo Touch before it, occasionally loses its Wi-Fi mind, becoming unable to connect to my home network until I power-cycle the reader.
- "We currently do not offer newspapers and magazines in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man. We do understand that this is important and we are working as quickly as possible to be able to offer this content for your reading enjoyment." They've been "working as quickly as possible" on this for as long as I've had a Kobo. At least they've finally removed the useless "newspapers & magazines" link from their UK home page. The one and only thing I miss about my old Kindle is the electronic subscription to the New York Review of Books. Come on, Kobo, pull your fingers out. You don't even necessarily have to sink a lot of time and energy into signing up international periodicals; just adding international availability for the American titles you've already got would be a great start. Your internationalism is one of your biggest strengths in the market. Work it.
- OK, that's not true: there are two things I miss about Kindle. I could access my Kindle library on my smartphone. Kobo, on the other hand, can't be bothered to develop a Windows Phone application (even though they have released a better-than-nothing Windows 8 application).
I really want to love you, Kobo. But you make it oh, so very difficult...