The problem began when Linn Jordet Nygaard, who is from Norway, began having issues with her Kindle. She contacted Amazon support about the problem and was told a new Kindle would be shipped to her. Nygaard told NBC News
"Two weeks ago my Kindle started showing stripes on the screen and I contacted Amazon support. Someone immediately found the Kindle in the system and told me they would replace it free of charge. They could only ship the replacement to UK because it was originally purchased there, and I told them I would find an address the next day. (I live in Norway, but have a friend who lives in London.)"
The next day, Nygaard tried to log in to her Amazon account but found it had been suspended. She contacted Amazon support once again and was passed on to an "account specialist". The specialist refused to speak directly to Nygaard, but did send her an email.
According to an Examiner
report, the email stated:
"We have found your account is directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies. As such, your Amazon.co.uk account has been closed and any open orders have been cancelled."
Nygaard claimed she was unaware of any other account and did not know exactly what "related" meant. Amazon responded by telling Nygaard:
"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."
When Nygaard continued to press the issue, Michael Murphy, an Amazon UK's Executive Customer Relations representative, said Nygaard's account was determined to be "directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies," but he would not tell her what account or what policies she had allegedly violated.
"Kindle Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider. The Content Provider may include additional terms for use within its Kindle Content. Your rights under this Agreement will automatically terminate if you fail to comply with any term of this Agreement. In case of such termination, you must cease all use of the Kindle Store and the Kindle Content, and Amazon may immediately revoke your access to the Kindle Store and the Kindle Content without refund of any fees. Amazon's failure to insist upon or enforce your strict compliance with this Agreement will not constitute a waiver of any of its rights."
According to Martin Bekkelund
, a Norwegian media commentator, the problem with Amazon's response and with their terms of service is that Amazon will not properly respond to customer inquiries or investigate if there has been a possible mistake.
Technology writer Cory Doctorow
may have shed some light on the violation when he stated:
"the policy violation that [Nygaard] stands accused of is using a friend's UK address to buy Amazon UK English Kindle books from Norway. Under Amazon's rules, this type of action is barred, as the publisher seeks to control what content is read in which territory of the world."
Nygaard's story has a happy ending. After she went public with her story, Amazon reinstated her account and restored her Kindle library. The matter does serve as a reminder to Kindle users however. Even though a user clicks a button that says "buy" they are not buying a book, they are merely buying a license which allows them to read the book. That license can be revoked at any time if, as in this case, Amazon feels the user has somehow violated the terms of service, even in it was unknowingly.