Hundreds of people who ordered Google Pixel phones and then resold them are reportedly finding themselves locked out of their Google accounts, potentially causing a lot of headaches for anyone who enjoys having access to their emails, photos, and other files.
Members of moneysaving site Dan’s Deals are reporting that they’ve been shut out of their Google accounts over the past few days — that means no Gmail, no Google Drive, no Google Photos, no nothing. Not having access to your primary email could also mean being unable to authenticate sign-in attempts for other accounts as well.
About 200 people have reported being shut out, and have received e-mails stating that their data will be deleted if they don’t successfully appeal the suspension.
Everyone who has been blocked said they have one thing in common: they bought the Pixel phones through Project Fi and shipped them to the same phone dealer in New Hampshire, who paid them a profit on each phone. There’s no sales tax in that state.
There is a warning warning against reselling in Google’s terms of sale, though it doesn’t say what the consequences will be for violating that condition: “You may only purchase Devices for your personal use. You may not commercially resell any Device, but you may give the Device as a gift.”
While yes, you should always abide by a company’s terms if you want to continue using their products, Daniel Eleff, owner of the Dan’s Deal site, thinks Google’s actions are a bit extreme.
“I’m not defending those who violated the terms of the sale, but I do think it is heavy-handed for Google to block access to all of their services for doing so,” he writes. “Was violating Google’s phone resale policy really worthy of an effective digital death penalty?”
We reached out to Google for comment and more information regarding whether or not Pixel buyers are warned that their accounts may be blocked if they resell the devices. A Google spokesperson told Consumerist in an emailed statement that the company had identified “a scheme in which consumers were asked to purchase Pixel devices on behalf of a reseller, who then marked-up the cost of those devices in order to resell them to other customers.”
Google is willing to take pity on some of those folks who are locked out, but not all.
“We prohibit the commercial resale of devices purchased through Project Fi or the Google Store so everyone has an equal opportunity to purchase devices at a fair price,” the rep added. “Many of the accounts suspended were created for the sole purpose of this scheme, but since some customers were not aware of these Terms of Sale and are now locked out of many Google services they rely on, we’re restoring access to these customers’ accounts.”
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PSA: Don’t Mess With The Google! [Dan’s Deals]