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  1. #1
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    OK, I am mad. Merchants who deliberately disable their tracking are the biggest parasites of all!

    We need to start catching them. Looking at the source of the buy page when you make a purchase seems to be one way. Who knows other ways?

    When they are caught, take a screen shot of the code before they have a chance to change it. DO NOT complain the the network. Instead, report them for engageing in internet fraud. Also, report the network that is enabling them to do this. (Help me out here. Who do we reoport them to?)

    We need to see these theives caught and prosecuted, not just the company, but the individual people responsible for this. One or two spending a stretch of jail time will send a pretty strong message.

    This has been allowed to go on too long and must be caught and stopped.

    I know there are people better informed than I am on this board who have thoughts on how to pursue this.

    Of course, when you have the goods on a merchant, tell us all who they are so we can bring pressure to bear.

    I want feedback on this, please.
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  2. #2
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    In the US, contact the Attorney General's office of your state. Even if the company is physically located elsewhere, they are in effect doing business within your state.

    Good luck & keep us posted.

    Wayne

  3. #3
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    OK. I don't buy stuff online often. Is there any way we can get a look at merchant's shopping carts and buy pages without making a purchase?

    If so, we need a team of volunteers to go through and systematically look at those pages for each network merchant. And, we need to follow through by doing it periodically until we have caught and reported the ones with their pants down.

    When they are caught we need the power of the law. Any network caught with a large number should be brought up on charges of conspiracy to defraud.

    What we need now is information. How can we check those carts?

    We need to get this team up and running now or we are all sitting ducks for the holidays!

    Come on you whiz kids. Help an old witch out.
    We need solutions.
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  4. #4
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    Sandra,

    There is only one way to accomplish the checking of carts, and that is to make a purchase.

    You cannot check a cart then claim fraud, until you make a purchase there is no fraud. When you make a purchase, and commissions are not rendered, then and only then is there possible fraud.

    This type of action cannot be accomplished as a team effort. The only way to work your WONDERFUL idea is to constantly hound affiliates to check and prosecute when they find a possible fraudulent merchant.

    Perhaps all affiliates should:

    Post-there case when a prosecution has been requested and received a court case number so we can all follow the proceedings.

  5. #5
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    If we could see the buy pages, somehow, and the tracking is disabled, that would prove intent to commit fraud. If there was even one purchase by anyone while the tracking was disabled (and the records could be subpoenaed to show that), then there was fraud.

    Let's keep thinking.<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Post-there case when a prosecution has been requested and received a court case number so we can all follow the proceedings <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Yes, I like it.

    Meanwhile, we should have some standard recommended procedures for ABW members doing on-line shopping.

    I guess, something like this.

    1. When making an online purchase through an affiliate link (It doesn't have to be yours!), look at the source code of each page you come to. If you spot anything unusual, get a screen shot of the content in question. Also make a copy of the code and save it.

    2. Ask questions and see if anyone can explain what you saw that didn't make sense.

    3. If it appears to be fraud report it to the Attorney General of your state and let us know that you did so we can help follow up on it.

    Ideas and help from honest merchants are desired and appreciated.

    You want to keep this on the up and up as much as we do, I know.
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  6. #6
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Is there any way we can get a look at merchant's shopping carts and buy pages without making a purchase? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Just make a test purchase for cryin' out loud.

    If peace of mind is not worth spending 20 bucks, it's not worth firing neurons and getting uptight about either.

  7. #7
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    &lt;~~~~~tip toes in gingerly around potential land mines here

    Ssanf, while I tend not to comment in an open forum such as this with regards to efforts at co-ordinating litigation against others, I'm am about to pm you some very general information with regards test purchases, documentation, etc. Evaluate the information and use it as you will.

  8. #8
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Chief_Bobbit:
    Just make a test purchase for cryin' out loud.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    That's easy to say when you live in the US. I live in Canada and I'd say that about 90% of my merchants only ship to US destinations and don't accept international orders. I'm not about to buy something from one of them and pay shipping to a US address and then pay even more shipping charges to have it sent to me in Canada. This is stupid.

    I think SSanf's idea is a great idea. Merchants who disable tracking to avoid paying commissions should be prosecuted for fraud. I'd bet that some of them cost us more money than parasites and Norton.

    When one merchant is caught with his hand in the commission jar, it should be posted here and exposed to inform all affiliates. We all have a right to know who is ripping us off. Don't you agree?

    Catwoman

  9. #9
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    SSanf-

    I agree bad merchants need punishment, but the road is filled with pot-holes. Any legal solution is expensive, and hard to prove, let alone getting any group of affiliates together for a class action suit. In the VC world they call it "herding cats".

    First, let me state, I don't understand merchants that steal from their affiliates. Cripes, the affiliate channel is the most cost effective one any merchant can find. If a merchant feels the need to lower their affiliate expenses, for whatever reason, they should just give 30 day notice and change their program terms.

    Anyway, here's my suggestion to affiliates who have these problems: work with multiple merchants and measure everything in terms of revenue per 1,000 clickthroughs.

    Every month, keep the highest paying merchant in the category, get rid of the lesser paying one, and add a new one for a month. Constant and never ending improvement.

    Regarding turning in the scoundrels, here's my reporting list:

    http://www1.ifccfbi.gov/index.asp
    http://www.ic3.gov/
    http://www.ftc.gov/
    http://www.cybercrime.gov/
    http://www.naag.org/
    http://www.econsumer.gov/english/

  10. #10
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Just make a test purchase for cryin' out loud.

    If peace of mind is not worth spending 20 bucks, it's not worth firing neurons and getting uptight about either. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Yeppers and $20 times 300 merchants is a piddly $6,000, too. I am talking about having a look at ALL merchants, not just the ones we are suspicious of. Some of the sweetest talkers are the biggest thieves.<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> I'd bet that some of them cost us more money than parasites and Norton.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>I think you are very astute. I would venture that thieving merchants are the biggest problem and most parasitic of all. While most merchants are probably honest, the temptation of being able to steal with little or no chance of getting caught must tempt even the best.

    That is why it is absolutely incumbent upon the networks to ensure that links which don't track cannot make sales. They have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that we cannot be stolen from through use of their company.
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  11. #11
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SSanf:

    We need to see these theives caught and prosecuted, not just the company, but the individual people responsible for this. One or two spending a stretch of jail time will send a pretty strong message.

    This has been allowed to go on too long and must be caught and stopped.

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Now that gets one BIG DITTO from me.

    To say just move on to the next merchant will NOT solve the problem. Precedents and some strong signals must be sent to force the issue. Then again, it's something I have always said in one way or another. Complaining doesn't get it done and I see a lot of it. If people would act in unison, we would be seeing change by now IMO.

  12. #12
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Any legal solution is expensive, and hard to prove, let alone getting any group of affiliates together for a class action suit <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>That is not what I am suggesting. I am suggesting that we forward any evidence to the proper authorities for criminal prosecution. That should be free to us.

    All citizens have a responsibility to report crime if they have good cause to think it is happening.

    BLFH (Ms. B), Thank you for your interest.
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  13. #13
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by :: nakedzombie:
    Any legal solution is expensive, and hard to prove, let alone getting any group of affiliates together for a class action suit. In the VC world they call it "herding cats".

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    I so disagree with you on this!

    This "legal market" hasn't really been tapped into yet. You could find a knowledgeable lawyer in internet activities and e-commerce who would handle a class action suit "pro bono" just to make an even bigger name for himself and/or the firm he represents.

    Imagine after winning such a case how many more would come his way later from hundreds and possibly thousands of affiliates! This is paving the road to riches for a lawyer.

    This would put a stop to unethical activities from merchants real quick!

    Wishful thinking some may say? Only if no one ever does anything about it. You want results? Take action!

    Catwoman

  14. #14
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    Catwaman, I agree but if they have been proven to have commited a crime against us, a class action suit would be a slam dunk.
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  15. #15
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SSanf:
    [QUOTE] Any legal solution is expensive, and hard to prove, let alone getting any group of affiliates together for a class action suit <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>That is not what I am suggesting. I am suggesting that we forward any evidence to the proper authorities for criminal prosecution. That should be free to us.
    QUOTE]

    Understood, that's what this was for, and it is free:
    http://www1.ifccfbi.gov/index.asp
    http://www.ic3.gov/
    http://www.ftc.gov/
    http://www.cybercrime.gov/
    http://www.naag.org/
    http://www.econsumer.gov/english/

  16. #16
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    I'm with ya.
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  17. #17
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    OK, here's the deal, if you run across a merchant doing this, please contact me in private so they won't know they have been caught and while the tracking is still disabled, I will try to get an umimpeachable witness, like a lawyer or something to verify it.

    Meanwhile, I will ask around to find out what kind of evidence we need to get these guys prosecuted as they should be.

    There should be some law they are breaking that would mean jail time, and that is what we want. One or two in jail might just end the temptation for others.
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  18. #18
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SSanf:
    Is there any way we can get a look at merchant's shopping carts and buy pages without making a purchase? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Yes http://www.merchantwatch.com I never finished the site because I decided to make it part of TrueTracker but since it is on a totally seperate server and runs as a stand alone application/service I could open it up so that any merchant could subscribe to the service if enough thought it usefull.

    Click on the MerchantWatch Icon on the bottom of the index page to see a sample report.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  19. #19
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    Jail time would be great.

    But don't forget that bad press and bad publicity will dramatically hurt their bottomline. Stock will drop, customers won't trust them, affiliates will hate them... For months afterwards every time their name is mentioned will be associated with some negative remarks, whether in households, TV, radio, or newspapers.

    It doesn't matter how long a company has enjoyed a good reputation in any industry. Once they get a black mark on their name, it is sometimes impossible to overcome depending on the severity.

    The merchant will need a lot of funds to turn their PR (public relations) around and digest the revenue losses for a while. It is even worse and more damaging for a smaller company because they don't have the financial resources to survive such a blow. That would be enough to put a new company out of business.

    Merchants should really think twice before turning tracking off on their affiliates. People will only allow being ripped off for so long before they start fighting back! Revenge can be sweet...

    Catwoman

  20. #20
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>I never finished the site because I decided to make it part of TrueTracker <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Not to get things sidetracked but hows that going?

  21. #21
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    I like that site, Haiko. It would cut down on the merchants we need to investigate if they would sign up and use it. It would be quite a selling point in their recruitment efforts.

    Now, how do we check the ones that don't sign up?

    I would like to be able to ping any merchant on any network at any time to see if their tracking is working.

    You might be able to sell it bettter to affiliates at a quarter a day or something if it could check all network merchants. There are a whole lot more of us than there are of them and those quarters would add up big time.

    I am sure the networks would advise you of new merchants as they joined because it would be one less thing for them to deal with when these questions come up. They could just tell the affiliates to check your service and know that the merchant is O.K., or not.

    Yep, I think you are targeting the wrong market.

    At 25 cents a day, there would be no excuse for ANY affiliate not to have it. And, there would be enough of us checking assorted merchants in the normal course of business, that we would, no doubt, catch the crooks red handed. Also, if the merchants knew we could check them any time, less temptation. Additionally, if the affiliate paid a token amount like that, they would be reminded and motivated to actually go use it.

    OK, how about this? We have a list of all the merchants we belong to. It has a place where we past our list and click go. Then, it runs and gives us back a list of merchants that are tracking and ones that aren't?

    Might be worth thinking about.
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  22. #22
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    It is not as simple as making a test purchase and viewing the page source for the tracking code (img source). Some advertisers use batch tracking (LinkShare uses it exclusively for example) and it will not be possible to see whether tracking occurred by viewing the confirmation page.

    The vast majority of advertisers are honest and have implemented reliable tracking methods. I agree that it only takes one advertiser intentionally or unintentionally not tracking to cause concerns.

    Commission Junction monitors advertiser tracking and can detect disabled or non-functioning tracking. This is easier to do for larger programs, which are usually more honest about tracking sales and leads to begin with. Smaller programs pose a greater problem because there are fewer txns to monitor and it is often harder to detect discrepancies when the numbers are so small. For example, if an advertiser only generates 100 total sales per day and affiliates refer 15 -20 of these sales on average, it may be perfectly normal to see zero txns one day and 40 txns the next day coming from affiliates.

    To further complicate matters, it is often difficult to know why a txn didn’t track if you were not the actual consumer. If someone tells you they bought via your link but it didn’t track, we need to look at their computer to see how they handle cookies or whether they have software (firewalls, privacy software, etc.) installed that may affect tracking.

    Nothing is perfect, especially when it comes to the Internet. Commission Junction’s fees are also affected if tracking is not working correctly. As I said above, we monitor advertisers for tracking compliance and contact them to resolve any issues as quickly as possible when problems arise.

    Lastly, if you are joining in Ssanf's witch hunt (pun intended) to prosecute advertisers with disabled tracking, just remember that most tracking issues are honest mistakes made by their technical staff. Disabled tracking hurts the program manager too, since they are measured by how many sales or leads they generate via affiliates.
    Todd Crawford
    Co-Founder, Impact Radius

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  23. #23
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Commission Junction monitors advertiser tracking and can detect disabled or non-functioning tracking. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I don't know what you consider monitoring tracking. If it is numbers manipulation, that isn't what we want. We want you to have it set up so that CJ and the affiliate get instant feed back every single time a sale didn't track. It should not matter if it is one sale or a thousand. If it did not track, a report should be sent to CJ and the affiliate on the spot.

    Additionally, if tracking is not working, our links should not function. The merchant should never be able to disable or screw up tracking and still get sales through our links. Haiko said something about pinging the sales page on the site linked to above. Perhaps, the sales page should be pinged before our customer can land on the merchant site. If the ping fails, the customer should be redirecrted to a page of our making and notice sent to CJ and the affiliate. (I don't really understand pinging and that may not be the right term. I mean the sales page should be tested before we transfere our customer to the merchant site.)

    We are not interested in numbers discrepancies. We want a way to know that the tracking is working each and every single time.

    Further, if an advertiser is found to have deliberately disabled tracking, the resolution we want is that charges will be pressed and they will be prosecuted. We don't want you to work it out. We don't want you to fix it. We want you to set the law on them.
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  24. #24
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Haiko said something about pinging the sales page on the site linked to above. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>It is not always possible to reach a confirmation page without actually making a real purchase. Many pages are dynamically created - i.e. they do not exist until a sale has occurred. Furthmore, the tracking code is not always included on a confirmation page unless the sale was referred by an affiliate. Non-affiliate generated sales do not have the tracking code on the confirmation pages.
    Todd Crawford
    Co-Founder, Impact Radius

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  25. #25
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    That may be true so the sales page itself needs to in some way be not dynamic. I do not know much about that but I am sure it can be done and I really recommend that you set some of those whiz kids at CJ to work on the problem.

    The answer may not be pinging but I am sure there is an answer. So, find it.

    No certain tracking, no sales. That is the long and short of it.

    And, yeah, this witch is definately hunting!

    Please, forward to me any evidence you find of disabled tracking.

    I live in a town with several universities and I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't a few law students that could use this and research it for a term paper. The law schools might be quite helpful.
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

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