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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador CCBerries's Avatar
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    notarized, signed copy of the affiliate agreement?
    Hi, my company was a SAS merchant in the past and is considering doing it again, the reason we left is we had a number of out of control affiliate based situations. Some may have been caused by carelessness but one is more likely to have been caused by a competitor (outbidding our Google ads, using our URL (as the official site) and then linking to a dead end site during the busiest time of the year...).

    Looking through the forums I’ve seen a lot of the names that we used to deal with... so I put it to you:

    How likely/unlikely would you be to work with a merchant who required a notarized, signed copy of the affiliate agreement? What if we offerend a higher than normal (for us) commsion in the first 30 days to make up for the time spent getting it noterized?

    Just after your thoughts at this time.

    Thanks,

    Skip Manley
    CCBerries

  2. #2
    The affiliate formerly known as ojmoo
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    Your nuts. If I was a good affiliate, then there is no need. If I'm a bad affiliate I who was going to ignore your terms there is no difference agreeing to the condition the usual way and getting a noterized statement saying the same thing.

    The point is, if this is a concern, then you have to be vigalent in monitoring your program and if necessary take legal action if serious/malicious acts by affiliates happen.

    Notorized agreements will keep legitament affiliates away not those who r nefarious to begin with.
    Expert who says Moo

    a.k.a. OJMOO

    Cow Dance


  3. #3
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCBerries
    Hi, my company was a SAS merchant in the past and is considering doing it again, the reason we left is we had a number of out of control affiliate based situations. Some may have been caused by carelessness but one is more likely to have been caused by a competitor (outbidding our Google ads, using our URL (as the official site) and then linking to a dead end site during the busiest time of the year...).

    Looking through the forums I’ve seen a lot of the names that we used to deal with... so I put it to you:

    How likely/unlikely would you be to work with a merchant who required a notarized, signed copy of the affiliate agreement? What if we offerend a higher than normal (for us) commsion in the first 30 days to make up for the time spent getting it noterized?

    Just after your thoughts at this time.

    Thanks,

    Skip Manley
    CCBerries
    Hi Skip and welcome to ABestWeb.

    First of all, I would be unlikely to agree to that sort of a presumptuous, burdensome requirement, unless you offered a product(s) that I really wanted to have available, that I could get nowhere else, and for which you paid a great commission rate.

    Second, and more importantly, such a requirement is ridiculous, and totally misuses the notarization process. The purpose of a notarization is to prove that a certain person executed a document. There is a presumption under the law that a duly notarized document was signed by the actual person whose signature has been affixed to the document. When an affiliate joins a network and then applies to specific affiliate programs, he/she is then deemed to have agreed to the TOS of the network and of the merchant. Unless the extremely rare and unlikely situation were to occur where an impostor has pretended to be someone he/she is not, and fraudulently joins networks and merchants, and you were to seek to bind the actual, innocent
    person to the deeds of the impostor, this issue would never come up, and certainly not in the situation over which you have concern.

    Note also, that as far as the majority of legal documents are concerned, other than many involving real estate, most, if not all states have for years now, accepted declarations signed under penalty of perjury as having the same force and legal effect as notarized documents. While the same arguments would apply (regarding reluctance to join your program and the fact that reliance in such documentation is misplaced), it would be much easier and avoid the cost of a notary to use such a declaration in lieu of notarization.*

    ____
    *Nothing herein stated is meant as legal advice and you should consult your own counsel if you have any specific legal questions.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
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  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador CCBerries's Avatar
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    why....
    Getting a notarized agreement would force the affiliate to prove who they are to us and for our records, it would also prevent anyone from using the excuse “I didn’t know that xxx was not allowed by the TOS”. That gives us a stronger legal standing than what is currently provided by SAS, and would allow us to chase down the evil doers without getting SAS involved. Since providing false documentation (drivers license..) to the notary is a crime by itself we’d be weeding out most of the unscrupulous affiliates right at the start.

    I've never had to pay to get something notarized, each of my banks provide it for free if I'm thier cutomer.

    The revised agreement we are working on is not just for our protection but it also offers protection for affiliates that have unique coupon codes.

    With Geo targeting, masking and Google’s refusal to ‘lock’ the display url from unauthorized use it is extremely difficult to monitor what affiliates are doing in other parts of the country. Letting the affiliates know that we know exactly who they are should be no problem for the legitimate affiliates and would chase off most of the unscrupulous ones.

    The stunts that were pulled last Valentines had a huge $ impact (we are a chocolate strawberry vendor) & cleaning up just one of the took about 3 hours on the phone with Google, not what you want to be doing when you've already been up for 3 days straight.

  5. #5
    http and a telephoto
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    Put your program on manual approval and police your affiliates. Requiring a notarized document will effectively halt your affiliate program.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador CCBerries's Avatar
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    We actually were on manual approval, but nothing keeps an affilate from switching tactics just before a major holiday (in our case valentine's day), and at those peak times we are already working 24 hours straight (last valentines was three days straight) so checking to see if someone is misbehaiving is not high on the list since the people with the needed skill set are dealing with other problems (if valentines day was on a different day for each state it would be great - chocolate strawberries have to be dipped the same day they are shipped , they are too persihabel to be made up a month ahead of time like normal candy).

    As an example of the huge impact: we actually had to trash a pallet (about $3k) of large longstem berries last year, part of that was because of an affiliate who we suspect was really an agent of a competitor pretending to be an affiliate. As it stands we have no real proof on who that person was, we can't afford to have that type of thing happen again.

    With geo-targeting and masking and other tricks a merchant really has no way to be sure someone is not breaking the rules. All it takes is an e-mail address and web site to open an affiliate account & the merchant has no real proof of who the affiliate is.

  7. #7
    http and a telephoto
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    Well, from what you are saying that notarized paper isn't going to help you at all. If you know the bad affiliates, decline them or remove them. One bad apple....
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCBerries
    How likely/unlikely would you be to work with a merchant who required a notarized, signed copy of the affiliate agreement? What if we offerend a higher than normal (for us) commsion in the first 30 days to make up for the time spent getting it noterized?
    Skip Manley
    CCBerries
    Forget it. It isn't going to happen. I wouldn't even do that for Google.

  9. #9
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    I believe you are approaching the situation incorrectly. Think of the others who have gone before you. What methods have they used to remedy the scenarios that you speak of? Why have they not used this technique? It really sounds like you are a small company with people already overworked. When it gets to your busy time of year, everything on the affiliate end of your business really adds to the stress of it all.

    Hire an OPM, if only on an extremely part-time basis. They know who the bad players are more than you do. They know the tactics that they use and sort through this crap everyday. You do what you do best which is take care of the supply end of the business and they help shape the demand end. You can't be a master of all things and do them effectively if your business is growing. You need to delegate. Hire an OPM.

    -sfcom


  10. #10
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Hi Skip, welcome to ABW!

    How likely/unlikely would you be to work with an affiliate who required a notarized, signed copy of the auditors statement that all clicks and sales were properly credited? What if you got a higher than normal (for SAS) sign up rate for the first 30 days to make up for the time spent getting it notarized?

    Turn about is fair play - What do you say?


    I understand you have issues, but with manual approval and being on SaS you should be fine, yes it will take you some time to do the approvals but if you don't have it or it isn't worth it to you, then hire an OPM or don't open an affiliate program because this proposition is nothing but a complete waste of time, money and effort across the board.

    Rethink - affiliates are your online partners, the only thing they have to prove to you is that they perform, and for that they get paid.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  11. #11
    Visual Artist & ABW Ambassador lostdeviant's Avatar
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    Not going to happen
    - when pigs fly
    - when hell freezes over
    - cuando las ranas críen pelo
    - cuando las vacas vuelen
    - not even if you sent me a money transfer to cover the cost.

    Quote Originally Posted by CCBerries
    How likely/unlikely would you be to work with a merchant who required a notarized, signed copy of the affiliate agreement? What if we offerend a higher than normal (for us) commsion in the first 30 days to make up for the time spent getting it noterized?

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    I've never had to pay to get something notarized, each of my banks provide it for free if I'm thier cutomer.
    Just because you've never had to pay does not mean it is free everywhere. It would cost me $45 to get a notarized statement. IF I would, which I would not. I have merchants to promote, sites to maintain and not hours of free time to fulfill peculiar and useless requirements.

    Sounds like you need an OPM.

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    If this would be a requirement, I'd say don't waste your time with an affiliate program since this won't work. If you are serious about getting back into affiliate marketing again, I'll be happy to talk to you, gratis, about some of the issues you had before and some ideas how to deal with them.
    Greg Rice Affiliate Program Management
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  14. #14
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    I'll echo what everyone else says: creating large artificial obstacles to affiliate participation will deter all except the "most crooked" affiliates.

    Requiring a signed, notarized agreement will deter most honest affiliates. Certainly, they will eschew the time, effort, and cost to obtain notarization (even if you promised a "signing bonus" of $20 or $25 to cover the cost of notarization). They will also assume that if you're going to be this difficult about joining the program, you'll probably also make additional intrusive demands in the future -- and they'll also worry that you might act like other "over-reaction" merchants who reverse legitimate commissions.

    The crooks don't care about breaking rules or laws -- they will gladly prepare a convincing forged notary acknowledgement. Your requirement will probably also inspire some crooks to become even more sophisticated, which will not only make it more difficult for YOU to pursue the crooks, but could also make life more difficult for other merchants!

    Clearly, you've had a bad experience in the past, and you recognize that your affiliate program will only work if it is actively managed. And you recognize that there are some very clever crooks out there, who use a variety of tricks to conceal their illegal conduct.

    You need to organize your business to attract and support honest, legitimate affiliates, while also taking reasonable steps to block the crooks. Quite frankly, some small merchants simply can't earn enough profit from legitimate affiliates to offset the high cost of "policing" the crooks -- but merchants who can navigate this minefield may profit even more.

  15. #15
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Quite frankly, some small merchants simply can't earn enough profit from legitimate affiliates to offset the high cost of "policing" the crooks
    Well said. There's the hidden cost of entry that no one tells the folks up front.
    Kevin Webster
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  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador CCBerries's Avatar
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    as for costs I did a quick search on "maximum notery fees by state" (in quotes to get an exact match) and single page maximum costs are defined by most states. A few states (5) don't define a maximum but instead use the terms "reasonable", most have a $5 limit, and every bank I've been to (multipul states) will do it for free if you have an account.

    Thanks for the feedback, with no definitive way of knowing that the affiliate is genuine and has no malicious intent adding identity theft/forgery to the mix was the thought behind the notarized document. Lets face it, someone can create an e-mail account/web site and in one day be an affiliate, and while most of the affiliates are legitimate the cost to the merchants from the unscrupulous ones is something that needs to be balanced.

  17. #17
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    That's where your trusted third party and OPM come into play!

    Doesn't matter how many air bags your car has you can still get hurt if you crash.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  18. #18
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCBerries
    as for costs I did a quick search on "maximum notery fees by state" (in quotes to get an exact match) and single page maximum costs are defined by most states. A few states (5) don't define a maximum but instead use the terms "reasonable", most have a $5 limit, and every bank I've been to (multipul states) will do it for free if you have an account.
    In CA the standard charge for a notarization is $20.00 and I haven't seen a freebie since I was a notary many years ago.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
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  19. #19
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    What? Is this April 1st or something? You've got to be kidding, right?

    Ten years in this business and I've never heard of such a thing.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador CCBerries's Avatar
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    it's a ballancing act, at no point is the affiliate actually forced to prove they are who they say they are.

    I did some research on the CA fee and part of it is based on the required insurance bond of $15,000, while § 8211 limits it to $10 if you require other services (multipul signatures, copies...) it looks like they can bump it up.

    The idea was not to cost the affiliates any large amount, the thought was that if someone would be to falsify the documents they would be commiting a felony rather than simple fraud.

    Brian/SAS what steps do you take to make sure an affiliate is who they say they are?

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    As mentioned above, no notarized document will stop someone who disregards contracts from breaking them or even from forging them.

    From a personal perspective about signing up with a notarized document requirement; the cost is irrelevant and would simply be a business expense.
    The hassle of printing, notarizing, and mailing a contract would be my stumbling block. I haven't even gotten the signed W-9 sent off to SAS yet after joining a few months ago. If I can't accomplish joining your program from my keyboard, forget it.

    Sounds like you're mind is set on using a notarized contract. Go ahead. And please come back and let us know how it went...
    Last edited by Boomers; September 26th, 2008 at 05:52 PM.



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  22. #22
    Advocate mellie's Avatar
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    I don't really think that requiring a notarized statement will help you though I can understand you feel a need. Like others have said use manual approval, stick to affiliates who have a good track record and use an OPM. Most if not all of the OPM's who post here are familiar with affiliates and would probably be a big help in weeding out most of the undesirables.

    Also keep your TOS clear and simple to read. Most affiliates have learned they need to read thru the TOS but some get turned off by a lengthy and overly worded TOS.
    Melanie
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  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador jodyq's Avatar
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    A thief will get caught sooner or later, having to get notarized statements from all of your future affiliates would be very easy, because you would have none. Great advice above!

  24. #24
    http and a telephoto
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCBerries
    it's a ballancing act, at no point is the affiliate actually forced to prove they are who they say they are.

    I did some research on the CA fee and part of it is based on the required insurance bond of $15,000, while § 8211 limits it to $10 if you require other services (multipul signatures, copies...) it looks like they can bump it up.

    The idea was not to cost the affiliates any large amount, the thought was that if someone would be to falsify the documents they would be commiting a felony rather than simple fraud.

    Brian/SAS what steps do you take to make sure an affiliate is who they say they are?
    It isn't as much the cost as the hassle. Many affiliates work from home, have kids, have lots of responsibilities. I know when I was asked for a notarized contract before I could use a datafeed (a few years ago, search here and the thread may still exist!) I told the merchant in no uncertain terms that I would not be leaving my house in the middle of winter when I had kids to take care of that would most likely need to go with me to go to a bank where the person that was the notary may or may not be on duty what they could do with their datafeed. To this day even though the program was and still is a very good fit for several of my sites I will not work with that merchant.

    And while you are asking Brian what Shareasale does to verify identity of affiliates, ask CJ LS and Google what they do. Shareasale requires that you have a domain based email or that you place code on a site to verify it is yours when you apply for the program. Beyond that what should they be doing?

    You are working in an arena where people do not always want everyone knowing them and all they do (some for very good reasons, and not illegal activities). Yes we want to know people's identities, but networks have privacy policies in place that protect both merchants *and* affiliates. And affiliates join networks with the confidence that privacy is maintained.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  25. #25
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    CCBerries wrote > "most [states] have a $5 limit [for a notarial acknowledgement], and every bank I've been to (multipul states) will do it for free if you have an account. <

    CC, I don't know what state you live in, nor when or what you had notarized by someone at a bank (are you sure it was a "notarization" and not a "signature guarantee"?). Perhaps you live in a smaller town where businesses and people are nicer to each other.

    AffiliateHound noted that in California, the standard charge is $20 (I think that's the maximum fee allowed), and noted that he hasn't encountered "free" notarization in "many years." Neither have I.

    Over the past 20+ years, notary laws have changed in most states to reduce fraud and abuse (including some recently-enacted and still-pending changes following the mortgage-fraud epidemic), and one result has been a huge reduction in the number of notaries working in banks and insurance agencies, although I'm sure many are still employed by escrow & title companies, and real estate agencies. Like AH, I was once a notary public (in the 1990's) -- but not in this century.

    And as Loxly notes, the "hassle" factor is probably worse than the cost. For an extra charge, you can find notaries who'll come to your home or office, but usually you'll have to visit a a mail-and-ship storefront (such as a "UPS Store," formerly called Mailboxes Etc.) that employs a notary public.

    Finally, I think JodyQ is correct in writing, "having to get notarized statements from all of your future affiliates would be very easy, because you would have none."

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