Amazon Shut Down My Associate Account



This site utilizes Google Analytics, Google AdSense, as well as participates in affiliate partnerships with various companies including Amazon. Please view the privacy policy for more details.

Wednesday when I posted my monthly blog stat report I said that “February has been a frustrating month for me in the blogosphere, for reasons I cannot disclose” but that “I probably will be able to Friday.” Well, it’s Friday, and while things haven’t gone the way I hoped, they have gone the way I expected.

Oh, and I can disclose why February has been frustrating.

I’ll start with an email I received on the first Monday of the month:


From: Amazon Associates
To: Me
Date: Monday, February 4, 2019 6:32 am
Subject: ACTION REQUIRED – Your Amazon.com Associates Account

Hello,

Your Associates account is at risk of closure.

Why?

We reviewed your account as part of our ongoing monitoring of the Amazon Associates Program. During our review, we determined that you are not in compliance with the Operating Agreement, found here: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/help/operating/agreement. The violations include the following:

-You are bidding on or purchasing Amazon’s proprietary terms (for example, ‘Amazon’, ‘Kindle’, or ‘ amazon prime deals’) for use in a search engine and, as a result, your ads are appearing in search engine results when users search for our Proprietary Terms.

What’s next?

Within five business days please correct the violations and notify us when you are in compliance through our customer service contact page: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/home/contact. Please choose the subject ‘Warning/Information Request Response’ from the dropdown menu, and be sure to reference Issue Code 83441-US in the comments field.

If you do not respond within five business days, we may close your Associates account and withhold fees.

More information. For more information about what we’re looking for in your response, see our Warning help content, found here: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/help/node/topic/GLTFU4KRTNLL87J8. You can also find tips and other helpful information by asking other Amazon associates. Check out the Associate discussion boards via this link: https://engagedforums.com/discussions/Amazoncom_Associates/am-associhelp.

You can provide feedback on the content of this email. Please take a minute to take a three question survey. Click here: <SURVEY LINK REDACTED>.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Amazon.com

Warmest Regards,

Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/associates


My first thoughts were WAAAAH? I don’t have any search engine ads - so it would be impossible for me to be “bidding on or purchasing” on any terms, let alone “Amazon’s proprietary terms.” I have experimented with Facebook Ads, and did a Reddit ad once-up-a-time, but nothing to do with search engines or Amazon’s proprietary terms.

Oh, and there was a big ol’ warning on top of my Associate’s dashboard, which I failed to screenshot.

Trying to figure out what to do, I contacted Amazon support via a chat option on the Associate’s contact page. I talked with someone named “Dale” but he (I assume he, since “Dale” is a male name) seemed utterly clueless:


You are now connected to Dale from Associate Support.

Me: HOME ADDRESS REDACTED 3:01:39 PM

Me: hello 3:01:55 PM

Dale: Hello, my name is Dale. I’m here to help you today. 3:02:21 PM

Me: Hi, I received a warning for my associate account and I’m trying to figure it out. 3:02:51 PM

Me: the issue code is Issue Code 83441-US 3:03:01 PM

Me: the warning says “-You are bidding on or purchasing Amazon’s proprietary terms (for example, ‘Amazon’, ‘Kindle’, or ‘ amazon prime deals’) for use in a search engine and, as a result, your ads are appearing in search engine results when users search for our Proprietary Terms.” 3:03:14 PM

Dale: ok I am sorry you are having this issue. Give me just a few moments and I take a look at it for you. 3:03:35 PM

Me: but I am not bidding on any search engine and have no ads on any search engines right now 3:03:45 PM

Dale: ok let me take a look 3:04:12 PM

Dale: Thanks for your patience. I am still researching 3:07:44 PM

Me: ok thank you 3:08:00 PM

Dale: Your welcome 3:08:08 PM

Dale: what was the name of your website 3:09:21 PM

Me: Joe’s GitHub Blog 3:09:28 PM

Dale: ok 3:09:35 PM

Me: https://www.joehxblog.com/ 3:09:37 PM

Dale: You have to have product links on your page that when they are clicked on it will take someone to Amazon’s website 3:10:37 PM

Me: I do. 3:11:23 PM

Dale: ok I may have over looked them 3:11:44 PM

Dale: Still looking 3:11:49 PM

Me: the warning was submitting ads to search engines 3:12:00 PM

Me: i also have the javascript widgets that amazon provides 3:13:27 PM

Dale: Ok if you feel like everything is in compliance you have 5 days to contact them at this link. < https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/home/contact>; 3:17:17 PM

Me: ok thank you 3:17:59 PM

Dale: ok your welcome. Is there anything else I can look at today 3:18:14 PM

Me: that’s it 3:18:45 PM

Dale: ok have a wonderful day 3:19:00 PM

Dale: Thank you for contacting Global IT ! Please click “End Chat” to close this window. 3:19:08 PM


Dale seemed to think that the issue is that I wasn’t linking to any Amazon products. First off, I don’t believe you’re required to link to Amazon products on the home page (I assume that’s all he looked at). Secondly, I do link to Amazon products, and, at least at the time, I used some of Amazon’s JavaScript widgets as ads on the navigation bar and at the bottom of the page - although he may not have seen them if his company blocks ads.

Oh, and apparently he works for a company that Amazon contracts - Global IT - and not for Amazon directly. This doesn’t bother me, but it does help explain why he didn’t understand the issue.

Fun fact: I do have a “referral” in my Google Analytics on February 4th that looks as if it was from Dale. The referral URL probably reflects the web application he was using to chat. I won’t disclose it here, mostly due to the respect for security.

The next thing I did was create a post asking for help on the official Amazon Associate’s forum. The only idea fellow associates had was perhaps the little keyword tool I created, but otherwise, they were at a loss and suggested I actually call and talk to someone.

So I did call the 800 number and talked to someone. I didn’t take notes (although I should have at least written down the person’s name) but I talked to a gentleman with a slight southern accent. He looked over my homepage and said the issue is I mention Amazon in posts such as my sales reports. He summed up his point that, as an Associate, you’re not allowed to talk about Amazon or your experiences with Amazon at all, or use any of there proprietary terms in any post whatsoever (except to disclose yourself as an associate, which is required).

I made a few changes and removed those terms from wherever I could find them and, on Friday, February 8th, responded to Amazon’s request for information:


Hi,

This is in regards to the warning email I received with Issue Code 83441-US.

The warning stated that I had ads on search engines that were using Amazon’s proprietary terms. However, that is impossible, since I have no ads on any search engines.

That said, I did make a few changes on my website that will prevent any search engine results pages (SERPs) from showing any of my sites when users search for Amazon’s Proprietary Terms.

These changes include removing the word “Amazon” from any urls, titles, and content on my site, except where required by the operating agreement (that is, disclosing myself as an Amazon Associate).

Also, I’ve reviewed the sites I have listed in the website and mobile app list. All my domains are listed, and I added my social media pages.

My sites do identify me as an Amazon Associate.

Furthermore, I reviewed the Operating Agreement and the Program Policies and can see no policies that I am in violation of.

Thank you for your time,

Joe Hendrix


I couple days pass without any indication that anyone had even received my response (to be expected, since it was the weekend). Then, that warning at the top of my dashboard disappeared on Monday. Tuesday I received the following email:


From: Amazon Associates
To: Me
Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 1:53 pm
Subject: Your Amazon.com Associates Account

Dear Associate,

Thank you for your prompt response to our request for information. We appreciate your cooperation.

If we have any further questions or concerns, we will contact you again by email. Thank you for your continued participation in the Associates Program.

Warmest Regards,

Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/associates


I figured all was good and I had satisfied Amazon’s demands - until I received this email the following Monday:


From: Amazon Associates
To: Me
Date: Monday, February 18, 2019 3:34 am
Subject: Your Amazon.com Associates Account

Hello,

Effective today, Amazon is terminating your Associates account as well as the Operating Agreement that governs it (link below).

Why?

We reviewed your account as part of our ongoing monitoring of the Amazon Associates Program. During our review, we determined that you are not in compliance with the Operating Agreement, found here: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/help/operating/agreement. The violations include the following:

-You are bidding on or purchasing Amazon’s proprietary terms (for example, ‘Amazon’, ‘Kindle’, or ‘Audible’) for use in a search engine and, as a result, your ads are appearing in search engine results when users search for our Proprietary Terms.

-Your Site makes inaccurate, overbroad, deceptive or otherwise misleading claims about Products, the Amazon Site, our policies, promotions, or prices.

What’s next?

You must stop using the Content and Amazon Marks and promptly remove all links to the Amazon site.

Because you are not in compliance with the Operating Agreement, Amazon will not pay you any outstanding advertising fees. Please be aware that any other related accounts may be closed without payment of any fees. Amazon reserves all other rights and claims.

In limited cases this closure may be appealable. See Appeals help for more information, found here: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/help/node/topic/G8U5LMCN2TGH22G4.

You can provide feedback on the content of this email. Please take a minute to take a three question survey. <SURVEY LINK REDACTED>.

Amazon.com

Warmest Regards,

Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/associates


Welp that’s not good. I guess I’m out? Either my changes didn’t make them happy, or they really think I’m paying for search engine ads. Plus they added a new complaint - that I am making “inaccurate, overbroad, deceptive or otherwise misleading claims.”

Definitely frustrated, that evening I make one last effort and send one more message to save my account:


This is in regards to my account closure email stating that I am “bidding on or purchasing Amazon’s proprietary terms (for example, ‘Amazon’, ‘Kindle’, or ‘Audible’) for use in a search engine.”

I have no search engine ads, and have never had any search engine ads, so I am unsure how there are search engine ads that look as if I am bidding on or purchasing any of Amazon’s proprietary terms.

If you could provide a specific example of an ad appearing on a search engine that appears to be an ad created by me and that is in violation of the terms of the operating agreement, I would be most grateful.

If you are unable to provide any evidence that I have any ads on any search engines, I would be grateful if my account would be reinstated.

Thank you,

Joseph Hendrix


While hopeful, I don’t expect anything. I’ve yet to receive a response on Amazon.

Now What?

I’m not distraught over losing my associate status. I didn’t make anything through the program in 2016, and only made $34 in 2017 and $53 in 2018. It had potential, but I have a day job.

My next step is to decide whether to seek alternative monetization methods. I blog primarily for fun, and I do have that lone Google Adsense ad at the top of each page.

My first thought it to replace the Amazon Ad I had on the sidebar with a Google AdSense ad, although that would defeat my goal to only ever have the single ad banner at the top.

Amazon doesn’t have the only affiliate program out there. There’s also VigLink, which is more of an affiliate aggregate program. Whereas Amazon Associates pretty much can only link to and earn from Amazon, with VigLink you can link to and earn from a number of sites, including Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, and Target. Oddly enough, Amazon is included in their list of merchants, but you have to be especially approved (i.e. it’s pretty much the same as being an Amazon Associate directly).

I had joined VigLink around the same time I joined Amazon Associates, but stopped using it because I wasn’t earning anything from it. When I logged in, my account was still active, and I have already reinstalled the short JavaScript snippet onto both this blog and my dog blog Puppy Snuggles.

I am in the slow process of changing my affiliate links to something other than Amazon and removing some of the Amazon JavaScript snippets. Reverting some of the changes I made to appeal to Amazon shouldn’t be too hard since this blog uses Git for version control.

Oh, VigLink does have a referral program of its own. If you use my VigLink referral link I’ll earn 35% commission for the first year. I’m not entirely sure what that entails, or if you would get anything extra if you use my referral link (I doubt it, though).

3 comments for Amazon Shut Down My Associate Account

  • It seems Amazon cannot make up their minds as to whether I am in violation or not. Today I received the following email:

    From: Amazon Associates
    To: Me
    Date: Monday, March 4, 2019 8:12 am
    Subject: Your Amazon.com Associates Account

    Dear Associate,

    Thank you for your cooperation in complying with the terms of the Operating Agreement. As a result of your response, your Associates account and your pending Advertising Fees have been reinstated.

    Your continued participation in the Associates Program indicates your acceptance of and agreement to comply with the terms of the Operating Agreement. If you would like to review the complete Operating Agreement, you can do so by following this link: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/help/operating/agreement.

    Thank you again for your cooperation and for your participation in the Associates Program.

    Warmest Regards,

    Amazon.com
    http://www.amazon.com/associates

    • Unrelated to the previous shutdown, I received another email from Amazon:

      From: Amazon Associates
      To: Me
      Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2019 10:55 am
      Subject: Your Amazon.com Associates Account

      Hello hendrixjoseph-20,

      Effective in 7 days, Amazon is terminating your Associates account as well as the Operating Agreement that governs it.

      Note that this communication is regarding only the account listed in the subject line of this email.

      Why?
      You haven’t referred any qualifying sales for more than 365 days.

      What’s next?
      You must stop using the Content and Amazon Marks and promptly remove all links to the Amazon site. You will be paid on the regular schedule for any outstanding fees that have accrued prior to this notice.

      You are welcome to reapply at any time by visiting https://affiliate-program.amazon.com.

      Thank you for your participation in the Amazon Associates Program.

      Amazon.com

      While I don’t make a ton of referrals, the last referral was in January of this year, way less than 365 days ago. I responded to Amazon’s email last night:

      Hello,

      I received an email stating that “Effective in 7 days, Amazon is terminating your Associates account” because I “haven’t referred any qualifying sales for more than 365 days.”

      However, the last time I referred a sale was January 29, 2019, which is much less than 365 days.

      I was wondering if the email was sent in error, or if there is something else I need to do.

      Thank you,

      Joe Hendrix

      I’ve yet to hear anything. We’ll see if I do get shut down again or if nothing happens.

    • I received the following response yesterday:

      From: Amazon Associates
      To: Me
      Date: Tuesday, April 23, 2019 10:59 am
      Subject: Your Amazon Associates Inquiry

      Hello Joe,

      This is Kim with the Amazon Associates Program. I hope your having a great week.
      Thank you for contacting us regarding your Amazon Associates account.
      Based on your response, we will not be closing your associates account at this time.

      Thank you for your participation in the Amazon Associates Program.

      Best regards,
      Kim A.

      It seems my account is safe for now.

    Reply to This Thread

Leave a Reply

Note that comments won't appear until approved.