Amazon Unbox Update

As documented in these pages, I had a nasty experience with Amazon’s new Unbox movie download service, and I called the service “not ready for primetime”. If you recall, I ended up asking Amazon for a refund for a movie, which I couldn’t watch because their Unbox player blew up repeatedly during install with an inscrutable error.

Here is the response from Amazon (well past the 24 hours within which they assured me I would hear back):

Thank you for contacting us about the problem you encountered with The Three Kings. As a standard policy, Amazon Unbox videos are not returnable after they have been downloaded and viewed.

However, because of the circumstances I have made an exception and issued a refund for $8.00. This refund should go through within the next 2 to 3 business days and will appear as a credit on your next credit card billing statement.

As part of the return/refund process, I have also revoked the license for this video. It will no longer appear in Your Media Library and you will be unable to play any copies you may have downloaded. We recommend that you delete the inactive file from your computer.

Again, I apologize for the difficulty you had with this video and thank you for shopping at

This is a perfectly decent and fair-minded response — I am getting a refund after all — and I’m glad Amazon recognizes its error. That said, it is adrift on one key point: I was never able to view the video because I couldn’t get the player to install. Why act like it’s such a big deal to give me a refund on on a movie when I hadn’t seen the movie? I told the Amazon people as much, but apparently uninstallable Unbox players is not something that fits nicely in their auto-apology generator.


  1. two questions:
    1) three kings?
    2) eight dollars?
    are dvd prices in europe really that much lower so that 8 $ seem ok for a relatively sh*tty movie?
    i can buy the dvd for less than 8 euro (here in germany), don’t have the ridiculous restrictions, and can sell the dvd after i have seen the first half and decided that banging my head against the wall was a much more sensible use of my time.

  2. They’re treating you like a crook even if they thank you at the end. That differs a bit from the general policy of telling you that you can return a sweater, for example without knowing if you used it a couple of times. Doesn’t make much sense.

  3. Yes, Three Kings. While I mostly tried to buy it as an experiment — it was on the front page and I was in a hurry — I liked it more than you apparently did. In the end, of course, it didn’t matter.