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  1. #1
    15 years and counting
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    How merchants are getting free traffic from affiliates
    Last week it was E Cigarettes National
    Today it's Tao Formulations
    This is an automated notification regarding a commission change for the Tao Formulations ShareASale Affiliate Program.
    This merchant has made a change to their default commission rate.
    Previous Per Sale Commission: $10.00
    New Per Sale Commission: $0.00
    If a merchant set their Sale Commission to $0.00, they stay active at Shareasale and keep our traffic without paying us.
    It's true for Sale, Lead and Click programs.

    I'm glad Shareasale gave us the tools to detect the crooks in their networks but it would be good to eliminate them, too.
    It's hard to spot, most of the time the agreements are not updated.

    I had a quick look at some (active) merchants not paying their affiliates:
    E Cigarettes National
    TAO Formulations
    Acksen Ltd (you can earn 40% (US$143.2) for each sale.) They are kidding, right? sale commission % is set to 0
    The World Nomads Group (With conversion rates hovering between 10% to 20% and opportunities for high value sales, many of our top affiliates are making several thousand in commissions every month.) Sure!
    TH Media: (Last Commissionable Transaction through Affiliate: 06/08/2006 Get Links for TH Media.) But still active and you can even join their program.
    Office1000, Inc. (We have discontinued this program. Thank you for your past participations.) So, why are they still active.
    Clone Office Cubicles (Merchant provided description: caneled) Must be the cubicle effect. Still active
    ePossibilities Limited (Earn $5 for each customer that signs up for a free trial!) No way!!! sale, lead, click are all set to $0

    Even with the sale, lead or click commission set to $0, the merchant still show as active, you can get links, promote them. BUT, you will not get paid. Don't count on the "Invalid Link report" The free traffic is not reported.

    This is not ONLY a Sharesale problem. The other networks are hidding this kind of information.

  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager craigstephen's Avatar
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    Isn't there any ban or restriction on Merchant involve in such actvities? Network should make some rules or criterions....

  3. #3
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    IMHO, as soon as their commissions are set to 0, these programs should be (automatically) put on hold. The affiliates links should appear as "invalid" and be reported in the "Invalid Link report", and the affiliates should be prevented to get new links.

    Shareasale tracks links and they are not paid either. It's not in their best interest. Some merchants are doing it on purpose but others don't know better. They have money trouble and setting a commission to 0 is an easy fix, effective and fast. They don't think of the consequences.

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager qualityunit's Avatar
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    Every merchant, which will set 0% commission need to count with fact, that very soon all affiliates will stop promote his products. Free traffic is just fiction. Merchant will loose in long term much more as he can earn on "free traffic"
    [SIZE=3][FONT=Arial]Viktor Zeman[/FONT][/SIZE]
    [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/]Quality Unit [/URL][/B] Founder and [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/postaffiliatepro/]Post Affiliate Pro[/URL][/B] developer

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador JoyUnltd's Avatar
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    What I don't understand is why SAS and other networks permit this? Is this legal? To offer an affiliate program and not pay anything?
    Renée
    Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain. -Wizardress of Oz

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager qualityunit's Avatar
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    0% commission is not illegal - it is just not fair
    In each case SAS should think about it, because they loose money as well.
    [SIZE=3][FONT=Arial]Viktor Zeman[/FONT][/SIZE]
    [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/]Quality Unit [/URL][/B] Founder and [B][URL=http://www.qualityunit.com/postaffiliatepro/]Post Affiliate Pro[/URL][/B] developer

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador JoyUnltd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qualityunit
    0% commission is not illegal - it is just not fair.
    Not fair?! Well, that's putting it rather mildly. I've coined a new term for this. Narcissistic capitalism: only I should make money, screw everyone else.
    Renée
    Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain. -Wizardress of Oz

  8. #8
    Newbie IAmMe's Avatar
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    Yet ANOTHER merchant taking advantage of the Wild West Mentality at Shareasale.

    I used to post the above message about once a month, now it's closer to once a week.

    Shareasale will eventually be sued for negligence. Their lack of controls on this type of behavior, for this long, is proof of culpability.

  9. #9
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoyUnltd
    I've coined a new term for this. Narcissistic capitalism: only I should make money, screw everyone else.
    I like it, but why bother? There are so many old terms that fit; theft, fraud, bait and switch ...

    -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

  10. #10
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    If we can see this kind of bad behavior, it's because Shareasale has one of the best reporting systems. Real time reporting with many features allowing affiliates to check what's going on. Try to expose the same behavior at GAN, CJ, Linkshare.
    Blame the merchants for their Wild West Mentality, not Shareasale.

  11. #11
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    Blame the merchants for their Wild West Mentality, not Shareasale.
    A merchant can change their terms/rates without it having to be "run by" and approved the network first? Please.

    And these merchants are the dummies. The smart ones simply remove the tracking pixel from their confirmation pages and remain undetected until an affiliate spends the money to do their own quality control test. Linkshare or Pepperjam or Clickbank would get run up a flagpole here if they displayed such apathy and failure to institute simple network quality controls like this. But heaven forbid that somebody would have the nerve to point out something that's wrong with Shareasale.
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  12. #12
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus
    This is not ONLY a Sharesale problem. The other networks are hidding this kind of information.
    Actually, I think it's probably worse with SAS than most other networks.

    CJ requires 7 days notice and the affiliate gets an email.
    LinkShare sends the affiliate a notice and requires them to opt in to the new offer to accept.
    Avantlink requires 30 days notice.

    Not sure how GAN or buy.at handles it.

    It's certainly something that SAS should address.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  13. #13
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    This is just another aspect of "merchant management" -- changing commission rates are just one of many issues that publishers must keep track of. There are many actions that merchants can take that will impact publishers adversely, and it's incredibly difficult for publishers to keep track of all these issues for dozens of merchants. (Most of these "actions" happen at the merchant web site, not within the affiliate-network interface.)

    I agree with Michael: this is one area where ShareASale seems more vulnerable than some of the other networks, and I definitely agree that this is something ShareASale needs to address.

    Keep in mind that there ARE some valid reasons why a merchant may choose to set a particular affiliate to a zero commission level (instead of terminating the affiliate). For example, if an unethical affiliate is running prohibited PPC ads that are poaching traffic away from the merchant's own organic and paid search listings, the merchant might not want to disable those links by simply terminating the affiliate (I've seen these PPC ads continue to run for many months after termination).

    It's great that ShareASale has added the commission-change notification email, but it needs to allocate additional resources to following up on some types of abuses (by advertisers and publishers).

  14. #14
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    LinkShare sends the affiliate a notice and requires them to opt in to the new offer to accept.
    That's one I got a few minutes ago from Linkshare:
    private |0.00% commission on all goods
    [private |16.00% commission on selected goods]
    Good luck to know really what you're opting in. I can't get the list of "selected goods" and anyway the list of "selected goods" can be changed anytime.

  15. #15
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Zeus - there are often reasons for these but I'll look into it. Reasons could include pending closure, violations of affiliate agreements, etc... I agree that Merchants shouldn't be able to abuse the system sometimes it is just a fine line between making the system flexible and easy to use, and avoiding abuse.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  16. #16
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Just in case SAS is working the list in this thread, here is one other:

    The Crab Place

    Also, several with VERY low commissions that are effectively nothing:

    BasicHealthDirect.com: 0.01% per sale + $1 per lead
    ArtsCow.com: $0.01 per sale
    Skreem Internet, Inc.: $0.03 per sale + $0.01 per lead
    Planet Appliance: 0.07% per sale
    Web Stores America, Inc: 0.1% per sale
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  17. #17
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    Can't believe I was still sending traffic to The Crab Place.

    The Planet Appliance: The agreement say "Do you want to make a whopping 7% on a 90 day cookie" The commission is set to 0.07% Honest mistake???
    Last commission transaction 10/13/2008. Over one year without a sale!!!

  18. #18
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Zeus - a 0% transaction would still track, so you would have seen if any of the traffic being sent to Crab Place had converted.

    The above merchants have been addressed, thanks to all for pointing them out as well.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  19. #19
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    Thanks Brian.

  20. #20
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    I got an email from Crab Place saying my commission was raised from 0 to 8%.

    My first reaction was "What the heck? 0% commission?"

    *Note: I don't promote them or any merchants but I do get their newsletters.
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  21. #21
    Affiliate Manager craigstephen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus
    If we can see this kind of bad behavior, it's because Shareasale has one of the best reporting systems. Real time reporting with many features allowing affiliates to check what's going on. Try to expose the same behavior at GAN, CJ, Linkshare.
    Blame the merchants for their Wild West Mentality, not Shareasale.
    totally agree!!!! its because of SAS we can see real time reporting, the service even not available on other leading Affiliate networks...
    [FONT="Georgia"][SIZE="4"]Craig Stephen[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [URL="http://Logoinn.com/affiliate-program"][SIZE="2"][COLOR="Sienna"][B][SIZE="1"]Logoinn.com[/SIZE][/B][/COLOR][/SIZE][/URL] | [SIZE="2"][URL="http://Logodesign247.com"][SIZE="1"][COLOR="SeaGreen"][B][URL="http://www.logodesign247.com/affiliate/"][COLOR="SeaGreen"]Logodesign247.com[/COLOR][/URL][/B][/COLOR][/SIZE][/URL][/SIZE]
    [EMAIL="affiliate@logoinn.com"][SIZE="2"]Contact Us[/SIZE][/EMAIL] | [SIZE="2"][URL="http://www.shareasale.com/shareasale.cfm?merchantID=30741"][COLOR="Black"]Full [B]PPC[/B] Allowed / [B]30%[/B] flat commission / Unlimited Cookies [/COLOR][[B][COLOR="SeaGreen"]Logo Design[/COLOR][/B] [B][COLOR="Red"]24/7[/B][/COLOR]][/URL][/SIZE]

  22. #22
    Affiliate Manager craigstephen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    Just in case SAS is working the list in this thread, here is one other:

    The Crab Place

    Also, several with VERY low commissions that are effectively nothing:

    BasicHealthDirect.com: 0.01% per sale + $1 per lead
    ArtsCow.com: $0.01 per sale
    Skreem Internet, Inc.: $0.03 per sale + $0.01 per lead
    Planet Appliance: 0.07% per sale
    Web Stores America, Inc: 0.1% per sale
    i could say this is simply insane..... shouldn't be there an Affilaite industry's standard? i am shocked to see how much courage those merchants have, michael, what you say about it? shouldn't be there a code of conduct or Rules for merchants? if they dont follow, they cant get promoted on any Affiliate marketing platform
    [FONT="Georgia"][SIZE="4"]Craig Stephen[/SIZE][/FONT]
    [URL="http://Logoinn.com/affiliate-program"][SIZE="2"][COLOR="Sienna"][B][SIZE="1"]Logoinn.com[/SIZE][/B][/COLOR][/SIZE][/URL] | [SIZE="2"][URL="http://Logodesign247.com"][SIZE="1"][COLOR="SeaGreen"][B][URL="http://www.logodesign247.com/affiliate/"][COLOR="SeaGreen"]Logodesign247.com[/COLOR][/URL][/B][/COLOR][/SIZE][/URL][/SIZE]
    [EMAIL="affiliate@logoinn.com"][SIZE="2"]Contact Us[/SIZE][/EMAIL] | [SIZE="2"][URL="http://www.shareasale.com/shareasale.cfm?merchantID=30741"][COLOR="Black"]Full [B]PPC[/B] Allowed / [B]30%[/B] flat commission / Unlimited Cookies [/COLOR][[B][COLOR="SeaGreen"]Logo Design[/COLOR][/B] [B][COLOR="Red"]24/7[/B][/COLOR]][/URL][/SIZE]

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
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    Wow, you could have affiliate sales equal to 100% of the merchants entire sales for a week. And still not be able to scrape up enough for a happy meal.

  24. #24
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    I got to weigh in my 2 cents here.
    This sort of merchant quality issue is more prevalent in SAS than other networks. I think other networks evaluate and set the merchant commissions to be not sub-par from the industry/category standard commissions. SAS being flexible and a bit more crowded wit smaller type merchants, there will often be some crooks who tend to exploit this with 0 to 0.1% or other such LOW commissions while enjoying the free traffic. Just like even PPC engines have certain minimums per clicks, certain standards need to be enforced by affiliate networks as well. My suspicion is other major networks does this (at least to some extent before they accept a merchant into the network) and it will be good SAS does it more effectively to weed out the Crooks!

  25. #25
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    I think other networks evaluate and set the merchant commissions to be not sub-par from the industry/category standard commissions.
    Networks don't set commission rates, merchants do. The network rep, if asked, can recommend commission rates, but they do not require or tell a merchant that a rate needs to be a specific amount. The same with cookie durations, or any other part of the TOS.
    Deborah Carney
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