I recently received the following question from John Morrison:
|I have recently conducted some investigative reporting on Simplx. I discovered one of their tactics is to presell Amazon.com items on eBay and then purchase the item using affiliate links and having Amazon ship it directly to the customer. I asked Amazon if this was an acceptable practice and was told it could get me banned. However when I reported the behavior and gave specific examples I got the impression it wasn't a matter of concern. As a result I have stopped reporting the infractions as I come across them. Did I misinterpret or does Amazon not really care?|
John, thanks for the question. I love discovering ingenious ways to take advantage of the Amazon Associates program. The model you described is indeed clever.
To understand whether it represents legitimate use of the Amazon Associates program, it is good to understand the big-picture rationale of the program itself. The purpose of the Amazon Associates program is to allow millions of web sites to offer their readers an opportunity to purchase a particular product from Amazon as opposed to purchase this product from a competitor or as the case may be, not make any purchase at all. It is also the purpose of the program to introduce new customers to Amazon, to the breadth of its catalog and to its exemplary customer service. In the end, Amazon certainly hopes that this program not only brings new consumers to Amazon but that they also establish a long-term direct relationship with the company.
In my opinion, the model you described certainly violates both the spirit of the program and the Amazon Associates Operating Agreement. By making Amazon catalog available on eBay, these associates allow eBay to become the destination site for consumers in their effort to purchase certain products available at Amazon. These customers do not get introduced to Amazon, preventing Amazon from establishing a direct relationship with them. Lastly, if those customers return products to Amazon, they do not get their credit cards refunded since Amazon would be refunding the credit card of the associate and not the end consumer. This may create serious implications for Amazon if the consumer does not get a corresponding, timely refund on their own credit card (or via PayPal).
With regard to the Amazon Associates Operating Agreement, these associates violate the following paragraph:
|You may not purchase products during sessions initiated through the links on your site for your own use, for resale or commercial use of any kind. This includes orders for customers or on behalf of customers or orders for products to be used by you or your friends, relatives, or associates in any manner. Such purchases may result (in our sole discretion) in the withholding of referral fees and/or the termination of this Agreement. Products that are eligible to earn referral fees under the rules set forth above are referred to as "Qualifying Products."|
My interpretation of the agreement is based on my experience as the Director of the Amazon Associates Program. Since I am no longer in this position, this interpretation does not necessarily represent the opinion of Amazon.com. Since it is completely up to Amazon.com as to how they enforce any violation of this agreement, I will leave it in their able hands. I suggest you document any violations of the Amazon Associates Operating Agreement in the response section to this post. I know that the Amazon Associates team reads my blog and will take the necessary action if they believe they need to terminate any Associate relationship due to any violation.
Thanks again for your question.