Monday, October 22, 2012

Amazon Erased Her Kindle and Won't Say Why!

Here's a fascinating tale. Amazon closed her account, wiped her Kindle (books she'd paid for!), and won't say why.

My 1st thought: visceral feelings of anti-corporate loathing.

My 2nd thought: even the most psychotic villain is easily capable of issuing mild, reasonable, innocent-sounding protests to stoke the aforementioned visceral loathing. It's impossible to gauge innocence from such protests, which every psycho inevitably delivers.

My 3rd thought: it really sucks, for all involved, when a true innocent gets caught in such a process.

My 4th thought: we have no way of knowing, in spite of the trumped-up way this matter's been reported, if this person is a true innocent.

I saw behavior in my years behind scenes at Chowhound that would curl your teeth. And the most extreme villains really can't be engaged with. There's no greater folly than to recount to a villain the villainous things they did. The really bad ones must be kissed goodbye, and you suck up the fallout when they inevitably stir up backlash by complaining to the Internet.

Such treatment must be reserved for the extreme far end of the bell curve*. But, unfortunately, there's an even smaller group: innocents who get caught in the net, even though you were certain. But the thing is, psychos are really really good at posing as innocents-mistaken-for-psychos. That's their sweet spot. They can even work up genuine pique. Never will they throw up their hands and cop to it. They buy into the pose, and are utterly indistinguishable.

So, again, there is literally no way to gauge the legitimacy of this apparently aggrieved innocent. If she really is innocent, though,,what a titanic drag!

* - 90% of scary-seeming clauses in Terms of Service - e.g. Amazon's right to wipe purchased books off your Kindle and cancel your account without warning or recourse - are about staking out worst-case tactics for use against extreme crazies. The furor on the Web right now about how Amazon may arbitrarily wipe anyone's Kindle disregards the obvious fact that Amazon has a foundational stake in seeing you enjoy your Kindle books. They're certainly not in the arbitrary erasure business. To use the cliche, resorting to this hurts them more than us.


mike said...

In my experience, many modern Internet companies (Amazon, Ebay, Paypal, etc.) are run on the bizarre philosophy that it is better to lose the life-long income from one or more customers than to lose $2 (give or take) on something they've fucked up themselves.

The strange DVD list at Amazon you wrote about a couple of days ago strikes me as another form of income for them. They simply ask suppliers to pay an extra fee for extra attention. No negative reviews? Who has access to the Amazon site?

Jim Leff said...

"In my experience, many modern Internet companies (Amazon, Ebay, Paypal, etc.) are run on the bizarre philosophy that it is better to lose the life-long income from one or more customers than to lose $2 (give or take) on something they've fucked up themselves."

That may or may not be true, but I don't see how it applies here....?

"No negative reviews? Who has access to the Amazon site?"

No, I don't buy it. Bribes from companies couldn't possibly counterbalance the degradation of one of Amazon's foundational assets: the integrity of their customer reviews.

Just as Amazon very biz is built on selling people kindle books and having them love them (and so they'd only erase if there were a truly egregious issue), their biz is also built on the integrity of those reviews (not perfect, but actually pretty good). Bribery income would be small potatoes, unless implemented wholesale, in which case the reviews would lose all power. Companies adhere to biz models, and that'd be a stupid and contradictory model for Amazon.

Similarly, the blogosphere includes a couple dozen people lashing out about Chowhound's censorious, user-hating nazi moderators (you'll see the same language used against any moderated discussion). But if we hated users, and wanted to constrain honest, friendly discussion, that would mean we hated our own site, because that is, obviously, exactly what it was built to facilitate! Whenever we were forced to constrain discussion, you can be sure it 1. made us sad, and 2. we had no choice.

That's a "duh", both for Chowhound and for Amazon, given what they're intrinsically set up to do. But it can be obscured via the sort of knee-jerk reaction I myself felt here (re: thought #1). And that's why psychos love this particular judo flip.

Jim Leff said...

PS - it's easy enough to test. If you know - and don't love - any of the films/shows in that top ten list, write a tepid review and see if it publishes. I'd urge you not to do so inauthentically, though. The fact that you're commenting on this means you value the integrity of these sorts of mechanisms.

Also, I doubt "Food Production Systems for a Backyard or Small Farm" paid the highest bribe. Or that ABC Studios paid for "GCB: The Complete First Season" to be topmost on the list.

mike said...

"That may or may not be true, but I don't see how it applies here....?"

As I wrote: *in my experience* and I also used the word "bizarre". I have had actual experience with Amazon and Ebay where, rather than admitting fault and repaying the $2 or so I had lost, they apologized "for the inconvenience" but offered no solution.

Like Linn in the story you linked to, Amazon would rather lose the income from a customer than admit fault.

"Bribes from companies..." Bribes? Where did I use that word? This is called "product placement". Yes, I know that is mostly used in the entertainment world, but the concept is exactly the same, isn't it?

I don't know either of the programs you listed in the strange DVD list, but can I assume you are familiar with the concept of distributors? Because company A produces a DVD does not necessarily mean that company A also does the distribution. It would not surprise me at all if there were a limited number of companies that handle distribution of DVDs around the US and that most, if not all of them, handle the big hits as well as some of the smaller, special interest material.

You might also find the following two blog posts interesting:

According to the latter, Amazon have caved in and reinstated Linn. Why? Google this story and you'll find well over a million hits. Clearly Amazon has decided it would be in their self interest to give the woman what she has already paid for. After all, they still have not (from what I have seen) admitted fault.

BTW, by their actions, aside from the books the woman bought, didn't they also brick her Kindle? If she can no longer retrieve her old purchases nor buy new books, what could she use her Kindle for?

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