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  1. #1
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    Experiences with Crystal Internet?
    I just received a cross-program solicitation from Crystal Internet Inc., which operates six separate affiliate programs on ShareASale, selling big-men's clothing, hookahs, poker supplies, new-age stuff, perfume, and tools (I assume it's a pure drop-shipment operation, which by itself isn't unusual or worrisome.)

    After spending a few minutes exploring the six web sites, I've found several "alarms" that make me wary. Normally, these alarms would just lead me to exclude them entirely.

    But the SAS interface shows that 4 of the 6 programs have tracked sales and credited commissions in the past 30 days, with no reversals. This makes me wonder if I'm just being too cynical when reviewing merchants these days.

    Can anyone share any experience with this outfit?

  2. #2
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Can you give a summary or an example of one or more of the 6 "alarms?"
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhia7
    > Can you give a summary or an example of one or more of the "alarms?" <
    (1) Apparently invalid addresses listed in contact info (certainly not valid per the US Postal Service, though one is correctable). The six "merchants" share two addresses: one is an incomplete address for a residence, and the other (32 miles away) is for a multi-tenant building but omits the suite or office number (required for delivery), the second address also has an incorrect zip code (replicated across the sites).

    (2) No such corporation or LLC (either "Crystal Internet" or "Crystal Management") currently registered in Illinois.

    (3) Use of a hotmail address for the affiliate manager, and no complete individual names associated with the company.

    Added: I just received two emails from the affiliate manager; the latter claims that the addresses are valid, that the corporation has a certificate of good standing from the state of Illinois, and that they are learning from their mistakes.
    Last edited by markwelch; July 6th, 2008 at 09:02 PM. Reason: Added reply from merchant

  4. #4
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    I have sent Mark Welch complete information on this to prove the it is not alarming. That his research correct on certain parts is details of a much larger internet business. These "Alarms" will be addressed. In the future i would hope a responsible amount of time would be allowed to respond to Marks "alarms" since i value the affliates relationship I view feedback as a positive chance to learn and grow as a new member to this community.

    Mark first sent me an email at 7:21pm and he received confirming email responses back at 7:47pm.

  5. #5
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by imagemaxusa
    I have sent Mark Welch complete information on this to prove the it is not alarming.
    I'm thankful to Mark Welch for pointing out some possible glitches in an (any) affiliate program.

    I'm a "New Age Queen" so if the merchant under discussion sells "new-age stuff" and "perfume" etc. I'll check out the program once I'm confident that the "alarms" have been nullified -- I didn't know about the program, but I'm a potential affiliate.
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
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  6. #6
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    Okay, here's an interesting wrinkle: While doing my "research" on this merchant, I believe I searched ABW for several of the relevant keywords, but somehow my searches did not turn up the New Program Announcement for these programs, which was published here in March (http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=102698). (Several affiliates replied then that the merchant's sites didn't seem "ready" yet, at that time.)

    I reported the merchant's response as soon as I received it (as a courtesy), but the purpose of my post here was to request feedback from other affiliates. In my original post here, I clearly noted that 4 of the 6 merchants associated with this company did show recent transactions and commissions, with no reversals -- but my concerns led me to ask for further feedback from other affiliates, while also asking for some feedback about whether I'm being too cynical or nit-picky in my analysis of merchants.

  7. #7
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Mark, I like your approach; I don't think you are being too nit-picky.

    My feedback is that I do not have any involvement yet with this merchant.
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  8. #8
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    Everyone,

    As a new member to this community I look forward to working with you in a win win relationship. I am not perfect and will make mistakes but I learn from them. I did nothing wrong other than having inconsistant information which will be addressed.

    Thanks,

    Lee

  9. #9
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    FYI: In one of Lee's private emails to me, he mentioned something called "Crystal Square," so I looked that up, and sure enough there is a corporation registered and in good standing in Illinois under the name "Crystal Square Management Inc." with Lee R. Ferry listed as president. (That's the only time I've been able to identify a complete person-name associated with the company.)

    Again, there is no valid corporation called "Crystal Internet Inc." (the name used at ShareASale) nor "Crystal Management" (the name identified in one of of the domain registrations). In most jurisdictions, there are consequences for using an inaccurate corporation name or failing to use a valid entity name in business dealings.

    It certainly appears that this is simply a situation where the business is not being operated very professionally, and it doesn't seem to be a scam. However, as others noted in the earlier program-announcement thread, I wouldn't buy from these sites as a consumer because of the lack of professionalism, and therefore I also would be unlikely to promote them as an affiliate.

    Lee has clearly expressed a desire to learn from his mistakes and to improve his sites -- although it appears (from looking at the prior discussion thread) that Lee's desire has not been accompanied by as much action as I would expect from a professionally-run business. Perhaps this discussion thread will inspire him to take the next steps to become the next CSN Stores.
    Last edited by markwelch; July 7th, 2008 at 12:03 PM.

  10. #10
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    Mark,

    I believe I gave you detailed information and answers to your questions in the 10 private email responses I sent you. I answered every question posed to me, even going back through each email to make sure I addressed all the questions.

    There is an extremely professional team of people behind these sites and the many other sites owned. To now question "the lack of professionalism" seems to a stretch. Obviously I have offended you in some way, but since we never met I have no idea how that could be.

    The inconsistancies will be addressed and changed where they can be changed. Others have made mistakes in the past and have fixed them and moved on. That is the case here.

    Lee

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by imagemaxusa
    > I believe I gave you detailed information and answers to your questions in the 10 private email responses I sent you. I answered every question posed to me. <
    You "replied" to several points with "claims" which you later called "proof" -- essentially, you expect me to believe what you say without question, even when your statement is plainly false.

    Despite my repeated direct questions, you never identified the correct name of your corporation. I went out of my way, guessing based on a passing reference in one of the emails you sent, to identify the actual name of your corporation, and then I posted that information here.

    You haven't offended me (although you have annoyed me, just as I've surely annoyed you). I'm not angry or upset with you -- but I don't think your company or your sites are "ready" for successful affiliate promotion. I started this discussion thread because I was confused about your company's sites, and I've learned more about it as a result. If you make some changes to your sites, I'll probably include them in my new datafeed project, and perhaps generate some sales and profits for both of us. If you don't make changes (many more than I've mentioned here), then we won't have any business relationship.

    FYI, your duplicate solicitation email (sent this morning), is likely to annoy some affiliates.

    Also, please take the time to talk with your attorney regarding the potential consequences of your inaccurate references to your corporation.

    Finally, your claim that there is a "team" behind this company is even more alarming -- your mistakes actually seemed somewhat reasonable for a single-person drop-ship operation, but seem less acceptable (to me) if there is a "professional team" involved in creating and operating these sites.

    Good luck with your business.

  12. #12
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    Moving on got to better things to do.

    Lee



    From: imagemaxusa
    Sent: Sunday, July 06, 2008 8:09 PM
    To: Mark J. Welch
    Subject: Re: Oops - sorry, my mistake on posts


    correct your post on the ABW forum.




    From: Mark J. Welch
    Sent: Sunday, July 06, 2008 8:08 PM
    To: imagemaxusa
    Subject: Oops - sorry, my mistake on posts


    Sorry, I thought you'd posted today against the rules. For some reason, when I searched for your name (imagemaxusa and Crystal Internet) on ABW, it didn't show you as a registered user.
    Last edited by Brian - ShareASale; July 7th, 2008 at 03:08 PM. Reason: removed private contact info

  13. #13
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    Now you've offended me.

    There's an interesting juxtaposition. Lee posted his "demand for a correction" (which I rejected, since he's never identified any alleged errors in my posts).

    In the same post, he included my earlier private apology regarding a private email I'd sent him, which did NOT refer to my posts here -- instead, I apologized for sending him a private email alerting him to what I (mistakenly) thought was a violation of the ABW rules in his posts here (when I sent that first email, I didn't realize that he'd paid for a new program announcement here).

    Lee's clear intent with this juxtaposition was to try to "trick" ABW members into believing that I had admitted making a mistake in my posts here, and that I had apologized for that. While I made a "mistake" while researching Lee's companies (I searched on ABW only for the business name posted at ShareASale and not for the domain names of individual sites), I did not make any factual mistakes in my posts here. (I do make mistakes, and when I discover my mistakes I do apologize. My main mistake here was in continuing to do research and sharing information to try to help Lee.)

    Now I'm offended, and I'll definitely exclude all of Lee's businesses from any future affiliate work I do.
    Last edited by markwelch; July 7th, 2008 at 02:52 PM.

  14. #14
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Mark,

    I removed the personal contact info in the above posts...

    Can this issue be left behind at this point?
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  15. #15

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    Left behind? I can see a lot of Mark's points on this one. If the company is professional and legit why did he have to search so hard to find a "real name", and why the differences in the corporate name?

    Seems there are flags that were and are still valid.

  16. #16
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    I didn't say that the points weren't valid or that there weren't concerns...

    Certainly there are, and a lot of people benefited from Mark's investigation.

    My point was that I thought the info was fairly well put out there and didn't seem to be a lot more that could come from the thread...
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

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