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  1. #1
    Member Working Mom's Avatar
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    A rant...
    Hey Everybody,

    I'm a relatively new member here...and I'm not exactly sure if it's ever a good idea to rant. And I'm not even sure I'm in the right place, but I've simply got to get this off my chest and get some intelligent feedback before I make any tactical errors in judgment.

    Not wanting to be slapped with a libel or anything like that, all I can say is this situation REALLY got me all up in arms:

    I run a professional, busy, profitable website and company. And it was just confirmed that one of the private accounts I landed myself has been accepting all the sales we brought them for the last TWO YEARS and through a "clerical error" somehow not a single commission check came to us. (My own fault for not monitoring that more closely from the beginning.)

    They eventually sent us a check once I confronted them with evidence of sales and gently reminded them that we could always pull the account. Naturally, the check they sent had no interest, and I'm almost positive it was only for a fraction of the sales we were actually due -but that isn't what has me ranting. No, it's this...NOW they have a middle-woman who they're trying to get me to renegotiate a new contract with that has a higher price for the customers and lower commissions for us! (And this is an e-commerce product, so gas prices, the weakening dollar and such have no effect here.)

    Adding insult to injury is the fact that their number one competitor has offered us a far better deal and I've informed our original account what's at stake. Do they think I'm bluffing? Why on earth should they come to that conclusion? They know full well that we are one of their top 5 revenue generating affiliates. (And these are organic sales without PPC and without clever SEO) Are there really people in this business who are THAT greedy and that short-sighted? I know I'd never risk one of our own top revenue generators!

    Here's what I'm thinking of doing...I'm strongly considering taking the page on our site that is dedicated to their product and putting their competitors product there. Bet we'd find out just how valuable we've really been all this time. What does everybody think?

    (And I apologize for the rant, but none of the people I work with, friends or business associates can fully understand why this scenario has me seeing red like this.)

    Working Mom
    Last edited by Working Mom; June 11th, 2008 at 10:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Rants are OK. They happen all the time here. Maybe after a relaxing weekend you can carve the emotion out of it and move toward what makes good business sense.


  3. #3
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    It's a no-brainer. Ditch the thief and promote their competitor.

    As to the <rant></rant>: As the Lone Ranger said, "That's what we're here for, ma'am."
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
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  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador meadowmufn's Avatar
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    If you can get a better deal and you think they'll convert just as well or better, go for it. You need to do what makes the best sense for your business.
    -Don't criticize anyone til you've walked a mile in their shoes. Then when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and have their shoes.
    - Silence is golden. Duct Tape is silver.

  5. #5
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    I would replace them with their competitors products.

    That's what I do when a merchant craps on me.

    Why do you need them if you have to beg them to pay you what they owe you?

    Vietnam Veteran 1966-1970 USASA
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  6. #6
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bumpaw
    Rants are OK. They happen all the time here. Maybe after a relaxing weekend you can carve the emotion out of it and move toward what makes good business sense.
    I agree with the "good business sense" approach. Yes, take a bit of time to regroup and think about it.

    With that said, however, I had a very similar situation two years ago - and I did make the switch. To start with, I had been a good producer in a competitive market for one merchant - all with good "old fashioned" SEO on a five year old site. They did track phone sales but at a reduced commission level. I wrote and asked for a commission raise on the phone orders - because I was producing a lot of phone orders - nearly 20 % of my total sales. The AM responded and told me if I wanted to earn more I needed to work harder. Ouch! At that time a major competitor was offering me a slightly better "deal" and no reduction on phone orders. So I did make the business choice to replace links and my sales went from 146K in June to 16k in July to 4K in August. The competitor and "replacement" merchant did hold to their end of the bargain and has been getting my business in that market ever since. I still do some business with the first merchant - but in other markets when I need a third source where I have several sites (and don't mix merchants for hospitality products).

    When I got the email reply that I needed to work harder I had the emotional response of "WTF?" And after thinking about I for a weekend I did make the decision to work harder - by freshening up the entire site and changing links on the merchant pages.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  7. #7
    Member Working Mom's Avatar
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    As I think about it, that's exactly what I really feel like doing. I detest having to micromanage anything...and the fact is I have no reason to trust them.

    Whether or not their competitor converts as well will is the x-factor here...Although we're already knee deep in "x-factor" anyway because how do we really know how many clicks actually convert into sales? we know we can't trust them to be timely, customer focused, so why should we expect them to be accurate or honest? I don't know why I'm having such a problem with this, it isn't as if we have a lot to lose. We went two whole years after writing a page, hosting it the whole time and didn't get a single dime. Realistically, switching the content of the page to promote their competitor won't hurt us one bit. Except it will now add a few hours of work to my already tight work schedule. (I'm a mother of five young kids who are all home for the summer now...editing an already done page is the last thing I planned on doing this week. But I digress...)

    A plus about putting their competitor's product on the page that was previously dedicated to them...the competitor is better known, conducts far more offline marketing and has a reputation for more integrity. I probably should've done this years ago.

    What's pushed me over the edge is thinking we're either stupid enough or desperate enough to take whatever scraps they feel like throwing our way...I guess the root of my emotion over this is I feel insulted and don't like being underestimated...no, I don't like that at all...I guess what they say about pride being a hurting thing is true. The way they're handling me has stung my pride, and that must be what's causing me to add so much emotion to what would ordinarily be just a straight forward business decision. My husband doesn't get why I'm so upset. He suggests creating a brand new un-ranked paged for the old account, and putting the new account info on the highly indexed page and calling it a day.

    Uggh...I need to let this go and just get on with business here.

  8. #8
    Member Working Mom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beachy
    I still do some business with the first merchant - but in other markets when I need a third source where I have several sites (and don't mix merchants for hospitality products).
    Not sure I understand. Do you make it a policy not to promote competing products on the same site? If so, can you tell me some of the reasons why not? We've never actually had competing products on our main site, and my idea about putting the old merchant on a new page while replacing the new merchant on the established page might have some risks I hadn't considered. Would you illuminate me to some potential downsides of trying to keep the flighty bird in the hand while going for the bigger one in the bush?

  9. #9
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Working Mom, its all business and its all negotiable! For the original merchant you are justified to feel slighted so offer them double your present commission. Take the emotion out of the language even if you have to have someone proof read it. Fully expect that they play game. Give it a week and then switch to the competitor. When they come back (and they will) tell them you have given then your offer and ignore them.

    So today I am emailing with a network that wanted $10k for a setup. I told them we paid that several years ago for setup and 6 months of service that we dropped because it didn't perform. If they want our new business they need to waive the setup fee otherwise we go to their competitor.

  10. #10
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    we've never actually had competing products on our main site
    Then you're a very loyal affiliate! This company should be all over themselves to keep you happy..

    I run a set of niche sites (demographic, not product-specific) & it's all about competing products. While I give preferential treatment to performing merchants, everyone is in the rotation.

    In most cases, the key to successful affiliate marketing is similar to successful investing: it's all about diversification

    This is the perfect place to rant, you will get excellent feedback here! I say transition away from the merchant.. time for greener pastures. But make it a sound business decision, not an emotional one (and I should practice what I preach!).

    Lotsa luck..

  11. #11
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    If it was me their links would already be gone and their competitor's showing before I'd even have posted about it.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  12. #12
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Working Mom
    Not sure I understand. Do you make it a policy not to promote competing products on the same site? If so, can you tell me some of the reasons why not? We've never actually had competing products on our main site, and my idea about putting the old merchant on a new page while replacing the new merchant on the established page might have some risks I hadn't considered. Would you illuminate me to some potential downsides of trying to keep the flighty bird in the hand while going for the bigger one in the bush?
    The example I gave is in the travel vertical, and on the site (not the one in my profile) in question, I promote a series of individual hotels for a given destination. In that situation and the way in which I present the "products" it is not good to mix merchants because it can confuse the customer.

    Good luck with your decision. But, as Leader put it, my links would have already been changed.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  13. #13
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    Great advice so far.

    I would like to just remind you also to take the emotion out before making decisions.

    Since you have attempted indepth discussions on the problem and assurances of resolution and future accurate reporting it seems like you gave them the opportunity to be a true partner.

    If you have someone else now who will step to the plate I believe I would also swtich.
    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.

  14. #14
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    If they've acted like crooks with you before, they will in the future. It's not rational or in your best interest to imagine differently.

    Switch and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with ONLY working with honest partners. And don't waste another thought on the old group except to congratulate yourself for a tough but valuable lesson learned.

  15. #15
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    I absolutely would replace them with a competitor. See how it goes. If the competition doesn't perform as well, you can always replace them with the old one if you think you can trust them to credit you with valid sales which doesn't sound likely. They are crooks, disrespected and underestimated you. Move on.

    And we all vent here because we know there are others here who understand. Vent away. :-)
    Peace,

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  16. #16
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    I would replace, but I would replace in stages so that I could see that the client accepts the new merchant and that the merchant performs before I go 100%.

  17. #17
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Working Mom - you may want to get some help keeping up with past-due comm. checks. If you are one of their "top 5 revenue generating affiliates" and you received nothing for two years and missed it, you may need a hand in that area. As far as the rest, I vote for sleeping on it, but totally understand what you mean about micro-managing - hate it hate it hate it! Good luck.
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  18. #18
    Member Working Mom's Avatar
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    Okay All,

    After much thought and prayer, I opted to simply swap the links in the original article with the new ones. I decided not to even respond to the horrible contract.

    And I've gotten three phone calls from the old client's "middleman." Naturally I haven't taken the calls -like I have time for conversation with all this extra work they just forced me into! It took me at least 2 and a half hours to update that article and customize it for the new product. I'm not about to donate any more of my time to this. Like they say "This is business, nothing personal" -plus there's really nothing to talk about.

    Now it's a matter of seeing how the sales convert with the new product on the old page. I suppose we'll know pretty quickly.

    Thanks again to everyone for the feedback (and emotional bolstering) I needed.

    Working Mom

  19. #19
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Good for you WM. If you do decide to speak with them again use a couple of negotiation techniques. Now that you realize that you are talking with a middleman request that you speak with the decision maker. Also, always negotiate from a position of strength. If you realize that the new merchant converts better you can calculate what the other would have to commission to make it equal. Put that to them and then just ignore until they agree. It puts the pressure on them.

    Or, you can always point them to this thread and challenge them to post!

  20. #20
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Working Mom
    Okay All,

    After much thought and prayer, I opted to simply swap the links in the original article with the new ones.......
    Bravo, Working Mom. WTG!
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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    If you are too busy to laugh you are too busy.

  21. #21
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    I think you did the right thing. Good luck with the new merchant.

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  22. #22
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Working Mom
    Do you make it a policy not to promote competing products on the same site?
    No, that is not my policy.

    More often than not I will place the related/similar products of competing companies on the same page *unless* I want to focus on a particular product or company.
    Keep the # of products per page to a manageable amount per page.

    If you're writing about blue widgets list them all because variety is the spice of life unless you would like to guide the visitor/customer to a specific product, then your focus is important.
    Last edited by Rhia7; June 14th, 2008 at 10:01 AM.
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  23. #23
    Member Working Mom's Avatar
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    Update on the Rant
    Well what do you know...

    I hadn't heard a word from the original merchant after making the switch. So yesterday I sent them a request for 2nd quarter 2008 compensation...(as I stated before, there has never been a payment made that I didn't have to pester them for.)

    The CEO himself responded to my inquiry. According to their records, our sales were a fraction of their usual rate, and they owe me about $50 for the whole 2nd quarter! And then the kicker, and I quote:

    "Since you have decided to drop your promotion of [our product] and promote [the competitor] in the same space where [our product] was being promoted we are terminating the affiliate and coupon relationship that we had previously established. This is effective immediately and we request that you remove all references to [our product] and the [particular] coupon code from your website."

    Well, I guess he told me...but wait, isn't that what I had already done? So I'll await my fifty dollar check and be thankful that the new merchant is showing better sales and more comprehensive data...

  24. #24
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by working mom
    So I'll await my fifty dollar check and be thankful that the new merchant is showing better sales and more comprehensive data...
    And good riddance to bad company!


  25. #25
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    It never ceases to amaze me just how clueless some merchants can be. I can understand not being experienced as an affiliate manager but where is the common sense? Good move and good riddance.
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