Amazon, and the strange case of the disappearing Kindle library...

Bitterwallet - win an Amazon Kindle 3G Imagine if someone came round to your house, stormed in, took all of your books off your shelves and set fire to them in front of your very eyes. You'd think you were living in some kind of dictatorship, right?

According to a blog (yes, sigh, we know) that's kind of what has happened to avid reader Linn (no surname), except in a digital sense as opposed to a physical one.

The other day, as if by crap magic, Amazon closed her account and wiped her Kindle. All the e-books that she'd bought from them in the past – gone. Linn was concerned by this and emailed Amazon, asking them what the flipping heck was going in. Starting with their initial reply, here is the frustrating game of email tennis that ensued…

Dear Linn [last name],
My name is Michael Murphy and I represent Executive Customer Relations within One of our mandates is to address the most acute account and order problems, and in this capacity your account and orders have been brought to my attention.
We have found your account is directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies. As such, your account has been closed and any open orders have been cancelled.
Per our Conditions of Use which state in part: and its affiliates reserve the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders at their sole discretion.
Please know that any attempt to open a new account will meet with the same action.
You may direct any questions to me at [email protected]
Thank you for your attention to this email.
Michael Murphy
Executive Customer Relations

Dear Michael Murphy,
I am very surprised to read your email. What do you mean by “directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies". I can only remember ever having this one account, and I use it quite regularly to buy books for my Kindle, as you probably can see by my purchase history. How can there suddenly be a problem now? I use and not for my Kindle, does that make any difference?
I sincerely hope you can help me solve this matter, because I would very much like to have my account reopened. And please let me know if there is any action I can take to help.
Best regards,
Linn [last name]
[Linn's phone number]
Dear Linn [last name],
As previously advised, your account has been closed, as it has come to our attention that this account is related to a previously blocked account. While we are unable to provide detailed information on how we link related accounts, please know that we have reviewed your account on the basis of the information provided and regret to inform you that it will not be reopened.
Please understand that the closure of an account is a permanent action. Any subsequent accounts that are opened will be closed as well. Thank you for your understanding with our decision.
I appreciate this is not the outcome you hoped for and apologise for any disappointment this may cause.
Michael Murphy
Executive Customer Relations

Dear Michael Murphy,
Is it correct that you cannot give me any information about
1. How my account is linked to the blocked account
2. The name/id of the related blocked account
3. What policy that was violated
I have no knowledge about any other account that could be related to mine, and cannot understand how I could have violated your policies in any way.
Linn [last name]
Dear Linn [last name],
We regret that we have not been able to address your concerns to your satisfaction. Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters.
We wish you luck in locating a retailer better able to meet your needs and will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters.
Thank you for your attention to this email.
Michael Murphy
Executive Customer Relations

Linn is now massively confused and is unaware of violating any of Amazon's terms. Maybe she did, maybe she didn't. Either way, she's been stonewalled by them and is completely baffled as to what has happened.

Oh, and all of her e-books have vanished. NOW WHAT?


  • waffle
    now what? if she paid by credit card she should contact her bank to arrange a chargeback. presumably amazon would need to give the bank a better reason for the money not to be refunded. if she paid by other means then a small court claim or try phoning someone at amazon. it's easier to avoid questions by email
  • Russ
    Hope that we hear more about this, Amazon should be bought to book
  • Interesting
    It would appear that all the ebooks i bought on my kindle are really only "hired" then... Surely if Linn was to be blocked she would have a right to any material she purchased? Am i the only one who didn't realise this?
  • The M.
    I agree with Russ! Keep on this Bitter Wallet, maybe you could contact Amazon and asking them how all this would work in a hypothetical situation. Over all we're starting to see the huge downsides of ebooks and especially of Amazon's fuck it approach to the book buying market. If I were Linn I'd be onto some of the tabloids about this and then see how quickly Amazon react. I'd imagine she can request her entire file from Amazon, all the info they have on her under the DPA and see if that helps at all.
  • Steve
    This is nothing short of THEFT and she should immediately take legal action against Amazon. As stupid as our legal system is, she will still win (assuming she isn't lying).
  • PH
    re: ownership. There is the case with Bruce Willis and ownership of music and a fight with iTunes. But this makes for interesting reading.
  • Mike C.
    Simple solution, Illegally download all your books and self install them :-)
  • Sawyer
    This sort of thing is worrying. Especially with the arrival of the Kindle Fire, Amazon is selling a service moreso than it is selling goods. Given that these aren't pay-as-you-go services and require significant investment in the form of buying e-readers/tablets and content, the fact they can be stopped without explanation or compensation makes me hesitant to put any further eggs in my Amazon basket. Will be interested on seeing a follow-up as others have said. Go Bitterwallet: you've got scope for a decent investigation here, no copy-paste needed.
  • Spencer
    make a formal claim under the freedom of information act. in the meantime download them. out of interest doesn't that render the kindle ebook reader useless? in that at any point Amazon can wipe it and stop you downloading anything else to it... for no reason... nor do they have to explain or justify why.... even if in their error?
  • Chris
    Just reading up on the Kindle T&C's.... the books etc that you download to your Kindle are only on loan, not sold to you.... they dont tell you that up front on the flashy marketing stuff, do they? Copied from Amazon Kindle Website: "Use of Digital Content. Upon your download of Digital Content and payment of any applicable fees (including applicable taxes), the Content Provider grants you a non-exclusive right to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Kindle or a Reading Application or as otherwise permitted as part of the Service, solely on the number of Kindles or Other Devices specified in the Kindle Store, and solely for your personal, non-commercial use. Unless otherwise specified, Digital Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider. The Content Provider may include additional terms of use within its Digital Content. Those terms will also apply, but this Agreement will govern in the event of a conflict. Some Digital Content, such as Periodicals, may not be available to you through Reading Applications."
  • Martin
    I'm not sure if this seems like "1984" or "Catch -22". You have been accused of a crime (violating some policy) but we're not going to tell you what it is, just convict you and sentence you without any chance to defend yourself, and carry out that sentence forthwith without any prior notice or chance of appeal. This is ridiculous, and an abuse of common law (the right to know what you are accused of and to defend yourself)
  • delbert
    >spencer Pretty sure freedom of information act only applies to publicly funded organisations (councils, govt. depts etc). Not private companies.
  • Chunter
    'make a formal claim under the freedom of information act.' Claim against whom? The FoI Act does not apply to private businesses.
  • Chewbacca
    @ delbert, chunter Indeed the FoI does NOT apply to private cos. The DPA does, however. This whole shebang sets a worrying precedent. Any company (apple/iTunes, microsoft/xbox, sony/ps3 etc.) essentially can lock and remotely wipe your content if you don't play nice without even refunding you. Dangerous stuff, and I'd wager, perfectly legal.
  • Allan
    Small claims court.
  • Martin
    She broke the terms and conditions by buying books using someone elses credit card in a country that does not allow you to buy those books therefore deliberatly bypassing the rules set out by Amazon. It wasn't a mistake, she did it on purpose knowing she wasn't able to buy that book in her country. So instead of illegally downloading it like everyone else she broke the rules. Unfortunately Amazon know this and therefore, under the terms and conditions SHE AGREED TO they closed her account. It majorly sucks, of course it does, and who wants to lose everything? But it's very clear why it happened. Try not breaking the terms of the company and they (generally) won't screw you over in return.
  • steve
    "wiped her Kindle." She has confirmed this isn't true. The story appears to be more complex than posted.
  • Avon B.
    @ Martin I'm sure you're right, but when you want an online service or need to install a program, shouldn't there be a third option to the often fascist Terms & Conditions? Accept, Decline, and What Choice Do I Have?
  • Lewis
    EA did the same thing to me and removed my access to all my origin games without telling me why. I emailed all their directors and got a phone call from head office in the US within an hour - it soon got sorted after that. I would advise anyone to do the same as most of these bods are reading from a script. You have to go to the top to get anything done - not how things should be.
  • great s.
    Welcome to the brave new digital world. "The Man" controls all your digital content (eg "cloud" stuff) & can cut you off when thay like. Perhaps they'll decide to charge again for previously "owned" content isfter a period of time-easy money! Best to buy REAL items & DO WHAT YOU WANT with them-sell, loan, copy (cds etc), donate to charity (can't do that with e-books).
  • DAVID C.
    Make a Data Protection Act request - remember to enclose £10 cheque and send recorded delivery. Get the info you need and if not to your satisfaction send - Letter before action 14 days to resolve. Final letter before action 14 days to resolve. Moneyclaim online, file a N1 and watch them squirm.
  • Numpty D.
    @Martin Why didnt amazon tll her this in their email replies then? @ Great Scott Great post!
  • Andrew
    Take them to small claims. And write an email to the CEO, head of Kindle operations and the legal department.
  • Spencer
    I think we can all agree that the simple lesson here is you are ALWAYS better off downloading for free rather than trying to pay for things. she's tried to do the honorable descent thing by paying for her entertainment and look where it got her.
  • Ben
    Martin - you are wrong. She is Norwegian. redirects to and Norwegian users are allowed to purchase at both and
  • Ben
    Steve - they DID wipe her Kindle.
  • Tom
    Amazon are bastards when it comes to stuff like this. They'll ignore you until the small claims papers land on their desk, then they'll get in touch. Speaking from experience.
  • Sawyer
    Worth mentioning as an update that Amazon have quietly restored her account. However they haven't apologised or provided any sort of explanation. Shame, cos that means this story will just die away. It's still put me off buying a Kindle Fire. Not that I will anyway until they've fixed the disaster that is the UK Cloud Player launch.

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