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  1. #1
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Should the merchant order cancellation process be changed?
    (If there's an official Fix thread, please move this there - I couldn't find it)

    1. If we get a voided or cxl'd sale... require the merchant to contact us.

    2. Require merchant to supply proof of cxl

    Currently, we get a sale. Merchant takes a long time to void it, and unless we scroll down for several weeks, we never notice it.

    Today, I noticed my SAS balance was lower then earlier. I scrolled all the was down to 5/17 to see VOIDED.

    I then noticed a bunch of voids. HALF my sales to one merchant were "VOIDED: CANCEL"

    I checked, their current 30-day reversal is a dismal 20%

    I contacted merchant. They said all the sales (not just from me) were for out of the country buyers who didn't want to pay the whopping shipping charges. I'm still not clear why they don't show shipping charges during the actual order process. I can't picture people placing an order and billing their credit card with "We'll get back to you on the shipping"

    Fortunately, I make people register prior to sending them off to a merchant. I matched the order # with a registration and actually contacted the shopper with "Did you cancel"

    She's in California (not overseas) and she didn't cancel. In fact, the item if for a graduation party this weekend, do I know when it will arrive?

    I responded that I'm not the merchant, I just supply links to the merchant, but if she'd forward her email order confirmation, I'd forward it to the merchant on her behalf.

    Amazingly, she sent it to me!!! I had all the info I needed.

    I sent that to the merchant and they just responded that they manually re-credited the sale.

    Point is, not many of you go the extra mile and require customer registration. Most affs just put up a banner and cross their fingers.

    Now I have to spend my afternoon matching up the registrations with the voided sales on all the others for this merchant.

    Is SAS would require verification of a CXL from a merchant prior to deducting us, I wouldn't have to waste my afternoon doing detective work.

    All My Best,
    Billy Bay

  2. #2
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    It's stickied to the top of this forum - http://www.abestweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=60600

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador
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    "Point is, not many of you go the extra mile and require customer registration."

    As an affiliate, you make people register? I can understand if you're a rebate site or something like that but not a regular affiliate site.

  4. #4
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Trust - move this thread if there's a better place

    Making customers register - as in this example - has saved my butt many times.

    It also serves to show me if links are working.

    If someone registers FIVE times for "Product A", then I know I need to check the link. Usually, the end page says this product is discontinued or something (but the link still works)... so it's a heads up on what pages on my site need to be changed.

    Several times, the merchant's site was down - which is why the visitor registered 5 times... so I contact the merchant.

    LOLOL! And when I drop a merchant, and see a visitor register for one of their products, it definitely means I forgot to remove ALL their products

    All My Best,
    Billy Kay

  5. #5
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust View Post
    As an affiliate, you make people register?
    Seems to me that the majority of site visitors would see that and run away.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by AffiliateHound View Post
    Seems to me that the majority of site visitors would see that and run away.
    Exactly, overall that would be a big sales killer. Like I said, I've never heard of another affiliate doing that unless they have some type of rebate type deal. I don't know if it's because Billy's site always was more of a hybrid to me, merchant (with a cart) mixed in with affiliate stuff or I don't know if you mean you make people register on a 100% affiliate site.

  7. #7
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Billy Kay,

    What would you consider proof? I can envision a never ending escalation... first we would require a certain proof, then people would abuse that ... so we would require more, etc...

    There is an unfortunate fact that if someone wants to cheat you, they will always find a way. I'm worried that by trying to protect you we would introduce too many hoops for Merchants to jump through especially those with large volumes of orders.
    Thanks,

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

  8. #8
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Kay View Post
    (If there's an official Fix thread, please move this there - I couldn't find it)
    Quote Originally Posted by Trust View Post
    It's stickied to the top of this forum - http://www.abestweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=60600
    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Kay View Post
    Trust - move this thread if there's a better place
    Moderator Note: There is a "Things We Need to Fix" thread, but this discussion has legs of it's own, so we'll leave it separate. Also, I'm going to update the title.
    Michael Coley
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  9. #9
    Full Member gcarson's Avatar
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    Great job on your due diligence. As someone new to IM, I wonder about this all the time. When I explain to my friends / family how it works... we send traffic to say SAS which then forwards to the merchant, merchant has to acknowledge sale and tell SAS and then SAS has to tell me.. people are like, wow that's too much trust in others for me. It does make me wonder as I know I made a purchase through my site that didn't get tracked. I emailed the rep and got nothing back. Figured it was only like $.60 commish so I didn't really care. But multiply that by 1,000's of transactions and you're talking serious money.

  10. #10
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    As an affiliate who has been the victim of a merchant abusing the cancellation process, it's tempting to get behind something like this, but I also see the other side. The bad merchants will just find other ways to screw us, the good merchants will be stuck with extra work, and SAS will become a less desirable network for merchants.

    What I would suggest for a solution is more transparency. I would like to see more than 30 days of reversal stats. Instead of a single number, I would like to see the percent of orders reversed, the percent of commissions/sales dollars reversed, the percent of affiliates who have reversals with the merchant (as a percent of the ones who had a sale), and perhaps any exceptional information that might have skewed the numbers (like if they had 1000 orders from a fraudulent affiliate reversed).
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
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    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Kay View Post
    I sent that to the merchant and they just responded that they manually re-credited the sale.
    So the thief got caught, all he need to do was to return the stuff he stole from you and he can go back to his thievery business as if nothing has happened.

    I wish you will reveal the merchant's name so we know who to run away from...

  12. #12
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Brian,

    As a merchant, when I get a CXL, it's via a nasty email

    Not knowing what SAS's void form looks like, add one more box where the merchant can copy and paste part of the cxl email he got from the customer (which in this case, didn't exist and wouldn't have resulted in a deduction to me)

    Or if the merch rec'd a chargeback, they can enter the chargeback number.

    I understand your concern about large volume merchants. But this isn't about sales. It's about deductions, which should be significantly less.

    One more box would help keep merchants from deducting when they shouldn't.

    Trust & Hound:
    If someone searched goog for "Personalized Graduation Afghan" and they get to my page and it is a "Personalized Graduation Afghan", they have 2 choices:

    1. Gimme your name and email to get to the order form or

    2. Go back to goog and start over

    MY feeling is there's no money in lookey loos. If they don't want to do #1, then to me they weren't serious. I believe in pre-screening. Everything there is to know about a product is on my product page. If you don't have your credit card out at this point, go to another site. Merchants seem to like my EPC.

    Michael: I'm not paying you extra as my editor!

    All My Best,
    Billy Kay

  13. #13
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    So the thief got caught
    Let's not use that word.

    This isn't about merchants robbing us

    It is strictly about the mechanics of a sale - and what needs to be changed to make it better for both the merchant and affiliate.

    Per the merchant in question, it was a mistake, and they re-credited it. (They even suggested I research each of their voided sales).

    I'm just trying to find a way that "mistakes" (that cost me money) can be avoided in the future.

    All My Best,
    Billy Kay

  14. #14
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    Should the merchant order cancellation process be changed?
    Not really. I'll like to see a few mods, like being able to sort the reversal report on two dates: Reversal date or Transaction date and to include the extended sales 60 days and beyond.
    I've to agree with Brian "There is an unfortunate fact that if someone wants to cheat you, they will always find a way."
    I'll say with SAS you can catch the cheaters 95% of the time. With many networks, it's as low as 5%.
    Is it worth the time, the complexity, all the extra work for "I would like to see the percent of orders reversed, the percent of commissions/sales dollars reversed, the percent of affiliates who have reversals with the merchant" as Michael said. Too much stats, kill the stats.
    It would be nice to be 100% safe but it's not going to happen. I'm ready to lose some commissions to keep a fast interface.

  15. #15
    Outsourced Program Manager Nathan Weinberg's Avatar
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    I'd love if there was a way to work more closely with affiliates, but it just isn't possible far too often. I have programs with tens of thousands of orders a month. At the end of the month, we compare our order list from the network with the order database at the merchant, and if the sale was returned, cancel it in the network (hopefully through a batch process). The sheer number of cancelled orders, even with a small return rate, means that manually pasting in any sort of info is impossible.

    Most networks give you a couple of irrelevant codes for categorizing the cancellation. For example, CJ's codes re

    Invalid Credit Card
    Returned Merchandise
    Duplicate Order
    Can't Ship/Sold Out
    Other

    Technically, "Customer cancelled order" is not there, as well as "We don't ship to that country", "credited to another network", "order doesn't exist" and "order amount incorrect" are all valid reasons not specifically listed. Any wonder we choose "Other" so often?

    If you think an order was incorrectly cancelled, email the affiliate manager. Most of us are happy to look into this for you. If the sale is credited back to you after you emailed, stay on top of them. If a number of sales, from the same program, get cancelled and later re-credited after you complain, drop the program. Speaking as an affiliate manager, if I was doing something sneaky like that, I don't deserve your marketing efforts.
    [FONT=Century Gothic][SIZE=2]Nathan Weinberg[/SIZE][/FONT]
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  16. #16
    Outsourced Program Manager Nathan Weinberg's Avatar
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    Wow, don't say "represent" with a colon after it. Because it will turn into "re". Oy.
    [FONT=Century Gothic][SIZE=2]Nathan Weinberg[/SIZE][/FONT]
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  17. #17
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian - ShareASale View Post
    There is an unfortunate fact that if someone wants to cheat you, they will always find a way. I'm worried that by trying to protect you we would introduce too many hoops for Merchants to jump through especially those with large volumes of orders.
    I think what you have now as far as tracking could be utilized more (if it isn't) by asking for more proof of reversals for those merchants who throw up red flags such as high reversal rates and sudden high reversal rates.

    I feel it is SAS's responsibility to protect affiliates from situations such as what has been described here and not by just making good when the merchant refuses, but by doing the work that it takes to get legitimate verification of cancellations.

    I can understand why a merchant would not want to reveal customer information to its affiliates, but there should be a trusted working relationship between SAS management and merchants so that when verification is necessary (such as high reversals) you can ask for it.

    I also think random quality control tests could also be performed by SAS, as a way to help weed out the less than ethical merchants.
    leeann


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  18. #18
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Nathan... this is NOT directed at you in any way...

    I'd love if there was a way to work more closely with affiliates, but it just isn't possible far too often. I have programs with tens of thousands of orders a month. The sheer number of cancelled orders, even with a small return rate, means that manually pasting in any sort of info is impossible.
    A merchant making that many sales can afford to pay someone to insure cancels - that affect their business partners - are notated. (IMO)

    I had mentioned earlier that there should be an automatic explanation if a merchant's return rate goes above a pre-defined percentage. Here's a good reason why.

    I contacted one of my SAS merchants asking why their monthly return rate was at 27% (gift niche/not a hi return category) and they responded today

    A message from one of your merchants: xxx.com

    Hi there,
    First, it's nice to know someone's reading the newsletter So thank you for that!

    Second, yes, that 30-day reversal rate is definitely higher than our norm. I checked with the owner,xxx, and apparently this last month we had a merchandising issue on our site that resulted in people ordering products that didn't exist. Perhaps more mortifying is that we didn't discover this issue until a couple weeks after the system had been implemented. When xxx was testing the new merchandising platform, he put up a bunch of test products, and forgot to remove these products when the system went live. It was a horrible oversight and we're sorry!! I just double-checked the datafeed and those products have been removed from there as well. The issue is resolved now, but yes, it certainly did drag down our reversal rate. Normally though, we trend pretty low, on par with your standard retail site, so hopefully this last month's fiasco won't deter you from working with us.
    I appreciate her responding, and her candid reply. But that they could populate their datafeed with products that don't exist is beyond silly. They actually allowed people to purchase - and charged their credit cards(?) - products that don't exist?? The SAS cookie only kicks in and registers a sale at the Thank You page.

    Last time I asked about their reversals, it was the "We made test purchases after clicking on affiliate links - and forgot to delete the cookies first"

    I don't think we affiliates have to keep paying for merchant mistakes. We did our part. We drove the traffic that led to a sale. Anything after that is the merchant's responsibility.

    All my best,
    Billy Kay

  19. #19
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    A merchant making that many sales can afford to pay someone to insure cancels - that affect their business partners - are notated. (IMO)
    I dunno Billy. You're adding a layer of expense to a sales channel that is supposed to be the most attractive.

    If you want SAS to investigate merchants that break a Reversal threshold, that's one thing, but to request that the merchant validates every cancel? Seems a bit much.
    Kevin Webster
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  20. #20
    Outsourced Program Manager Nathan Weinberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Kay View Post
    Nathan... this is NOT directed at you in any way...

    A merchant making that many sales can afford to pay someone to insure cancels - that affect their business partners - are notated. (IMO)
    In a perfect world, sure, but the manpower required to notate hundreds or thousands of cancellations for a large company would increase the costs of running an affiliate program by a measurable amount, and every dollar of overhead comes out of affiliate commissions. For the larger programs, you're often dealing with tight margins as it is. No one wants to have to lower commissions from 2.5% to 2% because running corrections got expensive.

    While having notes on corrections would be nice (and for smaller programs with fewer corrections, even doable), we've seen that in a situation where sales were erroneously cancelled, at least some of the affiliates will often contact us. We ran some cancellations on a program last week that were supposed to drop certain orders by $X (based on specific cancelled parts of those orders), but an error resulted in them zeroing out the sales entirely! An affiliate contacted us, because 6 out of his 7 sales were reversed, and we looked into it, contacted CJ, and they found what they did wrong and fixed all the sales affected by this error.

    That was lucky. Our reconciliation files had 1950 orders in them, and that was just one program!
    [FONT=Century Gothic][SIZE=2]Nathan Weinberg[/SIZE][/FONT]
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    Blue Cherry Group
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