Does Amazon Discriminate Against Adult Entertainers?

Like many adult entertainers, cam girl Rose Red uses Amazon’s public Wish List feature to let her fans and clients know what items she’s looking to acquire. That way, if they want to show appreciation, they can send her a present more personal than a gift card and more useful than a box of chocolates. Rose has a number of Wish Lists, sorted by category for easier perusal. On November 15th, she received an e-mail from an Amazon ‘Account Specialist’ letting her know that two of these lists, “Clothing and Lingerie” and “Dildos and Vibrators,” had been removed by the company after being active for about six months.

Their sudden deletion was surprising to Rose, but not nearly as surprising as the reasons given to justify it. “We don’t condone the usage of Wish List for inappropriate purposes or with inappropriate content,” the e-mail from the company 'Account Specialist' read. Rose was baffled. Obviously, all of the items on her Wish Lists was being sold by Amazon, so surely they wouldn't consider that 'inappropriate content'? She checked to make sure she wasn't breaking any of Amazon's policies, and confirmed that she was in the clear. It was then that Rose began to suspect that it was her legal career to which this Account Specialist was objecting.

Rose asked for further clarification from the Account Specialist and received this reply: “Amazon Wish Lists are intended as a shopping tool for personal use or gifting between friends and family members. We don’t condone the usage of Wish List for other purposes, such as barter[…]” There was no indication Rose was using her Wish Lists—and these two deleted Lists in particular—for anything like ‘bartering,’ and the company’s Conditions of Use makes no mention that Wish Lists must only be used by family and friends—a term ambiguous enough to include clients anyway. When Rose pressed for an explanation, she received the same message, with this appended bit of information: “This decision is final. We're unable to provide further insight into the matter.”

Rose says she's not the only one of her colleagues who has received this particular email, and she provides circumstantial proof that the Wish List deletion was done as a show of reproval of her personal life. “The day before, I'd contacted web support regarding some privacy concerns related to a recent gift from a fan -- I wanted to confirm that in their correspondence, they didn't send him my real (legal) name and personal address in a delivery notification.” Amazon does keep recipient information confidential, which is part of what makes it so popular with private entertainers. Though Rose did not identify her occupation, she’s fairly certain that the nature of the gift (a ballgag) combined with her privacy concerns tipped off the company, and she can think of no motivating factor for their actions other than moralism.

Rose’s lesson is a stark one for private entertainers: despite using the site for years and paying $79 for an annual Prime subscription, she was made to feel like “I’m an undesirable customer.” She added, “I don’t care that much about my Wish List being deleted, but the fact that they went out of their way to tell me they disapprove of my purchases and (completely legal) activities was just rude and demeaning.” She’s now considering asking for a refund on her Prime subscription and taking her business elsewhere.

Amazon did not respond to a request for an interview, which means that adult entertainers might be better off heeding what happened to Rose and looking for alternatives as the major gift-giving season sets in. Many individual retailers have wish list features, including perennial provider favorites Stockroom and Victoria’s Secret. If you see your clients in person, ask them to send the gifts to themselves and bring them along when you meet. If most of your gift-givers live far away, consider getting a P.O. box. There’s also the option of electronic gift cards to places like Sephora and Barnes and Noble, or the underutilized Gift Rocket, which can be redeemed at a number of retailers or turned into a personal check.

No matter what you choose, you should make sure to let your colleagues know that Amazon doesn’t value our business.  It’s a phenomenon we’ve seen manifest so many times before, from the credit card restrictions on porn to PayPal’s prudish policy towards anything resembling sexuality. Yet it never stops coming as a shock. Don't let it affect the number of gifts we often receive this time of year; spread the word along with some holiday cheer.

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