Amazon Surprises eBook Customers With Account Credit


Tuesday morning turned out to be a beautiful day for many Amazon eBook customers as they were surprised with partial account credit for Kindle eBook purchases they had made between Apr. 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012.

These account credits have been issued to customers who purchased their eBooks with Amazon or other online retailers and qualified for a refund based on a price fixing settlement between Amazon and five publishers – Penguin, HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan.

The firm sent out emails stating “good news,” and then went on to mention that the recipient of the email had received a certain amount of money as a credit for some of their past Kindle book purchases. Amazon customers were not expecting any such email as there had been no heads up on the matter and therefore, it was a surprise for the eBook customers who received the account credit.

How the credit determination was made is unclear but it can be safe to assume that it must have been a certain percentage of the actual amount the customer spent. Based on this, customers have received varying amounts of refunds.

For most states, the refund is $3.17 for the New York Times bestsellers. The refunds for any other books are 73 cents. Minnesota residents are luckier. They received $3.93 for New York Times bestsellers and 94 cents for any other books they purchased between Apr. 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012. The credit is valid until Mar. 31, 2015 for any future purchases of eBooks or print books.

The money being paid in the legal settlement is a part of a lawsuit brought by the US Department of Justice, which had accused the five publishers of conspiring with Apple to inflate eBook prices in 2010. According to the lawsuit, Apple had just released its first iPad and an accompanying iBook store and wanted to compete against Amazon’s Kindle, which had been aggressively cutting prices on its eBooks to entice people to buy and use Kindle. The five publishers, in conspiracy with Apple had inflated the prices of the books, which led to people paying more for them than they should have.

Now in a legal settlement of $166 million, the five publishers – who had denied any wrong doing — have to pay back the extra money they charged Amazon customers.

In a statement, New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, said that illegal actions of the five publishers had “forced consumers in New York and across the nation to pay artificially inflated prices for e-books.” Therefore, to set records right, consumers of 33 states in the US will be paid refunds. Of the $166 million settlement amount, $11.5 million will be going to customers in New York.

Meanwhile, Apple remains in trouble and continues to fight the case. The firm formally appealed the Department of Justice’s decision in February after a federal judge in New York ruled that it had engaged in a conspiracy with the publishers to artificially inflate the prices of e-books.

It is also being that users of Kobo and Barnes and Noble eBook stores should also expect similar credits in the near future. However, no details have been given in this regard.

Twitter explodes with people showing off their credits

As people received the email informing them of their refunds, microblogging website, Twitter, exploded with recipients of the credit showing it off, into what is becoming a competition of sorts.

Twitter user, Matt Bruenig, tweeted: “Amazon e-book anti-trust settlement netted me $0.73 in Amazon store credit. Justice has been served.”

Twitter user Scott Johnson said that he got back $5.84. A hashtag “#tweetyourAmazonbookcredit” has also been created on the website, where people are just sharing the amount they received without their opinion on the matter.

Others were not too sure of their feelings. John Gapper tweeted: “$39.21 Amazon credit for the state attorneys general book pricing settlement in the US. Mixed feelings.”

Tylercowen’s tweet was the most shared. He felt (seemingly) low while others rejoiced. He tweeted: “I don’t feel I deserve my Amazon $47.49 book credit from the eBook antitrust settlement.”

On the flip side, some twitter users wondered if they got enough. Emily Cohn tweeted: “I’m self-conscious that I only got $10 from the Amazon anti-trust settlement.”

Other twitter users, who are not Amazon’s eBook customers and therefore, were not surprised with an account credit, preferred to just share the news. As Sarah Weinman tweeted: “So far the lowest Amazon store credit I’ve seen reported is 73 cents and the largest is $246.”

By Faryal Najeeb


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