A computer programmer and self-proclaimed Amazon addict named Greg Nelson has been banned from using Amazon UK after returning 37 of the 343 items he has purchased over the course of two years.
According to TheGuardian, Amazon told the programmer any remaining gift card or credit balances on his account would be lost to him as they can only be used on the website and do not have a transferable value. Nelson insists there was a genuine reason for each and every return he made over the past two years. The products were either damaged, faulty, or did not work as they were described to.
The programmer claims that his account was closed immediately and he was not allowed to continue buying from the website. In his words, he believes Amazon did not give him a "proper explanation" as to why they suddenly closed his account.
Nelson has stated that he respects the company's rights to protect itself, but closing his account was unfair.
"As a previously fervently loyal fan of Amazon who has been a customer since 2002, I understand that it is trying to protect its business – however I find its actions in this situation totally egregious. I could understand if there were evidence that I had somehow tried to abuse the system, but I haven't. Of course, Amazon can refuse to serve whom it likes, but surely it cannot legally keep gift card balances and other purchased goods which have already been paid for by the customer – despite what any potentially unfair small print might say?"Nelson proceeded to email the company and point out how unfair he felt their actions were in regard to his account. In the email, Nelson told the company it was unfair to close his account based on unpublished return limits. He went on to question whether or not it was even legal for the company to refuse to refund any unspent gift card balances he had lingering on his account.
While Nelson is the latest customer to have his account closed by Amazon after exercising his right to return goods, he is certainly not the only one.In January 2016, a customer named Katy Kilmarton reported that Amazon closed her account after she returned 30 of the 112 items she purchased. In closing her account, she lost a gift card balance of £170, which is about $246, as well as the remaining months of her Prime membership. Kilmarton claimed that her remaining gift balance was a refund for a previous purchase that the company gave back to her as a gift card instead of refunding her debit card. Kilmarton stated that she understood the company had the right to close her account, but felt the company should refund her the remaining gift card balance as she didn't understand how taking it could be legal.
Understanding the Return Policy
A representative from TheGuardian attempted to reach out to a spokesperson from Amazon only to be told the company would not discuss the customer's case other than confirm they would not be reopening his account.
"Our goal is to deliver the best experience for the millions of customers who shop with us. In a tiny fraction of cases we are forced to close accounts where we identify extreme account abuse. This decision is only taken after we have reviewed the account carefully and tried to work with the customer over an extended time period to resolve any issues."According to Amazon's website, customers are allowed to return most new and unopened products for a full refund within 30 days of their delivery date. The website goes on to say the company will even pay any return shipping costs if the reason for the return is the fault of the company.
What Happens to Kindle Library and Digital Purchases?
While the banning of an Amazon account does not block a customer from viewing his or her Kindle library and/or digital purchases, it does make things more challenging. After an Amazon customer account is closed, the customer will be told not to contact customer service anymore.
"Please do not make contact through the standard customer service channels again, as they will no longer be able to assist you."This means that while you will be able to access your Kindle library and your digital purchases, you will not be able to contact Amazon's customer service should a problem with your library or your digital purchases arise as they will not help you without an active account.
When Amazon closes an account, the customer account also loses access to Amazon Prime streaming services. This means the money paid for the subscription is lost. The DVD-sending service LoveFilm, popular book talking service Audible, and Comixology will also be limited. Customers will be able to keep anything they have already downloaded. However, they will not be able to download anything else.
TechWalls advises Amazon customers to keep their return rates under 10 percent of total purchases to avoid their account being closed for abusing the return policy.
Making a new Amazon customer account, however, remains a simple task. A lot of individuals will just use a spouse or family member's account after their account is closed. Customers just need to keep in mind that closing an account means losing everything via Amazon that is connected to that account but has not been downloaded to a device.
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