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  1. #1
    Newbie
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    January 18th, 2005
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    I founded and built an in-house affiliate program for several of my sites from the ground up. It's been highly successful for over a year with over 2500 affiliates, and $50,000 in payouts so far this year. However recently I've been running into issues with shady affiliates who utilize spam, adware, virus, and other force tactics to generate sales. Most of these affiliates are accompanied by pushy lawyers who try to bully their way into getting what is not rightfully theirs. These affiliates use their lawyers to accuse of improper sales crediting and literally try to extort additional funds that are not rightfully owed. I am afraid I will end up in court. I'm afraid of losing, as I know I am 100% right, but still the unnecessary cost I would have to devote just to defend against any slanderous lawsuits.

    My question is what right to I have for denying or removing affiliates from my database? Can I remove affiliates without facing any legal actions? I am also wondering what rights I have as far as not crediting sales I feel were the result of immoral advertising tactics? Can I not credit sales I think were the result of these practices? And can I remove affiliates who use these tactics and not pay them their balance? So far I have always paid, just to avoid future problems and then as politely as possible told them I no longer wanted to be associated with them.

    Any advice to protect my business?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador
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    Hello Adlinking and welcome to ABW,

    I am an affiliate and will state right now that I am not a legal wizard. But based on what everybody else does I would recommend that what you need is a very clear Terms of Service or affiliate agreement that affiliates must agree to on sign up (physical click proving acceptance.)

    Within these TOS you should specify very clearly what you accept and do not accept as well as the outcome should affiliates be found to fall into the areas of behaviour you specify as unacceptable.

    Have a hunt around the web and see how others do it or simply sign up to a few programs so you can view their TOS. You should hire a reputable lawyer with exp. in this field and get him/her to go over it.

    As to what happens when you find someone not following you rules. You are free to withhold payment for any transactions that you have proof have occurred in a fashion you have disallowed i.e. you have proof that this affiliate was using banned marketing techniques.

    If they agree to your terms they must toe your line.

    If they disagree they simply will not join your program but this places the ball firmly in your court.

    All the best,

    DPG

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador
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    January 18th, 2005
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    Nunya, Business
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    "shady affiliates who utilize spam, adware, virus, and other force tactics to generate sales"

    If you didn't allow those types of affiliates into your program in the first place, you wouldn't have these types of problems. But i know sometimes they can start clean and turn. I would have something at sign up saying if an affiliate is found out to be utilizing any of these methods, they will be dropped and payment withheld. But for the situation you're in now, i think it's just best that you pay what is owed and then drop them.

    "My question is what right to I have for denying or removing affiliates from my database? "

    It's your program, you can deny or remove affiliates as you see fit.

    Edit. Basically what Dirk said above

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador erninator's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
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    I would revise your terms and conditions as suggested. Email all affiliates and direct them to accept the new terms (or not). The terms can be anything you want. It's your program.
    ~Ernie

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador
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    January 18th, 2005
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    First of all, it sounds like you have too many affiliates than you can keep track of. Either hire more people or stop trying to be such a big player.

    Second, get someone to redo your terms of service.

    Third, move your ops offshore so they cannot get at you.

  6. #6
    Full Member
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    January 18th, 2005
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    I'd agree, you need to revise your TOS.

    You may also want to consider migrating your affiliate program to one of the networks that manages the process for you (like shareasale).

    I'm sure migration would be a pain, but it may prove worth it. Good luck.

  7. #7
    Newbie
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    January 18th, 2005
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    It's not always as simple as weeding out the shady affiliates before they are approved. Many use new sites or alternative name spellings so it's difficult to pinpoint the spammers. Unless they have a recorded history, which is rarely the case.

    I really don't have too many affiliates to keep track of. Our software is truly one of the best affiliate management programs I've ever seen (in my opinion). I think I could properly manage up to 10,000 or so affiliates before additional managers would be needed. I'm not to keen about running from a problem and moving overseas. Although it may have some tax benefits I haven't thought of

    I also prefer an inhouse program because of the complete control and not having to share profits with a network company. I've always greatly preferred inhouse vs. a network. Maybe I'm missing some of the network benefits?

    But I do agree a new TOS would be very beneficial. The cookie cutter one we use now definitely has some room for improvement. I'll be contacting my attorney today and have him draft up a new TOS, which will hopefuly provide some legal shelter.

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador Sam Bay's Avatar
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    "What rights do I have as an affiliate manager?"

    Whatever rights you've given yourself in your TOS, which should have had a smart-ass clause of "subject to change anytime, without any notice".

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador
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    So what programs do you run? I'm always looking for some good indys.

  10. #10
    Newbie
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    January 18th, 2005
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    TrustNo1,

    Do you have an email address I can send info to or is there a way I can PM you through the forum? Currently I manage 3 programs with payouts ranging from 30%-70%. I am also releasing an exciting residual program in the next month. All of these are single product programs. If you're interested in more specifics, please forward your email address and I will send some information right away.

    Regards,
    Tom

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador Sam Bay's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by adlinking:
    Currently I manage 3 programs with payouts ranging from 30%-70%. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    No wonder lawyers are pounding on your doors.
    SomethingStore.com - Surprise and Delight!

  12. #12
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SamBay:

    No wonder lawyers are pounding on your doors. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    What does the payout percentage have to do with lawyers contacting me?

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