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  1. #1
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    SAS, how about feedback for merchants?
    I was just accused of gaming a merchant and given a negative rating without any evidence. Its bad enough that I lost the commissions, but the damage to my reputation really stinks. After several correspondence with the merchant he still hasn't given me anything credible.

    If a merchant could just willy nilly rate affiliates and do damage I think it would be nice to be able to give feedback in the other direction. Yes, I know there are non-official ways of giving feedback (like posting in here), but it would be nice to see something in SAS that lets affiliates rate merchants.

    In eBay both the buyer and the seller get the option of rating, something like that would be nice. How about it?

  2. #2
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Good idea.
    leeann


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  3. #3
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    It seems as if it's a one way street with the networks. Merchants can reverse sales, damage affiliates reputations and basically piss on us and we can't do anything about.

    It's starting to become the Wild West with some merchants and the unwillingness of networks to do their part in protecting the rights of both merchants and affiliates.
    At this time only merchants receive network protection.

    In another thread, a network rep, even posted how affiliates could avoid adverse situations, instead of assuring affiliates that rogue merchants will be dealt with.

    I like your idea. SAS and other networks need to allow for feedback. If any party is acting unethically when rating either party, they should receive a ban from the network.

    It would be nice to start an affiliate marketer's union where we could decide if we want to ban a network or penalize them by removing them form our site for a period of time. Without affiliates, networks and merchants can't make money with affiliate marketing.

  4. #4
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    I am all for a area where affiliates can post concerning merchants. Can see no reason why any honest am or merchant would not want this other than for exactly the reason u mention for affilliates. Ie a unhappy affialite OR god forbid a competitor.
    Richard
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  5. #5
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    I don't think it's a good idea for several reasons. Affiliates have all the tools they need to determine if a merchant is a good fit for their business. We can see easily if a merchant is cheating their affiliates, we just have to learn how to use all the EPC information, graphs, and much more. Reading a rating by other affiliates will not help us in our choice.
    Such a rating would put too much pressure on the merchants to exclude bad affiliates and we need the merchants to clean up our affiliate marketing space.
    That being said, a merchant can be wrong, and an affiliate should be able to challenge a negative rating and get it erased with the help of Shareasale. Or if it doesn't work with ABW.

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager craigstephen's Avatar
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    littleman, liked your concerns, but have you noticed that if Merchant do such nasty act, Affiliates can report to SAS and SAS takes actions, not just charge Merchant but blocking all access. for more you should go thorough the threads in SAS forum.
    Also you can raise the issue in Aquarium too
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  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager Matt McWilliams's Avatar
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    I like the idea generally speaking.

    I think it has been brought up here before and at ThinkTank this year. I was sleepy the last day so I might have just imagined that though.

    There could be a lot of moving parts involved, so I wonder what the best way to go about it is?

    I am in favor of anything that separates the premium programs from the also-rans.
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  8. #8
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    I don't want SAS interface to become bulky, slow and inefficient like other networks. That's the second reason why I don't like the idea.
    If you want feedback on merchants from affiliates you have to rate the affiliates first and make it visible to others.
    Very few affiliates are credible and make sales. Many are fast to blame the merchants for their lack of sales. So what will the value of this rating? Others merchants could game the system. That will be a lot of work for SAS to keep track of everything and no value added.

  9. #9
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    .
    Very few affiliates are credible and make sales.
    Please explain!

  10. #10
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    I don't have the exact figures but I'm pretty sure 95% of Affiliates registered at Shareasale are not making sales or not enough to spot a trend with the merchant. It's not worse at SAS, it's an average figure. So, you have only 5% of affiliates making from a few sales to thousand... and over. And amongst these 5% you have the bad affiliates who will seek to give a bad rating to the merchants kicking them out of their programs.
    If I have to trust a rating given to a merchant by an affiliate, I need to know in which category is this affiliate.

  11. #11
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    I don't have the exact figures but I'm pretty sure 95% of Affiliates registered at Shareasale are not making sales or not enough to spot a trend with the merchant. It's not worse at SAS, it's an average figure. So, you have only 5% of affiliates making from a few sales to thousand... and over. And amongst these 5% you have the bad affiliates who will seek to give a bad rating to the merchants kicking them out of their programs.
    If I have to trust a rating given to a merchant by an affiliate, I need to know in which category is this affiliate.
    But what about rogue merchants. Maybe 75% of them? Obviously I don't have any figures but like you I'm assuming it's that high. Look at SAS numbers. So how do we trust them? What about tactics by many merchants not to pay legitimate sales?

    I think you have bad apples on both sides. The point of this thread was being rated poorly fo no reason. That implies unethical behavior. Should an affiliate be rated poorly for not generating sales? No.

    Maybe no rating system should be used at all for either side.

  12. #12
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    Should an affiliate be rated poorly for not generating sales? No.
    I don't say an affiliate with no sales should be rated poorly. I just say the rating from an affiliate with 0 sale is less credible than the rating from an affiliate with 1000 sales for the merchant.
    Look at this board, you should find roughly the same average:
    Members: 66,077 How many are active? How many do you trust? How many spammers?
    What's the percentage of active members? Who do you trust the most?

  13. #13
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    I like the idea but it all depends on the way it is implemented and executed. I like two way communications.

    On the flip side, I have seen the mob mentality where people would gang up on a merchant and in more than one instances, the merchants said F* it, I am not participating on ABW.

    If that tool is not use and implemented incorrectly, it would be counter productive.

    One other thing - being a merchant, sometimes there are 1,001 things to handle and a feedback can be easily overlooked.

    Littleman, I would say that you need to approach SAS - Brian and get it resolved.

  14. #14
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    This has been brought up many times before, it's not ever, ever going to happen. And I don't think it should. You have your own stats and stats that SAS already gives you. Plus if they had this, like the last time this was brought up, I'm giving negative reps to all my good merchants to keep the competition away.

  15. #15
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    Very few affiliates are credible and make sales. Many are fast to blame the merchants for their lack of sales.
    Quote Originally Posted by bibby View Post
    Please explain!
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    I don't have the exact figures but I'm pretty sure 95% of Affiliates registered at Shareasale are not making sales or not enough to spot a trend with the merchant. It's not worse at SAS, it's an average figure.
    Zeus is spot on with that, although "credible" isn't the word I would use. The numbers may not be quite that skewed, but I wouldn't be surprised if 75% of registered affiliates (at ANY network) made under $25/month, and I would be really hesitant to trust reports from those small affiliates, many of which don't really understand affiliate marketing yet.

    I would certainly welcome a restriction that would only allow experienced affiliates to rate/review merchants. Criteria that could be used to qualify an affiliate as experienced could include 1) earnings level and 2) length of time at the network.

    Quote Originally Posted by bibby View Post
    But what about rogue merchants. Maybe 75% of them? Obviously I don't have any figures but like you I'm assuming it's that high.
    I wouldn't be in affiliate marketing if I believed that. I've worked with hundreds of merchants over the years, and have only seen a few dozen (perhaps 5-10% on the high end) that I would consider "rogue". Many more than that (especially on the big three networks, far less so on SAS) have some unfriendly policies (often not clearly disclosed) like allowing parasites, overriding affiliate cookies if another marketing channel touches the customer, low return days, leaks and other such things, but I wouldn't consider any of that "rogue". When we're talking rogue, I'm thinking about skimming, illegitimate reversals, drastic commission drops, etc.

    Perhaps part of the rating/review process should be to categorize the problem so that affiliates looking at the reviews can understand what problems others are having.

    If ShareASale does implement something like this (and it's certainly one good solution to a very real problem), they would need to guard very carefully against gaming of the system. What's to prevent a merchant from creating multiple affiliate accounts and rating themselves highly or incentivizing affiliates to do so? What's to prevent a merchant from creating multiple affiliate accounts and rating their competitors lowly? (These are two problems that I think an "affiliate experience" factor could eliminate.)
    Michael Coley
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  16. #16
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    Thanks for your input MC. It was the word "Credible" that made me defensive.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust View Post
    Plus if they had this, like the last time this was brought up, I'm giving negative reps to all my good merchants to keep the competition away.
    I didn't think of that one but it's true. I never speak of my good merchants. Also, what's trash for some could be a gold mine for others. I know I'm the only one to make sales for some merchants. So, even with a high EPC a merchant may not convert for others. Does it mean the merchant is cheating? Nope. I'm not the only one in that case. I'm not going to promote some merchants because I know who's closing the sales and I know I can't compete.
    I agree with Michael Coley, the "rogue" merchants are not that many. Most are just not a good fit for some affiliates. I still don't see the need for a merchant rating by affiliates. Too complicated for a poor result.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bibby View Post
    Thanks for your input MC. It was the word "Credible" that made me defensive.
    Credible:
    1. Capable of being believed; plausible. See Synonyms at plausible.
    2. Worthy of confidence; reliable.
    3. Being of sufficient military capability to deter an attack or carry out an operation successfully

  19. #19
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    One of the reasons we gave Merchants the ability to leave feedback is that for the most part, they have very little information (comparatively) about Affiliates (especially those who aren't yet in the program). They see only the listed websites, some basic info, and very little else. You (Affiliates) like your privacy in general, which is why a lot of this is the way that it is.... Merchants thus needed a little help in determining which Affiliates they really wanted to work with, or conversely avoid.

    Affiliates, on the other hand, have a multitude of information on each Merchant... Affiliates can see EPC, Reversals, Compliance, Contact history, etc... etc...

    We attempt to balance privacy and information and strive to give both parties what they need to effectively manage their programs.


    Quote Originally Posted by bibby View Post

    In another thread, a network rep, even posted how affiliates could avoid adverse situations, instead of assuring affiliates that rogue merchants will be dealt with.

    I like your idea. SAS and other networks need to allow for feedback. If any party is acting unethically when rating either party, they should receive a ban from the network.
    Bibby - that was me actually, who advised on how to avoid bad situations. I was trying to help affiliates understand what Merchants don't want to see, and how they think about certain scenarios. Generally, Merchants don't like being posted on Coupon sites when no actual coupons are available... I was trying to help coupon affiliates by letting them know that they could avoid that problem by not listing merchants during times when no coupons were available along with several other options. The suggestion wasn't a solution to the problem, which we worked on with both the Affiliate and Merchant... it was simply a suggestion to try to avoid further trouble in that area. Not every Merchant is a "rogue" - sometimes there are actual disagreements and differences in opinion on what actually transpired... what the rules are, etc...

    ShareASale (and other networks) aren't message boards. We can't temporarily ban people the way that message boards can when they do things that upset other members. A temporary ban would be financially damaging to any party... which is not the same as not being able to post on a message board.

    We work with both sides of the argument, try to find a temporary solution, and then put things in place to try to stop it from happening in the future. Often times, only certain versions of the actual problem are posted here on ABW, and it is easy to judge and say that a certain outcome should happen. I can't post the details of every situation on a public message board...which means here at ABW I simply try to help the best way I can by posting general suggestions, and working with the actual problem behind the scenes. Hope you can understand.


    This has been brought up many times before, it's not ever, ever going to happen. And I don't think it should. You have your own stats and stats that SAS already gives you. Plus if they had this, like the last time this was brought up, I'm giving negative reps to all my good merchants to keep the competition away.
    This is actually one of the reasons that we don't do more regarding feedback... One of the major concerns is disingenuous feedback and how to combat it... Personally, I also think it is poor form to post misleading information but that is probably up for debate.
    Thanks,

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

  20. #20
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    That's why you shouldn't have it, affiliates aren't supposed to be creating competition for themselves, not too bright. Not to mention some of the other reasons why it's a bad idea that were brought up.

  21. #21
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian - ShareASale View Post
    Bibby - that was me actually, who advised on how to avoid bad situations. I was trying to help affiliates understand what Merchants don't want to see, and how they think about certain scenarios. Generally, Merchants don't like being posted on Coupon sites when no actual coupons are available... I was trying to help coupon affiliates by letting them know that they could avoid that problem by not listing merchants during times when no coupons were available along with several other options. The suggestion wasn't a solution to the problem, which we worked on with both the Affiliate and Merchant... it was simply a suggestion to try to avoid further trouble in that area. Not every Merchant is a "rogue" - sometimes there are actual disagreements and differences in opinion on what actually transpired... what the rules are, etc...

    ShareASale (and other networks) aren't message boards. We can't temporarily ban people the way that message boards can when they do things that upset other members. A temporary ban would be financially damaging to any party... which is not the same as not being able to post on a message board.

    We work with both sides of the argument, try to find a temporary solution, and then put things in place to try to stop it from happening in the future. Often times, only certain versions of the actual problem are posted here on ABW, and it is easy to judge and say that a certain outcome should happen. I can't post the details of every situation on a public message board...which means here at ABW I simply try to help the best way I can by posting general suggestions, and working with the actual problem behind the scenes. Hope you can understand.
    Brian,
    Thanks for your clarification. I appreciate your willingness to discuss the issue and your recommendations.
    Last edited by MichaelColey; April 26th, 2010 at 06:01 PM. Reason: Fixed quote.

  22. #22
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bibby View Post
    Thanks for your input MC. It was the word "Credible" that made me defensive.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    Credible:
    1. Capable of being believed; plausible. See Synonyms at plausible.
    2. Worthy of confidence; reliable.
    3. Being of sufficient military capability to deter an attack or carry out an operation successfully
    Yep, it's an accurate word, but a bit emotially charged.
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  23. #23
    Moderator bibby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey View Post
    Yep, it's an accurate word, but a bit emotially charged.
    I'm a finance guy and when I talk about numbers, accounting and statements, I use credible to refer to their accuracy and meaningfulness.

    When I speak about person's credibility, I'm usually referring to their integrity and ethics. Are they credible as a person? Can I trust them?

  24. #24
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    You can tell by the frequency of their appearance posting here on the forum.... there are many, many scammer types out there who would get kicked out of programs and act like they don't know why.

    Merchants who are diligent about keeping the cockroaches away would be the most likely to get piles of complaints against them.
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  25. #25
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    Just an update on my own personal situation. After a lot of back and forth with the merchant he agreed to undo his negative rating. The merchant couldn't figure out how to reverse the comments. I contacted SAS for help. So, here's the kicker, there is no way to undo it.

    Seems something that can be done so flippantly and can do so much damage should have more checks and balances, don't you think?

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