Bad Experience with Amazon Fire TV, and Unhelpful Amazon Response
Amazon Fire TV Failure nobody has any idea what this screen really means ( until now... this post tells you, like Amazon should have in the first place )
Amazon Fire TV Failure
nobody has any idea what this screen really means
( until now... this post tells you, like Amazon should have in the first place )

We wanted to be able to watch YouTube on the living-room TV, so I bought an Amazon Fire TV. Living in Kyoto, I bought the Japan-market version that they warn can be used only within Japan. Fair enough.

However, in the process of trying to get it set up, I discovered some important restrictions that they fail to disclose:

  1. An Amazon account is required for most things to work. Not a problem for us, obviously, but would be if we were gifting it to someone.

Then, to install the YouTube app on the device, so you can watch YouTube videos on the TV via the device as they so-prominently advertise...

  1. You must have a credit card.

  2. You must have it registered in your Amazon account.

  3. It must be a Japan-based credit card.

  4. You must configure it for use with 1-click purchases, even if you explicitly don't want that dangerous feature active.

None of these are disclosed, nor make any sense for a free app showing free content available freely, to be used on a device that you own outright. I was able to install other apps without problem.

If your situation doesn't fulfill all these requirements, you're not told an up-front you need a Japan-based credit card configured for the 1-click feature. Instead, you're presented the dialog shown at the top of this post and left to figure it out for yourself.

First off, it starts out with Purchase Failure, which is confusing because you're not trying to purchase anything. The app is free. The button to install it says Get. This dialog is the first hint of Purchase to be encountered. It makes no sense.

Then it talks about billing address and payment method, but makes no mention of where it's looking for these. It doesn't even indicate who is complaining.

Well, this error dialog pops up when merely trying to install the YouTube app, so I figure that the dialog must be from the Amazon Fire TV. YouTube is free, after all.

So, I dig through the settings in the Amazon Fire TV, and find nothing whatsoever about this. They do provide a way to purchase Amazon Coins, which are apparently required when wanting non-free apps, but it seems not to be relevant here.

Could it be related to the Amazon account registered to the device? I have a credit card in my account with a US billing address... is the United States not a supported country as far as Amazon is concerned? (I used that card to purchase this very device the previous day... did something change since then?)

I wonder whether they require a Japan-based credit card in your Amazon account. I don't have a Japan-based credit card, but Fumie does, so I re-register the Amazon Fire TV to her Amazon account.

It doesn't work.... I get the same Purchase Failure dialog as before.

Grasping at straws and digging around in her account settings at Amazon, I see that the billing address for her Japan-based credit card has an optional part of the address empty, so I try filling that in. It shouldn't matter, but I'm grasping at straws.

It doesn't work.... I get the same Purchase Failure dialog as before.

Searching all over creation (that is, The Internet), there's nothing about this until I read something related to Amazon from four years ago, suggesting that something would work if you register a credit card with their 1-click purchases feature, in which you immediately buy something by accidentally clicking on a single link.

I try to do this in Fumie's account, but since I had made a tiny change to the billing address of her credit card, Amazon wouldn't let me use that credit card for anything new until I could prove that I actually had the card by re-entering all its details. This is a great security feature that stops people who break into your account from using your card to ship stuff to their new address, but it's really biting me now because I want to get this set up for Fumie before she gets home, but she has the card.

Along the way I submitted a help request to Amazon, and they responded promptly and politely and were completely unhelpful. First they suggested that I set the 1-click purchase method to COD, but that option is simply not available. Then they apologized and said that a Japan-based card is required to install any app, which I pointed out was demonstrably false since prior to trying the YouTube app I had successfully installed and used two other apps. Then they said essentially shrugged and said sorry.

In the end I got it working with Fumie's card in her account, but it was a decidedly unpleasant user experience, especially in relief of the normally delightful experience we have with Amazon. The latter is why I am a shareholder, though the former gives me pause that they will follow Apple (of which I'm also a shareholder) down the We just don't care anymore sinkhole. 🙁

Anyway, hopefully this will help others searching for a solution to the same problem.


All 3 comments so far, oldest first...

Jeffrey:

I’ve sent your post along to some folks, hopefully a help page to address this will show up soon.

— comment by Madhu on October 30th, 2016 at 7:34am JST (4 months, 26 days ago) comment permalink

That is just weird. I had no issues installing the YouTube app on my firestick. And while I already DO have a credit card on file at Amazon, I most emphatically do NOT have the horrible one-touch ordering enabled. They force it to be enabled for digital content – which is really, really annoying, but I have it turned off for everything where it can be turned off.

I wonder – if I sent my American installed Firestick to you, would it just work in Japan do you think?

The only way to disable 1-click ordering completely is to not have a payment method entered. The moment you enter a payment method, it’s enabled (and can not be disabled) for digital content. I explained to the (polite but unhelpful) customer-service rep that I did NOT want any form of 1-click ordering active for our accounts because it’s too easy to order something accidentally and unknowingly, to which the response was along the lines of “if you do and didn’t actually consume the digital content, we’ll issue a refund if you contact us”. Ugh. As for your American Firestick working here, I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t work, but then, I can’t imagine why the unit I bought is “Restricted to Japan residents only”, so maybe they do silly DVD-like artificial region limiting. Who knows. —Jeffrey

— comment by Marcina on October 31st, 2016 at 3:29am JST (4 months, 25 days ago) comment permalink

I had the very same problem with a Japanese Fire TV

You should have used an android phone or tablet with an app called Apps2Fire to install any app you have installed on your android device to your Fire TV and saved yourself all the trouble.

Here is a you tube vid on what to do.
https://youtu.be/hf2m-ayDq8g

Regards
Scott

— comment by Scott on December 29th, 2016 at 9:29pm JST (2 months, 26 days ago) comment permalink
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