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When Amazon Associates Terminates your Account
In June 2013, I received a letter from Amazon Associates stating my account has been terminated.
I was stunned . . . It took me some days to gather myself together enough to send an email to them expressing my shock/surprise on the issue.
I was so confused and alarmed. I couldn't for-the-life-of-me understand what happened, and why. I searched forums that wrote on such issues but still couldn't figure out what could have happened. I didn’t know what to do.
Anger, agitation, and fear finally set in. My annoyance spurred me on to remove ALL Amazon links from my websites, blogs, and sub-domains. I felt I was unjustly treated and wrongly accused of something I wasn't aware of.
I lost $150+, but that wasn't my immediate problem!
I blocked anything Amazon from my thoughts and moved on with my life. But I still felt cheated, and because I wasn't as savvy as I am today, I didn't know what to do. I gave up pretty easy (the story of my life!).
The issue has recently 'reared its head' in my thoughts again and I decided to search for answers once again. I soon found a forum topic on the issue at Warrior Forum titled "I'm Banned from Amazon Associates Program-Can Anyone Help?
I'm glad I stumbled on that thread. Perhaps if I understood then what I understand now, I would have been more willing to at least fight for a reinstatement.
I Had No Idea My Amazon Account Was in Danger of Being Closed!
On the forum thread, I discovered much more than I expected to, and I'm happy I did. I read about cloaking, plugins, cookie stuffing, using i-frames, etc...
Have you ever experienced a termination of any of your affiliate accounts?
These were names I have heard of but didn't understand much about.
I know I was not guilty of any of these acts, knowingly or not. I mean, how does one implement all these anyway? I WASN’T THAT SAVVY!
But there was one comment to the OP that caught my eye. It read . . . "My guess is that it's your image links. A common method of cookie stuffing"!
Then I thought back in time again. The only thing I could think of that MAY be the problem, had to do with my lenses at Squidoo. At least, I suspect so!
So I went digging into my past email messages.
Can SquidTools of A3 Labs Inc. Be the Culprit?
The termination letter from Amazon to me reads thus:
“You are not in compliance with Participation Requirement Number 27 . . . because you are automatically starting sessions on an Amazon Site tagged with your Associates ID in order to artificially increase your advertising fee earnings”.
Jeez! That was news to me. I wouldn’t know how to do that in the first place.
But that comment on the Warrior Forum thread made me remember something.
Because I preferred to have linked Amazon images (a picture= a thousand words) I opted to use this tool. Remember I found it on Squidoo so believed it was authentic.
I liked the idea of visitors clicking on product images instead of anchor texts. I stumbled on a Squidoo lens mentioning SquidTools, tailored for only Squidoo lenses, which can do just that.
It was some sort of plugin/tool I guess (not sure), and I registered for it. It was free and built (apparently) by some lens master.
Could this have been the culprit that messed up my otherwise good reputation with Amazon? I doubt it, but you never know.
I Am Law Abiding by Nature
Last year I was a victim of click bombing and THAT scared the life out of me.
I noticed I was getting something like 50 clicks/day on a site I only got a couple of clicks a week on. This happened for a few days. Rather than make me pleased, it made me feel uncomfortable and unsettled. I knew it was strange.
Off I went to Google Ads help forums to see if I'll find someone with a similar experience. I searched for hours, reading this and that about abnormal rise of clicks.
I read that this is invalid click activity, or click bombing. I found that if we notice such, we should immediately alert Google by filling this form online. ..... Invalid Clicks Contact Form
I also found out that its best to switch off Google ads on the affected sites for some time while trying to find the root of the problem.
I switched off ads and notified Google on the steps I took. Finding the root of the problem was a challenge for me . . . I wasn't THAT savvy and didn't know how to go about it. It was easier for me to just turn off my ads for an indefinite period.
I lost potential revenue on the 2 websites attacked but I was cool with that. Better than risking an outright ban just because of a few hundred dollars!
I read that the activity will pass at some point in time (I guess the 'bomber' gets tired) so I waited and persevered. When I finally turned my ads back on, I watched it for a few days. True to talk, the activity had ceased.
It is a good thing that I have the 'annoying' habit of checking my Adsense earnings thrice a day (I wish I did same for Amazon). If not for that, I would have missed that unusual activity and before I know it, KABOOM goes my account.
If I can go through such lengths for Google Adsense and take precautionary measures in February 2013, why will I jeopardise my Amazon account in June 2013?
I am proud to say that I believe in keeping and sticking to the rules. I believe in being law abiding and for all my six years of hard work online, I'd hate to flout laws and lose it all for such a stupid act and for how much money anyway?
I'm definitely not doing all this work for the money. It's more for the passion and the fact that I have my own little world outside the real world. My ‘virtual family’ keeps me on the Web.
Should I Appeal to Amazon.com?
Right now, I don't know. I still feel pained for being punished for something I didn't do. Something still unclear . . . and IF using tools from SquidTools was what caused me the problem (I even gave them a donation. DUH!!), then it was due to my naivety.
I thought they're affiliated with Squidoo and thus felt safe.
But, if it's not . . . I wouldn't know what to do.
Why I Haven't Opted In for HubPages Earnings Program for Amazon
I haven't opted in for the Amazon on HubPages Earning Program because my Amazon.com account is terminated. And much as I enjoyed working for Amazon in the past, I don't think I can use them in the HP program. I haven't tried to find out though.
I probably should, and will post an update if I get word on that.
I have even been receiving messages from Amazon UK to promote their products on my sites too. But for similar reasons, I don't think I can promote them either.
Adding a Disclosure Statement
During my search for questions and answers to my predicament, I stumbled upon this article . . . Warning to All Affiliate Managers
Can this have helped me? I don't know since I'm still not sure of what happened.
But I have taken the author's advice and will add this disclosure to all pages of my websites and blogs. I'll rather be safe than sorry, now that I understand these things a little bit better now.
I wish I could get my Amazon account back. I really do. But I heard it's a futile exercise if one embarks on that journey. And like I stated earlier, I have come to terms with my predicament and moved on.
Yet . . . I still wonder!
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