A MOST UNUSUAL HOBBY – Marilyn Armstrong

I got an email notification informing me that Amazon had delivered a package at 2:05 pm this afternoon.


This was confusing because I had received a previous message from Amazon that this particular delivery had been canceled because it was damaged. It was supposed to contain 2 rolls of contact paper (the stuff in our cabinets is the same age as the house, so you can imagine the condition it’s in) and a bottle of shower cleaning spray. I had also received a note telling me they had refunded me for the order, though I had yet to see the refund in my account.

Also, there was no package. When I went to look at the details of the order, it said it had been canceled and the money was refunded. I couldn’t find the refund in my account. I couldn’t even find a charge for the order in the first place.

I called Amazon. I said I’d gotten a notice of delivery of a package that was supposedly canceled and for which I’d gotten a refund except I couldn’t find any refund and also, there was no package.


I gave the guy the order number and he said it had been refunded. I said that as far as I knew, I hadn’t gotten a refund either, but hey, what’s a little money between pals, right? So he starts a 3-way telephone conversation with UPS who says the don’t have to tell me anything because they have a contract with Amazon which says they don’t have to deal with Amazon’s customers.

“All I want to know is whether or not you actually delivered a package to my house,” I said.  He was very firm that it had been delivered.

I agreed it had been delivered, but where? He got a little hazy at that point and asked me to wait while he asked someone. He came back and told me that although I got the email, they had actually delivered the damaged package to Amazon. It was entirely accidental that they notified me about its delivery.  When I checked my bank account, it appeared that Amazon had both charged me for the items and refunded my money today, except they charged me after refunding me.

The whole thing was listed as having come from the department of “Hobbies and Entertainment.” Two rolls of contact paper and a spray bottle of shower cleaner. Some hobby, eh?

UPS hangs up. “Amazon,” I ask, “Are you still there?”

“Yes,” he says. “I don’t think the fellow from UPS understood anything at all.”

“Me neither,” I said.

“You have a good evening,” he said.

“You too,” I responded.

I’m still a bit puzzled but as long as I didn’t pay for something I never got, I’m okay. I’m pretty sure my hobby of putting new contact paper in my cupboards while cleaning my shower has been sidetracked.

BEING NICE TO CUSTOMER SERVICE – Marilyn Armstrong

Usually, by the time I call customer service, I’m already mad about something. It’s just the way life is in these crazy days of long hold times, people who speak some other language, but whatever it is, it’s definitely not one you speak.

Kaity and camera (and phone too)

Last night I went to look at an order I placed on Amazon. It was for a camera. Birthday present for my granddaughter. Believe it or not, she has finally worn out her camera. I offered to get her a new one last year, but she really loved that Canon and couldn’t believe it could ever wear out.

Well, they do wear out. If you read the fine print, every camera has a “designated number of shutter hits.” Usually, it’s somewhere around 150,000 which sounds like a huge amount, but if you take a lot of pictures, over the course of seven or eight years, you can run up some pretty big numbers. A few weeks ago she admitted the camera was slowing down and not delivering like it used to.

I wasn’t surprised. In the olden days, we’d send the camera into the shop and have it rebuilt, but you don’t do that with electronic cameras. When they die of old age, you replace them. In the time since I got that camera — 2011 I think — the Canon DSLR has undergone considerable changes.

In keeping with my understanding of what she really wants as opposed to what I want for her, I knew she wanted the same camera. New. Faster. But basically, the same otherwise. So that’s what I got her.

From the Canon T3, we have moved up to the Canon T6. It is not one of Canon’s top cameras, but that’s what she wants. She has lenses — one for each birthday.

Kaity looks for something to shoot …

I found a seller on Amazon who had the camera body only, no lens. Just the body, battery, charger, eye-cup, strap with and a full warranty for a good price. I bought it.

And when I went to look at delivery schedules, there was a big “PROBLEM WITH ORDER” showing, but no information about what the problem could possibly be. Since I had already paid for it, it wasn’t money.

There were only two other possibilities. They ran out of the camera and I was supposed to wait for them to restock (no way) — or they realized they needed to raise the price. In fact, they had already charged me $10 more than their list price. I really hate when they do that.

I had a funny feeling they were going to ask me for even more money. I noticed in their new listing, the camera’s price had gone up by more than $50, which made it the same price as every other Canon Rebel T6 camera.

I didn’t have time to wrangle with the seller. Since I hadn’t placed the order directly with Amazon, I understood it was sort of their problem, but also, sort of not.

It was late, maybe two in the morning. I got a customer service woman on chat. I explained this was a gift and I didn’t have time to turn this into an extended issue. I needed to just cancel it, get the money back, and order the camera somewhere else.

I said: “This is a really popular camera and there are tons of them on Amazon and elsewhere. I wasn’t expecting a problem or I’d have ordered sooner.”

Honestly, I forgot to order. I meant to, but I was looking to see where the best deal was and didn’t actually order one until a few days ago. I wasn’t expecting a problem, so I didn’t think it was a problem.

Kaity

I told her I understood it wasn’t entirely in her control since Amazon was not the seller, but I could not wait a week for them to figure out what to do … and surely there was nothing to prevent me from canceling. They obviously hadn’t shipped it.

She assured me I’d she’d make sure it got canceled and I’d get all my money back. Then she sent me a letter saying “thank you for being so nice.”

No one ever says that to me because usually, I’m not all that nice. But Amazon has been good to me, so I try to be nice in return. They always try to work things out for if they can. Not only did she say thank you, she gave me the secret telephone numbers to get hold of Amazon service directly! That’s like the keys to the kingdom. NO ONE gets those numbers.

Canon Rebel EOS T6 DSLR bundle

Plus a $30 credit — for being nice.

Me?

Ultimately, I bought the camera where I usually buy cameras. It cost a little more, but I got the normal zoom, which I knew Kaitlin wanted. It came with a case, a few filters in a nice little case, battery with charger, a good quality SD card, and Corel software.

I spent an extra hundred dollars, but she got a better setup — and I know Adorama will ship it quickly, pack it properly, and provide a real warranty. They have a physical address in New York. I used to shop there years ago when I lived in New York.

Being nice apparently has some good points.

ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP – #31 SCALE

On a scale of 1 to 10, asked the survey, how do you feel about our delivery service?

I have been a patron of Amazon for quite a few years. Maybe eight or nine at this point? They have always been easy to work with. They’ve had their issues, of course, and there have been bumps in the road, too. I’ve gone with them over the bumps to the smoother paving down the road and I really thought we had worked it out.

Then, they decided to add their own delivery service because … well … money and all of that. Amazon Logistics was going to be their own special delivery service. This would be the one who could get you your package in 24 hours, even on Sunday or a national holiday. Good idea. Unfortunate location.

It was a perfectly reasonable theory, but they didn’t understand there are places in this world where the standard GPS doesn’t have a real grip on location. It thinks all the roads are driveable. Maybe if you are in a jeep and very careful about the swamps through which you are passing and you never stray off the narrow road, you might get here. If not,  the mud will joyfully suck your car all the way to your door frame.

The Blackstone Valley is that kind of place.

We get deliveries. We get deliveries almost daily in non-snow months. I do a lot of my shopping online. We are both getting older. Not hauling heavy boxes and having them delivered make life easier. UPS, FedEx, and the USPS are daily visitors. They have no problem finding our house or getting our packages to the table by the rear garage door. But their drivers know the area and they know to not take the back roads.

No one goes on those back roads unless they are afoot and looking for interesting photos … or their dog really loves that swampy smell.

Logistics, on the other hand, has yet to find us. Ever. They sometimes deliver our packages to other towns. Our neighbors. The middle of the woods. A number of them have simply disappeared, never to be seen again. Moreover, they have set up this cool delivery service so you can see the truck on which they have loaded your package and follow its movements as it advances towards your house. In theory.

Yesterday, I had a package coming. Free 24 hour delivery — so what could possibly go wrong?

I watched the truck from when it was up in North Uxbridge. They said there were six more stops before us. We are always the final stop.

I watched the truck as it left its delivery point and supposedly head for our house. It was about 2 miles away. All the driver had to do was turn around, get back onto Route 146A, drive one mile. Make a right. Go one more mile and voilà, there we are. You can see the house and the driveway on Google. It’s a little harder in the summer with all the leaves on the trees, but we aren’t hidden behind a fence or a hill.

And, as I already mentioned, UPS, FedEx, and the post office have no problem finding us. Apparently, neither does Google.

Our delivery woman headed — not towards the main road but via our most twisting, tiny roads which wander through woods and swamp. They will, if you know how to do it, eventually– after crossing the Misty Meadows Golf Course — get you here. It’s not the shortest or easiest easy way to get anywhere in this valley, but if you make manage to make it to the other side of the golf course, go straight ahead on Chocolog Road. You’ll be in our driveway chick-chack. We are a blink away from the golf course. You can walk there from here. Even I can walk there from here.

She didn’t go straight ahead onto Chocolog road. Obviously hopelessly lost, she made a left back onto West Street and headed for Milford. Into the “delivery instructions” box I typed “YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY! TURN AROUND!”

She didn’t turn around and the truck trundled on towards Milford.

“No, no,” I cried into my computer. Then I got myself on the phone to Amazon. For once, it didn’t take me an hour to find their number and I very quickly explained that the truck had gone in the wrong direction and was leaving my town and heading who knew where. I wanted her to come back. Now. Before my package vanished, never to be seen again.

Eventually, I realized that by some kind of magic, the truck had landed in my driveway. I was still ON the phone with Amazon. I then realized she wasn’t getting out of the car to deliver the package. I took the phone and the Amazon lady with me. Barefoot down the steps and up the gravelly driveway to the vehicle.

“Give me my package,” I said. It was late, almost seven. I was hungry. I’d been awaiting the package all day.

“I can’t give you the package,” she explained, her voice sensual with her lovely West Indian accent. “I need your access code.”

Access code? What access code?

“Is the package addressed to this location?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“Is it addressed to Marilyn Armstrong?” I questioned.

“Yes,” she said, “But you need an access code.”

What access code? I’ve never needed an access code for Amazon or any other delivery service. Not even when Apple was delivering two computers.

By then, Garry had arrived. I could see that blood was going to be spilled in my driveway that warm summer evening.

“Give me my package, ” I said, gritting my teeth. “Give it to me.  Now. You are at the right address and I am the designated recipient. You are NOT leaving here without giving me the package.”

“Let me speak to her,” said the Amazon Lady.

An argument ensued. Eventually, I got the box, which was labeled “oversized” even though the item inside it was a small, still camera. I guess they ran out of normal-size boxes. I let it pass. “Just give me the box, please. Now.”

She handed me the package, worried that she had not gotten whatever code she thought I should have. She had already noticed there wasn’t any code on the box, so I’m not sure exactly how she would know if I had a code or not.

As I trundled back up the stairs — my feet felt sandy and stuck with little pebbles — the Amazon Lady said she was going to try to make them never send Logistics to my house again. I said that seemed like a fine approach and I was very sure it would be a good solution.

So.

On a scale of 1 to 10 — what would you give this delivery? 10 for the helpfulness of the lady on the phone? Or minus two for whoever designed the GPS for the driver.

Suggestions?

EVEN GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE HAS ISSUES – Marilyn Armstrong

My son ordered a label maker from Amazon. Not terribly expensive and not an obscure product. He got it on time, but when he opened the crate, it turned out to be an empty case. No label maker in it.

He was going to return the empty box.

I said: “Don’t be silly. You don’t return empty boxes. That will confuse everyone. They will want to know what happened to the label maker. You get in touch with them. They will fix it.”

I said that with confidence because they always try very hard to fix problems at Amazon.

“You can’t get in touch with Amazon,” he said.

“Oh yes you can,” I said.

“How?”

“Ask for the number or to chat live. They really will fix it.”

“How do you do that?”

The answer is not complicated.

Go into the customer service area. That is a bit circuitous, but if you use Amazon a lot, you figure it out. It needs to be about an order, so you should know exactly what your problem is and what you want them to do about it. That is pretty much true for all customer service.

After you are in the right area, type: “Need telephone number for Amazon customer service.”

They ask if you want them to call you (which they will do literally instantly) or would you prefer a chat? They prefer chats and so do I. It’s faster. Also, I can copy and paste information from the order into a chat file. That’s harder on a phone call. Not impossible, but harder.

I got the chat. Explained what happened. She said “Oops, sorry. Tell him he can keep the box and do whatever he wants with it. We’ll send him a new one.”

The would ship it as soon as possible. I called Owen back.

“But how did you know who to talk to?”

I explained I had talked to the guy at customer service and the new order was already in the order file, price $0.00. Shipment probably overnight.

Good customer service does make a big difference. Well-served customers keep coming back. Angry customers don’t. You hear that Dell? You hear that Apple? Got that Microsoft? Anyone listening at DirectTV, Charter, or AT&T?

Happy customers come back and sometimes bring their friends. And family. If you make us mad, we go elsewhere. Just saying.

The shipment arrived yesterday and guess what? It was another empty case. One empty case was not a big deal. Two? They have a shipping problem. Especially because this second box came with a big label on it that said: “CASE ONLY!”  I have to assume the shipping picker either had no time to recognize that the label maker had to be taken from another shelf and put into the case, or couldn’t read English.

I gave up. Although they offered to ship it again, there was no guarantee that it wouldn’t show up empty again. They refunded the money. Sometimes, you have to know when you’re beaten.

Good customer service helps, but so does getting the order right.

IT MUST BE ME – Marilyn Armstrong

It can’t be coincidence. There has to be a reason. I have spent literally every day for nearly a week on the phone with customer or technical support. Earlier, it was computers. The PC, iPad, Macbook Air.

I got through it. I am alive to tell the tale.

All computers are working except the PC which still won’t accept the download from Microsoft. They try a couple of times a day and it gets rejected each time. Eventually I’ll call and find out how it’s going on, but they said it might take a few weeks — not to worry. I’m not worried, at least not about the PC. It is working fine.

Today, Garry put the laundry in the machine and kindly offered to vacuum the rug. At some point, he stopped and I emptied the cup where the dirt goes (is there a name for that? and put the dirt thingie back in the machine. Which is what we’ve done dozens of times.

Pushed the on button. Nothing happened. No clogging choking sounds. No sounds at all. An utter silence where there ought to be something, at the very least, a sucking noise.

After accusing Garry of breaking another vacuum cleaner, which he instantly rejected as he hadn’t done anything except vacuum our 4 by 6 rug  and a bit of the floor … which, he pointed out, was voluntary … and there I was accusing him … FALSELY … of malfeasance. In my own defense, Garry has slain more than a few vacuums  so it wasn’t such a big leap.

This time, it just died — on its own.

I reviewed the machine. I checked the brushes. Put the plug in a different outlet. This machine isn’t rechargeable and has a 25 foot cord. I have heard, though, that other machines have this problem. Apparently something in the electrical box pulls apart during use. Easy to fix — if you can fix something electrical. Which I definitely can’t. I’m not even sure why electricity doesn’t come slithering out of the walls on its own.

I switched it on again. Nope.

Turned it off. Resisted the temptation to give it a whack with a hammer. Did it again and again because I couldn’t believe it would just stop working, for no reason, when there had been no previous problem.

Finally, I said: “Well, for once, I actually bought a warranty.”

Why? Because these little lightweight machines don’t hold up. I’ve never had one survive longer than a year. This one didn’t make it to six months. Five months, less three days, actually. The warranty cost only $10, so I said “You know what? I’ll buy it.”

I found the warranty and the website. They wanted information in formats I couldn’t provide, so finally I called them. The third time, I got a human on the phone. She said it was still under the manufacturer’s warranty, so they should take care of it. She called them as a three-way call.

Shark offered — IF I sent it back — to send me a new one for just $20 … plus tax on the full price ($8) — and I would have to buy the box. Which, considering this is a vacuum cleaner, would be another $30. But they’d pay for the shipping.

Wow. That’s real service.

Moral of the story? A limited warranty is worthless. In years of buying things with limited warranties, never has one of them paid for anything. Limited means “You’re kidding, right?” If it’s limited, it’s not a warranty.

Eventually, the SquareTrade representative said “Shark is giving you a ridiculously hard time, so we’ll just honor our warranty and refund your money. Let’s hear it for SquareTrade!

“And I won’t,” I commented, ” be buying another Shark.” But I don’t know what I’m going to buy. I can’t push a heavy machine and Garry’s getting tired too. Maybe an Oreck Commercial type.

They  break too. I know. I owned one and the belt broke almost every time I used it. Of course, that was years ago, so maybe they have improved. I sure hope so.


Is it me? Do I have some kind of weird problem with service? Or do they do this to everyone? If this is how the world is turning, life is going to be a total bummer … even worse than it already is!


From start to finish, this event took almost four hours. Four more hours spent dealing with customer service and I didn’t shout at anyone, not even once. All for a $99.99 vacuum cleaner I bought last December that should still be working.

Oreck vacuumI used to earn that much every other hour I worked and now, I do this for free. It must be some bizarre karmic thing because nobody who isn’t working for customer service should spend this much time talking to them.

It was a pretty good machine — for its brief life of just under five months. I noticed that Amazon isn’t selling it anymore. Shocking.

I wonder why not?

MORE STUFF – WORLD SHARING!

Share Your World – January 29, 2018


If you had an unlimited shopping spree at only one store, which one would you choose? Why?

Can I make that Amazon please? I would head for the cameras and computers and possibly automobiles. Maybe pick up a couple of trikes for Garry and I. I could spend a lot of money at Amazon. I’ve got some serious wish lists going.

Amazon boxes delivery

It’s also the only place I know that has pretty much everything I want — other than repairs for the house, though it does have parts I need to fix the house. And they deliver in 2 days! It doesn’t get better than that.

What is the worst thing you ate recently?

I do all the cooking and I cook pretty well. I can’t remember the last bad meal I’ve had.

oven rice counter

Dinner, anyone?

 

So I have to say there really isn’t any worst thing. I didn’t like the ginger jelly I bought, but it wasn’t terrible, just not as good as I had hoped.

Name five things you like watching … 

We are truly watchers of so many things it really would be impossible to name. But we are very fond of late night comedy — Colbert and Trevor Noah, for two. John Oliver for three. NCIS. We’ve been re-watching the entire “Blue Bloods” series.

trevor noah the daily show

Intermittently watching Voyager, but we aren’t finding it truly mesmerizing. We watch baseball in season. Football right now because there’s Tom Brady and even though we are more baseball than football fans, Brady is something to watch. rake tv show

a place to call home tv show

Lots of stuff on Acorn — “Doc Martin,” “A Place to Call Home.” “Rake” and “Murdoch’s Mysteries.” Too much to mention, but if it was made in New Zealand, Canada, or Australia, we are probably watching it now — or already did.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  

Went to the doctor and discovered I’m alive! That’s right folks. I’m still here. It turns out those pains in my hand are (gasp) arthritis AND carpal tunnel syndrome. Considering I’ve been playing the piano since I was four and touch-typing since I was 10, it’s amazing my hands have lasted this long. We’re going to try braces and see if that helps. Otherwise, I suppose I’ll have to get the carpal tunnel surgery, but that won’t solve the arthritis problem.

Healthy Trail

Mostly, though, I’m doing okay. For me. Given one thing and another. This is as healthy as I’ve been in a few years.

doctor's office window

Doctor’s office window

Not exactly ready to run the marathon, but most of my parts are working pretty well, all things considered. I can’t remember anything — which is apparently perfectly normal. I have a chronic sinus thing — since forever — and it will never go away. I can usually breathe . My blood pressure with medication is within acceptable limits. And I got back the reflexes in both feet and knees after years of not having reflexes there. Remitting, recurring, remitting …

So, I’ll probably be annoying you with my posts for years to come. You’re not going to get rid of me that quickly!

SO WHAT DID YOU DO WITH YOUR SUNDAY?

I’m glad you asked.

I am a long-term Kindle user. I started using one when they had keyboards and no WiFi. They’ve come a long way since them

The Kindle is my reader and my audiobook listener. I have thousands of books and probably even more audiobooks. I also have a ton of music, too. When I don’t feel like reading in bed, I watch Amazon Prime for movies and TV.

My HDX 8.9-inch Kindle was getting old. I liked it for its size. As my eyes have gotten less sharp, I find I need a bigger font. To use a bigger font, I needed a bigger surface and my previous 7-inch Kindle was too small. It was also old enough several parts no longer worked. When I got the “big one,” I thought I would might continue to use the small one when I traveled, but I discovered there was no going back. That 7-inch device is somewhere in a dusty corner of my bedroom — long out of use.



The Big HDX has been great for the past four and a half years. Lately, the battery has not stayed charged very long. Download speed has slowed, too. While I can still download and play books or music using my Bluetooth speaker, it takes a long time to download and the device doesn’t connect well or consistently with the router.

The last time I called Amazon for help, she subtly suggested I might consider a newer model. I pointed out my older HDX was a better model than the newer ones.

“True,” she said, “but even good ones get old. Everything gets old.” I pointed out that I was getting old. She sighed and agreed. That call was two years ago. What was getting old then, got old.

Meanwhile, Garry stopped using his 7-inch Kindle because it was too small and too quiet. The email stopped working months ago and it too has just been gathering dust. I thought “I could get him a new Kindle for his birthday.” Which is in April. Except I don’t wait for holidays or birthdays. I’m not a good “waiter.”

For the past month, I was checking prices on new Kindles. Prices have dropped a lot, but the other day they were also having a sale. Wonder of wonders, a twofer sale. Two 8-inch Kindle Fire Tablets for $99! They were also available in multiple colors, so I chose one in red and the other in black. I invested in two 32 GB micro SD cards ($10 each) plus two modest covers (also $10 each) and nice pair of Bluetooth headphones for Garry.



Today, I spent all day setting them up. Normally, they are not difficult to set up and in fact, they come pretty much ready to go. All your Amazon stuff automatically downloads to your new machine. All your previous settings, your books, audiobooks, music, and games.

All I had to do was log on. Except the first one I set up was for Garry. It needed to have his email address in it rather than mine. Google went wacko. I set the password and after accepting it, it would promptly reject it. I would try the new password on the computer (Garry’s computer) and it rejected it, so I changed it, but when I tried to use the new one on the Kindle, it wouldn’t recognize it either. It took half a dozen tries until finally, one password was accepted on the Kindle and the computer. Yay me!

The last time I had this particular problem, it was an iPad that refused to recognize the password. It’s good to know that problems repeat and don’t even have to be on the same kind of equipment.

Then I paired Garry’s Bluetooth headphones and turned them on. Garry put them on his head and … smiled. Yay me again.

Then all I had to do was the same thing on MY Kindle. But at least I didn’t need to change passwords. I did have to pair my new Kindle to my old speaker, but that only took a couple of rejections before the speaker calmed down and decided it was okay to unite with a new device. I feared it might be faithful unto death.

I probably should mention that Alexa comes bundled with the Kindles. I have NO idea what to do with Alexa. Anything that works on voice never understands me. There is something in me that deeply resents sitting and trying to get me voice-activated system to understand me. So I disabled Alexa. If someone can explain to me what, exactly, I could do with Alexa, I might try it. But as far as I can tell, the only thing I could use it for is ordering stuff on Amazon. I think I’m safer doing that by hand. Accidentally ordering stuff on Amazon? Does that sound like a good idea?

So that was how I spent my day and if I didn’t get much else done, I feel I have, nonetheless, spent my time profitably.

NOTES AFTER SOME HOURS OF USING IT:


There was far too much spooling on video. I never had that problem on the older HDX. Also, I’m not thrilled with their new format, though I suppose I’ll get used to it. It’s fine for books and audiobooks, but not so fine for video. It IS much lighter. The battery is definitely an upgrade.

I may continue to use the older 8.9″ HDX for video, though. All that spooling makes me crazy.

AMAZON’S PRIME GETTING LESS PRIME

It’s a “thing.” A disease. Amazon has caught it. Your company is fine, no problems, so why not create a problem? Nothing livens up a customer relationship more than unsolvable problems. That’s what I always say!

They decided a while ago that they needed to cut delivery costs so they decided to get into the delivery business. Just when we finally got U.P.S. to find our house and know what to do when they get here. Exactly when Amazon decided to start using deliverers who haven’t a clue about — anything.

The new people clearly don’t know the area. They also don’t know the roads, so they send delivery trucks to our house. At night.

We live on a dark and winding road that runs through the woods. Houses are randomly placed on either side. A few houses are close to the road, but most are up or down a long, dark driveway. Even with lights on, our private drives are not easy to navigate. They are close to impossible to manage on ice and snow. At night, if you know the terrain well, you can handle it … but you need to know the place or you’ll wind up in the woods or a ditch. If you try to leave your truck on the road, the likelihood is it will get hit by another vehicle. There are no pull offs. You can’t safely park on that road.

The road doesn’t say “no parking” because it doesn’t need to say it. It’s obvious to any driver that unless you can pull into a driveway, this is a bad place to park. During the day, if your vehicle is big enough, you can leave it there for a few minutes, but it’s dangerous at best, lethal at worst. This road is one of the worst roads in the state — as in one the highest rates of death while driving. It’s the curves and turns.

The road twists and isn’t properly banked. There are no streetlights. Intersections and driveways aren’t marked. The road tends to iciness. The snow cleaning crews dare not use salt because the water level is high; everyone has a well. Salt in your well is the end of your well. It could be the end of the local aquifer, so we don’t use salt. The result are icy patches of two types: the regular white kind of ice and the ugly, invisible black ice that will twirl your car in circles before you hit a tree.

One year, Garry hit the ice, did a double roll, then climbed a telephone pole in my Acura. He got one ugly concussion, but because he was driving my Acura and wearing a seat-belt, he was okay. The Acura was not okay, not ever. It was the last really nice car we owned and it reminded me that ones car is not just cool wheels. Sometimes, it’s life or death.

Leaving digression behind …

I bought a new comforter and cover for our bed. Not expensive, but warm and wide enough so we can stop having desperate middle of the night battles for temporary possession of our covers. According to Amazon, it was due for delivery today. Before 8 pm. It gets dark by 4:30. After dark, it’s really very dark.

The oaks are tall and surround the road. Even when there’s a full moon, you won’t see much.



When we first moved here, one of the first things I said was “Wow, it’s dark here!” They’ve added a few reflectors here and there, but mostly, it’s still really dark and since most of us live a couple of hundred feet back from the road, not a good place to try to deliver packages. Not only is that a ridiculous idea, it’s also a dangerous one. I want my stuff, but I don’t want anyone dying to get it here.

As is typical of AMZL, Amazon’s “own” delivery service, they came by after six, sent the message that the package was delivered, and left. I was sure they had NOT delivered the package because the dogs didn’t go outside. If there had been a real delivery, they would have been outside telling the other neighborhood dogs all about it.

Garry said he’d go check and I said I didn’t think he would find anything, but he went and didn’t find anything. Amazon’s “Logistics” Service has done this at least five other times. They say they delivered the package but haven’t, but we search the property, in the dark, with flashlights, only to discover they were “just kidding.” Just messing with our heads. Maybe they’ll deliver it tomorrow. Maybe Monday. Maybe never. Hard to tell.

I called and said “Do not send those “logistics” people with our packages. They can’t find our house. Please use UPS.”

Because UPS knows the area, would never attempt to deliver anything here at night and have finally gotten it together to put the packages next to — or even INSIDE — the garage, which is really a shop, but I’m sure they don’t care. But they eventually explained that they couldn’t promise who would deliver the packages and we were just going to have to take “pot luck.”

Pot luck? Seriously? I pay for pot luck?

One of the things one of the many letters i got from their customer service this evening said they understood that delivery affects “the entire Amazon experience.” Not true.


Delivery is the entire Amazon experience.


If they can’t deliver on time, there is no experience. It’s not like we shop at Amazon because we like strolling the aisles.

We shop there because they deliver. We live in an area where other kinds of shopping are hard to find. We’ve got Walmart. There’s a Target up in Millbury. You can buy clothing at Kohl’s. Otherwise, there are online shops and of course, Amazon.

But if Amazon can’t promise delivery within the 48-hours they have promised to Prime customers, then there is no Amazon either.

Amazon has never grasped this isn’t a suburban neighborhood. We lack those tidy, well-lit streets with convenient parallel parking, sidewalks and neat little driveways lined along the street. All the stuff you expect in a “neighborhood,” we don’t have. We are an area, not a neighborhood. I’m not sure they have a basic concept of “country.”

In the end, either I’m getting a refund (which isn’t exactly what I want), or they will deliver the products. Eventually. I’m frankly not sure which. I called them five times, was disconnected four times. They tried to call me back twice, but their calls wouldn’t go through. I talked to a lot of people and got different answers from each.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to get the package or the money. Moderately sure.

THE WAITING GAME

YOUR PACKAGE IS HERE!

Along with the joy and excitement of on-line shopping, has come the lesser joy and excitement of awaiting delivery. We can order anything from everywhere, whether its Scottish jelly, Za’atar from Israel, or jewelry from Asia or Africa. Ordering? Piece of cake.

Then, there’s delivery. Mostly, if you are an Amazon Prime member, they promise you automatic two-day delivery and at least 75% of the time, that’s what you get. It was a bit rocky when the program began, but after a year and some, they got it nailed. Mostly. Depending.

Depending on whether or not they use UPS which almost always gets the package here, to our door, in 48 hours. FedEx, who get the package somewhere in 48 hours, but not necessarily here. The neighbors are the not infrequent recipients. Or, the post office, which may or may not ever deliver the package.

I have no idea what becomes of packages sent by Amazon’s version of snail mail which starts out as UPS, but then is delivered to a local post office somewhere. Typically, they drop the package in Sudbury, about 10 miles north of here. From Sudbury, they send it to Lexington, Kentucky. From there, it travels aimlessly to Seattle, then Los Angeles. During these wanderings, I get messages from Amazon.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

“Your package has been sent to the wrong delivery address,” it says. They’ve taken my package from a local post office here in Massachusetts and shipped it to the west coast. “But we’re correcting it right now,” and it includes a happy face so I know that I should not get upset about it. With each subsequent wandering delivery attempt, I get another chirpy letter. Sometimes, weeks later, the package arrives. Sometimes only a part of the package arrives. In the course of sending each package twice around the world, the box gets a bit damaged. It was probably the monsoons along the coast of India. Nothing like ten inches of rain to soften up a cardboard box. Occasionally, it looks like they put it on a ramp and drove the truck over it. Twice.

And then there are times when I never see it, but I’m pretty sure someone is enjoying it. Somewhere.

About a year ago, Amazon thought they could lower their delivery costs by starting their own delivery service. I’m not sure exactly what they were intending, but I know that none of the package sent by Amazon’s own personal service ever got to my house. They assured me it was impossible because the electronic thingies in the trucks would only beep when they were within a few hundred yards of my house. I explained that they may be beeping with rage and fury, but the package wasn’t getting to my house. Once, we tracked it to a neighbor’s house and he begrudgingly gave it back. The rest of the times? Refund and me giving up. I finally told them that if the choice was between not ordering an item or getting it through Amazon’s special delivery service?

Just say no. It would save us all a lot of agony.

When the snow melts in the spring, I find things. Items long-buried under snow appear, a lot the worse for wear. I don’t know what they used to be, but they aren’t that any more. There are packages deep in the woods and in piles of sand along the road. Usually, they are so disgusting, I don’t want to know what they were.

I should mention that normal snail mail packages get here in the usual way of our local post office. For example, a letter mailed from the other end of Uxbridge can take two weeks to get to us, but a letter mailed from Boston will get here in a single day.

It’s part of the excitement of the world-wide web and it’s “anything you want from anywhere in the world” shopping mall. Delivery in 2 days, guaranteed!

COMPUTERS, ICE, WINTER, WHATEVER

Yesterday Garry’s computer up and died. It apparently didn’t die of not having a battery because (are you ready?) — it doesn’t have a battery. It’s got some other weird thing in it. On the positive side, my previously hot computer is still really hot. Aside from having a rather full hard drive left, it is a computer worth fixing. Forever. That is the point of buying a really good computer. If you need to fix it, you can. Meanwhile, it’ll do fine on Windows 7 for at least the next few years.

Hands in motion

Hands in motion

I was doing okay, all thing considered … until my Kindle died. It was one thing over the line. I could cope without my second computer. I wasn’t happy, but I was okay. Garry needed a computer? I had one.

But when the Kindle stopped working, I totally, utterly, lost it. Not that too. It turned out for reasons someone knows (but I don’t), my Kindle was no longer listed on Amazon. None of my audiobooks were listed. There are other Kindles there too, but for some reason, this “main” one seems to be the only one that really counts.

Three hours later, having given up on every possible other thing, we had to de-register, then re-register the Kindle. Then wait while 1,500 audio and regular books … maybe more like 2000 … loaded. That’s a lot of books. A lot of audiobooks. I didn’t even bother to deal with the email. Too much like work.

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Meanwhile, it tuns out, our guy can fix Garry’s computer. For the $100, it’s cheaper than anything I could buy. Whatever that thing which isn’t a battery is, it’s being replaced. I will use it and let Garry use “the much better one.” I need one on which I can write. A keyboard and a screen. This will be fine … and amusingly, it will be my computer again because it was my computer, then it wasn’t. Now, mine. Again. They come, they go.

I did totally lose it last night. To lose Garry’s computer and then the Kindle in one single day was one thing over the line for me. It’s weird. All kinds of other stuff can happen to me, but losing a computer? That’s where the buck stops. Take away everything, but leave me the WiFi, router, modem … and a computer.

Meanwhile, my granddaughter came over, stayed the night. Leaving her car at the bottom of the driveway. Who leaves their car at the bottom of a long, sloping driveway in the winter? Really? She got it out eventually. We are getting rain for a few hours and Garry’s going to “hit the grocery” while he can. By nightfall, it will be freezing. Everything will turn to ice. Even the computer guy knew not to put his car at the bottom of the driveway. Sheesh.

So, everything will work out. One way or the other. As long as nothing else breaks down.

I CAN FIX THAT FOR YOU

CAPABLE | THE DAILY POST


People used to help me do all the setup and wiring stuff of life, but things have changed. Today, they call me. It’s not like I’m particularly good at it. I’m not. About the best you can say of me is that I’m logical . I can dope how to plug A into B and B into C. Usually, it only fits together one way. If you stare at the plug awhile, you will have an AHA moment.

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I guess it’s that Garry is less capable at this stuff than I am. He looks at something mechanical and his brain freezes. Like, say, a vacuum cleaner. I look at it and I figure there’s got to be an “on/off” switch. There has to be one of those step-on-it release thingies so the upright will let you vacuum under things. And there’s got to be a release button on the canister so you can empty the dirt. The problem isn’t whether or not these buttons, pedals, et al are there. The only question is “where”? Garry says just one thing: “HELP!”

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Anyway, last night I finally got the extension cords I had ordered. Amazon has a new delivery service. Their own. Not UPS and not FedEx and not even the pretty lame USPS. Nope, it’s AmazonLogistics, or AMZL. I had ordered these from Amazon because I didn’t feel like hauling ass to the mall or Walmart. I figured with Prime, I’d have them in a couple of days.

It took a week. First they sent them to Wisconsin. I got an emailed apology that they had been sent to the wrong city. Then they wandered around the midwest for a while, showed up somewhere in Texas. Got another apology. Eventually, the night before last, I got a note saying they had been delivered. To my back porch.

We have a back porch. A deck. It’s a steep stairway nobody will climb in anything but full light, and never ever if the steps are icy or even wet. Except for one FedEx guy who not only brings the package to the back door (which is on the deck), but knocks and hands me the package to make sure I got it. The man is a saint, but I digress.

It was 1AM. It was pelting rain. I suppose I should have checked earlier, but usually, I get an email to tell me something has arrived. But that’s from UPS, FedEx, or USPS. Amazon doesn’t do that. You have to look at the order to see if it was delivered. I didn’t want the electrical cords out in the rain, so I put on my robe and slippers and went to the back door. No package.

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I limped downstairs and checked the front door. Nope.

Went down another flight of stairs to the bottom floor. Checked the two side doors. Nope. Nada. Nothing.

I limped back up the stairs, got back into bed and called Amazon. She said “sometimes the delivery people say they delivered it, but they haven’t.” I said looking for a package that ISN’T THERE in the middle of the night IN THE RAIN is uncool. I know why they mark things delivered when they haven’t been, but I’m too old to be running around in the rain to find a package that isn’t there. Eventually, I got compensated (appeased) and drifted grumpily into sleep.

Last night, I realized I should use those cords. Garry had been unable to use his heating pad for more than a week. The cable box and Roku in the bedroom were strung together with a huge, heavy-duty surge protector that was overkill in the extreme. It was safe, but weird.

I dug through the stuff stored between the dressers (extra bedding and pillows in zip bags) to find the outlets. Moved the lamp plug. Added the new extension with the multi-plug and connected Garry’s beloved heating pad. By then, Garry was done with his nightly ablutions and was offering to help. I let him hold things while I did things easier done with two hands.

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Detached the cable box and the Roku. Carefully unplugged and removed the huge, heavy surge protector. Replaced it with a standard extension cord (note to self, should buy shorter extensions for future use). Managed to NOT knock over every single thing on the dresser (only half of them). Booted up TV, cable box, etc. Lights came on. All was well.

Garry was happy. I had brought back the power. And I’m thinking “I just added an extension and replaced another” … but one person’s simple act is another’s miracle.

When I wondered when (and why) I became the woman who fixes stuff? When did people stop helping me and instead begin asking for my help?  I should be glad. If I had to call someone for everything that needs doing, I’d spend my life waiting.

I’m not old enough for that. Yet.

THE PERFECT CAMERA BAG … I THINK

I was window shopping online. I liked the way this bag looked, so I read its description, hoping to get the dimensions.

Anyone know what this means? Translation, please!


Product Highlights:

This kind of bag is made from pure cotton canvas, texture is soft, strong and durable, carry comfortable. The Lord of the bag is a pocket, the upper used the cotton rope of convergent way, plus a lid, the structure is simple. External vice bags and the ornament of fastener broke the appearance of drudgery, optional but not casually, fashion and brief. It makes the whole bag beautiful and easy, and never lose plain. This kind of bag is very suitable for photography lovers do for short trips, also can be used in the daily travel.


Who is the Lord of the bag? Does he cost extra? What is an external vice bag? The ornament of fastener broke the appearance of drudgery — which sounds like a good thing, but why? And I am glad it is options, yet not casually. Fashion and brief? Is that also transitory?

camera-bagI still don’t know the dimensions, but the price is pretty good. I’m just not sure I want to buy anything that comes with a Lord or external vice bags.

LOVING AMAZON … AND THE BEATLES

Not so long ago, I bought a bunch of Beatles albums and one by John Prine. The day before yesterday, just in time for Christmas, I got this email:

Amazon-Music-clipular

And when I opened my Kindle last night, what to my wondering eyes should appear but three Beatles albums and the John Prine, ready for my listening pleasure. I didn’t even know I was entitled to the download. Golly.

So I decided to put them on this computer, too. I downloaded the Amazon App for music.

Amazon Music App

Quick as a wink, I created play lists … and realized I have thousands of album cuts and single songs in my library that I don’t remember acquiring. Obviously, I did. In my sleep maybe?

Merry Christmas to me! There are days … many days … when I really love Amazon.

GLORIA MUNDI! NEW ROUTER, NOT SICK!

Our intermittent connection problem went critical. We had been having connection issues since before Christmas, but I thought it was an outside problem. Charter being Charter, as it were.

netgear ac750 router

It took a bit of tracking down, but eventually, we realized that the old Linksys was in its sixth year, which for computer gear so critical to everything we use, is ancient. And it was failing.

Charter has been ramping up their broadband speed for the past year, so I knew it was likely the old router couldn’t handle the higher speed. But it was more than that. It was not broadcasting a strong enough signal. Diagnosis: Tired old router needs replacement and honorable retirement.

Amazon isn’t cheaper for everything, but for electronics, they usually have the best prices and selection. If you have Amazon Prime, they are offer the fastest delivery at no charge.

I’m a real fan of Amazon. They honor their promises. If you don’t get your package, they send another. If the product doesn’t work, they refund your money or send a replacement — your choice. They are nice when you call with a problem. Rather than go over to our local Best Buy or Walmart, we went online.

We were right. Amazon had great prices on a huge selection of routers. There were so many to choose from … and the technology has changed so much since the last time we installed a router … most of our time was spent trying to figure out what the descriptions meant, and which router was the right one for our house.

Owen said NetGear was easiest to install. Even though we’d been using Linksys for so many years. Since he was doing the installation, I saw no reason to argue the point.

We settled on NETGEAR AC750 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (R6050). At $81.99 plus tax, with free 2-day shipping, it seemed likely to do the job. We ordered it Saturday and surprise! It arrived this morning, Monday. No, I didn’t pay extra for speedy shipping. Amazon is very fast.

It’s installed. It took about an hour, including some hassling with the wireless printer and some more hassling with the Roku. There’s one more Roku in the bedroom I will have to reset plus three Kindles. Owen’s has hooked up his laptop and tablet. My three computers and Garry’s two are also up and running.

Do you think we have enough wireless stuff around here?

The router works really well. No dead spots in the house anymore! Not one, not anywhere. Finally, we have full coverage through both floors and in every room.

What could NetGear do to improve the experience? Provide better instructions!

Every problem we encountered was not a problem. It was just something for which no instructions or explanation is provided. I know everyone thinks tech writers are obsolete. I AM a tech writer. But seriously, folks. How much could it cost to hire a tech writer for a couple of days to write proper, English-language instructions? We work cheap!

Reading through reviews on Amazon, I’m betting 90% of the complaints were failures to understand what to do. Better instructions would solve the problem.

Can you say “Happy Ending?” Sometimes, things work out better than you expect. This is one of those times!

YOUR BUSINESS IS IMPORTANT TO US

It’s an epidemic, a pandemic  — of bad service.

Do you remember when the customer was always right? I do. It wasn’t that long ago.

Customer satisfaction and service was the norm until approximately 2002, at which point everyone — more or less simultaneously — decided to save money by “automating” customer service, eliminating it entirely, or shipping it overseas to be handled by people who speak heavily accented English and don’t know anything about the products they are supposed to be supporting. That was when you and me, the customers, the ones who spend our limited, disposable income on their products or services, became unimportant.

outofserviceThat was the year when we all became not worth the effort of answering a question, or supplying documentation. The gold standard for customer service became … nothing. These days, after slightly more than a decade of working out the details, most organizations do not offer any service to their customers. At all.

The overall attitude is “do the least you can — nothing, if you can get away with it. All customers are liars and thieves. Treat them as such.”

Customer disservice. I think I’m permanently pissed off. Even thinking about calling a customer service department gets my blood boiling. I’m shocked if I’m treated well. Delighted, but shocked.

SO WHAT DO I HATE?

Recorded phone solicitations that interrupt your sleep, meals, conversations, and the show you’re watching. Calls that display on caller ID as familiar phone numbers, but they’ve hacked your data or bought it from someone from whom you bought something.

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Fake charitable organizations, many supposedly in support of breast cancer research or some other form of advocacy. Who take your money and use it to line their own pockets.

“Surveys” that are nothing but scams to collect your private data for sale and misuse.

“Discount cards” for every shop you go to, all of which are a way to collect your personal information so they can sell it. Because you may not be worth much as a customer, but your buying habits sell for big bucks.

Voice-mail systems at doctor’s offices with so many options you can’t recall the first option halfway through the message. The recordings go on and on, until you are ready to scream. Worse, you have to listen to the entire spiel every time you call. The message starts with “Please listen to this entire message before making your selection. Our menu choices have recently changed …” Recently was 10 months ago … or a year or more. You can sing along with the recording because you’ve heard it so many times.

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Many places no longer offer any option of speaking to a live person. Try to find a live human being at your electric company, cable provider, or credit card company.

Our electric company had customer service. Today, if you can find their phone number, a recorded message will tell you to visit the website. Online. Not quite what you need when the power’s off. Make sure you have their actual phone number on your device. You can’t look it up online when there’s no electricity because if there’s no electricity, there’s also no cable or WiFi.

If your whole life is online, it’s over when the power goes out.

Death cust serv

Assuming you can worm your way through voice mail and finally push the magic number to connect you to a live agent, you hear: “Your business is important to us …” followed by Muzak and a 40-minute wait on hold. Better yet, it’s the long wait, followed by a disconnect and dial tone.

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Bad (automated) service is particular noxious when it’s a local company. You know both office workers are probably playing games on Facebook while you listen to their 5-minute voice-mail message. All you wanted to do was ask on which night they are open late. By the end of the message, you no longer care.

THERE ARE STILL SOME GOOD ONES OUT THERE 

Amazon and Audible. Audible is an Amazon company now, but they always had terrific customer service. The more I deal with Amazon, the less I want to deal with anyone else. They are proof getting service does not have to be a nightmare. Trauma need not part of all interactions with vendors, medical facilities, utilities, or other corporations.

AT&T is good. Not as good as Amazon, but you can eventually get a real live person who knows what they are doing. And oddly enough, Medicare and Social Security. Though you may need to wait on hold for a while, you will get a live person in the end — and they will speak your language. They will stay on line with you as long as it takes. Credit where it’s due. These underpaid public servants try hard to help you.

L.L. Bean has wonderful customer service. Land’s End is good too.

To everyone else, I offer a big raspberry and a Bah Humbug in honor of the season.

THUMBS DOWN ON KINDLE FIRE HDX – THUMBS UP ON PAPERWHITE

Amazon launched the new generation of Kindles at the end of September 2013. I spent time perusing these latest greatest Kindles. They were supposed to be pretty much the same as the Fire HD, but with better graphics, battery and sound. A few other perks like really great support and cameras front and back. Gadget junky that I am, I resisted until December, but my Fire was slowing down. Probably from all the stuff I was doing on it. Mind you, it never stopped working but it didn’t work quite as fast or smoothly as it had. When Amazon dropped the price by $50 before Christmas, I bought it. It came with 6-month financing at 0% interest. Nice.

The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX has a new, improved interface for email and the calendar is better too. I know the audio and video were technically better, but they weren’t noticeably different to me. The audio and video on the Fire HD are great and if the HDX is a little better, it’s not a big difference.

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I loved my Kindle Fire HD. I figured I would love the new one even more. And I did. For a day. Maybe two. That was when I realized the battery was draining phenomenally fast. At one point, I was on the phone with Kindle support complaining about the battery — and it was dropping at about 1% every two or three minutes. She said video uses up a lot of battery and I said I’d been able to watch movies on the Fire HD, but at this rate wouldn’t make it through a movie on the HDX without plugging it in.

In about 40 minutes, it dropped more than 50%. I plugged it in before it went flat. It also drained while it was not in use — sleeping — at approximately 5% per hour. Reading — not using audio or video — drained it at 15% per hour. As the battery hit less than 20%, it became unresponsive. Customer support suggested I let it drain all the way and recharge it. Which I did.

No improvement. Part of the problem is you can’t turn off apps except by forcing a stop. This is an awkward process which merely slows (but doesn’t stop) the battery from draining while the device sleeps. If you are using the HDX, it chews through the battery at warp speed. You can actually see it drop.

Back at customer service, she suggested I return it and try a different unit. I had an itchy feeling in my brain the problem was NOT my unit, but a design issue. I’d been reading reviews. Too many people complaining of battery problems to be just a coincidence. I noticed the reviews before I bought but couldn’t believe Amazon would knowingly market a seriously flawed product. The Fire HD didn’t get weeks from its battery as does a plain vanilla Kindle, but it gets a solid 12 hours. That’s twelve hours of actual use. On the HDX, you’d be lucky to get 4 hours of simple reading. Nonetheless, after being assured I could return it if I didn’t like it, I agreed to try another one. A couple of days later, the new HDX arrived.

The second HDX was worse than the first. Not only did it eat its battery, but it took forever to connect to WiFi — and sometimes wouldn’t connect at all — a problem I hadn’t had on the first unit. In a house with 9 working computers, I knew it wasn’t my WiFi. It was the device. The connectivity problem persisted even when plugged in. And even when it found the WiFi, it would rarely open a website, even Amazon. This pushed me over the edge. I’m not eager to return things. I hang on to all kinds of things with which I’m not entirely satisfied, but I couldn’t afford to do it this time. I need a working Kindle.

Maybe I could have lived with the awful battery performance, but not with the useless browser too. After less than a week, I called Amazon and said “That’s it, I’m done.” In the meantime, in a fit of totally unwarranted optimism, I had given my Fire HD to my daughter-in-law and couldn’t bring myself to ask for it back. I wouldn’t have gotten it anyhow because she really likes it.

Which left me without a Kindle. Not good.

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I bought the Paperwhite — the model with WiFi, not 3G. It arrived yesterday. I set it up late in the afternoon. It went live as soon as I plugged it in. At blinding speed it connected, displaying all my books and documents sorted into categories I’d created on my original Kindle. The Paperwhite reminded me why I fell in love with Kindles.

It’s a great reader. It has a just a few bells and no whistles. It’s light, small, easy-to-use. It has a touch screen, virtual keyboard and its own light, but retains many things I loved about the older Kindles, mainly that it’s a wonderful device on which to read a book. Paperwhite is a dedicated reader, not a tablet. Flat, non-reflective surface — easy on the eyes. Adjustable fonts and lighting that won’t wake your spouse. It weighs almost nothing, even with a cover.

I settled in to read last night. For the first time in a long while, I could focus on a book. The Fire HD was a fine tablet, but it was forever teasing me away from reading to play a game, hear a tune, or watch a movie — things I can do on my laptop.

Perhaps this is what I should have bought in the first place. I cannot recommend the Kindle Fire HDX, but hey, if you want a reader? The Paperwhite is fantastic.