Kind of parting ways

FWIW – and no one is keeping track – Amazon and I have kind of parted ways. Not in the shopping, but in the being friends. They’ve dissed me before and dumped me twice as an affiliate member, arguing that I didn’t have enough affiliate sales to make our relationship worth their time. They’re out to make money, you know, not to be best friends and helpmeets. They want your dough, and if you have none to give, they have little interest. It’s a trade called capitalism.


The first time ’round, it was nice to offer books I review to almost anyone, almost anywhere. When I knew of different options, I used them. Powell’s in Portland is great, as are stores I use in Vermont and South Carolina. (I’m always looking for bookstores and would be happy to know of your local store…) In almost all cases, I like handing my money over to neighbors whether they are owners or employees. It’s why I shop here at Barnes and Noble. It’s not local per se (in fact, it it British owned), but the people who work there are. That, and it’s the only bookshop in town. There ya go.

Anyway, I have signed up twice as an Amazon Affiliate, and both times I made it six months until Amazon emailed to nix the deal. Not even a phone call! These robo-mails reinforce what every advertisement from any company teaches me: when push comes to shove, you’re only important as a cash cow.

My only warning

More recently, though, something weird happened. It was a Saturday morning, and I had an email from the Seattle behemoth saying that one of my reviews tripped over their posting guidelines, and this is my only warning before being fired.

Not easily shaken – I’m West Coast Denn, after all – I took this personally since I sell books here, too. I tried to find an obvious label from a scammer wanting me to push the red ‘review guidance here’ button, but couldn’t find one. So I went to directly to Amazon for a chat. In a few seconds, some guy said he was so happy to hear from me, and that if I would only explain my concerns, he will do his best to sort it out for me. What a pal!

I told him what happened, and that I can’t imagine what the issue is. I’ve reviewed a thousand books and have never once been flagged for anything. He told me to ignore it, that it’s really no big deal, and probably some genius robot that replaced a live human being misunderstood my use of a word. But it was a big deal to me: like I say, I write books and sell them on Amazon, and I’m sure that nothing good comes from being blackballed.

The agent repeated – many times – that it was no big deal and that I can ignore the whole thing. I asked him what book was reviewed? Ah, well, you see, Amazon policy doesn’t allow him to know, but he did find the email sent to me.
I asked that since he can’t point to the review for me, can he at least tell me how I offended the guidelines? Of course not, but you already knew that. These chat people or bots can’t see the review, and they can’t see the error. They can only point out that if I do it again, I can be banned from reviewing. I assume he was reading a script, and he urged me to read through the 47-page legal Guidelines for Posting, and the clouds will part, and it should be clear to me.

Not gonna do it

“Nope,” I said. “I’m not gonna read it.”

“But, sir. You have the link. Just go there and read it.”

“Nope, I’m not going to read it.”

“It’s easy, sir. If you’ll read it, you’ll understand what happened to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

“It won’t happen again,” I said. “I’m done reviewing.”

“But sir. You have over a thousand reviews. Your reviews are very important to Amazon.”

“Maybe so, but I can post them anywhere.”

“But sir…”

“Dude,” I broke in. “You appear legitimate. But if you can’t tell me where or when or how, and if you want me to take half an hour of my life to read some rules you have…I just have better things to do.”

“But sir. You have over 25,000 likes of your reviews.

“Good enough,” I said. “And Amazon sends me an email almost every day to review a recent purchase. Those get deleted now.”


So, I’m in a mad dash to transfer reviews to my site. I really have nothing against Amazon and can only guess that I didn’t use approved inclusive language or something. Or someone was offended by my white male American experience reviewing a book written by a white female American of which I can know nothing. I don’t know, and – apparently – I can’t know. So I will just opt out…

Que sera, sera.

Thanks so much for reading. Can you think of someone who would like the post? Please mail it to them or share it with your favorite social media using one of the icons below. And won’t you follow me? You can do so in the sidebar. Thanks again and feel free to comment!