Amazon Account Closure

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Apr 5, 2018
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#1
Hello,

I am hoping someone here can help me. On Monday, I discovered that my amazon account had been disabled. I received no notice or warning that this would happen, and have done nothing that violates Amazon policies. I am very concerned about this for two reasons. First, I have about $2500 in gift cards on my account. The second reason why this is devastating to me is because of my novels which were published through their KDP program. I don't make much money with them, but they are my life's work. I spent 10 years writing them, and now I can't access them at all.

After speaking to about 10 different people in customer service, one supervisor told me the reason she believes my account was closed was because I had too many gift cards. I currently had a balance of roughly $2500, and probably had close to $20,000 total in the last two years. I earned these gift cards legitimately through a website called Dealspotr. On this site, you earn points for posting coupon codes that you exchange for gift cards or cash. You can view my page on this website here:

https://dealspotr.com/@NewAgeMama

I can assure you and provide proof that this is a legitimate business. Dealspotr orders the gift cards they send to their users directly from Amazon (no third parties), and I pay personal taxes on this just like any other income. I sent proof of this to Amazon. It has my SS# on it, so I can't post it in the forum, but can send to a representative if necessary.

After sending them the proof, today I get a reply that the reason my account was closed was not for gifts cards, but because I had another account that was previously shut down for violations. This is not true. I have had only one account since 2009. I promptly told them this. Shortly after replying to this first email, I received a second email (I think from a different person but there are no names) stating this:

Your account has been deactivated for one or both of the following reasons:
-- Your reviews were posted in exchange for compensation, such as gift cards to purchase the product, product refunds, review swaps, or free or discounted products; and/or
-- Your account was used for commercial purposes.


Now, I admit that at one time, I did do reviews on Amazon in exchange for free products. However, it was more than 2 years ago, BEFORE they changed their guidelines. At the time, free samples were allowed with proper disclosures. I NEVER accepted payments for this. Once all the hype about fake reviews started, I immediately stopped writing reviews. A few months after I stopped, my account was still reviewed. It was determined at that time that I had NOT violated any policies and my account was NOT shut down. They did however remove my reviews anyway to prevent any issues. So, currently, my account has NO reviews on it. So how can this be a problem two years later?

As far as using it for commercial purposes, I don't feel this applies either. The gift cards I earn are personal income. I am also an affiliate and sometimes use affiliate links on my blog and social media (earning a whooping $10 in the last year), and have my KDP account, but I don't think that is considered commercial use. The things I purchased were all household items and gifts for friends and family. I didn't purchase anything in bulk that could be misconstrued as reselling (which I've seen was an issue for some).

I think I gave you all the pertinent information without making this too long. I will answer and other questions I can. I know this is a long shot, but that $2500 took me more than three months and many, many hours of hard work to earn. Of course, I'll be taking cash from this point on, but I would really like to retrieve that $2500. However, I am even more concerned about my novels. They are still listed on Amazon, even though my account is inactive. So what happens to my royalties? Do they just keep that too? No one will even acknowledge this question. When I ask, they tell me I still access my books on my kindle. Clearly, they think I mean books I purchased, not the ones I wrote...

Thanks in advance for any advice.
Laura
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#2
Third party credit card sellers are one of the biggest sources of credit card fraud. If you are buying a lot from them- that could be a problem.

So people pay you with gift cards? That can be construed as money laundering which is illegal and Amazon can get into trouble by being a party to it. It can also be to avoid paying taxes- which is another no no. You are avoiding taxes by being paid in gift cards.

Why aren’t you being paid in cash or check so that you pay tax on your money? Authors who write books are not paid with gift cards.
 
Apr 5, 2018
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#3
Third party credit card sellers are one of the biggest sources of credit card fraud. If you are buying a lot from them- that could be a problem.

So people pay you with gift cards? That can be construed as money laundering which is illegal and Amazon can get into trouble by being a party to it. It can also be to avoid paying taxes- which is another no no. You are avoiding taxes by being paid in gift cards.

Why aren’t you being paid in cash or check so that you pay tax on your money? Authors who write books are not paid with gift cards.
 
Apr 10, 2017
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#4
Laura said she does report these gift cards as income and pays taxes on them. It's possible your history of paid reviews combined with the large amount of gift cards somehow flagged your account for scrutiny. It's also possible someone stole your gift card info without you realizing it. I posted a story on here a week or two ago about a guy who was arrested for stealing gift card information. He worked for a company that enticed people to complete surveys in exchange for Amazon gift cards. He accessed the card information from the company database and used them himself. Perhaps some of your cards were caught up in that mess.
 
Apr 5, 2018
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#5
As I stated in my original post, I did indeed pay personal taxes on all the gift cards I received. I have sent Amazon my 1099 from Dealspotr to prove this. I will also send it to you personally if you need to see it. I can't post it here since it has my SS# on it. I use H&R block for my taxes, and they had me put this down as "other income" and wrote in the comments that it was part of a reward programs. H&R block didn't seem to think it was an issue, and I've reported to the IRS for three years and they had no problems with it. My rep at H&R block told me that it's no different than cash in the eyes for the IRS. I even asked her if I had to separate the cash from the gift cards and list it separately, and she said it made no difference.

Dealspotr is a rewards program, not a regular job, but I do get a bonus for being an influencer. They have 200,000 users, and they must be buying millions in gift cards, so I really don't understand how Amazon wouldn't be aware of it, and I'm sure they are paying taxes too if they send out 1099s. They do have a cash option for influencers, but "regular users" can only take gift cards. And, actually, Amazon themselves offers Amazon gift cards as a form of payment in lieu of cash for their affiliates, so I don't think this can possibly be the issue.

I'm not sure what you mean by "third party credit card sellers". I mostly bought things from Prime Pantry and almost always prime items. If you mean that Dealspotr may have purchased the gift cards from a third party, that is not the case either. They came via email direct from Amazon. I am waiting for someone at Dealspotr to send me receipts for the last three months showing this. I attached a screen shot of the last gift card I received. Not sure if this helps prove anything, but to me it looks like it came right from Amazon and it says "reward" on it.
 

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Apr 5, 2018
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#6
Laura said she does report these gift cards as income and pays taxes on them. It's possible your history of paid reviews combined with the large amount of gift cards somehow flagged your account for scrutiny. It's also possible someone stole your gift card info without you realizing it. I posted a story on here a week or two ago about a guy who was arrested for stealing gift card information. He worked for a company that enticed people to complete surveys in exchange for Amazon gift cards. He accessed the card information from the company database and used them himself. Perhaps some of your cards were caught up in that mess.
I don't think anyone stole anything. I always applied them to my account as soon as I get them. When I was last in my account, it didn't look like anything strange had happened.

I was a little concerned about the reviews because I know they have become a hot topic, but I always followed their guidelines. I don't want to split hairs, but its important to differentiate between "paid" reviews and getting a sample. It was always against the rules to get money/gift cards in exchange for reviews. It was, however, permissible to get a sample so you could try it as long as you disclosed this within the review back when I was doing it. Like many influencers, I was even a top 500 reviewers at one time. It wasn't until the Chinese sellers started bringing in fake reviewers that it became a problem. That is why they stopped allowing free samples. Again though, it was supposed to be resolved and the reviews aren't even there anymore...

Since you are an admin, do you think you can help me fix this? I really don't feel I have done anything wrong. I try so hard to follow all the rules involved with all my little projects, and believe me, it's not always easy to keep it all straight. Social media, amazon, the FTC---they are constantly changing the rules about what is allowed.
 

Carrie Livingston

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Jan 6, 2015
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#7
Have you tried writing to the Company Contacts we have listed? If not, head to the top of the page and click on Company Contacts. Please read the introduction and then read the proven strategies for resolution. This explains the process that generally leads to success. We recommend to wait at least a week between emails. If you haven't reached out to customer service, start there. If no response, or not the desired response, move to the primary contact. Rinse and repeat. Make sure your email is concise and do not attach anything to the email. This can cause the email to not go through. Let them know you can provide additional information if requested. If you would like, we can preview your email prior to sending.

Amazon generally doesn't respond to account closures but it's worth a try. Good luck and please let us know how you progress.
 
Apr 5, 2018
5
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#8
Have you tried writing to the Company Contacts we have listed? If not, head to the top of the page and click on Company Contacts. Please read the introduction and then read the proven strategies for resolution. This explains the process that generally leads to success. We recommend to wait at least a week between emails. If you haven't reached out to customer service, start there. If no response, or not the desired response, move to the primary contact. Rinse and repeat. Make sure your email is concise and do not attach anything to the email. This can cause the email to not go through. Let them know you can provide additional information if requested. If you would like, we can preview your email prior to sending.

Amazon generally doesn't respond to account closures but it's worth a try. Good luck and please let us know how you progress.
I have tried all the contacts you had. I am in the 7 day appeal process now. I suppose I should wait before I email anyone else, but I don't feel very confident about this.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,426
11,882
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#10
As I stated in my original post, I did indeed pay personal taxes on all the gift cards I received. I have sent Amazon my 1099 from Dealspotr to prove this. I will also send it to you personally if you need to see it. I can't post it here since it has my SS# on it. I use H&R block for my taxes, and they had me put this down as "other income" and wrote in the comments that it was part of a reward programs. H&R block didn't seem to think it was an issue, and I've reported to the IRS for three years and they had no problems with it. My rep at H&R block told me that it's no different than cash in the eyes for the IRS. I even asked her if I had to separate the cash from the gift cards and list it separately, and she said it made no difference.

Dealspotr is a rewards program, not a regular job, but I do get a bonus for being an influencer. They have 200,000 users, and they must be buying millions in gift cards, so I really don't understand how Amazon wouldn't be aware of it, and I'm sure they are paying taxes too if they send out 1099s. They do have a cash option for influencers, but "regular users" can only take gift cards. And, actually, Amazon themselves offers Amazon gift cards as a form of payment in lieu of cash for their affiliates, so I don't think this can possibly be the issue.

I'm not sure what you mean by "third party credit card sellers". I mostly bought things from Prime Pantry and almost always prime items. If you mean that Dealspotr may have purchased the gift cards from a third party, that is not the case either. They came via email direct from Amazon. I am waiting for someone at Dealspotr to send me receipts for the last three months showing this. I attached a screen shot of the last gift card I received. Not sure if this helps prove anything, but to me it looks like it came right from Amazon and it says "reward" on it.

I sincerely apologize- I missed that in the length of the letter.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
11,426
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
#11
I still think they are concerned about gift cards and possible money laundering. While you are only selling stories, others use gift cards to launder money. Amazon doesn’t want to take any chances.

I think your only hope is to appeal to the executives to at least try and get your balance.

While this story talks about Canada, it does explain what the thiefs are doing with gift cards and you might just be caught up in the generalization.

Make sure your letter explains exactly what you were doing to be paid that way.


https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.th...-a-money-laundering-loophole/article22194461/
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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#12
I’m old- I am trying to understand how Dealspotr works.

You recommend deals as an influencer and receive points that you can use to exchange for gift cards? You aren’t buying cards- you earn them? And all of the funds in your account were earned from Dealspotr?

And this is totally separate from the books you sell in Amazon?

It would seem to me that if Dealspotr is giving out Amazon gift cards they have to have some kind of relationship with them.

I wonder if Amazon has an issue with Dealspotr that caused this. Have you gone to Dealspotr and told them what happened? I would think Dealspotr could go to Amazon in your behalf and stand up for you.

I really need a primer on how this whole thing works...
 

Dwayne Coward

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Apr 13, 2016
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St. Louis
#13
Due to the possibility of the gift cards being used for money laundering or the purchase of illicit goods, companies (under pressure of various government agencies) are cracking down on how they are used and where they can be obtained. Amazon's terms state that the cards can only be obtained from Amazon or an authorized third party.

As the cards appear to be obtained from an unauthorized third party, in amounts that are really high, you have probably set off a few alarms to possible illicit activity. I'm afraid if your appeal to the company executives hasn't helped, you may want to consider talking with an attorney concerning your legal options on obtaining any funds left on the account.

I'm closing this thread as we really cannot provide any further assistance on this.
 
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