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Amazon Associates Is Stealing From Me – Why You Should Be Careful About Using Their Affiliate Program

Okay. This blog post is likely going to land me in hot water. I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon Associates notifies me that my account has suddenly been closed. But it’s time I spoke up about the fact that Amazon Associates is literally stealing money from me.

Yep. Stealing.

Please note: Some of the links in my posts are affiliate links. I get commissions for purchases made through those links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases when you buy something from those links.

And it’s not like Amazon Associates missed one month of a payment. Nope. Amazon Associated hasn’t paid me for 18 months.

Yep. A year and a half that this “glitch” has existed and no one at this mega-corporation either cares or is capable of solving the problem.

A Little History Of My Participate In The Amazon Associates Program

I’ve been a loyal part of the Amazon Associates program since way back in 2001. That’s more than 20 years that I have been part of the program.

That’s longer than some bloggers have even been alive.

Don’t believe me? Here’s an image showing my first payout from the program way back in January of 2001.

My very first Amazon Associates payment in 2001

Overall, I’ve been pretty happy with the program. Sure, the commissions have declined over the years, but the volume of products has increased dramatically and there’s always an opportunity to link to something that might be of interest to a reader and might generate a little extra revenue.

That relatively optimistic attitude toward Amazon Affiliates, however, has soured recently. At this point, I’ve exhausted all my options and I have even emailed [email protected] to see if maybe someone could do something, but I’ve pretty much lost all hope that I’m ever going to see a single cent from Amazon again.

Hence, this blog post.

Maybe you’re in a similar situation. Maybe you have started to notice that Amazon isn’t paying you anymore. Maybe you have reached out to their support only to get the “Amazon two-step” where they tell you the problem is fixed and you just need to wait for the next payout.

Don’t believe it.

Amazon chat support people don’t have a clue how to fix any payment issues. In fact, it’s become clear that they actually don’t have any access to any of the payment systems.

So, if you are opening a chat or emailing Amazon Associates support with the hope that they will fix your payment issues, abandon all hope.

They cannot fix your problem.

Here’s how things have gone down in my case:

  • As I mentioned, I have been an Amazon Associates member since 2001.
  • My payout threshold has always been $10 and my payment method has been a check. That means that whenever my account reaches $10 I would receive a physical check from Amazon for whatever was in my account.
  • This has worked just fine for 20 years. I drive traffic to Amazon, people buy products, Amazon generates revenue, Amazon cuts me a check for my commission. Yes, the image below shows direct deposit…more on that later.

My Amazon Affiliates Payment Method And Limit

Sound great, right?

It was okay. Lots and lots of bloggers have made more money than me from Amazon, but I’ve been happy with my revenues.

Until everything went wrong.

The Problem Really Started When Amazon Stopped Sending Me Payouts

This chart pretty much tells the entire story.

Amazon Associates Refuses To Pay What Is Owed

For those not familiar with a chart like this, let’s start at the bottom:

  • In October of 2021, my revenues had exceeded my $10.00 minimum payout. In fact, this issue had been going on before October, but I was optimistic it was just a glitch and Amazon would solve it.
  • Come November, another $28.34 was owed to me, bringing my grand total owed by Amazon to $229.56.
  • Make your way up the chart and you’ll see that by July of 2022, Amazon now owes me more than $600 in Amazon Associates commissions.

Rather than getting a payout, I would get this email in my inbox.

NOTE: I am copying and pasting the entire email into this blog post because it might help others who are Googling some of the verbiage from the email. For those who don’t want to read the entire email, here’s what it says:

  1. We couldn’t pay you
  2. Something is wrong with your payment method
  3. You might not have completed your tax review
  4. Go into your account and check your payment method and tax review to ensure that they are fully completed.
  5. If you have any issues, reach out to the Amazon Associates help team.
  6. Most importantly – When you don’t see an error message at the top of your Amazon Associates dashboard, your payments will resume.

Dear Amazon Associate,

We have recently made payments to Associates for the commission income earned in the program during the month of April 2022. However, we were unable to pay you because of one of the following reasons:
* Preferred method for receiving payment (eg; EFT, Check or Gift Card) was not indicated
* EFT was indicated but a previous disbursement into your bank account failed
* You have not completed mandatory tax interview or tax information needs to be updated.
* We will not be able to pay you if you indicated while taking the tax information interview that you provide your services both inside and outside the United States. This means that you are physically present inside the United States for part, but not all, of the time you are doing business with the Amazon Associates program. Merely being a member of the Amazon Associates US program does not mean that you supply your services both inside and outside the United States. You can retake the TAX information interview and answer the question as ‘No’ if you think you answered the question as ‘Yes’ in error.

Please go to Associates Central to update your information so that we can process your payment as soon as possible:

* To change your payee information, go to Associates Central >> Account Settings >> Change your contact information ( https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/network/your-account/payee-info.html ).
* To change your bank account information, go to Associates Central >> Account Settings >> Change your payment method (under Pay me by direct deposit) ( https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/network/your-account/payment-info.html ).
* To change your tax information, go to Associates Central >> AccountSettings >> Change your Tax Information (https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/network/your-account/main.html)
* If you do provide services both inside and outside the United States, you will need to supply some additional information before we can pay you. We will reach out to you to gather this information.

Please update your account information as soon as possible. We will hold this payment and any future payments until you make the necessary changes. You will know we have processed your payment when the payment error message disappears from the top of Associates Central homepage.

We appreciate your feedback. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us anytime at https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/contact.

Thanks again for participating in the Amazon Associates Program.

Sincerely,
The Amazon.com Associates Program


I know, that’s a long email. But like I said, #6 is the most important one on the list.

Why is #6 the most important?

Because I don’t have any error on my Amazon Associates dashboard.

Yep, no error. So let’s take the issues that the email outlines one at a time and evaluate them.

Preferred method for receiving payment (eg; EFT, Check or Gift Card) was not indicated

As the screen capture above indicates and, as I have outlined, I have been receiving checks from Amazon just fine. It wasn’t until May of 2022 that an customer service representative suggested that I switch over to direct deposit to see if that solved the issue.

So, per their recommendation, I  switched over to have the Amazon Associates payments go directly into my business bank account and guess what.

No payments have been made.

I mentioned above that the screen capture says “Pay By Direct Deposit” even though I had been receiving checks previously. This is why that screen capture says that.

So, setting up payment method is not the reason Amazon Associates isn’t paying me anything.

EFT was indicated but a previous disbursement into your bank account failed

Nope.

I checked, double-checked, and triple checked to make sure that all my direct deposit information was correct.

Plus, this problem existed LONG before I set my payment method to direct deposit. Amazon Associates wasn’t sending physical checks, either, so the problem isn’t with the disbursement method.

You have not completed mandatory tax interview or tax information needs to be updated.

Nope.

Not an issue either. In fact, several Amazon Associates customer representatives have checked my account to make sure that my tax information is correct and scratched their collective heads when they saw that wasn’t the issue.

Amazon Associates Tax Status Completed

See that orange box? That confirms that my tax documents have been submitted and Amazon has everything they need to be able to pay me my commissions.

In fact, the little grey box clearly says:

Your tax information has been validated and your tax status is “Complete”. Nothing further is required at this time.

Still. No payments.

So, to recap:

  • Payment method is set correctly
  • Payments are not being refused (because they aren’t even being sent)
  • Tax information is correct and has been validated by Amazon Associates

Is This Problem Unique To Me? Or Are Others Experiencing The Same Thing?

It looks as though this is an issue that occasionally pops its ugly head up around the internet.

So, How Do You Fix A Problem That Amazon Won’t Really Acknowledge Exists?

The answer is you try to contact Amazon Associates support.

Here are a few excerpts of the type of Question and Answer that I get from Amazon Associates support:

Me: I have an open issue with the payments team and they were supposed to follow up with me by 07/12 but I haven’t heard anything.

Amazon Associates Support: I can see that a previous agent did escalate this issue but we are still waiting for an update.

Me: The last agent told me that the follow up was supposed to be by 07/12. Has that changed?

Amazon Associates Support: I’m sorry if a previous agent gave you an exact date, currently we are still waiting on an update and do not have an exact date for this.

Cool.

This is just one example of the fact that there are no standardized answers that Amazon Associates customer support reps follow. In fact, one rep told me that he would email me directly when he had opened a ticket with the payments team. That never happened.

Another rep told me about the follow-up date, which the next rep said isn’t a thing. So the first rep just made up a date?

Then, when I asked for some sort of tracking ticket or issue ID, this is what I got:

Me: is there a case# or ticket# I can have for reference?

Amazon Associates Support: We do not provide ticket numbers as they are internal information and would not be any use to you.

So, basically “go pound sand, Sean”.

After months and months and months of worrying about whether I’m going to get paid from Amazon Associates, I’m done worrying. Instead, I’m going to start documenting the issues here so other people who are experiencing issues getting paid by Amazon Associates might gain a little knowledge of what I’m experiencing.

So, What’s Next In The Amazon Associates Story?

I honestly don’t know.

Supposedly, I have a case open with the “Payments Team”. If that team actually exists, who knows. Amazon has probably automated everything so there is no human being who can actually review my issue and resolve it.

Each month, I will receive my email that I received no payment and each month I’m going to open a chat support.

Will there be a resolution? Who Knows!

Will Amazon Associates stop stealing money from me? Who knows.

Will Amazon kick me out of there affiliate program? Who knows.

Stay tuned, though, folks. I will be updating this every month as the saga continues.

Cheers!

–Sean


Amazon Associates Non-Payment Issue – Update July 2022

In an effort to help anyone else out there who is not getting paid by Amazon Associates, I’m going to update this post each month until the issue is (hopefully) resolved.

This month, I received the same email above saying that I didn’t get paid because there is something wrong with my account. So, I reached out to Amazon Associations via their chat tool and here are the results:

You are now connected to [Name Removed] from Associate Support.
Amazon Associates Support: Hello, Thank you for contacting Amazon, My name is [Name Removed], Nice to meet you.
Me: Hi [Name Removed].
Amazon Associates Support: How can I help you?
Me: I have an open issue with the payments team. It’s been ongoing for months and I still haven’t received any update from anyone. Can you check on it for me? I just got my latest “you didn’t get paid” email.
Amazon Associates Support: Ok, Give me a few minutes, I’m checking *
Me: Thank you.
Amazon Associates Support: Please wait a little longer on the line, while I report the problem with other advisors from the customer service department.
Me: Sure.
Amazon Associates Support: Have you updated your payment and tax information yet?
Me: I have done this many times. I have changed my payment process from check to direct deposit. There is no warning in my dashboard saying anything is wrong. I have ensured that my billing address is correct. I have chatted with multiple Amazon Associates representatives over about six months and no one can fix it.
Me: So, as I mentioned, they opened a ticket with the payments team.
Me: That ticket remains open and it would be helpful if you can check on it for me to see if there are any additional notes from the payment team or if any progress has been made.
Amazon Associates Support: Ok, Give me a few minutes, I’m checking *
Me: Thank you. Appreciate your help!
Amazon Associates Support: Thank you for waiting on the line, at this moment I am waiting for a response from the advisory team, please wait a little longer
Me: Okay. Thanks.
Amazon Associates Support: We are sorry for the inconvenience caused, we are currently working to resolve the problem with your most recent payment, we will notify you by email, once we determine the best resolution for the problem.
Me: So, there isn’t any progress on the ticket, but you can still see that a ticket is open with the Payments team?
Amazon Associates Support: Honestly, I can see that a ticket was generated but the system does not allow me to review the detailed escalation, because it is being managed by another advisor
Amazon Associates Support: In any case, I report the problem to the advisers in charge.
Me: Is there any way for me to chat with that other advisor? I just feel like every month, I get told “please wait” and another month goes by with no action from anyone at Amazon.
Me: It’s like you just hope I’ll go away so you can keep my money.
Me: Keeping money that is owed to me = theft.
Me: And Amazon hasn’t paid me since January of 2021 now
Me: That’s 18 months of theft.
Amazon Associates Support: I understand, I’m sorry you had this bad experience, unfortunately there is no way I can put you in contact with that specific representative
Me: I don’t understand why an issue that has existed for 18 months isn’t being properly escalated.
Me: So, to summarize.
Me: You can’t help me.
Me: I should just keep on waiting for some other Amazon Associate representative to “take care of this”.
Me: and there’s nothing I can do to escalate it.
Me: Is that correct?
Amazon Associates Support: the problem has already been escalated, you can try to contact us again and another agent will assist you
Amazon Associates Support: unfortunately there is no way i can solve this problem right now
Me: It’s Ok. It’s what I hear every time I open a chat with an Amazon Associates “customer service” representative. They tell me someone else will help me.
Me: Here’s the problem. No one ever does.
Amazon Associates Support: We apologize for the inconvenience, we are currently working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
Me: Kinda done believing that.
Me: Would you believe it if you were in my shoes?
Amazon Associates Support: Sure, sorry for the trouble caused, sadly the system doesn’t allow me to take further action in this case

As you can see…another month has gone by with an open ticket with the Amazon Payments team with no action and no update. So, in other words, Amazon continues to keep money that they owe to me.

I’ll keep you updated, but I’m very curious to hear from anyone else out there who is not getting paid from Amazon Associates. Please share your experiences in the comments, especially if you were able to resolve the issue.

Thanks!

–Sean


Amazon Associates Non-Payment Issue – Update #2 July 2022

So they Amazon Customer Service associate in the chat exchange above kept mentioning that they couldn’t “access the system” which made me start to think that they were someone new and not a senior associate.

To see what happened if I tried to get someone with a little more seniority, I opened a new chat and asked whether the person could “access the system”. Based on their response, I was pretty sure this was someone with a little more experience. They were able to get me some more details and (it sounds like) even update the ticket with the payments team to see if he could get the issue moving forward.

This person was definitely able to see more details about the issue. He even knew which customer service rep had opened the ticket with the Payments team back in May and was able to do something that is supposed to be moving the ticket forward.

NOTE: The ticket did get a little “heated” in the middle. I think I was super-frustrated and maybe coming off a little angry and he was sensing that. It all worked out well, though.

Here’s the transcript of the chat.

You are now connected to [NAME REMOVED] from Associate Support.
Me: Hi [NAME REMOVED].
Amazon Associates Support: Hello, my name is [NAME REMOVED]. I’m here to help you today.
Me: Hi [NAME REMOVED]. The last customer service representative I chatted with said they didn’t have access to “the system” to see if my issue has made any progress with the payments team. Can you access “the system”?
Amazon Associates Support: We do not have access to tickets once submitted i can check to see when the first was submitted and go by a timeline to see.
Amazon Associates Support: Only our payments team and the original maker of the ticket have access
Me: So, how do I get an update on the status?
Amazon Associates Support: you have a followup on your account for the original ticket creator to check the resolution
Me: I’m not sure I understand what that means.
Me: No one is following up with me. I keep having to ask.2:14:34 PM
Amazon Associates Support: hes good, he has been here a while so he know what he is doing . the one that created the ticket has a hold on your account for him to respond back to you so he will give you an update
Amazon Associates Support: his status is showing no update from payments department at this time
Me: Who is going to follow up with me?
Amazon Associates Support: [NAME REMOVED] was the agent you spoke with
Amazon Associates Support: when he gets an answer he will reach out
Me: I think I chatted with [NAME REMOVED] back in May
Amazon Associates Support: Yeah that was the original ticket.
Me: So…a ticket is open for 3 months, with no update.
Amazon Associates Support: what was the ticket placed for, which payments.
Me: Is this something normal at Amazon? Do tickets go without updates for months?
Me: I haven’t been paid since January of 2021
Me: The ticket is for every payment since January of 2021
Me: 18 months
Amazon Associates Support: we can only submit payment tickets, and get a response. if payments are being held by a different bank it makes it difficult. but payments are loading now for me
Me: I’m not sure what that means. What do you mean payments are loading for you? I just got another email from Amazon Associates saying that my account couldn’t be paid this month.
Amazon Associates Support: sir i m trying to help i have your payments loading for me, if you don’t want my help please chat a different agent
Me: I’m asking for your help. I’m asking to understand what your saying means.
Me: What does it mean “payments are loading for you”. Are you trying to look at my payments?
Me: Can you see whether my payments are processing or stuck? That would be really helpful
Amazon Associates Support: no we aren’t submitting payments for some reason , your last payment on this store id is showing me 7/30/02
Amazon Associates Support: when was the last time you updated your banking info on file?
Amazon Associates Support: this is for [ID Removed]
Me: That is correct.
Me: In March and April, I updated my banking information. In April, I even switched from payment via check to direct deposit to see if that might resolve the issue
Me: [NAME REMOVED] could see that I had changed my payment info, which is why he thought it was strange that didn’t fix the problem
Me: So, he opened the ticket with the payments team.
Amazon Associates Support: Okay, my system says to contact AP and then follow up with you in 3 business days. i am going to try to get it solved for us. i should get an update but the payment wont be issued until payments are resent at the end of next month. that is probably what [NAME REMOVED] was waiting for to see if you would get paid out today.
Amazon Associates Support: but give me a couple moments to set the ticket and then set the re-message to update you.
Me: That would be great. I’m okay on waiting for the payment, I just wanted to know that the issue is getting addressed.
Me: Thanks. I’ll hang on.2:28:55 PM
Amazon Associates Support: thank you, still working on it. should not take more than 5 minutes
Me: Ok. Thanks.
[NAME REMOVED]: okay the problem looks to me that you had checks before and then didn’t meet the threshold 100 for payout so the system kind of froze. so i will receive an update from our payments team and be able to correspond with them directly. i will update you Thursday when i work unless overtime is scheduled Tuesday or Wednesday or unless they update me tomorrow.
[NAME REMOVED]: now that you have direct deposit they shouldn’t have any problem
Me: Thanks so much, [NAME REMOVED]. I appreciate you looking into this closely
Me: Are you able to follow up with me when you hear something?
Me: or will [NAME REMOVED] do that?
[NAME REMOVED]: no problem , sorry it took so long. Praying we get ya your money!!! i will follow up, hopefully he will solve the issue before. but i will 100% be following up. if i hear nothing i will let you know through email that i heard nothing and we will try something else or reach out to whoever we have to. but so far i am submitting the only ticket we can .
Me: Thanks, again, [NAME REMOVED]. Hope to hear from you soon. 🙂
[NAME REMOVED]: have a great day 🙂
Me: You too!

We’ll see if this makes any additional difference. One interesting thing that he did acknowledge was that the last time I was actually paid through Amazon Associates was in 2002. That’s 18 years of earning that hasn’t been paid out.

Strange, right? They were small numbers each month (sometimes a couple of dollars) but technically once my account reached $10 they should have sent me a check. Right?

More details to come as I track the progress of this issue.

–Sean