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  1. #1
    15 years and counting
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    What's your opinion?
    I don't remember asking a question at ABW before but this time I don't know what to do. Two different subjects and I've conflicting thoughts for both.

    1- I caught a merchant cheating on their affiliates.
    I gave this merchant an opportunity to correct the situation. Several months after the first discussions, the merchant is still doing it. The AM tried to solve the problem with the merchant but had to give up.
    I reported this merchant to the network. Two weeks later I've no news and the merchant is still active.
    Is 2 weeks enough to get an answer? Should I expose the network? I lost over $1K in commissions these last 3/4 months without any promotion, not much but I guess I'm not the only one.
    Should a network keep a merchant active knowing this merchant is not paying ALL commissions?

    2- I'm a long time affiliate with an Indy (over 10 years) and I've always been the best producer in their niche. From 4 people this merchant grew to 50 people during that time. They don't have an AM, the owner is not tech oriented, I'm paid even if I've to beg them for my (big) check.
    I never had a problem with them, they're happy but I've never been able to establish a relationship with them. Last year, I told them their commission (5%) was too low for my traffic. Did I say I never got a card, a gift or a thank you from them (or even a discount for my own purchases). My emails were ignored. In September they had a big sale, 40% on everything. I got mad. They can afford a 40% discount but don't want to increase my commission level. I sent them an other email explaining all the changes on the web and why I should get more. No answer. Two weeks later, I removed the main sites I had for their product line.
    Yesterday, I got a pathetic email from the owner asking me to work with them again, willing to double my commission ... offering to pay me on other products excluded from the initial agreement, ready to meet me...
    The guy is firing his best employees one after the other... His figures are down 50% and the drop is endless. I was the driving force behind his business. What should I do? Should I work with him again?

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador
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    Zeus
    I'm not sure what to do on #1.
    But on #2, I would work with them again. I would say the business owner has had his eyes opened and now knows how important you are. I always have my eyes opened when I go to a local chamber of commerce meeting, and realize how clueless many small business owners are...even the ones making money. They tend to have tunnel vision and resist change when things are going well.

  3. #3
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Okay, I'll bite...
    1) Expose them just like you would any thief.
    2) People make mistakes. He sounds like he is willing to admit his. Give him another chance if it benefits you.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    In all situations I would suggest you unemotionally evaluate the relationship with your merchants and determine if your effort is fruitful and productive. If it is and you know their warts then you have your answer. If you distrust them and feel your results will continue to unethically deteroriate then I also think you have your answer.

    Finally, as a favor to the others here, if any of us know of unethical merchants I believe to some extent we should save each other and report what can be reported for all to view.
    I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die
    to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there
    isn't and die to find out there is.

  5. #5
    Affiliate Network Rep Kim Salvino's Avatar
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    Zeus, both questions are tough, but here's my take on them for what it's worth:

    1. I don't know the details of the situation, but I do know that it's one thing for an error to occur, and a totally separate situation for anyone to knowingly commit an error and hope no one will notice.

    You've brought it to their attention, they continue to do it and even the AM recognizes that it is occuring and yet is powerless to stop it...I would make it public in hopes that 1) the merchant would rectify the situation, apologize and face the music and 2) other affiliates would know about the behavior, perhaps saving them a bit of grief in the process. Exposing the program would more than likely expose the network as well, so I would think sharing the program info would be enough. It is ultimately the merchant that has the ability as well as the responsibility to make the necessary reimbursement to its partners.

    2. It sounds to me as though he has recognized the value of your partnership after all. He did not have a terrific understanding of affiliate marketing from the get go, so I would recommend giving him a second chance. Get his promises of commission, extra items, etc. in writing and explain the importance of trust with regards to payments, etc. Ask that he send the check to you monthly via expedited delivery going forward. Insist that from now on, he be your contact and that you should receive word from him on any inquiry within 24-48 hours max.

    We all make mistakes. It's part of being human. It sounds to me as though he has recognized the error of his ways, been schooled on the importance of relationships and is begging forgiveness. I'd give it another go.

    Best of luck to you, Zeus. I hope my input has helped a bit.
    Kim Salvino, Client Services Director, Performance Horizon Group
    Reach me at kim.salvino(at)performancehorizon.com or on (443) 617-4036

  6. #6
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    1- I caught a merchant cheating on their affiliates.
    I gave this merchant an opportunity to correct the situation. Several months after the first discussions, the merchant is still doing it.

    Should I expose the network? I lost over $1K in commissions these last 3/4 months without any promotion, not much but I guess I'm not the only one.


    What should I do? Should I work with him again?
    The way I see it!

    If you're sure that the merchant is cheating on their affiliates, then that merchant is a thief, and once a thief, always a thief.

    Do you meant to say: expose the network or expose the merchant?

    While they both would be guilty, the merchant would be the one stealing and the network looking the other way.

    You say you lost over $1K in commissions without any promotion, do that mean the guy didn't pay you, or that amount is what you would have made if you had promoted the merchant?

    If that money was yours and you didn't get paid, that would be grand theft.

    As to exposing anyone that should be something that only you and your conscience should decide.

    As for working for the same thief again, don't fet offended but, it would be stupid on your part to go back to work with someone you can prove is already a thief and that have stolen from you before.

    Now, if what you're calling cheating on their affiliates is something else not related to stealing the affiliates commission, then disregard this post.

  7. #7
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    Absolutely expose both the merchant and the network. I highly doubt this issue with Magazines.com would have been resolved if helpingmoms didn't do just that.

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=102326

  8. #8
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    1. Who?
    2. Take 15%

  9. #9
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    1.) I don't think you would find a person here who wasn't interested in hearing who it is.

    2.) Did you just shut your sites off? How much effort would it take to get them going again? Tell him that you want $xxx up front in order to pay for your site maintenance efforts. I believe that is fair considering what you have been though. Plus, this will show if he is serious or not about your partnership with them and the expected longevity thereof.

    Good luck Zeus.

    -sfcom


  10. #10
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    1. I know I would like to know who the merchant is.
    and
    2. It sounds like this merchant didn't have a clue how valuable you were, and now has a a much better idea. If you think you can trust him, then I'd say yes, give him a second chance, but on your terms.

  11. #11
    Grandma broke her coccyx! Uncle Rico's Avatar
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    I am sure those who are promoting the merchant and those who may start promoting the merchant would like to know this information. No one wants to spend/waster their valuable time just to get cheated out of commissions.

  12. #12
    15 years and counting
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    Thanks everybody, your answers are very helpful.
    1- I've no problem to expose the cheaters.
    I'll do it in the proper thread in the merchant forum.
    The merchant has his own forum at ABW, The AM (OPM) is well known at ABW with his own forum and the network is one a the few trusted networks, and active here.
    So, it's why I wanted to give it some thoughts.
    To answer, Mr. Sal. The sales are legitimate, the commissions were reported then, not reversed but switched to $0 to don't appear in the reports (or in the stats). None of the reasons given on the network make sense. The real reason being why should we pay affiliates if we can find a way to don't do it, but I'll explain that in more details.

    2- I'm still mad at the owner but I feel bad to be responsible for these pink slips. I'm sure it was hard for this guy to admit he made a mistake. Thanks all for convincing me to think again about that relationship.
    To answer sfcom, yep my sites were taken off the web but I still have a few links on other sites. (I've a good graph to show) It's taking longer for Google to re-index sites but it can be done. I don't really want to ask the guy for "damage" money, it could sound like black-mail money. And, I'm sure it was harder for him than for me.

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    #1 When you expose the merchant, don't burn your bridges. Don't use accusations. Just lay out the facts.

    #2 If it's beneficial to your business, goferit...



    X

  14. #14
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    #1 - Expose the merchant and the network - if the merchant is ripping off affiliates, they absolutely should be exposed and if the network is not doing anything about it, them too.

    #2 - Give the guy another chance. You were doing well, he finally saw the light when you pulled him and can now understand your original proposal and validate it in his own mind. You'll most likely have a better relationship going forward, too. Absolutely get his stuff back on your sites and reactivate.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  15. #15
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Zeus, I have to go with the consensus. You gave merchant #1 every opportunity to clean up their act. The fact that the didn't shows that they feel that they can get away with their tactics. It's time to prove them wrong.

    Merchant #2 deserves another chance. It's apparent that he's realized the value that you brought to his program and as long as it's profitable for you, why not? You're right though, there's no need to be punitive, cut a fair deal for yourself and don't take advantage of the situation. Something tells me you'll be getting a lot more attention in the future.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  16. #16
    15 years and counting
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    1- OK, you can see the thread for the offending Merchant PrivateMDLabs.
    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=103773
    Boomers: "When you expose the merchant, don't burn your bridges. Don't use accusations. Just lay out the facts."
    The jerk in charge of that crooked company was the one to accuse me of the worse things. Yep, I'm really sorry, I booked sales at 16% commissions and it was maybe too many or too much for him. I didn't set the commission level. He did it. Too high, well he can always negociate or change his agreement. He's a thief. What was this jerk expecting? Free branding. I've been very patient and did everything to understand the guy.
    So, now, I'll like Shareasale to protect their affiliates from crooks like this guy.

  17. #17
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    Wow Thanks Zeus,

    I read between the lines, when Geno left, and you posted. Promptly removed my links then.

    Lily

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador writerguy's Avatar
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    I'm generally too slow to read between the lines and I never "got it." Thanks, Zeus, for making it very clear here. Took their widget off my blog.
    Generate more fake news.

  19. #19
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Z

    I remove money-making merchants out of principle all the time. Sometimes, pride has a price.

    In your case, I'd ask for 25% for a year to make up for the money you should have been making... then (assuming they need you) get something in writing that each unanswered email will cost them $100 bonus.

  20. #20
    15 years and counting
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    That's great Aunt Lilly, sometimes what you read at ABW is just the tip of the iceberg. You have to smell the smoke before feeling the fire.

  21. #21
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Zeus has been more than patient... All of us have been... But even patience has limits. I am sorry to see PrivateMDLabs bury a program that you and I have built over the past year and a half, but I am not sorry to see those links come down. Affiliate marketing has been and still is a two-way street regardless of what any one party may think.

    G.

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