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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador Adarsh's Avatar
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    Interspire Affiliate Program
    I have been promoting Content Management Systems on my websites since quite some time and I have made few good sales with selling/recommending various "paid" content management systems.

    On 06/08/2010 08:49:29 PM I made a sale for Interspire worth $851.28 and made a commission of $127.69 (Nope, not a COUPON sale. Just a regular sale)

    Yesterday, this sale was reversed! Obviously, I was unhappy but thought may be the customer was given a refund or something. So I checked in my SAS account, this is the reason of the Voided sale:

    VOIDED Non-Fulfilled Requirements Sale - 101448 Voided on 07/14/2010

    Couldn't really understand what the merchant meant by "non-fulfilled requirements sale" (seems like some corporate wording). I contacted Interspire and Jack Kotowski from JackMarketing replied back to my email mentioning that his company is no longer managing Interspire affiliate program and also forwarded my email to Stephen Maeder who is the current Interspire affiliate manager. Thanks Jack, appreciate your help!

    This is what Stephen replied back with:

    Hi Adarsh,

    Thank you for your email. I can help explain that.

    "Non-Fulfilled Requirements Sale" is what we pick in ShareASale when the order itself is not commissionable. For example - product upgrades, support renewals, installation/upgrade service, cancelled (refunded) orders, fraudulent orders (refunded), partner orders (discounted anywhere from 15% to 50% off retail price), duplicate commissions (sometimes the same order number shows up as two separate commissions in ShareASale), etc. Essentially, what is commissionable is regular license purchases, which turns out to be somewhere around 50% of all orders, so it's quite common to have a commission be voided.

    The particular commission you are referring to - order number 101448 - was a purchase by one of our partners, and accordingly was voided.

    Best Regards,

    Stephen Maeder
    Interspire Affiliate Manager
    I loved to read, "so it's quite common to have a commission be voided". Is this how common to have a commission voided? See below:



    I really don't understand what's up with these SAS Exclusive Merchants with such high reversal rates? What do you "some" of the Exclusive Merchants do? Just SELECT ALL Commissions and VOID. Gone! What sort of TOS do you guys have?

    Your so called "PARTNER" visited my site in search of a good CMS and I could have presented Expression Engine, Ektron, BlueModus or any other CMS. But because of ME, you got your partner hooked up back to Interspire. Now you are voiding each and every sale. Man, that 150% reversal is simply "Unacceptable".

    I'm also wondering what is SAS up to with their compliance tests? What is this compliance test anyway, I don't see any use of this option/attribute of SAS. Look what's going on with the Interspire program. I can show you more merchants that have reversal rates touching 600%.

    About Interspire, this is not the only thread. Here is another thread:

    Interspire - Posted by Zeus.

    Zeus, seems like since the time Jack stopped managing their affiliate program, they are back to their in-house management which definitely sucks. A reversal is "So Common" for them.

    I have contacted SAS about this but just wanted to warn everyone out there whoever is promoting Interspire. Heads-up guys, be ready to see some reversals coming in if you made some sale(s). I'm already looking for better CMS affiliate programs to promote. Interspire, you still have little time to convince me that you are genuine. I know I'm a tiny affiliate but ABW family isn't really "that" tiny to ignore what you are doing. You better come up with some good excuse for that 150% 30-day reversal. And give me back my $127 please, I deserve that for giving you a $851 sale!

    Regards,
    Adarsh.
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    Last edited by MichaelColey; November 1st, 2010 at 02:38 AM. Reason: Removed "compliance tests" link drop to AT.
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  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador Adarsh's Avatar
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    Can someone help me understand this part of the email?

    Essentially, what is commissionable is regular license purchases, which turns out to be somewhere around 50% of all orders, so it's quite common to have a commission be voided.

    SAS, are you guys reading what Interspire affiliate manager is saying? The gentleman says that 50% of the orders will be reversed anyway! So Interspire is using my traffic to turn it into sales and they are voiding each and every sale saying that it was not a "commissionable regular license purchase".

    But also, in my case, they didn't say that the sale wasn't a regular license purchase. They have a different story for voiding my commission. They are saying that the sale was by one of their partners. No matter even if it were a license purchase, but since it came from one of their partners, they voided the sale! Can anyone justify this behavior?
    Last edited by Adarsh; July 15th, 2010 at 10:30 PM.
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  3. #3
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    It seems Interspire is back to their old tricks: Paying only commissions on what they want and only if they are in a mood to do it.
    This merchant don't respect their agreement with SAS and their affiliates.
    I had a look at their updated agreement. The agreement is not mentioning: product upgrades, support renewals, installation/upgrade service...
    Not paying for upgrades. Come on.

    I quit promoting them after this thread
    Jack Kotowski did a good job to keep them on track. He was able to put them back in business. I even had second thoughts... Glad I was too busy.

    To have a reliable tracking system like SAS don't mean anything anymore if a merchant can decide to pay a commission only on what they want.
    Affiliate marketing has rules and a network should oblige a merchant to respect them.
    A merchant can always lower a commission if they think they are paying too much for their program.
    Bragging about 15% commission and paying only half of the commissions is MISLEADING the affiliates. SAS should not allow that. The commission should be 7,5% on all sales. Period.

    I'm seeing a trend of merchants doing what they want at SAS.
    Got that email yesterday from Medic Batteries and it made me mad.
    It has been our experience that affiliates who use practices such as PPC bidding on our company name are only capturing our current customer base and piggybacking off our other marketing efforts. As a result, any transaction resulting from one of our current, established customers will be voided
    It's the responsibility of an AM to deactivate fraudulent affilliates bidding on TM. They can't make everybody pay for their lack of management.
    SAS has no way of reporting if a sale comes from a new or established customers. Or, like for Interspire, new or upgrade.
    Last edited by Zeus; July 16th, 2010 at 01:33 AM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    It seems Interspire is back to their old tricks: Paying only commissions on what they want and only if they are in a mood to do it.
    This merchant don't respect their agreement with SAS and their affiliates.
    I had a look at their updated agreement. The agreement is not mentioning: product upgrades, support renewals, installation/upgrade service...
    Not paying for upgrades. Come on.

    I quit promoting them after this thread
    Jack Kotowski did a good job to keep them on track. He was able to put them back in business. I even had second thoughts... Glad I was too busy.

    To have a reliable tracking system like SAS don't mean anything anymore if a merchant can decide to pay a commission only on what they want.
    Affiliate marketing has rules and a network should oblige a merchant to respect them.
    A merchant can always lower a commission if they think they are paying too much for their program.
    Bragging about 15% commission and paying only half of the commissions is MISLEADING the affiliates. SAS should not allow that. The commission should be 7,5% on all sales. Period.

    I'm seeing a trend of merchants doing what they want at SAS.
    Got that email yesterday from Medic Batteries and it made me mad.


    It's the responsibility of an AM to deactivate fraudulent affilliates bidding on TM. They can't make everybody pay for their lack of management.
    SAS has no way of reporting if a sale comes from a new or established customers. Or, like for Interspire, new or upgrade.
    Like I said in that thread - "This is another merchant that needs the boot, old story."

    Damn, has gone temp offline like 37 times in it's history.
    Last edited by Trust; July 16th, 2010 at 02:29 AM.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador Adarsh's Avatar
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    Wow, what's happening to these merchants? We understand that recession has hit all of us but merchants, you are not alone. And your affiliates are trying their best to drive customers to you, new or old. If an affiliate delivered some of your old customers, then you should thank your affiliates that we are sending them back to you while "your owned customers" are searching for some other solution out there.

    Interspire (Stephen), what was your partner doing on my website? He/she landed on my site while looking for a good CMS. I did not run any PPC, I did not send any emails to anyone. All I do is write content and take organic traffic from Search Engines. I don't care why your partner clicked my link from some Search Engine and visited my site. All I care about is, I sent that customer "BACK" to you and Interspire got a sale. Such a big corporate you are, do you think this is reflecting great on your image?

    I request SAS to reply on this thread and help me understand why is Interspire reversing so many sales? Why is their 30 days reversal at 150%?

    Who is going to draw a line? You can reverse 100% sales saying that you owned that customer, it was your partner who accidentally clicked my link and made a sale for you. SAS, please reply back to this thread. Appreciate your help.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Adarsh.
    Fulltime webmaster and wordpress lover.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador Adarsh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust View Post
    Like I said in that thread - "This is another merchant that needs the boot, old story."

    Damn, has gone temp offline like 37 times in it's history.
    I agree.
    Interspire has its own affiliate program if you check on their site. I have even joined that but have been waiting to see how they run their program at SAS. I'm glad I haven't used their in-house program links on my sites. Otherwise they could have easily done this nonsense without any issues at all. What a SHAME!
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  7. #7
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    I just assumed there was better compliance tests
    Very well written Adarsh, enough to cause me to I trust SAS too much if a merchant is deemed Exclusive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adarsh View Post
    I really don't understand what's up with these SAS Exclusive Merchants with such high reversal rates? What do you "some" of the Exclusive Merchants do? Just SELECT ALL Commissions and VOID. Gone! What sort of TOS do you guys have?


    I'm also wondering what is SAS up to with their compliance tests? What is this compliance test anyway, I don't see any use of this option/attribute of SAS. Look what's going on with the Interspire program. I can show you more merchants that have reversal rates touching 600%.
    I guess this means more diligence on my part to look at reversal rates.

    Thanks for giving insight.

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    Got that email yesterday from Medic Batteries and it made me mad.
    That "new customers only" is part of their original agreement and one of the reasons I don't promote Medic Batteries. They won't pay if the referer doesn't show also. Something that may be controlled by the shopper should not be allowed in a program's terms.

    If Interspire does not have terms to let you know that only some of your sales are commissionable, you need to file a trouble ticket at SAS. They don't manage merchant's terms but can help enforce the terms that are there.

    I also agree that for the good of the affiliates and the network that SAS needs to dig a little more into compliance because it appears that merchants are in cart compliance, but then add on additional checkout methods that do not comply or track. We are like a free version of AdWords for them.

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador Adarsh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chaplain Paul View Post
    Very well written Adarsh, enough to cause me to I trust SAS too much if a merchant is deemed Exclusive.

    I guess this means more diligence on my part to look at reversal rates.

    Thanks for giving insight.
    Definitely Chaplain Paul, I suggest you to wait before you click the JOIN button. Observe a program for at least 30 days and then click the Join button. Apart from that, any affiliate manager you see active here at ABW is most often trust-worthy. There are a few affiliate managers/merchants who you can trust without any doubts (like Matt McWilliams, Greg Hoffman, Andy Rodriguez, Loxly, Bill/Jill, Paulson Management Group, AMWSO, Harry and many more. Please pardon me if I missed out on anyone). I love these affiliate managers/OPMs.
    Quote Originally Posted by 2busy View Post
    That "new customers only" is part of their original agreement and one of the reasons I don't promote Medic Batteries. They won't pay if the referer doesn't show also. Something that may be controlled by the shopper should not be allowed in a program's terms.
    (although I'm quoting you 2busy, but this is for merchants who think they "own" a customer for lifetime).
    Whenever a customer/shopper visits my website, I get an email and a SMS on my cell phone that it is an old customer or a new customer. So I can easily distinguish the type of customer I have on my website. If it is an old customer, I direct it to a page with adsense ads or if it is a new customer, I direct to the merchant's website. So based on the old/new criteria, I can easily control my web visitors. Right?
    WRONG!
    All those merchants that think they "OWN" a customer are just thieves in my opinion. They have nothing to do with the old/new crap. It is just another corporate to not pay the commissions or reverse the already paid commissions.
    If Interspire does not have terms to let you know that only some of your sales are commissionable, you need to file a trouble ticket at SAS. They don't manage merchant's terms but can help enforce the terms that are there.
    Yes, I did that yesterday and Ashleigh has already replied once. Ashleigh from SAS suggested me to wait and see what the merchant says. I have updated the merchant's email at SAS and now waiting for someone to read it and advice me what to do.
    I also agree that for the good of the affiliates and the network that SAS needs to dig a little more into compliance because it appears that merchants are in cart compliance, but then add on additional checkout methods that do not comply or track. We are like a free version of AdWords for them.
    If you go through my first post in detail, you will understand that SAS compliance tests are not even close to being accurate. In fact, they are pretty misleading.

    Regards.
    Last edited by Adarsh; July 16th, 2010 at 11:31 AM.
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  10. #10
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    "They won't pay if the referer doesn't show also. Something that may be controlled by the shopper should not be allowed in a program's terms."

    That's one of my major pet peeves that, that's allowed. I see that from time to time and it's nothing I'm doing on my end. That's either on SAS's end or what you said, the shopper's.

  11. #11
    Affiliate Manager dculpepper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2busy View Post
    They won't pay if the referer doesn't show also. Something that may be controlled by the shopper should not be allowed in a program's terms.
    Wow! Our program would be much more profitable if we implemented this policy. I just looked at our last 100 transactions and 34 of them do not show the referring click. A large percentage of those sales come from some very well known and respected affiliates here at ABW.

    What a ridiculous policy... no way that should be allowed.
    [SIZE="2"][LEFT][B]David Culpepper, SubscriptionAgent.com[/B]
    [URL=http://www.subscriptionagent.com/aff/index.html]Affiliate Program Info[/URL] | E: [email=david@subscriptionagent.com]david@subscriptionagent.com[/email] | [URL=http://twitter.com/dculpepper]Twitter[/URL] | [URL=http://www.facebook.com/DavidCulpepper]Facebook[/URL]
    30% Commission & LIFETIME Cookie![/LEFT][/SIZE]

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by dculpepper View Post
    Wow! Our program would be much more profitable if we implemented this policy. I just looked at our last 100 transactions and 34 of them do not show the referring click. A large percentage of those sales come from some very well known and respected affiliates here at ABW.

    What a ridiculous policy... no way that should be allowed.
    Oh wow, didn't think it was that high, I know it's just your sampling but a few merchants actually have that in the agreement and it's one of the things I think the network should step in and disallow.

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    If you go through my first post in detail, you will understand that SAS compliance tests are not even close to being accurate. In fact, they are pretty misleading.
    AFAIK "Compliance" only refers to tracking. Are you saying your clicks and sales don't track? I didn't get that from your post.

  14. #14
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    I think 2Busy is right. Compliance only looks that the tracking pixel is installed, so far as I know.

    @Trust: There is a LOT of blocked or otherwise missing referral data in SAS. I've only worked with them in the past, so I have no way to know if that's common place at AvantLink, CJ, etc. I seem to remember an OPM saying it never happens at Linkshare.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
    I think 2Busy is right. Compliance only looks that the tracking pixel is installed, so far as I know.
    Yep, That's what it is and we should not complain about it. It's not perfect but it's also a big step forward compared to many networks.

  16. #16
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    There is a LOT of blocked or otherwise missing referral data in SAS. I've only worked with them in the past, so I have no way to know if that's common place at AvantLink, CJ, etc. I seem to remember an OPM saying it never happens at Linkshare.
    It happens at every network, Linkshare as well. I've seen clicks go through to LS that will not show a referrer.

    I think one of the reasons some merchants have this policy is that they've bought into the bad advice that blank referrers are being "hidden" by a bad affiliate. Of course this is far from the truth, but that message is being circulated out there (either out of ignorance or intent).

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2busy View Post
    AFAIK "Compliance" only refers to tracking. Are you saying your clicks and sales don't track? I didn't get that from your post.
    The issue with compliance testing IS NOT how compliance is tested. The issue is that we're seeing merchant sites pass compliance on dates when their sites are actually offline or closed. This invalidates the SAS compliance testing process and degrades trust and confidence in the network.

  18. #18
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Compliance and Offline are definitely two different things... Compliance deals with tracking technology only, which can still be working even if the program is offline.
    Thanks,

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

  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador meadowmufn's Avatar
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    I had purchased a couple of licenses from them in the past, but went strictly WordPress after an unpleasant customer service experience. They didn't handle it very professionally and I'll never do business with them again. Doesn't surprise me the affiliate program's not much better....
    -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.
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  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian - ShareASale View Post
    Compliance and Offline are definitely two different things... Compliance deals with tracking technology only, which can still be working even if the program is offline.
    How can tracking be tested for compliance if the merchant is offline? Otherwise this seems like a worthless and misleading test to report.
    Last edited by Boom or Bust; July 16th, 2010 at 06:50 PM.

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador Adarsh's Avatar
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    Thank you for joining in Brian, appreciate that you replied to this thread.
    Please help me understand, am I on the wrong or is it Interspire on the wrong? Should I get the credit of the sale or no? Also, I really wish to know why is Interspire's reversal percentage so high? And is this acceptable that they will reverse 50% orders anyway because they pay commission only on 50% of the products/orders.

    Thanks for any help you can provide on this matter.
    Regards,
    Adarsh.
    Last edited by Adarsh; July 16th, 2010 at 07:18 PM.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boom or Bust View Post
    How can tracking be tested for compliance if the merchant is offline? Otherwise this seems like a worthless and misleading test to report.
    A merchant is offline (In SAS terminology) by example if their escrow account is empty. It's an indicator.

    The compliance test checks if the tracking pixel is fired during the checkout. It's an other indicator.

    As long as the merchant site is live, (offline or not) the compliance test can be done. And I must say I caught several merchants without a tracking pixel (quite often after a software upgrade).
    It's the responsability of the affiliate to check these indicators and to understand how it works.

    Have you heard of many "sales not tracked" since these "compliance tests" have been implemented by SAS?
    "Compliance test" is not the best name for this test but it works and it's a deterrent for many unscrupulous merchants.

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    A merchant is offline (In SAS terminology) by example if their escrow account is empty. It's an indicator.
    This is not the case. As in my post above;
    Quote Originally Posted by Boom or Bust View Post
    we're seeing merchant sites pass compliance on dates when their sites are actually offline
    In other words, "Server not found" "404", OFFLINE. How can tracking be tested for compliance when the website is not accessible? The point being, compliance passed on a non-existent website.?

  24. #24
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    The issue is that we're seeing merchant sites pass compliance on dates when their sites are actually offline or closed.
    It's not possible to check the presence of a tracking pixel is a site is down.
    During a 24 hours period, a site can be down only a few hours, and the test can still be performed.
    It appears the site to be down but still compliant at the same date.

    A site can be closed (meaning SAS has deactivated the merchant) but the compliance test can still be performed (as long as the site is live). It's a lack of synch in SAS system. The "compliance test" should be stopped as soon as soon as the merchant is "closed".

    The affiliate have to look at many indicators and interpret the results. it's not perfect but it works.

  25. #25
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    In the case of Interspire, it doesn't appear that the compliance test would actually have any impact as evidenced by their invented terms:

    For example - product upgrades, support renewals, installation/upgrade service, cancelled (refunded) orders, fraudulent orders (refunded), partner orders (discounted anywhere from 15% to 50% off retail price), duplicate commissions (sometimes the same order number shows up as two separate commissions in ShareASale), etc. Essentially, what is commissionable is regular license purchases, which turns out to be somewhere around 50% of all orders, so it's quite common to have a commission be voided.

    I say invented because none of the exclusions that their AM notes are included in their TOS. Looking at their exclusions, it doesn't appear that they ever actually intend to pay a commission, and looking at their statistics it doesn't appear that they have. There's no doubt in my mind that without the compliance test they simply would have removed the tracking pixel.

    The compliance test is what forces merchants to invent ridiculous reasons to void sales like these from Interspire, but it's certainly easier to spot a high reversal rate than it is for an affiliate to determine if the merchant has simply removed their tracking pixel.

    This merchant doesn't appear to really want an affiliate program, they are looking solely for a free source of qualified traffic, I can't believe that they've been allowed to continue for so long.

    -rematt
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