New Wave Of Amazon Shut Downs Happening

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Amazon Account Shut Down

Amazon Account Shut Down

We have been getting, and seeing, quite a few reports of people having their Amazon account shut down. This is something that happens from time to time but it seems to be a bit more than normal right now. In the past having a large Amazon gift card balance is what does you in. That has been known for a while but these Amazon account shut downs have added a new wrinkle I think. I’ll share some of the data points, what to avoid going forward and a way to hopefully avoid all of this.

What Leads To Amazon Account Shut Downs

Most of the reports I have seen are citing gift card abuse as the issue. That doesn’t really tell us a ton on its own.  That could mean many different things or a combination of things. Here are things we know have led to Amazon shut downs in the past, as well as, the current cases:

  • Loading large quantities of Amazon gift cards to your balance.
    • Best to keep this under a few hundred dollars
  • Using your Amazon account balance to purchase discounted, or regular priced, 3rd party gift cards.
    • No idea why Amazon doesn’t just block this as an option like they do with Amazon gift cards.
  • Using your account balance for a lot of lightning deals. For some reason it is believed Amazon does not like this.
  • Loading your Amazon account balance with Visa or Mastercard gift cards.

That last one is a bit new. It was believed that if you loaded your Amazon account balance with “debit cards” that it wasn’t an issue. Amazon seemed to only focus on their own gift cards out of fear of theft etc. So this was a workaround for some people. The reason people want such a large balance is because a lot of buyer groups source heavily from Amazon. This was a way to earn bonus points at that spend. It appears it is no longer a safe option though.

Amazon Account Shut Down

Amazon Plays A Bit Dirty

The real shady thing that happens with an Amazon account shut down is they confiscate your balance. They take the money you deposited into their account and hold it.  This has been done by the PayPals and Amazons of the world without any real repercussions for years. You can usually get it back but it often takes as long as 6 months. It also happens when a vendor assumes a gift card is stolen etc. It really is crazy that this is allowed. I have no idea how this hasn’t been a class action lawsuit already or why some protections haven’t been put into place for the consumer yet but this is the world we live in. For that reason alone, never carry a balance for more than you can afford to lose for a while.

What Should You Do Going Forward

If you are using Amazon for buying groups, or reselling, I feel like it is best to stay away from gift cards and reloading your balance altogether. Focus on using a card with minimum spend left for a welcome offer or one with a spending bonus on it etc. Focus on Amex or Chase offers and things like that. The best option may be grabbing a Chase Amazon card for 5% back on every purchase. Especially with it not being under Chase 5/24 right now.

Amazon Account Shut Down – Final Thoughts

You would think Amazon would want you to carry big balances with them since they know you are going to have to use it at their site. For some reason that isn’t the case. They also don’t like you using your account balance, or gift cards, on certain purchases so be aware of that. The fact that they hold your money for months after the fact is just throwing salt in the wound. It may be best to simply use a credit card with a good earn rate exclusively at Amazon going forward. Otherwise you open yourself up for an Amazon account shut down.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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33 COMMENTS

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33 COMMENTS

  1. Is it safe to do 20 $1 Amazon gift card reloads consecutively with a debit card every month in order to Get bonuses with my debit card account? I have been doing it for years but now I am concerned

  2. Former Amazon seller (5-figure monthly gross sales). When I stopped selling (juice wasn’t worth the squeeze), Amazon held ~2k for potential chargebacks from my final payout. Reasonable enough. I’m well aware of the 6-month hold potential and poked Amazon occasionally. They ended up holding the funds for 20 months. I was curious as much as anything to see how long they’d hold the funds. After 20 months it was pretty obvious they’d just keep my money indefinitely. I applied some “pressure” and they promptly paid out within weeks. Moral of the story: If you owe someone it’s their problem – the obverse is also true. Make sure you’re on the right end of things more often than not…

    Also, using your Amazon account for drop-shipping is risky business. More so if you’re Prime (against terms) and using funding mechanisms of potentially dubious, questionable provenance. You don’t have a right to do business with Amazon but they do have a right to refuse service to you (barring discrimination).

    If you value the relationship sometimes you have to take one on the chin and learn to live to fight another day. Americans are the worst, bunch of entitled, arrogant ingrates. The world isn’t really out to get you, but if you conduct yourself like a douchebag…quid pro quo.

  3. Yup, I opened a new account and load it on about $800 via gift cards I bought with Chase Ink and was shut down. Amazon rep was zero help and said there’s a mysterious department that will contact me. They asked me for proof I bought them which I provided and then they stopped responding to emails. Years later I had an account and about a month ago I loaded on a $250 Amex debit card and was shut down soon after. When I called they asked for proof for my gift card and I sent it in and they never respond and every time I call up they say this mysterious department will respond to my emails but they never do. The stupidest part was that I already had an Amazon balance from some returns. As well I had some returned items to them that after they shut my account down they refuse to refund me even though tracking showed I returned it and they got it. I’m currently fighting those with American Express right now. Lost about $1,500 from both accounts in total plus a lot more that I’ll hopefully get back from disputes.

    • Come on man. You disputed both of those charges with Chase and Amex and you didn’t get a favorable ruling quickly? All my disputes by both Chase and Amex have always been handled promptly and fairly. And your case would be a sure winner.

      You mentioned returns. I suspect that’s why you were banned from Amazon. What percentage of your purchases were eventually returned and over what period of time?

  4. How many people claiming to be shutdown for absolutely no reason at all actually did something naughty? Amazon is clearing using data to stop bad actors, so I imagine it’s not a large number of innocent people losing their account.

    • Is using your Amazon gift card balance to buy products naughty? Isn’t that kind of the point of selling gift cards? And the shutdown isn’t the real problem imo, it is the fact that they keep your money that is wrong.

    • It’s reasonable to assume that Amazon is not maliciously motivated, that, therefore, it shuts down solely those whom it feels are wrongdoers. However, Amazon can make mistakes, like in my case. And while I was able to exonerate myself, the process was a Kafkaesque star chamber. It should not have been. And for that, Amazon is a wrongdoer.

  5. Or, you know, we could all avoid using Amazon as much as possible.

    I’m donating what’s left of my inventory for the Amazon marketplace, as they have, over the years, made it more and more expensive to do business there.

    I check prices and delivery time for anything I buy online against Amazon. Frequently it’s better time and lower cost, elsewhere.

    There comes a point where doing business with a business that treats its employees, it’s business partners and it’s customers this badly makes one an accessory to their practices.

  6. I got canned recently, apparently for trying to buy something while on vacation in Greece. Tripped some robot algorithem red flag. All the reps I spoke with said nothing could be done, keep waiting for the mysterious account representatives to contact you, which they never did except to say I was canned. I emailed Jeff Bezos and within 60 minutes my account was restored and a rep in corporate apologized. I think they know they have a problem but don’t know how to fix it. Or they’re making so much money they don’t care. It seems like most people who get canned don’t really know the reason. The reasons you cite are speculation and for many/most people they use amazon as you describe with no problem. I mean, what business doesn’t want you to buy their product. Sometimes, apparently, Amazon.

    • It is annoying that a lot of these web based companies have no department to handle this. Similar things happen with eBay etc. Account shutdowns with no one that can talk to you about it.

  7. The data on fraud & laundering available to Amazon far exceeds what little snippets we can access. Of course it’s tempting to try and outguess them, but it’s their sandbox.
    A data point that might be helpful is whether the accounts were Prime. The TOS clearly state that no items may be bought for resale with a Prime account. A lot of folks I see online ignore that or assume it means they can’t resell on Amazon.

  8. Ebay is another one that freezes your gift cards for no reason and then demands you send in paperwork proving that you bought the gift cards. We need new gift card laws to protect the consumer.

  9. Been a prime member for as long as it’s been a thing. Have always carried a multi-thousand dollar gift card balance, loaded from discounted Visa gift cards or Amazon gift cards bought in the supermarkets for the points. Used balances to purchase work stuff and get reimbursed, as well as tons of home spending. Recently discovered buying groups and have done over $10K in the past month on Amazon, all from pre-loaded gift cards. I agree with everyone that this sounds weird especially with the article that just came out about Starbucks being larger than some banks with their pre-loaded gift card holdings.

      • Why is nobody mentioning excessive returns as reasons for shut down. My brother is a big Amazon buyer but he had a period where he had excessive returns and they reached out to him and put him on notice. He reduced his returns and everything is back to normal. I returned about one of every 50 or so purchases. Never had a problem.

        Amazon being a bad place to work? My son went to work for them and his third day on the job had a mental break down. Wound up in the hospital and Amazon paid his salary for three months for no work. Try that with your mom and pop Local store and see how that comes out.

        Stop with the liberal talking points. Tell me how your local mom-and-pop stores treat their employees.

  10. I’ve got to believe there is more to this story. You don’t mention excessive returns as a reason for shutdown. To me, that has to be a major reason for shutdowns with Amazon. At least in RNE’s case, he could speak to someone with authority. Try finding that person at Chase or Citi (I’ve been shutdown by both) … IMPOSSIBLE!!

    Chase is actually pretty stupid. The shut me down (for bill pays I’m assuming), then after a year they allow me in enough to get sign on bonuses then shut me down again (and refund my full year annual fee). I figure it cost them about $1,000 each time. Happened 3 times so far … I’m gonna try again next year.

    My 2 cents worth.

  11. Also odd about this is that if you go to make a return, they do everything to get you to take your refund as a credit to your Amazon account instead of a refund credit to your credit card – it’s actually less obvious to check the box that you want your money back. Just seems counterintuitive they don’t want you to carry a decent sized account balance, given this.

  12. This is really troubling…. What if a person requests Amazon gift cards for a special occasion (Christmas, graduation, wedding, etc.) and then — without thinking s/he is doing anything Amazon would consider questionable (otherwise, why would they sell gift cards)? Is this person at risk of having their Amazon account shut down and their special occasion gifts held for months?

  13. I don’t know why they care, much like I don’t understand by stores care about MS unless they don’t price their products properly. Imagine if Walmart made $3 for every gift card sold and charged everyone $6 to buy one. We’d still line up to MS there.

  14. I was shutdown a couple of years back when I, in one day, made three $500 reloads to my Amazon balance via my Chase Freedom card. I called Amazon and frankly explaining that I made the large purchases to earn Chase UR points. Three days later, I was un-shutdown. The rep informed me that he put a note on my account to keep shutdowns (for that reason) from happening again. No shutdowns since. (Fingers crossed.)

    • Glad you were able to get it quickly resolved. It seems like a weird reason to get shut down in the first place. A person loading their account with a credit card with their name on it shouldn’t be too surprising 🙂

      • Its a fraud risk. I mean what is to stop me from making an Amazon acct with your name, then loading it up with a Stolen or fraudulently opened CC also in your name? Then just shipping it all to my drop house? Its not like Amazon requires an ID to verify personal info. Its much less difficult then you’d probably like to think it is. Now IDK if its Amazon or the CC company gets left holding the bag, but I’m sure its a thorn in the side of both

        • These are accounts that have been around for 10 years etc. It isn’t like it was made overnight and then loaded. Your point would make sense in that case but less so for a seasoned account. At least they were willing to reinstate it after the fact. Many people don’t get that chance even when they are willing to show receipts of the gift cards they purchased for their own account etc.

    • Yikes! Just the other day I loaded $500 to my account using my affinity credit card for the 10% Amazon Cashback.

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