It is no secret that I am a member of Amazon’s Affiliate Program. I generate links that are tagged with a code that is unique to my associate’s account and if someone purchases the linked item I receive a small commission, or at least I’m supposed to. I’ve read through the FAQ and rules and regulations of the program more than once over the years so I’m familiar with exactly how things are done.

I’ve known for quite some time that Amazon does not pay out for “personal” orders. In other words, if I order something through my associate’s account, or someone orders something on my behalf, I won’t receive credit for it. No big deal. This has never been an issue until this month.

There have been a number of orders placed through my account and a few of them have been for expensive items. I noticed that I hadn’t been receiving the credit for them and I contacted Amazon to inquire as to why this was. They responded and told me that these items, which they will not identify, were flagged as “personal.”

Now I know this to be impossible for the majority of the items. The only item that qualifies as “personal” in the past few months has been a blu-ray player and I knew that I wouldn’t receive credit for that. They told me that they cannot tell me how they determine that orders are “personal” for proprietary reasons.

I get it. I don’t expect them to share their corporate secrets, but I know for a fact that the majority of the items I’m not being paid for have not been ordered by me, for me, or on my behalf. However they determine these results they have to see that people who are not related to me, do not live at my address, and do not use the same credit cards, gift cards, or any other payment method, have been placing these orders. How, then, can they refuse to pay me in good conscience?

I contacted them a second time to assure them that I had one personal order and that the rest were not. They got back to me singing the same song and saying that they rechecked and were sure that these items were placed by me or on my behalf. IMPOSSIBLE!!! I’ll say that again: IMPOSSIBLE!!! It’s simply not true. And what’s worse is that they’ve told me that the conversation is dead and not to bring it up again.

I love this program, but I’m getting shafted here, and it sucks! I’m not being paid for referrals I’ve made and that’s unfair. It’s unethical as well. And it’s all based on untruths. I used to stick up for Amazon when the little guy complained about the big bad monopoly; now I’m realizing that I am the little guy.



7 thoughts on “Shafted

  1. Matthew: It has never been an issue before this month. I don’t know what happened, how it happened, or why it happened. I just pray that it never happens again. By my count I’m about $40-$50.

    James: Solidarity brother!

  2. Nick–just had this happen with me this week for the first time. The woman on the phone insisted that the item could simply be ordered by someone I *know* and that would make it “personal.” (!!!) What, does Amazon break their way into my cell phone contact list or Facebook friends? Of course, she wouldn’t say. Really frustrating.

    I’m considering (out of principle) dropping my association with the program altogether and linking to Powell’s every time I mention a book on my site….

    Any progress/update from your end?

  3. Abram: You got more answers than I did! That’s such a stupid policy. How on earth can they determine that anyone “knows” anyone else? And how well do they have to be “known” in order for it to be personal? People who read my blog “know” me in some sense; but they’re the ones I generate the links for!

    No progress on my end. They told me after I asked a second time to drop the issue because they had no more to say. I’m already getting beat out of money for this month as well. Not as bad though; but still unfair.I would drop the program but it (along with Westminster’s program) accounts for how I buy my books. In a perfect world I’d link exclusively to CBD and WTS but people don’t respond as favorably to CBD as to Amazon. Pity.

  4. I didn’t realize WTS has a thing. I might look into it… I haven’t even made the initial $10 yet for them to pay out, but I’m close, so have to stay in at least that long!

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