Google hits Pixel resellers with 'digital death sentence'

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FILE- In this Oct. 4, 2016, file photo, the new Google Pixel phone is displayed next to a Daydream View virtual-reality headset, right, following a Google product event in San Francisco. Google is teaching a devastating lesson to some of its ... unwitting users: if you dare violate the company’s policies, you can be abruptly cut off from your Gmail account and other digital services where vital information, indispensable documents and cherished photos are stored. Consumers who recently bought Pixel phones for a New Hampshire dealer are suffering through that harsh punishment after the internet company detected online purchases that violated its terms of service. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File) (The Associated Press)

Some of Google's unwitting users are learning a harsh lesson: If you violate the company's policies, it may abruptly cut you off from your Gmail account, online photos and other vital digital services.

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Several people who recently bought Pixel phones for a New Hampshire dealer are now suffering that punishment. Google detected their online purchases and judged they violated its rules against "commercial" resale of the Pixel. The consumers received $5 for each phone they bought for the reseller.

One Google user locked out from his account since Monday likened it to a "digital death sentence."

In a Thursday statement, Google described the reselling arrangement as a "scheme," but promised to restore the accounts of customers who it believes were unaware of its Pixel policies.