Category Archives: The Case Against Amazon.com, Inc.

Amazon.com, Inc. digs a deeper hole for themselves

Below, in reverse chronological order (most recent to oldest; start at the bottom of this post and scroll up if you wish to read in chronological order):

9/30/2015: My rejection of Amazon.com, Inc.’s second BBB response; also carbon copied two other agencies
9/29/2015: Amazon.com’s second response to my BBB complaint
9/28/2015: My rejection of Amazon.com, Inc.’s first BBB response
9/28/2015: Amazon.com, Inc.’s first response to my BBB complaint
9/24/2015: See this blog post for my initial BBB complaint (scroll down)
9/22/2015 and earlier: See this blog post for prior email exchanges with Amazon.com, Inc. and the Washington Attorney General’s office

September 30, 2015

Better Business Bureau of Alaska, Oregon, and Western Washington, case #: 10830673
Washington Attorney General’s office file #: 471704
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reference #: 1509-37467 / MLH

Hello,

Amazon.com, Inc. has stated, in response to my complaint regarding their theft of my Amazon.com gift card balance of $451.20 and termination of my Amazon.com customer account, that their actions are justified based on their Conditions of Use stating that “Amazon reserves the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders in its sole discretion.”

This is quite an amazing response. It is in blatant violation of the CARD act, Chapter 19.240 of the Revised Code of Washington, and Florida Statute 501.95, which do not allow an expiration date on gift card funds.

Since Amazon.com’s legal department will not answer calls from me, I left a voicemail for them on 9/22/2015. I also sent them a fax at 206-266-7010 on 9/24/2015. They have ignored me.

It is my belief that Amazon.com, Inc. is only digging a deeper hole for themselves; they are allowing me to compile a rather large paper trail indicating that they deliberately mislead, ignore communication, and have repeatedly presented a position that is completely untenable, in reply to my complaints to the Washington Attorney General’s office and Better Business Bureau.

Amazon.com, Inc. should not take this matter so lightly. Their actions may have dire consequences in the long run.

I ask the Better Business Bureau of Alaska, Oregon, and Western Washington, the Washington Attorney General’s office, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to consider my remarks and the below reply received from Amazon on 9/29/2015. Please also note that we are dealing with merchant gift cards which have special protections under the law. These are NOT promotional gift cards, rewards credits, or coupons that have been seized. Gift cards are of a different class. Unless Amazon.com, Inc. is in bankruptcy, they are legally obliged to honor my gift card balance of $451.20, or offer a refund.

Sincerely,
Richard Thripp

________________________________________
From: Amazon.com
Sent: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 4:37 AM
To: Richard Thripp
Subject: Your Amazon.com Inquiry – BBB Complaint ID: 10830673

Hello Richard,

I’m writing in response to a complaint filed on your behalf by the Better Business Bureau BBB – I’ve provided the BBB with a copy of this message.

I understand that you want us to provide the exact information justifying our decision.

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.”

You may review our full Conditions of Use by selecting the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeId=508088

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

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 will not receive a response.

We appreciate your understanding.

==========================

Information received: 9/28/2015

==========================

Consumer Information

Richard Thripp
[Address]
[Phone Number]

==========================

Complaint filed against:
NAME: Amazon.com
BBB MEMBER: YES

==========================

Latest correspondence: I am rejecting this response because:

This response is identical to the response that Amazon.com, Inc. provided to the Washington Attorney General’s office.

It is NOT acceptable, because Amazon.com, Inc. has no legal basis to steal my gift card balance of $451.20.

Furthermore, Amazon.com, Inc. has declined to provide further information justifying their decision.

Many of the gift cards that I had applied to my account were purchased by me, and it would be possible for me to provide bank statements and compile a comprehensive list of gift card codes and sources, with several hours of work. This process is made much harder based on the fact that Amazon has terminated my account and willfully removed all access to my gift card redemption history and all other account-related information, in an effort to obstruct my ability to construct my case. However, Amazon retains all information and records for their benefit.

Recently, I tried calling into Amazon’s corporate office (no one there will help my, anyway) on a recorded line. Once announcing I was on a recorded line, I was informed their policy is to reject all such calls. However, they record every call and announce as such. This is hypocritical and is one of many examples of Amazon’s attempts to create an uneven playing field for their benefit.

Please request a satisfactory response from Amazon.com, Inc. on my behalf. I am willing to take this to small claims court, though I would prefer to avoid the hassle if Amazon.com, Inc. will just be reasonable about this.

====================================================

Best regards,

Suresh P.
http://www.amazon.com
=============================

Amazon’s initial response to my 9/24/2015 BBB complaint, received 9/28/2015 (note it is basically identical to their response to my prior complaint with the WA Attorney General)

Dear Richard Thripp :

This message is in regard to your complaint submitted on 9/24/2015 4:44:15 PM against Amazon.com. Your complaint was assigned ID 10830673.

BBB has received a message from the business regarding your complaint. Please review this information below and provide BBB with a written rebuttal. All responses with be copied to the business for their review.

Please provide your response within 7 calendar days so as to avoid closure of the complaint as assumed resolved.

Sincerely,

Megan Holstine
Dispute Resolution Consultant

MESSAGE FROM BUSINESS:

Hello Richard,

I’m Suresh of Amazon.com. I’m writing in response to a complaint filed on your behalf by the Better Business Bureau BBB – I’ve provided the BBB with a copy of this message.

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 will not receive a response.

We appreciate your understanding.

Regards,
Suresh P.
Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com

New email to Amazon.com, Inc., 2015-09-24

Over two days have passed and, like they said they would, Amazon.com, Inc. has ignored my communication from 2015-09-22.

Today, 2015-09-24, I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau of Alaska, Oregon & Western Washington, and send Amazon.com, Inc. this email, informing them of the tenacity they can expect from me regarding this matter.

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

Hello,

Refusing to refund my Amazon gift card balance of $451.20 is not an acceptable answer, regardless of how many further inquiries you ignore.

While these tactics may work with a typical customer, they will not work with me. I am not going away and I have many other avenues of recourse besides the Washington Attorney General’s office.

I submitted a complaint to the Better Business Bureau today. I have many other agencies I can contact:

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Federal Trade Commission
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
Local police
Local news agencies
Informing other Amazon customers of Amazon’s fraud via blogging, social networking, and online forums

You can expect that I will be pursuing all of these avenues and more over the coming weeks, months, and even years if necessary. I may even be willing to exert efforts disproportionately large to the amount in question, to reveal Amazon.com, Inc.’s fraud and bring this matter to justice.

As a resident of Florida, I am afforded additional protection under Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

You can also expect small claims litigation originating from Volusia County, FL, for which you will have to send a representative from Seattle to contest.

Sincerely,
Richard Thripp

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

Here is my complaint to the Better Business Bureau of Alaska, Oregon & Western Washington (DuPont, WA), sent 2015-09-24:

Tell Us About Your Problem: Amazon has terminated my customer account and acknowledges, but refuses to refund, the gift card balance on the account of $451.20. Amazon has stated that they will not discuss the reason for my account being terminated due to the “proprietary” nature of their business, that their decision to withhold the gift card balance is final, and that they will not respond to any further contact from me. They actually have the nerve to say on record to the Attorney General of Washington that my account termination and the failure to remit my gift card balance is valid under the section of their Conditions of Use saying “Amazon reserves the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders in its sole discretion.” I have received nothing but misdirection, obfuscation, rudeness, and patronizing statements in reply to numerous emails and calls to Amazon since noticing my account was rendered inaccessible as of 8/25/2015.

Desired outcome: I request a refund of $451.20 for my gift card balance. I also request a textbook return shipping label for my outstanding textbook rental, due back 12/19/2015. Amazon is in violation of their textbook rental terms, since it was advertised that they pay for the return shipping, but Amazon has said on record that I will be responsible for the return shipping costs due to my account being terminated.

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

I also left a voicemail with Amazon’s legal department on 2015-09-22 and sent them a fax at 206-266-7010 on 2015-09-24. They have not replied.

Hypocritically, a representative at Amazon.com, Inc.’s corporate offices refused to speak with me when I announced I was calling on a recorded line. He said as a matter of policy, Amazon does not accept recorded calls. However, they record all calls on their end.

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.”

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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