Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A geographic-restriction glitch for non-USA Kindle book purchases - Update3

See UPDATES at bottom of this blog article.  Glitch is now fixed for most reporting in.

Customers on the MobileRead forums and Amazon Kindle forums reported that although they have, for a long time, been able to buy Kindle books while out of the country for Kindles Amazon had shipped to their given U.S. addresses, they received geographic-restriction rejections of the Kindle book orders, starting this weekend.

This occurred even with People using U.S. credit cards (rather than gift certificates which can be used internationally).  Kindle owner and author Bufo Calvin started an Amazon forum poll to try to find out the circumstances of those affected before making assumptions and gathered already some good information.

A reassuring response came from customer Eliza Bennet, from Canada, who responded to Bufo with this information:
' I just (an hour ago) spoke with a kindle CS rep and he informed me that "something went wrong" with the amazon server and many techies had been called in over the weekend to fix the problem vis à vis the "geographic restriction" message.  I live in (Ottawa) Canada and gave him the name/billing address of the credit card attached to my account (which belongs to a friend living near Boston), and he made no comment about it not being my own card.  He also had no adverse reaction to my saying I paid for books with a gift card.  Certainly hope that he knew whereof he spoke! '
BlogKindle had an earlier article today in which he suggested a workaround if needed, using US proxy servers.

This weekend's problems are likely due to changes made in connection with an anticipated launch of the Kindle in the UK, which has had digital book restrictions also, and programming changes, too often, have untoward effects on other areas of similar code.

When you have questions that other customers can help with, a visit to the Amazon Kindle Community forums can be helpful.  There are also some amusing threads there too that I've pointed to before.  The forums are for sharing of information between customers and can also be playful (sometimes a tad rough) and is a good community with lots of new people everyday needing help.  Now they finally have a forum-search mechanism so that helps quite a bit.

UPDATE2 10/5/09   - Original Posting was 10/4 at 3:52 PM
  (Update1 was incorporated above.)
Julia of the forum-poll thread above added a written response from Customer Service tonight, which was another example of customers with U.S. credit cards and address being affected by the problem as well:
' I'm sorry for the trouble you had when trying to purchase Kindle books outside U.S using a payment method issued by a U.S. Bank with a U.S.billing address. I've reported this to our technical team, and they're working on taking care of it.

Please try again over the next few days. Errors like this are usually
corrected shortly after they're reported... '
They've been corrected for some customers, so far, as reported in the forum thread.

UPDATE3 10/6/09, 3:15 PM -  Original Posting was 10/4 at 3:52 PM
Caroline Wong has made a second, updated poll at the Amazon Kindle forums, to monitor how the fixes by Amazon are going.  Many are reporting they can once again order as they did before.  And in the original poll by Bufo Calvin, some who had problems have been reporting they are once again able to order/buy from Amazon as before and have received non-boilerplate email from Amazon Customer Service representatives who have been following up on the problem.

 At MobileRead forums, 'mgmueller' describes how he has been buying books from Germany as an Amazon-US customer and that it is working for him.  Earlier than his post is one from 'Dharmabum' who was unable to buy e-books this weekend unless using an IP# workaround but can buy again today using his regular method, which is like mgmueller's and those of others reporting on the Amazon forum threads.

  The glitch is obviously being fixed for many, including some who were/are skeptical about it being a technical glitch.  Various workarounds over the weekend had been Hotspot Shield, VPN to US, and UltraSurf 9.5 - the latter has been reported to be not entirely safe due to processes noticed in it, reports which I can link to later; it could also be due to processes meant to confuse authorities in China who are banning Net access to many to various sites, but I opted not to test it due to some reports.

UPDATE4 10/12/09
On October 7, one day after the International Kindle 2 announcement, Customer Service wrote to Bufo Calvin's poll thread at Amazon forums to say that they felt they had resolved the problem and that all affected were able to receive books again, with the gift certificates they had been using. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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  1. If you'd like to read more about stuff to do in Cairo, go through the archives on my blog which is linked to my profile. There's a blog at the of Oct/08 about Cairo and a series in February about the Nile Cruise.

  2. Cairo Typ0,

    Thanks for replying to my forum question. Love the photos there. Will definitely check it out. Much appreciated!

    - Andrys

  3. I use Mysteria to alert me when books I want become available for Kindle. This week i have received alerts that 5 books by Dick Francis have become available. I went to Amazon to make my purchases and was greeted with a notice that said I could not buy these books because I lived in the United States. I do live in the US but I have never seen this notice before.

    I am guessing this has to do with international Kindle release and a different publisher owning the rights to the books in the UK. but it is very annoying to be disappointed. I imagine others will find it so.

  4. doriannisinson,
    Thanks for alerting us. That IS annoying.

    Maybe call Kindle support to verify that the programming is right about this and, if so, to ask if there are plans to have these available here in the U.S.


    - Andrys

  5. Do you still have to use a gift certificate to change your home country to USA?

  6. Anonymous,
    If where you are currently isn't in the USA and the book is not available there, then yes you'd need to use a gift certificate but the Amazon account you use it on has to have a valid U.S. address registered for it.

    - A


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