- Getty/Scott Olson
- Amazon Prime members are taking to social media to complain that their accounts have been mysteriously closed over the past week.
- Hundreds of angry customers complain that they have not been provided with reasons why their accounts were closed, with some going as far as to threaten a class-action lawsuit against Amazon.
- “I have worked for Amazon for over a year in multiple departments, and I have never seen anything like this,” one person told Business Insider.
Hundreds of Amazon customers say that the company has closed their accounts with no explanation.
Last week, a wave of Amazon customers took to social media to complain that Amazon had mysteriously shut down their Prime accounts. With Amazon’s increasing omnipresence in users’ lives, that means customers lost access to services such as Kindle ebooks, Prime Video, Amazon Echos, and Fire TVs, as well as previously purchased ebooks and streaming videos, preloaded gift cards, and orders in the mail.
Tina White, a frequent Amazon shopper from Massachusetts, said that since Thursday she has talked to Amazon representatives “every single day for hours every single day.”
“They told lie after lie every single day,” White told Business Insider.
White realized her Amazon account had been shuttered last Thursday evening, when she went to check on a package that was set to be delivered the next day. When she tried to sign in, she received a message that there was no account associated with her name.
The only explanation White has been able to receive is that she violated “Amazon policy” or “review policy,” though she says the company was unable to point to specific violations.
“Customer trust is one of Amazon’s top priorities,” an Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider. “To protect that trust, we take a number of actions, including closing accounts that have violated our policies. If a customer has a question about their account, we recommend they contact customer service so we can investigate and take appropriate action.”
But some users feel like Amazon still has not done enough.
The rise of a social-media movement
Hundreds of other people reported similar stories on social media, starting last Thursday.
- Twitter Blamecanada03
- Twitter Techkpd
- Twitter lee_s_anderson
Amazon’s Facebook page has been flooded with complaints.
“I was just told that my account was closed due to a violation of your policy,” one person wrote. “I have an Amazon Prime Account and I always pay by credit card. … Has my acct. been HACKED?”
“Day 4 of being locked out,” wrote another. “I have a Prime Membership, 4 Fire TVs, a Kindle, a monthly STEM subscription and a Subscribe and Save order. Every rep I speak with says something different about why it’s happening and they all act like I’m the only one with a problem.”
“My wife’s account has been closed and no one will tell us why,” wrote a third. “We have been good customers, very few returns over the many years we have been members.”
Facebook groups sprang up to discuss the closures, the largest of which has more than 2,700 members. A smaller group pledges to file a class-action lawsuit against Amazon.
- Twitter legalizelogic
- Twitter MelissaSalesG
- Twitter ColleenBrooks15
In the groups, people compare notes on Amazon closing their accounts.
Dozens report they’ve talked to customer-service representatives, who say their accounts have been closed for violating Amazon’s terms of service, without further explanation as to how they broke the company’s policies. Others spoke with representatives who said they weren’t sure what was happening.
‘I have never seen anything like this’
- Getty/Leon Neal
One person, who claimed to be an Amazon employee who works in customer service and spoke with Business Insider on the condition of anonymity, said that Amazon’s workers haven’t been told much more than customers. Yet she believed these “are not normal closures.”
“I have worked for Amazon for over a year in multiple departments and I have never seen anything like this,” the customer-service representative added.
Based on conversations with other workers, she said she believed the issue to be “widespread.” But lacking a clear explanation, she says most customer-service representatives are simply confused.
Furthering confusion is the fact that many people are reporting an incomplete account closure. While customers almost unanimously say they were alerted upon login that their account does not exist, others say they’ve managed to log in through alternative sub-accounts, such as Audible or Kindle Music.
White, for example, says she could access her wish list even after her account was closed. She was able to place orders and watch Prime video after downloading Amazon’s app on a new device, despite being told her account didn’t exist when attempting to log in to her computer.
With variations in the time and explanations in customers’ accounts closures, it is likely that there are a number of different reasons for the closures – despite the united front on social media.
Some people in private Facebook groups admitted to violating policies through activities such as leaving good reviews in exchange for a reward, such as gift cards. Some said that they may have committed acts, such as reviewing products that they received for free or at a discount, that they did not realize were not allowed. And others say they have no recollection of violating the company’s policies.
According to one Prime member who had her account canceled on Tuesday, who asked to be referred to as Ashley R., an Amazon representative said “review fraud” could be a factor in her closure.
“They said it’s an algorithm that tries to detect review fraud that may have closed the account,” Ashley R. told Business Insider.
Amazon appears to be dealing with the closures on a case-by-case basis. As of Thursday, an increasing number of users report that they can once again access their accounts and place digital orders, though not physical orders to be delivered.
White, who provided screenshots that indicated she had been able to partially re-access her account but still unable to place orders as of Thursday morning, has been determined to make reopen her account. However, that doesn’t mean she is going to return to her previous shopping behavior, which involved multiple orders a week.
“I have lost all faith in them,” she said.
If you’re an Amazon customer with a story to share, email email@example.com.