I am not the first to complain about Audible stealing credits away when a subscription is canceled, but thanks to a newly filed class action suit I might be the last.
LAw360 reports that a California man has filed a suit over Audible’s various deceptive policies, including credits which don’t roll over from one year to the next, and credits which disappear when you cancel a subscription:
Digital audiobook seller Audible Inc. and its parent company Amazon.com Inc. on Friday were hit with a putative class action suit in California federal court by a consumer alleging he was trapped in a “shell game” that violates gift card laws and deprived him of using credits he earned.
California resident Grant McKee says he signed up for an Audible free trial and believed the company’s advertised promise that he could buy prepaid credits that could be redeemed for an equal number of audiobooks, only to learn that he had been tricked into playing an illegal gift card scheme, or “shell game,” where his older credits would expire and get swapped for new credits if he accrued too many credits on Audible’s website.
“Mr. McKee signed up for an Audible membership relying on Audible’s and Amazon’s marketing and advertisements, including representations that one credit equals one audiobook, his membership plan included one audiobook each month, credits do not expire, and there are no strings attached if he cancels his membership plan,” the complaint said.
I can confirm the cancellation issue from personal experience. I had not heard about Audible depriving members of credits by not rolling them over from one year to the next, but it is mentioned in Audible’s help pages.
So the facts of the case are confirmed.
But does this rise to the level of breaking consumer protection laws? That is another question entirely.
What I find especially interesting about this suit is that the assumption that Audible users are buying credits, not audiobooks. When I complained about Audible’s policies last August, someone defended Audible with the argument that Audible wasn’t selling credits – they were selling audiobooks.
That argument was obviously nonsense; I paid Audible $15 each month and it credited me with a credit each month, and not an audiobook.
Even so, it is good to see that I am not the only one to reach that conclusion, and not the only one to object to Audible depriving users of their purchased credits.
With luck, the negative publicity will convince Amazon to change its policies.
Audible and Amazon were both contacted, and neither has replied with a comment.
image by kassy.miller