Amazon Closes Accounts En Masse

Slickdeal forums members are complaining about a mass-closing of Amazon accounts. The reasons cited vary from having too high a percentage of returns, shipping to too many different addresses, and having too many different Amazon accounts. Guess they’re trying to tighten their bottom line and prevent loopholes from being exploited, but the net may have been cast too wide; some of the adversely affected users say the action was unfair and unwarranted. Couple this with the online retailer dropping the post price guarantee at basically the same time and you have to wonder if the boys in the Amazon backroom spent Labor Day Weekend earning their Six Sigma certificates.

Mass Closing of Amazon Accounts by Amazon [SlickDeals] (Thanks to Errol!)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Amazon took a hint from NY’s Soup Nazi. No account for you!

  2. y2julio says:

    Knowing how some of the folks at slickdeals.net work, I think maybe Amazon is warranted in closing their accounts.

  3. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    …shipping to too many different addresses…

    Is it just me or does that complaint make no sense? What’s the difference between one person sending stuff to 10 different addresses and 10 people sending stuff to one address?

    • y2julio says:

      @Rectilinear Propagation: Amazon offers this service called Amazon Prime which offers free two day shipping and $5 dollar overnight shipping. You pay $75 dollars a year for it. They offer a service with Amazon Prime where you can share your Amazon prime service with family members. Now what some people are doing is, splitting the cost with random people online for Amazon Prime shipping, even though they are not family and don’t live in the same address. I’m guessing that Amazon has finally caught up to them and have started closing down accounts because of that.

      • The Commenter Formerly Known as StartingAces says:

        @y2julio: I do this, and none of our accounts have been shut down. Then again, I’ve never returned anything, and I don’t buy overly insane amounts of stuff.

  4. kenboy says:

    C’mon, these people are probably just the ones who didn’t respond to those repeated, oddly-spelled emails with convenient links right in the email for us to log in with our username and password to verify our account.

    They told us they’d delete our accounts otherwise! We were warned!

  5. William Mize says:

    That’s a lot of negative news on amazon today, which is too bad, because they are one company/retailer that I really love.

    Ten bucks says that it’s the first week of their new fiscal year and they’ve decided to implement these new policies and get a ‘fresh start’.

  6. usa_gatekeeper says:

    Excerpt from the Amazon letter to OP:

    “…Please know that any accounts related to yours have also been closed. If you were to open a new account, the same will result and it will also be closed. In the event that you attempt to do so, we will not accept the return of any additional orders, nor will we issue further refunds in connection with any future orders. We appreciate your cooperation in refraining from using our web site….:

    Wow. Pretty strong language – I trust this is reserved for individual account holders as opposed to blanket closures. Must’ve really P.O.’d someone at Amazon.

  7. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    Slickdeals forum goers and the like exist to exploit loopholes in the systems of online vendors to game them for as much cheap/free stuff as they can before they get caught. My guess is that Amazon will not miss the vast majority of those that got their accounts closed.

  8. rdm says:

    @Franklin Comes Alive! – nothing like making a crass generalization about a group of people. Some people @ SD are just after a good deal. I see nothing wrong with that.

    @y2julio – once the accounts are divided among others it really doesn’t matter who lives where, correct?

  9. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    @rdm – I bet the ones who got their accounts closed fit my stereotype nicely.

  10. For most companies …. 0.2% of the customers create 80% of the problems. Sounds like Amazon is trying to get rid of their problem children. Congratulations.

  11. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @y2julio: But then how do they know they’re not related? You can have family, even immediate family, that don’t have the same last name.

  12. kellkell says:

    My brother in law bought into a ‘shared’ prime account and apparently at least 3 of the people involved got their accounts shut down. It does look to me like they are getting rid of the problem customers.

  13. Moves like this get rid of 1% of customers or less but probably save the other 99% of Amazon’s customers money.

    Good riddance.

  14. ThunderRoad says:

    BTW, a six sigma analysis would not result in in anti-customer policies unless there were really serious loopholes to be plugged.

    Six Sigma, on it’s face, is a way to prove to the higher ups what line workers have been recommending all along.

    • SpdRacer says:

      @ThunderRoad: I was wondering when someone would get to that or if anyone would even know what it was/is. I have considered getting my Master’s in SCM, but all the schools that offer it are on the left, I mean west coast. And, money to stay in school is not to be found.

  15. oldheathen says:

    I love how Amazon uses THEIR OWN POLICIES to beat customers over the head. No one’s holding a gun to Bezos’ head making him offer free prime shipping or free shipping over $25 or whatever their beef may be.

    Reminds me very much of the infamous “angel customers” and “demon customers”: if you’re not a highly profitable dumb ass we can screw 12 ways from Sunday, we don’t want your business.

    • @oldheathen:

      Reminds me very much of the infamous “angel customers” and “demon customers”: if you’re not a highly profitable dumb ass we can screw 12 ways from Sunday, we don’t want your business.

      I think you mean “If you’re not a deeply discounting company we consumers can screw 12 ways from Sunday, I’m not shopping at your store!”

      Angel and Demon customers are about profitability versus lost money. Angels are profitable, Demons are not.

  16. BillyShears says:

    If the voices of dismay are coming from Slickdeals and similar websites, you can bet it’s to close loopholes that were being cynically exploited.

    I don’t see how this is a bad thing.

    • BeeBoo says:

      @BillyShears:

      Some of the abuses they are trying to stop:

      1. People using Amazon as a drop-ship service for selling things on eBay. They buy something on Amazon, using payment by check to hold the item, sell it on eBay, change payment to credit card, then have Amazon ship it to the purchaser, who pays $25 for something that arrives from Amazon with an invoice for $14 or whatever.

      2. People with small businesses use Amazon as a wholesaler. Probably nothing wrong with that, but Amazon doesn’t like people ordering hundreds of identical items before the holiday and then returning them in January.

      3. People have multiple accounts to take advantage of one-per-household coupons and other deals.

  17. Eric1285 says:

    What does six sigma have to do with cost cutting? I do not see the relationship, at least not in this example.

    Please avoid using buzz words for the sake of appearances.

  18. nope89 says:

    in all fairness, it’s not just slickdeals that’s complaining. Here’s a thread on amazon’s own site:

    [www.amazon.com]

    • alephus says:

      @nope89 wrote:

      ” in all fairness, it’s not just slickdeals that’s complaining. Here’s a thread on amazon’s own site:

      [www.amazon.com]

      Amazon has now deleted that entire thread.

      Strange, as they allow discussion on about anything in that forum on
      the GoldBox page. Yet it looks to be that part of their sudden
      personality change includes silencing/removal of conversations that
      voice customer concerns and questions on unknown policies.

      ..

  19. zeitguess says:

    I’m a member over at Slick Deals and Fat Wallet. They have been working the Amazon system for years with multiple accounts. I am honestly surprised it took Amazon this long to start fighting back.

  20. Some of the folks over at Slick Deals are all worried that this post links to their website and this specific thread. Who cares? Paranoid much?

  21. Gorphlog says:

    Just like all retailers. People who abuse the return system ruin it for everyone else. If you plan on returning it then dont buy it!!!

  22. 2719 says:

    This was way overdue! Way to go Amazon! Even if some people got banned by mistake it’s all due to people trying to scam the system.

  23. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Some people over at Slick Deals said they were told that their accounts were closed because their billing and shipping addresses didn’t match.

    That doesn’t make sense. Somebody is being less than truthful…

  24. HonestNigerian says:

    Weird. i have 2 accounts. Same email address. 2 different passwords. I didn’t even know until I wasn’t able to view my past orders. Then Amazon pointed it out to me. Hope I don’t get that email. I spend about $800/ year with them on books.

  25. missdona says:

    I get deliveries about once a week from them. It would totally change my whole spending strategy.

  26. chd8429 says:

    Nobody outside of Amazon’s corporate elite will reveal the exact cause that has led to these account closures to occur at the same time and in such great numbers. Go ahead and speculate until you get carpal tunnel syndrome, but don’t slander another poster. You’re not a member of Amazon’s corporate elite, and even their “corporate consumer specialists” claim to have no knowledge of the exact factor that has brought about the closing of these accounts. Call them at 206-622-2335 to find out more! Ask for yourself.

    The “corporate consumer support” claims that only “account specialists” can identify that particular factor. They also claim the “account specialists” cannot discuss the matter with anyone else, even Amazon’s own corporate consumer support. The consumer cannot contact the account specialist by phone and the account specialists don’t seem to reply to the consumer’s emails. They just keep on sending the same generic email. Does this seem like transparency to you? Why would you defend a company that behaves in this manner?

    Some corporate consumer specialists have suggested the account closings may have been due to a recent implementation of a new security measure designed to verify the submission of billing information with the information provided by the credit lending bank. As mentioned before, at this point, you can’t know for certain unless you’re an Amazon account specialist. And most likely, you’re not!

    Many posters on this forum assume the worst in people. Already, you’re probably assuming these people are now credit card scammers in addition to drop shippers, repeat returners, price complainers and so on. Haven’t you heard of the customer who purchased canned food and books from Amazon? They shipped the canned food and books in the same package and without any protective material. As you can guess, the cans came open and spilt their contents all over the “new” books! Also, notice how Amazon no long shrink wraps most of their books. They arrive as bent, creased, and damaged. Or they’ll put different books of different sizes and shapes into the same package without any protective material and all of the books will arrive damaged, not surprisingly. So, don’t judge so harshly and quickly. Stop the vitriolic postings.

    These customers no longer have access to the content in their digital locker. Remember, this is digital content that has been paid for! Yet, you’re siding with Amazon on this one. Amazon has permanently denied these account holders access to their paid digital merchandise! For Life! Is this not outrageous?

    I believe this mass blacklisting is a public relations black eye for Amazon and they owe the involved customers an apology, not a generic and ambiguous email. Getting blacklisted from Amazon is terrible.

    I believe a generic email was inadequate and dehumanizing. It was a bold step towards disempowering the Amazon customer. If you had the final say-so at Amazon, would you have approved of the wording in that email? Did you find nothing wrong with it? Was it tactful and not ambiguous? And if there indeed was an ongoing problem with the buyer, was the problem identified early in its course, were both parties made aware of it, and was it resolved amicably? How would you feel if you had shopped at Amazon for 7 years, spent thousands of dollars, and then received such an email?

    It appears Amazon’s cold shoulder treatment has brought about much harm, confusion, and anger. Many people who have had their accounts closed did not drop ship or credit scam. Many followed Amazon’s policy.

    Why would you stand up for a heartless corporation? You’re part of the faceless mob.

  27. chd8429 says:

    There is another website available were people can disuess the account closures.

    [amazonaccountclosed.blogspot.com]

  28. Julia789 says:

    Shipping to too many different addresses? Why is this a problem? They offer the choice of entering different shipping addresses.

    Sometimes I send orders to my home address. Sometimes I send them to work, if I know it’s a package I need to sign for. And quite often, I purchase items and send them to my mother on the other side of the country. She has trouble ordering online (she’s hopeless – we’ve tried to coach her!).

  29. MyTQuinn says:

    Amazon in completely within their rights to choose not to do business with certain customers any longer. By the same token, people who exploit loopholes or quirks in Amazon’s ordering system are completely within their rights to do so. While I can’t say that there was no harm caused by this exploitation, there certainly was no foul.

  30. gatewaytoheaven says:

    Don’t hate on my beloved slickdeals!

  31. RedwoodFlyer says:

    Saw this on Slickdeals…sounds like they want a war with Consumerist:

    “Who cars [sic] what commenters at a site who’s [also sic] Alexia [Try: Alexa?] rating is inversely proportional to the sheets of toylet paper on a role of sharman [Charmin?]”

    Once you get through the atrocious grammar, it is slightly funny!

    While I still have my Amazon account, I worry because I’ve returned a few items recently, including the Cold Heat Soldering gun (joke of a product, a Zune case that said it was made out of leather, but it turned out to be school-bus style pleather, and a Ferret cage that had several safety hazards that caught the feet of our fuzzballs which they didn’t seem thrilled with – multiple reviews stating that problem had been posted between when I placed the order and when I discovered the problem after 3 days of use.

    If you’re not familiar with their returns process, one of the choices is “Performance/Quality not up to my satisfaction” which, in complete honesty, would be the only applicable choice. In most cases, it also means Amazon will pay your return shipping – you can’t opt out of that – that’s just how things work.

    I’m not sure if they are closing accounts for too many returns, but if they are, it’ll definitely make me shop much less on Amazon and much more at Wal-Mart (yep, I said Wal-Mart) where they sell the same potentially crappy merchandise, but they won’t give you a hard time about returns as long as it’s not abused or damaged.

    I know it’s not their fault that the product quality was total crap, but it’s not my fault either…

  32. aikoto says:

    Some details are warranted. A lot of the people here are commenting on Amazon’s behalf as if they’ve been some kind of pinnacle of a company over the years and deserve defending.

    I, on the other hand, assume that this was done based in greed or incompetence and would like to see what criteria they’re using to make these decisions.

  33. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Based on the disorganized, inappropriate reasons given to former accountholders, and the insistence on all affected users appealing their decisions, I really think it was a massive database problem, with human error at the root of it.

    It smells to me like Amazon violently overapplied a policy of cancelling accounts in violation after a certain elapsed time and after notifying the user. In this scenario the system failed (or has been failing consistently) to notify the user, and too many users were caught in the net. In order for Amazon to correct the error, they would need to manually sort out on a user-by-user basis which users are actually in violation and which aren’t, or which users were notified and which weren’t.

  34. ScottCh says:

    Wow, some people have all the luck. I tried three or four times to cancel my Amazon.com account after I found out that there was simply no way they could delete my credit card information from the account.

    I have already had my CC hijacked once, and there is no way I want any retailer keeping my credit card info in their permanent records. If there was a convenient way to delete the account, I would have done so a few years ago.

    • clickable says:

      @ScottCh:

      You can delete your payment method from the main account profile page. It infuriates me that by default they will keep your credit card info on file every time you make a purchase, without asking your consent. But you can go into your account profile after every purchase and delete the card info. It won’t affect the purchase. It’s an intensely annoying way to do business with them but I got used to it, because I like Amazon but don’t want my credit info permanently on file with them.

  35. ManiacDan says:

    Many people open multiple amazon accounts because Amazon Prime counts as a “promotional deal” and cannot be combined with any other promotional deals like pre-orders or pack-ins. Since you can’t opt NOT to use Amazon prime, the only way to successfully order something like this is to open another account, or call their support number and pray that it’s picked up by someone who speaks English and has an IQ higher than 60.

  36. highmodulus says:

    Not sure what is funnier- the price mistake and coupon abusing, borderline scam artists getting caught, then nuked from Amazon; their smug assurance that it’s their god given right to defraud a retailer; or the barely literate threats against the Consumerist commenters.

    Seeing I cannot decide, I am calling it a tie.

    In fact, my love of Amazon has actually grown.

  37. ridbaxter says:

    @ManiacDan

    I have Amazon Prime and frequently preorder stuff (just preordered yet another book this morning). Is there another kind of preorder I’m missing?

    • ManiacDan says:

      @ridbaxter: Specifically pre-orders that come with promotional items. The current pre-order deal with Gears of War 2 comes to mind. You can buy a replica of the chainsaw gun and get the game for free, but the “game for free” bit is incompatible with amazon prime. You can either order it and play Indian Roulette trying to get a CSA who speaks English, or just open a new account and use that.

  38. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I just this morning received an e-mail from Amazon in response to my inquiry about this whole mess. It says, in part:

    I am sorry, but the information you found on Internet forums regarding automatically closing customer accounts is not correct. Please be assured that the account you have with us is healthy and secure.

    Not correct, hmm? Did it happen or didn’t it?

  39. americandave says:

    Amazon has a great reputation with its customers, who are very loyal because of their normally sterling customer service history. What we see played out here in the comments on this mass account closing by Amazon is really a clash between loyal happy customers and other loyal happy customers. One set of these loyal happy customers are those who have had accounts arbitrarily closed. The other set are those who have not had their accounts closed. The former set is so upset precisely because they so loyally buy from Amazon that they feel they have a relationship with the company that has been capriciously severed without cause. The latter group are so loyal that they cannot believe Amazon could possibly sever a customer relationship without righteous cause. So loyal are both sides that they are clashing like opposing currents both here and on other forums such as Slickdeals.net.

    It is sad that Amazon is squandering this sort of goodwill among its customer base as not only are those directly affected being lost as customers but also many empathetic forum readers as well.

    Here’s the thing: no one knows (outside of a select few at Amazon) why these accounts were closed. It is all conjecture on everyone’s part as the only explanation given is there being “an extraordinary number of incidents” on the affected accounts. No explanation as to what constitutes “extraordinary” or an “incident”.

    For my own situation, I have purchased over $10,000 worth of products from Amazon in the last two years and have had only two returns that I can recall, excluding one “shipment refusal” as advised to do by Amazon CS itself, not my idea.

    I have, however, exchanged many emails with Amazon requesting price adjustments when discount codes failed to be applied, when prices were reduced within 30 days, or when state sales taxes were not refunded in either of the former cases. Expecting a company to apply discount codes correctly and completely or to honor its price guarantee is hardly an abuse by the customer. If Amazon were to find either practice unprofitable they need only discontinue discount codes (or get them to work reliably to begin with) and / or not offer a price guaranttee. Certainly banning a customer for such “incidents” is wholly uncalled for and wrong. But without a clear definition of “incidents” from Amazon, I too am only guessing why my account may have been closed.

    What I do know is wrong for sure, and indefensibly so, is that I had a positive Gift Certificate balance that I cannot access nor has it been refunded.

    I have requested an explanation from Amazon but I am still waiting for a reply. Hopefully, this is because they are inundated with complaints.

    My faith that Amazon will make this right is present but dwindling.

  40. ridbaxter says:

    ManiacDan, thanks for the reply: This item, [[www.amazon.com]] correct?

    FWIW, I’m getting this offer:

    “Pre-order the Amazon.com Exclusive Lancer with Gears of War 2 and get the game free* or upgrade your pre-order to the Limited Edition for an extra $10. Offer good while supplies last. Promotion valid when shipped and sold by Amazon.com.”

    Of course, there’s an asterisk so I checked out that link and it makes no mention of Prime being excluded (only Marketplace, 3rd party vendors and non-US Amazon sites are excluded) and the preorder button is active (as opposed to greyed out/unclickable).

    Are you using Prime within the 3-month trial period or at amazon.com.uk, perhaps? Sorry to be so persistent with the questions, but of course as a paying Prime member, I want to make sure my membership isn’t costing me in invisible ways.

  41. ridbaxter says:

    @ManiacDan: Thanks so much for the link and your time in digging that up for me!