Martin Koksrud Bekkelund

Martin Koksrud Bekkelund

Teknologi • Samfunn • Politikk

Outlawed by Amazon DRM

22.10.12

A couple of days a go, my friend Linn sent me an e-mail, being very frustrated: Amazon just closed her account and wiped her Kindle. Without notice. Without explanation. This is DRM at it’s worst.

Linn travels a lot and therefore has, or should I say had, a lot of books on her Kindle, purchased from Amazon. Suddenly, her Kindle was wiped and her account was closed. Being convinced that something wrong had happened, she sent an e-mail to Amazon, asking for help. This was the answer:

Dear Linn [last name],

My name is Michael Murphy and I represent Executive Customer Relations within Amazon.co.uk. One of our mandates is to address the most acute account and order problems, and in this capacity your account and orders have been brought to my attention.

We have found your account is directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies. As such, your Amazon.co.uk account has been closed and any open orders have been cancelled.

Per our Conditions of Use which state in part: Amazon.co.uk and its affiliates reserve the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders at their sole discretion.

Please know that any attempt to open a new account will meet with the same action.

You may direct any questions to me at resolution-uk@amazon.co.uk.

Thank you for your attention to this email.

Regards

Michael Murphy
Executive Customer Relations
Amazon.co.uk

This answer was very confusing. Which account was he talking about? She had never had any other accounts at Amazon.

So, she replied to Murphy’s e-mail:

Dear Michael Murphy,

I am very surprised to read your email. What do you mean by «directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies». I can only remember ever having this one account, and I use it quite regularly to buy books for my Kindle, as you probably can see by my purchase history. How can there suddenly be a problem now? I use amazon.com and not co.uk for my Kindle, does that make any difference?

I sincerely hope you can help me solve this matter, because I would very much like to have my account reopened. And please let me know if there is any action I can take to help.

Best regards,
Linn [last name]
[Linn’s phone number]

The answer provided no progress:

Dear Linn [last name],

As previously advised, your Amazon.co.uk account has been closed, as it has come to our attention that this account is related to a previously blocked account. While we are unable to provide detailed information on how we link related accounts, please know that we have reviewed your account on the basis of the information provided and regret to inform you that it will not be reopened.

Please understand that the closure of an account is a permanent action. Any subsequent accounts that are opened will be closed as well. Thank you for your understanding with our decision.

I appreciate this is not the outcome you hoped for and apologise for any disappointment this may cause.

Regards,

Michael Murphy
Executive Customer Relations
Amazon.co.uk

Not getting an answer to why the account was closed, she sent another e-mail:

Dear Michael Murphy,

Is it correct that you cannot give me any information about
1. How my account is linked to the blocked account
2. The name/id of the related blocked account
3. What policy that was violated

I have no knowledge about any other account that could be related to mine, and cannot understand how I could have violated your policies in any way.

Br,
Linn [last name]

Unfortunately, the answer was the same:

Dear Linn [last name],

We regret that we have not been able to address your concerns to your satisfaction. Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters.

We wish you luck in locating a retailer better able to meet your needs and will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters.

Thank you for your attention to this email.

Regards

Michael Murphy
Executive Customer Relations
Amazon.co.uk

Did she violate any terms? Amazon will not tell. Perhaps by accident? Amazon does not care. The conclusion so far is clear: Amazon closed her account, wiped her Kindle and refuses to tell her why. End of discussion.

The worst of DRM

As a long-term writer about technology, DRM, privacy and user rights, this Amazon example shows the very worst of DRM. If the retailer, in this case Amazon, thinks you’re a crook, they will throw you out and take away everything that you bought. And if you disagree, you’re totally outlawed. Not only is your account closed, all your books that you paid for are gone. With DRM, you don’t buy and own books, you merely rent them for as long as the retailer finds it convenient.

Now what?

Linn lives in Norway, far away from Amazon’s jurisdiction. How will she ever find the means to get her books back? By suing a large corporation half-way round the earth?

Linn is outlawed by Amazon.

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445 kommentarer

  1. Right, so now I will never buy a book from Amazon ever again, thanks for the warning!

    «Thank you for your understanding with our decision.»
    How provocative is that?? He sounds like a douchebag through and through.

    I usually buy epub-books for my Kindle since I have software which removes the DRM from epub but not the Kindle format (or I buy from DRM-free stores). Even though the process is a bit tedious, I am now very happy about my procedures. At least no company can decide that I suddenly should not be allowed to keep my purchased books anymore.

    • Use Calibre – it is able to convert from Kindle to unprotected mobi/epub/pdf.

    • How exactly do you run those epubs? I though the Kindle doesn’t support it?

      • The Calibre e-book manager is a savior. Out of the box, it’ll convert unprotected formats to each other (e.g. MOBI [kindle] to EPUB or the reverse). With the DeDRM Plugins pack, you can strip DRM from Kindle, Nook, and other MOBI/EPUB/PDF formats.

        I shop with Amazon, but I make it a point to strip the DRM immediately after purchase and store a backup in both MOBI and EPUB formats. Not only does this protect me against failures from Amazon (of the human or technical variety), but also allows me to use alternative readers if I so choose.

    • As stated by Orlovsky below, Kindle-DRM isn’t very hard to remove. I guess it’s too late now, though.

      Anyhow, I’d suggest she tries to talk to someone else from Amazon, not Mr. Murphy again.

    • Hilsen!

      I have a friend who works at Amazon in Seattle. He’d heard about this and told me that the «issue» had been «addressed», once it became a public relations problem.

      Is this true from Linn’s point of view.

    • If she has gotten the kindle from someone on craigslist or ebay, BRAND NEW for lower then retail, then it’s pretty obvious why it was banned. When a kindle is sold for lower then retail brand new and sealed, it’s always obtained fraudulently, people get advanced replacements from amazon and a prepaid credit card w/ only 5$ so amazon tries to charge them when they dont get the replacement, they only can charge the 5$. The initial 5$ is only for the check to see if the credit card has the funds. The kindle gets blacklisted, even if it isn’t it gets the account blacklisted I believe.

    • Amazon contacted me and told me that this was a scam.

      If you want to see the email, shoot me a message.

      Thx

  2. This is horrible, even by Amazon’s standards.

    Erasing all the content a customer has legally bought and paid for because of an alleged «abuse» of Amazon’s draconian policies is bad enough. However, as one who have followed Amazon closely since the international release of the Kindle, I have always known that this inevitably would happen to one or more Norwegian customers. Yes, it is a blatant and terrible example of a giant corporation abusing its nearly unlimited market power, but it is hardly surprising.

    What is a bit surprising, after all, is that Amazon does not even pretend to have a good reason for their actions, and seems totally uninterested in solving the problem and conflict, or even informing the customer of how this might have been avoided.

    I have always disliked the way Amazon does business, and how they abuse their market power. However, the alternatives are not very good. This fall, I almost caved in and put a Kindle on my wish list. However, this blog entry reminded me of why I didn’t buy one in the first place. Thanks for putting me back on the straight and narrow!

    • Maybe she had her credit card hacked and someone tried using it in an account associated with fraud?

  3. Dette høres ut som en sak for Forbrukerombudet. Jeg har sendt en sint mail til Amazon også.

  4. Go to http://legalreads.com/ and download for free

    • Jeg vurderte senest i går å kjøpe en Kindle. Denne hendelsen vekket meg opp og jeg kommer ikke til å kjøpe Kindle. Men jeg er –i alle fall på lang sikt– interessert i å digitalisere biblioteket mitt. Og jeg vil gjerne gjøre det på en måte hvor jeg betaler for innholdet, med mindre DRM gjør det slik at du må velge mellom (1) å eie innholdet, men ikke ha betalt (fordi du har fått det via piratnetverk), eller å (2) ha betalt, men da ha innholdet på usikker leie uten rettigheter.

      Jeg vurderte Kindle fordi du kan legge igjen bokmerker, ta notater, og fordi de nå har utgaver som visstnok er for øynene som papir. Men da får jeg stryek Kindle fra listen. Andre, mer vettuge lesere folk her kan foreslå? Og tips om hvor man kan kjøpe elektroniske bøker til slike nettlesere – kjøpe, ikke leie, altså.

      Hilsen (til nå) Papirbokmannen

  5. Av og til hater jeg å få rett. Har i årevis skrevet og blogget om at DRM i praksis forvandler det kundene tror er kjøp til leiekontrakter. Her ser vi den ytterste konsekvensen av leiesystemet, og fordi kjøpet er gjort i USA av en norsk kunde er det på toppen av det hele intet Forbrukerrådet kan gjøre (i den grad de takler slike teknologisaker, noe min erfaring er at de ikke alltid gjør).

    Som kunder blir vi dermed ganske forsvarsløse om vi velger å holde oss til lovens bokstav. Når slike saker dukker opp er det ikke rart at brukere fristes til å laste ned programvare som fjerner DRM, og gjør det mulig å lage den sikkerhetskopien av ebøkene som Amazon og andre aktører nekter dem.

    • Lurer på hva amazon ville si om norske myndigheter forbød/blokket dem fra det norske markedet fordi de ikke følger lovene her i landet. plutselig var det 4,7 millioner mindre mulige kunder til amazon.
      kan hende det hadde en virkning, for hvor gjør det mest vondt for rikingene, jo i pengepungen.

  6. Did she pay by credit card? Perhaps her bank issuing a chargeback will get Amazon’s attention?

    • I believe charge back is a peculiarity available only in USA. In Europe I believe it’s not available in most of the countries.

      • Chargebacks are generally possible with all Credit Cards. Simply issue a «Service not rendered» chargeback for all relevant transactions. It might take some effort as there are certain requirements for successfully issuing a chargeback with that code, but it’s worth a try.

      • In addition, isn’t charge-backs one of the reasons Amazon may use to claim you’re a bad apple?

        There should be European consumer protection laws (and certainly Norwegian consumer protection laws) that can at a minimum be used to give insight into this action, but that’ll probably require both time and determination.

        • «In addition, isn’t charge-backs one of the reasons Amazon may use to claim you’re a bad apple?»

          Chargebacks are for fraud causes where you pay for something and then don’t get it. That’s exactly what Amazon did – she paid for something, but had it taken away by Amazon. So it seems like exactly the sort of situation chargebacks are for, the only difference being that we mistakenly think of Amazon as reputable.

      • Det er mulig, en må ta kontakt med banken sin, og dokumentere det rettslige. En uttalelse fra forbrukerrådet burde teoretisk holde.

      • Doesn’t a chargeback solely depend on your credit card company? If possible I really would consider going this route.

      • From what I know, chargeback is available everywhere.
        Only European banks do not want to tell us about this possibility… But if you insist, they’ll do it…

      • No, chargebacks are a global thing with credit cards. Do it!

      • Nope, Chargeback works also in the EU. I have used it. Usually you have to go to the bank, request Mastercard (or Visa) chargeback form, enter the reason you are requesting money back, and they will process it for up to 30 days. I have gotten money back from an online store that didn’t deliver any of the items.

      • Yep, and if one had that right it will only last for about two weeks…

      • I don’t know about all European countries, but chargeback is a pretty common thing in Europe, as well.

        Unfortunately I can’t say that this bizarre event surprises me at all. I’ve read so many horror stories about Amazon and I’ve had a few Monty Pythonesque experiences with the customer service myself, as a seller of books. FAQ tells me to fill a form. Form doesn’t work. FAQ tells me to send a message to an email address. Email address replies that it’s not in use and tells me to contact another address. I do, and it’s not in use either. Etc. In the end I never got a human response. Eventually they did change my book’s information as I asked them to, only took a few months…

      • Chargebacks are also common in Europe as well.

      • Chargeback is easier in the US.

        In the UK the credit card company is jointly liable with the retailer for the goods provided.

        If the purchases are with Amazon.co.uk or otherwise under UK jurisdiction, then it might be covered via section 75 of the consumer credit act.

        Certainly it is complex, and I suspect it is likely the credit card company may simply refund the money and deduct it from Amazon (plus a chargeback fee) rather than be named in complex international legal proceeding that might set a nasty precedent in law, and will certainly cost them more than the small profit they are likely to make by refunding the transactions.

        The credit card company makes money either way, merchant bankers are not fools.

        Don’t buy DRM restricted content – but I guess she knows that now.

      • Not true … definately available in the UK

      • Chargebacks are available up to 3 months after purchase in Norway as well. But its not «markeded» by the creditcard companies.

      • Chargeback is possible, but it’s a complicated procedure. I had to explain to the credit card company carefully what happened. For example: no contract, contract not fulfilled, or such.

    • True. The way I see it, this is some kind of fraud. No reason, no information, but stole your money.

    • Chargeback is possible only on monthly basis, i.e. one may have chargeback only on last month bill. One may not chargeback on bills paid in past. The only option she could try is to force domestic (Norway’s) representative of credit card processing firm in local court. But she will need _extremely_ excellent lawyer – financials usually have perfect ones, so it will be hard to outsmart them. And law is usually biased towards protecting fat cats, everywhere.

  7. Given that it is Amazon in the UK then Linn could possibly submit a «subject information request» to obtain the information that they hold about her – http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_the_public/personal_information/how_manage/access_info.aspx .

    Under the data protection act, a UK based company must comply with the request within 40 days.

    • Unfortunately, just like UK tax, the UK Data Protection Act does not apply to Amazon.

      Amazon.co.uk is operated by Amazon EU SARL and Kindle books are sold by Amazon Media EU SARL both companies are registered in Luxembourg.

      As the UK legislation comes from a EU directive similar legislation should be in place, however it will only be available in French and maybe German.

      • The company I am working for is also registered in Luxemburg. The same like Amazon.

        The documents you get for that matter won’t just be in German or French. They will also be available in English.

        The official business languages there are German, French and English.

        I would really give it a try.

        When we have an account issue in my company, we send an email to our customers first, explaining what happened and asking for further informations.

        We would never just close an account and erase data like Amazon did it.
        That’s completely stupid from them.

        As far as I know, Amazon has to keep all data for a certain amount of time. So the Account with all the data should still be there.

      • Actually the correct answer is sue them in Norway as long as the corporation is in EU. All member states are required to execute consumer protection injunctions issued against another company in another country.
        http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/consumers/protection_of_consumers/co0007_en.htm

      • Amazon complies with ‘Safe Harbor’, which means that they have to obey similar rules to businesses in the UK in order to be allowed to store UK date in the US. So, a request for information via the correct channels should work. If not, you can create a lot of trouble for Amazon by filing a Safe Harbor complaint against them.

      • Hi,

        I’m from Luxembourg and just read the whole post and also some comments. By Luxembourgish law they are required to give a customer any data they have stored about them. We have a service operated by the state which is responsible for everything related to personal data protection, their name is «CNPD» (in french: centre national pour la protection de donnèes, in english: national center of data protection), in case Amazon does not want to comply with such requests, just contact them and they’ll explain you what you can do or they’ll even do sth themselves: info@cnpd.public.lu (they speak english)

        Regards.

    • I do hope she does.

    • She should absolutely do this. Amazon are obliged to provide any data which is related to you; which would have to include any discussion they had had of their account, and any evidence of the link to previous abusive accounts (although they are allowed to blank out personal details of others, which could make this less helpful).

      I also suspect that their T&Cs wouldn’t stand up to UK law; I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that UK law is pretty sceptical about terms buried deep in long contracts which attempt to deny one party basic contractual rights. I suspect that any judge would rule a clause which lets the retailer take away the thing you have paid for, without refund, explanation or appeal, an unfair contract term.

  8. Hadde folk funnet seg i slike betingelser hos sin fysiske bokhandler? Mistenker vi deg for brudd på våre salgsbetingelser kommer vi hjem til deg og henter alt du har kjøpt hos oss?

    • Neppe. Og her er vi nok ved puddelens kjerne. Amazon har en forretningsmodell som gjør det så enkelt og behagelig å «leie» bøker at de aller fleste lesere er villige til å se gjennom fingrene på de mer betenkelige sidene ved den.

      Dessverre forsvinner ikke problemene selv om vi glemmer dem, og, ikke ulikt en puddel, har de en lei tendens til å komme tilbake og bite deg i rumpa når du minst aner det.

  9. Utrolig arrogant og fiendtlig oppførsel fra et selskap som snart har monopol.

    Plutselig ble jeg veldig glad for Calibre og diverse plugins til den.

  10. Outrageous, simply outrageous. This is on par with PayPal ordering a buyer to destroy an original violin on the mere suspicion of it being «counterfeited»; in that case, the money were refunded to the buyer, so the honest seller was left both without the goods AND the money.

    If there’s any stronger argument in favour of an open body of knowledge (non-DRM) and private money (Bitcoin), I’d like to hear it.

  11. This is exactly why my first action on buying an Amazon book is to run it through Calibre to strip out the DRM and convert it to ePub just in case.

    • «This is exactly why my first action on buying an Amazon book is to run it through Calibre to strip out the DRM and convert it to ePub just in case.»

      thanks for the tip. Just got to work out where the «books» get stored by my Kindle app on my Android tablet.

    • @nickPheas How pretell do you do that? strip the book that is
      Thank you!

    • For this exact same reason, I don’t have wifi on my kindle and of course no 3G, I just copy the files via usb and most of the time I use calibre.

      I suspect that without wifi and 3G my kindle is unable to phone home.

    • Isn’t it easier to just download it as a torrent, either buy it from an unlegal shop or drm removed by someone else? The customer who wants to do the right thing gets punished.

      Luckily we have alternatives to Amazon. Don’t be evil…

    • That’s why I don’t buy ebooks from Amazon. They stink, Corporate power abuse is rampant here, as with so many big corporations.
      I find and download the books I need from P2P sites. And films. And documentaries. And anything else. Because the intolerable greed and abuse exhibited by Amazon et al deserves common resistance from the buyers.
      I do have an account with amazon. That is now closed. Nevermore will I trade with that company!

  12. Has Linn tried emailing the MD of Amazon directly (cnorth*AT*amazon.com)? I had an awful, albeit less traumatic experience from them recently, and things got resolved quickly after I started prodding that high up in the organisation.

    Also – and I’m aware this is very much a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted – there’s a very robust set of python scripts that’ll strip the DRM from purchased Amazon ebooks, which I habitually use for this very reason.

    • Likely Linn didn’t download the azw files directly. They were probably only on her kindle. If you never plug in the device to a computer and back up your files manually, they never leave the Kindle.

  13. From previous incidents like this, there’s more to this story than this blog post describes. Amazon’s reluctance to go into details is annoying, of course – they’re supposed to be really good with customer care – and may have to do with details that they cannot outright say for fear of litigation.

  14. I’ve read about such horror stories. A little googling will find many more. However, I suggest she persists. Some stories make it beyond the blanket responses and result in a full account reinstatement. Yes even after such negative and closed emails.

  15. Watching the movie Brazil should explain the situation.

  16. I hate to say it, but I’m not surprised. I still have an ongoing issue with Amazon: they won’t credit two returns to my account. Basically, customer service in a real sense is nonexistent. Amazon is about making money, and anything not directly connected to making money is not prioritised.

    Also, the ‘Amazon way of shipping’ is wage slavery: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mac-mcclelland-free-online-shipping-warehouses-labor

  17. Ho-ly-crap!

    Ok… take deep breaths!

    Actually, I think «Michael Murphy» is a bot! Reading the «responses», there’s *nothing* that indicates anything other than a semi-dumb, pre-programmed «answering machine» that just keeps track of earlier correspondence/personal information and responds given a specific sequence and perhaps a few keywords in the complaint emails.

    And… and… this *ENCOURAGES* piracy! Jeeeez! I’m normally thankful whenever I can *buy* electronic versions of texts, since it’s much more convenient, *AND* I believe in paying authors for their work. But if buying it means that Amazon can *steal* the freakin’ stuff back, that’s not a deal I want to make!

    If I can grab it from somewhere else, without paying, with *minimal* risk of being sued for a significant amount of money (as long as I don’t redistribute), maybe I should?

    I could always use PayPal or something to donate money directly to the author, with a message saying that «I think you’re a great author, I’ve read your bok Xxxxx and really liked it. Great work! However, I decided not to purchase it b/c of Amazon’s crappy policies. I strongly urge you to choose a better, fairer publishing route» [You guys out there – fill in with a better way of doing it, I’m clueless in this field].

    And: Some form of collective protest would probably have the biggest impact. Like a petition… Oh, hold on, I know – money speaks. Not least stock prices. Listen to this:

    Make the story «go viral» on all the social media out there, get people (all over the world) to sign up to a petition that Amazon must promise (in their Conditions for Use):

    a) disclosure of all information causing such a cancellation,
    b) allow counter-evidence/a rebuttal to be presented, and
    c) allow a review of the counter-evidence/rebuttal, and, not least:
    d) in case the decision to close is upheld, give a breakdown of the reasoning.

    Then:

    IF THIS HAS NOT HAPPENED WITHIN <such-and-such date, or perhaps "at a time to be decided by the action committee responsible for this petition", I WILL CLOSE MY AMAZON ACCOUNT IN PROTEST AGAINST YOUR UNFAIR PRACTICES AND RULES REGARDING ACCOUNT CLOSURES".

    Maybe pick a date right around a stockholder meeting ;-)

    If we get a significant number of people (a few hundred thousand, at least), the pure *existence* of such a petition might seriously hurt their *stock price*. Which presumably will hurt executives' bonuses. And *that* should make them listen.

    If we don't succeed the first time – repeat in one year's time. To get those that didn't get it last time. In the mean time, those that closed their accounts in protest should sign up again. To make the numbers bigger, and just to prove the point about how many customers they *do not* have, simply due to a stupid DRM policy that is for sure *marginal* in its impact on their bottom line. Especially regarding closures that cannot actually be substantiated!

    If it *does* succeed, we could repeat it with other "sanity-and-fairness-violating DRM companies". :-)

    • Mr Murphy does appear to exist….although he does seem to have 2 LinkedIn Accounts (which is a breach of their user agreement!!)
      http://www.linkedin.com/pub/michael-murphy/17/b72/231

    • Just as an information text bite, most epublished authors (yes, like myself) work with publishers that make our books available through most online book vendors (Barns and Noble, All Romance Ebook and the like) as well as directly through the publishers themselves, which, incidentally, give the best return to the author and the publisher, keeping us both in business longer. So if you’re looking for a place to buy your books, see if you can find out where it was published and find their website. Most authors these days have websites and most would be happy to point you in the right direction, i assure you. Buy directly from the source, and everybody (but Amazon) wins.

      Thanks!

  18. I can just say that im really sorry about what happened to you and your account.
    Me myself have only once been buying ebooks from amazon, and as soon as i got it i removed the drm and made a no-drm version, just to make sure i still had it.

    If you provide a list of missing books, The pirate bay and Isohunt are more then willingly able to return your rightful books to you, free of charge and in non-drm versions.

  19. If Linn is a UK resident, she can sue Amazon easily in the small claims court. If she’s a Norwegian resident, then she’s broken the terms & conditions merely by purchasing books — the UK Kindle store is for UK residents only. — and it’s therefore hardly surprising that her account has been terminated. Don’t blame Amazon for this — the publishers won’t allow them to sell UK books to Norwegians. And don’t really even blame the publishers — authors sell limited regional rights to the publishers because they make more money that way. Blame the governments that allow copyright licences to be packaged up in this anti-competitive and anti-consumer way.

    • I believe in the post she states that she never bought books through amazon.co.uk only amazon.com – the .co.uk reference came from the amazon email.

    • Perhaps – but she was clear in her email that her account was NOT with amazon.co.uk, but with amazon.com. Does this put her in the same boat? Possibly, but it certainly takes away the «UK» angle …

    • she said she uses amazon.com not co.uk.

    • She clearly states that she didn’t have a Amazon.co.uk account. She had an Amazon.com account. But one would think that if it was as simple as breaking some sort of purchasing rule, they would just say that.

    • Norway is a member of the EEA, which means the EU directives on open markets/free mvoement of goods and services apply as for any EU member state.

      For a retailer to restrict sales to countries within the EEA is on extremely shaky legal foundations at best, and most likely prohibited.

      Amazon.uk themselves «ship» their kindle ebooks from Luxembourg, thanks to the same open market principles…

    • Did you not read the aeticle? she said she has never used the .co.uk site only the .com.

      If you are going to comment at least read the article first.

      I am going send this link to the Amazon bosses to make sure they are aware of what is happening to their customers.

      P.S.

      I have a Kindle, I pirate all my books because i never have an issue that way. Trust your customer and you shall reap the rewards, treat them as a criminal and they will act as one.

      Don’t forget that everyone has the ‘Free’ option but we don’t always choose it until we are treated wrong.

    • You’ve got a point..

    • Did you read the text? Her account was on amazon.com. She never has any connection to amazon.co.uk from her point of view.

    • I bought my Kindle from Amazon.com to be used here in Finland. I have wondered why Amazon.fr refuses to sell any books to my country (and does not deliver even the old copyright free books) – but here’s the explanation! So far I haven’t bought anything from Amazon.co.uk nor from Amazon.com, but now it seems that I shouldn’t either! So if me buying e-books from abroad violates my Amazon account, why did Amazon.com sell me the Kindle in the first place? And since it did so, does it make Amazon.com my accomplice if I ever decide to buy e-book from somewhere? Should they close their own account?

      As far as I can see, the only reason to sell Kindle is to be able to sell lots of pricey e-books for the same customer afterwords. If what you write is true, they are biting their own leg.

      Until now I’ve got my books from Project Gutenberg and other like places, but it is good to know that a) I shouldn’t buy any e-books from Amazon and b) if I happened to do so anyway, I certainly have to remove the drm as soon as possible to avoid a disaster like this.

      Great policies!

    • Not true, the Terms and Conditions do not, in any way, limit amazon.co.uk to UK-only residents. As a matter of fact, our local book store which sells Kindle in our language, points us to the co.uk site to order books. When creating an account on .co.uk site, you have to enter in your country of origin, and your payment address linked to your credit card. Country of origin has absolutely no bearing on this in any way.

    • That is just what I thought.
      Now, the case is resolved, the girl have her account back and even a new Kindle. Looks like it was more to this story than this post told (not surprisingly, really).

      Still a happy Kindle-user.

  20. I would suggest, if there is a way, trying to reach someone in charge directly. Amazon support centre is located somewhere in india as far as I know. You seem to have talked with someone in a bit higher position than those guys I have dealt with, but still. These people have their guides and they will stick to them no matter what happens. In some cases the outcome is pretty good for you, but I have had once an absolutely ridiculous conversation of my own with them. They kept repeating the same message over and over. First message was one version. Next message, from another support guy was a little different, third was the same as the first. After abou 20 of these, I have sent them mail, which contained about 15 of their replies, which were the same 2 over and over. They sent me, once again, one of those two. These people are generally in a position, where they cannot afford to do anything else than follow their guide, otherwise they can end up without a job.

    Therefore, I would suggest you try to find a mail address of someone with highest rank on the company ladder you can and bombard them with mails. Try to be polite, but tell them you have no problem filling out subject information request as someone here suggested and / or legal action against them. Point them to this article. Point them to Reddit link which is as of now making this post very popular. I for one will never buy another Kindle book from Amazon as well after reading this. I have to use them for a few other things, but not that.

  21. Outragous! I’m seriously considering my amazon purchases now.

    Out of curiosity, how do you use Calibre or the said python scripts with Amazon bought ebooks? I mean, how do I access the book file, since I do most of my purchases directly from my Kindle or from iPad using the Kindle app?

  22. Wow glad to hear. Won’t be buying from them ever again. That is really unfortunate for the lady.

  23. “Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.”

    • excellent! Kafka rules here!

      It is simply ougtrageous. She should be consulting a lawyer – there must be someone on this huge internet that is willing to throw a «pro bono» advice…. I hope she will not quit…

  24. For tre år siden så tok Amazon bort noen bøker fra brukeres Kindle – bøker som de ikke hadde hatt tillatelse å selge. En av dem: 1984 av George Orwell. Selvfølgelig blev det en stor diskussjon om Amazon sine muligheter å slette bøker fra Kindles, og da lovet Amazon å aldri bruke den funksjonen igjen..!
    https://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/technology/companies/18amazon.html?_r=0
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/18/amazon_removes_1984_from_kindle/

    Sitat:
    «Amazon effectively acknowledged that the deletions were a bad idea. “We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers’ devices in these circumstances,” Mr. Herdener said.»

    Kanskje er noe som Linn burde snakke med Amazon om..

    • «…in these circumstances», nej. Det var ju dock ett helt annat fall, nämligen när Amazon själva hade begått ett fel genom att sälja böcker de inte själva har tillåtelse att sälja.

  25. Morn Bekkelund. Bra nettsted. Har du noen tanker om hva som kan ha skjedd i Linns tilfelle hvis hennes beskrivelse er rett?

  26. Outrageous. I have sent e-mail to amazon, asking for a comment on this.

  27. Honestly, I would suggest that she turns to counterfaiting. She has all moral right to get what she paid for, and if there is no legal mean to do so, then the law is immoral and must not be obeyed to. Also, since counterfaiting does not suffer from these defects, she would never encounter the same problem.

  28. Isn’t it possible that stripping DRM from books purchased from Amazon is exactly the sort of thing which Amazon might classify as contravening their policies?

    I’m not trying to defend this increasingly arrogant (and, based on the dire delivery services they use in the UK, increasingly incompetent) company but I would be interested to know the answer to that question. Can Amazon detect books on Kindles which have had DRM removed and, if they can and do, wouldn’t that be sufficient cause to terminate an account?

  29. This is outrageous to say the least!

    I’m quite baffled by the fact that they won’t even tell her what on earth she did to incur this kind of treatment. They don’t cite any rules or reasons other than some linking of accounts that doesn’t make sense…

    And the robotic like replies while requesting information are just plain insulting.

    This has to be spread around, Amazon shouldn’t get away with this practice.

  30. Very happy to NOT use amazon services for myself. I’m sometimes thinking «hey, would be great to have my books on some electronic devices for travel». Yes, but no. Current (mainstream) services have DRM, doubtful policies, and are working as black boxes.

    I haven’t bought any books from amazon for, say, 6 months. During this time, the small bookstore near my home is really happy, having a book eater like me (for now, about 5 books (mid-sized, about 700 pages) each 2 weeks).

    Amazon should be great. But because of the stupidity of some people (most of them related to editors), it is not great. It’s a jail, a nice one I think, but still a jail.
    Like iTunes services : your account may be blocked without any informations, just «we suspected that…» and so long.

    After reading such news, can we still wonder why people doesn’t buy things, and prefer to go on piratebay or other website like this?

    DRM are a pain in the a**, that’s all. For now, Music has understood it. Books should follow, and, maybe, Movies. But I’m not sure about the latter. Neither for the first, to be honest. They screw us, saying «we have to live» and taking all our money for nothing. They are even talking our Culture away.

    Shame on the System, not only on Amazon.

    T.

  31. This is why I have a Kindle, but I have never bought even one DRM eBook from Amazon. All the ebooks I read are DRM-free.

  32. I can really understand how rude these mails by Amazon might read, but maybe I can provide some help:

    Amazon links accounts by
    – used e-mail address
    – used shipping addresses
    – used billing addresses
    – used credit cards/banking accounts

    Don’t ask, how I know that, I just know it. There might be some other parameters, but these are the strongest ones. So if another customer used Linn’s credit card or e-mail address, her shipping address or else and there has been a case of fraud, Amazon takes the link to Linn’s account and shuts both down.

    Now here meet two different juristical principles: Linn has the right to know why her account has been closed. But with respect to privacy Amazon is NOT allowed to tell her about another person being a fraud case.
    This is what could have happened here. I never understood why Amazon isn’t allowed to tell these policies to their customers so they can at least do some research (one of their relatives or friends might have used their address or something like that), but that’s how they handle it.

    So: Linn should make sure if she can remember anyone using one of the data above that she has also used. Maybe someone used her credit card or address or she once used another credit card from someone, too!? If she can’t remember, she has to go to the police and let them investigate. Amazon must give all information to the police. It’s quite a workaround, but I see no other way.

    I hope I could help a bit.

    • So, what you’re saying is – if I move and change my address, and the previous occupant of that address was banned by Amazon, I could be in this situation too?

      That seems pretty damn draconian – and I would most definitely sue them.

    • If Linn’s credit card details were used in an attempted fraud Amazon blame her for not keeping the details safe? There’s a lesson for us all. How cruel can a retailer be? Thanks to this post I have converted all my kindle books to PDF and will never by a digital item from them again.

  33. Takk for advarselen! Denne føyer seg fint inn blant tilsvarende hendelser jeg har lest om tidligere, og viser svært tydelig hvor maktesløse vi kunder er overfor Amazon og lignende nettbaserte butikker. Det blir bare papirbøker, om noe i det hele tatt noe fra Amazon heretter.

  34. It may be possible for a Norwegian resident to take amazon.co.uk to the small claims court in order to get a refund (which would presumably be for the device and any e-books) because Norway is a European Union country. I’m not sure what the gory details of that process would be – if you would have to make the small claim for the local council where amazon.co.uk’s offices are near or if the claim could be started in Norway. (It would be possible for a UK resident to do this in their own city although they may have to travel to the city of the entity they were suing if it actually went to court, which does not necessarily happen with a claim through the small claims court.)

  35. And this is why piracy exists.

  36. Can i publish this on anorak.co.uk please?

  37. Not clear: was the entire Kindle wiped, or only the books sold by Amazon in their original DRM form?

    • And can she still use the Kindle to read non-Amazon books or has the device been disabled alltogether? There might be rules about borrowing the e-books from Amazon, but the device hasn’t been borrowed (or?).

  38. Hi,

    this remembered me of a story which happened a while back. Same story (no kindle, tough). The account was closed and deleted and all they said was «because it was linked to another $bad account». After some research and stuff they found the link:
    The user sent a gift(!) to someone a few month back. The receiver was the «bad boy» for amazon and got his account closed, and voila, the other one also.

    Maybe thats it?

    Best wishes,
    Sven

  39. Random person here. I someone came across a friend posting link to your article.

    I kind of think it might help if your friend bring the issue to the attention of Amazon US. My past experience was that Amazon UK and US have independent customer service departments, and the service quality of the US team vastly surpassed that of the UK team — note that I used the past tense, because I haven’t shopped at the UK store for 8+ years due to some extremely lousy customer service experience, where the service representative acted exactly like the one in your friend’s case and kept parroting the same non-answer over and over, while my experiences with the US store have always been great CS-wise. Their customer service representatives generally strive to exceed your wildest expectations to be helpful.

    Best luck to your friend and here’s hoping that they won’t simply throw the case report back and ask your friend to keep trying with the UK side.

  40. Don’t think Amazon would be too pleased with a «boycott Amazon» campaign during the Christmas run-up. ;-)

  41. Most likely it’s a drm issue with using Amazon.com in Europe instead of Amazon.uk. The owner even said that she was unaware she had a .uk account, but yes, Amazon’s customer service in this regard was awful. I have owned 2 kindles and my fire was replaced without a question by customer support the 5th month i owned it and it software locked up. One bad instance should not deter you without knowing the full story.

  42. This is outrageous. I do have some minor thoughts to add — not in justification, but in partial explanation.

    First, this is not new. Amazon has done this before.

    Second the computer has found some link — who knows what. It could be someone at the same address with a bad account. Someone (A family member?) using the same credit card. Or perhaps the kindle itself is used and was previously registered to someone else.

    Why Amazon will not release information about the linkage is logical, but it really is convoluted. They take the position, that because of privacy concerns they are not allowed to talk with anyone other than the account holder about their account. Therefore, let’s say the offending account was your brother. They can’t tell you that your brother has done wrong, and what he has done. Of course this means that if you really are ‘guilty’ you already know why you were blocked, and you already have access to the details. however if you are innocent it’s impossible to prove Amazon wrong since they will not tell you what is wrong.

    Finally, it seems to me that she should have a claim against Amazon for the cost of the Kindle and any books she purchased since it/they will no longer work based on Amazon’s decisions.

    If she is really a glutton for punishment, there are ways around this do future purchases. You can’t undo anything that has already been done. You will need a new address, credit card number, and potentially name to open a new account on a new kindle. Or open it on a kindle for pc, strip DRM and move the books to the old kindle. You might accomplish this through the help of friends or relatives; through the use of amazon gift cards instead of credit cards, and through other similar tactics. Seems like a lot of pain to do business with someone who doesn’t want to support you.

    Finally, this does seem shady on amazons part. If I was comfortable that I was really clean, I wouldn’t be afraid to ask for government assistance. Here in the US it would involve some combination of contacting the state Attorney General’s office. A state office of consumer affairs. Or since this would be an international organization, I wouldn’t be afraid to involve my congressional representatives

  43. This is why the first thing I do with any device like Phones, iPads, Kindles is to jailbreak/root and run custom software that would prevent this sort of thing.

    Not surprising coming from amazon, I’ve had a similar experience with them, and they won’t reveal any information they have short of taking them to court.

  44. This reminds me very much about how paypal threats their customers as well.

    Disgusting when corporations grow this big that they don’t even have to care about their customers.

  45. I have heard in the past that crap like this can happen when/if you use a public terminal and log in to your account. If someone else used the public terminal and that user was malicious and got their account banned, then you use the same terminal and login in Amazon, Ebay, Google, PayPal, etc. could end up banning you because they associate the IP used by the banned account with your account too.

  46. Only buy DRMed books if you can deDRM them.
    Copy the book from the Kindle to the computer.
    Then use a program like Kindle DRM Removal to civilize the text.
    Then use Calibre to convert the MOBI file to an EPUB version of the text (Calibre is free but they like donations, please donate).
    Then make at least one backup of the MOBI and EPUB versions and store them safely.

    I think that Linn can find and download the texts from The Pirate Bay and other such places without breaking the law.

  47. Does anyone know if it is legal, under articles 5 and 6 of European Directive 2009/24/EC or otherwise, to remove DRM for the purpose of backup or interoperability?

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:32009L0024:EN:NOT

  48. Any organization that says «We already have too many customers, so get lost, we don’t give a damn about you» is not long for this world, no matter how big they think they are at the moment.

  49. Jag gick just och funderade på att köpa en Kindle men efter att ha läst detta tänkte jag om. Skrev till deras kundsupport och berättade det dessutom.

  50. Aren’t there any consumer protection agencies in Norway that can handle this and force Amazon to comply to answers?
    This abuse is criminal and should be treated as such. Some companies just really need a permaban threat for these kind of transgressions.

  51. Have tweeted about its – https://twitter.com/varunvnair/status/260380949009801216

    Hopefully if enough Amazon users do this it will get them to give a proper reply instead of nonsense.

  52. Try phoning your credit card company and have them reverse all the payments to Amazon in relation to your kindle and the books you have purchased. It’s called a «chargeback».

    It might be better to tell Amazon that you are going to to this, before you actually do, to give them a final chance to sort it out.

  53. Har også sendt mail til Amazon angående dette, og oppfordrer alle andre til å gjøre det samme.

    Det kommer sikkert søksmål rundt dette etter hvert. I mellomtiden MÅ alle som kjøper digitalt innhold lære seg hvordan de fjerner DRM-beskyttelsen og tar sikkerhetskopi av innholdet.

    – Jan

  54. Og det er derfor jeg ikke køber DRM-krøblede bøger.

    Indtil videre har jeg bara købt e-bøger hos Baen Books og Fictionwise. Rimelige priser og ingen DRM.

  55. She should peruse them under the freedom of information act

    • FOIA has nothing to do with the UK or Norway nor with private companies like Amazon.

  56. I think it might help if the mass media is contacted about this, maybe an ambitious reporter will want to bring the story out. It is news that can up a newspapers ratings. «Big corporation deleting bought content at whim». Amazon won’t like this kind of attention and might fix the problem. Maybe sending them an email about approaching the media might suffice in them fixing the promblem. Just don’t let it be.

  57. I have gone through the Amazon.com Terms and Conditions / Conditions of Use, and I cannot see anything that jumps out as being a problem for Linn – with it being the US site, I thought there might be a clause about using that site instead of the .co.uk site, but nothing.

    If an email to cnorth does not produce anything, then Amazon’s dispute resolution process is a fairly standard arbitration setup, as detailed in their Conditions OF Use document:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_200905880_conditions?nodeId=508088

    The relevant section on arbitration is about two-thirds of the way down the page.

    I have been a regular orderer from Amazon for quite a few years, but stories like this one have made me willing to spend a bit more money and a bit more time finding alternative suppliers for the stuff I would otherwise buy from this bunch.

  58. If they don’t want him as a customer, fine, but then they shouldn’t want his money either & should issue a refund for all the content that has been removed from his Kindle.

  59. Honestly, I think she should consider counterfaiting these books. If the law provides no way for her to get what she paid for, then the law is immoral and should not be obeyed.

    She should also consider acquiring books at other bookstores than Amazon, but if they fail to provide her with what she wants, counterfaiting will certainly, because it is done by user, for users, without all this commercial antifeatures.

  60. Amazon are not as consumer friendly as some people think and I have written to the EU competition authorities about some of their behaviour but because they are percieved as being a consumer champion no one will take action against them regarding some of their «policies», e.g. they will not allow any third parties to put DRM on Kindle ebooks, they will not allow authors who publish via Kindle to sell their books cheaper with any other retailers, they practice predatory pricing to undermine other bookshops (they can afford to). I have just posted this re how authors «fall into the Amazon fly trap» http://books4spain.com/blog/how-authors-fall-into-the-amazon-fly-trap/

  61. If it were me, I’d demand that Amazon explain the grounds for the termination of services. Whether or not they do though, I’m no lawyer, butI’m betting a friendly little letter from a UK-based legal team should get their attention, especially if it’s directed or CC’d to the evasive Mr. Murphy. Even «renters» have contractual rights, and Amazon should be required to prove that the individual in question has violated the terms.

  62. And you has been boingboinged! Grats

  63. Hmmm…. This makes me seriously reconsider my usage of Amazon. Their offering seemed like a really good one until now..

  64. Siden det er Amazon UK som svarer, så bør det være en grei start å starte en sak her
    http://www.forbrukereuropa.no/index.php/no/

  65. I wrote about the possibility of this happening within my Masters dissertation on the dangers of the information age – its scary to see something I believed to be a dystopian prediction come to be something very real and scary.

  66. Dette er en skandaløs måte å behandle kundene sine på. Jeg tror jeg skal «stemme med lommeboka» og slutte å kjøpe leie Kindle-bøker.

    Jeg skal også maile Amazon og fortelle dem dette. Ikke det at jeg tror at de bryr seg men… :-(

  67. Well, at least they are almost honest about not caring about the customer.

    It makes me wonder if I should continue buying physical items from them as well, seeing as I don’t have time to read their terrible ToS and can’t just trust them to be reasonable either.

    I do wonder how many people have had this happen to them without being known to the public.

  68. There are three issues here:

    (1) Companies using DRM or other means have control over you. This includes the example someone else mentioned of eBay insisting that a customer smash a violin to ensure that it was lost in shipping.

    (2) The people applying these policies tend to be drones, not geniuses. This is because if they hired PhDs, the cost to Amazon would be much higher and the PhDs would get bored and kill people.

    (3) Apparently, these policies are needed because there is constant abuse of these services, since a high proportion of our modern populations are scam artists or criminals.

    Regarding DRM, I never buy products which are controlled by a single company. Although I own a Kindle, I use it for free texts from the public domain only, and promotional items sent by authors who want reviews of their books. I do not trust DRM which relies on a single company to administer it, because if that company goes bankrupt, away go my books or music.

    As far as the fairness of these policies go, I think it’s ridiculous to expect companies to stop abuse. Instead, they should use profiling and past history to assess the risk a user poses, and charge them more if they’re higher risk. This is similar to how banks write loans. That policy change gets us around the lack of PhDs to fairly administrate Terms of Service (TOS) issues.

    You’ll have to find your own solutions to the high number of criminals. I suppose resettling them on floating raft-cities where drugs are legal and encouraged is not an option.

  69. The terms and conditions of Amazon are extremly abusive and should not be legal (maybe they aren’t). Amazon terminating an account from today onwards would be their right, even though quite dirty. Retroactively terminating products that have been previously purchased and paid for is completely and insanely wrong.

    It’s the same thing if you had an issue at an Ikea (payment, making a scene, etc) and they not only throw you out the store and refuse a sale, but they also go to your home and sieze any furniture you’ve ever bought from them.

    Richard Stallman has previously warned about this and too many take these matters way too lightly, or even think he’s crazy… .. . untill this sort of thing inevitable happens.
    links:
    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/the-danger-of-ebooks.html
    http://stallman.org/amazon.html

    Even if they finish by admitting they made a mistake and refund/restore/etc, you know they still can technically do this. And they will do this again to others, among the others many won’t have blog posts about their case that pop up on the front page of Reddit…

    Your friend should request they at least refund her for the products they denied her purchases, indluding the device.

    Regardless, good luck with everything.

  70. Wow – thanks for the warning.
    I shall break it my my wife that she wont be getting the kindle for Christmas. Can’t take that kind of chance.
    Good luck getting it sorted

  71. Seems very simular to communications I received when setting up an Amazon Payments account. Within 1 day of setting up the account I get the following email out of the blue:

    Hello from Amazon Payments.

    This message is to let you know that we have blocked your Amazon Payments account and canceled any pending transactions.

    We took this action because it has come to our attention that your Amazon Payments transaction(s) may be in violation of our Acceptable Use Policy and your Agreement with Amazon Payments, both of which prohibit the use of our payment service for any items, materials, or services that we have determined to be illegal or inappropriate.

    To review our Acceptable Use Policy, please visit:

    Amazon Payments > User Agreement/Policies > Acceptable Use Policy

    In accordance with the terms of your agreement, Amazon Services, Inc., hereby terminates the term of the agreement effective immediately.

    Any remaining funds are being reserved in your Payments Account and may be held for 180 days from the date your account was blocked. After 180 days or the completion of all pending investigations, the funds, minus any claims or chargebacks, will be made available for withdrawal. If you have further questions about your funds please write to amazonpayments-investigate@amazon.com.

    While we appreciate your interest, the closure of an account is a permanent action. Any subsequent accounts that are opened will be closed as well. Please note that we take such actions for the protection of all Amazon Payments participants.

    Regards,

    Seller Performance Team
    Amazon Payments
    http://payments.amazon.com


    So I say «What is this about? How did we violate any Acceptable Use Policy? We haven’t even done anything yet»

    I then get this response:

    Hello from Amazon Payments.

    Thank you for writing. We have considered your request for reinstatement. Upon careful consideration, we have decided your account will remain blocked.

    Any remaining funds are being reserved in your Payments Account and may be held for 180 days from the date your account was blocked. After 180 days or the completion of all pending investigations, the funds, minus any claims or chargebacks, will be made available for withdrawal. If you have further questions about your funds please write to amazonpayments-investigate@amazon.com.

    While we appreciate your interest, the closure of an account is a permanent action. Any subsequent accounts that are opened will be closed as well. Please note that we take such actions for the protection of all Amazon Payments participants.
    Regards, Seller Performance Team Amazon Payments http://payments.amazon.com


    So I then reply «This is crazy, I guess we’ll just use PayPal» and then a few days later we get the following:

    Hello from Amazon Payments.

    Thank you for writing regarding your account.

    We have reviewed this situation, and decided to reactivate your account. You are now able to use the Amazon Payments service.

    Regards,
    Seller Performance Team
    Amazon Payments
    http://payments.amazon.com


    Needless to say, we’re not using Amazon anytime soon.

  72. This is the reason, why I don’t like DRM. You don’t purchase an eBook, you purchase the right to read it, until this right is revoked. I hope that Linn will get her account reactivated.

  73. Isn’t this kind of DRM abuse illegal in Norway?

  74. Amazin is a ripe picking ground for fraud and identity theft. 18 months ago a fraudster set up an account using my credit card details and a slightly incorrect address plus incorrect date if birth. Amazon did not catch the duplicate card (PayPal does!). I did get my money back from thr bank BUT no satisfaction from Amazon. They are arrogant because of their size.
    But I wonder if someone had attempted to set up a fraudulent account in Linns name. This in no way excuses the arrogant and stupid way in which Amazon dealt with her. Convicted with no right of reply, apparently.

  75. Instead of ending on an «Now what?» note,
    please provide clearcut instructions on how
    to avoid similar fate to Linn’s for those of us
    not as veiled in the art of «robust python
    scripting to remove Amazon DRM
    » as some
    of the above commenters.

    Step #1 seems to be to download bought/
    leased content primarily (or in tandem) to the
    desktop, where the DRM may be stripped. Thus
    the hardware-Kindle version be used for reading
    on the go, and the DRM-less one to add to any
    future new hardware or software reader.

  76. That’s a really disappointing outcome for you friend Linn.
    If I was to speculate as to why Amazon couldn’t discuss which other account was linked to Linn’s account, it probably because of the Data Protection Act. They would not be able to confirm which account violated their terms without that account holder’s expressed permission.

    One other thing that is quite peculiar is that if Linn is based in Norway, then why is she using an Amazon.co.uk account to purchase Kindle titles? Any account holder who’s resident outside of the UK, would be forced to use the Amazon.com kindle store. I wonder if this has anything to do with her problems?

    That said though, this kind of action is very unusal from Amazon and in my experience those measures would only have been implemented if they had pretty solid proof of a widespread fraud being committed.

  77. never had any problems at all with Amazon, neither .com or .co.uk.

    they always replied, friendly and solved any customer service matter with me, super fast.
    thou, I always only by hardware books and objects.

    not kindle books.

  78. Thanks for sharing this story.

    Amazon is «paypaling» their loyal and paying customers. DRM always screws the honest paying people, never the ones that share without compensating the creators.

    Backup your Kindle ebooks ASAP add do so with every book you buy. And email that C. North person someone referred to. Public customer fury and outcry usually works in these situations.

  79. This is a nightmare story.
    I hope this story spread virally and Amazon take due measures.

  80. If she bought one of mine, I will personally send her a DRM free .pdf file to make up for this action on Amazon’s part. I find it unconscionable.

    I do hope they sent her a full refund?

  81. I would happily purchase and mail this person physical copies of some of the lost books. This is atrocious theft.

  82. Boycott Amazon! Their actions are ridiculous.

  83. I was on the fence about what new ereader will upgrade my kindle. I see now that it will be anything but Amazon. I already use calibre to store my books and highly recommend anyone who wants control over their book collection does the same.
    There are also some handy free tools here.. http://apprenticealf.wordpress.com/

  84. Hi Martin. I just posted the below quote and the link to your blog on the Amazon facebook page (9am California time, October 23nd)). I bet they won’t let it be posted, but it’s worth a try.

    http://www.facebook.com/Amazon?ref=ts&fref=ts

    Best,

    Sverre

    Dear Amazon,

    As a true fan of both Kindle and your online store I urge you to go through this case brought to our attention by Martin Bekkelund (a friend of a friend). If you don’t act on this I’m afraid many will join me in bringing more peoples’ attention to how Amazon allegedly violates any common and moral sense with referral to contract paragraphs that probably would be illegal in Norway and many other European countries. I’m asking you – is this way of threating customers something you want to be associated with? If so, I think your 13 some million «friends» on Facebook would like to know.

  85. The thought does cross my mind that Amazon won’t tell Linn about the other account that caused her to be banned due to a privacy issue, whereby they would be violating privacy laws if they disclosed the other account.

    So… I’m thinking that that it would be pretty awesome if Lin could get Amazon to try to stop information that would prove that her account is linked to another account by arguing that it would infringe a completely different person’s privacy if it disclosed any information about the linked account that caused the original notification.

    Worth a shot anyway.

  86. I have dealt with Amazon custumer service before and to be honest I think she is full of it and trying the whole «deny deny deny» routine.

  87. Exactly the same happened to me with Google and their Google adwords. We are hopeless against these companies. It is so stupid and unfair…you feel like a criminal even though the cheating is the last thing you would do.
    they wont tell u what u have done, they just erase you. thats it. at the end of the mail they should say «Go fu*k yourself».

  88. This is why you should only buy paper books. You can do as you will once you have them. Electronic books will always be subject to malfeasance from corporate owners regardless of the format. Paper books for life.

  89. In an email I sent to amazon.

    Hello there. I’m a resident in California and have just purchased a Kindle and intended to purchase online books from you. I have purchased other items from your company in the past.
    It has come to my attention that you have recently been unjust with a former loyal customer of yours. Please see the link below:
    http://www.bekkelund.net/2012/10/22/outlawed-by-amazon-drm/

    This is horrible for your company to treat someone like this. I want you to know that I intend to go elsewhere for such purchases before I become a victim of your harsh and unjust decisions.

    Be it known that I have also shared this with my friends, co-workers, and family members so that they too will not purchase from you.

    Have a good day.

  90. Any European contracts are in fact with the Luxembourg entity of Amazon so different rules apply in terms if data disclosure even though its in the EU. There is an interesting amount of negative press building against Amazon in particular its monopolistic behaviour in the eBook market. It pays no tax in the UK. Even manages to pay lower rates of VAT

    • «It pays no tax in the UK. Even manages to pay lower rates of VAT»
      While I whole heartedly agree with most of the comments in here; my understanding of UK VAT is that it doesn’t apply to books at all – other than eBooks. Also, that it’s the customer that’s paying the VAT, not the company.

      I agree that Amazon manage to evade corporate tax.

      Thinking back to Linn’s problem, I’m wondering, as others have suggested, if part of the issue is that she’s bought them from .com – yet it’s the .co.uk site that appears to have taken offence.

  91. If its within your means I would definately contact a gov representative or a lawyer. if for no other reason than to force them to show why they did this.

    I have a kindle and love my kindle dx byt I don’t like their DRM and their business practices. SO I bought it used (nothing goes to amazon) and I NEVER buy DRM ebooks and you must keep the 3G connection «OFF» (or wifi) since they (as she found out) can remotely erase your kindle INCLUDING non DRM books acquired elsewhere.

    this is power they SHOULD NOT HAVE. period.

  92. There is something to be said for piracy after all.

  93. As an author and publisher, I can only express my inexpressible outrage at this! Naturally I also have books on Kindle, but I’d rather hack off my hands than locking them into amazon’s draconian DRM. Nevertheless, without some technical knowledge (copying and doing backups of amazon non-drm purchases) many people will never even know what hit them until Amazon pulls a strange one like in the above example. The future IMHO is in ideas like the Humble Bundle (buy once, get 3 versions PDF, epub, mobi drm-free) but as long as amazon remains the #1 marketplace for ebooks it’ll take some time before people appreciate the indie approach. Stories like the above, however negative they seem, might be a helpful push in the right direction, though, simply by realizing the state we’re in at the moment.

  94. This is exactly what happened to me. A few years ago I received a free voucher to get a song, which you usually had to buy. I think it was musicload.de. I never bought any additional songs, because I don’t like DRM protected stuff. A few years later I bought a new PC and the license didn’t work anymore. Logging in to their site I could get a new license. Now another few years later, new computer again, same problem. But now their website didn’t offer new license. I wrote them and CEO responded: «we offer renewing licenses for three years, although our terms would only require one year. No exceptions.» So this means I should store my old PC just to play a single song. Or treat this as renting for one year. Luckily I never trusted DRM and I have the whole CD as hardware item.

  95. I am SO glad that I didn’t buy a Kindle. The Sony Reader is better in every way. Smaller, lighter and easier to use; it is a delight. Highly recommended. This wretched story shows why it is advisable to keep suppliers as suppliers only, and not allow them to take control of your life or (what you think are) your possessions.

  96. I have had issues with Amazon for the last year. One problem with them is that some of their policies are nearly impossible to find. I showed a customer service rep how it is possible to read all of the terms of service that are linked to purchasing gift cards and still not find that gift cards cannot be used for Amazon prime. It didn’t matter to them. Though we had done all the research we could, we still missed this hidden policy. We were so alarmed at this practice of burying a policy and still holding customers responsible for it that I sent back my brand-new Kindle Fire and all of the accessories. I want no part of them. I cannot trust Amazon.

  97. This is why I use ‘Calibre’ to manage my e-books, and downloaded, and removed the DRM from all of the books I bought.

    http://calibre-ebook.com/

    http://xkcd.com/488/

  98. She needs to ask to speak with a supervisor, and/or find phone numbers for real people at Amazon and start ringing alarm bells. And publishing this more on the internet will also help, since public shaming of companies seems to be the only way to get them to respond sometimes. I will be re-tweeting this link and encouraging others to do the same.

  99. This is a violation of EU laws. Amazon can not do this, as she is located within EU single market (EEA).

    As Amazon is located in Luxembourg the EU law applies to Amazon, even if she did buy the e-books off the U.S web site (since Amazon does not offer people to buy e-books from there UK web site).

    More on the rights here, http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/shopping/shopping-abroad/buying-services/index_en.htm

    This is a case. Do not let Amazon get away with this rubbish explanation.

  100. Thanks in advance .I will never buy an Amzon Kindle after reading this article.

  101. What can she do? Its simple:
    She might go to a shop tha sells kindles, take them and crash them on the ground. She has the right to do so, because these Kindles were related to (means: look quite the same) a previously blocked one (her own).

  102. That would be like people from a bookshop coming into my house and taking all of the books I legally bought from them, because of things that may not be true.
    Another reason to buy physical books with cash – I leave no audit trail, and taking them after purchase is theft.
    So, Amazon, how many customers will you lose on principle?

  103. My wife wants a Kindle for her birthday gift. I sent her your post and convinced her its a BAD idea. Now she wants to wait for the iPad mini! Thanks for nothing Amazon.

  104. Pirate for life!!!

  105. Easy solution: pirate your kindle books. This is amazon’s loss, not really Linn. She will just buy her books elsewhere or streak them. Snooks are a competitive market these days

  106. Might not do anything, but I’ve chatted with Amazon support and voiced my concern.

    As a member who has spent much money with them, I hope my my voice aids in joining the chorus of shocked customers.

    If nobody advocates for you, who will advocate for me when my Kindle is suddenly empty?

  107. «Cloud Computing» is just a nice way to say «Digital Equivalent of Tenant Farmer.» You never «have» the things you «buy» and whatever you «subscribe» to requires the continual purchase of Internet access to «keep,» though any of this can be «taken» from you at any time, even if you keep paying for a connection…

  108. I sent this email to Amazing Kindle Press relations

    … This case of DRM enforcement has been brought to my attention and I wanted to get your official word on what is happening here:
    http://www.bekkelund.net/2012/10/22/outlawed-by-amazon-drm/
    Are the facts presented here correct?
    If so, why was this done to this user’s account?
    What is your policy regarding notifying customers of alleged infractions?
    What is your policy regarding appeals?
    What is your policy regarding one’s rightful ownership of bought materials?
    Please respond by email as I will be teaching class at the City University of New York this afternoon.
    Thank you.
    – Jeff Jarvis
    (I am a journalist and journalism professor in New York.)

    Will post updates here: https://plus.google.com/u/1/105076678694475690385/posts/Fo1STJQvedf

  109. So far most books for my Kindle I got from Project Gutenberg, the rest are mostly periodical subscriptions.

    I love my Kindle, but I might just buy myself a Samsung and ditch Amazon; they may consider the exchange of a good for money to constitute something less than an outright purchase, but I don’t.

  110. Absolutely terrible. I can’t believe Amazon would do such a thing. Then again, I’m not too surprised.

    This post actually inspired me to write my thoughts about this issue and DRM on my blog (referencing/linking to this post, of course) – DRM: Doesn’t Really Matter. It’s a sad state of affairs when a Kindle user has to worry that one day their collection of paid ebooks could just disappear on them.

    I wish your friend, Linn, the best of luck in getting her account and purchases restored. The Internet’s on her side!

  111. Amazon seems to be causing problems like this with reviews and authors too. Customers are noticing that their reviews are being deleted, and getting e-mail responses similar to the ones you describe here: http://killzoneauthors.blogspot.ca/2012/10/et-tu-amazon.html

  112. Everyone who buys e-books from a company like amazon is really at his/her own fault. I wouldn’t dream buying their crap.

    In this case, I’d suggest bringing this outrageous behaviour to the attention of the American press.

  113. I had a duplicate purchase on Amazon and could not get them to either refund or credit the second purchase, for down loadable software. So I canceled one through my bank and have been banned for life also. I sent the emails showing where I requested the refund and it did not help. Overall life without Amazon has been great.

  114. I’ll definitely make a backup of all the books I’ve bought at Amazon just in case. It is possible to break Amazon’s DRM and it’s legal to do so in some jurisdictions.

    I don’t want Amazon to bug me like this. It’s unfair.

  115. I’m nobody really, so I don’t think Amazon will care, but I closed my account – http://kjbaj.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/amazons-jurisdiction/

  116. I assume there are still copies of the books somewhere on her computer, right? Though it doesn’t solve the problem of Amazon wiping her account and treating her like a criminal, I think her only recourse would be to find a way to strip the DRM, convert the books to epub, and get herself a new reader.

    Please post a followup to tell us how she makes out. I hope someone at Amazon will realize they made a mistake and sort it out.

  117. thanks for the post, I was in doubt between kindle and kobo, but now I’ve made my decision, kindle never more.

  118. Linn should email Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder, CEO) with details, politely explaining what happened. He actually reads his email and takes action. This based on knowing some Amazon employees who were part of so-called «Bezos escalations». And these do get results, as he and Amazon actually take customer service seriously.
    Something has gone colossally wrong here, and while Amazon has been doing bad things, this is not typical of their customer service at all.

  119. Just sue them. They have to prove to the curt that you were violating your terms and if they can they have to pay you back everything + a nice sum why they caused damage to you.

    I guess there are some lawyers would do this even for free just to get the fame.

    Och, btw. this is why I never purchase online books. I feel sorry for the trees but it is a bit harder to remove the book from my shelf.

    Good luck!

    • By agreeing to their Terms and Conditions you actually agree not to sue them. I have no idea how that holds up in Europe, but I am pretty sure going to court against Amazon would not be an easy or cheap task to undertake.

  120. Hi

    Try contacting the BBC radio program «money box» – they are very good at following up on this kind of thing and usually the bad publicity is enough to get the company to at least sit up and listen.

    Good luck

  121. Hello,

    Do you already know that amazon claims your article is «spam»?

    This is a chat log linked from guardian article:

    https://p.6core.net/p/hx5voap6k84ndcrn

    cheers
    Mikkom

  122. I’m reminded of the opening credits to Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail. Your account has been sacked. Any attempt to open a different account will be sacked. Your books and property has been sacked. Your parents, dog, and car have been sacked. Your house has been sacked. Any further complaints will result in you being sacked. I have just been sacked. Amazon has just been sacked. The ones who sacked us have also been sacked. The sackers have been sacked. Have a nice day. Please deposit 25 cents to continue being sacked.

  123. This is why I pirate books and movies. DRMs ruined it for me. I kept losing my purchased digital items.

  124. Time to buy a traditional tablet PC and pirate all your books. It’s a shame that people have I resort to piracy, but would you rather pirate your books or buy them only to have them wiped and you account destroyed? Companies complain to high end about piracy while simultaneously being oblivious to the fact that they are the ones driving once paying customers to piracy. Shame on Amazon. Ill make sure to tell my dad to run his eBooks through a program that wipes them of their DRM just in case this happens to him.

  125. The same thing happened to german customers on Amazon.DE as written in the it-magazine «ct» a few month ago.

    Seems to me that they need to be stopped by law!

  126. As a publisher i’m frustrated hearing this. All my books are delivered DRM free, but some of the stores add DRM. I wil spread your story to other publishers, showing them that drm works against the customers, not against the illegal copies.

    Regards, Enno

  127. I’ll contribute $100 to a fund to sue them and subpoena them for the reason they closed your account.

  128. Thanks for sharing.
    I’ve already been trying to avoid amazon.
    Now I’ll prorably completely boycott them.

  129. Moral of the story: never trust a US company. Period.

  130. Check out Cory Doctorow’s post on this, along with the comments which follow:
    http://boingboing.net/2012/10/22/kindle-user-claims-amazon-dele.html

  131. Sounds like the 2009 case where they remotely wiped books people had purchased because of licensing issues. There was a bit of a stink then, too!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/technology/companies/18amazon.html

    http://www.slashgear.com/amazon-1984-ebook-case-settled-new-remote-delete-policy-revealed-0258787/

  132. Good thing to write a blogpost about these practices. Amazon, get rid of DRM. Everyone in this comment thread is removing it anyway. If you buy a book, it should be yours.

  133. Simpel løsning… download all cracked books ;) just a joke.. Jeg har har også en Kindle og kan godt forstå at man er skuffet men det har man hørt før og Amazon er kendt for være ikke specielt flink. Jeg downloader kun free books og der findes utroligt mange af dem. Whispernet er aldrig i brug og hvis Kindlen ikke har forbindelse til nettet kan dem ikke bliver slettet.

  134. Solution: steal book, mail author a check.

  135. I also sent a comment to Amazon FB page and logged onto my own Amazon acount and sent Jeff Jarvis ´s questions that way too. Public pressure is the best to deal with this kind of stuff IMHO.

  136. Linn should seek the aid of the EFF, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They have lawyers and will happily help.

  137. Even if you only buy paperbacks, you’re not safe with Amazon:

    My fight with Amazon.

  138. Looks like this post made it onto John Gruber’s blog. The more visible this story (and others like it) become, the more likely Amazon will address it. I’ll definitely consider converting my Kindle library to something… safer.

  139. This is Kafkaesque. The Trial. Scary.

  140. Definitely horrifying. However, Amazon prides itself on customer service. I’d do a run around on this guy and contact customer service directly. I’d have someone call you back so you can talk to a person and explain. Stop asking how it happened because that’s were the information is blocked. Just keep stating the fact that the person with the fradulent account is not you.

    I’ve found that I get blocked at Amazon (or any other company) when the service rep doesn’t have English as a first language, and isn’t as fluent as they should be. They don’t have the ability to understand nuances. Continue speaking to people until you find someone who understands and can help. I had a problem once and it took several attempts and 5 people before it got fixed.

  141. This demands a response.

    Please withdraw your support for non-free-software.

    Do not agree to purchase property that can be taken from you. Do not support this injustice.

  142. Not acceptable Amazon!

  143. «@RoyLilley: Sign in bookshop at Kew, just outside London. Excellent! http://t.co/iuNNuEJc»
    On whyy not to buy from Amazon ;)

  144. «Linn lives in Norway, far away from Amazon’s jurisdiction. How will she ever find the means to get her books back? By suing a large corporation half-way round the earth?»

    By suing in Norway, of course. I am quite sure Amazon has assets there.

  145. DRM is bad but not the cause of this problem. This is really about the fact that we don’t own the ebooks we buy from Amazon. We’re simply issued a license for them. The more people start to realize that the more they’ll want to crack the DRM and create a backup copy of their purchases so this doesn’t happen to them.

    Here’s a bit more of what I had to say about the situation: http://oreil.ly/WEc1uZ

  146. Some people readily believe everything they read, as long as it suits their narrow worldview. It’s a good story, provoking outrage if it’s indeed true and that Linn is innocent as claimed.

    I claim BS. This sounds has as much hot air behind it as that released when we found out that Treyvon Martin’s killer was not a white man.

  147. Google and Microsoft are the same. Google will sometimes delete your account and give no explanation (there are a lot of Google Ads related problems).

    If Microsoft ever finds nude pictures in your private cloud storage space, they will close all your accounts, and you lose XBox games, mails, etc.

    We really can’t trust US companies with our data.

  148. Recommend everyone reading this bombard Amazon’s social media with this story and demand further explanation, this has worked in previous cases. So send to the Amazon facebook page and twitter pages, and apply scrutiny. Other customers will are and add pressure.

  149. Eh, nothing new if you’ve played poker online. Accounts which are linked with accounts with suspicious activity get extra scrutiny and are sometimes closed as well without warning or explanation. Seems like more businesses are taking this approach to handling their customer base, which is kind of sad. This’ll only lead to choosing your (online) friends even more carefully, ie. being more paranoid/careful/nitpicky/controlled by fear. Fuck Amazon and support Linn’s case, although at this point, Amazon could shit on the face of each and every of their customers and most of them would probably take it with a smile on their face.

  150. The best way to get some traction on this is getting the media involved, here in Denmark we have two «formiddagsaviser» that love nothing more than getting cases where the little guy has been stepped on by large corporations, and running them for a couple of days with lots of coverage.

    I’d be surprised if Norway haven’t got at least one of these types of newspapers, and even though I don’t really like that kind of stunt, sometimes its the only way to get the attention of people in a company who can actually react and do something about a case like Linns.

    So, call or write a journalist, i’m pretty sure you can find one who would love to take this case and put it on paper.

  151. Thanks for sharing this. I don’t want to buy ebooks protected by DRM, I won’t buy ebooks from Amazon.
    Greetings from México.

  152. I feel for Linn and am appalled by the way she’s been treated. I encourage her to not give up, and to try ringing a «real» person at Amazon to explain her situation. And to keep going higher up the chain of people until she finds someone who can sort out this mess for her.

    As for this next part, I’ve thought long and hard about whether to leave this comment. But I think it needs to be said, so here goes. (BTW I’m going to say my piece and then go offline to tackle edits of a book I’m hoping to publish by the end of this year, so I won’t be checking back and entering into arguments about this: all I hope to do is provide another perspective.)

    I don’t believe that encouraging people to go to pirate sites and illegally download copyrighted books is going to help combat Amazon’s policies. All eBook piracy does is affect the people at the beginning of the chain, the people who are producing the product: i.e. authors like myself.

    Look, as an author AND a rabid reader, I don’t like DRM. I think it’s a bad practice. Honestly, I have no issue with readers legitimately buying books and then stripping the DRM to read across their various electronic devices. However I’m saddened by people being encouraged not to *buy* books, and simply download pirated books. Sure, many people who pirate books are never ever going to buy a legitimate book anyway, so in effect authors aren’t losing sales, right? But I believe encouraging readers to pirate books as a matter of course directly affects me and other authors like me. Here’s why.

    I have self-published a number of electronic books and chosen *not* to apply DRM because I want to make it easy for my readers. I want them to have choices. However, I have no control over whether, for example, my small press publisher chooses to apply DRM (I believe they don’t), or offers my books at a competitive price.

    Here’s the bottom line: For my small press epublished books, the vast majority of my sales are made through third party retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony etc., rather than direct from the publisher (where I get a halfway decent percentage). And regardless of the final retail price, I receive the princely sum of around 22c per electronic copy sold via those third party retailers. I’m not a big-name well-known author who’s selling squillions of books. No need to do the math–frankly, it’s not easy to pay the bills earning that sort of a percentage, and if my husband wasn’t willing to support me I wouldn’t be able to afford to write. So when you’re struggling to pay the mortgage seeing any of your books on a pirate site makes you feel sick to my stomach.

    People pirate DRMed eBooks as well as non-DRMed eBooks all the time. People pirate highly priced eBooks, as well as those priced fairly, as well as those priced very low (99c), all the time. People pirate traditionally published books as well as self-published books all the time. Please don’t try to justify pirating to me. Believe me, I’ve heard it all and I won’t try and convince you otherwise if you believe you’re entitled to pirate books.

    All I *do* ask is for the people who love reading books as much as I do to consider the months and months (sometimes years) of hard work an author has put in to make that book available for you to read before you illegally download it from a pirate site. Pirating books to punish retailers or publishers is not the answer. And if you think it is, next time you go looking for a book from your favorite author you might not find it anywhere–not even on a pirate site… because she had to give up writing and go find a job that pays the bills.

  153. It sure does sound like your friend is a Norway resident and therefore violating her terms of service with Amazon by buying Kindle books. If she is doing that, she is causing Amazon to break the law by selling her the books. You may not like that but it is true. If she caused me to break the law, I would expect an apology. I agree however that she should have been told why it happened.

  154. While it is helpful and interesting to read about ways to remove the DRM, it seems clear that this was an ordinary customer who simply wanted to use the Kindle device to read books, as opposed to being someone with an affinity for the details about how they work.

    That’s not a bad thing. After all, we use our cars and home appliances and a wide variety of other products without having to know the details.

    Amazon’s abuility to reach into your so-called «bookshelf» and change it or even eliminate it is why I’ve stayed away from e-books.

  155. I agree with Sverre. Make public postings on sites like Facebook. Keep the comments/debate current about the issue and how it was handled and how it could be resolved.

    My wife has used this approach several times for US companies and she has met with some success.

    Michael.

  156. As Amazon.co.uk is a British company, Linn may be able to make a Personal Access Request ( http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_the_public/personal_information/how_manage/access_info.aspx) in order to find out why she has been banned, and if the ban was based on erroneous data, a similar process can be employed to rectify the situation.

  157. Wonder if they also took the royalties back off the author??

  158. It sucks that companies can do things like this. Not only are the books gone but so is the money, and a lot of books aren’t cheap at all.

    As others have suggested, I would recommend backing up any purchases you make by using a program like Calibre. It also has the benefit of being able to convert book types, so if you decide you don’t like your Kindle anymore and want to buy a Nook, you’ll be able to take all your Kindle purchases and place them on your Nook.

    Right now, the nature of eBooks, proprietary formats, and DRM is just insane. These things exist with the sole intent of bullying the general public. First you have to choose a side (Kindle or Nook or whatever else) and then never switch, because you can’t take your books with you if you do, so it’s like throwing away money. Then, even if you pick a side, they can decide to take all your books from you without notice and without refund. These actions should be criminal.

  159. Regarding the true nature of Linn’s (non-)
    predicament outlined above, eddiedout
    already linked to Cory Doctorow’s compre-
    hensive and so-far best explanation
    for
    what MAY have happened here. Judging by
    AMZN’s customer rep’s fig-leaf replies, there
    is more to this story that Linn has disclosed…
    (and I’m not saying that she has to in order
    to have our sympathy for what befell her).

    Bear in mind however that, as we are
    talking of several geo-, and legal juris-
    dictions here, far removed from prevalent
    American legal frameworks, and of which
    some contradict, while others complement
    various regulations at stake, PLUS the
    twisted logick—no typo—of sales bound by
    synthetic geographical and other restrictions,
    most of your well-wished advice to Linn,
    and analysis, simply does not apply.

    Amazon is in it for the money, so treating
    a valuable customer like shit, wiping out
    her paid-for media collection, can not have
    been done willy-nilly, but as a result of
    some (acc. to their terms of sale) SERIOUS
    breach of those… in all probability what
    Cory D. says, attempts to bypass Amazon’s
    internal sales structure that directs all
    «open territory» customers to the American
    ebookstore. Linn says have had an account
    there, but that Michael fella, Customer
    Relations exec speaks directly of closing
    her Amazon.CO.UK one. So either Linn
    used a non-existent, or false UK address,
    which Amazon (now) checks against some
    master British zipcode DB, or she attempted
    a buy with the same credit card that she
    already used in other AMZN location (or
    a combination of the above and other…
    vectors?) Or something entirely different
    but—DO OBSERVE—still within legal rights
    of the Luxembourg-based bookdealer AS
    IT SEES IT – and, believe me, it can afford
    lawyers well vested in cross-national laws
    and jurisdictions, eagle-eyed parasites who,
    unlike Lynn and the rest of us, also have
    read and memorized the entire—as Cory
    said it —»thousands of words of
    impossible fine-print that came with

    [Linn’s] Kindle» (we’ve all been there).

    Observe that I am not defending Amazon,
    but it’s a complex world we live in, and Linn,
    who I take it is all grown-up and of sound
    mind, has entered into this loopsided
    «relationship» with an ebook hegemon
    of her own free will—and wallet.

  160. This got me thinking. I have hundreds of books on my Kindle, and the thought of getting my account and books revoked like this, would be a shocker.

    I have no real advise about how to deal with this, but maybe one should bring this to the authors’ attention.

    Some of the big guns on Amazon have fan pages on Facebook: Michael Connelly, Barry Eisler, Robert Crais, Lee Child …

  161. Well, Michael Murphy isnt a bot…its just a «Blurb» hes using. Its not even his fault, its Amazon policy. Staff couldnt even give detailled information if they wanted to: The department responding is not the department blocking the account.

    I’d advise you to take this to a higher level within Amazon next. Theres always the opportunity to send a letter of complaint (usually goes to a different place than emails) or emailing Jeff Bezos (jbezos@amazon.com) to seek help.

    Also, law states, that you can ask them in writing, which information they have on file about you. That could be an option as well.

    Regards,
    Lisa

  162. I suggest she hits Amazon where it hurts: The money!
    Do a recharge on all creditcard transactions with Amazon and watch how a senior customer representative starts talking to her.

  163. Sue them and open fund for it. I will donate 50$

  164. She should contact the Norwegian Consumer Council – Forbrukerrådet

  165. Talk it over all you like. Blah blah.

    Truth is: this is what you get in capitalistic consumer society.

    Choice is yours, at least for some time.

  166. To those suggesting that your pirate your books – or just strip DRM from legally purchased books – this doesn’t solve the underlying problem that it should be possible to read books you’ve bought without breaking the law

  167. this is the biggest bullshit i have ever seen! this people is why you dont trust big companies that think they can push us around!

  168. Contact those guys :
    http://www.europe-consommateurs.eu/en/home/

    They have lawyers, paid to help consummers in this kind of case, for free.

    They were really helpful with me, ‘changing the mind’ of a UK company which didn’t really give a %%%% about respecting the law, as long as their customer was sufficiently far away.

  169. «Now what?»
    IT news and social media got your back :) will be waiting to see Amazon’s official response to jeff jarvis and the like

  170. sup guys,

    absolute insane story. i just sent an email to the german customer service about that. «i am interested in buying a kindle…yadayada….can this happen to me?»

    i will keep you updated

    greetings

  171. I find this very disturbing but not surprising!!! It goes to show why they are so far behind there competitor’s and always will be by conducting there business in this manner!!!!

  172. You must remember that when purchasing books on Kindle (or any other electronic platform), you likely do not own the actual digital content – you are buying a license to use the content. ePub is certainly different, but B&N, Amazon, iTunes, etc. all sell a LICENSE to the content. This is very different from owning the actual, physical book – and your right of first resale does not apply to a license.

    Books are good. Licenses? Bad.

  173. Whoever buys DRM will be f*cked. It’s just a matter of time. Well, face it.

  174. Thats really sad and quite frustrating. They didnt even give her any evidence as to why the acct was closed. SIMPLY UNFAIR

  175. great, so now I will never buy a kindle or eBooks from Amazon.
    (I never had till now because of DRM)

  176. The bad thing about all that DRM stuff is really:
    All ya people out there will not respond with the only action that might really hurt. You will not stop buying at Amazon. You will not socially sanction bad behaviour of this company.

    And thats, why they call you consumers. Because you are. There are no consequences for «bad» behaviour. The consumers just keep buying no matter what.

    «Uhh, so i better not buy a Kindle. But Amazon is so convenient – i will keep buying all the other stuff there»

    :(

  177. Let’s say Amazon sticks with their decision. What about the money Linn paid for her e-books?
    With printed books, I would consider them as stolen and sue the thief. I would want either my money back – or my books.

  178. You vote with your money. If you vote in a dictator and then wonder that he’s acting like one, whose fault is that? I mean really, people complain about authoritarian behavior by companies and then go out and buy an iPhone … what are we? Complately insane? It’s like voting for Hitler and then wondering you have gas in your chamber …

  179. i am afraid this is likely to be a trend going forward…i wrote about it long ago…http://kedargadgil.blogspot.in/2010/01/future-of-sovereignty.html

  180. Amazon could be playing with fire: So far there was no reason for people to circumvent the DRM mechanisms on the Kindle. There are some applications offering DRM removal but they are quite complex or quite expensive.

    Imagine a majority of users being afraid of losing their book purchases. Once you free a book from its DRM it is only a small text file. Imagine p2p sharing of books, where thousand of books are as big as one music file.

    Compared to video or audio, where you have to move a lot of data and where quality plays a big role, a book is always the same. I can only hope that Amazon realizes to be very generous to its customers. Especially since they are willing to pay quite a few dollars for – technically spoken – nothing than a tiny text file.

  181. Since nobody mentioned this yet: Your ebook is reading you too: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304870304577490950051438304.html
    I feel sorry for the trees too but this is not an option

  182. Such an incident would be totally catastrophal for my business. We depend a lot on kindle e-books as reference when developing software. We’d better start making backups (we have always been thinking that amazon are doing that for us) and reconsider the choice of using kindle.

  183. Hi I send submitted your story to our national paper in Australia hope there is a write up on it.

    Regards

  184. Like music many, many ebooks are easy to steal for free. Fuck Amazon.

  185. Now I know why I buy hard copy books. I looked at getting a Kindle for when I travel but I don’t want my purchases wiped for an unspecified reason at some future date.
    If she has the receipts for the ebooks can I suggest she goes straight to the Authors and makes them aware of the situation. Given that Amazon seem to charge more for ebooks than hard copy I wonder if they pay the authors more or if they are just creaming a larger chunk of profit?
    If you come into my house and take my purchases that is theft so also is remotely accessing my device and wiping them.
    It also comes to mind that she should also send them a bill(invoice) for the wiped books plus cost for time wasted sorting out their mess. If they refuse to pay within time stated take them to Norwegian equivalent of Small Claims Court and make your local politician aware as well. Sometimes they can help.

  186. I am not sure about Norway, but in the UK according to the data protection act companies have to, if you write to them disclose all the information they hold about you.

    This article is making me sceptetical about e readers.

  187. I’m about to purchase books worth of 1200 USD via kindle. Now I have to think twice about it.

  188. Amazon has told PC Pro magazine that the books weren’t wiped. See http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/377689/breakfast-briefing-amazon-wipes-ebooks-microsofts-heir-apparent-windows-for-toddlers

    Can someone provide some truth to the story, one way or the other?

    P.

  189. Linn, send me a list of your favourite ebooks. I will gladly pirate them for you.

  190. I was actually considering using Amazon for my fiction books, now that I don’t have much space for physical books. And for a few of technical books that seem to be available in electronic form only on Amazon. Having read this I think I prefer iBookstore for anything I can get there instead. Older books are just ePubs, newer can use some extra extensions, but I prefer to have the content and reverse engineer it, rather than lose it completely.

  191. Connectivity works both ways. Whispersync is amazing when you are able to sync last read page between devices. Whispersync is amazing when the kindle book you purchased on Amazon’s website, magically appears in your kindle device minutes later. Whispersync is amazing because it can work in more than 100 countries all over the world, over 3G, apparently free to you.

    But one should note that what Whispersync does is maintain connectivity as long as you are connected to Amazon. As such, Amazon is always able to «watch over you».

    Knee-jerk reactions aside (BOYCOTT AMAZONNNNAAARRRRHHHGG!!), how do I, as a Kindle user myself, deal with this?

    Simple, I do not use Whispersync at all. I bought the Kindle Wifi, but never turned the Wifi on. When I buy a Kindle book, I download and manually transfer the ebook over USB, while archiving a copy elsewhere.

    This has happened a few times before. But people forget and get complacent, due to convenience.

  192. Amazon has turned around and reopened her account (article in norwegian):

    http://www.digi.no/904675/helomvending-fra-amazon

  193. This is outrageous! I have thought about buying a Kindle, now I most definitely will not. I hope Amazon understands that there are people who care about this sort of thing and draw conclusions from it.

  194. - Spread this issue on as many social networks and other net publications as possible.

    – Contact your local/national consumer advice centre.

    – Look out for another (higher rated) contact email address. Tell them to delegate the case to a lawyer with the intention to sue them if not replying within … (a couple of) days.

    This is the only language they are able to understand.

    Good Luck to Linn!

  195. Write a complaint to EU commissionar for your Amazon dossier. Acc to EU rules, they have to hand over your dossier when u request it.

  196. In case the person who was wrong is reading this blog: One fairly effective way to resolve issues with amazon is to e-mail Bezos directly. See this link for a way to do that: http://ctwatchdog.com/business/what-is-jeff-bezos-email-address

    The thing is, that Jeff would actually WANT to hear this story, and if you find a way to let him know the heads would roll and corrective actions would be taken.

  197. She subscribed to amazon being fully aware that something like that could happen and yet still bought a kindle that she has no control and books that she didn’t bothered making a backup.

    I would like this to happen to more people so people would start to understand some things about using the internet and computers, it’s this mentality that shit only happens to others that make most computer users (and population in general) ignorant drones.

  198. Just found this:
    «Update @ 23:55 – Linn just contacted me to say her account has been mysteriously re-activated and she’s busily downloading her books. Hopefully Amazon will have more news for us all soon. Even positive arbitrary actions disclose how much Kindle customers read only with the grace of Amazon, of course…

    Update @ 00:30 – Amazon PR just wrote to say: «We would like to clarify our policy on this topic. Account status should not affect any customer’s ability to access their library. If any customer has trouble accessing their content, he or she should contact customer service for help. Thank you for your interest in Kindle.»»
    source: http://blogs.computerworlduk.com/simon-says/2012/10/rights-you-have-no-right-to-your-ebooks/index.htm

  199. Appeared on Daring Fireball (a very influentual Mac blogger) : http://daringfireball.net/linked/2012/10/22/amazon-drm

    Amazon reversed its decision : http://www.nrk.no/kultur-og-underholdning/1.8368487

  200. Thanks for the article, mate. I almost bought a kindle.

  201. Ah…! So Michael is the name of the mysterious Murphy with the famous law saying: If anything can go wrong, it will! It surely did for Linn.
    Anyway, whatever happened to common sense and decency? …Amazon! …anyone!

  202. I sent a question to amazon about this blog. This is the answer i got.

    Dear xxxxx,

    My name is Sean Murphy and I work within Amazon.co.uk Executive Customer Relations.

    I am contacting you on behalf of the office of the Amazon.co.uk Ltd Managing Director, Mr Christopher North. After reviewing your correspondence of October 22nd 2012, Mr North has requested that I respond to your e-mail.

    Rest assured however, Christopher takes e-mails like yours very seriously and is aware of the issue and our response both to you as well as internally to the various relevant departments.Hello,

    Thank you for contacting us.

    Account status should not affect any customer’s ability to access their library. If any customer has trouble accessing their content, he or she should contact customer service for help.

    Thank you for your interest in Kindle.

    Kind regards

    Seán Murphy
    Executive Customer Relations
    Amazon.co.uk
    http://www.amazon.co.uk
    ==========================

  203. I sent the following feedback to Amazon:

    Referring to a blog about Amazon’s poor customer service:
    http://www.bekkelund.net/2012/10/22/outlawed-by-amazon-drm/

    I was about to purchase the latest Kindle from Amazon.
    After reading how Amazon treated Linn, I decided to take my money
    elsewhere.

    Happy not to have done business with you!
    Pierre
    —————————————
    I received the following reply from Amazon:
    Hello Pierre,

    Thank you for contacting us.

    Account status should not affect any customer’s ability to access their library. If any customer has trouble accessing their content, he or she should contact customer service for help.
    Warmest Regards
    Aleksandra S

  204. I will never buy any digital content from Amazon ever again.

  205. Wow I pray it gets resolved appropriately for you. It certainly sounds like a complete stuffup! It is worrying to think you could loose all you have paid for with no really clear dispute resolution process in place!

  206. She should report them to the Better Business Bureau here in the U.S. It might help, it might not, but I’m guessing if they get a complaint through the BBB they’ll have to be a little more forthcoming with their explanation.

  207. I really can’t see getting upset over an unsubstantiated anecdotal account of something which might have happened to someone. This is not like the Orwell debacle that Amazon is still trying to smooth over.

    There is no direct evidence to base such a reaction; The person in question, if it actually occurred, may have brought it on themselves for any number of reasons, including DRM violations. I can’t just assume they’re on the side of the angels because their Kindle got de-rezzed.

    I extremely dislike fear-mongering against electronic publishing, though it appears to be the «in» thing nowadays.

    • There’s only one problem with your reasoning, if this story was false, then Amazon’s lawyers would already be going after this blog owner.

  208. WOW! I was going to order a kindle tomorrow. I just decided to get an Acer Iconia instead

  209. I also live in Norway, and use Amazon.com to download books to my Kindle ALL the time. I know this is the problem with DRM, that you are only buying a license and not an actual product. I’m horrified that Amazon would do this though, and would handle their customer service so poorly! I have to say that I love buying books on amazon.com because its easy, its especially good for someone living overseas looking for english books, and who wants to get them from and english site. I hope Amazon takes notice and restors this account!

  210. I worked for Amazon CS in Cork Ireland (the centre for ECS)& I also worked with «Michael Murphy» Not his real name. Unfortunately the shut down is mostly caused by customers buying stuff returning it as faulty, claiming a refund, keeping the 2 items etc. It can also be caused by buying ebooks and then asking for a refund. Having set up an account in the UK using a friends address etc might be the clue. Ask said friend if they have been stealing stuff from Amazon.

    Bill

  211. Ridiculous!

  212. Some websites are claiming that the problem is fixed by Amazon and Linn has full access to her account. Is that true? Could you please comment on that?

  213. Maybe Amazon closed her account because she had an amazon.com Account just to get the Kindle? Therefore she would have be forced to enter an US-American address lying about where she really lives.
    That amazon.com-Account could be than linked to her uk Account. And therefore both accounts might have been closed.
    Or some other Linn with the same lastname in the UK did something illegal.

    Anyhow, I now know once more why I read ePub-Books and not using a Kindle. You pay once and at least no one can take the file away from you. At least if you are a reasonable human being and do backup your personal files once in a while.

  214. Just to be clear: Do you mean she bought books, and Amazon erased them? This is a basic breach-of-contract. I can’t believe any language in the terms-of-service agreement saying Amazon could take back the stuff they sold her with no compensation would hold up in court.

  215. Mistakes do happen, but the way they handled it is just not cool.

  216. Well it helps to talk about it on the net. Amazon reversed the action.

    http://www.reghardware.com/2012/10/24/amazon_unwipes_previously_wiped_kindle/

  217. This is one of the most real Kafkasque story I’ve read. It is totally unbalanced, where the consumer left without any rights. Hoping this will cause some stir that can finally kill DRM.

    Why is not Amazon confident that their otherwise excellent service will be preferred by users without DRM and obscure terms of use?

    Anyway latest Security now Q&a (#375) has a passage on this particular case (besides beeing a general interesting SN episode for those interested in security and privacy topics.

  218. Thanks for the info.

    I’m not buying from amazon again.

  219. On a legal point it would appear Amazon.co.uk. can disable books bought through Amazon.com which might argue they are the same company. However Amazon UK appears to be separate and most orders seem to go to Luxembourg to evade paying tax in the UK and the US.

    So can a separate legal company be able to disable ebboks bought through another legal company. That sound very strange.

  220. Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t Linn indicate that she did NOT use a UK Amazon account, and she is perplexed as to why Amazon UK is cancelling her account?? So, truly, why is the UK contacting her at all?

    If, as she says, she dealt with and bought from Amazon dot com specifically, then she should address her complaints directly to them and skip this UK «customer service» bot who responds to her emails.

  221. I work in the fruad department of another company. To some extent, what amazon is saying makes sense. But the lack of information is wrong.

    Where I work, we will close accounts for association. Most of the time, the account can be reopened. If it’s for debt, we’ll reopen if it’s paid. If it’s a problem with the shipping address, we can reopen if we get another shipping address. Etc. Only in extreme circumstances will we close permanently, and even if we do, we will tell the customer why upon request. Even in cases of fraud, an account can be reopened if the customer can prove the information is legitimate, and we can prove that they are telling the truth. Sometimes it’s a hassle, but we’re also trying to protect the company.

    This doesn’t seem to excuse amazon’s actions. From personal experience, making a phone call can often get someone answers. As much as I hate being on the receiving end of those calls, they do tend to at least get some answers. (Just note, however, that the more you curse and threaten, the less likely anyone is going to help.)

    So I would advise that you find a phone number. A corporate number, not just customer service. Customer service cannot help you, and they cannot transfer you to the people who can. You need a corporate office number. At the very least, try writing again, not to the same guy though.

    • I own a software business, and from my perspective, Amazon is way out of line here – there is no moral circumstance under which you can sieze something back from a customer that has already been paid for – not without at least giving a refund. If a customer has paid for something, then they have paid for that thing.

  222. I emailed Amazon Customer Support to inquire about their take on this incident. Here’s what the Customer Service rep wrote back:
    _______________________________________
    From: Amazon.com [cs-reply@amazon.com]
    Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 9:19 AM
    To: Gabe Steinmann
    Subject: Your Amazon.com Kindle Inquiry

    Hello,

    Thanks for your recent inquiry about the Blog post.

    I would like to inform you that the blog post which is posted about Amazon is revoking a customers account is a rumor. Amazon.com does not comment about rumors or speculative news reports.

    However, I can assure you that we have not posted anything about Amazon revoking a customers account.This post is not accurate and I would request you to ignore these rumor and Blogs.

    If there is anything we can assist you with, please don’t hesitate to contact us you can reach us by phone directly and toll free from many countries by clicking the Contact Us option on our Kindle Support pages at:

    http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

    Thanks for your interest in Kindle. We look forward to assisting you.

    Thank you for your inquiry. Did I solve your problem?

    If yes, please click here:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A3HHRDAIVHW1Q9&k=hy

    If no, please click here:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A3HHRDAIVHW1Q9&k=hn

    Dharamveer D

    Amazon.com
    Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.
    To manage your Kindle and content online, visit:
    http://www.amazon.com/cs/manageyourkindle

    —- Original message: —-

    —————
    10/22/12 23:45:32
    Your Name: Gabriel B Steinmann
    Other info:Understanding your DRM policy
    Comments:I just recently found a commentary related to the draconian measure you took with a recent customer for whom you closed her account. See link below. http://www.bekkelund.net/2012/10/22/outlawed-by-amazon-drm/

    The response by Michael Murphy, Executive Customer Relations, Amazon.co.uk was entirely curt and inadequate. Essentially, you closed this woman’s account and gave her absolutely no help in gathering information from which she could defend her position. Is this as bad as the article portrays. I would appreciate an honest response. Please no canned response.

    • Interesting. I honestly can’t tell where I stand on the issue in light of this comment. I mean, of course Amazon is going to claim this never happened, but even then, Amazon was always one of the better companies in my book in this regard. I don’t know. It’s very easy to accuse someone of something like this and it’s probably better for Amazon to disregard this post officially.

      I’d say they’re trying pretty hard when it comes to physical goods, but I am still not sure about their download business. Kindle is a great device but it is in many ways artificially crippled. This may be due to licensing problems or just plain business maneuvering. Their Kindle support is alson not that great from what I know.

      In any way, they still have more + points than – in my book. I will still probably consider DRM free alternatives where applicable. It just seems to me, that although as a whole, digital content business is very profitable to amazon, it’s harder for them to justify providing quality support on single user levels.

      • Trust me, if this was just a «rumor» the response from Amazon would be a lot stronger, and involve legal action or formal legal threats against this blog owner already – you can bet the lawyers have already been called in to see what they can and can’t do. Such a meek response from Amazon actually confirms for me that this story may actually be more or less true.

  223. Ach SO!

    This is another example of Bad Profits, short term profit from this unfortunate customer that payed for a «service» from Amazon, how many people will she make aware of this incident.The image loss on Amazons` behalf can not be easily mended…

    This is a trend I`ve tried myself with bad quality and ridicilous support from Toshiba. This stems from the traditional company value model, where short term profits is the only value. There are other values such as customers delight. This must be stopped by moving towards more human management models like Radical Management. I recommend reading Stephen Dennings book on this subject…

  224. Thanks for bringing this eyeopener..

    Not the first customer being screwed by Amazon and their arrogant business style.
    -Remember how Assange was treated..??

    This time it seems to have been settled:

    http://blogs.computerworlduk.com/simon-says/2012/10/rights-you-have-no-right-to-your-ebooks/index.htm

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Bekkelund.net er en blogg av Martin Koksrud Bekkelund, hvor han lufter sine tanker om samspillet mellom teknologi, samfunn og politikk. Martin arbeider til daglig som direktør for produkt- og forretningsutvikling i et av Norges største selskaper. Les mer...

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