The latest Amazon scare story from The Guardian is already making waves. But tsunami, or storm in a teacup? Especially from a publication that’s built up a track record as a critic of Amazon – reasonable or unreasonable.
According to the original Guardian article, computer programmer Greg Nelson, “a self-confessed Amazon addict,” was banned by the Bezos Behemoth after returning 37 items – approximately 10 percent of his total Amazon purchases over two years. Amazon reportedly not only closed his account, but also deprived him of a gift card balance on it. Nelson says of Amazon: “I find its actions in this situation totally egregious.”
From the article as written, though, it really isn’t clear what was returned, and whether Kindle users in particular have anything to fear. Nelson’s quoted reason for the returns, that “the goods were either faulty, damaged or not as described,” rather suggests that they weren’t ebooks. Even though The Guardian warns that: “his case will alarm anyone blocked by Amazon who has spent a lot of money building up a large library of Kindle books or other digital purchases, as they will fear being unable to access much of it.”
So far at least I haven’t found any corroboration to give further guidance on this article. The other appearances of the same story seem to be entirely based on The Guardian piece. Of course, I would like to get a further perspective if one was around, and would welcome any leads. But at this point, it looks like we only have Nelson’s, and The Guardian‘s, view on how much of a risk Amazon users in general, and Kindle ebook hoarders in particular, face from the Amazon returns policy. The Guardian does say that “having an Amazon account blocked could make life difficult for Kindle users,” but there’s no sign that Nelson’s issues actually related to use or misuse of his Kindle.
That said, a 10 percent failure or defect rate does sound about right for physical products, and if Amazon is cutting accounts which report that level of failures, then maybe its policies do need looking at. But a new woe and worry for Kindle ebook fans? I’m not convinced.
[This isn’t the first time Amazon has mysteriously closed out someone’s account, though that time they did re-enable it shortly afterward. —CM]