High Point, North Carolina
Not resolved
2 comments

I have contacted Amazon several times about a problem with the FreeTime Unlimited app on my daughter's Kindle Fire HD. I have contacted Amazon using email, phone, and online chat.

The problem is that with the FreeTime app running and parental controls ON the AppStore can be accessed while using a children's game app. All you have to do is open the Ice Cream Drop game, and select the "More Fun" button on the top right of the screen. It is easy enough for me to delete the Ice Cream Drop app, but a lot of apps come with a button/link that forwards to the AppStore to purchase more of the developer's games.

I thought FreeTime Unlimited (a paid monthly subscription) was supposed to block access to the AppStore? While in the AppStore with FreeTime Unlimited running and Parental Controls enabled inappropriate content can be searched for and found. It cannot be purchased because of the parental lock I have on purchases, but I do not want my daughter to be able to get in the AppStore at all. FreeTime Unlimited is the monthly subscription version, and it is set-up for an 8-year old girl.

My parental controls are as follow:

Parental Controls are ON

Web Browser is BLOCKED

Email is BLOCKED

Password protect purchases is ON

Password protect video playback is ON

Password protect Wi-Fi is ON

Password protect LBS is ON

Newstand is BLOCKED

Books & Audiobooks, Music, Video, Docs, Apps & Games, and photos are all UNBLOCKED. I asked Amazon about blocking these, but if they are blocked she will not be able to access her books, movies, and games.

I originally contacted Amazon about my concerns on 1/16/2013. I got a fairly snide brush-off email reply telling me to enable Parental Controls and use a password. So I replied with my FreeTime settings, as above, on 1/21/2013. I received a much more appropriate reply from an Amazon associate who actually read my email and understood that FreeTime Unlimited was running with Parental Controls on and Web Browsing blocked. This associate suggested I chat or call in to discuss.

The evening of 1/21/2013 I chatted and was left on "hold" while the associate investigated for up to 5 minutes at a time. Only to be disconnected. This happened several times with 3 different associates. My internet connection was stable and I did not allow it to idle, but when the associate seemed to have difficulty finding an answer I was suddenly disconnected. I think that was very convenient for the associate.

After being disconnected from 3 different associates. I called in. After explaining to 1 associate who did not seem to understand or speak English (typical). I was transferred to another associate who I had to explain everything to again. Then to a 3rd in the Kindle department. The general consensus from all the associates I spoke with was "I don't know".

The last associate I spoke with said he would investigate and have the technical team investigate and he would call me back in 3 days (that would be 1/24/2013)around the same time of the evening. He did email me on 1/24/2013 to say he was sorry about the trouble I have had with the FreeTime app and that the technical team was working on an answer.

I have heard nothing else from Amazon, and the problem is not fixed. So basically I got the brush off from Amazon. That is not what I expected and it really disappoints me with Amazon customer service. Amazon associates did not perform as promised or follow through with their word, and I am unhappy with the product I have purchased because it does not fulfill the promises Amazon made.

Like I said, I can easily delete this one app, but what other apps have the same functionality? The entire reason I bought my daughter the Kindle Fire HD was the FreeTime app so I could monitor and protect her. I do not mind paying the monthly fee for the app IF it worked correctly. I have spent money on a Kindle Fire, a Case, accessories, FreeTime Unlimited, buying apps, books and movies and I cannot trust the device to work as promised.

Monetary Loss: $350.

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Anonymous
#603045

One would wonder about the age of the child in question. If she is so young to need all these parental controls, then what is she doing with a Kindle Fire?

It's like giving a child an iPad. I'd take the thing away and give her a real book.

Maleke
#603142
@Anon

Anon, I apologize for not being clearer in my posting. When I first posted my complaint I thought only people that were familiar with the FreeTime application (app) and had a Kindle would care enough to read my post, let alone comment.

For clarification, Amazon offers 2 versions of the FreeTime app. FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited. Amazon pushes (or tries to sell) this app to parents. The app is designed to only allow children access to material the parent approves. The parent different parameters including child's age and gender and the app loads some predetermined age appropriate material on the Kindle for the child. The parent can review and approve or delete. The content includes games, videos, and most importantly e-books. The parental controls are incorporated into the app. When being set-up the parent sets the parental lock code/password. Then the parent starts the FreeTime application before letting the child have the Kindle. The child only has access to the material in the FreeTime app. They cannot even get to the Kindle main menu. The child also cannot exit the FreeTime app without entering the parental password. For the parent to add games, books, movies, videos, etc to the child's content they must either exit FreeTime, using their parental code, then access the AppStore, or access the Kindle account from a computer, once again the password is needed. FreeTime is a great thing when it works properly. It keeps children away from age inappropriate content and allows the parent to be a parent by controlling what their child has access to.

The purpose of my post and complaint was two-fold. First, that while the FreeTime app is running you should not be able to access the AppStore and my child could. There is a bug (a serious bug) in the application. Anyone that has any kind of tablet, smart phone, or other device that loads apps knows how easy it is to find adult content - including graphic violence, profanity, and ***. I would not give a child or early teenager a video game rated for Mature Audiences. I am not giving my 8-year old access to ***. FreeTime was sold to parents assuring them children would not be able to access age-inappropriate information. The app is only partly doing what it was designed to do. Second, my purpose was to vent about how badly Amazon customer support sucked when I contacted them. I was actually very patient and nice when I contacted Amazon. I expect there to be bugs or problems with a program and I wanted to let them know about a bug with the application so it could be patched.

As I said in the original post, my daughter is 8-years old. She actually loves to read and reads several "real" books a week. We are regulars at the public library and she frequents her school library. I even read to her at bedtime. The big advantage to getting her a Kindle was that should could take hundreds of books with her anywhere she went. Plus little kids think it is great to read an e-book, which is a great motivator to read. She has even purchased e-books with her own money.

My complaint had 2 purposes. One to let parents know about a bug with the FreeTime app since the app is targeted and sold to parents and second to complain about Amazon Customer service. Since you obviously are not familiar with the application or the problem. I am flattered that you thought my original posting was interesting enough to read and thank you for spending your time on it.