Amazon Kindle e-reader
Writers and book retailers are mad at Amazon.
A function of the mail order company that is very pleasant for customers literally invites abuse: Anyone who buys an e-book from Amazon can read it completely and then return it within 14 days with a simple click.
The money is refunded by Amazon without a murmur.
The Union of German Writers, which belongs to Ver.di, sees "great potential for abuse" in the liberal practice.
"We suspect that this return practice is due to the one-click button, which allows quick purchases," says Lena Falkenhagen, author and national chairman of the association.
Amazon is increasing its sales at the expense of the weakest links in the value chain, because authors would be deprived of their remuneration despite having read a book.
For example, if a writer asked Amazon, a slick answer from the repertoire of customer communication followed and it was only repeated that customers could return e-books for 14 days - "regardless of the length of the book".
One monitors “however actively the misuse of this guideline”.
Exactly how this surveillance looks like remains unexplained.
The awkward way to becoming a customer service representative
Now Amazon is apparently tackling the problem.
For example, the German Book Trade Association (Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels), the book trade lobby group, refers to the USA.
There, Amazon is about to change its return policy for electronic books under pressure from the industry.
In future, direct returns in the USA will only be possible if a maximum of ten percent of the e-book has been read.
If the buyer has already opened more than a tenth, an Amazon account manager must first be contacted to review the case.
It is likely that Amazon will still decide for the customer who is willing to return - although the number of returns could be lower than before because the intermediate step makes the process less convenient.
In Germany, too, they want to follow suit.
The return rates for e-books are “constantly low” and “guidelines and systems are in place to prevent misuse”.
Nevertheless, in the future Amazon customers in Germany who have read more than ten percent of an e-book will also have to contact customer service to request a return – instead of using the self-service function," an Amazon spokesman told SPIEGEL.
The spokesman left it open when the new guideline would come into force in Germany.
There were delays in the USA – the regulation was actually supposed to take effect there at the end of last year.