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I am quite bitter about the state of affairs. If a company decides to screw you over, they pretty much can. Legally, there is not much you can do if you're not filthy rich. The most you can do is make a fuss about it on social media. If you attract a lot of people, the company will issue an apology and give you a stupid surprise.

I absolutely despise this very common pattern. In the end, the company gets free publicity for screwing you over, and the 100s or 1000s of people in the same situation won't be helped - just because they don't have a massive userbase on social media.




The state of affairs, is that Silicon Valley along with companies that are willing to sell out to automation for everything - have become the new ruling class.

Thought experiment:

What happens if Amazon, right now, decided that you are not a good customer and deleted every one of your accounts and deleted all your AWS data? As of right now, you can't buy anything from them goods wise. And if you were using AWS as a webservice platform, now, you can't. No recourse. At all.

Your Google account was hacked, but google saw you as a spammer and hacker trying to penetrate Google's security systems. They blast all accounts away that have logged in with your IP address of the duration of the hack. You're now without a whole slew of services. Dead in the water, again. Who do you call? Nobody. But you can leave a badly worded post in Google forums - oh wait, you can't even do that.


> The state of affairs, is that Silicon Valley along with companies that are willing to sell out to automation for everything - have become the new ruling class.

Capitalists being the ruling class in capitalism is not new (it's rather the effect that the system is named for), neither is capital being drawn to new technologies that improve the return on capital and reduce the relative power of labor.


> What happens if Amazon, right now, decided that you are not a good customer and deleted every one of your accounts and deleted all your AWS data? As of right now, you can't buy anything from them goods wise. And if you were using AWS as a webservice platform, now, you can't. No recourse. At all.

People actually have sued against that in Germany, and a German court determined that Amazon has to allow you to recover all your data, and all digital products (e.g. Amazon Kindle books) you paid for.


That's fine and good for citizens in Germany, and likely the EU at large.

In the USA, non-negotiable click-through agreements are legal. And we, the citizenry, can give up a good class more of rights then the EU allows. These rights would have protected their citizens, and in your instance have. They do not protect US citizens.

We have small claims, and the hope an instance of the company resides in the state. If not, they can effectively ignore small claims. Nothing to collect from.


So yell at your congressional representation. Yell until you're blue in the face. Make others yell with you. And if that doesn't work, run for office yourself.


The solution is to not rely on (or minimize your reliance on) services that you can be arbitrarily banned from. If my Amazon account gets banned, I don’t care. I can buy things elsewhere and they are not gatekeeping anything I paid for. I don’t use Gmail or any other cloud mail provider. I don’t have DRM’ed content just waiting to be pulled out from under me. Really, the only failure point that would screw me is if my ISP decided to ban me.


You're manufacturing a modern complaint that actually has never not existed in industrial US history. There's nothing new about the Silicon Valley giants in that sense, they're just the latest corporations to have outsized economic power.

There is no scenario where you are not beholden to some corporate entity, and most likely you're beholden to dozens of them to keep you alive and keep your life functioning at all times. The food supply can be cut off by less than a dozen major corporations, and you will die. Less than a dozen major corporations can choke off the supply of fuel or electricity, and you will die. This is true, in one form or another, in every developed or semi-developed nation on earth. Maybe the government acts fast enough to counter that action by said corporate giants, maybe not. It's a system built on the profit motive being the predictable pursuit by said corporations, meaning they overwhelmingly will not behave that way; combined with the threat of military or domestic armed reaction by their respective government (namely that any tech giant can trivially be destroyed any day of the week by the US Government; Zuckerberg could be in chains in three hours if the US Military decides to do it, there are consequences that prevent that as it is).

What happens in ~1955-1975 if AT&T, at their peak of monopoly, decided to blacklist you from their telephone service?

What happens in 1910 if Standard Oil decides to cut off your shop's access to its oil-related products?

What happens if you're in a small town, with Walmart as the primary goods seller, and Walmart blacklists you? Maybe you can drive somewhere far out of your way, if you can afford to, and replace them as an option. At a minimum it severely screws with your life. There's nothing unique about Amazon there, you can order from other online stores, and it might be a huge inconvenience.

What people think is new with Google et al., is not new.


"What happens in ~1955-1975 if AT&T, at their peak of monopoly, decided to blacklist you from their telephone service?"

It rather depends on the reason for the decision to put you on the blacklist.

In general, AT&T was allowed its monopoly power under government regulation. A goal of the Communications Act of 1934 was to provide universal telephone service. Section 254(b) lists the Universal Principles, including (4), "All providers of telecommunications services should make an equitable and nondiscriminatory contribution to the preservation and advancement of universal service."

If your service was cut off because you liked to pump line voltage through the phone system, then they could do that because it's a nondiscriminatory meant to protect the phone service.

If they cut you off because you wrote a letter to the editor complaining about their services, then that's discriminatory, and you could take your complaint to the local public utilities commission or FCC ... or perhaps sue as well; I don't know the regulatory history.

In any case, there was certainly government oversight of what AT&T could do, in terms of putting someone on a blacklist.


Don't mix your AWS account with your personal shopping account.

Don't rely on free services for mission-critical aspects of your life. And don't expect free services to provide support.

And no, "it isn't free, you pay with your data" doesn't make it a paid service, it is still free.


So, if you are a business, I think relying solely on AWS is a super bad idea. Amazon is aware of the lock in effect, and if your usage spikes and you don't have a good alternative ready to go? Amazon is setup so that you will pay through the nose. AWS is wonderfully cheap if you only need a little bit, but it is crushingly expensive at any kind of real scale.

Starting on amazon is great, as it really is cheap at small scale, and you can test your shit at large scale for short periods... but it gets expensive fast as you grow, so the more you can do to prepare to move, (or credibly threaten to do same) the better off you are.


Exactly, don't put all your eggs in the same basket, especially if you're mixing different types of eggs (personal vs. professional identities).

And don't put any valuable eggs in a free basket.


You can take them to small claims court, for about $50.


Unless you agree not to do that in the terms of service.


In order to enforce such a terms of service, the company would have to send a lawyer to court.

Most companies don't even show up to court, because the cost of paying a lawyer is more than you are suing them for in small claims court.

If they did show up to court, they would then have to argue that (a) their terms of service take precedence over the law -- in many juristictions, it is illegal to write a contract preventing someone from suing you for particular conditions.

And they would have to argue that (b) their terms of service are still valid, considering that they aren't honoring their contract in even paying the OP in the first place.

If OP took Upwork to small claims court, it is almost guaranteed that he would get the money owed to him by the clients who paid him that Upwork is currently holding onto illegally.


Terms of services are not laws.

People mistake them for absolute laws but they can be challenged and many of them are not even enforceable.


Sadly, the US courts have held that many of these terms are binding.


> Unless you agree not to do that in the terms of service.

Are such agreements enforceable?


In the US? Probably.


How is that legal?




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