Living Better

The Amazon Associates Scam: How The Smile Screws Its Workers

Amazon has a popular program called “Amazon Associates” which allegedly pays website owners to advertise Amazon products. By putting a code onto links that go to Amazon, tagging those links as belonging to the website, owners can be paid a commission based on clicks and sales.

In theory, it sounds like a mutually beneficial program. Amazon makes sales, website content creators can sell merchandise, and shoppers have a fast way to get the cheap prices that Amazon offers.

Here’s the problem: Amazon hates to pay. They like to make grandiose promises about how much the Amazon Associates program can make businesses. Indeed, when you sign up and start selling, the quaint little spreadsheet they offer you quickly shows your earnings climbing. It’s easy to believe that monetization is possible this way.

Then, the 1st of the month comes, when Amazon said they would pay you.

Nothing happens.

Well, that’s not entirely true. On that quaint little Amazon spreadsheet it will suddenly show that you have been paid. That the money is either coming directly into your bank account, or it’s winging its way through the magic of the postal service to your mailbox.

That’s the end of what you can expect.

Amazon, despite being able to accept payment from you in any form under the sun, seems utterly unable to actually send payments out, no matter how easy you make it.

Amazon Associates Payment Methods and Failures

If you sign up to be ripped off by Amazon’s lies, you’ll be granted three primary ways to receive your payment. They are.

Direct Deposit

You can give Amazon your account and routing numbers, and supposedly the money you are owed will be deposited into your bank account. No fuss, no hassle. Except, Amazon has specifically chosen a convoluted deposit operation that doesn’t work effectively with most banks. Especially major ones.

The larger your bank, the less likely it seems to be that it will interface with the proprietary automated programming devised by Amazon. This is done wholly by design. It goes by many names, such as “directed incompetence” or “intentional helplessness.” What it breaks down to is simple. Amazon has crafted a method of direct deposit that is intentionally difficult, because it makes payment more complex, and creates more “failures.”

While exact numbers are impossible to determine, estimates show that as many as 71% of Amazon Associate accounts will throw an error when it comes to direct deposits.

Even more important, when your payment fails, you will receive no notice that it failed. Further, Amazon will ignore the failure and pretend that you were paid. The cute spreadsheet of your earnings will show that you were remunerated, even though your account remains bone dry.

Check By Mail

The second major option that the Amazon Associates program offers for payment of the advertisers that sell Amazon goods is money by check. First off, opting for this choice will mean that a “processing fee” of $15 per check will be taken out by Amazon.

This is precisely the reason that the failure of direct deposit is so important. Amazon needs a way to recoup part of the money they don’t want to pay you, and a fee is pure profit. So, they’re ripping you off there.

The other issue that comes up with the issuance of checks by Amazon, is they have been shown to fail to arrive at least once every three months, for every associate. Interestingly, the checks that were “lost in the mail” were consistently higher value than the checks that were delivered. Repeatedly, Associates are finding that large paydays end up in huge disappointments. Which leaves the third option.

Amazon Credit

The third and final payment method is obvious. Amazon will pay you by allowing you to shop at their store. Instead of being paid in real money, like the hard-working advertiser and content creator that you are, you’ll be paid in “Magical Amazon Bucks” which are redeemable…only at Amazon.

Needless to say, while the other payment methods fail between 25% and 71% of the time, Amazon credit payments go through without an issue almost 100%. Associates polled have shown that failures of the Amazon Credit payment method are statistically negligible. Meaning less than 1%.

This is why Amazon has the associates program. It’s profiteering, plain and simple. The company fails to pay in actual money, forcing advertisers that drive millions of sales to Amazon to use the Amazon Credit payment model. Thus, when the Associates buy from Amazon (paying full retail) Amazon can again recoup its expenses, creating an endless cycle of Amazon profit that ignores the people doing the actual work.

Amazon Associates Customer Service Won’t Help

Looking at the payment problems can be daunting, but Amazon does have customer service representatives – who are paid on a bi-weekly basis, like a professional operation – that can be contacted with a check fails to arrive or a deposit fails to go through.

Contacting customer service will give you no results. Each agent will delay you with a different tactic. Whether you call or email, you will be repeatedly re-routed, forever speaking with or emailing with a new employee who is comfortably receiving actual checks from Amazon, solely for the purpose of stopping Associates from collecting payment.

The customer service employees are instructed by Amazon (which enforces Non-Disclosure Agreements about their shady practices, muzzling employees) to curtail attempts by Associates to attain payment. The higher the dollar amount, the more convoluted the process will become.

Associates who complain about the lack of payment will commonly be instructed to wait. They will be told by representatives that a separate department must be contacted. That their records show a payment having gone through successfully, while you sit with no money.

Customer service reps within Amazon are empowered to make false claims to slow or frustrate attempts to receive payment. They are trained in stalling tactics, obfuscation, and given unworkable infrastructure that grinds to a halt the moment money is asked to go out. The sole purpose they provide is as an emotional sense of accomplishment, all while payment fails to materialize for month after month, with nothing but polite emails to show for it.

Payments Ultimately Disappear

Eventually, large payments won’t be worked out by the system and will be lost. Amazon will claim you are paid until such time as you take legal action against them – which is difficult to afford when Amazon is withholding part of your earnings. Small payments will continue to come through, with these periodic losses mounting up over time.

Estimated loss of the average Amazon Associate is $6,991.82 per annum due to these practices. Nearly 7 grand a person goes out the window, while Amazon makes many, many times that from the ads that Associates display.

Can You Make Money With Amazon Associates

Those who are hoping to make money using the Amazon Associates program are going to find that they can. But, they will be dealing with frustrating service, an immense loss of yearly income in the thousands, and be treated with utter contempt by a company that is using their work to advertise. So, consider that before signing up to partner with Amazon’s Associates.

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