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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador Daniel M. Clark's Avatar
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    Art.com & AllPosters.com - Commissions under $20/year will be forfeited
    I'd like opinions about this. To me, it looks like they're gearing up to steal some commissions. They're converting to a "credits" system, where you have to generate 20 "credits" (where a credit is equal to a commission dollar) in a one-year period, or else you lose whatever you've gained. For example, if an affiliate drives a bit of traffic, but only earns $19 in commission during a year, at the end of the year, Art.com will simply not pay it. Am I reading this correctly? I don't do anything with Art.com anymore, but I used to, so I still get their newsletters. I don't have a dog in this fight, but I'm kinda curious if they really are trying to get away with what I think they're trying to get away with.

    Oh yeah, it also says that they'll overwrite an affiliate cookie after a visitor arrives on the art.com site if the visitor clicks a "special link". Nice.
    Announcement Email

    Effective today, we are introducing a change to our program that affects how
    commissions are earned and paid. Please review the information below.

    These changes are being introduced as part of an effort to simplify our internal
    operations. The net result of these changes will be to reduce our operations
    requirements with respect to inactive affiliates. The benefits to our active
    affiliates will include improved reporting and a greater ability to respond to
    your needs.

    We believe these changes will have minimal impact to our active affiliates. For further details, please see the new version of the program Operations Agreement, which was posted today.

    In addition to the commission-related changes described above and in the FAQs
    below, we are also harmonizing our Art.com and AllPosters.com programs. To
    support this effort, a change was made to the Art.com Operations Agreement with regard to the 10-day cookie. While the 10-day cookie is still supported, the program will now include a last-cookie principle. This means that we will credit a sale to a different affiliate or to an Art.com sales channel if the visitor
    clicks through a Special Link from such other affiliate's website or
    advertisement after such visitor clicks through a Special Link on your website.



    Q: What is being changed?

    A: We are implementing a minimum annual sales requirement. For any given
    program year, no commission will be earned or paid unless and until you have
    achieved at least 20 commission credits. And, for affiliates that do not
    generate at least 20 commission credits in a program year, any commission
    credits existing in their account will be deleted from their account.

    Q: What are "commission credits"?

    A: Under the new program rules, upon the completion of a sale, you will earn
    commission credits. Each commission credit is the equivalent to $1 of earned
    commission. However, commission credits do not convert into earned commission
    and payable commission dollars unless you earn at least 20 commission credits in
    the applicable program year.

    Q: When does a "program year" begin and end?

    A: Each program year begins June 1 and ends May 31 of the following year. The
    first program year will run from June 1, 2009 to May 31, 2010. Sales occurring
    since June 1, 2009 will be used to determine whether the minimum annual sales
    requirement is met for the initial program year.

    Q: Is there an exception for new program members?

    A: Yes. For any affiliate that joins on or after January 1 of any given
    program year but does not achieve 20 commission credits by the end of such
    program year (May 31), the affiliate's commission credit balance will not be
    deleted. The commission credit balance will be carried over into the new
    program year and will count toward the affiliate's commission credits
    earned in such new program year.

    Q: How does the minimum annual sales requirement differ from the minimum payout
    threshold?

    A: For the convenience of our program members and to simplify the operation of
    the program, the program has always included a minimum payout threshold. Under
    this minimum payout threshold, commission payments are not issued unless the
    payout exceeds $20.00 (or $100.00 for non-U.S. affiliates). This minimum payout
    threshold will continue to exist. Now, in addition, with the inception of each
    program year the minimum annual sales requirement must be met before any payout
    will occur.

    Q: What will happen to my earned but unpaid commissions?

    A: Earned but unpaid commissions existing in your account today will be
    converted into commission credits. Such commission credits will count toward
    the minimum annual sales requirement for the program year ending May 31, 2010.

    Q: What can I do if I do not wish to continue in the program?

    A: If you do not wish to continue in the program, you may terminate your
    account by emailing affiliates@art.com or affiliates@allposters.com. If you
    terminate your account by May 30, 2010, we will issue to you a commission
    payment equal to the commission credits in your account regardless of the amount
    of commission credits in your account. For example, even if you have only 6
    commission credits in your account and would not otherwise receive a payout
    under the program rules, we will issue you a payment for $6 if you terminate
    your account by May 30, 2010.

    Art.com Affiliates Team
    affiliates@art.com
    Daniel M. Clark
    Tech Manager
    Greg Hoffman Consulting

  2. #2
    Believe knight01's Avatar
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    The policy is going to apply to AllPosters.com as well. Yes, it amounts to stealing from small affiliates. If you don't earn at least $20 a year, they take the money and end the relationship.
    Someday starts today
    Military Discounts

  3. #3
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I got it too as I applied doing research for a client. Its one thing to say that you are going to be removed if you don't make sale over the next year. Its another to say you don't get paid for sales unless there is fraud or a policy violation. Looks like fuel for a class action suit.

    Just love the big program bullshit about saving EPC by removing affiliates. Its a bunch of understaffed programs or just lazy managers. Or worse, some douchebag director or VP mandating. Its my hope that these kind of programs shut down so the honest mid-tier programs rise to the top. Is there some network white paper driving this crap?

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador
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    I don't understand the credits part. 1 credit is $1 commission. So why not just say $20 earned commission instead of 20 credits. The only thing I can think of is calling it credits, I guess they think they can get away with not paying. If they call it 19 credits instead of what it actually is, $19 in commissions they owe.

    "However, commission credits do not convert into earned commission
    and payable commission dollars unless you earn at least 20 commission credits in
    the applicable program year."

    They're saying anything under $20 is not real money but commission credits. That's shady as hell.

  5. #5
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    As far as "Special Link" goes, that sounds like they're just talking about any affiliate link, in reference to the "last cookie" policy.

    BTW @ Chuck I like your style lol.
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  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidh View Post
    As far as "Special Link" goes, that sounds like they're just talking about any affiliate link, in reference to the "last cookie" policy.

    BTW @ Chuck I like your style lol.
    And their own advertising -

    "This means that we will credit a sale to a different affiliate or to an Art.com sales channel if the visitor
    clicks through a Special Link from such other affiliate's website or advertisement after such visitor clicks through a Special Link on your website."

    Meaning, they might click thru my website setting a cookie but if that visitor clicks thru one of their ads somewhere else, their own PPC, their banner on some other site etc., your cookie gets overwritten.

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador meadowmufn's Avatar
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    "These changes are being introduced as part of an effort to simplify our internal
    operations."

    Oh yeah, I guess it REALLY simplifies things if you don't pay what's owed. LOL.
    -Don't criticize anyone til you've walked a mile in their shoes. Then when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and have their shoes.
    - Silence is golden. Duct Tape is silver.

  8. #8
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    These changes are being introduced as part of an effort to simplify our internal
    operations.
    For any affiliate that joins on or after January 1 of any given
    program year but does not achieve 20 commission credits by the end of such
    program year (May 31), the affiliate's commission credit balance will not be
    deleted. The commission credit balance will be carried over into the new
    program year and will count toward the affiliate's commission credits
    earned in such new program year.
    How in the heck does this simplify anything? Just letting the balance run is the easiest way.

    This is not only complicated, but retarded in more than one sense.

    A. It's horrible PR, which is enough reason not to do it.
    B. It only focuses on the small affiliates anyway. What % of their affiliates earn less than $20 in a year? Maybe a total of $5000 worth? So they are doing this to save less than $5K probably.
    C. It IS stealing.
    D. The calendar year thing is just dumb.

    This is exactly what I was talking about in my article on ReveNews last month. Even though they are not NEW, they are still setting a terrible example.

    Now, more than ever, I am seeing programs that are run unethically, programs with horrible trained affiliate managers if they have any managers at all. These programs seem to have a general attitude towards their affiliates that borders on downright contempt and disdain. Unfortunately, they are doing a good enough job of attracting many new affiliate marketers to their programs with their offers; to only then horribly represent our industry and leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

    Often times good programs never get a chance to even work with aspiring new affiliates and the advertisers who may have launched with good if misguided intentions never give the affiliate channel a chance to grow. We all lose as a result.

    In the coming year, my hope is that more and more unethical and shady programs will be brought to light and that the industry as a whole will do more to stand up to these merchants. Maybe through adopting an industry wide set of best practices. It’s in all of our best interests to put a barrier up to the bad ones, and to educate those who genuinely want to run good programs.
    Thanks Daniel for calling them out! It's a start
    Matt McWilliams
    Call Me At: (317) 825-8826 | Follow Me On Twitter: @MattMcWilliams2 | Connect With Me On LinkedIn

  9. #9
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    You should add AllPosters.com to the thread title. They, too, will be stealing earned commissions from small affiliates. No matter how they label it or describe their new policy, it is blatant theft - especially so by making it retroactive from last year. I received identical emails from both Art.com and AllPosters.com yesterday.

    Such a shame.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
    Cute Personal Checks and Business Checks
    If you are too busy to laugh you are too busy.

  10. #10
    15 years and counting
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    We're back to the good all days... before consolidated payment. Once upon a time Art.com had such a program (without all this stupid "credits" system)
    Yes, they are not new in business, not new to take advantage of their affiliates, either.

    It's not going to last for ever. Hope all their affiliates will pull out their links.

  11. #11
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Moderator Note: I've updated the title.

    This just further solidifies my bias against indy programs. Give me a program on a trusted network any day.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
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  12. #12
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
    I decide when the pigs fly!
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    Crazy, huh? Before I pull links I need a replacement. I need lots and lots of animal art. If you know of a good substitute for these programs please post it here or shoot me a PM. Datafeed preferred.

    Muchos!

  13. #13
    Newbie jca's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Allposters Payments
    These changes are being introduced as part of an effort to simplify our internal operations.
    Maybe they could simplify their internal operations by offering direct deposit to their affiliates rather than mailing a paper check to thousands of affiliates every month. Not only do they mail a paper check, they actually include a typed letter with every affiliate check each month that says nothing more than "Here is your monthly affiliate check." So they double the waste of paper on top of mailing a paper check, envelopes which includes postage, lost mail/checks, etc.

    Maybe this simple change would help them reduce their costs rather than charging $20 to thousands of "small" affiliates every year for the privilege of sending them traffic and sales.

  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager bcwaller's Avatar
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    I can almost see what they are trying to do. They did it all wrong, but my guess is that they were trying to emulate the "no activity in a year and we drop you" type of thing like CJ has. They are probably of the opinion that there are costs associated with these accounts (if there are they are minimal) and want to clear them out.

    By assigning points instead of dollars, there are accounting issues that get simplified because money in the affiliate accounts is taken from certain categories that they want to maximize. When you have affiliates who become inactive and actually quit, there is money tied up in their accounts. It can make the bottom line better if the affiliates don't hold all this micro-money.

    My issue is that they want to cancel all the commissions if you don't have $20 by the end of the "program" year. If they instituted a 5 dollar debit after 12 months of zero activity (or maybe zero earnings) to allow them to write off the money. But once they instituted the credit system, that should have solved the held money issue.

    It's not an independent program issue, but a clueless management problem.

    As the owner and manager of an independent program who has had active and inactive affiliates for 14 years I have never removed an affiliate for inactivity. Our first (literally the very first) affiliate took over ten years to earn $20. He wanted classifieds, not money and didn't care about the earnings. But why would I drop him? From my perspective it takes money (and time) to get rid of affiliates and no time at all to leave inactives in the program where I can attempt to re-activate them later.

    I've had the argument many times with some influential people about small vs. big programs and removing affiliates who don't make enough sales. I want them all.

    It's too bad this is happening to them. I remember the original Art.com was the model of affiliate programs.
    Brad Waller | VP, Business and Affiliate Development
    EPage.com

  15. #15
    http and a telephoto
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    Close your account(s) before May 1, 2010 and you'll get paid. I haven't had a sale with them since 2007, and just sent them both emails listing my accounts and asking them to close them now and pay out the balances (about $23 between 2 accounts). I don't personally care about the $23, but I certainly don't want them to think they can just keep it. If all the affiliates with $8-20 in their accounts ask for their checks, their accounting dept will be very busy and they will wish they left well enough alone.

    The new rules are outrageous. Sad thing is that there are other companies (one that I used to work for) that think their affiliate program is the model they should be following. That company is now on CJ, but they think nothing of overwriting affiliate links with internal advertising. (one of the many reasons I left that company).

    Chuck you are 100% right on this one. Just freaking close the program. It is no longer a "real" affiliate program.

    Don't forget they already dropped coupon affiliates commissions.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  16. #16
    Affiliate Manager brett-e2's Avatar
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    Am I understanding correctly that the credits roll over from year to year?

  17. #17
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly View Post
    Close your account(s) before May 1, 2010 and you'll get paid. I haven't had a sale with them since 2007, and just sent them both emails listing my accounts and asking them to close them now and pay out the balances (about $23 between 2 accounts). I don't personally care about the $23, but I certainly don't want them to think they can just keep it. If all the affiliates with $8-20 in their accounts ask for their checks, their accounting dept will be very busy and they will wish they left well enough alone.......
    I concur. Just sent this:
    Dear AllPosters Affiliates Team -

    I would like to close my affiliate account and request that accrued commissions be paid to me as soon as possible.

    The email address on this correspondence is the one registered for my account. My account number is E1234567890 and my account balance is currently showing as $14.99.

    Thank you for your attention to this request.
    I sent that as a "reply" to their email.
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  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador
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    Quote Originally Posted by brett-e2 View Post
    Am I understanding correctly that the credits roll over from year to year?
    No -

    "And, for affiliates that do not generate at least 20 commission credits in a program year, any commission credits existing in their account will be deleted from their account."

    And let's call it what it is, they're deleting/not paying money owed.

  19. #19
    Affiliate Manager brett-e2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust View Post
    No -

    "And, for affiliates that do not generate at least 20 commission credits in a program year, any commission credits existing in their account will be deleted from their account."

    And let's call it what it is, they're deleting/not paying money owed.
    Oh, I guess I misread that section pretty terribly! Yep, seems like they think they can't justify the postage cost or something.

  20. #20
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust View Post
    And let's call it what it is, they're deleting/not paying money owed.
    Let's really call it what it is. They are stealing affiliate commissions.

    -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

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador JudiMoore's Avatar
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    I don't have a vested interest either, but I did notice here that they are making it effective last June! So no matter how they feel about credits not being real money in the future, they are saying that all money earned since last June just became worthless unless it fits the new criteria. That's stealing in any accounting system.

  22. #22
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    I haven't used that account in years, so I'm going to be closing it. (They had hopelessly screwed up their feed at the time and it was easier to just switch to CJ merchants.) Even though their new scheme is totally bogus, ironically it's probably the only way I'll ever see any money that may be rolling around in there.
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  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador ladidah's Avatar
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    That is plain theft.

    Considering they made interest out of the commission that they owed the affiliates PLUS they are not giving them their affiliate commission.

    I just signed on with them last month and after this, just deleted their links. I will be closing my account also.

  24. #24
    Visual Artist & ABW Ambassador lostdeviant's Avatar
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    news like this makes me want to give up on Affiliate marketing. :-( It seems every month another merchant is finding yet another way to hurt their affiliates.

  25. #25
    Advocate mellie's Avatar
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    Thanks for the heads up on this Daniel.

    Unacceptable merchant practice.

    I just wrote about this to help get the word out.
    Melanie
    President - Affiliate Advocacy 2008 ShareaSale Performance Industry Advocate Award, 2009 Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award - Affiliate Advocate
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