Update - Amazon Account Terminated - Amazon Respond

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I've been expelled from the Amazon Affiliate Advertising program and I don't know why and Amazon won't tell me.


On Monday past I received the following email from Amazon.com


Hello,

It has come to our attention that you are artificially increasing your advertising fee earnings by automatically tagging Amazon sessions to your account. This is a direct violation of the Operating Agreement to which you agreed when registering for the Program. You can find the complete text of the Associates Program Operating Agreement, including Participation Requirements, via this link:

https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/agreement

We insist that you cease this activity and remove all Amazon content from your site(s) immediately. Moreover, because you are using the Associates Program in ways in which it was never intended, your account has been closed and you will not receive further payment. Any other accounts you may have or may open in the future will be closed and advertising fees withheld without notification.

Best regards,


I responded immediately with the following


Hello,

I have just received the notification of my expulsion from your advertising program. I confess to being completely surprised and confused as I don't understand what is meant by "artificially increasing your advertising fee earnings by automatically tagging Amazon sessions to your account."

Can you please explain precisely what offense I have committed?

Your decision has a very definite "permanent" tone about it. Any transgression has been totally unintentional. I have committed a lot of time and effort to learning how to promote your products and would not knowingly jeopardize my relationship with a program I regard so highly.

Can you outline how I may appeal and/or seek reinstatement in the Associates Program?

Sincerely,


Amazon.com prides themselves on their ability to quickly respond to queries. Given that I haven't received a response some four days on I'm going to have to assume that I'm not going to get a reply and they are not going to explain to me what my transgression is.

_____________________________

I am completely devastated - I have invested so much time, effort and money in getting to the $1k/month earning point and to have that taken away so abruptly has me still in shock.


I'm also very frustrated - I don't know what offense it is that I've committed and it appears I won't be told and I find that offends my sense of natural justice.

Any transgression was certainly unintended.

I think it would be simple courtesy to tell me what I've done in understandable language.

___________________________


I have several questions I hope Warriors can answer:


1. The only clue I have to my transgression is this line, "you are artificially increasing your advertising fee earnings by automatically tagging Amazon sessions to your account. "


Does anyone know what that means?


2. What is the status of my websites? Are they blacklisted? Are they ruined for any owner? Will they be marked by Google too?

3. Are there any alternative affiliate programs for UK affiliates running sites in US for home and DIY physical products? So, that I might retain the sites.

I'm at a pretty low point at the moment. Any help no matter how small would be appreciated.
#account #amazon #terminated
  • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
    OK folks reply received.

    Hello again from the Associates Program.

    Upon further investigation, we have found that you are framing our Web site with the domain XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.COM. This activity is prohibited by the terms of the Operating Agreement which states that Associates cannot frame any part of the Amazon site within their site(s). You can review the complete terms of the Associates Program Operating Agreement and Participation Requirements by following this link:


    http://affiliate-program.amazon.com/...ates/agreement


    http://affiliate-program.amazon.com/.../participation


    As a result of this activity, your Associates account has been closed and payment of advertising fees has been withheld. Any accounts you may open in the future which are found in violation of the Operating Agreement terms will be closed and advertising fees withheld without notification.


    Best regards,
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    Kyle
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    • Profile picture of the author cwilliams6009
      Hey Kyle, just saw your post. Booger! I have to say I've been speaking English for many, many years now, since I was child actually, and can't make head or tail out of that sentence. Give me a couple minutes to review the agreement they cited, okay? I'll check back.
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    • Profile picture of the author wtd1
      They're accusing you of cookie stuffing.
      Never heard of anyone getting an account reinstated with Amazon. They're right up there on the impersonality scale as G, Y and the rest.
      You'll probably keep getting boilerplate responses.
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    • Profile picture of the author wolfmmiii
      Originally Posted by Young Samurai View Post

      Any accounts you may open in the future which are found in violation of the Operating Agreement terms will be closed and advertising fees withheld without notification.
      I've never had an account banned so I honestly don't know the answer to this question but:

      Is it against TOS to open an account after you've been banned?

      If so, they would be within their rights to ban any new accounts as well since they would be in violation of TOS.
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      • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
        Thanks wolfmmiii,

        I think I'll read the TOS before I proceed.

        Originally Posted by wolfmmiii View Post

        I've never had an account banned so I honestly don't know the answer to this question but:

        Is it against TOS to open an account after you've been banned?

        If so, they would be within their rights to ban any new accounts as well since they would be in violation of TOS.
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        Kyle
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
    Kyle,

    If I'm reading that right, they're saying you got nuked for cookie stuffing.


    Paul
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    Stop by Paul's Pub - my little hangout on Facebook.

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    • Profile picture of the author theverysmartguy
      What I would start doing right away is looking for other affiliate programs that you can enter. Such as Commission Junction.

      They have a vast list of physical products that you can promote there. And I am sure you will be able to find the products that you currently promote through amazon on their network.

      -- Jeff
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      "Doing nothing is worse than doing it wrong."

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      • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
        Jeff,

        Thanks.

        Originally Posted by theverysmartguy View Post

        What I would start doing right away is looking for other affiliate programs that you can enter. Such as Commission Junction.

        They have a vast list of physical products that you can promote there. And I am sure you will be able to find the products that you currently promote through amazon on their network.

        -- Jeff
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        Kyle
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  • Profile picture of the author erichammer
    It sounds (and I'm no expert -- just guessing here) that the issue was somehow artificially forcing visitors to use your Amazon affiliate ID. I know that's not much, but without knowing exactly how you used Amazon links, it's hard to say. And even if I did know, I can't really offer advice beyond a guess...

    Regarding your other questions though, as far as I know, getting banned by Amazon doesn't mean getting banned by Google. The two are separate companies completely. OTOH, if there was something a little not kosher that you were doing with your Amazon links, you may want to examine this further to make sure you don't end up banned elsewhere.

    Alternative programs? Try eBay. Also, look at Comission Junction, Google Affiliates, Shareasale and Linkshare. They all have hundreds of physical product stores you can sell stuff from.

    Finally, I suggest you look up Amazon's phone number and call directly. I find it's often easier to get a straight answer when you call rather than when you send an e-mail...

    Best of luck to you.
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    • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
      Eric,

      I really appreciate the detailed response.

      As to my links, I only followed the guidance offered by a number of the best known Amazon affiliate courses available here. I never attempted anything underhand.

      Originally Posted by erichammer View Post

      It sounds (and I'm no expert -- just guessing here) that the issue was somehow artificially forcing visitors to use your Amazon affiliate ID. I know that's not much, but without knowing exactly how you used Amazon links, it's hard to say. And even if I did know, I can't really offer advice beyond a guess...

      Regarding your other questions though, as far as I know, getting banned by Amazon doesn't mean getting banned by Google. The two are separate companies completely. OTOH, if there was something a little not kosher that you were doing with your Amazon links, you may want to examine this further to make sure you don't end up banned elsewhere.

      Alternative programs? Try eBay. Also, look at Comission Junction, Google Affiliates, Shareasale and Linkshare. They all have hundreds of physical product stores you can sell stuff from.

      Finally, I suggest you look up Amazon's phone number and call directly. I find it's often easier to get a straight answer when you call rather than when you send an e-mail...

      Best of luck to you.
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      • Profile picture of the author erichammer
        Originally Posted by Young Samurai View Post

        Eric,

        I really appreciate the detailed response.

        As to my links, I only followed the guidance offered by a number of the best known Amazon affiliate courses available here. I never attempted anything underhand.
        Like I said, it was only a guess. Sorry I couldn't help more.
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      • Profile picture of the author Alan Petersen
        Originally Posted by Young Samurai View Post

        ...

        As to my links, I only followed the guidance offered by a number of the best known Amazon affiliate courses available here. I never attempted anything underhand.
        Unfortunately, that might be the problem. I've seen a lot of these courses that put their students on the road to being nuked by Amazon.

        Post a link to one of your sites in this thread then we can take a look where the cookie stuffing is occurring, if you really don't know.

        You need t get that fixed since all thee other affiliate networks will give you the boot for that as well. Simply changing your affiliate links to CJ without addressing the cookie stuffing will just get you terminated from their network as well.
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        • Profile picture of the author cwilliams6009
          Thanks again for posting this thread, Samarai, and Sojourn for the very detailed and helpful response. I'm getting a huge education out of this.
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  • Profile picture of the author drewfioravanti
    How does one "cookie stuff", intentional or not?
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    • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
      I'd like to know that too.

      It wont do me any good but perhaps others can use the info to avoid the same fate as me.

      Originally Posted by drewfioravanti View Post

      How does one "cookie stuff", intentional or not?
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      Kyle
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    • Profile picture of the author agc
      Originally Posted by drewfioravanti View Post

      How does one "cookie stuff", intentional or not?
      To make it obvious, here's the crude way:

      Display a link, then also load the link's target url in an iframe, thus forcing the cookie imprint into the browser even though they never clicked a thing.

      To the OP, go over your site carefully and figure out exactly how it was cookie stuffing. It may be a plugin you used. If you don't know how, then find someone who can do it for you.

      When you figure out HOW it happened, fix your site so it can't happen again.

      THEN contact Amazon by phone. Be prepared to show the rep this thread whereby you are taking affirmative action to make sure you learn what happened, and learn how to prevent it from happening again.

      Maybe you'll get lucky and you'll be the first person ever given a second chance.
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      • Profile picture of the author tpw
        Originally Posted by agc View Post

        THEN contact Amazon by phone. Be prepared to show the rep this thread whereby you are taking affirmative action to make sure you learn what happened, and learn how to prevent it from happening again.

        Maybe you'll get lucky and you'll be the first person ever given a second chance.

        Right on advice.

        If he gets reinstated, he will be second to have done so, as far as I know.

        In the first case, the phone call was critical.
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  • Profile picture of the author john_kennedy
    What Paul said. Do a search for cookie-stuffing or that exact phrase "artificially increasing your advertising fee earnings by automatically tagging Amazon sessions to your account", apparently you aren't the only one.
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    • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
      Yes chaps,

      I accept and agree with your interpretation of the phrase.

      I have searched for the phrase and read the references to "cookie stuffing" but I can't understand in what way I'm guilty of that offense.

      I know there isn't a pup's chance of being reinstated. At present I'd settle for an explanation of how I was artificially increasing my advertising fee.

      Originally Posted by john_kennedy View Post

      What Paul said. Do a search for cookie-stuffing or that exact phrase "artificially increasing your advertising fee earnings by automatically tagging Amazon sessions to your account", apparently you aren't the only one.
      Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

      Kyle,

      If I'm reading that right, they're saying you got nuked for cookie stuffing.

      Paul
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      • Profile picture of the author cwilliams6009
        Hey, it's me again. I don't know what "cookie stuffing" is either so I'll be following to learn the basics.

        Here's what I do know:

        This is news to me, but their agreement says you have to post this sentence if you are an Amazon affiliate:

        “[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 (amazon.com, endless.com, smallparts.com or myhabit.com)].”

        I didn't know this so I guess I probably should post it on my own amazon affiliate site. Ahem.

        Do they owe you a lot of back reimbursement? That's what would really bother me. If so, you might write a reg letter politely requesting they pay out the amount owed, as you were operating in good faith (if indeed you were). They also mention binding arbitration,, which in my experience is pretty fair, or the small claims court option in section 19.

        For the record, I do not like the highhanded approach of this company and also what I hear on this forum about Google.

        I think a lot of people probably are doing their best to follow the long, complicated rules . . . and those people don't deserve that kind of blow-off from a company with whom they've been doing business.

        Just sayin'. . .
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        • Profile picture of the author cwilliams6009
          Oh by the way -- I asked them. I entered my question about that phrase. Since I'm an Am affialite who knows? maybe they'll answer me.

          In clear English and regular, average person with a law degree plus a masters can understand.

          if you know what I mean.
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        • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
          Christine,

          Thank you for the time you've put into your contribution.

          The disclosure you've referenced I've included in the footer of all my sites so it appears on every page.

          As to money owing, it is either $300 or $1,300 depending on whether the latest cheque clears or not.

          I'd forfeit that money for being reinstated.

          I agree with you that a little civility would not go amiss.

          Originally Posted by cwilliams6009 View Post

          Hey, it's me again. I don't know what "cookie stuffing" is either so I'll be following to learn the basics.

          Here's what I do know:

          This is news to me, but their agreement says you have to post this sentence if you are an Amazon affiliate:

          "[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 (amazon.com, endless.com, smallparts.com or myhabit.com)]."

          I didn't know this so I guess I probably should post it on my own amazon affiliate site. Ahem.

          Do they owe you a lot of back reimbursement? That's what would really bother me. If so, you might write a reg letter politely requesting they pay out the amount owed, as you were operating in good faith (if indeed you were). They also mention binding arbitration,, which in my experience is pretty fair, or the small claims court option in section 19.

          For the record, I do not like the highhanded approach of this company and also what I hear about this forum on Google.

          I think a lot of people probably are doing their best to follow the long, complicated rules . . . and those people don't deserve that kind of blow-off from a company with whom they've been doing business.

          Just sayin'. . .
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarevok
    How were you building the links?

    Did you have any automated Amazon software?

    Did you hand code your affiliate URLS?

    The more additional information about the actual construction of your sites will enable others to help determine the cause of red flag.
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    • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
      No automated software.

      Most text links: "Click here to read further information", "Click here to read the reviews in full."

      All reviews have two/three text links and one/two images hyper-linked.

      Links constructed as advised by the programs available on the forum.

      Originally Posted by Sarevok View Post

      How were you building the links?

      Did you have any automated Amazon software?

      Did you hand code your affiliate URLS?

      The more additional information about the actual construction of your sites will enable others to help determine the cause of red flag.
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      Kyle
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      • Profile picture of the author Sojourn
        Kyle - I was sorry to hear about your situation and I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to have your account closed.

        Finding exactly how this happened is critical because any affiliate program I can think of would also shut down your account for cookie stuffing. You won't be able to prevent making the same mistake again if you don't get this figured out.

        First, here's why Amazon took such a hard stance on the situation.

        Originally Posted by Young Samurai View Post

        It has come to our attention that you are artificially increasing your advertising fee earnings by automatically tagging Amazon sessions to your account.
        As others have mentioned, this is called cookie stuffing. Normally, someone would visit your site and, if they clicked an Amazon affiliate link on your site, a cookie would be placed on their computer and the visitor would be taken to Amazon.

        With cookie stuffing, the act of landing on your website placed the cookie on the visitor's computer. The person never clicked on one of your links.

        So, a person shopping for a lady's watch lands on your site, doesn't see anything that inspires them to visit Amazon and they leave your site without clicking on any affiliate links. You shouldn't earn a commission at that point.

        They may browse around a few other online stores for a few hours but then they go to Amazon directly and buy a watch within 24 hours of having visited your site. You get credit because something in your site placed a cookie on the visitor's computer even though they never clicked on one of your links.

        Amazon is very clear that this is a violation of their TOS. It basically amounts to stealing and Amazon is probably numb to the response that the stuffing was unintentional.

        How do you check if your site is cookie stuffing?
        Cookies leave a trail and you can find them in your computer so you can test when an Amazon cookie is being placed. You'll need to first figure out how to find a list of cookies on your browser.

        I can't cover all the browsers and operating systems so you may have to search for how to do this on your own. For my version of Firefox, I click on Tools/Options/Privacy and then "remove individual cookies" which brings up a list of cookies and an option to clear them all or individually.

        Once cleared, visit your site and look at the list again. If just visiting your site places a cookie for Amazon or Amazon AdSystem, then your site is placing a cookie when it shouldn't.

        It might not be your site.
        People have been known to cookie stuff here on this forum. Maybe you followed someone's strategy for doing so on a forum related to your site? Just something to think about as the issue was associated with your tracking ID and not necessarily your site.

        But if it is....
        You'll find it in a plug-in you installed, a piece of code you added, or something along those lines. You can remove all of your plug-ins and run the cookie test again to see if the issues stops. Then add one plug-in at a time and check your cookies again after each plug-in to see if one of them is causing the problem.

        You need to question every script, plug-in, or code change you - or someone else - made to your site. Sites don't just cookie stuff by themselves. Something made this change to your site.

        Based on agc's advice, you may even be able to look at the source code in your browser (View/Page Source) and then do a search (Edit/Find) for the word "frame" and see if you are framing portions of Amazon's site. Framing is another violation of TOS but at least you should see some clue of that in your source code.

        Good (painful) learning experience.
        I certainly hate to see this happen to anyone but it does serve as a good set of reminders for all of us:
        • Importance of reading the Amazon TOS
        • Responsibility to research unfamiliar terms in that TOS
        • Being careful about whose advice you take and whose you ignore (just because something is in an ebook or forum doesn't automatically make it okay, legal, or ethical)
        • You are ultimately responsible for everything on your site even if you didn't design the theme, create the plug-in or write the content
        Some learning experiences are far more harsh than others and losing out on the income that was in your Amazon dashboard would certainly hurt but none of us moves forward without some painful lessons along the way so consider this one of your battle scars, take what you can from it, and keep moving forward.

        Good luck!
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        • Profile picture of the author agc
          Originally Posted by Sojourn View Post

          Based on agc's advice, you may even be able to look at the source code in your browser (View/Page Source) and then do a search (Edit/Find) for the word "frame" and see if you are framing portions of Amazon's site. Framing is another violation of TOS but at least you should see some clue of that in your source code.
          Actually, my advice would be to search the page source for your AFFILIATE TAG, ie "myname-20"

          Look at each instance where it shows up and figure out what's being done with it.

          Apparently, images are a big vector when they are miscoded (either intentionally or by accident) to have an affiliate page URL rather than an image URL.

          If you bought any WSO or plugin promising to boost your Amazon earnings just by installing it, you would obviously look there first.
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          • Profile picture of the author kindsvater
            Originally Posted by agc View Post

            If you bought any WSO or plugin promising to boost your Amazon earnings just by installing it, you would obviously look there first.
            Yep. This isn't the first thread where someone has lost their Amazon account due to a WSO WordPress plugin.

            At phpBay Pro - Ebay Plugin and Amazon Plugin Script for Wordpress is a recommended professional Amazon plugin that has been sold for years. This is the type of solid product that one should be looking at. Not the plugins being hyped in emails by someone trying to get a commission.

            .
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            • Profile picture of the author Leslie B
              Originally Posted by kindsvater View Post

              Yep. This isn't the first thread where someone has lost their Amazon account due to a WSO WordPress plugin.

              At phpBay Pro - Ebay Plugin and Amazon Plugin Script for Wordpress is a recommended professional Amazon plugin that has been sold for years. This is the type of solid product that one should be looking at. Not the plugins being hyped in emails by someone trying to get a commission.

              .
              I have my own wordpress plugin for amazon, so after reading that comment I checked one of my sites that has it on, to see if my plugin isn't setting a cookie when it shouldn't. I deleted my cookies before I visited it and then went to the homepage where I only have an Amazon widget, created in my amazon account and no links created by my plugin. I was very surprised to learn that the widget created on the Amazon site is the one that was leaving a cookie. If their own code is doing it, how can we prevent it from happening? That surely doesn't make sense.

              (I did find out my plugin doesn't do it though, so that's a relief since I use it a lot LOL)

              Leslie
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              Taking it one day at a time!
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              • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
                If JVpress Go is the cause so be it, but I'm not convinced.

                The email from Amazon doesn't refer to iframes.

                And, does the JVpress Go plugin stuff cookies?


                Originally Posted by mexiken View Post



                I did it.

                I didn't realize it, but it was my fault.

                A couple of sites I set up a while back when I was just learning about affiliate sites... I followed my 'instructors' instructions to the letter, including adding the JVPress Go Pages plugin. It 'cloaks' and 'i-frames'.

                I am SOL I guess. My bad, my ignorance is going to cost me my Amazon opportunities (I wasn't making much from them, but still a little, and always planning for more).

                I did send a mia culpa letter to Amazon explaining the situation and taking the blame. All I could do was explain and ask for forgiveness and a second chance.

                From the sounds of it, it's not likely that I'll get it. Like someone here said, sometimes the lessons learned leave a scar. Hopefully others can benefit from my foolishness and avoid the same fate.

                *IF* by chance I come out with a better than expected result, I'll let you know.

                Off to go sulk in the corner with my dunce cap on...

                mexiken
                Originally Posted by joseph7384 View Post

                There is your answer in bold, Amazon prohibits the use of Iframes.
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                • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
                  I didn't do anything "sneaky."

                  And I'm simply trying to determine what I have done to merit being banned for the sake of others who will hopefully avoid my fate.

                  The very fact experienced warriors have looked at my site and we still can't determine where the fault is suggests this is not at all clear cut.

                  And even with the use of JVpress Go redirect plugin: yes, it opens Amazon in an iframe, but it doesn't gain me one more sale which is what I'm accused of, "you are artificially increasing your advertising fee earnings."

                  Originally Posted by wolfmmiii View Post

                  Why would they do that? This is the mentality that gets people into trouble. The issues aren't "silly". These programs want to deal with professionals. They don't want to work with people who can't follow rules. It's really that simple.
                  Originally Posted by GetRichMatrix View Post

                  Amazon, and others, are not a fan of anyone tricking the system. Some of us (old me included) think that because it's the interwebs, it's OK to be sneaky.

                  I've learned it isn't.

                  I just looked into my own amazon associates stats and see for instance that I have a CTR for one of my products of 3,24%. Their measure the impressions of their pixel and then the clicks.

                  If you do sneaky things, like using an Iframe etc. your CTR will skyrocked since EVERYONE who loaded your page will get the pixel impression AND the click.

                  That is unnatural and they must have installed some filters to track affiliates who have an above normal CTR. Well, that's just my guess.
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                • Profile picture of the author NeilMoran
                  Originally Posted by Young Samurai View Post

                  If JVpress Go is the cause so be it, but I'm not convinced.

                  The email from Amazon doesn't refer to iframes.

                  And, does the JVpress Go plugin stuff cookies?
                  JVpress does use iframes which is against their TOS, I use Gocodes GoCodes Redirection Plugin For Wordpress which is a free plugin and it only cloaks links, it doesn't use frames.

                  Not a clue if JVPress drops the cookie without actually hitting the link as I've never used it, but iframing is a big no no with Amazon.

                  Neil
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                • Profile picture of the author Alan Petersen
                  Originally Posted by Young Samurai View Post

                  If JVpress Go is the cause so be it, but I'm not convinced.

                  The email from Amazon doesn't refer to iframes.

                  And, does the JVpress Go plugin stuff cookies?
                  Iframes are/can be used to stuff cookies.

                  Folks, you really need to understand the technology/software/scripts you're using before you use them and not just from info product you bought.

                  What's that old cop saying? "Ignorance of the law, is not an excuse".

                  Originally Posted by Young Samurai View Post

                  Christine,

                  I think the takeaway from this experience is to ensure you have a diversity of revenue streams.
                  That's your takeaway? You're in for more bumpy rides in this business if that's all you took from your unpleasant experience.
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                  • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
                    So, tell me Alan, in the spirit of the thread which is to help others what else should we all take away?

                    Originally Posted by Alan Petersen View Post

                    That's your takeaway? You're in for more bumpy rides in this business if that's all you took from your unpleasant experience.
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                  • Profile picture of the author wolfmmiii
                    Originally Posted by Alan Petersen View Post

                    Iframes are/can be used to stuff cookies.

                    Folks, you really need to understand the technology/software/scripts you're using before you use them and not just from info product you bought.

                    What's that old cop saying? "Ignorance of the law, is not an excuse".



                    That's your takeaway? You're in for more bumpy rides in this business if that's all you took from your unpleasant experience.
                    Alan is right on here. Too many people jump right into tools and programs without understanding them. It usually ends badly.
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                  • Profile picture of the author cashcow
                    Originally Posted by Alan Petersen View Post

                    Iframes are/can be used to stuff cookies.

                    Folks, you really need to understand the technology/software/scripts you're using before you use them and not just from info product you bought.

                    What's that old cop saying? "Ignorance of the law, is not an excuse".



                    That's your takeaway? You're in for more bumpy rides in this business if that's all you took from your unpleasant experience.
                    This is a very good point. You can't assume that just because someone is selling a tool for adding posts to your blog, or cloaking links (or whatever) that it follows all the rules of every program you might be using them with.

                    Many times the people making these tools don't know what the rules are or can't possibly think up every scenario the tool could be used for. Not only that but rules and Terms of Service can change in any program.

                    You have to do your due diligence - it's your responsibility to make sure that you know the effects and risks of the tools you are using for your business.
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                    • Profile picture of the author mattb348
                      I would just stick to the tried and proven plugins/tools for Amazon.

                      IE: PHPzon, Comparipress, and I think reviewazon (or whatever its called) is ok too. However, I have not used reviewazon yet).

                      Also, I would definitely NOT cloak your links. Yes, I will get flamed for this I'm sure. But seriously, there is no way in heck cloaking your affiliate links is fooling the google algorithm, and certain not manual reviewers.

                      Maybe it fooled google years ago (not that it was necessary back then either though).

                      Also, NOT using cloaked affiliate links (or redirects) is going to look a LOT more legit/trustworthy to google manual reviewers IMO, and it is a lot less misleading.

                      And on top of that, certain redirects or cloaked links may be getting you in trouble with Amazon.

                      Also, check all of your affiliate links through your browser and make sure you don't see the word "iframe" anywhere in it. Amazon hates frames/iframes.

                      I would also check the links within the html source code as well.

                      And be sure to check image/button links too!

                      Last but not least, I can't help but wonder if your site somehow got infected with adware/spyware or something. This could be stuffing cookies on visitors (in which case it may even be going to someone else's Amazon affiliate ID heh).

                      It is pretty unlikely, but you never know.
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                      • Profile picture of the author coldshot
                        On the topic of cloaking, is it the same as masking?

                        I use pretty links to shorten the affiliate links due to the lenghty URL.

                        I do let the visitor know that the link will take them to Amazon.
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                        • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
                          OK folks just received this reply.

                          Hello again from the Associates Program.

                          Upon further investigation, we have found that you are framing our Web site with the domain XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.COM. This activity is prohibited by the terms of the Operating Agreement which states that Associates cannot frame any part of the Amazon site within their site(s). You can review the complete terms of the Associates Program Operating Agreement and Participation Requirements by following this link:


                          http://affiliate-program.amazon.com/...ates/agreement


                          http://affiliate-program.amazon.com/.../participation


                          As a result of this activity, your Associates account has been closed and payment of advertising fees has been withheld. Any accounts you may open in the future which are found in violation of the Operating Agreement terms will be closed and advertising fees withheld without notification.


                          Best regards,

                          I'm delighted with this feedback.

                          2 things:

                          1. It confirms that it was the cloaking plugin opening Amazon in an iframe that was my violation of the TOS.

                          2. Compare the last paragraphs of the first and second emails:

                          Email 1 -
                          "Any other accounts you may have or may open in the future will be closed and advertising fees withheld without notification."

                          Email 2 -
                          "Any accounts you may open in the future which are found in violation of the Operating Agreement terms will be closed and advertising fees withheld without notification."

                          Am I reading too much into it, am I just thinking wishfully, or does the second email leave the door open to establish a new account?


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                          • Profile picture of the author Sojourn
                            Originally Posted by Young Samurai View Post

                            I'm delighted with this feedback.

                            2 things:

                            1. It confirms that it was the cloaking plugin opening Amazon in an iframe that was my violation of the TOS.

                            2. Compare the last paragraphs of the first and second emails:

                            Email 1 -
                            "Any other accounts you may have or may open in the future will be closed and advertising fees withheld without notification."

                            Email 2 -
                            "Any accounts you may open in the future which are found in violation of the Operating Agreement terms will be closed and advertising fees withheld without notification."

                            Am I reading too much into it, am I just thinking wishfully, or does the second email leave the door open to establish a new account?
                            Kyle - So glad you got to the root of the issue. Problem solving is a necessary skill in this profession. Sounds like you have several options open to you and things are looking up again. Good luck and thanks so much for sharing the details along the way. Your experience will surely help someone else.

                            Sincerely,

                            Erica
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        • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
          Sojourn,

          I can't thank you enough for this response.

          I finally get the cookie stuffing concept and I will check out my sites.

          I would suggest that you might consider making this the op in a separate thread. More folk may be willing to read a thread opened by you than by me. Whilst I do wish to know what I did wrong for my own sake I also wish my experience to be a warning to others.

          Now to testing. The lesson for others will be more valuable if I can identify what was doing the "stuffing."

          Originally Posted by Sojourn View Post

          Kyle - I was sorry to hear about your situation and I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to have your account closed.

          Finding exactly how this happened is critical because any affiliate program I can think of would also shut down your account for cookie stuffing. You won't be able to prevent making the same mistake again if you don't get this figured out.

          First, here's why Amazon took such a hard stance on the situation.



          As others have mentioned, this is called cookie stuffing. Normally, someone would visit your site and, if they clicked an Amazon affiliate link on your site, a cookie would be placed on their computer and the visitor would be taken to Amazon.

          With cookie stuffing, the act of landing on your website placed the cookie on the visitor's computer. The person never clicked on one of your links.

          So, a person shopping for a lady's watch lands on your site, doesn't see anything that inspires them to visit Amazon and they leave your site without clicking on any affiliate links. You shouldn't earn a commission at that point.

          They may browse around a few other online stores for a few hours but then they go to Amazon directly and buy a watch within 24 hours of having visited your site. You get credit because something in your site placed a cookie on the visitor's computer even though they never clicked on one of your links.

          Amazon is very clear that this is a violation of their TOS. It basically amounts to stealing and Amazon is probably numb to the response that the stuffing was unintentional.

          How do you check if your site is cookie stuffing?
          Cookies leave a trail and you can find them in your computer so you can test when an Amazon cookie is being placed. You'll need to first figure out how to find a list of cookies on your browser.

          I can't cover all the browsers and operating systems so you may have to search for how to do this on your own. For my version of Firefox, I click on Tools/Options/Privacy and then "remove individual cookies" which brings up a list of cookies and an option to clear them all or individually.

          Once cleared, visit your site and look at the list again. If just visiting your site places a cookie for Amazon or Amazon AdSystem, then your site is placing a cookie when it shouldn't.

          It might not be your site.
          People have been known to cookie stuff here on this forum. Maybe you followed someone's strategy for doing so on a forum related to your site? Just something to think about as the issue was associated with your tracking ID and not necessarily your site.

          But if it is....
          You'll find it in a plug-in you installed, a piece of code you added, or something along those lines. You can remove all of your plug-ins and run the cookie test again to see if the issues stops. Then add one plug-in at a time and check your cookies again after each plug-in to see if one of them is causing the problem.

          You need to question every script, plug-in, or code change you - or someone else - made to your site. Sites don't just cookie stuff by themselves. Something made this change to your site.

          Based on agc's advice, you may even be able to look at the source code in your browser (View/Page Source) and then do a search (Edit/Find) for the word "frame" and see if you are framing portions of Amazon's site. Framing is another violation of TOS but at least you should see some clue of that in your source code.

          Good (painful) learning experience.
          I certainly hate to see this happen to anyone but it does serve as a good set of reminders for all of us:
          • Importance of reading the Amazon TOS
          • Responsibility to research unfamiliar terms in that TOS
          • Being careful about whose advice you take and whose you ignore (just because something is in an ebook or forum doesn't automatically make it okay, legal, or ethical)
          • You are ultimately responsible for everything on your site even if you didn't design the theme, create the plug-in or write the content
          Some learning experiences are far more harsh than others and losing out on the income that was in your Amazon dashboard would certainly hurt but none of us moves forward without some painful lessons along the way so consider this one of your battle scars, take what you can from it, and keep moving forward.

          Good luck!
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          • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
            Thanks guys,

            The only plugin I used that fits the mold is the ABC redirect plugin. It seems to be exactly the same as the JVpress Go version.

            I certainly will test it.

            I know it opens the redirected link in an iframe but there is surely a world of difference between that and stuffing. In other words, the visitor only receives a cookie if they click through the link and when they do so they are very clearly taken to Amazon.com. I'm at a loss to see how that is either deceiving the visitor or affecting Amazon's stats. My reading of the TOS does not rule out redirects or iframes per se. Then again, I am banned.

            Originally Posted by Lares View Post

            Found this on another forum. It says that ABC Recommends uses iframes which is against Amazon TOS.
            Originally Posted by agc View Post

            Actually, my advice would be to search the page source for your AFFILIATE TAG, ie "myname-20"

            Look at each instance where it shows up and figure out what's being done with it.

            Apparently, images are a big vector when they are miscoded (either intentionally or by accident) to have an affiliate page URL rather than an image URL.

            If you bought any WSO or plugin promising to boost your Amazon earnings just by installing it, you would obviously look there first.
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            • Profile picture of the author cashcow
              Originally Posted by Young Samurai View Post

              The only plugin I used that fits the mold is the ABC redirect plugin. It seems to be exactly the same as the JVpress Go version.

              I certainly will test it.

              I know it opens the redirected link in an iframe but there is surely a world of difference between that and stuffing.
              I think the iframe is the violation, I don't think they allow that.

              Lee
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              • Profile picture of the author agc
                Originally Posted by cashcow View Post

                I think the iframe is the violation, I don't think they allow that.

                Lee
                But then wouldn't the email have been about iframes?
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                • Profile picture of the author cashcow
                  Originally Posted by agc View Post

                  But then wouldn't the email have been about iframes?
                  Hard to say, they might just have one blanket email kind of like adsense does. It doesn't appear he was stuffing cookies though, right? Unless one of the plugins does that and the OP is unaware of this?
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          • Profile picture of the author agc
            Originally Posted by Young Samurai View Post

            I finally get the cookie stuffing concept and I will check out my sites.

            I would suggest that you might consider making this the op in a separate thread. More folk may be willing to read a thread opened by you than by me. Whilst I do wish to know what I did wrong for my own sake I also wish my experience to be a warning to others.

            Now to testing. The lesson for others will be more valuable if I can identify what was doing the "stuffing."
            If you still can't find it, I can take a look. Just send me a PM w/ the url.
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            • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
              agc,

              I will take you up on your offer.

              I'm going to reactivate the redirect plugin on one of the reviews and I'll send you the url.

              Thanks in advance.

              Originally Posted by agc View Post

              If you still can't find it, I can take a look. Just send me a PM w/ the url.
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          • Profile picture of the author Sojourn
            Originally Posted by Young Samurai View Post

            I would suggest that you might consider making this the op in a separate thread. More folk may be willing to read a thread opened by you than by me.
            You did a fine job getting me to open the thread and there are all the other helpful comments so I think we're in good shape but you're awfully kind to say so.

            Originally Posted by Young Samurai View Post

            Whilst I do wish to know what I did wrong for my own sake I also wish my experience to be a warning to others.

            Now to testing. The lesson for others will be more valuable if I can identify what was doing the "stuffing."
            Exactly - and there's something invaluable in reading your account of what happened. Sharing your experience is truly helpful and makes this forum so useful to so many.

            I'd take agc up on their offer to take a peak. The source code alone should reveal what's going on.

            If you can get it all cleaned up and get Amazon to turn you back on, great. If not, figure out how to repurpose that site with another affiliate program. Your hard work doesn't need to go to waste.

            BTW - Happy St. Patrick's Day! Thanks to a discussion in school, my 8 year old is bound and determined to find a leprechaun today. I'll tell him I met someone in Ireland who thinks he has one in his website and is looking for it right now. He'll think that's very cool. You may not think it's cool but know that an 8 year old and his mother are rooting for you from half way across the world!
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            • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
              Class.

              I hadn't made the association between my sites and the tiny green guys but there you.

              Originally Posted by Sojourn View Post

              Happy St. Patrick's Day! Thanks to a discussion in school, my 8 year old is bound and determined to find a leprechaun today. I'll tell him I met someone in Ireland who thinks he has one in his website and is looking for it right now. He'll think that's very cool. You may not think it's cool but know that an 8 year old and his mother are rooting for you from half way across the world!
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        • Profile picture of the author tpfeller
          Wow, great post! I checked my site immediately but apart from Google Analytics, no cookies are distributed.
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  • Profile picture of the author cooler1
    There was someone on the Amazon forum recently who had this same issue. They weren't aware what was causing it.

    They found out that it was caused by old Amazon code that was causing the cookie to be activated when someone landed on their site. So the problem was caused by Amazon it seems.

    I don't think the issue got resolved by Amazon. They had to create a new account. Im not sure if they used their same address to make a new account. It doesn't really make sense to ban someone if they can use their same address to make a new account.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sardent
    My guess is that it's your image links.
    A common method of cookie stuffing.
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    • Profile picture of the author Ducksauce
      Originally Posted by Sardent View Post

      My guess is that it's your image links.
      A common method of cookie stuffing.
      Are you saying, you had a image on your site, (taken of the product from the Amazon site) and if you clicked on the image, it takes you to the product page at Amazon is bad? :confused:
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      • Profile picture of the author Sojourn
        Originally Posted by Ducksauce View Post

        Are you saying, you had a image on your site, (taken of the product from the Amazon site) and if you clicked on the image, it takes you to the product page at Amazon is bad? :confused:
        No, I don't think that's what they were saying. Image links are fine UNLESS they include code that would place a cookie on the visitor's computer without them having to click on the image, text link, banner, widget, etc. You (or a plug-in you installed) would have to configure the image link to include this extra code. They're just saying images are one format used to perform cookie stuffing.
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  • Profile picture of the author nik0
    Banned
    Getting expelled from Amazon, LOL, that's a new one to me. You sure you are innocent?
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  • Profile picture of the author Luke McCormack
    Are you using a Amazon naked url link (i.e. the one provided by Amazon) to direct customers to Amazon or a redirect plugin like pretty links i.e. sitename/recommends/xyzcoffeemachine.

    Know a lot of people pinged for using second method.

    Best regards

    Nigel
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    That's messed up, but i'm not surprised. Read the comments about Amazon on the website below (and yes, my money-making Amazon account got banne also):

    Selling On Amazon.com Sucks !
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  • Profile picture of the author businessonline
    Banned
    [DELETED]
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    • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
      Appreciate the advice.

      Seems a sensible, practical way to go.

      And as to the cookie stuffing, I certainly didn't do it the crude way.

      Originally Posted by agc View Post

      To make it obvious, here's the crude way:

      Display a link, then also load the link's target url in an iframe, thus forcing the cookie imprint into the browser even though they never clicked a thing.

      To the OP, go over your site carefully and figure out exactly how it was cookie stuffing. It may be a plugin you used. If you don't know how, then find someone who can do it for you.

      When you figure out HOW it happened, fix your site so it can't happen again.

      THEN contact Amazon by phone. Be prepared to show the rep this thread whereby you are taking affirmative action to make sure you learn what happened, and learn how to prevent it from happening again.

      Maybe you'll get lucky and you'll be the first person ever given a second chance.
      Originally Posted by tpw View Post

      Right on advice.

      If he gets reinstated, he will be second to have done so, as far as I know.

      In the first case, the phone call was critical.
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      • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
        I did use ABC Recommends plugin on a couple of product reviews on one site as a test.

        BUT, these were still pages with repeated references to Amazon on them.

        AND, as Bill asks, where in Amazon's TOS do they prohibit such a method?

        Originally Posted by nigelwhittaker View Post

        Are you using a Amazon naked url link (i.e. the one provided by Amazon) to direct customers to Amazon or a redirect plugin like pretty links i.e. sitename/recommends/xyzcoffeemachine.

        Know a lot of people pinged for using second method.

        Best regards

        Nigel
        Originally Posted by Bill_Z View Post

        Where in their terms does it say you can't use redirects?
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  • Profile picture of the author Lares
    Auf meiner Seite Best WordPress Plugins benutze ich ABC Recommends, dass man dazu bekommt, wenn man den AutomaticBacklinkCreator (gleichzeitig das Beispiel) kauft.

    Das Plugin funktioniert so, dass es die Seite in einem iFrame darstellt (Beispiel siehe oben). Zusätzlich habe ich es noch so optimiert, dass ich per Analytics die Verweildauer auf den anderen Seiten verfolgen kann.

    Nächster Schritt wird, dass ich über der anderen Seite einen eigenen Text/Banner einbaue, um die Verkäufe noch zu pushen.
    Found this on another forum. It says that ABC Recommends uses iframes which is against Amazon TOS.
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  • Profile picture of the author markboiss
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  • Profile picture of the author agc
    I just went through both your home page and also the item page and I see no reference to your affiliate id in anything but <A> links.

    Try deleting all your cookies, then visiting your page without clicking through to Amazon, and see if a cookie pops up.
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  • Profile picture of the author James B
    Wow, I did not know that as well. This is informative reading, for people who are getting into amazon for affiliate marketing.

    Then again, maybe I should just see what cookie stuffing looks like on youtube. If there is any videos on it.
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    • Profile picture of the author FredBeers
      wow.

      well I have some checking to do as well.

      thanks all of you for your input.

      just now ramping up my traffic...need to check this asap.
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  • Profile picture of the author agc
    Yanno, thinking about this more.... is there anything to a competitor from setting up a bogus website somewhere, doing a cookie hack with my amazon ID, and sending it 40k hits a day from one of those junk traffic offers?

    It would cost what, $2 for a .info, and $10 for the traffic?

    How can we protect against this?
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    • Profile picture of the author Sojourn
      Originally Posted by agc View Post

      Yanno, thinking about this more.... is there anything to a competitor from setting up a bogus website somewhere, doing a cookie hack with my amazon ID, and sending it 40k hits a day from one of those junk traffic offers?

      It would cost what, $2 for a .info, and $10 for the traffic?

      How can we protect against this?
      Like minds, and all....I've just spent an hour thinking through the very same thing. I like to think people are better than this but I've seen people spend a lot of time ruining the work of others for no benefit whatsoever so it's certainly possible someone would think to do what you describe.

      I ran through possible solutions like link cloaking and rotating tracking IDs but I don't think cloaking is advisable (and I don't recall but it might even be an Amazon TOS violation) and rotating tracking IDs would be a total pain.

      At the end of the day, your tracking ID is going to show up in the final URL on Amazon anyway so nothing is going to stop someone from finding it if they're determined.

      Of course, you'd see the activity show up in your Amazon stats. If you see an increase in clicks and/or sales that does not correlate with an increase in traffic to your pages, then you should stop to investigate the source. Might even be prudent, at that point, to ask Amazon to help you determine the source URLs for those clicks, if they can. If you go to them first, they might be more willing to cooperate. Hopefully, that would lead to the sabotage site, a whois search and steps to shut the site down. Perhaps you'd have to replace your tracking IDs at that point and see if Amazon would terminate any offending tracking IDs until the shut down was complete.

      I know...a bunch of what-ifs and I-hope-nots but another reason to stay on top of the stats behind one's business.
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      • Profile picture of the author agc
        Originally Posted by Sojourn View Post

        Of course, you'd see the activity show up in your Amazon stats.
        I think that's the answer right there. If I see 40k clicks a day, I'm going to be asking questions.

        Thanks.
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        • Profile picture of the author RJS7
          Originally Posted by agc View Post

          I think that's the answer right there. If I see 40k clicks a day, I'm going to be asking questions.

          Thanks.
          This is what I was thinking Keep Up With Your Stats!
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  • Profile picture of the author foxtrot3
    If the OP used any redirect that resulted in a framed Amazon page then that's possibly why he was banned. There have been other threads about this at the WF.

    .
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    You should consider migrating to Ebay. But like all people with authority... even they can ban/block your account... Ebay powerseller or not.
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  • Profile picture of the author agc
    I went over his site and nothing jumped out at me. Doesn't mean it's not in javascript or something.

    Since they're the only ones that seem to know, maybe he should ask Amazon to help him figure out what is wrong with his site so he can "fix it before he sells it and oh, it sure would be nice if he didn't have to sell it, if they could reinstate his account with confidence, now that they know he knows how to keep things squeaky clean."

    There's a psychological tactic to that approach... in that it gets someone at Amazon to have a vested interest (emotional connection) with his site. It enlists them as a teammate / partner in the task of fixing the site, then they become an internal advocate for reinstating his account, having worked with him to make things right ;-)

    FWIW, This is how I try to deal with every adversarial customer relations issue... I try to make my problem be "our problem" by casting is it in terms they can relate to or that they get measured on, then I test if I can get the person I'm dealing with to buy into helping me solve our problem. If not, I ask for a supervisor. You'd be surprised how creative they can get once they see your problem as being their problem ;-)
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    • Profile picture of the author mexiken
      Well, unfortunately I found this thread because I am searching for what is meant by "you are artificially increasing your advertising fee earnings by automatically tagging Amazon sessions to your account." because I just got the same email!

      Just like the OP, I have NO idea what I've done wrong. This thread has given me some clues to look into, but honestly, there was no 'sneaky intent' on my part, and I haven't done anything new regarding Amazon recently. So the fact that both the OP and I have gotten this email within a few days of each other, and both have tried to be on the up-and-up, make me think maybe, hopefully, it's something Amazon will be willing to help us with.

      I sent them an email (very similar to the one shared by the OP) right away, but I think I'll try a phone call to see if I have any better luck that route. I'll post if anything comes from it.

      mexiken

      Edit/Update: I called Amazon and spoke to someone who informed me this came from the "escalation department", which doesn't take phone calls. However, she did find the two emails I sent in a little while ago in my attempt to reach someone, and she said she would 'escalate them' (to the escalation department), along with notes from the call that I was confused and concerned about what was going on.

      I don't know if it'll help, but I can say that the woman I spoke to was friendly and as helpful as she could be within her capacity. She also apologized for the confusion and the fact that the email 'freaked me out'. She said that I would be contacted within a few days (by email), and that she would ask them to be more clear and specific about the issue.

      Again, I don't know what will come from it, but speaking to a real person who seemed to genuinely care about the way Amazon handled things was reassuring. Now I just have to sit with fingers crossed that someone from "escalation" is kind enough to treat me the same way.

      Oh, and she also said that as of when we spoke, my account was not yet shut down. This was within 90 minutes of me receiving the original email, so I don't know if that will hold or not. Like I said... fingers crossed!
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  • Profile picture of the author Sojourn
    Just searched the Amazon Associates Discussion Board for this issue and found a thread that may provide some insight: http://forums.prosperotechnologies.c...lp&msg=38862.1

    One post in that thread points to another thread and it's helpful to read both (although they're a bit long). It looks like there was an old version of Amazon's Preview code that may be causing an issue and has resulted in a few folks getting an email termination with the same language as in Kyle's email. The thread outlines how to find and fix the issue and also suggest working with a particular individual in Amazon's enforcement division.

    Not that the outcome was good but, in reading the thread, that could potentially have been contributed to some other issue.
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    • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
      Very interesting & sounds quite familiar.

      We may be nearing an answer.

      Originally Posted by Sojourn View Post

      Just searched the Amazon Associates Discussion Board for this issue and found a thread that may provide some insight: http://forums.prosperotechnologies.c...lp&msg=38862.1

      One post in that thread points to another thread and it's helpful to read both (although they're a bit long). It looks like there was an old version of Amazon's Preview code that may be causing an issue and has resulted in a few folks getting an email termination with the same language as in Kyle's email. The thread outlines how to find and fix the issue and also suggest working with a particular individual in Amazon's enforcement division.

      Not that the outcome was good but, in reading the thread, that could potentially have been contributed to some other issue.
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    • Profile picture of the author cashcow
      Originally Posted by Sojourn View Post

      Just searched the Amazon Associates Discussion Board for this issue and found a thread that may provide some insight: http://forums.prosperotechnologies.c...lp&msg=38862.1

      One post in that thread points to another thread and it's helpful to read both (although they're a bit long). It looks like there was an old version of Amazon's Preview code that may be causing an issue and has resulted in a few folks getting an email termination with the same language as in Kyle's email. The thread outlines how to find and fix the issue and also suggest working with a particular individual in Amazon's enforcement division.

      Not that the outcome was good but, in reading the thread, that could potentially have been contributed to some other issue.

      Sounds like the old Amazon code actually caused cookies to be stuffed, right? So if that is true and you have old code on your site then you are stuffing cookies inadvertently.

      Seems kind of crappy that they would be terminating people for using the code that they gave them in the first place.
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      • Profile picture of the author Sojourn
        Originally Posted by cashcow View Post

        Sounds like the old Amazon code actually caused cookies to be stuffed, right? So if that is true and you have old code on your site then you are stuffing cookies inadvertently.

        Seems kind of crappy that they would be terminating people for using the code that they gave them in the first place.
        Exactly. Of course, it's still 3rd party information in that thread - someone saying what the Amazon rep said, etc., but still...

        I played around with the preview code a year or so ago on one site but could never make it work with WordPress. Now, I'm going to go back and figure out which site that was and make sure I totally removed the code just to be safe!
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        • Profile picture of the author mexiken


          I did it.

          I didn't realize it, but it was my fault.

          A couple of sites I set up a while back when I was just learning about affiliate sites... I followed my 'instructors' instructions to the letter, including adding the JVPress Go Pages plugin. It 'cloaks' and 'i-frames'.

          I am SOL I guess. My bad, my ignorance is going to cost me my Amazon opportunities (I wasn't making much from them, but still a little, and always planning for more).

          I did send a mia culpa letter to Amazon explaining the situation and taking the blame. All I could do was explain and ask for forgiveness and a second chance.

          From the sounds of it, it's not likely that I'll get it. Like someone here said, sometimes the lessons learned leave a scar. Hopefully others can benefit from my foolishness and avoid the same fate.

          *IF* by chance I come out with a better than expected result, I'll let you know.

          Off to go sulk in the corner with my dunce cap on...

          mexiken
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  • Profile picture of the author Crystal78
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    • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
      Crystal,

      We established that much right away.

      What we can't work out is HOW I was cookie stuffing.

      And, apparently it's not just me who has been terminated for this offense and doesn't understand why.

      Originally Posted by Crystal78 View Post

      If I'm reading that right, they're saying you got nuked for cookie stuffing.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sojourn
    Should either of you not be able to recover your accounts, don't give up on your content. Research Skimlinks (not an affiliate link and I have no personal involvement with them). You should be able to promote all the same Amazon products on your site through use of Skimlinks so the content doesn't go to waste.

    I have never used them but if I understand it correctly, you would just link to the Amazon product page (non-affiliate link) and if you have Skimlinks installed on your site it converts the link to an affiliate link through Skimlinks. Skimlinks collects the commissions through their account, keeps a share and awards you the rest.

    This aged post talks a bit about the experience other warriors have had with Skimlinks but also mentions some alternative networks: http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...links-com.html
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  • Profile picture of the author warrich
    I don't know why most of the websites like Paypal, Amazon ban their user's accouunt for some silly issues and without proper eevidence. Cyber Giants like Amazon could have taken actions depending on the thorough full scale enquiry and the evidences obtained.
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    • Profile picture of the author wolfmmiii
      Originally Posted by warrich View Post

      I don't know why most of the websites like Paypal, Amazon ban their user's accouunt for some silly issues and without proper eevidence. Cyber Giants like Amazon could have taken actions depending on the thorough full scale enquiry and the evidences obtained.
      Why would they do that? This is the mentality that gets people into trouble. The issues aren't "silly". These programs want to deal with professionals. They don't want to work with people who can't follow rules. It's really that simple.
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  • Profile picture of the author GetRichMatrix
    Amazon, and others, are not a fan of anyone tricking the system. Some of us (old me included) think that because it's the interwebs, it's OK to be sneaky.

    I've learned it isn't.

    I just looked into my own amazon associates stats and see for instance that I have a CTR for one of my products of 3,24%. Their measure the impressions of their pixel and then the clicks.

    If you do sneaky things, like using an Iframe etc. your CTR will skyrocked since EVERYONE who loaded your page will get the pixel impression AND the click.

    That is unnatural and they must have installed some filters to track affiliates who have an above normal CTR. Well, that's just my guess.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mena Jo
      Hey this might seem like a silly question but I'll ask it anyway.

      Does Amazon's restriction on using iframes extend to all plugins. i.e. I'm using the superfish navigation plugin and that has iframes. Would you say that puts my site at risk of being axed by Amazon?

      Cheers
      Mena
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  • Profile picture of the author cashcow
    This blog post might be of interest to you all:

    Warning to All Affiliate Marketers | Marketing With Sara

    especially the answers she gets straight from Amazon.

    It probably doesn't really help the OP much, but it addresses some of the other questions we have been discussing in this thread.
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    • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
      Lee,

      Good find.

      The inclusion of the requisite Disclosure can't be overemphasized.

      Originally Posted by cashcow View Post

      This blog post might be of interest to you all:

      Warning to All Affiliate Marketers | Marketing With Sara

      especially the answers she gets straight from Amazon.

      It probably doesn't really help the OP much, but it addresses some of the other questions we have been discussing in this thread.
      Signature
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    • Profile picture of the author dfs_dean
      Originally Posted by cashcow View Post

      This blog post might be of interest to you all:

      Warning to All Affiliate Marketers | Marketing With Sara

      especially the answers she gets straight from Amazon.

      It probably doesn't really help the OP much, but it addresses some of the other questions we have been discussing in this thread.
      Thanks for the link to the information. Most useful.

      Lest it be lost with other posts, I'd like to point out that Sara's post that was linked to highlights something many folks won't do. She actually asked Amazon what their policy was. What a novel idea!

      Regardless of some opinions on the way they run their affiliate program, Amazon is generally helpful when asked questions by associates wanting to comply with the guidelines. Yes, I understand, though, that it can be tough, nigh impossible, getting clarification after the fact.

      I see a lot of questions about Amazon (and other programs) on WF. People want to be sure they aren't doing things wrong or they are trying to get a better understanding. Trouble is, a lot of the answers they get start with:

      "I'm not sure, but...."

      "I think I remember reading someplace...."

      "It seems to me that it would probably be...."

      For those who answer questions, and I don't mean to discourage anyone from helping others by any means, the best way to be helpful is to either quote from Amazon or talk from direct experience from a similar situation. Refrain from only offering opinions when they could impact someone's account and hence their business and income.

      We all ask questions here from time to time and we can get some good, very helpful guidance here and elsewhere, as we've all seen throughout this thread. But keep in mind that answers we get here or in other forums and blogs aren't the final authority. Don't be afraid to also ask Amazon. I have not found that they play a "gotcha" game when an affiliate seeks clarification.

      (I guess all this is just my opinion.....take it for what it's worth )

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  • Profile picture of the author Andre83
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    • Profile picture of the author Sojourn
      Originally Posted by Young Samurai View Post

      I appreciate the thought Andre.
      Kyle - Now, you might find this ironic...but I believe Andre was cookie stuffing so you might want to edit your post where you copied his (now deleted) post and delete his comment in full.

      He just copied the first sentence of my original response, posted it as his own and then he had 3 funny image boxes after his comment. If you look at the page source for his comment, there were 3 links to places that dropped a cookie on my computer.

      That's what we get for talking about cookie stuffing....
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      • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
        Sojourn,

        By the time I logged on Andre and my comment have gone.

        The moderator must have sorted it out.

        Ironic, yes.

        You are razor sharp. Nothing gets by you.


        Originally Posted by Sojourn View Post

        Kyle - Now, you might find this ironic...but I believe Andre was cookie stuffing so you might want to edit your post where you copied his (now deleted) post and delete his comment in full.

        He just copied the first sentence of my original response, posted it as his own and then he had 3 funny image boxes after his comment. If you look at the page source for his comment, there were 3 links to places that dropped a cookie on my computer.

        That's what we get for talking about cookie stuffing....
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      • Profile picture of the author cwilliams6009
        Originally Posted by Sojourn View Post

        I believe Andre was cookie stuffing so you might want to edit your post . . .That's what we get for talking about cookie stuffing....
        HAH! I love the hands-on case study!

        I kind of agree that the power balance is way out of whack with amazon v. affiliates. I'm trying to stay away from the biggies for exactly that reason.

        And remember, as a customer too, you're entitled to say "I'm fine with the customer experience but I don't recommend your company because of the way you treat some of your affiliates."
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        • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
          Christine,

          I think the takeaway from this experience is to ensure you have a diversity of revenue streams.

          I wouldn't want to put anyone off trying Amazon. Far from it. They are a great starting point for the newbie.

          One of the main difficulties is the beginner IMer is repeatedly told to pick one program and focus on that alone until you get it right.

          That's what I thought I'd done.

          Originally Posted by cwilliams6009 View Post

          HAH! I love the hands-on case study!

          I kind of agree that the power balance is way out of whack with amazon v. affiliates. I'm trying to stay away from the biggies for exactly that reason.

          And remember, as a customer too, you're entitled to say "I'm fine with the customer experience but I don't recommend your company because of the way you treat some of your affiliates."
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        • Profile picture of the author wolfmmiii
          Originally Posted by cwilliams6009 View Post

          HAH! I love the hands-on case study!

          I kind of agree that the power balance is way out of whack with amazon v. affiliates. I'm trying to stay away from the biggies for exactly that reason.

          And remember, as a customer too, you're entitled to say "I'm fine with the customer experience but I don't recommend your company because of the way you treat some of your affiliates."
          Amazon has treated me very, very well. I'm not sure what power balance you are referring to.
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  • Profile picture of the author russflex
    This is why I hate affiliate programs. You could be making money and then they come along and ban your account. I know Google likes to do it all the time. They are suspicious of all top earners. I find it better just to sell your own products.
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  • Profile picture of the author johnmags
    Sojourn, you provide good advice about Amazon. Thanks a lot. I have learned many things to stay on track with the affiliate program of Amazon.
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  • Profile picture of the author Tim Franklin
    I am starting to notice more of these type threads where users, publishers, marketers, even buyers, are getting terminated, now this seems like a really bad way to go about generating good public relations, yet we are seeing this more often these days.

    What this could mean is that in the very near future, making money as an affiliate may cease to exist, this is likely not something that will happen over night,

    But it is starting to become something of a concern, as more companies adopt this catch 22 iron fist method of dealing with the public, more people will likely begin to feel like these companies are not to be trusted, I know I feel that way when I see this kind of published message.

    And I order a lot of merchandise from Amazon, this is like shooting your self in the foot, its not going to kill you right away but it might become very painful.

    When one person tells 20 people about a negative experience, with a retail company, regardless of the actual circumstances, the net result is that even if that corporation spends millions in advertising to overcome that negative result, it still is not going to change the negative created by the same company that ends up spending millions on public relations messages.

    This kind of "STUPID" management, makes me wonder where Amazon find such Genius, to hire in the first place.

    But they are not alone, look at Google, (they are Idiots)

    What this tells me is that the handwriting is on the wall, if you depend upon affiliate income, you better be prepared to find other methods of making money online, because the pool is not getting larger, its getting smaller.
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    • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
      Tim,

      I think you have stated the matter very well.

      Civility and a little grace costs nothing.

      If I have committed a serious enough offense to merit expulsion then please tell me in plain language so I can understand what I've done and others can avoid doing the same. And I will hold up my hands and say I'm guilty and I'll know to avoid the same with other affiliate programs.

      I may be naive or silly but I think every one deserves to be treated fairly and my definition of fairness includes being clear when you meet out punishment. For Amazon to be so obtrusive, uncommunicative and aloof reflects badly on them.

      Originally Posted by Tim Franklin View Post

      I am starting to notice more of these type threads where users, publishers, marketers, even buyers, are getting terminated, now this seems like a really bad way to go about generating good public relations, yet we are seeing this more often these days.

      What this could mean is that in the very near future, making money as an affiliate may cease to exist, this is likely not something that will happen over night,

      But it is starting to become something of a concern, as more companies adopt this catch 22 iron fist method of dealing with the public, more people will likely begin to feel like these companies are not to be trusted, I know I feel that way when I see this kind of published message.

      And I order a lot of merchandise from Amazon, this is like shooting your self in the foot, its not going to kill you right away but it might become very painful.

      When one person tells 20 people about a negative experience, with a retail company, regardless of the actual circumstances, the net result is that even if that corporation spends millions in advertising to overcome that negative result, it still is not going to change the negative created by the same company that ends up spending millions on public relations messages.

      This kind of "STUPID" management, makes me wonder where Amazon find such Genius, to hire in the first place.

      But they are not alone, look at Google, (they are Idiots)

      What this tells me is that the handwriting is on the wall, if you depend upon affiliate income, you better be prepared to find other methods of making money online, because the pool is not getting larger, its getting smaller.
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  • Profile picture of the author agc
    I've noticed a trend in business where businesses who want to grow their market share will take on franchises, independent sales reps, local dealers, or in the internet space, affiliates.

    Then, one day, they realize that they've pretty much hit the wall on market share because they have total geographic coverage and the any market share can come ONLY from beating the competition in direct head to head battle.

    But they still want to grow profits.

    What happens? They start squeezing the channels that they used to reach that market share. first to go, independent sales reps. then the franchises get squeezed, discontinued, abused and sold down the river. Next comes..... and on and on.

    There was a thread about a Star Trek affiliate program being cancelled. I never heard if it was because they were exiting the business, or if it was because they decided they didn't need to pay sales commissions any more. If it was the former, then that's life. but if it was the latter, then that's just scummy, skeezy business, the stuff of big banks, and big corporations.

    What's my point? When amazon stops growing (or being able to grow) in market share, the affiliate program's days will be numbered. Oh they'd deny it now... but when the time comes and they have to choose between laying people off to improve profitability and screwing the affiliates that taught people to buy esoteric items on amazon in the first place... you just better have your "affiliate grease" and knee pads ready.
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    • Profile picture of the author mattb348
      Young Samurai, do you intend to just fix your site(s) then create a new Amazon account? I sure as heck would!

      I don't think Amazon is even gonna notice if you make a new account. And I highly doubt they have black listed your domain(s) and or sites.

      While you could use the same address for the new account, I would NOT do that.

      I would just use a PO Box. Could be from the same town, but I would at least use a PO Box instead of the same exact address.

      Using a different name would be a good idea too. Do you have a GF or wife or would your parents/siblings be willing to let you use their name for the new account?

      Also, if I remember right, you have to show Amazon one of your websites on the new account application. Don't use any of the sites that you have used for Amazon for this. If worse comes to worse, just use someone ELSES site, as long as they have private domain registration (IE "Domains by Proxy) enabled

      If worse comes to worse, you can 301 redirect all of your sites then make another Amazon account (assuming that they actually figure out that you are using your existing websites but under a different name/amazon account.

      Sure, it would take a long time for your rankings to come back if you 301 redirected them to new domains, but that is why I would do that as a LAST RESORT.

      However, I HIGHLY doubt it will matter if you use the same sites/domains over again. Just make a new Amazon account with a different address (just use a PO Box).

      Also, if you do direct deposit, make sure you use a different bank account than what you were using before.

      If you choose to use your name for the new account, change up the spelling of your name if possible. Example: if your name is Matt, and you registered your name as "Matt" on the old amazon account, then try doing "Matthew" instead.

      This will hopefully avoid Amazon automatically red flagging the new account

      Heck, maybe you could try using a middle name too or something I dunno.

      Oya, and one more thing that I forgot. Make sure you use a different IP address when you make a new account. Just use a proxy if need be. And on top of that, clean your browser's cache/cookies.

      Best of luck to you!
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      • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
        Matt,

        Can't say I haven't thought about it.

        I could sell the sites to my wife for, lets say, $1 a piece.

        and, I could then "assist" her in running them as Amazon affiliate sites.

        But, even then I'd still like to know for certain what was my error so as to avoid it again.

        Originally Posted by mattb348 View Post

        Young Samurai, do you intend to just fix your site(s) then create a new Amazon account? I sure as heck would!

        I don't think Amazon is even gonna notice if you make a new account. And I highly doubt they have black listed your domain(s) and or sites.

        While you could use the same address for the new account, I would NOT do that.

        I would just use a PO Box. Could be from the same town, but I would at least use a PO Box instead of the same exact address.

        Using a different name would be a good idea too. Do you have a GF or wife or would your parents/siblings be willing to let you use their name for the new account?

        Also, if I remember right, you have to show Amazon one of your websites on the new account application. Don't use any of the sites that you have used for Amazon for this. If worse comes to worse, just use someone ELSES site, as long as they have private domain registration (IE "Domains by Proxy) enabled

        If worse comes to worse, you can 301 redirect all of your sites then make another Amazon account (assuming that they actually figure out that you are using your existing websites but under a different name/amazon account.

        Sure, it would take a long time for your rankings to come back if you 301 redirected them to new domains, but that is why I would do that as a LAST RESORT.

        However, I HIGHLY doubt it will matter if you use the same sites/domains over again. Just make a new Amazon account with a different address (just use a PO Box).

        Also, if you do direct deposit, make sure you use a different bank account than what you were using before.

        If you choose to use your name for the new account, change up the spelling of your name if possible. Example: if your name is Matt, and you registered your name as "Matt" on the old amazon account, then try doing "Matthew" instead.

        This will hopefully avoid Amazon automatically red flagging the new account

        Heck, maybe you could try using a middle name too or something I dunno.

        Oya, and one more thing that I forgot. Make sure you use a different IP address when you make a new account. Just use a proxy if need be. And on top of that, clean your browser's cache/cookies.

        Best of luck to you!
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  • Profile picture of the author seobro
    I think our opinion on amazon. Certainly, it needs a revision. Hey, in a down ward direction as they say. Sadly it seems amazon ripped a page out of pay pal customer service. Well, more than just one page. Like a whole chapter by the way they are going. At one time they use to provide an excellent service. It is my duty to inform you. That is no longer our case.
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    • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
      Seobro,

      With all that's been said I'd still like to be reinstated but there is no question their client communication skills could be worked on.

      Originally Posted by seobro View Post

      I think our opinion on amazon. Certainly, it needs a revision. Hey, in a down ward direction as they say. Sadly it seems amazon ripped a page out of pay pal customer service. Well, more than just one page. Like a whole chapter by the way they are going. At one time they use to provide an excellent service. It is my duty to inform you. That is no longer our case.
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  • Profile picture of the author wolfmmiii
    They did tell you in understandable language.

    You are a cookie stuffer, whether you know what it is or not. This is a serious offense for any affiliate program. Claiming ignorance generally doesn't fly.
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    • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
      Read the reply from Amazon.

      Originally Posted by wolfmmiii View Post

      They did tell you in understandable language.

      You are a cookie stuffer, whether you know what it is or not. This is a serious offense for any affiliate program. Claiming ignorance generally doesn't fly.
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      • Profile picture of the author wolfmmiii
        Originally Posted by Young Samurai View Post

        Read the reply from Amazon.
        I did. The first reply is telling you that you were stuffing cookies. The second one was telling you that you were i-framing their site. Both are big no-no's.

        That's pretty clear language to me.
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        • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
          I think if you've followed the thread you'll see the first email is a general, catch-all email which covers quite a bit including using faulty links supplied by Amazon.

          The second email is specific to me. Yes, I iframed. I didn't cookie stuff.


          Originally Posted by wolfmmiii View Post

          I did. The first reply is telling you that you were stuffing cookies. The second one was telling you that you were i-framing their site. Both are big no-no's.

          That's pretty clear language to me.
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris Thompson
    Sounds like Amazon's reply means you can just open a new account and stop iframing. You've lost whatever income they didn't pay out yet.
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    • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
      Chris,

      That's the way I read it and I think I'll give it a go.

      Originally Posted by Chris Thompson View Post

      Sounds like Amazon's reply means you can just open a new account and stop iframing. You've lost whatever income they didn't pay out yet.
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      Kyle
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  • Profile picture of the author DeadRooster
    Kyle -- I'm really sorry you had your account banned and had to go through this, but I sure learned a lot from your thread. Thanks for all the updates.
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    • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
      Thanks William.

      Hopefully someone may avoid making the same mistake.

      Originally Posted by DeadRooster View Post

      Kyle -- I'm really sorry you had your account banned and had to go through this, but I sure learned a lot from your thread. Thanks for all the updates.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Hill
    So where's the UPDATE?
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    • Profile picture of the author Young Samurai
      http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...ml#post5890264

      Originally Posted by Mike Hill View Post

      So where's the UPDATE?
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      • Profile picture of the author AmazonBanned
        I guess I am the latest member of the automatically tagging Amazon sessions to your account club.

        Since none of my sites use cookies at all, I am still mystified.

        I will be following some of the links from the discussions above and trying to see if I can spot what I did wrong, but with about 20,000 pages on my web sites, it is going to take at least a hint from Amazon on what they think I am doing wrong, where. I am looking forward to their reply.

        I do wonder what my account balance was as I have recently had a huge traffic spike on one of my sites which quite likely resulted in a spike in Amazon traffic.

        This sucks.
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  • Profile picture of the author AmazonBanned
    All of my recent links were generated with the Amazon widget that is very convenient in Chrome. But there are probably ancient Amazon links on some of my old pages. I see reference that old Amazon code violated their TOS. It is certainly possible there are some on my old pages. Some of the pages on my site date from 1993 and haven't been updated.
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    • Profile picture of the author mattb348
      Yet another reason to avoid cloaking/masking.

      Seems like an easier fix than originally thought.

      Just get rid of the cloaking, make a new amazon account using your wife's details, and call it a day.

      Note: use a different IP address when making the new account.

      I'd be a LOT of money that you will be just fine.

      And on top of that, if google manually reviews your site, you stand a much better chance of avoiding a serious penality. I think google hates iframes just as much as they hate misleading redirects (er they probably hate iframes even MORE than misleading redirects).

      Good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author Cataclysm1987
    I didn't know iframing was against their TOS. I learned something new today!
    Signature

    No signature here today!

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  • Profile picture of the author OptimumChoices
    Wow! Quite the education! Thanks for all the posts, as they were exceptionally helpful for me (as a newbie), to make certain my plug-ins weren't causing potential problems for my sites.
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