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I've been an Amazon affiliate for a while now. The way it works is pretty simple. People click through my special links to go to Amazon, they buy stuff, I get 4-7% commission on the sale. A pretty easy way to make some money.
Now I've been a member of many affiliate programs over the years. They're purpose, as well as I've always understood it, was to have me be a bit of a salesmen for them, and get them extra sales they otherwise would not have gotten. It's a simple process.
So I often use my own Amazon link to purchase things for work. Its nice cause I get that 4-6% kickback as an amazon affiliate, and amazon gets a sale it otherwise would not have gotten. I say that because if it wasn't for the Affiliate program, I'd most likely buy everything at NewEgg.com, which is much cheaper than Amazon anyway.
So anyway to the point of this. Here is how Amazon is ripping off us Affiliates. I recently bought several thousand dollars worth of software for a client of mine. My affiliate bonus on the purchases is $350. Nice. When I check my earnings reports, all the sales show right up. BUT when you check your payment history, every month shows a huge deduction from your earnings, labeled 'Personal Orders'. A sale is not a sale when it comes to Amazon. But they can't tell me in the earnings reports that I don't get paid on these items. Why? Because then we'd stop buying things from Amazon. So they hide the fact that they are not paying us deep in the payment history where few people ever look. We also don't get paid until 60 days after the end of each month, and most of us get direct deposit, so we don't even see checks. So we just trust that Amazon isn't ripping us off. Ooops.
So Amazon's official word on this is that their Affiliate program is NOT meant to increase sales, but rather to gain more customers. The idea is that once someone uses one of my links, they'll like Amazon so much, that the next time they want to buy something from them, they'll go to Amazon directly, and not bother clicking through my link. So I'm not giving them sales, by their messed up explanation, I'm giving them one time only leads. This is of course a gigantic load of crap. They are just ripping off money from the Affiliates, the people who made Amazon what they are today. We've promoted the hell out of Amazon for the last 10 years, and now the quietly take back hundreds of dollars of commissions each month that we rightfully deserve.