Do You Do Clickbank?

I feel a rant coming on, so strap yourself in, this could be a BIG one!

I heard from a coaching client about a week ago, with a problem she didn’t know how to solve.

Seems that Clickbank was holding her check and refusing to release it.

A little background…

Awhile back, she wanted to start doing niche sites to market affiliate products, so we started working on the usual stuff…

Brainstorming what she was interested in,

Research on which of those niches might be profitable,

keyword research,

Setting up blogs,

Submitting articles,


You know the drill.

She put up her first site and very quickly got some sales from a Clickbank product that was a good fit to her niche.

She was VERY happy!

The hardest thing for anyone who is trying to getting started in this business is to get over that hump of not making any money. Most people NEVER make any. And after a while they just give up shouting to the rooftops that “This Internet Marketing Thing is a SCAM”!

But those who make ANYTHING in the first few months, usually go on to make a LOT down the line. They get the “FEVER” and just never look back.

Well, needless to say, she was ecstatic! She got the bug and started working on more sites.

But her new endeavors didn’t include Clickbank products.

She was building Adsense sites, and selling CPA and other affilaite products, and quite happily moving along building her future empire.

She forgot about the Clickbank sales she’d made in the beginning, and moved on to bigger and better things.

A couple months later, it dawned on her that she had never gotten a check from them, so she went in and looked at her acct only to find that not only had they been sitting on the money all that time, but that they were making bi-weekly deductions from her balance!

So she nicely inquired as to what was going on…That’s when things started to get ugly!

She was told that although she had certainly made enough money to get paid, Clickbank was holding her check until she met their “Basic Qualifying Payment Criteria”.

Now get this…

Clickbank requires that you make at least 5 sales, from 5 different credit cards, and at least one of those must be from a MasterCard, and one from a Visa. And apparently, Paypal sales don’t count!

So…no matter HOW much they owe you, if you haven’t met their ridiculous criteria, you will never see your money!

And the kicker is, after 6 weeks, they start deducting $1 from your account every two weeks for not meeting it, and then up the anti incrementally, until they are taking $50 every two weeks! And VIOLA! Before you know it…They don’t owe you anything at all!

Now you may think that although this is nothing short of extortion, it would not be so hard to satisfy for anyone who is serious about their business. But here are the facts.

Most people in today’s world (even NON Marketers) have and USE a Paypal account. So a lot of your sales (and in many cases, the majority) can come through Paypal.


Amex and Discover are HUGE players in the credit card market, and MILLIONS of people use them exclusively, because they accrue points that can be used to buy real stuff, just by using those cards.


Here my client was, sitting on a decent sized check, that they refused to pay her, because her customers used payment sources that Clickbank takes, but…


So I advised her to run another sale to a list she was building to get over that hump. She was pissed about the whole thing, but I convinced her that the easiest way out was to just satisfy their ridiculous rip-off criteria, and move on.

So, she put up a quick campaign and made almost $2000!

But guess what?

“ALL” of the sales were with Visa, Amex, and (Mostly) Paypal! Not a MasterCard in the Bunch.

She STILL hadn’t met their larcenous demands!

At this point I PERSONALLY got mad. It wasn’t my money, and was probably not even any of my business. But I HATE it when I see people being taken advantage of!

So I crafted a rather long (and a bit nasty) letter and gave it to her to send to Clickbank Support.

“Dear Clickbank,

In answer to your last email to me, I ran a campaign for another one of your products and generated another 12 sales, but because the majority of people in today’s world use paypal for such things, you are telling me that you are still not going to pay me!

I understand matters of fraud. I can even understand that you want to see more than one sale before you pay out the commissions that are OWED us. But surely you can see that I have not used my own cards just to get commissions.

And why in God’s name would ANYONE spend $97, over and over again, just to get back $40? No matter HOW they paid for it!

Does that even sound feasible?

Am I to continue to be penalized just because the people buying YOUR products through me, are not using your preferred credit cards? What if they used Discover or Amex? Am I to be penalized because they don’t use MC or Visa as well?

You certainly don’t seem have any problem taking THEIR money from those sources. But you won’t pay ME because they used them?

It seems to me that this is nothing more than a way for YOU to not have to pay out your commissions! Are you only there to serve the Big boys who generate enough sales to make you happy?

If so, you should let your prospective sales force know that you don’t want our business unless we can immediately generate enough sales to make YOU happy!

You are a BILLION dollar company! Do you REALLY need to keep the hard earned commissions of the little guys?

In today’s world, every penny counts. Most marketers are struggling as it is to make ends meet. And yet you are compounding the problem by making it so hard to get paid for the work we do!

How can that be fair? How can you even justify such a practice?

It’s no wonder Clickbank has developed such a bad reputation in this industry of late. I have spoken about this to several well known players in the Internet Marketing field that categorically refuse to use your service, for just such reasons as this.

I would appreciate your looking into this and releasing my payment please.

It’s only fair, and you KNOW it!


And guess what?


This Billion dollar corporation didn’t even have the decency to REPLY!

So she put in another ticket, and another, and another, until finally after about a week of this Bull&$%@, they replied, saying they had taken a look at her account and decided to make an “exception” to their rules and pay her. They told her she could expect a check in about 3 weeks.

OVER THREE MONTHS from when she initially made MORE than enough sales to get paid!


There are a lot of Clickbank “Courses” out there, telling you how to make your fortune using Clickbank products.

I sell them myself, and have been for over ten years now.

But apparently, I started long before they got so full of themselves that they thought they could steal from the hard working people like my client, who built their company, and who are trying so hard to get started in the Marketing world.

So I didn’t know anything about these new “Rules”. I guess I “MISSED ” the memo!

It’s in the “Fine Print” somewhere, so there is little anyone can do about it but complain.

But be warned! if you are planning to open a new account with Clickbank, and sell their products, unless you become a Super Affiliate right out of the gate…

It could be a LONG time before you get paid!

If my Client hadn’t looked into it, and realized she had never gotten her first check, they would have continued to “QUIETLY” (she never got ANY kind of notices) take more and more out of her account until it was all gone!

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest!

I fell better now!

Please pass this on to anyone who is considering taking this path to get started. At the very least, they will be Forewarned.

Len Thurmond

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Len Thurmond has been marketing on the Internet since 1995, and is one of the best known authors and newsletter publishers in the Internet World Today.

Through his highly acclaimed Newsletter, his many Seminar and Tele-seminars speaking engagements, and his coaching programs, he has helped thousands of now successful Entrepreneurs find their niche, and make it profitable.

To read more of Len’s Marketing Articles visit his blog at

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 1st, 2010 at 10:23 am and is filed under Article Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

20 Comments so far

  1. Is Clickbank Scamming Affiliate Marketers? | The Len Thurmond Blog Car body on me on July 1, 2010 1:23 pm

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  2. Greg on July 1, 2010 2:33 pm

    Thanks Len for the heads up on this weird way deals with their affiliates commissions. I will be sure to tweet about this… Even big company can fall… Greg

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  4. Kevin Polley on July 1, 2010 7:47 pm

    Thanks for reminding me of the hoops I had to jump through when I first joined CB years back Len. I hadn’t considered the impact that the growth of PayPal has on new affiliates and CB merchants.

    Given that verified PayPal accts are tied to unique banking or card accounts I can’t see why CB shouldn’t review a condition that is as old as the company itself.

    The technology exists and where ‘banks’ in general are being held to account these days for unfair and unreasonable practices maybe CB will change with the times. Here’s hoping.

    BTW. A very timely post Len, I was just about to setup another CB account – Now I’m going to wait.



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  12. Kathleen on July 4, 2010 5:48 pm

    Great post, Len.

    A few years ago, a Clickbank account was set up to sell a product created by me and two other marketers. It was promoted briefly, then we all moved on. Kind of dropped the ball on it.

    A little over a month ago, I thought of that account and signed in to see why we had not been sent the money made from sales of the product.

    That’s when I discovered this:

    Clickbank had removed over $200 from our account, because it evidently did not meet their Customer Distribution Requirement.

    And from what I see at their site now, the $15 they charged us then would have been $50 today if the account were “dormant” for over 365 days. Quite a jump, going from $15 to $50.

    What I’d like to know is… can this really be legal?

    What justifies the high monthly cost for an account that didn’t have the right *mix* of credit cards and that has no activity for an extended period of time?

    Catching the faint whiff of a class action lawsuit.

    Happy to hear your friend got her money. Wish the others who did their best to get the sales would have the same outcome.


    P.S. Harvey Segal has a guide called “Clickbank for Newbies” that I came across AFTER discovering our depleted Clickbank account. In it, he has what appears to be a nice workable solution to the Customer Distribution Requirement. Would post the link here, but can’t find a short non-affiliate one, so just google the title and Harvey’s name.

  13. Nitin Mistry on July 4, 2010 9:12 pm

    I also had the same issue, but I did get my first pay check from ClickBank after emailing them and explaining that most of my sales also came from PayPal. They paid me straight away. So the only difference between my email and yours was that I was quite polite in my message.

    Just my 2 cents.


  14. Brigitte on July 5, 2010 2:37 am

    I have been selling Clickbank products for years and I wasn’t aware of this.

    As for the “exception” they made, in order to pay someone who had EARNED well over $2,000 – this is absolutely unbelievable.

    I would hazard a guess that it could very well be unlawful. I would almost be willing to bet money on it (and I never gamble).

    Fair enough if it’s in their terms of service – of course, people should read the terms of service and expect to be bound by them. BUT, no one would seriously consider a scenario where the affiliate would fail to meet the requirements. New (and most existing) affiliates would assume that out of 5 sales you would expect that one would be by Mastercard and one by Visa.

    It is incomprehensible that an affiliate could run up 50 or more sales and not be entitled to be paid.

    Terms that people agree to have to have an element of reasonableness to them.

    It cannot be lawful.

  15. John on July 5, 2010 5:16 pm


    To my knowledge only you and Harvey Segal (mentioned above) have ever raised this issue. A few years ago I did some CB marketing and got paid once my account exceeded the minimum payout level, non of this 5 separate cards malarky. My account was dormant for a while and then I started using it again. Imagine my surprise when, having previously qualified to receive payments, I had to qualify all over again under the new rules. I didn’t realise just how many payment methods were not allowed for qualifying purposes.

    How’s this for a great CB affiliate squeeze page headline…..

    “I just discovered this fantastic product that will lose you pounds in weight, grow back your hair and make you rich overnight, if you can prove you can pay by visa or mastercard click here! Otherwise stay ignorant, fat, bald and broke.”

    So why don’t the CB Gurus mention this (Apart from Harvey that is)? Well, we wouldn’t buy their “How to get rich on CB products now, would we!”

    Thanks for reminding us all once again that online or offline life is all about screwing the little guy.

    There are other alternatives to CB. I know they are not as big, but if we all started using them – merchants and affiliates alike – that would soon change.

    MERCHANTS take note, do you want your sales force to be screwed in this way? After all a small number of sales each from a huge number of affiliates probably brings you in more than a lot of sales from a few super affiliates. The affiliate network does the affiliate management so it doesn’t matter to you who brings in the business. Once word of this spreads you could lose a lot of sales people. What’s more, the little guys are usually loyal to their niche, the super gurus just hop from todays’s big thing to tomorrow’s to slurp up the big bucks. Oh, yes, I almost forgot. All this money CB are skimming off affiliates, how much of this do the merchants get? Sod all!

    Now then Len, how’s THAT for a rant?

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  17. Lynette Chandler on July 27, 2010 1:28 pm

    I so agree Len! I actually ranted about this over a year ago to a private forum of like minded people. I have since passed that initial requirement, but they STILL deduct money from my earnings now and then. I have no idea what it all is for even though they have an explanation that makes it clearer than mud.

  18. Wilf Staton on October 20, 2010 10:33 pm

    I am a bit confused about all this. I use clickbank and have had little trouble with them.

    I have just read the CDR and it does say Visa or amex and 5 different numbers. Can’t for the life of me know why they do not include other credit cards in the CDR except people could just sign up for 5 different credit cards then use each one to buy a product which anable them to reach CDR by buying product for themselves.

    This interested me so I went and did a survey on my last 3 months clickbank earnings payment methods. This is how it turned out:

    paypal 19
    visa 24
    mastercard 9
    amex 3
    discovery 1
    diners 0

    This indicates to me that there doesn’t seem to be a problem meeting CDR with Visa and mastercard.

  19. getreal on December 12, 2010 11:24 pm

    Dont get me wrong i believe clickbanks fees for holding your money are outrageous fancy charging you even $1 a day for them to make interest off you.However when you actually read click pays policies the flaws in your story quickly arise.

    ClickBank will withhold payment of any account balance until the following criteria is met:

    Sales made with 5 or more different credit card numbers; and,
    Sales made with two different payment methods (either Visa, MasterCard, or PayPal). Note: PayPal purchases do not count toward the minimum 5 different credit card numbers.

    Accounts with a positive balance but no earnings for an extended period of time are considered dormant. Dormant accounts are subject to a charge of $1 per pay period after 90 days of no earnings, $5 per pay period after 180 days of no earnings, and $50 per pay period after 365 days of no earnings.

  20. AntiScam on April 2, 2011 9:19 am

    It’s NOT lawful, contractual language be damned.

    Just because “it’s in the fine print” does not mean there is little anyone can do but complain.

    If a company is deriving a substantial income from contractual chicanery they CAN be nailed for it.

    Scamming companies HAVE been nailed for fraudulent behavior that was totally consistent with contracts to which people have agreed — even more cut-and-dried and less deceptive than Clickbank’s contract.

    Look up “Enelow real estate scam” for one such example, which made some headlines in the real estate community some years back. The company was collecting a large fee from people under the stated purpose of partnering in real estate deals.

    Only it was found that Enelow was making more money from the entry fees than the real estate deals! Last I heard the guy’s in prison. 🙂

    Back to Clickbank, what if their fine print stated that one had to make sales from 100 different countries with 100 different payment types?

    I’m no attorney, but based on what I’ve seen, read, and experienced, it is my understanding that a contractual clause HAS to be REASONABLE and consistent with its stated purpose to be enforceable. This is a basic legal principle.

    The “customer distribution requirement” is totally bogus, and upon closer examination it is obvious that the “customer distribution”, “dormant account” and even “Account closure” policies are crafted to keep affiliates on the hook, slaving away for nothing, while Clickbank rakes in millions off them.

    Only the clauses are so deeply buried in such a long, drawn-out and decptively worded contract that most people don’t NOTICE or UNDERSTAND them until it is too late.

    Clickbank has records of who makes the purchases and could easily verify if someone signs on just to purchase products at a discount. Same name for affiliate and cardholder… DUH!

    And even if they were, products would be sold and Clickbank would be making money from the sales.

    Doing business under false pretenses is doing business under false pretenses, plain and simple.

    For a GOOD lawyer this would be like shooting fish in a dry barrel, with millions coming from the contingency fee.

    Look for web sites gathering info for the upcoming class action suit started by this po’d former affiliate marketing dabbler who got wise to this before wasting any substantial amount of time and having much money stolen, but really, really hates scam artists!

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