Ready the pillories; Amazon is being evil again. Reports are coming in today that Amazon is culling accounts in Germany. Frankfurter Allgemeine and lesen.net have independently that Amazon is on a rampage.
Their target: serial returnees.
Amazon's reputation for losing money willy-nilly notwithstanding, the retailer does have rules to cover even the least profitable customer. And this week looks to be the chosen time for Amazon to cull the worst offenders.
Returns are a serious issue with German retailers. Consumer protection laws guarantee that a consumer can return an item at the retailers expense. When a consumer abuses this and turns Amazon into their at-home showroom, the costs can add up quickly.
My sources are reporting that the ex-customers are cut off from their account and are not allowed to register for a new account.
What's even worse is that the ex-customers also lose access to their Kindle ebooks. One has even reported losing access to their account at audible.de.
Update: Amazon has said that this is not true. You should still be able to access your previously purchased ebooks:
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.
This should come as no surprise, though I do expect many to throw up their hands and scream in horror. Amazon has been culling customers for excess returns since at least 2009. This is at least the third major media spectacle over this topic that I know of, and there are probably others that I have not read about.
If you're wondering why I am not calling for pitchforks and torches, it is because this has happened before, and because it is one of the obvious and well-known problems with relying on cloud storage. If the servers go down, you lose access. If the DRM servers are turned off, you lose access. And if
Amazon cuts off your account then you lose access to your Kindle ebooks, video, mp3, and audiobooks.
None of this is new, and that's why my recommendation remains the same: only buy digital content which is fungible. If you can't remove the DRM and take the content elsewhere then it's not really yours.