Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Perils of Ordering from Amazon.de (when you own a Kindle)

As many folks know, all it takes for you to be able to order Kindle books on-line even if you're overseas is a U.S. credit card with a U.S. billing address. That's what I've been doing all year, and it's worked very well. However, last Tuesday, when I tried to buy Hungry from Paris, I got the following dreaded message:
We could not process your order because of geographical restrictions
on the product which you were attempting to purchase. Please refer to
the terms of use for this product to determine the geographical
restrictions.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

This terrified me. Had I lost my Amazon.com privileges? Thinking that this was some nefarious IP geo-location at work, I asked my brother to try buying the book through his Kindle. (Since he's tied to my account, once he bought the book I should be able to download it) No luck. I IM'd a friend of mine who worked at Amazon US, and we walked through the problem. It turned out that I had recently bought a Rice Cooker from Amazon.de and had it shipped to a German address. This was a bad thing, because it also set my default one-click buy address to a German address for my Amazon US account. (I only have one-click buy turned on for the Kindle, since there's no way to turn that off on the Kindle)

This caused Amazon to think I was now in Germany (which I was), but once I deleted the German address, I could buy Kindle books again. Phew! I asked my friend why all this effort to link the German and U.S. accounts --- he said that there are people like me who buy books from foreign Amazon sites when they can't find them in the U.S. (I've done that once or twice, come to think of it) Nevertheless, this is something to watch out for if you bought a Kindle and are using it overseas.
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