Amazon.com, Inc. Steals Gift Card Balances; Callously Commits Fraud

Amazon.com Jolly Roger

The following is an email sent by me (Richard Thripp) on 9/22/2015 regarding the atrocious treatment I have recently received from Amazon.com, Inc., including the blacklisting/termination of my Amazon customer account and theft by Amazon.com, Inc., of my account’s legitimate gift card balance of $451.20. Following this email, I have included several prior emails and my original complaint to the Attorney General of Washington on 9/04/2015.

An introduction for the Attorney General of Washington, Consumer Protection Division; the Florida Attorney General’s Office, Office of Citizen Services; the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Consumer Services; the Federal Trade Commission; Jeffrey P. Bezos, Chairman of Amazon.com, Inc.; and Paul Dauber, Manager of Bystander Revolution, LLC:

At some point between 8/11/2015 and 8/25/2015, Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”) terminated my Amazon customer account with username [email address], which has an Amazon Gift Card balance of $451.20 attached to it, as well as an outstanding textbook rental.

Amazon has repeatedly obfuscated the termination of my Amazon customer account in phone conversations on 8/26/2015, 8/27/2015, 8/31/2015, 9/01/2015, 9/04/2015, and 9/15/2015, has failed to return my emails or phone calls, and on 9/19/2015 and 9/22/2015, in response to my complaint with the Attorney General of Washington (state), has admitted:

1.) My Amazon customer account is permanently closed,
2.) No refund of my gift card balance will be offered,
3.) Amazon refuses to elucidate any reasons for the closure of my account,
4.) Amazon refuses to offer any recourse or consider any appeals, and
5.) Amazon will not reply to or acknowledge any further communications from me.

Amazon has not alleged that I have violated any terms from Amazon’s “Conditions of Use.” Mr. Suresh Potnuru, who appears to be an Amazon “Account Specialist,” has stated the following:

I’d like to confirm the information Mr. Thripp’s received from our Account Specialist team is correct. As noted in our Conditions of Use, in the section, “Your Account”: “Amazon reserves the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders in its sole discretion.”

I maintain that this is manifestly illegal and is an example of corporate bullying.

To Mr. Suresh Potnuru of Amazon, Inc.,

Refusing to honor or issue a refund for my gift card balance of $451.20 is in violation of both Chapter 19.240 of the Revised Code of Washington and Florida Statute 501.95, which do not permit an expiration date for gift cards.

It is also in violation of Public Law 111-24 (the “CARD” act, 2009), a federal law.

Furthermore, Mr. Potnuru has alleged this theft is permitted under Amazon’s Conditions of Use, specifically: “Amazon reserves the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders in its sole discretion.” However, using such a provision in this manner is illegal at both state and federal levels: for example, 7 U.S. Code § 6b.

I have read the accounts of hundreds of other customers who have been similarly defrauded or mistreated by Amazon, such as those at Slickdeals.net. It appears to me that this pattern of fraud has been systematically orchestrated by Amazon and constitutes racketeering activity.

Please know that this matter will not simply “go away” by being ignored, as you have so tactfully promised: “However, we’ll not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters, and any further inquiries on this matter won’t receive a response.”

Please be informed that I will be publicizing and reporting your actions, and that any attempts to silence me may be considered as retaliation against a whistleblower.

Please note that you are also in violation of Amazon’s Textbook Rental Terms & Conditions, which state: “After the first 30 days of the rental period, you may initiate a textbook return through the Your Textbook Rentals page in your Amazon.com account.” As you have admitted, I cannot use the “Your Textbook Rentals” page (since my Amazon account has been terminated), nor am I being afforded the free return shipping that was advertised when I initiated the textbook rental, despite having paid a $4.98 fee for shipping and handling.

Regarding the termination of my Amazon customer account, please issue a check for $451.20 to:

RICHARD THRIPP
[Address]

Please provide a postage-paid return shipping label for my textbook, Learning and Instruction (2nd Edition), in respect to Amazon order # 002-XXXXXXX-XXXXXXX. Please note that the textbook is not due to be returned until 12/19/2015.

To Mr. Jeffrey P. Bezos, Chariman and CEO of Amazon, Inc.,

I suggest you reevaluate your corporate priorities, because you cannot expect to bully and defraud a minority of your customers without them becoming agitated. The benefits you reap from stealing your customers’ gift card balances and other balances will not outweigh the outrage, in the long run.

I suggest that you should instruct your customers to avoid doing business with Amazon or use an abundance of caution, since it is clear that Amazon is willing to commit fraud, with fraudulent intent, unabashedly and without fear of being punished under the laws of the United States, the laws of the State of Washington, the laws of the states and territories where their customers reside, nor litigation in small claims court.

The fish rots from the head, so to speak.

Perhaps you should add the Jolly Roger to your logo?

Here is a suggestion for your new slogan: “Welcome to Amazon.com — the online retailer that steals your gift card balance and tells you to fuck off.”

Sincerely,
Richard Thripp

**********************************************************************

The 2nd (personal) reply from Amazon.com regarding my Washington AG complaint, on 9/22/2015, where they tell me, in purposefully patronizing terms, to fuck off:

Hello,

I’m sorry for any inconvenience caused by the closing of your Amazon.com account.

I’ve reviewed the account and our previous communications with you, and can confirm the decision was a valid one.

Please note this isn’t a decision we can reconsider, and we won’t be able to issue a refund for the gift card balance.

Regarding textbook rental: You can use the following address to return your Amazon.com Textbook Rental.

Amazon Textbook Rental Returns
1085 Aviation Blvd
Hebron, KY 41048

You must return your rental prior to the scheduled due date in order to avoid any additional charges. You can return the rental using the carrier of your choice. Since you’re not using a pre-paid mailing label provided by Amazon, you’ll be responsible for any return shipping fees.

I realize you’re upset, and I regret we’ve been unable to address your concerns to your satisfaction. However, we’ll not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters, and any further inquiries on this matter won’t receive a response.

We appreciate your understanding.

Best regards,
Suresh P.

**********************************************************************

An excerpt from the Washington AG’s reply on 9/21/2015, where they wash their hands of the matter:

The Consumer Resource Center of the Attorney General’s Office received the enclosed response from Amazon.com regarding the consumer complaint you filed with our office.

We realize you may not consider this response a satisfactory resolution to your complaint; however, the Consumer Resource Center cannot compel a business to respond or to make an adjustment in resolution of a dispute. Your complaint has been closed accordingly.

We regret that we are unable to provide further assistance to you regarding this complaint. If you would like to pursue the matter further, you may wish to contact the Small Claims Court in your county, or a private attorney for legal advice.

**********************************************************************

My reply to Amazon.com, on 9/19/2015:

Hello,

Can you provide a timeframe for when and how you will disburse the gift card balance of $451.20 from the account?

I do not believe you have provided a legal basis to seize the gift card funds.

Also, note that it is NOT correct that I received any information from Amazon’s Account Specialist team. In all cases, I was ignored by them. I only pieced together information from reading the accounts of other blacklisted customers online, and from the cryptic information provided by Amazon’s Customer Service department. Multiple times, I was told I would be contacted within 24 hours by an Account Specialist, which never happened.

This is in bad faith, given that Amazon has blacklisted me and BOTH refuses to discuss the matter AND refuses to even confirm nor deny that I was blacklisted, until now.

This matter is NOT resolved until I receive a full refund for my gift card balance, as required by law.

Also, please inform me how I am intended to return my textbook rental that is due back on 12/19/2015 if I am unable to log in and print a return shipping label? I will be using the textbook for one of my classes through mid-December, so I am unable to return it early. Am I to assume that Amazon intends me to shoulder the return-shipping cost, in contradiction to the textbook rental terms? Can I expect that Amazon will charge me the full buyout price of the textbook regardless of what action I take? It seems as such, given Amazon’s extra-legal activities to date.

Sincerely,
Richard Thripp

**********************************************************************

The 1st reply from Amazon.com regarding my Washington AG complaint, on 9/19/2015:

Dear Andrew,

I’m Suresh Potnuru of Amazon.com. I’m responding to Mr. Richard Thripp’s subject matter complaint, and copying him for his reference.

I’m sorry for the trouble Mr. Thripp’s had in accessing his account.

I’d like to confirm the information Mr. Thripp’s received from our Account Specialist team is correct. As noted in our Conditions of Use, in the section, “Your Account”: “Amazon reserves the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders in its sole discretion.”

Mr. Thripp can review our Conditions of Use here:

www.amazon.com/conditionsofuse

Due to the proprietary nature of our business, we’re unable to discuss with Mr. Thripp, and the decision to close his account is a final one.

Regarding gift card balance: At this time we may not be able to issue a refund to Mr. Thripp for his gift card balance.

Please contact me directly by replying to this email if I can be of further assistance.

Best regards,
Suresh P.

Thank you.
Amazon.com

**********************************************************************

My original complaint to the Attorney General of Washington on 9/04/2015:

As of 8/25/2015, Amazon has suspended my account with email address [email address] and refuses to relinquish the existing Gift Card Balance of $451.20 that was present on my account, despite repeated attempts to contact them via phone and email on 8/26/2015, 8/27/2015, 8/31/2015, 9/01/2015, and 9/04/2015.

From speaking with multiple phone service representatives via calling in at 888-280-4331, I have repeatedly been told my account is “on hold,” possibly due to a discrepancy with my billing information or mailing address. I have repeatedly provided my correct name and billing address (which also matches the information on my Amazon account), and have been told I would receive a reply within 24 hours, but in no case has a reply ever been received.

Amazon has neglected to reply to multiple emails sent by me via their online form at www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/contact-us.

Amazon provides no legitimate reason for this suspension, nor any timeframe for it being investigated or resolved. I attest that the gift card balance on the account was acquired from legitimate sources and that no illegal activity nor activity that is knowingly in violation of Amazon’s terms has occurred on the account. Further, in none of the phone calls with Amazon has Amazon alleged that any of these factors are in question.

No notice of the suspension was given via phone, email, nor postal mail (to date). I am unable to log in to my Amazon account due to receiving the error message “There was an error with your E-Mail/ Password combination. Please try again,” which persists even after resetting my Amazon password. Only after my initial call to 888-280-4331 on 8/26/2015 was I informed by a customer service agent that my account is “on hold.”

**********************************************************************

In conclusion, I am angry because Amazon has stolen $451.20 from me and is basically laughing in my face about it. Amazon has acted unethically and illegally, and should be the subject of scorn and derision for gift-card related crimes and other crimes, including mistreating their employees and warehouse staff, about which many stories can be found online.

Amazon.com Jolly Roger

12 thoughts on “Amazon.com, Inc. Steals Gift Card Balances; Callously Commits Fraud

  1. They just got me for over $1300 dollars because I used my aunts debit card after she filed a dispute with her bank about a purchase from Amazon on her account. They will not answer my emails won’t call us back won’t acknowledge anything. I think we should all get together and file a class action lawsuit against these thieving bastards. Who’s in it to win it? Any body down? Call me 318-541-2795

    1. Apologies for my delay in approving your comment. That is ridiculous! Although there have been other class action suits against Amazon, for issues with withholding marketplace sellers’ payments, I think countering Amazon’s theft of gift cards through public criticism, AGO complaints, and small claims court is more effective.

  2. Please i need your help, i hava a similar case like yours, im from Venezuela a very screw country sorr for my english, and amazon stole my money like they did to you, but i my case i think was worst, they only close my account without previous advice. heres a copy of the last mail i recived from them:

    Amazon:

    Hello,

    Thanks for writing back.

    I have checked and see that you have not been charged for the cancelled orders.

    We closed your account because you reported an unusual number of problems with your orders. As a result, your unused gift card balance is no longer available.

    We may not reply to further emails about this refund request.

    Best regards,

    Account Specialist
    Amazon.com

    —- Original message: —-

    How can this be possible? how is that im going to lose my 300$ dollars?
    Also you charged me 9.89$ dollars from my debit card with the last order
    you cancelled, i have my account movement, i can see you charged me. You
    must explain to me why you closed my account, you said due to another
    account with my name, i have only one account with the mail
    jessicaserranopinto@gmail.com, the one you closed, i have all the proof
    that account is mine, the billing address, the shipping address, the debit
    card i used, everything is legit. I need a precise explanation why you
    suggested that i didnt meet your user agreement, i think Amazon.com must
    give all my money back, remember you cant keep with my money, the one in my
    account, and the one in gift card balance that i purchased.

    1. Carlos and I are in contact by email. He has also posted an Elliott.org discussion thread at:
      http://forum.elliott.org/threads/amazon-com-closed-my-account-deny-refund-of-gift-card-balance.4521/

      More of my comments on this:

      Carlos contacted me by email from finding my Amazon story via web search. I literally get complaints every week from customers who have had their gift cards stolen by Amazon. While some are trading in BitCoin, I don’t think this is the case here.

      Amazon continues to make ridiculous, self-incriminating statements in cases like these. To Carlos, above, we see they said: “As a result, your unused gift card balance is no longer available.”

      Here, they have admitted there is a gift card balance, it has not been used, and it is “no longer available.”

      Then, they say there is no appeal and no explanation will be given.

      This is not a legally tenable position. Sure, if they were Ebates cashback or Fuel Rewards, the company could take them away for any reason at all. But gift cards are not quite the same, and it’s surprising Amazon still believes they can be treated so capriciously.

  3. Absolutely the case with me, just not as much money. My gift card balance straight up disappeared. It was not auto-applied to my last purchase, nor to my next, and was nowhere to be found, making it impossible to buy a gift for my little cousin. What’s worse: there is literally no recourse. I’ve wasted hours trying to get to any human being who even can hear my problem. Fuck this company to death. I will never, ever. Ever.

    1. That is strange! Did you check your balance history? Maybe they marked it as a stolen gift card or a gift card purchased with a stolen credit card or something like that. I agree that you will likely not be able to get any recourse. The only thing that seems to work is getting consumer advocates to contact Amazon executives on LinkedIn. LOL. That’s what did it for me.

  4. I had $400 in gift card balance and lost it all because they closed my account due to ONE return. Suffice to say they closed it and would not refund me my gift card balance.

    I am absolutely appalled and I have no idea how this company is able to get away with this.

    1. That is ridiculous! Amazon basically acts like they are above the law. I encourage you to seek redress as I have. They ended up settling with me but it took a huge amount of complaining.

      1. How did you get them to settle . I have the same issue going on right now. They told me they won’t pay me the remaining funds on my account.

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