Banned For Life: Amazon Associates One Strike Policy

Back in December I logged into my amazon associates account that I've had so long that I originally signed up with a HOTMAIL account. I'm a huge fan of amazon, and I recommend everyone trying to make money with their podcast be sure to sign up to be an associate.

My Mistake

I made a link on my Feeding My Faith website that was that used the “pretty bar” option in the pretty link plugin (which makes super easy links to SAY – which is very important for podcasters). The bad news is that the pretty bar option creates a link in an iframe (we won't get into the technical details) that are invalid for My mistake. An honest mistake that was instantly was changed the minute it was pointed out to me. While I was on the phone with Russel, he didn't mention that having “/amazon” in my feed was a problem. I assumed it wasn't. I'm not sure if it is, but I wouldn't recommend it at this point. You can see in the graphic to the left, that its one click away between being OK, and being banned.

In looking at their agreement deeper, I see this clause:


Section 10

You must, however, clearly state the following on your site:

“[Insert your name] is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [insert the applicable site name (,, or]”

I have a privacy page, and a disclosure page on this site (somewhere). Apparently they didn't make the menus when I redesigned the site. Something I need to change. Is this what caused the ban for life? I don't know and Amazon isn't talking.

The Gray Area

In their agreement it states in the section on paid links (like Google Adsense) you can't use words like “amazon,” etc. as it drives the cost of advertising up. This was not a paid link. Here it is:

Prohibited Paid Search Placement

Section 7 “Redirecting Link” means a link that sends users indirectly to the Amazon Site via an intermediate site or webpage and without requiring the user to click on a link or take some other affirmative action on that intermediate site or webpage.

When I was on the phone with Russel, he did not mention that the link itself was the problem, but the way it was linking to their site.

Another interesting line is in section 14

we may terminate this Operating Agreement at any time, with or without cause

The Teacher in My Is Having a Hard Time

If you have listened to my show, or read my blogs you know I admit when I'm wrong. I do my best to be a man of integrity. When I make a mistake, I do everything I can to learn from it.  The bad news is, is making it difficult. Here is the response I received:

As previously stated, you have not complied with the Associates Program Operating Agreement that governs participation in the Associates Program and therefore your account was closed.

You can find the complete terms of the Operating Agreement, including the Linking Requirements and Participation Requirements, via this link:

We have confirmed that the decision to close your Associates Program account and withhold fees is final, and you are no longer eligible to participate in the Associates Program. Any other accounts you have or may open in the future may be closed and advertising fees withheld without further notice.

Because this decision is final, further requests to review your account for reinstatement will not receive a response.ama

Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards,

How Do I learn from that?

I sent an email and it bounced back. I called their phone number, and their awesome support staff (I'm not being sarcastic, people like Russel, Zack, and Sharon (Sherrie), were awesome and UBER polite. However, their hands are tied and they can't reveal any information. The only person who can is the head of business (whose name I have withheld) and he doesn't want to talk to me.

So while I'm upset (really upset – because there is only myself to blame and we all know how fun that is) about the loss of income, I'm more upset that won't specifically say what I did wrong (and the one thing they did say I fixed – so I'm confused). I feel I must've done other things to get banned for life (you see you use your social security number so I can't just sign up with a different email address).

Over the last five years I've helped them sell 55,596 .00 worth of merchandise (almost 200 products), and one would think that might warrant a slightly kinder nudge out the door (and I believe I been an associate since 2003 if not earlier).

So Where Do I go From Here?

Well I will continue to find the best deals on podcasting equipment, and if that is I will still point you to them (I just won't get a referral fee). If I find the same price elsewhere like Same Day Music (who doesn't charge tax, and allows you to make multiple payments on some items), or BSW (who has a ton of PRO stuff), I will point you there. As always, I put my audience first.

As I child I hated it when a parent used the “Because I said so” as a reason, and I still hate it today.

I Do Find it Odd

I got a an email about the phone call I had with the representative (Zack in the case). I entered that Zack was awesome. His hands are tied with a policy that he didn't write. I put I was very disappointed in the policy, and the way I was handled (not by Zack, by the policy). I delivered them over 42,000 clicks and 37,00 unique visitors over the last five years and I can't get a human on the phone to discuss the details. When I sent in the survey I got this graphic:



They ask for second chances……


In digging deeper, and deeper into the terms of agreement I found, “For example, you must include your Associates ID or “tag” (appearing as XXXXX-20, or such other format as we may designate) as a parameter in the URL of each link you place on your site to the Amazon Site. In addition, you must not use a link shortening service in a manner that makes it unclear that you are linking to an Amazon Site.”

It is odd that they didn't mention this to me on the phone.

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About the Author
Owner of the School of Podcasting. Also produces the "Ask the Podcast Coach." He is also the author of the book "More Podcast Money" and is a regular speaker at podcasting and media conventions.
9 comments on “Banned For Life: Amazon Associates One Strike Policy
  1. Yuck, so sorry to hear about this Dave.

    I’m thinking that I really need to check all my links and privacy policies on my sites to see where I haven’t done it quite right…

  2. Yikes that’s so harsh! There has to be SOMETHING that someone can do – ack!

  3. Karen says:

    If it was me, I would seek for answers via Chain of Command. Ask your local librarian to use their business reference databases to find all the top names in the company. Snail-mail a packet to each of them with a document clearly detailing the events as you describe them. Tell them for $100,000 they can hire you as a user interface business consultant, who will suggest more user-friendly processes and other improvements. Also, use Six Degrees of Separation to reach the supervisor of that business manager (the one who is not talking to you.) With Six degrees you can get a personal introduction or referral, and meet her/him for lunch. Best wishes. Be sure to document your quest, as well as each and every response you receive, since it would make a funny book someday.

  4. Matt Syverson says:

    Sounds about like dealing with Apple…

  5. Tony says:

    Are you sure you can’t get back in?

    I made a stupid mistake and got my account shut down about a year ago also, but after communicating with Amazon and working with them to remove / fix all the wrong things I did, I managed to get back in the game.

    My original account was closed and no payment was made from Amazon for that account, but they did let me open a new one to start fresh.

    Here is my story

    For sure, now I follow their guideline religiously 🙂

  6. Thanks for sharing. I did the same thing. Started a new account. -Dave

  7. nick says:

    my account was closed with $15,000 payments forfeited. reason given that my website cached prices for over 24 hours. which isnt true. my sibling had an amazon account and got it banned, so they banned mine as well because they thought it was mine.

    unless i get my account re-instated, i might not join again. i dont want to constantly fear that my account will randomly get shut down with $15k forfeited. what if i was making $50k? this is just ridiculous. no warning, nothing. just closed.

  8. Tony says:

    Thanks for sharing. I did the same thing. Started a new account. -Dave

  9. Jon Peters says:

    I was in the affiliate program for a couple of months. On the front page of my site in the footer section, there was a bit of text which explained that I donate 10% of my online income to a specific charity. That text was not related at all on my site to the affiliate links which were for books on a separate “resources” page. I got banned for life and they took the $150 that I had made so far. I took the offending charity text off my site and talked to their friendly but powerless customer service people. They couldn’t help me. Fixing the reason I was banned didn’t help, either.

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