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Old 04-16-2013, 05:42 AM   #1
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What's wrong with Kobo

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...
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Old 04-16-2013, 08:37 AM   #2
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Sadly, I have to agree on the customer care part.
So far, I needed to contact them regarding two different things and none of them has took a satisfactory turn in my opinion. For the first point, it will soon be three weeks and I don't even have received the summary email that was supposed to keep me waiting while the question (which was time sensitive) was forwarded to a higher level
I have learned my lessons, from now on I'll deal with Kobo through emails or their Twitter account.
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Old 04-16-2013, 08:53 AM   #3
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I had to contact them when my Glo screen spontaneously cracked (went to sleep and it was intact, woke up and it was split perfectly across the centre, probably over-tight screws) and had no problem, they emailed me back in a few hours and exchanged it no problems at all.
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Old 04-16-2013, 09:23 AM   #4
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The email support is poor, but the phone support is excellent. Not outsourced to India and they listen to what you say and repeat back to you to make sure they heard right. They quickly escalate problems to higher tiers and email you a written account summarizing the phone call. I think that kobo customer support is awesome.
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Old 04-16-2013, 09:37 AM   #5
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I once had a problem where the Kobo website simply stopped accepting my credit card. There was no problem with the card itself; my credit card company said that they were not even getting authorisation requests for the charges, so the problem has to have been entirely internal to Kobo. Dealing with Kobo customer care via email was, predictably, akin to bashing my head against a brick wall until bloody. I eventually tried phone support and spoke with a young man who seemed bright and capable and immediately understood my problem and agreed that it must be caused by something within Kobo's systems, and he turned out to be quite unable to get anything at all done about it.

I eventually gave up. When I tried again a few weeks later, Kobo were willing to take my money again.
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Old 04-16-2013, 09:49 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by haydnfan View Post
The email support is poor, but the phone support is excellent. Not outsourced to India and they listen to what you say and repeat back to you to make sure they heard right. They quickly escalate problems to higher tiers and email you a written account summarizing the phone call. I think that kobo customer support is awesome.
This is my experience too
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Old 04-16-2013, 09:53 AM   #7
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well, one thing is comparing Kobo's customer service with the ideal customer service we all want, another is comparing Kobo's customer service with that of the competitors. While I do understand from what I read on mobileread that amazon are great with replacing Kindles, when it comes to ebooks my personal experience of dealing with Amazon is rather poor: I bought an awfully formatted book, and complained, and six weeks down the line exactly nothing has happened.
If you look at the brightside, at least Kobo offers a chat where some minor problems can be solved pretty quickly. Sure, all customers services can be improved, and it is definitely right to complain, otherwise they'll never know - but Kobo's CS could be much, much worse!
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Old 04-16-2013, 10:13 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by paola View Post
well, one thing is comparing Kobo's customer service with the ideal customer service we all want, another is comparing Kobo's customer service with that of the competitors. While I do understand from what I read on mobileread that amazon are great with replacing Kindles, when it comes to ebooks my personal experience of dealing with Amazon is rather poor: I bought an awfully formatted book, and complained, and six weeks down the line exactly nothing has happened.
If you look at the brightside, at least Kobo offers a chat where some minor problems can be solved pretty quickly. Sure, all customers services can be improved, and it is definitely right to complain, otherwise they'll never know - but Kobo's CS could be much, much worse!
Agree. Except for the replacing of the broken Kindle - I got a big, fat No! But it worked out in the end because I am soooo much happier with my Kobo
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Old 04-16-2013, 12:05 PM   #9
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haydnfan and willa, I'm glad the phone support is working for you. Right now, I have timely answers by email when things are far from stellar on the phone.
After sending an email explaining that it was almost three weeks since I was supposed to get the summary email, not the final answer mind you, I've got two replies and they're going to call me from Canada.
The long time is not quite was is bothering me, it's the lack of feed-back after the initial contact. Are they still working on it? Did they forget about it? Are they so snowed under that every request takes such a long time to process? Just a "we received your request, we're going to deal with it" is better than silence, in my opinion.
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Old 04-16-2013, 12:34 PM   #10
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I also think it is just a bit of a crapshoot as to who answers your phonecall - ie a representative that is knowledgeable and interested or not.
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Old 04-16-2013, 03:45 PM   #11
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well, one thing is comparing Kobo's customer service with the ideal customer service we all want, another is comparing Kobo's customer service with that of the competitors. While I do understand from what I read on mobileread that amazon are great with replacing Kindles, when it comes to ebooks my personal experience of dealing with Amazon is rather poor: I bought an awfully formatted book, and complained, and six weeks down the line exactly nothing has happened.
If you look at the brightside, at least Kobo offers a chat where some minor problems can be solved pretty quickly. Sure, all customers services can be improved, and it is definitely right to complain, otherwise they'll never know - but Kobo's CS could be much, much worse!
Actually, I find the opposite to be true. One book I purchased from Kobo was completely blank, except for a TOC -- and this from a major publisher. It took nearly half an hour on the phone to convince Kobo c.s. that indeed the book was missing content. No refund was given -- they said they would report it. Six months later -- the faulty book was still in Kobo's store for sale. That was the last purchase I made at Kobo.

Amazon, OTOH, will immediately refund for a faulty book and will obtain corrected versions from publishers. I have always found Amazon's c.s. to be outstanding. No contest.
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Old 04-16-2013, 03:48 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by paola View Post
well, one thing is comparing Kobo's customer service with the ideal customer service we all want, another is comparing Kobo's customer service with that of the competitors. While I do understand from what I read on mobileread that amazon are great with replacing Kindles, when it comes to ebooks my personal experience of dealing with Amazon is rather poor: I bought an awfully formatted book, and complained, and six weeks down the line exactly nothing has happened.
If you look at the brightside, at least Kobo offers a chat where some minor problems can be solved pretty quickly. Sure, all customers services can be improved, and it is definitely right to complain, otherwise they'll never know - but Kobo's CS could be much, much worse!
Bold mine. Not sure if this happened to you recently but you can very easily return an ebook through your Manage My Kindle page within 7 days of purchasing a book. Also when dealing with customer service from ANY company, it's better to call, not email.

Amazons customer service is excellent IMO, but only if you call.
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Old 04-16-2013, 03:50 PM   #13
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Agree. Except for the replacing of the broken Kindle - I got a big, fat No! But it worked out in the end because I am soooo much happier with my Kobo
Was the Kindle out of Warranty? I can't imagine them not replacing your Kindle within the warranty period unless you were at fault for the breakage.
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Old 04-16-2013, 04:18 PM   #14
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Syncing finished books between devices: Seriously, Kobo, this should not be so hard to remedy.
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Old 04-16-2013, 05:01 PM   #15
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... 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...
This is where I stopped reading.

What expectations should one have in alerting a customer service rep that their web store doesn't have something you're seeking?
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