This post has been updated. See below for details about the “resolution.”
Everlane Deleted My Account
As I’ve mentioned before, while I am no longer partnering with Everlane due to concerns over union-busting and a racist employee environment, I have continued to purchase basics from them with store credit acquired from referral links placed on this blog.
The referral links in question are old. Most of them were posted in the first couple years of my promotion of Everlane on this site – before they had an affiliate network. I have even gone back into old posts to delete or transition these links to affiliate links, but six years of brand promotion means there are A LOT of referral links hidden in older posts.
Still, I get a half a dozen hits on those referral links each month, generating a tidy heap of Everlane credit on their website.
That is, until they unceremoniously, permanently deleted my customer account last night.
On Friday afternoon, I received an order from Everlane. Among correct items was a Men’s Merino Wool Polo Sweater that was not even close to the Women’s Kick Crop Work Pants I actually ordered.
I immediately emailed Everlane customer service to alert them about the mix-up, and sent them pictures of the item to make sure they could note the error to the Quality Control team. Within a few hours, they notified me that they had refunded my account for the incorrect item.
I followed up with them about where and how to return the incorrect item since I planned on returning other items in the order, as well.
In their reply, they answered my question, then abruptly ended it with this:
Moving forward, your Everlane account has been permanently closed due to the misuse of our referral program. Should you like to make any further purchases, you will need to create a new account.
I responded, asking why I was deemed not to be in compliance with their referral program, and have yet to receive a reply.
I double-checked to make sure that they had actually deleted my account. Sure enough, it’s gone. Not only that, but they have made it impossible for me to create an account by linking Facebook or Google.
So, essentially, I received a “refund” to a defunct account, leaving me with no sense of what I’m now supposed to do to return unwanted items. I also had about $160 of additional store credit on the deleted account that is now lost in cyberspace.
Why was my Everlane account deleted?
At first, I thought my account may have been deleted because, at one time, I was purchasing gift cards with store credit for the purpose of resale. (A lot of you probably bought those gift cards.)
However, when Everlane sent an email (several months ago) noting that gift cards could no longer be purchased with referral credits, I immediately stopped reselling. I have only purchased items for my sister and myself since last April or so.
So I took a look at Everlane’s referral program terms (which I had to google because my account had been deleted and I no longer had access to the referral page).
That document lists a few things I may be guilty of:
- posting my referral link on a “commercial” site (this blog?)
- violating copyright (using screenshots of Everlane images on this blog?)
- making my referral link an affiliate link to attempt to receive double earnings on referred orders
Interestingly, resale of gift cards is not expressly prohibited, so I can eliminate that from the list for now.
Am I violating terms by posting referral links on my website?
This is really unclear to me. I assume that they’re primarily concerned with users posting referral links to sites like Retail Me Not. But maybe they decided at some point that all blog sites that are monetized are commercial.
This would mean that a majority of bloggers I follow are at risk of getting their accounts deleted.
Am I violating terms by using screenshots from Everlane’s site?
From what I understand about Fair Use rights, posting relevant screenshots from a website is normally legally permissable. My lawyer friend tried to explain it to me once, but basically, it falls in the gray area and is largely based on whether there is a precedent for legal action taken by the company regarding use of images or other copyrighted content.
This would also mean that a majority of bloggers are at risk of getting their accounts deleted.
Am I violating terms by affiliating my referral link?
I investigated this one last night. I use Skimlinks, which is a code you inject into your site that will automatically affiliate certain links. So it was possible that Skimlinks was affiliating my Everlane referral link without my knowledge.
I logged on to Skimlinks to look at my analytics and, sure enough, I was receiving affiliate income from my Everlane referral link, with two sales in the past week.
The thing is, I didn’t know this was happening. Four or so years ago, I had noticed that it appeared that some sales were coming through my referral, but I didn’t know that this could be a terms violation, and I also assumed I was receiving affiliate income only for non-eligible sales (the referral only provides store credit when a new customer places their first order).
It seemed to stop after a time (apparently unreasonably, I assumed that the referral link would be automatically excluded from affiliation by Skimlinks). What’s more, when I check Skimlinks, I view data by Merchant, not by link, so I had to use a different metric than normal to discover the problem.
This is the most reasonable reason for them to have closed my account. But the fact that I wasn’t told at all – and was instead assumed to have done this ON PURPOSE in some apparent contrast to the majority of bloggers who have likely also made this error – was a blow to the core of my identity and morals.
I even spoke to a blogger who is a paid partner for Everlane, and she told me that she is guilty of this, too (of course, like me, she never really checks her Skimlinks set-up, so until I alerted her to it, she didn’t know it was happening either). Why wasn’t she shut down?
The thing about the terms of service is that they specify that they can delete your account for any reason at any time without providing an explanation:
We reserve the right to review, investigate, and remove referral credit as well as suspend users or accounts in instances we identify behavior we believe to be abusive, fraudulent, or not aligned with the spirit of the program
They’re not required to give me a reason. The thing that makes me so upset is that I have been earnestly promoting Everlane since 2014. If I had known I was violating a policy, I would have done due diligence to correct it.
The fact that my entire account was deleted during the course of an unrelated customer service exchange – and without an opportunity to fix perceived issues – was extraordinarily hostile. It would have been easy to 1. tell me why it was happening and, 2. simply delete all my referral credit or deactivate my link.
Ding ding ding! We have a response.
After days of painstaking back and forth – including a screenshot of the Terms I linked above that didn’t clarify anything – the rep told me that the reason my account was deleted was because…
My referral link was posted on this blog.
It wasn’t because of copyright or bad-mouthing or affiliate-linking issues. Nope, it was just that it was posted here at all. While the terms explicitly state that the referral link can be posted on social media, for some reason, it cannot be posted on a blog, even if the blog is owned by the referrer in question. The rep went on to say that I can create a new account as long as I share my referral link only with family and friends.
What This Means For You
If you use Everlane’s referral program, tread carefully. If you’re a monetized blogger – even if you just accept free product – reconsider the use of Everlane’s referral link or risk getting your account permanently deleted.
I happen to know a number of bloggers who regularly share their referral link – some of them even work on paid partnerships with Everlane. While I believe that Everlane has a right to enforce policy, it would be nice to know that they were enforcing equally. I simply don’t believe they’ll remove the accounts of their paid partners.
It’s a good reminder that, even in “ethical” fashion, cash is king. Capitalism will have its way. No one at Everlane is, or was, my friend.
For me, I guess this means a true goodbye to Everlane, even as a regular customer.