Summary: well, it's by design. The problems with the auto-shutoff and the condensation are probably all related - the mechanism for turning the switch on/off is built into the base - what has to happen is steam moves down the spine of the kettle (the gray area under the handle).
Summary: Electric kettles are a mainstream item in Germany, where I am from. I was very surprised to see they are hard to find and poorly designed here. This one is the most decent I could find here, but I have seen better ones from Siemens, and even some store-brand ones in Germany.