How I Got Banned from Amazon Associates – Learn From My Mistakes

by Natasha

Transcript:

So, I got banned from Amazon Associates. In this video, I’m going to share with you exactly what happened and how you can avoid making the same mistakes. Let’s get into it. Welcome back to my channel! My name is Natasha, and on this channel, it’s like my personal vlog where I share everything from spirituality, manifestations, motherhood, life hacks, and all that good stuff. I also share wins and when I mess up, which leads to why I’m creating this video today.

I actually sat with this story for a few days because I really thought about whether or not I wanted to share it publicly. It’s kind of embarrassing, you know, especially as someone who, for many years, promoted Amazon and told my family to sign up. I got my brother to become a Prime member and stuff like that. I referred so many people back to Amazon. A lot of people who know me know how much I love Amazon. So, to come publicly and share that I was banned from the Amazon Associates program is embarrassing, but you know what? I’m going to swallow my pride and share this story in the hopes that someone will hear it and not make the same mistake that I made.

Okay, so what happened was, back in 2020, I was just restarting my blog again. It was right at the beginning of the pandemic. I was working from home, so I had a little bit more flexibility, and I thought, why not start blogging again, right? And since I was going to start blogging again and start doing more videos on YouTube, I decided to sign up and become an Amazon associate.

My brother called me one day to let me know that he wanted to buy a laptop. In my family, I’m the tech girl; I’m the one that people call when they need tips on things like what specs a new laptop should have, how much memory, and so on because I’m really into tech. I’m a developer, and that’s what I’ve done for a living for many years. So my brother calls me, and he’s asking me, “Natasha, I’m ready to purchase a laptop. Can you help me pick one?” I’m like, “Sure, that’s fun for me. Let’s do it!”

So, we’re going through the different specs, and he’s telling me what he’s going to be using it for. Then I ask him, “Where do you plan on buying your laptop?” He tells me, “Oh yeah, I was just gonna buy one at Best Buy.” I thought, “Wait a minute! I’m an Amazon associate. Don’t buy it at Best Buy! Why don’t you just buy it at Amazon? I’m sure we can find the exact same laptop on Amazon, and you can buy it through my link, you know, since I’m an associate. It’ll be a win-win for everyone. Amazon gets a sale, you get a new laptop, and I get some commission. Why not?”

Now, at the time, I didn’t really take the time to read the policies. I kind of skimmed them. I just assumed in my mind that the Amazon Associate program works just like the other ones. So I told my brother, “Say less! I’m going to find you the same laptop with the same specs on Amazon. It’s going to be awesome.”

Sure enough, I found him the exact same laptop with the exact specs that he wanted, and it was a little bit more expensive on Amazon. But he had the money set aside, so I used the extension tool that you get when you become an associate to generate a link. I found the laptop, generated the link, sent it to him, and didn’t think anything of it. Again, I didn’t really take the time to read the policies. I just thought, “Hey, Amazon’s getting a sale, what’s the big deal? No problem, right?

“So my brother goes and buys the laptop. Now, mind you, the link I sent him was just a regular affiliate link ā€“ he didn’t get a discount or anything like that. He bought the laptop, and I could see in my account that a purchase was made, but then I waited for weeks, and I noticed that I never got the commission. It just said zero. So, I was confused. At the time, I didn’t even think for a minute to go back and look at the policies or guidelines or anything like that. I was just like, “I don’t get it, why am I not getting commission for a sale? I literally got my brother to buy a new laptop that cost even more on Amazon, but I got him to buy it through Amazon. Shouldn’t I get credit for that, right? I mean, it seems legit, right?”

So, I call Amazon, and I’m like, “What’s up? My brother bought a laptop through me. I’m an affiliate, I’m an Amazon associate, and I didn’t get commission for it.” The lady on the phone says, “Well, ma’am, you sent him the link directly.” I’m like, “Yeah, what’s the problem with that? That’s how I handle all the other affiliate links. What’s the problem?” So the lady explains that I have to put the link on the website, and if people go to it and are interested in the product, they click on the link. I reply, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. It’s my brother, you know? He wants to buy a laptop. I always recommend Amazon. I’ve been a loyal customer for years. I’ve sent many people to the Amazon site. This makes no sense to me. I convinced him to buy the laptop through Amazon so that I can get commission. What’s the problem?”

She says, “No, ma’am, that’s not how it works. You have to do this: you have to put it on the website.” For some reason, it was just going over my head; I just was not getting it. Needless to say, there was a lot of back and forth, and even after I hung up that call, I still went ahead and sent a long email letting them know how disappointed I was and that I was thinking of canceling my Amazon Associates account, and so on. I was really laying it in.

Next thing you know, I get an email from them saying, “Your account has been terminated.” Now, this was back in 2020. I was shocked. I thought, “What?” And then, of course, they said specifically exactly why. I was like, “Forget Amazon Associates. Their policies suck.” That was my attitude. I was really, really annoyed, needless to say, because I felt like I earned it. My brother not only bought the laptop on Amazon, but he even became a Prime member. I mean, come on. The policy has to change, right?

So for a while, I didn’t even shop on Amazon for a few months. I was so upset with them. But you know how it is if you’re an Amazon Prime member. It’s convenient; they sell everything on that website. And having to shop in five different places when you can find everything you need in one place? Come on, it was only a matter of time before I forgave Amazon and decided to become a loyal customer again.

Now, I had no interest in being an Amazon Associate at that time, but I went back to being a loyal customer, spending money on things I didn’t need, ordering through Whole Foods ā€“ this was before Whole Foods started charging $10 per delivery ā€“ and just doing my thing. I went back to being a regular Amazon customer.

Fast forward to the present, 2023. Since I’ve been working from home for the last couple of years due to the pandemic, I’ve been mainly working remotely. Right now, I’m in between jobs, freelancing as a front-end developer. I’ve been thinking that this would be a great time for me to start creating content again, like I had originally wanted to do back in 2020. So, I decided to reapply for the Amazon Associates program. I figured it’s been almost three years, I’ve learned from my mistake, and as the saying goes, “If you know better, you do better.”

I applied again, and if anyone has applied recently, you know how it works. When you first apply, they seem to approve you right away, but it’s a temporary approval, which I soon found out. They approved me right away, and I thought, “Wow, Amazon forgave me for my blunder from almost three years ago.” I was feeling pretty good about that. I thought life was good; I’m going to be an Amazon Associate again. Very cool.

Then, 24 hours later, I received the dreaded email where they said, “We know who you are. You violated our terms back in the day, and so, yeah, your account has been terminated.” I was thinking, “Are you serious right now, Amazon? Are you that petty? I forgave you, water under the bridge. I thought we were good. All the money I’ve spent in the last three years, and all the people I’ve directed to your site, and you want to hold onto one sale that, by the way, my brother paid full price for? He paid more than he would have if he had gone to Best Buy, and he became a Prime member. This is how you thank me? You want to terminate my account?”

I thought, “Surely this must be a mistake.” So I decided to appeal, but instead of coming at it from a self-righteous perspective, I decided to come at it from a humble perspective, where I wanted to express that I learned from my mistakes, and I really would love for them to reconsider. If you check out the description, I’ve shared the letter I sent to them. I thought I did a really good job.

I sent them the letter and waited. Then, at about 3 o’clock in the morning, I was just about to go to sleep when I saw an email from Amazon Associates. IĀ  was excited, thinking they were going to say, “Welcome back! We missed you. It’s good to have you back, like the prodigal daughter finally coming home.” But instead, I got the dreaded email saying, “Yeah, we reviewed your account, and we were right the first time.”

So what’s the takeaway from this? In hindsight, when I look back at the whole scenario, the first mistake I made was not carefully reading Amazon’s policies surrounding the Amazon Associates program. That was the first major mistake. I assumed the Amazon Associate program was just like all the other affiliate programs, but it’s not. They’re very strict about how you share those links. So it’s essential that you follow the rules. I’ve gone ahead and listed the links to their program policies and their program operating agreements.

The second mistake I made was creating offline links and sharing them with family members. Little did I know back then, because I didn’t read the policies, that one big no-no with Amazon is sharing those affiliate links with friends and family just to get sales. They don’t like that. I didn’t know that, but I know that now. Do not send those affiliate links to your friends and family. Don’t do it.

The third mistake I made was sending the link offline. Not only did I suggest that my brother buy the laptop through me, but I also made the mistake of texting it to him. That was a big no-no. They don’t want you doing any emailing, texting, or any offline sharing of their links. Whatever websites you listed on your application, whether it’s your website or social media profiles, those are the sites you should be sharing those links on. And there are even rules around that, like creating individual posts for the product on social media. That’s why I’ve put the links in the description for you, so you can go and read them and understand how to use the program and earn money from it without getting banned.

To recap, do not send offline links. That means no texting, no emails. And that leads me to the fourth thing: beware of misleading YouTube tutorials. I recently stumbled upon a YouTube tutorial that encouraged people to create an Amazon Associates link for Audible and then promote a leads generation site to gather tons of leads. The creator suggested sending Amazon affiliate links in emails to these leads. Don’t do that. If you come across any tutorials encouraging you to create Amazon Associate accounts and generate links for email marketing, that’s another thing that will get you banned.

Just because I won’t be making money from Amazon Associates doesn’t mean you don’t have to, so learn from my mistake. If you enjoyed this video and found it useful, please be sure to like and subscribe. Share this video with anyone who just signed up for Amazon Associates so they can learn from my mistakes. And check out the other videos in the description that share even more things to watch out for to avoid getting banned. Hopefully, I’ll see you in the next video. Bye!

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