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  1. #1
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Under Construction -- Affiliate Bill of Rights
    In the past we've had some very animated discussions on ABW about what we affiliates would like to see included in an Affiliate Bill of Rights that merchants, networks and OPMs should agree to abide by. This Bill of Rights would be voluntarily agreed to by merchants, networks and OPMs who could then publish their intentions to be guided by it on their web site, Affiliate Voice or ABW, thus helping affiliates make better choices about which programs to join.

    We're looking for everyone to contribute to this thread, not just affiliates, and will refine and consolidate your suggestions which we'll first publish to ABW for additional comments and suggestions before the Affiliate Bill of Rights is published to the Affiliate Voice web site.

    Some suggestions made in the past include:

    1. email updates when a merchant changes their TOS
    2. sufficient notice before merchant changes take effect (how much notice is reasonable prior to changing commission rate, cookie duration or closing program)
    3. email updates when a merchant site goes offline or no longer has funds on deposit
    4. advance notice and email updates when a network changes their terms
    5. guarantees against merchants retroactively removing affiliates from their program (as we saw in New York last year after the Amazon tax law was signed into law) or reversing legitimate commissions

    What other ideas do you have that should be included in the Affiliate Bill of Rights? Try to keep the wording of your suggestions brief, but feel free to provide documentation for your suggestions.

  2. #2
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    How about, guarantees that merchant will research and resolve tracking issues.

    Maybe we can devise a process that should be taken when affiliates complain about tracking issues. Also a process for merchants to follow, so they can determine when tracking issues occur.

  3. #3
    Advocate mellie's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestion Bibby.
    Melanie
    President - Affiliate Advocacy 2008 ShareaSale Performance Industry Advocate Award, 2009 Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award - Affiliate Advocate
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  4. #4
    Advocate mellie's Avatar
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    Here's a suggestion I received via email:
    I think more concise Terms of Service and in clear paragraphs would be good. Sme of them are so long and rambling with the text all bunched up you can't even read them.
    Melanie
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  5. #5
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    How about, guarantees that merchant will research and resolve tracking issues.

    Maybe we can devise a process that should be taken when affiliates complain about tracking issues. Also a process for merchants to follow, so they can determine when tracking issues occur.
    To further that, the benefit of the doubt goes to the affiliate. If tracking is down for a week the affiliate receives the same commission as they would have for the week prior to the outage. That is always how I have handled this situation.

  6. #6
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Thanks all for your suggestions and feedback! Keep 'em coming! We're listening.

  7. #7
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    I would like to see merchants pledge to have a valid contact email that is responded to in at least 2 business days. Some think that email is a one way street.

    While I'm dreaming let them pledge to pay a bonus to the affiliate that reports their dud email address to the relevant network and has it verified as dud.


  8. #8
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    That's a two way street John, just sent a report to a network for bounced emails for affiliates. It gives us no way to contact them.

  9. #9
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    That's a two way street John,
    I agree. If either side can't have a valid email contact they should suffer.


  10. #10
    Advocate mellie's Avatar
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    Great ideas.

    I think that a TOS template will make another great project. Although clear and meaningful TOS is a part of the Bill of Rights I think the concept of template is worthy of a separate discussion. I think this would be helpful to all - to merchant, affiliate OPM and Network.
    Melanie
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  11. #11
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    Split the recommendations for a TOS template to it's own discussion.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  12. #12
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    Wish lists aside, it seems that affiliate and merchant bills of right walk hand in hand. If a merchant/opm etc tries to email an affiliate and the addy is non existent, not much can be done.

    I agree with Hamrick that if tracking is down for any period, the historical commission earned by affs could be an alternative.

    All this aside, once an affiliate bill of rights is established in a narrow forum, how would it be enforced on the industry as a whole??
    Join the Spicy Aprons Affiliate program on ShareASale Visit us on Facebook www.facebook.com/spicyaprons Follow us on Twitter @Spicyaprons

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Hamilton

    All this aside, once an affiliate bill of rights is established in a narrow forum, how would it be enforced on the industry as a whole??
    It's voluntary, and merchants that adhere to it get acknowledged. Do you want to just ditch the whole idea because no one might adopt it? We need a Bill of Rights, *then* we need to get it generally accepted.

    And what makes you think this forum is the only place this organization is getting input from? This may be one method of communication, but I can tell you that I am sure that this is certainly not the *only* method of communication being used by Affiliate Voice.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  14. #14
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    The Affiliate Bill of Rights is intended to be voluntary and ideally will speak to the rights of not only affiliates but all partners in the industry.

    Thank you all for your comments, questions and suggestions. This is a work in progress and I'm eager for more feedback. Keep 'em coming!

  15. #15
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    So far, this is awesome!

    Has thought been given to merchants signing the Bill of Rights and being given a "seal of approval" for their site?

    Would there need to be a review board or panel of sorts to handle complaints? I am thinking a Better Business Bureau for affiliates type thing.

    As for the 2 day response time, I don't know if that is practical at ALL times. I know that if I was in the office, I never took more than 24 hours to respond to an email. Usually it was within 2-3 hours at most. However, doing a few times each year (conferences, vacation, etc.) it was just impossible to have a real response (other than an automated one) within 2 days. Just throwing it out there.

    As for tracking going down or site downtime etc. I believe the fairest way (and the way I would suggest be included in the Bill of Rights) is that affiliates are paid an amount equal to (the merchant can always exceed this if desired) the amount earned in an equivalent period of time (previous day, week, hour, etc.)

    Ultimately, it is crucial that the merchants abide by it. If the "seal of approval" is something that becomes widely recognized and practically required in order to gain affiliates, merchants will have no choice but to do the right thing or risk being shunned by the industry. A respected panel of industry veterans policing these things goes a lot further than a random post on this or any forum, IMHO.
    Matt McWilliams
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  16. #16
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Thanks Matt, good to see you posting in this thread. Agree that ideally 2 business days are reasonable for a response but there are extenuating circumstances.

    All this aside, once an affiliate bill of rights is established in a narrow forum, how would it be enforced on the industry as a whole??
    Alan, don't think we can enforce anything on in an industry. Just like the Better Business Bureau can't enforce anything either but millions recognize it as a resource. Strong endorsements influence buying patterns. If the Affiliate Voice becomes a trusted source for recommenations and referrals I think we will be content that we have done a good job.

  17. #17
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    We have discussed something similar, Matt, although rather than a Seal of Approval we were thinking more along the lines of a "pledge" structure. (This merchant pledges to abide by the terms of the Affiliate Voice Affiliate Bill of Rights.) It's still in development so your input is much appreciated!

  18. #18
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhea
    We have discussed something similar, Matt, although rather than a Seal of Approval we were thinking more along the lines of a "pledge" structure. (This merchant pledges to abide by the terms of the Affiliate Voice Affiliate Bill of Rights.)
    I like that. Anything that allows the merchant to say that they are committing to a higher standard and actually HOLDS them to it is a good thing!

    I will keep giving my input, for what it is worth
    Matt McWilliams
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  19. #19
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    Matt, your input is very much appreciated. We're growing and fine-tuning and want to hear what people think and want from Affiliate Voice.

    As far as holding a merchant to their commitment to abide by the Affiliate Bill of Rights we can only compel merchants to adhere to the BOR by revoking their status as a compliant merchant should they violate the terms. But since merchants stand to gain much stature (and affiliates) in the AM community by committing to the BOR we expect that once they take the pledge they will run their program in a manner consistent with its terms and in the spirit of its values.

  20. #20
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    A suggestion...how about allowing AMs to take the pledge and listing the managers themselves.

    This could serve as a good barometer for a merchant looking for a pledged AM to run their program.

    In the long run, we could even have a job board or something similar for merchants and AMs looking for each other. That is something I would be very interested in helping with as I have been going through that process, looking for the RIGHT company that is reputable and believes in the same things I believe in when it comes to running an affiliate program.
    Matt McWilliams
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  21. #21
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    That's a good idea, Matt. I think that anyone who wants to take the pledge should be able to do so; affiliates, OPMs, AMs, merchants and networks. It would certainly make it easier for ethical partners to find one another.

  22. #22
    Advocate mellie's Avatar
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    Great ideas Matt, thanks for helping on this.
    Melanie
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  23. #23
    Member ETRdahir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick
    Thanks Matt, good to see you posting in this thread. Agree that ideally 2 business days are reasonable for a response but there are extenuating circumstances.



    Alan, don't think we can enforce anything on in an industry. Just like the Better Business Bureau can't enforce anything either but millions recognize it as a resource. Strong endorsements influence buying patterns. If the Affiliate Voice becomes a trusted source for recommenations and referrals I think we will be content that we have done a good job.
    Yeah, I mean why wouldn't an AM want to pledge. It will only add creditability to their program and their company ensuring the AM abides by a higher standard. Once the word spreads here the snow ball effect will start through other forums..

  24. #24
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhea


    That's a good idea, Matt. I think that anyone who wants to take the pledge should be able to do so; affiliates, OPMs, AMs, merchants and networks. It would certainly make it easier for ethical partners to find one another.
    Quote Originally Posted by mellie
    Great ideas Matt, thanks for helping on this.
    My pleasure mellie. Thank you Rhea.

    As I think more about it, it could be used as "scorecard" for AMs and programs, again sort of like the BBB. Which AMs and programs/merchants are best holding up their pledge? I just can't get over the idea that this could be something big for affiliates to find the best programs, AMs to find the best merchants, and merchants to find the best AMs.

    If an AM or merchant takes this pledge and holds to it, then they are going to be rewarded for sure!
    Matt McWilliams
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  25. #25
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Matt, so you are saying by coming up with a Bill of Rights for affiliates and a Code of Ethics for merchants/OPM/networks it would be an endorsement? If the Affiliate Voice creates these then should it require an affiliate/merchants/OPM/networks to first be a member to be able to show a badge/pledge/widget on their site?

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