Amazon Locks You Out Of Kindle Account, Ignores You For A Month

E-readers have a definite advantage over traditional dead-tree books when you’re going on vacation: you can bring a wealth of reading material in one small device. One difference, though: your analog bookshelf can’t lock you out. Your Amazon account can. That’s what Natalia writes happened to her. No one at Amazon has been able to fix the problem for more than a month now.

She writes:

I am having major amazon issues. A month ago I bought a kindle and was really excited to use it on vacation. I bought a few books and when I was done, I bought another. Then they froze my account, so I called in and logged a case.

Within 48 hours I got a call back, saying it was an error on their side and they’d unfreeze it for me, but I’d just need to re-order the book. I thought no problem, thanks for the help. So I bought the book a second time and it automatically freezes me out again. I call in and log another case, but get no phone call back as promised from an account specialist.

Then, I continue to call 3-4 times a week, along with a few emails too, for the next 4 weeks. Amazon probably has about 20 calls or emails to return to me at this point. I have heard NOTHING back from them on this, other than one automated reply on creating a new account instead. I don’t want to create a new account b/c it has none of my kindle information or any of my other personalized information.

I just want my account unfrozen and whatever I say to customer service doesn’t get through. Any advice? Thanks!

Some readers have reported good outcomes from contacting, or firing an executive e-mail carpet bomb. Have you successfully unlocked an Amazon account? Tell Natalia in comments how you managed such a feat.


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  1. pop top says:

    It seems like Amazon’s great customer service fails whenever a Kindle is involved. Every other type of customer reports great service, fast shipping, etc., but when a Kindle gets thrown into the mix, everything grinds to a halt. Stories like these (and all the ones about the Nook) are keeping me far away from ever purchasing an eBook reader.

    • K-Bo says:

      I read the kindle forums from time to time, and although there are some customer service complaints, there are more posts saying “wow I can’t believe how great kindle cs is”

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      Same. I have wanted a portable multi-book reading device since before they even existed, but DRM issues like this have made me leery.

      • Zeniq says:

        Maybe you could consider getting a non-DRM device then? I have an Astak EZ reader pocket pro – it has NO wifi, and NO cellular connection, so I have to put my books on it via USB or memory card, but that also means that I don’t have to worry about anyone blocking access to my library. Not to mention, this particular platform supports just about any book format you throw at it; it does handle some formats better than others, but it’s good to know that I don’t have to worry about converting formats to get my fix.

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          I have a PocketPro AND a Kindle wifi/3G. I take the Kindle with me when I’m away from the house, for its comm and music capabilities, and I use the PocketPro when I want to read at home.

          1900 Project Gutenberg e-books and downloading :D

    • Balaenoptera says:

      There’s a few cases where ebooks are nice (I work on boats and have very limited space for storage) but I’d rather take dead crushed trees anytime. This story is just one of the many reasons I love books and am ambivalent about my reader.

    • MattO says:

      yea, i think you are totally wrong here, squinko – i have a kindle, and their CS has been superb. when i got my kindle, i had to call because they lowered the price within 30 days, they adjusted NO PROBLEM, and were incredibly nice on the phone (not to mention, they speak english)…i also needed a replacement kindle as my first one had a defect – and it wasnt really a defect…one of the buttons i had to press harder than i thought i should haev had to….they overnighted me another one….

      I am wondering if the op is contacting kindle CS or Amazon CS – there is a difference – and Kindle CS, when i needed them, call you back within 30 seconds….

    • Pete the Geek says:

      Amazon also sells ebooks to tablet users via their Kindle app. I *just* purchased several books for my iPad.

      I wonder if the national news organizations are going to pick up this story just in time for holiday shopping? Amazon values the reputation of their Kindle service at just $1000…

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I misread that to say “Some readers have reported good outcomes from…firing an executive”

  3. caradrake says:

    Seems like they locked her out of her account on Amazon – not her actual kindle device? So she can still use it and read books on it?

    There are a bunch of great sites for free books (gutenberg, Baen free library, etc) that she could use until she is able to purchase additional books via Amazon.

    • oldwiz65 says:

      Did they really lock her out of her Amazon account or just the kindle? There is no reason for them to lock your entire Amazon account and if they did you can just tell them you lost a customer and I would dispute the charges with the CC people.

      • trellis23 says:

        There is no way to lock the Kindle. Also, the answer to your question is “other than one automated reply on creating a new account instead.” Thus, the account is locked, and they are suggesting she make a new one and tie the kindle to the new account

  4. K-Bo says:

    Be sure you are talking to kindle cs, not amazon cs. Amazon cs will often try and fail to handle items that should go to kindle cs. Also, post this issue in the kindle forums, kindle cs reads them and reaches out to solve problems.

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    What does she mean when she says Amazon “froze” her account? Did it deny her from checking out, did it allow her to get all the way to the end and then deny payment, was she able to buy the book but then when she tries to read it, it doesn’t let her? I don’t have a Kindle, so I’m not sure what she means.

    It could be a number of tech issues, but the poor customer service is most likely due to the fact that Amazon’s Kindle customer service isn’t as developed as its regular service for packages. Training someone to track a package is one thing, but giving someone the know how to fix a Kindle is a little tougher. How come the OP can’t get a person on the phone when she calls? Is the entire Kindle CSR system based on you calling, leaving a message, and them calling you back?

    Also, the OP says she doesn’t want to create a new account but maybe it would actually solve her problems. I don’t really understand why she doesn’t just do that. Her explanation doesn’t make sense to me, mostly because I don’t have a Kindle. Does creating a second account mean that it loses all of your personal information or that it won’t associate your Kindle with it?

    • K-Bo says:

      Kindle cs is actually built on a really cool system where you click a button on their webpage and they call you immediately. This makes me think the problem is that she’s dealing with the wrong cs department at amazon.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Yeah, that’s one of the options for the regular Amazon CS is too, so I have no idea why she’s sitting around waiting for people to call her back, unless she’s been entering the wrong phone number, not answering her phone, or has no signal.

    • aloria says:

      IIRC the Kindle-DRMed books you buy are tied to the account with which they were purchased. Getting a second account would complicate the issue– she would be able to buy more books with the new account, but not get into any of her old ones. If her original account gets fixed, then she would have to switch between the two accounts depending on which book she wanted to read. It’d be a total PITA.

      • K-Bo says:

        I would go ahead and start the new account, then pester cs until they transferred my old books to the new account.

  6. RosevilleWgn says:

    Don’t hang up until you get a supervisor that can unlock your account. Trouble tickets are often used just to get you off the line. This is coming from a former aux jockey (Tech support people will know what I mean.)

  7. aloria says:

    Amazon has been really pissing me off with regards to the Kindle thing. I finally took the plunge and pre-ordered one of the new Kindles last month. When I checked out, the page said I could expect the device to be shipped on 8/27. It’s four days past that and my order status is STILL “We’ll notify you via e-mail when we have an estimated delivery date.”

    I emailed customer service to see wtf was going on and got back “on or before September 8th” as my shipping date. Wow, amazon, thanks for not letting me know the initial date I saw on the order page was off by nearly two weeks. I’ll have the case I ordered well before I get my Kindle.

    I have half a mind to cancel and get a Nook.

    • tbax929 says:

      Don’t do it. I haven’t been able to download any of the past three books I bought for my Nook. This is after having had zero problems with it for the first few months I owned it. Now I have to side-load everything onto it.

      Oh, it will still let me purchase; I just can’t actually read the books I bought.

      • LD says:

        I’ve had a nook since it was released (I also have a Kindle 2) and have never had any problem with not being able to read books on it. And now I can read any epub version book on it, unlike my Kindle. There are some android ereader apps that have access to tons of free ebooks. I download them on my Evo, copy them to my hard drive, copy those to my nook and I’m set. Been unable to do the same with the Kindle. When the Kindle does load an epub book (rarely), its badly formatted, enough to make it a pain to read.

    • princessgeek says:

      When did you order? Kindle 3 sold out pretty quickly. Maybe you confused the release date of the device with the estimated shipping date (which is also listed on the web page)

  8. oldwiz65 says:

    Just shows the biggest disadvantage of e-books, be it a Kindle or a Nook or whatever; with the DRM crap, you can be stuck with an unworkable device through the errors of a stupid computer thousands of miles away and it is virtually impossible to get it fixed. I’ll stick to paper books; there is absolutely no way that the bookseller can go in and take a book back from my house or decide they didn’t have the authority to sell the book in the first place and remove it from the kindle.

    The e-readers are new technology and they have nowhere near worked out the bugs and it will be years before it works right.

    Amazon usually has great customer service, but they obviously haven’t learned how to deal with the Kindle yet. Most likely they are not given any training and the whole thing is not well thought out.

    • Stickdude says:

      “The e-readers are new technology and they have nowhere near worked out the bugs”

      Except that the DRM was designed as a feature, not a bug.

    • coren says:

      If her account is locked, copyright protection on files has nothing to do with it.

    • mdovell says:

      “Just shows the biggest disadvantage of e-books, be it a Kindle or a Nook or whatever; with the DRM crap, you can be stuck with an unworkable device through the errors of a stupid computer thousands of miles away and it is virtually impossible to get it fixed. I’ll stick to paper books; there is absolutely no way that the bookseller can go in and take a book back from my house or decide they didn’t have the authority to sell the book in the first place and remove it from the kindle.”

      1) actually there have been books deemed illegal. The first edition of anarhist cookbook when it came out and the lawsuit against irwin schiff (people can distribute the information but it can no longer be sold in book format)

      2) you DO know there is another OS that can be installed on the kindle that does allow epub support right?

      3) You DO know that there are conversion tools to adjust epubs into the kindle format (just google “calibre”)

      4) pretty much any book on amazon can be backed up.

      No one states ebooks will fully replace books but the advantages are pretty clear

      1) you can download a preview of a book rather than wait and drive to a book store or wait for books to be shipped to you

      2) you can have dozens if not hundreds on a reader. Books can be megs and book readers carry gigs. If you think a bookcase worth of books can be lugged around go ahead and try it.

      3) you can change a book to large font with the press of a button rather than going back and returning and buying another..same with text to speech.

      4) with calibre you can download free versions of many newspapers and magazines..ones that probably aren’t in a library or newsstand.

      5) the network is world wide so that means you can travel with all of this…

  9. dush says:

    So they can lock you out of your kindle remotely? Never buying one of those things then.

    • K-Bo says:

      No, they can’t. With wireless off, they have no access to your kindle at all. But if your account gets locked, you can’t buy any new books, and are stuck with whatever was on there before you got locked out.

      • dush says:

        So if they lock your account you can’t ever put more books on your kindle? Even from anywhere else and it becomes useless? Never buying of those then.

        • K-Bo says:

          No, it never blocks getting them from somewhere else, and you can always register it to a new account (unless it is reported stolen)

  10. jbandsma says:

    These are the reasons I don’t want an e-reader that’s connected online for book purchases. My niece has a Kindle and when something happened that several of her books disappeared from it, Amazon told her she’d have to re-buy the books, that she couldn’t just download them again.

    I bought a Sony. I have to use my computer to go to their store and buy a book. I then store it in several places, including a memory card. It’s not going anywhere outside of a major total electronic fuck up. And, while I love real paper books, I’ve only got 1200 sq. ft. of space in this house and about 18,000 books. (Yes, I KNOW I need to get rid of some of them) My husband is much happier with me when I buy for my e-reader.

    • LD says:

      “My niece has a Kindle and when something happened that several of her books disappeared from it, Amazon told her she’d have to re-buy the books, that she couldn’t just download them again.”

      That information is false. All she has to do is go to her Manage Your Kindle section on Amazon and redownload the books there. Everything she’s ever bought should be listed there and can be downloaded to any of her registered devices or to her computer.

  11. masso says:

    Need more details on this before I can judge Amazon.

  12. Jason Litka says:

    My personal account was kicked off Amazon a few months back. No notice and no explanation.

    I placed an order and tried to log in later that night to check for tracking without success. I called them the next morning and the rep was clueless other than to tell me that my account was under review. I asked for a call back from the team that had locked my account and was told that would happen within 24 hours. Two days later and no word I called in again, only to be told the same thing. 15 minutes after I get off the phone I get a brief email telling me that all pending orders and pre-orders have been canceled, any credit I had for promotional purchases was void, and I would not be allowed to return anything I had purchased, even if still within Amazon’s return policy. They finished it all off with a line stating that they would not talk to me or anyone else about why my account was banned.

    I tried calling & emailing through normal channels and got nowhere. I tried emailing ecr and received no response. If I scamming people or making a 1000 returns a year I’d understand this but I didn’t and they won’t even tell me why I’m not welcome to give them another $10K in 2H2010 to match what I did in 1H. It’s not the “not being allowed to shop” thing that bothers me, it’s the no explanation and refusal to accept any returns. As far as I’m concerned, that’s shady as hell and I now recommend to family and friends that they avoid Amazon when possible.

  13. Mknzybsofh says:

    You just posted the number one reason I will /NEVER/ buy a e-reader. A paperback book needs no batteries, does not cost hundreds of dollars and above all things the data only gets destroyed by things I (hopefully) have some control over. (fire, water damage, ect.)

  14. princessgeek says:

    What’s the rest of the story? This smells fishy to me. Amazon’s Kindle support is beyond incredible – they really set the bar for top notch customer service. Every time I call with a question or concern, they fall all over themselves to help me, and I get a follow up email from each phone call or email I send them. This story does not match up with my experiences at all.

    I know that Amazon gets twitchy if customers repeatedly return big ticket items and they have been known to lock accounts for that behavior (return three plasma TV’s in one month and you’re toast).