Some Kindle Owners Upset After Receiving Cryptic Subscription Offer From Amazon

Amazon has issued an apology tonight after upsetting Kindle owners, who learned this morning that they were selected to receive a publication they didn’t sign up for — and could be charged for in the future.

The problems kicked off this morning when Amazon started sending emails to select Kindle owners, alerting them to a free trial of “The Kindle Compass.”

In the email, Amazon failed to explain what “The Kindle Compass” was, and worse, implied that customers would be charged for it going forward.

An Amazon spokesperson said a second letter has been sent this evening, explaining that “The Kindle Compass” is a pilot project, and apologizing for any confusion over the price. “We built it to always be free for customers, and you will never be charged for it,” the company told its customers.

Still, the response comes hours after much of the damage had already been done.

Angry customers flooded Kindle forums, posting more than 100 complaints to topics called “Where is Kindle Compass Magazine?” and “Auto-Subscription to the Kindle Compass??”

The confusion was understandable.

In the original message, Amazon misled consumers about the terms: “If you enjoy your free trial, do nothing and your subscription will automatically continue at the monthly subscription rate.”

However, no rate was ever mentioned.

Even worse, those who contacted Amazon customer service said the reps weren’t familiar with the publication, so the best they could do was help them to unsubscribe to ensure they would not be charged. At this point, people are still confused as to what “The Kindle Compass” is all about.

A spokesperson did not return emails asking for more clarity on what the publication is, and it’s unclear how many customers were affected (not all Kindle owners received the email).

In the forums, the complaints centered on two concerns: That Amazon would sign them up for something they did not knowingly subscribe to, and that they may be charged for it.

One consumer, who used the name “Susabelle”, wrote: “I am absolutely APPALLED. Amazon, you should be completely ashamed of yourself!! An auto-subscription to a publication I’ve NEVER heard of, that you will be auto-billing me for after 14 days? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND??”

Here is the apology Amazon sent to consumers this evening:

This morning we sent you an email regarding The Kindle Compass, a new free publication built by the Kindle editorial team that we’re piloting to a small number of Kindle customers.

This email incorrectly referred to The Kindle Compass as a subscription with a free trial. We built it to always be free for customers, and you will never be charged for it. We apologize for any confusion.

If you wish to unsubscribe from the pilot for The Kindle Compass you can do so from a link in the last section of the magazine, or from the Manage Your Kindle Subscriptions page at

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus