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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador Joey's Avatar
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    Unhappy Merchant wants us to return supposedly invalid commissions
    We have a merchant who seems intent on trying everything they can to keep from paying us. Our website converts visitors very well, and based on our conversations with the merchant, they seem convinced that we must be cheating them.

    Earlier this month, this merchant emailed me and told me that they'd discovered that one of their sales people had been cookied with our tracking code, and every order that this person had placed for two months had been credited to our account. The merchant is now requesting that I return $4400 (over 80% of our paid commission from this time period) to them. If this merchant hadn't already had an extensive track record with us for not wanting to pay, I probably would have just taken their word, and written them a check. But upon analyzing the situation, I've realized that:

    1) For the merchant's story to be true, our conversion rate would almost certainly had to have skyrocketed in these months. It hasn't. Our conversion rate (and sales rate) with them remained consistent with past months.

    2) Based by the amount of sales that are supposedly invalid, the sales person would have had to have clicked our link within the first 5 days of the month that this started, but we see no evidence that this took place.

    3) And perhaps most importantly, the merchant has said that the majority of two months of sales are invalid because of this sales person clicking our link. But, this merchant's cookie expires after only one month.

    I should also note that while I'd normally return commissions out of courtesy (in the event that what they're suggesting actually occurred,) I can't find anything in their terms that suggests that sales placed by their sales person though my link would not still be commissionable to me. So while the right thing to do would be to return the commissions in the event of a real error, I don't see any terms that would require me to do so in this case.

    We stopped promoting this merchant in early June because they've given us many problems and seemed so dishonest, but they still owe us about another $4000 in unpaid commissions. Based on past experiences with them, I'm guessing that they'll try and refuse to pay this, and I have no intentions of returning commissions that are almost certainly valid, despite their claims otherwise. Do you have any advice on what action we should take with them?
    Last edited by Joey; July 17th, 2008 at 10:18 PM.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador
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    So if you were getting paid 10% commission, that guy spent $44,000 in 2 months? And didn't delete or pick up another cookie in the process and wasn't keeping an eye on things also? I would tell them to chalk it up as a learning experience on their part and would keep the money. Plus this part:

    "But, this merchant's cookie expires after only one month."

    Seems fishy to me.

  3. #3
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    Tell them to kiss your A$$.

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  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador Joey's Avatar
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    Haha that's essentially what I've done. (Though in more polite terms. ) On Tuesday I pointed out to them that the conversion rates didn't add up and that their cookie duration made what they were suggesting fairly impossible. I also made it clear that they'd be required to pay all outstanding commissions.

    They haven't responded yet, but I need to decide what action to take in the event that they won't pay, or that they decide to come after me for the commission that they claim was invalid. I'm sort of wondering if they fabricated this, hoping that I'd ignore it so they could use it as an excuse to not pay our outstanding commissions. But in any event, if at all possible I'd love to get a legal perspective on what I can do to protect us, and hold them to their obligation of paying out commissions. Thanks guys.

  5. #5
    Member buy-tees's Avatar
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    Is this a merchant on a network or an indy?

    I would get them to kiss my a$$ too!

  6. #6
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Joey, if you feel comfortable doing so, you should post the name of the merchant and network if any. It's quite possible that they have tried this same tactic with other affiliates and if someone here has had the same type of issue with them it gives you more ammunition to take to the network or use in a lawsuit if it comes to that. At the very least it's a warning for us to stay away.

    Good luck collecting the rest of your commissions.

    -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

  7. #7
    Outsourced Program Manager
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey
    3) And perhaps most importantly, the merchant has said that the majority of two months of sales are invalid because of this sales person clicking our link. But, this merchant's cookie expires after only one month.
    Wow... it took them two months to figure this out? From the merchant perspective (at least mine) - if I wasn't paying attention and I paid the affiliate, than that's my problem. Once an affiliate has been paid, I couldn't even IMAGINE asking for that back! The nerve of some people!

  8. #8
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Chargebacks are for hired sales people. Their attempt to charge back (once locked and paid) an at will affiliate is ludicrous.

    Check the T&Cs of the program. Is it stated anywhere that they reserve the right to ask for commissions back?
    Kevin Webster
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  9. #9
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Applesauce!!!!! NFW!

    -----------------

    On a lighter note ... Good to see ya Joey, got any new art for us? I'm still ROTFLOL
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
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  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador Joey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rematt
    Joey, if you feel comfortable doing so, you should post the name of the merchant and network if any. It's quite possible that they have tried this same tactic with other affiliates and if someone here has had the same type of issue with them it gives you more ammunition to take to the network or use in a lawsuit if it comes to that. At the very least it's a warning for us to stay away.
    While I'd like to warn other affiliates, I'm not comfortable sharing the merchant's name right now. But I will say that they're with the Kolimbo network, which unfortunately makes collecting commissions tough because the merchant is responsible for sending out payments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin
    Chargebacks are for hired sales people. Their attempt to charge back (once locked and paid) an at will affiliate is ludicrous.

    Check the T&Cs of the program. Is it stated anywhere that they reserve the right to ask for commissions back?
    I agree. The closest thing I can find in their terms is a statement that says they won't be liable for any damages, losses of revenue, or profits resulting from their terms or affiliate program. That seems kind of silly to me because the entire point of an affiliate program is that the merchant forgoes some of the profits that you give them, in return for your sales.

    Of course their terms also state that they'll pay owed commissions on a "monthly basis" in the middle of the month, and I haven't received any payments for months past April. So I'm not sure how valid their terms really are.

    Quote Originally Posted by Haiko de Poel, Jr.
    On a lighter note ... Good to see ya Joey, got any new art for us? I'm still ROTFLOL
    Haha good to see you too Haiko. I don't stop by here enough any more. But I'll see if I can draw something up in my free time. haha.

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