Amazon banning customers with too many returns
(CBS News) -- Amazon is a mainstay for millions of households, but a few are finding themselves kicked off the service for apparently making too many returns.
That is riling some customers, who are complaining to the company or on social media about getting blocked from the retailer's service without an explanation, Kate Taylor, a writer with Business Insider, told CBSN.
"A lot of the people I talked with, whom Amazon felt they may have been abusing the system in some way ... they didn't know what policy it was," Taylor said. "People get very frustrated."
Some customers may be "setting off Amazon's algorithm" with the types and frequency of returns, Taylor added. At the heart of the issue is concern over fraud and returns abuses, such as customers ordering products for a company paying for positive reviews, and then returning the item for a refund after they've raved about the product on the Amazon site.
Fraudsters may also buy products on sale and return the items when they bounce back to their full price, allowing them to pocket the difference, she added.
"Return fraud costs them $17 billion a year" across all retailers, Taylor added.
Amazon has struggled with policing fake reviews. It's banned "incentivized" reviews, or product ratings that are provided in exchange for a free or discounted product, but that hasn't routed out fraudulent reviews.
Online retailers rely on honest reviews to help customers make informed decisions, but at the same time, the millions of third-party merchants and manufacturers who sell through Amazon want to ensure their products rise to the top of consumer searches. One way to do that: Five-star reviews.
Nevertheless, getting kicked off Amazon isn't sitting well with some customers, especially since the retailer is known for excellent customer service.
"Wow, great customer service, so personal and caring!," one sarcastic customer wrote on Twitter about receiving a letter from Amazon that she said asked for an explanation about her returns. "Do u even read my return reasons (like 6 purchases in the last year...and that's too many?) and a replacement for something I NEVER rec'd."
Another customer, Nir Nissim, told The Wall Street Journal that his account had been closed because what Amazon said was a violation of its use agreement.
When he talked with a customer service representative, he learned it was due to too many returns. After protesting Amazon's decision, including reaching out to CEO Jeff Bezos, Nissim was allowed back on the service.
"A lot of people feel they are being unfairly punished," Taylor said.