Some of Google’s unwitting users are learning a harsh lesson: If you violate the company’s policies, it can abruptly cut you off from your Gmail account, online photos and other vital digital services.
Several people who recently bought Google’s new Pixel phone on behalf of a New Hampshire dealer are now suffering that punishment after the company detected their online purchases and judged they violated its terms of service. Those rules, outlined in a document that few people read closely , forbid the purchase of the Pixel for “commercial” resale.
“There isn’t an hour that doesn’t go by that I don’t think about the enormity of what Google has done to me,” said one of the affected resellers, Shmuel Super of Brooklyn, New York. “This is like a digital death sentence.”
Sell Your Phone, Lose Your Account
Super and his fellow resellers got into trouble for buying up to five Pixel phones from Google’s online store and having them delivered to New Hampshire for resale. They received $5 for each phone. As of Sunday, some started finding themselves locked out of their Google accounts.
In a Thursday statement, Google described the resale arrangement as a “scheme” devised by a dealer looking to sell the Pixels at marked-up prices in violation of its policies.
Google declined to say how many people were affected by the account lockdown. DansDeals , a consumer-focused website that first reported Google’s crackdown, concluded that more than 200 people had been blocked from their Google accounts after talking to the New Hampshire dealer behind the Pixel buying spree. The Associated Press was unsuccessful in its efforts to identify and interview the dealer.
The crackdown may come as a surprise to the hundreds of millions of people who now routinely rely on Google, Facebook, Apple and other tech companies as the caretakers of their digital…