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  1. #1
    Full Member Code Monkey's Avatar
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    OnlineLabels - Reversed commissions due to missing referral URL
    Today I got a commission reversed because there was no referring URL. I've noticed about 70-80% of my sales show a referring URL, the rest do not. This is the first reversal I've had due to this.

    Is this in my control? It's my understanding that it's the USER'S browser that decided whether or not to send referring url information. Is their something I can do to ensure referring URL info is sent?

    Thanks..

  2. #2
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    It's not normal. You should open a ticket with Shareasale. That's a lack of education of the merchant. I've many, many sales without the referring URL. It could be due to a sale from a cookie.

  3. #3
    Affiliate Manager PaulS's Avatar
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    That doesn't make sense, I'd contact SAS and the merchant about the issue... to see if you can understand why they felt the transaction should be reveresed because of this.

    They may either explain it better than the info you've provided, or correct the situation.

    Paul

  4. #4
    Full Member Code Monkey's Avatar
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    I've responded to the merchant, asking them to reinstate the commission. I've also contacted SAS to find out if:

    #1 I can do anything to ensure URL info is passed..

    and barring anything,

    #2 Ensure all previous transactions from this merchant, that have been reversed for this issue, be reinstated.

  5. #5
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    I don't think you can do anything to ensure URL info is passed. You don't have the control of your visitors browser (if you don't use a BHO)
    Anybody can block their referrer. I've my own tracking system and I can watch in real time my visitor's info and a few don't have the right info in the "Referrer"

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager PaulS's Avatar
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    Let us know how the merchant responds. It's possible they just don't realize what the lack of a referring URL means and need to be educated.

    Hopefully, if this is the case, they will correct their error and make good moving forward (for you and anyone else effected by this).

  7. #7
    Full Member Code Monkey's Avatar
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    First, a big thank you to the merchant for timely responses to my emails. I appreciate that..


    The merchant has replied, and stated that I also broke a second rule which says that I can't have the merchants name anywhere in the title of my page. The reason being, they don't want affiliates to try to obtain search rankings and pull natural traffic from them. So, even though I have a page that is completely about this merchant, I can't mention the merchant name in the title.

    Is this legit?

    Edit: The merchant completely ignored the initial issue (lack of a referring URL) in his response to me.

    Edit #2: The merchants affiliate agreement on Shareasale states "3. All sales must have a referring url. Any person in violation of these rules will be released from our affiliate program. "

  8. #8
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    Drop the merchant. He's a thief and please don't be ashamed to name that crook.
    You can't put everything you want in an agreement.
    He is a thief and an idiot. Not allowing affiliates to include the merchant name is stupid. This idiot must have a problem to rank well in the SEs.
    To don't bid on their TM is one thing, to don't pay the affiliate to promote the merchant is an other. No need to educate the merchant, just push his competition.

  9. #9
    Full Member Code Monkey's Avatar
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    I don't TM bid. I don't have any natural search rankings for this merchant. I have a page exclusively about this merchant, showcasing every coupon and promotion he currently has listed in the Shareasale database.

    And yet, I get my commission reversed because "No referring URL info"...

    No, wait, it's because "I had the merchants name in the title of the page"...

    How does Shareasale allow this type of stuff to go on?!?

  10. #10
    Affiliate Manager PaulS's Avatar
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    I agree with Zeus... it sounds like this merchant really doesn't "get" what's needed to run a true affiliate program.

    Drop them and find somebody else.

    Paul

  11. #11
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    They allow it because Shareasale can't read all the merchant agreements. IMHO it's abusive and should not be accepted. They are also taking advantage of Shareasale, if they don't pay the affiliate for a non-sense reason like "lack of referrer", they are not paying Shareasale either.

  12. #12
    Full Member Jim Guinn's Avatar
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    I would write the merchant telling him you listed "the facts" about the incident and his reply in ABW so other affiliates don't lose commissions. (Be very factual and do not write with your emotions, make acqusations or jump to conclusions.) I would also email whoever you can find at SAS and cc them a copy with the mention that they were named on ABW as the Network allowing this merchant to conduct affiliate business in this manner through their organization...thus tarnishing them. Unless more affiliates speak up in public, these kinds of things will continue.

    Jim
    Last edited by Jim Guinn; August 22nd, 2008 at 03:06 PM. Reason: change a word
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  13. #13
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
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    Follow Zeus, drop that merchant. I hate those that do not either get it or want to take advantage of affiliates. Sounds like he just does not get it and how affiliate marketing works and one of the best ways to get new customers is with affiliates doing good seo. I would never as an opm or affiliate work with a merchant that specifically told me that 'affiliates can't have merchants name anywhere in the title of my page', sounds crazy.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Code Monkey
    * * * The merchant has replied, and stated that I also broke a second rule which says that I can't have the merchants name anywhere in the title of my page. * * * The merchants affiliate agreement on Shareasale states "3. All sales must have a referring url. Any person in violation of these rules will be released from our affiliate program. "
    This certainly sounds like a merchant who is sophisticated enough to understand what they are doing. As such, I'd prefer not to work with this merchant, since they clearly are deliberately seeking out ways to deny commissions to affiliates who legitimately refer new customers.

    The "title" rule is somewhat reasonable, if included in the published terms & conditions. (I don't think I'd recommend this rule for most merchants, but it's not unreasonable, and a quick Google search turns up a number of merchants who have a similar rule.)

    You acknowledge that the "referring URL rule" is published in the merchant's terms and conditions, so the merchant's reversal for this reason is certainly "legal" (and a quick Google search also turns up a number of merchants with a similar rule). However, excluding commissions for transactions with no referring URL is not reasonable, and I certainly agree that this practice is "abusive" and that it should not be permitted by ShareASale.

    The fact that the merchant used one pretext to reverse the transaction, and then later refused to respond on that issue but identified a new and different issue, suggests to me that the merchant is working overtime to find ways to deny commissions to affiliates who refer legitimate new customers.

    Please name the merchant. Don't make me search through hundreds of program terms to find this scumbag merchant, whom I will want to exclude from my marketing efforts.
    Last edited by markwelch; August 22nd, 2008 at 03:22 PM.

  15. #15
    Affiliate Manager PaulS's Avatar
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    I really think you should list the merchant, and make them aware of this thread...

    Perhaps we, as a group, can help educate them.

    I was originally introduced to this forum by a member here because of issues we had in the old Rugman program that I wasn't aware of (it was my first introduction to the issue of Parasites) and I am very, very glad that it happened.

    We managed to clean up the program (although, to my dismay, it sounds like some of the old practices have fallen back into play since) and I found a VERY valuable resource to continue learning and growing.

    It's possible that they just don't get it, and need help understanding that what their doing appears wrong.

    Paul

  16. #16
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    To don't use the merchant name in an url is acceptable. To don't list the merchant name on a page or use it in a title is not. If the merchant don't want his name listed anywhere he should not start an affiliate program.
    Like Mark, I believe this merchant is looking for ways to avoid paying commissions. You don't write an agreement without a full knowledge of what you're doing.

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    I guess I'd better get out my magnifying glass and receck all the agreements I have agreed to just to make sure that 'referring url' baloney isn't in there. You agree to things thinking that both sides are working in good faith. I have had many sales with no referring url and I'm not doing anything wrong but if there is a merchant who wants to play gotcha on something you have no control over, that has to go.

  18. #18
    Full Member Code Monkey's Avatar
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    Insult to injury...

    I received a response from Shareasale, and I must say I'm quite disappointed..

    In regards to merchants not paying commissions when referral URLs are missing, Shareasale writes:

    "While I don't condone merchnats setting up program terms that include restrictions
    like this, ultimately it is up to each merchant to outline the terms of their
    program. Your recourse as an affiliate is to not join (or quit) merchant programs
    that have terms which you don't agree with, and instead promote merchant programs
    with terms that are more in line with your expectations"

    All I can say is WOW! I would have never guessed that Shareasale would allow a merchant to reverse commissions when a referring URL is not transmitted to Shareasale.

    Now, I assume there are ways to try to actively hide referring URLS, and try to hide nefarious affiliate activities. But, when that is not the case, how in the world can a quality network like Shareasale allow merchants to invalidate commissions due to missing referral URLs.

    Now I must deal with parasites, cookie stuffers, AND browsers that don't pass along referral URLs.

    Edit: If they don't "condone it", doesn't that mean they shouldn't allow it?

  19. #19
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    So - Who is the Merchant???

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  20. #20
    Full Member Code Monkey's Avatar
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    My current feelings are:

    If SAS allows the reversal to stand, I will not name the merchant because they have not done anything "wrong"..

    If SAS forces the merchant to pay the commission, they will likely force the merchant to alter their affiliate agreement and rectify the entire situation.. And I would NOT be inclined to name the merchant in this scenario as well..

  21. #21
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    "All I can say is WOW! I would have never guessed that Shareasale would allow a merchant to reverse commissions when a referring URL is not transmitted to Shareasale."

    Yeah, that's straight up abusing the system and shouldn't be allowed. There have been plenty of times where a sale or last page clicked was showing up blank in my reports and I have no idea why, something that's out of my control. They shouldn't reverse an affiliates sale because the SAS system isn't picking it up.

  22. #22
    Antisocial Media Expert ProWebAddict's Avatar
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    So instead of giving people the heads up so that they can choose whether to work with this merchant or not; you are going to make us sift through every single merchants TOS? It's not about doing anything right or wrong but I'm not even going to spend time giving that argument.

    Ok, when I have time and find it, I will be sure to come back and post. In fact if I find more than one I'll post those as well so that affiliates can choose if they want to continue promoting or not.

    I'm so sick of these "I feel wronged but I am not going to say by who" posts but as soon as an affiliate is accused of doing something wrong people put them on full blast; url, whois and related sites.

    Darn it! I broke my no annoyance rule already.

  23. #23
    Affiliate Manager PaulS's Avatar
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    From a merchant standpoing, I'm not sure I agree with your current line of thinking. Of course, in the end, it's your call... but here's some of my thoughts....

    Quote Originally Posted by Code Monkey
    If SAS allows the reversal to stand, I will not name the merchant because they have not done anything "wrong"....
    If SAS allows the reversal to stand, it's because the merchant put something in their terms and conditions that - although unreasonable - is not technically illegal. Can SAS make them change their terms and honor the sale? Maybe long-term, but certainly not immediately.

    In the end, it is the merchant (not SAS) who set this particular term in their agreement and is reversing sales because of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Code Monkey
    If SAS forces the merchant to pay the commission, they will likely force the merchant to alter their affiliate agreement and rectify the entire situation.. And I would NOT be inclined to name the merchant in this scenario as well
    If, either through SAS or the discussion on this board, the merchant realizes the error of their ways and corrects the situation, more power to them. In fact, we (again, this is a way back when) got a lot of affiliate support on this boards for correcting the Parasite issues we had back when I first came to these boards... and ended up with a positive light on the program - even though the thread began with some negativity.

    It's up the the merchant to correct (or at least properly explain) the situation, and I honestly don't see why holding back their information is helping anyone.

    But that's just my opinion.

    Paul

  24. #24
    Full Member Jim Guinn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Code Monkey
    My current feelings are:

    If SAS allows the reversal to stand, I will not name the merchant because they have not done anything "wrong"..

    If SAS forces the merchant to pay the commission, they will likely force the merchant to alter their affiliate agreement and rectify the entire situation.. And I would NOT be inclined to name the merchant in this scenario as well..
    Then, my current feelings are:

    The above statement just about puts you in cahoots with the merchant and SAS...and you are perpetrating ill feelings against merchants in general by not revealing this specific one. Just my opinion.

    Jim
    Last edited by Jim Guinn; August 22nd, 2008 at 09:24 PM. Reason: spelling
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  25. #25
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
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    It's a silly rule to always require a referring URL. That is effectively saying that the cookie is valid only for a single session. If an affiliate legitimately sends a visitor to the merchant's site, and the visitors bookmarks the page and comes back later then there will be no referring URL on the clicks from the bookmark. So with this rule, only the initial session would trigger a commission.

    Be very wary of any merchant that has this kind of rule in their affiliate agreement.
    --

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