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March 22nd, 2010, 09:32 AM #1Broken Tracking
Hi Folks, I am new to this forum but have had a long affiliate relationship with a famous merchant. This merchant has thousands of affiliates.
I would like input on a 'hypothetical' situation.
An affiliate, whilst researching improvements to their site, discovers that the merchant is failing to track a large proportion of reffered sales through this affiliate. Further investigation show that potentially thousands of other affiliates are affected. The affiliate tests his observations with test sales and finds the situation is indeed confirmed. Under certain, common condition, sales that should be tracked are not. The affiliate informs the merchant. The merchant eventually agrees tracking is not fully working for the affiliates site but that this is due to incorrect coding by the affiliate. The explanation is patently incorrect and the affiliate points out that not only is tracking broken on the affiliate site but also on many other sites. Even the links produced by the merchant on behalf of affiliates in many situations will not be tracked.
At this point, which is nearly two months into dialogue, the merchant accepts the problem does exist exactly as the affiliate has described. At Last. It seems to have been a problem that has gone on for many months.
Six weeks later the affiliate site is still not tracked correctly, nor, it appears, are hundreds of others. This is easiliy demonstrated by just about anyone who cares to look but no-one seems to have done that, so no-one knows yet.
Where do all the affected affiliates stand? The problem is still not getting fixed and they are owed alot of money (hypotheically of course ), yet they want to maintain a relationship with the merchant if only they could show some willingness through action.
How would you feel and act in this siuation?
March 22nd, 2010, 10:33 AM #2
- Join Date
- October 5th, 2008
This same sort of thing has happened to me a few times (that I know of). In one case the merchant apologized, offered to pay me an estimated amount and I assumed all was well. After some time it became obvious the merchant had somewhat questionable ethics in many other ways so I eventually just stopped promoting their products.
However, this has also happened twice for another merchant who we have a great relationship with (we are their number one affiliate). We mentioned the issue and they promptly fixed it... their web guy somehow messed up the tracking pixel. We continue to have a great relationship with them.
The fact is, it is very easy for a merchant to "accidentally" forget to show the tracking pixel if they are so inclined. Likewise, there are merchants that reverse sales for no good reason... one merchant continually reversed sales on us that were over $100 as "fraud".
My stance is to always try to have 2-3 merchants active for a particular niche. I usually give a merchant the benefit of the doubt at the first sign of these types of issues. However, it is only so long before you can spot a wolf in sheep's clothing. At which point, I promptly remove them from our site.
March 22nd, 2010, 11:56 AM #3
It is interesting to hear your experience. The problem in this 'hypothetical' situation is that it affects hundreds of sites i.e. affiliates, and that the merchant, despite being informed and recognising the exact problem, has not fixed it. You would think they would drop everything and sort this out. It is a really big problem. They have alot to lose in terms of PR and reputation. I guarantee many of those on this forum are potentially affected for a long time now. Even if they make remedy with me, I would need to see the problem resolved globally and fast. It has all gone very quiet. (hypothetically ). I keep this as a hypothetical post as actual details might start a firestorm.
I have another merchant just itching for me to use them instead, they have a smaller inventory but use a third party program and I feel I could trust them and they are VERY helpful. That would still leave the matter of the considerable sums that are owed to all these affiliates.
March 22nd, 2010, 11:58 AM #4
- Join Date
- January 18th, 2005
March 24th, 2010, 04:28 PM #5
March 24th, 2010, 05:00 PM #6
As a merchant who just this week screwed up and had their tech team break the tracking pixel, I was worried that maybe this was us! I also have a different perspective as a merchant.
But I have to say that if this is not fixed as soon as humanly possible, and not addressed to all the affiliates then the merchant does not sound like a reputable merchant to me.
I would give them one last chance to fess up, make it up to their affiliates, and get it fixed. See if you can contact a executive or owner about this. Come up with a reasonable deadline and let them know that you are not threatening them, but the reality is that you will blog about this and let other affiliates know about this because they too might be affected by this.
Be as polite and professional as possible. Document what you can and show them the timeline. I would hope that any executive who sees this would go ballistic and make this a high priority.
If you do post details, make sure you observe the legalities. Don't post confidential data, make sure what you post is accurate and factual. Skip the opinions and projections. Make it as dry as possible. Let opinions shared be from the readers.Brad Waller | VP, Business and Affiliate Development
March 24th, 2010, 05:10 PM #7
March 24th, 2010, 07:24 PM #8
March 25th, 2010, 03:57 PM #9
Thanks so much for your sagelike advice on this 'hypothetical' situation. These are wise words. I am 'hypothetically' sitting on my hands at the moment to give them a chance to fix things.
The message has certainly got through to a senior level so I can only assume the lack of activity reflects either a lack of concern or just how big the problem is ( I think the latter). It is sooo frustrating, not least because communications with these guys are nothing short of appalling.
I really do not want to offend them and spoil the relationship before they have a chance to fix this. I have a heavy investment in this program and I will very much benefit from a resolution.
It must be a huge undertaking to retrospectively piece together sales with referring urls using IP addresses, and that's if they archived the data at all. They would have to revist every sale over this time period even though only a portion are affected (in my opinion). It is a private program.
I would have thought though, that the first job was to correct the situation for everyone affected such that the tracking worked. They can figure out how to break the news later when they have the data resolved. In any event, they would 'hypothetically' have to make an announcement sooner or later.
Last edited by bobcat; March 25th, 2010 at 04:12 PM.
March 25th, 2010, 04:07 PM #10
As an affiliate, shady stuff like this really bothers me. I've also seen a disturbing trend where merchants are lowering commission rates to near or in some cases to 0 percent. No warning unless you are a stats junkie like myself. How networks let merchants get away with such things is beyond me. Some things need to change in this industry.
March 25th, 2010, 08:10 PM #11
Do you think that a 3rd party might help move this forward? For example you could have a trusted person privately and quietly make contact with them. Perhaps someone they would have heard of from this industry might be able to talk to an executive and get the story and see if they are actually making progress...Brad Waller | VP, Business and Affiliate Development
March 25th, 2010, 08:42 PM #12
Bobcat, if you want, email me the merchant and a little more information. I have done this for other affiliates. Most merchants are responsive.
Affiliate information remains confidential.
March 26th, 2010, 05:58 PM #13
Thanks for that offer. I will definitely add that arrow to my quill. For now I have to hang fire. If I do not get some movement, or indication of progress in the next week or so then I may have to get tough.
Last edited by bobcat; March 26th, 2010 at 06:09 PM.
April 5th, 2010, 11:52 AM #14
How delightful it is to see that this 'Merchant' has now fixed the tracking error after many months. Nice of them to (not) let me know.
I wonder if 'they' will now pay all the affiliates the money they are 'owed'?
You may be owed $5 or $5000. With me it is closer to the latter.
How does one go about getting that back from a merchant that won't even answer emails? It is ours after all. It's not like we're being unreasonable. What is a reasonable timeframe for resolution?
May 10th, 2010, 08:22 PM #15
This is my last communique with Allposters affiliate team on the issue. I have months of emails leading up to this point.
I am cc.ing the boss again because this is very important to him. Excuse me.
Your international tracking is still broken. Really.
I very much want to work with your company. It is massively in my interests. I stand to make a stack of revenue. They have such a great product range and fulfillment opertation. Your affiliate program has immense potential. I am a calm , intelligent team player and I wanted you guys in my team. It is therefore very upsetting to me that your program is either, in my opinion
1) Fraudulent or
2) Employing incompetent IT staff or
3) Employing fraudulent IT staff.
I have visted over 13 sites in the last 5 days where your tracking is failing still. Still after all this time and effort? Months and months and months of failed tracking. Thousands of affiliates. come on. If your IT staff are saying otherwise what does that tell you? I'm a busy guy, not some crackpot. I am spending thousands on your program.
I have done all I can to try to inform you of a huge problem that you guys have. I cannot think what else to do for you. You should hypothesise the possibility that I am right and not just awkward. Really!. Do it, just hypothesise that I am actually correct! Talk to the boss, "What if he's right?". This is a classic case of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing.
Let's just say I am right. what are the implications if I am actually right all along? Not good are they? Get a second opinion for everybody's sake. This is not a complex issue!
I am correct and someone is leading you up the garden path.
You should have an indepenent expert look into this seeing as it is going to become public now, you should not be asking me to test your systems again.
Subject: RE: Allposters Tracking contiues to fail.
Date: Mon, 10 May 2010 09:47:23 -0700
Thanks for your email. We believe our tracking systems are working fine. You are welcome to test them again if you like.
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