Web

Tread carefully if you return a lot of products to Amazon

If you’re an Amazon shopper who returns a lot of orders, then watch out. You might get banned.

Some customers have been complaining of having their accounts shut down without warning after returning items to the company on several different occasions, the Wall Street Journal reported this week. Even worse, in some cases they’re banned from opening a new account.

While the company declines to mention in its returns policy that excessive returns can result in being kicked off the shopping site, it does offer a broad warning that it has the right to terminate any Amazon account.

The Journal cites a number of cases, including that of a New York City-based woman who spends thousands of dollars each year on a range of items from Amazon’s online store. She said that on some occasions she has to ask for refunds on orders of clothes and shoes because they were damaged or different from what she ordered.

Earlier this month, Amazon closed her account without prior notification, telling her it had done so because she “reported an unusual number of problems” with her orders.

In some cases, Amazon will tell the customer explicitly that excessive returns was the reason for the account’s closure. The message reads: “We have closed this account because you have consistently returned a large number of your orders. While we expect the occasional problem with an order, we cannot continue to accept returns at this rate.”

Former Amazon managers told the Journal that in the first instance, an algorithm flags up accounts exhibiting what may be suspicious behavior. Human evaluators then examine the case more closely before a decision is made on whether to close the account.

With this in mind, it seems that excessive returns may, in some cases, be an indicator of underhand activities. The news outlet mentions how some people order items simply to write reviews — for which the writer will be compensated by a third party — before returning them, a practice the company is trying to stamp out.  In other instances, Amazon’s user policy sometimes allows customers to receive a replacement even before they return an item, but some miscreants end up holding onto both items and selling one of them.

“We want everyone to be able to use Amazon, but there are rare occasions where someone abuses our service over an extended period of time,” an Amazon spokesperson told the Journal. “We never take these decisions lightly, but with over 300 million customers around the world, we take action when appropriate to protect the experience for all our customers.”

It’s fair to say that while Amazon’s account closures are evidently part of an effort to protect its enormous business, it appears that the system for flagging up issues requires some fine tuning to avoid upsetting regular customers.

Amazon added that if you feel your account has been shut down without good reason, you should contact it at the earliest opportunity to resolve the issue.

Business

Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.
Movies & TV

Here's everything we know about 'John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum'

John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum, the third installment of the wildly successful action series that stars Keanu Reeves as a deadly assassin forced out of retirement, hits theaters in May 2019. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Movies & TV

New trailer for 'The Punisher' season 2 teases a bloody showdown

The Punisher is getting a second season on Netflix, with Jon Bernthal returning to play Marvel Comics' gun-toting antihero Frank Castle. Here's everything we know about season 2 of The Punisher so far.
Computing

Our favorite Chrome themes add some much-needed pizzazz to your boring browser

Sometimes you just want Chrome to show a little personality and ditch the grayscale for something a little more lively. Lucky for you, we've sorted through the Chrome Web Store to find best Chrome themes available.
Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.
Business

Cathay Pacific messes up first-class ticket prices — again

A couple of weeks ago, an error on Cathay Pacific's website resulted in first-class seats selling for a tenth of the price. On Sunday, January 13, the airline made the error again. The good news is that it'll honor the bookings.
Computing

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.
Social Media

YouTube to crack down on dangerous stunts like the ‘Bird Box’ challenge

YouTube already bans content showing dangerous activities, but new rules published by the site go into greater detail regarding potentially harmful challenges and pranks, including certain blindfold- or laundry detergent-based stunts.
Computing

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Computing

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Smart Home

Amazon Prime members number more than 100 million in the U.S., survey says

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated there were 101 million U.S. Amazon Prime members as of December 31, 2018. Last April, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote there were more than 100 global million Prime members.