Little Hackers

kindleAbout five weeks ago, I wanted to put a smile on my daughter’s face, so I texted her:  I think I’d like to buy you a Kindle Fire HD.  Are you interested?  Although she protested politely, I ordered her one from Amazon and she loves it.  I have been an Amazon Prime member for several years, primarily because of the free two day shipping on purchases.   I share this account with my daughter to give her free shipping, too, so I linked her new Kindle Fire to my Amazon Prime account, giving her access to book privileges and free Amazon Prime videos, all good.  Wednesday afternoon, my desktop computer reminded me that it was time to pay my business Mastercard (and I always listen to my desktop computer).   Checking the bill online, I noticed an unusually large number of 99¢ charges from Amazon Digital Services.  A few are to be expected … I occasionally hear a song I just have to have on my mp3 player and Amazon is my music purveyor of choice.  When I looked at my Amazon account, I discovered the charges were all Android apps.   Yes, I buy Android apps.  For my phone.  From Google Play.  These were apps like Pirates of the Caribbean and Ricky Carmichael’s Motocross Matchup.  How about The Amazing Spider-Man (Kindle Tablet Edition)?  Yes, someone was in trouble.


My grandson Reed, now seven, has always been able to break into anything.  When he was two, he could unlock doors with a paperclip, leading my daughter to ban paperclips in the house.   Childproof locks on cabinets were useless before him.  We used to say that when most kids find something on the floor, they ask what it is – Reed tries to figure out what he can do with it.   His safe cracker skills have translated nicely to anything electronic.   He knows how to add, remove and bypass passwords on most any electronic device including his iPod, which my daughter has tried in vain to lock against purchases from iTunes.  Reed’s brother, Maddux, and sister, Savy, are not quite so ingenious at electronic breaking and entering but they are plenty smart enough to watch Reed work his magic on a Kindle, then copy what he did, hence the presence of Drawing Pad, Star Diva Make Up and Star Diva Nails apps on my account.  No grandfather likes to turn in his grandson, but there were five pages of apps amounting to about $75, so I texted my daughter.  I’m going to kill him, she answered.   Please don’t, let me talk to Amazon to make sure there’s no mistake, I texted back even though the prospect of dealing on the phone with an online company is only slightly below a colonoscopy on my things-I-hate list.  Amazingly, a real (pleasant) person (that I could understand) answered.  The conversation went something like this:

Amazon (OK, she probably wasn’t but it seemed funny): Thank you for using Amazon Prime.  How can I help you?
Older Eyes I have a problem with my account.  I bought a Kindle Fire for my daughter and I think my grandson may have gotten on it and purchased a whole bunch of apps.
Amazon: Did she have Parental Controls on?
Older Eyes I don’t think so.  Does that mean One-Click Buying is always on?
Amazon: Yes.  I can send you instructions on how to add a password that you can forward to your daughter.  And I can refund your money for all of the apps, which will remove them from the Kindle.  Is that OK?

At that moment, I heard something that sounded like this:

Imagine that: a refund that they offered.   So, my grandson is off the hook, although I’m sure he’ll get, at minimum, a talking-to (something that, as a child, I dreaded more than spankings).  My Amazon account is safe from Little Hackers unless Reed gets a hold of Mommy’s Kindle and defeats the Parental Controls.  We’ll worry about that another day.  In the meantime, it’s nice to meet Excellent Customer Service along the usually dismal Internet Highway.  Thanks, Amazon.

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2 Comments on “Little Hackers”

  1. Amy Says:

    Yes, my Reed is a smarty pants! Hopefully this will someday translate into skills leading to a VERY well paying job!

  2. territerri Says:

    I’ve always been impressed with Amazon; even more so now. I will be more likely to give them my business first knowing how well you were treated and how quickly and easily the problem was resolved.

    Reed is seven and hacking electronic devices? Wrong as it may be, I find this seriously impressive! I hope Amy is right and that his skills translate to success in life later on.

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