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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador JoyUnltd's Avatar
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    Merchants With Non-Commissionable Products
    I'm just trying to figure out where accountability lies in situations where a merchant decommissions products but doesn't inform affiliates. I just went through this with a merchant (http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=119306), and was notified by both the network & vendor that all decomissioned products were removed from banner ads/datafeeds. However, when I went back to check the merchant's site, I found yet 2 more brands that were decommissioned after this happened. One brand's products still showed in the datafeed (and you had to click "add to cart" to find out that this brand was no longer sold online) and there was another brand for which the vendor became an authorized dealer and no longer sold that brand's items online.

    I wasn't notified about these and still had text links to these 2 brands. Of course, I removed the vendor.

    Isn't there some sort of network policy that a merchant has to notify affiliates about decommissioned products? Or is it the affiliate's responsibility to search every item/brand through checkout? Am I being stupider than stupid to expect that affiliates should be notified in a timely manner? (OK, I know the answer to that!)
    Renée
    Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain. -Wizardress of Oz

  2. #2
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Renée I think that you are being perfectly reasonable in having an expectation that ALL products represented on a merchants site and certainly those in affiliate datafeeds and other creatives should be commissionable. There actually could be an argument made that since the merchant's terms don't preclude these product lines that they could still be held responsible for tracking referred sales by phone and paying commissions on those sales. The fact that they had no tracking in place doesn't relieve them of their responsibility to track affiliate referred sales, it only makes determining the extent of their liability more difficult.

    In a perfect world, networks would have terms that protected affiliates against this type of error. (I say error because it doesn't appear to me that the merchant was actually trying to cheat affiliates, just that they left their program on auto-pilot and no-one was driving the bus.) But unfortunately networks can't anticipate every possible issue, and believe me, if you're not getting paid on these products then neither are they. Where the network did err, was in making assurances that the merchants feed no longer contained non-commissionable products and by not making sure that the merchant updated their TOS to reference the product lines that were no longer commissionable.

    IMO this merchant no longer has a viable affiliate program. Any affiliate that promotes this merchant is wasting their traffic. The odds of not getting paid are just too high unless the merchant implements some type of phone tracking and I'm not sure if that's an available option. And frankly, unless I saw more active management of their program, even phone tracking probably wouldn't make me take the risk.

    And no, you weren't being stupid to expect this merchant to effectively manage their program.

    -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

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador JoyUnltd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rematt
    Where the network did err, was in making assurances that the merchants feed no longer contained non-commissionable products and by not making sure that the merchant updated their TOS to reference the product lines that were no longer commissionable.
    Thank you rematt. This is a bad thread title, as while I used this merchant as an example, I was thinking in the larger sense about any network/merchant accountability in notifying affiliates about decommissioned or commission reductions for items/lines and wondered if networks have a TOS that requires merchants to notify affiliates about this type of situation.

    I have some merchants who do bother to update specific terms and while it seems obvious that this type of transparency from a merchant should be required by a network, it's apparently not. It's just life in the affiliate lane, one more thing to check on.
    Renée
    Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain. -Wizardress of Oz

  4. #4
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoyUnltd
    I was thinking in the larger sense about any network/merchant accountability in notifying affiliates about decommissioned or commission reductions for items/lines and wondered if networks have a TOS that requires merchants to notify affiliates about this type of situation.
    Some networks only require merchants to notify affiliates if there's a change to their TOS. For some reason they sometimes (when it's convenient) don't consider return days, commission rate, PPC terms and other terms part of the TOS when in fact they are actually attachments since they must be referenced in the TOS in order to be enforcable.

    Whether commission reductions or product restrictions are part of the merchant TOS or not, they ARE a material part of the agreement between the merchant and affiliate and should be handled as such. In other words it should always be a requirement for merchants to notify affiliates anytime there is a change that affects affiliate compensation or desired behavior.

    -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

  5. #5
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    Just DE-COMMISSION the merchant ... there are potential replacements all over the place.

    I have a number of what used to be Merchant specific pages ... now when they do something like NO PAY, not convert or some other garbage that is beyond stupid, I just replace all the links on that page with a couple of EBAY CUSTOM Banners targetted to their specific niche, keyword or category.

    Don't have to change anything else ... and guess what, I make more PROFIT, since I don't have to waste time dealing with morons.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador JoyUnltd's Avatar
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    net4biz, thanx mucho for the ebay tip, haven't used them as much as I should! Oh yeah, I have to reduce my frustration/trust level. It doesn't matter if a merchant's intentions are good, bad or indifferent. Whether they're just plain clueless or outright deceptive...affiliates lose. So do the networks, but that's up to them to more effectively monitor their merchants.
    Renée
    Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain. -Wizardress of Oz

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