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Amazon bans customer for returning too many items, apparently

Return a lot of Amazon purchases? If so, beware – the company could ban you from shopping on its site.

It may sound a little odd, but UK-based Greg Nelson says the e-commerce giant recently closed his account after he returned 37 items out of 343 purchases made over the last two years.

The online shopper says the company has even retained a gift card balance he had on the account after telling him the funds can only be used on the site and can’t be exchanged for cash.

Nelson insists he has no idea why the company has kicked him off the shopping site, telling the Guardian, “I could understand if there was evidence that I had somehow tried to abuse the system, but I haven’t.”

The computer programmer says he had good reason to send all the items back. In most cases they were faulty, broken, or not as they appeared in the description. But he claims Amazon has shuttered his account without offering him a good reason for its action.

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An Amazon spokesperson confirmed Nelson’s case to the Guardian without commenting on the specifics of the situation. The company would only say that “in a tiny fraction of cases we are forced to close accounts where we identify extreme account abuse. This decision is only taken after we have reviewed the account carefully and tried to work with the customer over an extended time period to resolve any issues.”

Amazon has reportedly been closing a number of customer accounts since 2008. The Guardian cites two additional cases, one of which involved a woman who sent back 30 items out of 112 purchases. The cancelation meant she lost a £170 ($245) gift card balance as well as her Amazon Prime membership.

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The shopping site’s help pages don’t appear to say anything about how many returns is too many, and it’s fair to say it’s rare for the company to close accounts purely on this basis. This suggests there could be more to Greg Nelson’s case (and others like it) than we realize, but the fact that the practice even exists may well unnerve a number of current customers with large gift card amounts sitting in their accounts.