Google has blocked Pixel resellers from accessing their accounts for abusing a U.S. sales tax loophole that violates its terms of service to make a small profit.
More than 200 people are reported to have been affected by the ban, and they can no longer use Google Drive, Gmail, Photos and any other tools that the Mountain View company offers.
Pixel Resale Not Allowed
According to Google's terms of service, "you may only purchase Devices for your personal use" and that "you may not commercially resell any Device," but it does mention that "you may give the Device as a gift."
Dan's Deals says that the customers infringed on those conditions when they purchased the phones via Project Fi and shipped the devices to a reseller located in New Hampshire, a state free of sales tax in the United States.
After the phones were resold, the Pixel reseller would give a portion of the profits to those who bought and sent it the handsets.
The bargain website's owner Dan Eleff points out that the dealer that's taking advantage of the scheme has been doing it since the original Nexus phone, and it hasn't been penalized for doing so until now.
Just to be clear on that, the "digital death penalty," as Eleff puts it, is an immediate ban without warning.
"I'm not defending those who violated the terms of the sale, but I do think it is heavy-handed for Google to block access to all of their services for doing so," he says.
That said, The Guardian spotted a user on Dan's Deals' forums who says that their account had been suspended even though it was merely registered as a backup email for an account that bought a Pixel. This shows how strict Google is when it comes to these matters.
As anyone can imagine, getting locked out of Google's services is quite an ordeal, as practically everyone is dependent on using them for work and other purposes.
For those who are worried about getting blocked, it's worth noting that Google has a Takeout feature that lets users back up their data locally.
Eleff got in touch with Google to clear up the situation, and as a bit of good news, it's lifting the ban on what it deems as authentic accounts.
"Many of the accounts suspended were created for the sole purpose of this scheme. After investigating the situation, we are restoring access to genuine accounts for customers who are locked out of many Google services they rely on," Google tells him.
The Bottom Line
Long story short, Google customers have to be wary about violating any of the company's terms of services, unless getting barred from its services won't have a huge impact to their everyday lives.
As Eleff says, the lesson here is to never mess around with Google.