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One of worst, best affiliate programs — eBay’s affiliate program

One of the worst and in some ways best affiliate program I have ever dealt with has been the one for eBay. It’s called the eBay Partners Network. Quite frankly, I’ve tried to be very patient with my experiences, but I feel compelled to speak out here for any of you considering joining the program. (I’m honestly not sure whether they are even accepting affiliates right now.)

I am speaking from personal experience when I say they are “one of the worst and in some ways best” programs. I joined them before EPN was created, when they were part of the Commission Junction affiliate network. When they left “CJ,” as it’s called, and started EPN, I was grandfathered into the new network.

From that day (last fall? winter? I don’t remember) I started until yesterday evening, EPN has been the most consistent performer of the 200+ affiliate programs I belong to. I have never made much more than a couple of hundred bucks a month with EPN, but they’ve always paid promptly, and I really had fun putting links to eBay auctions on my websites. I was constantly adding more links, even new websites, and all was well.

Almost all. On August 23 (maybe 21? I don’t recall now), I received email from EPN telling me my account had been terminated because it violated their terms of service — it was “related to a previously banned account.” Therefore, they said, my account was terminated and I could appeal if I wished.

Now, understand, we’re talking about one of the largest and most popular merchants/affiliate programs/websites on the Internet. You can find everything, nearly, on eBay. Want to buy phentermine or other weight-loss or dietary supplements? eBay has it. Want to buy a valve cover for your old ’62 Chevy? eBay’s probably got one of those two.

So since they are eBay and they are — they really can do pretty much anything they want and ignore my protests or concerns. Especially since the “Agreement” you accept to be an affiliate pretty much lets them do whatever they wish, with no accountability on their part.

Lest you think this is just “sour grapes,” let me explain what happened throughout August and September up until last night.

I’ve been blessed with some great online friends who actually had some “contacts” inside eBay that they, well, contacted. I won a hearing of sorts. I got a phone call from a nice lady from EPN’s Quality Control group. She asked me to detail my EPN marketing plan and websites as thoroughly as possible. She listened carefully. Then, when I asked her to tell me what the exact problem was for my account to be “related to a previously banned account,” she very politely told me she was not allowed to reveal that information for various privacy issues. So I asked if she could at least tell me which of my 15+ EPN sites had whatever offending links or problems so that I might fix it. No, she said, she couldn’t tell me anything specific.

We finally ended the conversation with her saying she would recommend reinstatement of my account. And she gave me some sort of vague chatter about being especially careful not to let any of my EPN links be on pages or web locations “not directly under your control.”

I’ll ask you the same question I asked myself at the time: “What in the world does THAT mean and how do I fix the problem based on that??” (Okay, I guess that’s really two questions.)

All this had taken a couple of dozen forum posts and emails over a period of more than a week. My account was reinstated on August 30 or 31.

During the month of September, I had generated just over $200 between September 1 and September 26.

Last evening, September 26, I received an email from EPN telling me my account has been terminated because it was found to be “related to a previously banned account.” That email explained that, “your account has been terminated and 100% of your pending commissions will be reversed.”

EPN giveth and EPN apparently taketh away. So be very, very careful if you’re going to try to join EPN that you understand they hold all the cards. My case, as odd as it may seem, is only one of several I’ve heard about in the last few weeks which are even more bizarre.

What should you learn from my mistake? Perhaps that affiliate marketing is filled with traps and trials of all sorts as a business. Perhaps that life’s too short to waste on working for/with such a badly run, messed up organization as eBay Partners Network.

I dunno …

2 Responses to “One of worst, best affiliate programs — eBay’s affiliate program”

  1. On A Side Note says:

    I left eBay’s affiliate program years ago, after they started making their affiliate program so dang complicated. Always figured that everything they did to make the program look more advanced cut down on the opportunity that affiliates had to make money.

  2. Mike says:

    In my experience in affiliate marketing, Gary, the author of this article, is perhaps the “straightest arrow” I have ever gotten to know. If ebay will drop Gary, they will drop anybody.

    There refusal to tell people what they did wrong is analogous to arresting and holding someone without revealing the charges.

    Gary is right. You can sell anything via ebay. But don’t build websites exclusively for ebay or you could be left with no options if they drop you for some nebulous reason.