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Old 04-11-2018, 07:16 AM   #61
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In my opinion the number of these "innocent" cancellations are so small as to be easily ignored. And of the few cases that have made a "big" internet stink over the years, I've not been at all convinced of the aggrieved party's total innocence. As such, I fail to see why anything needs to be done at all. The algorithms seem to be working. And while I agree it would be great if they were a little more forthcoming about such actions, I don't see that it rises anywhere near to the level that would require government intervention. Not in the US anyway. Failure to to maintain their delicate "balancing act" will come with it's own inherent punishment. People don't need protection from businesses that fail to maintain their trust/respect.
They may not be more forthcoming because they don't know with absolute certainty for individual cases. It isn't that they CAN'T find out, but that the perceived cost is greater than the return makes it unlikely to be investigated.

It is only when those algorithms cause embarrassment, or clearly indicate that something is wrong is when they truly look into any 'whys'; and even then, it is likely only to make sure the system is working the way they want it to work.

As a consumer, I think that sucks! But, I have to admit, as a retired database manager, that is the course I would likely recommend from a business perspective.

As a KU subscriber and a prime subscriber, I make an occasional media purchase. Along with almost 100% of by books are bought for my Kindle enabled devices, I think I spend a lot of money at Amazon; but let's be honest, individually, they won't even notice when I'm gone! Even missing a few hundred people like me is statistically irrelevant.

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Old 04-11-2018, 07:38 AM   #62
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You may be right. Or not. On the one hand, the percentage of accounts with these problems must be absolutely miniscule compared to the number of accounts Amazon have. On the other hand, just some of the Posts in this thread indicate Amazon's reputation has been damaged in the eyes of at least some.

I'm generally no fan of government intervention. But sometimes it is necessary. Total Laissez-Faire economies are long gone. I find that Governments are far too ready to intercede in areas that should not concern them and that when they do they usually do it badly. And people often don't take into account the army of public servants often required to administer every new area in which government becomes involved.

The problem Amazon has now is that it has become so big that it is very much in the public eye, and it has made powerful enemies. And it has become very important in the lives of many Americans. As I mentioned in an earlier post, anecdotally Amazon Prime is a real boon to many in rural areas, and they would miss if it was withheld from them. Yes, these people can get by without it, but should they have to. For them there is a much higher cost and inconvenience in showing their displeasure with Amazon by taking their custom elsewhere.

If you are right on this then Amazon can just continue on as is. Personally I suspect that if they continue to cancel accounts without even providing reasons they are going to run into significant problems.
I suspect you are pretty much spot on with regards to what is happening and why. They are all about cost savings and playing hardball. Amazon has gotten quite a bit of bad press over the past several years because of their apparent arrogance and high handedness. I can very much see it hitting a tipping point.
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Old 04-11-2018, 07:45 AM   #63
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They may not be more forthcoming because they don't know with absolute certainty for individual cases. It isn't that they CAN'T find out, but that the perceived cost is greater than the return makes it unlikely to be investigated.

It is only when those algorithms cause embarrassment, or clearly indicate that something is wrong is when they truly look into any 'whys'; and even then, it is likely only to make sure the system is working the way they want it to work.

As a consumer, I think that sucks! But, I have to admit, as a retired database manager, that is the course I would likely recommend from a business perspective.

As a KU subscriber and a prime subscriber, I make an occasional media purchase. Along with almost 100% of by books are bought for my Kindle enabled devices, I think I spend a lot of money at Amazon; but let's be honest, individually, they won't even notice when I'm gone! Even missing a few hundred people like me is statistically irrelevant.
It doesn't really take very long for things to start snowballing on a company. In 1995, B&N was on top of the world. Online companies require trust to get people to buy something, sight unseen. Once you lose the public's trust, it's very hard to get it back. The biggest thing is for a company to recognize that there is a problem and work to fix it, but companies are rarely able to do that.
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:02 AM   #64
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I suspect in many countries, perhaps even the US, government may intervene if Amazon is too heavy-handed in this area and enough mistakes are made.
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I'm generally no fan of government intervention.
Just out of curiosity, is it normal for the government to intervene in the procedures of a private company? Can the government dictate how a company deals with their customers? How so?
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Old 04-11-2018, 01:28 PM   #65
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Just out of curiosity, is it normal for the government to intervene in the procedures of a private company? Can the government dictate how a company deals with their customers? How so?
It can happen in a number of ways and is different for different countries. For example, in the US:

There is usually a specific regulatory agency that has oversight of this domain. In this case, I think it is the FTC. For them to investigate, they will need to receive some threshold of customer complaints.

Another way is through the court system. If someone manages to bring a lawsuit against amazon for this problem and actually win, the verdict will represent a legal baseline for future behavior of companies in this context. More likely, Amazon will find a way to dismiss these suits or settle. Occasionally, the consumer can win: This has happened in EU before - see https://the-digital-reader.com/2016/...ital+Reader%29

It is also possible for the government to pass some bills that define/modify laws that apply to this domain - usually this takes significant lobbying efforts. The result usually means the corresponding regulatory agencies will evaluate whether the businesses adhere to these laws after they become applicable.

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Old 04-11-2018, 06:49 PM   #66
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Just out of curiosity, is it normal for the government to intervene in the procedures of a private company? Can the government dictate how a company deals with their customers? How so?
Very normal everywhere. Gimble pointed out some of the ways this can happen. One way which he only touched upon is lobbying. In a democracy it is usually the squeaky hinge which gets the oil. It goes something like this. A consumer lobby group is formed. This can be at the instigation of genuinely outraged customers or orchestrated by others for their own purposes. Apparently there is already a group on one of the social media sites, as is quite common today. This group makes a lot of noise and the company's reputation is damaged. It comes under pressure. The lobby group engages with politicians and suggest that the law needs changing as the company is intransigent in the face of what the lobby group at least sees as manifest injustice. A law is proposed, in this case, for instance, a law that comprehensively regulates how online accounts can be cancelled or suspended. It sets out a procedure whereby the company must issue a notice of intention to cancel an account giving full particulars of any alleged breach or breach of terms and conditions. It gives the account holder 28 days to respond. If the company still intends to cancel the account it must give notice of its decision, and the account holder has 28 days to lodge an appeal to either an existing tribunal or one specially established for that purpose. It mandates compensation when an account is closed either wrongly or without following the correct procedures. It also introduces, say, an ombudsman to deal with complaints. Politicians sponsoring the Bill use words like fairness, monopoly, public interest, consumer protection and express the view that a company that grows to this size and dominates particular industries acquires obligations to the public, which they have not been honouring. One morning we wake to a whole new bureaucracy and a whole new set of public servants being paid by the public to supervise not just Amazon but all of the large online companies. Compliance costs are of course reflected in prices. Later this regime is likely to apply to smaller and smaller businesses. Some of these smaller businesses will be forced to close because they cannot meet these compliance costs.

I'm not sure how common this is in the US which seems to be a little less anti-business when it comes to consumer protection. But in other countries this is certainly not unknown.

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Old 04-11-2018, 08:02 PM   #67
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The biggest thing is for a company to recognize that there is a problem and work to fix it, but companies are rarely able to do that.
Aren't we all talking around the problem?

The great majority of the bad press Amazon lately gets, in the US, comes when the nation's chief magistrate attacks the company and its founder. Anything Mr. Bezos would do to try to fix this would alienate half the country, either the left or the right. So ignoring the real problem may be the best way to minimize it.

As far as customer service glitches are concerned, it may be inevitable that, as a company gets bigger, it has to hire so many employees that they can't be a fussy as before. This definitely happened with WalMart, and people who shop physical stores still shop there. If someone is already inclined to dislike Amazon because of political dynamics, I don't know that the best customer service possible, from a very large discount retailer, is going to please them regardless.

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And you'll probably be responsible for return shipping charges.
There's a college campus dropoff about five miles from us where you can do free returns. It's more convenient than a WalMart, or conventional department store, return.

I apologize if this should be in the Politics and Religion section. But it seemed to me that this thread was ignoring the main Amazon issue. If someone wants to take it up there, that's fine with me.
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Old 04-11-2018, 08:44 PM   #68
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Aren't we all talking around the problem?

The great majority of the bad press Amazon lately gets, in the US, comes when the nation's chief magistrate attacks the company and its founder. Anything Mr. Bezos would do to try to fix this would alienate half the country, either the left or the right. So ignoring the real problem may be the best way to minimize it.
And then of course it's well to remember that Bezos owns the Washington Post, which is likely the real target of the attacks from the top.
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Old 04-11-2018, 08:44 PM   #69
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But it seemed to me that this thread was ignoring the main Amazon issue.
That's because everyone (including you) knows that political discussion outside the P&R forum is forbidden. Nip it in the bud, everyone. Join the Hardened Debaters group if you want to continue down this particular road. Them's the rules.

Besides... I disagree entirely that that's the "main issue" here. There's plenty of non-political/non-partisan meat on this particular bone to gnaw on. No one was ignoring anything.

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Old 04-12-2018, 02:27 AM   #70
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That's because everyone (including you) knows that political discussion outside the P&R forum is forbidden. Nip it in the bud, everyone. Join the Hardened Debaters group if you want to continue down this particular road. Them's the rules.

Besides... I disagree entirely that that's the "main issue" here. There's plenty of non-political/non-partisan meat on this particular bone to gnaw on. No one was ignoring anything.
It’s certainly not a ‘politcial’ issue for me. It’s just a large company who sells a vast amount of digital products should not be allowed to withdraw access to them/and use of them, because a customer has breached an unspecified rule that they know nothing about. Not without at least access to appeal such removal.
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Old 04-12-2018, 04:56 AM   #71
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Thank you Gimble and Darryl, now I see what you mean, my notion of government intervention was different, when I first read “government intervention” I was thinking that it meant the government would simply declare that the company couldn’t do that and order them to do this instead, which didn’t make much sense to me as it surely would be against some laws and this make me think of a dictatorship not a democracy.

How you explained makes perfect sense, the government agencies or departments would work to change the regulations or laws.
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Old 04-12-2018, 08:22 AM   #72
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It’s certainly not a ‘politcial’ issue for me. It’s just a large company who sells a vast amount of digital products should not be allowed to withdraw access to them/and use of them, because a customer has breached an unspecified rule that they know nothing about. Not without at least access to appeal such removal.
The turnaround is on you. You should not have agreed to purchase any ebook licenses from Amazon if you wanted insurance that they will never remove access. No ebook store does that unless you buy DRM free ebooks on physical media.
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Old 04-12-2018, 01:34 PM   #73
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The turnaround is on you. You should not have agreed to purchase any ebook licenses from Amazon if you wanted insurance that they will never remove access. No ebook store does that unless you buy DRM free ebooks on physical media.
But then that screams for government intervention and consumer protections, which we, in the US, really don’t have. Regulations. It’s not just for breakfast anymore.
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Old 04-12-2018, 03:19 PM   #74
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But then that screams for government intervention and consumer protections, which we, in the US, really don’t have. Regulations. It’s not just for breakfast anymore.
But on an entire industry, then. Not just Amazon. They didn't invent the model. No ebook retailer guarantees perpetual access to online purchases. It only screams for government intervention if they all kept that fact a secret. They don't.

If people don't understand they can lose access to their online content/purchases at just about any time, then they're not paying attention. They're at least partially to blame. People have to take a little responsibility for themselves. Mom's not going to hold our hands our entire lives.

Make informed decisions about what digital industries you (rhetorical you) are going to embrace and/or commit to. There's no obligation to buy ebooks under the current terms and conditions. There's still paper books for those who can't accept the terms under which their digital purchases are being made.

I wish digital purchasing/licensing was different. And if consumers band together and force people (the industry or gov't) to make it so--great! More power to them. But I don't think we're at the point where gov't needs to step in on their own. No one's being unjustly abused in my eyes.

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Old 04-12-2018, 07:36 PM   #75
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@DiapDealer. I also don't think Government needs to step in at the moment. When they do they usually get it wrong at great costs to taxpayers. But Amazon should realise that there is a very good reason why some industries choose to self-regulate. Cancelling accounts without notice or explanation, no matter how justified it may be, is not a good look.

And it is not Mom who wants to hold our hands and protect us from ourselves. It's Nanny, who is alive and well in many governments throughout the world. Amazon now has significant operations in many jurisdictions that are to lesser or greater degrees so-called Nanny states. Australia is not the worst of them, but I expect such conduct by Amazon in Australia would result in complaints to the various consumer protection departments, usually followed by a trip to one of the various tribunals charged with administering the various consumer protection laws. These departments report annually to Parliament. Both the Departments and the Tribunals would be scathing about cancellation of accounts without notice and refusing to give reasons. Many businesses hate these tribunals. In some lawyers are prohibited, and there are no order for costs. Often businesses must send their people physically on a number of occasions to defend a matter. The costs of a business doing so are substantial. Compensation can and often is awarded against businesses. And I suspect Europe for one is as bad or likely even worse. Though I should also point out that, whilst this system can be very unfair to businesses, often these businesses have only themselves to blame.

Amazon is going to have to deal with this type of system outside the US, and will have to develop procedures to do so. If they are wise they should be regulating their own conduct lest such systems become the norm in the US as well.

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