Is Playster booting customers for reading too much?

One of my most popular posts on this blog is a review of the all-you-can-read subscription service Playster from March of 2016. Today, I received a disturbing comment on that post that claimed that Playster is apparently cancelling users’ memberships because they are consuming too much content.

According to commenter manderleylife, their account was flagged by Playster’s algorithm:

On Aug 19 I got an email from them: We’re contacting you to let you know that your Playster membership has been flagged automatically by our fair use algorithm. As a result, your membership has been frozen while we investigate why the activity on your account triggered this algorithm. To put it simply, they said my usage resembled “commercial use, automated consumption, recording/duplicating, sharing or using multiple accounts created with same device.” Playster “investigated” it and said they couldn’t determine if I was doing anything illegal so they were cancelling my membership!

Manderleylife stresses that they didn’t share or illegally use content; they were listening to audiobooks for perhaps 6-7 hours each day. Note that Playster markets its service as offing unlimited reading.

Manderleylife also pointed out that other members (also avid readers) had also had their memberships frozen and cancelled. A brief search on the internet showed a series of complaints, most dated over the last ten days, on sites like Trustpilot and Pissed Consumer. The stories are startlingly similar. All claim that their memberships were cancelled even though there was no proof of wronging other than heavy usage.

These reports showcase the problem with the all-you-can-read (or listen to) model. Avid users can indeed go through a high volume of content through the legal use a service. Just ask Scribd, who in February, 2016 had to put content limits in place and deleted most of their romance titles from the catalog, just to stop the financial drain.

While Scribd changed their system to stop the bleed, it does sound like Playster is cancelling memberships of users who are consuming more content than they are comfortable with. Unfortunately for Playster, they have marketed the service as unlimited. Cancelling memberships with no clear evidence of wrongdoing is not the right way to treat your customers.

I am reaching out to Playster to see what they have to says about the situation. More to come…

(Note: There’s an update to this story with a statement from Playster here.)

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4 thoughts on “Is Playster booting customers for reading too much?

  1. Pingback: Update: Playster cancels accounts for excessive usage | The eBook Evangelist

  2. Pingback: Paul Biba’s eBook, eLibrary, eMuseum and ePublishing news compilation for week ending Friday, September 9 | The Digital Reader

  3. I had a similar experience Nov 3, 2017. Playster suspended my account because I supposedly triggered one of their algorithms. I listen approximately 16-20 hours a day and I have a broad range of titles (including youth bc my son listens with me). The first month, my credit card was compromised, so they deleted my account and told me to get a new one with a different email address … and I was using the same phone for those two account (the old and the new one they required me to create). I left bad reviews of their app on App Store, Facebook, etc, and then I get the trigger email.

    I’m thinking that they will have a class action lawsuit on their hands very soon. I will be happy to participate in it.

    • That is an awful lot of listening. Since the services pay per listen, they don’t want customers who listen that much.

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