From The Wall Street Journal:
Even Amazon.com Inc. has its limits.
The e-commerce giant bans shoppers from the site for infractions such as returning too many items, sometimes without telling them what they did wrong.
Amazon has cultivated an image as a customer-friendly company in part by making it easy for shoppers to send back items they don’t want. The site’s lax return policies have conditioned consumers to expect the same treatment from other retailers, adding to pressure on brick-and-mortar chains. But shoppers are finding out there are some customers Amazon has determined aren’t worth keeping.
Nir Nissim received an email in March notifying him that his account had been closed because he violated the company’s conditions of use agreement. “You cannot open a new account or use another account to place orders on our site,” Amazon wrote.
. . . .
The 20-year-old, who works at an ice cream shop in Israel, said he had a $450 gift card balance that he could no longer use. “I contacted them almost every day for a week or two,” he said.
. . . .
“We want everyone to be able to use Amazon, but there are rare occasions where someone abuses our service over an extended period of time,” an Amazon spokesman said. “We never take these decisions lightly, but with over 300 million customers around the world, we take action when appropriate to protect the experience for all our customers.”
. . . .
Shira Golan, 23, said she spends thousands of dollars a year on Amazon, buying everything from clothes and shoes to groceries and toiletries. She said she has asked for refunds in the past on clothing and shoe orders, some of which she says were damaged or the wrong items. “I didn’t think it was so significant especially considering how much I buy,” she said.
Earlier this month her account was shut down without explanation, she said. The actuary, who lives in New York City, said she called and emailed the company to learn a reason for the closure. On May 10, she received a response saying she was terminated permanently because she “reported an unusual number of problems” with her orders. “I didn’t get any warning,” she said. “If I knew this would happen, I wouldn’t buy clothes and shoes on Amazon.”
. . . .
Retailers lose billions of dollars annually because of return abuse or fraud, which includes behavior such as requesting a refund for items that are used, stolen or bought somewhere else. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that chains such as Best Buy Co. and J.C. Penney Inc., have hired a third-party firm called Retail Equation to develop a “risk score” on each customer for the purpose of policing returns.
According to former Amazon managers, the company terminates accounts for behaviors including requesting too many refunds, sending back the wrong items or violating other rules, such as receiving compensation for writing reviews. Cases are typically evaluated by a human after algorithms surface the account as suspicious, they said.
It tends to happen when “you’re creating a lot of headaches for Amazon,” said Chris McCabe, a former policy enforcement investigator at Amazon and now a consultant at EcommerceChris LLC.
. . . .
“If your behavior is consistently outside the norm, you’re not really the kind of customer they want,” said James Thomson, a former senior manager at Amazon and now partner at brand consultancy Buy Box Experts.
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal