Spam Wars

Amazon Gets on the Accidental Spam Bandwagon, Freaks Out Kindle Owners with Auto-Subscription Offer

iu xpl5dlcom Amazon Gets on the Accidental Spam Bandwagon, Freaks Out Kindle Owners with Auto Subscription OfferAccidentally embarrassing spam faux pas? All the cool corporations are doing it these days. A week or so after The New York Times sent out an email about cancelled home delivery that was supposed to go out to 300 people and instead went out to 8 million, Amazon committed its own spamming PR debacle.

As AllThingsD reports, Amazon had to issue an apology last night to Kindle owners who received a notice about automatic enrollment for a subscription to something called the Kindle Compass that: 1. they didn’t sign up for and 2. “would automatically continue at the monthly subscription rate” if they did nothing. Nothing like hearing that the mere act of going about your day as usual now comes with a mysterious additional fee.

Not all Kindle owners received the email. But the ones who did were, naturally, confused. No monthly rate was mentioned and customers jumped on Kindle forums to post complaints like under rubrics like “Where is Kindle Compass Magazine?” and “Auto-Subscription to the Kindle Compass??”

Just as the Times‘ customer phone lines were too tied up to explain, Amazon customer service likewise couldn’t help. “Even worse, those who contacted customers service said the reps weren’t familiar with the service, so the best they could do was help them to unsubscribe to ensure they would not be charged,” says AllThingsD.

In the email apology that went out to customers hours later, Amazon explained that the Kindle Compass was a pilot project and apologized for confusion about subscription prices:

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 http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindlesubscriptions.

What, no apology for the automatic, opt-out subscription part?

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com