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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Amazon Sucks

Hi All,

I just wanted to do a little write up with what went from a success Amazon journey, into what could have potentially been a life/career disaster should I have taken certain life choices.

Like a lot of people here, I wanted to make a bit of additional money on the side. I already had experience with web development and I knew a little bit about white hat SEO. What better way than to put my existing skills to use, and get a an easy stream of income.

August 2015

I registered my domain, and got to work building my site. I settled for the Rehub theme and went from there. After I had a few reviews up, I wanted to make sure I was capturing traffic from all countries, so I wrote myself a little script which detected which country the user was in and sent them to the correct Amazon store. Unfortunately, it was a bit clunky and didn't really work that well.
After reading the Operating Agreement with Amazon, I found that cloaking links was prohibited, it wasn't something I was doing, but I wanted to check with Amazon exactly how this works. These are my findings: http://www.blackhatworld.com/blackh...ts-clear-up-no-link-cloaking-requirement.html

As you can probably tell, it doesn't really make much sense. You're not allowed to cloak links because it's not clear the user is getting sent to Amazon, but it's perfectly OK to use something like bit.ly to shorten the links :confused:
Anyway, I stumbled upon www.geni.us, spoke with Amazon to check it was OK and away I went using it

My site exploded and I did extremely well. Amazon sent me the money for September and October, which was well into a 4-figure sum
I manage to triple this figure in November and then almost doubled it in December. Amazon were (seemingly) happy and I was happy, I was doing well.

January 2015

This is the month where my big payout was supposed to arrive. My company had been formed, my bank accounts were setup and then I receive an email from Amazon stating the following:


What?!

My site that I had been running without any problems with Amazon for 4 months resulted in my Amazon account being instantly shutdown and all my remaining earnings withheld. I had never had any problems in the past with Amazon, their support staff had seen no issue with it, yet when a large payout was due, they decided to close me down. All my hardwork and expenses into the business just gone.

Since then, I have had multiple conversations with Amazon as to what has happened and how I can rectify the issues. However let me just first highlight something in terms of their support structure for affiliates.

To my knowledge, Amazon has 2 tiers of support. The first is Customer Support and the second are the account specialists.
If you've ever called the number in your affiliate help page, used the online chat or emailed them, you've got through to customer support. Now, what happens if you need to contact the account specialists like I did.
Well, the answer is quite simple: You can't. You can't speak to them and you can't get transferred to them.
There are 2 options: Get support to pass a message on, or wait for the account specialists to email you with an address you can reply to - by default, you cannot reply to any email from the account specialists.

Whist this might seem normal, the actual customer support team are in the exact same position. They have no way to find out anything about your account that was actioned by the specialist team. They can't see notes, they can't see the status of your account and they can't even speak to them. All they can do is send a message!

I have tried multiple times to get the account specialists to contact me, and every time they have done so, it comes from a no reply email address with contains the same message as the last one - hardly helpful.
After multiple attempts to contact them, I had a support agent tell me she had requested the specialist team talk to me so I could reply - great!

I then received this email from the same no-reply email address:

So that's it. My account was completely banned, Amazon refuse to tell me why and they refuse to talk to me. I have since emailed them asking for clarification again, and asked them specific questions, however my contact has gone unanswered.

Fortunately for me, I hadn't quit my job so I still had a fallback, however given it a few more months, I could well have if Amazon turned out to be a successful venture and this situation would have turned into a complete disaster.

Lessons learnt:
  1. Amazon payout the revenue for each month 2 months later. This gives them time to validate your account, and ban it if they want
  2. They offer no security in terms of revenue. I waited 2 months to be paid from November, and when payday came, they banned me and withheld my earnings
  3. The customer support teams have no say in what is right or wrong. Just because Joe Bloggs on support says your site is fine, the account specialist team might have another view when it comes to paying up
  4. Affiliates have absolutely not guarantee or protection that their earnings are thiers
  5. Amazon don't have to tell you what went wrong, and will just give you a paragraph from their T&Cs. They offer no additional information nor recourse for reinstating your account
  6. Amazon don't like you using prices, apart from if you use the API, however since your account is in the hands of 1 person, it's highly subjective to if they even bother to check if you're using the APIs

All in all, I wont' be using Amazon again as I don't think they can be trusted as a stable income or partner. Fortunately for me I hadn't invested a lot into this, but that doesn't disguise the fact that I helped them generate a lot Christmas, and they reward me closing my account and taking my advertising fee's for themselves - a high, 5 figure sum.

Hopefully this heeds enough as a warning when getting into a partnership with Amazon. They seem happy to payout low amounts, but as soon as they need to make a large payout, they'll find any excuse to ban you leaving you out to dry

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