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  1. #1
    Full Member justnet's Avatar
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    When a reversal is not a reversal
    I had a negative $29.80 posted to my daily stats today. So I asked the merchant why. And why it was NOT documented as a reversal.

    I got this reply...

    Jon,


    I am a bit sneaky in how I do reversals. Since they hurt my numbers, instead of "voiding" the transactions, I simply "edit" the transaction pay 0% commission. This shouldn't affect you, right? We started doing reversals at the beginning of this year for returned or voided transactions.

    To which I replied...

    Wow, you really put that into print.
    I'm so pissed I can't type.
    I need a moment to try to find a reason not to take this straight to the SAS forum.
    Sneaky is a f--ked up way of doing business. (yeah, I had to edit the "F" word)

    Merchant reply...

    Jon - it's not illegal. Why does it bother you that I do it this way? It isn't so that my affiliates don't see it….it's so that it doesn't screw up our stats on SAS.


    Let me know why it bothers you….I'm always open to hear and be persuaded to change if necessary.
    Call me if you want to…


    I think this is a pretty big deal. If I'm wrong please chime in.
    I'll post the merchant if a moderator says it's ok.

  2. #2
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    Yes, it's a pretty big deal. Why do you think he doesn't want to screw up its stats?
    To recruit more affiliates by misleading them.
    I rely on stats all the time to make the right decision.
    I saw my balance going down a few minutes ago and I can't see any reversal. I'm sure a merchant has been editing one of my commissions. It's frustrating. But to edit the commission to "0" to avoid a reversal is much worse.
    Last edited by Zeus; June 9th, 2011 at 04:15 PM.

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    You might do better by filing a ticket for that, otherwise they'll keep doing it. The merchant doesn't see anything wrong with it and public opinion isn't nearly as fast as Brian.

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  5. #4
    Full Member justnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus View Post
    Yes, it's a pretty big deal. Why do you think he doesn't want to screw up its stats?
    To recruit more affiliates by misleading them.
    I rely on stats all the time to make the right decision.
    I saw my balance going down a few minutes ago and I can't see any reversal. I'm sure a merchant has been editing one of my commissions. It's frustrating. But to edit the commission to "0" to avoid a reversal is much worse.
    That's what I thought
    Last edited by justnet; June 9th, 2011 at 04:17 PM. Reason: stupid

  6. #5
    Full Member justnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2busy View Post
    You might do better by filing a ticket for that, otherwise they'll keep doing it. The merchant doesn't see anything wrong with it and public opinion isn't nearly as fast as Brian.
    I thought about doing a ticket but...

    I wanted to double check from unbiased members and
    If I was right to let people know.
    Brian's going to find out anyway

  7. #6
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    I agree with Zeus as to why the merchant would want to do that, I just think that waiting for more posts to file a ticket delays the remedy.

    Did you receive an automated email informing you of the commission change? That is supposed to be sent on any commission change.

  8. #7
    Full Member justnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2busy View Post
    You might do better by filing a ticket for that, otherwise they'll keep doing it. The merchant doesn't see anything wrong with it and public opinion isn't nearly as fast as Brian.
    I thought about doing a ticket but...

    I wanted to double check from unbiased members and
    If I was right to let people know.
    Brian's going to find out anyway

  9. #8
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    Any time that you have a problem with a merchant and have tried to straighten it out with the merchant and disagree with the merchant's response you can name the merchant if you like. The only reason not to mention the name of the merchant is when you are working with them to resolve the problem, no need to jump the gun and regret it when they see their error.

    Think of what kind of chance you would want before a merchant accused you publicly and give them the same courtesy.

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  11. #9
    ABW Ambassador SunshineTricia's Avatar
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    I think it is a HUGE problem because one of the stats that I tell new affiliates to look at when determining merchants to work with is the Reversal stat. If a merchant is manipulating commissions to get around having a true reversal number show up, it completely undermines the statistics and makes them useless.
    --Tricia Meyer-- I love being the exception to the rule.

    Tricia Meyer | Helping Moms Connect | Wine Club Reviews and Ratings | Hunger Games Fan

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  13. #10
    Full Member justnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2busy View Post
    I agree with Zeus as to why the merchant would want to do that, I just think that waiting for more posts to file a ticket delays the remedy.

    Did you receive an automated email informing you of the commission change? That is supposed to be sent on any commission change.
    No, my program commission rate has not been changed, just the one transaction.

  14. #11
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Justnet you absolutely MUST name the merchant, I need to make sure that I am never in their program. I'm not as distressed about the fact that they would use a tactic like this to shore up their reversal rate as I am about an affiliate manager that doesn't see why this is wrong. This person has some serious ethics issues. For some reason he doesn't correlate being "sneaky" to being dishonest, but that's exactly what it is. What the merchant is doing is actually called fraud.

    -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

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  16. #12
    Full Member justnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rematt View Post
    Justnet you absolutely MUST name the merchant, I need to make sure that I am never in their program. I'm not as distressed about the fact that they would use a tactic like this to shore up their reversal rate as I am about an affiliate manager that doesn't see why this is wrong. This person has some serious ethics issues. For some reason he doesn't correlate being "sneaky" to being dishonest, but that's exactly what it is. What the merchant is doing is actually called fraud.

    -rematt
    Legacy Learning Systems

    Mods, please don't move this thread to their sub-forum. That would defeat the purpose of letting all the SAS members see it. Oh and it could get hum "edited"

  17. #13
    Manager - Affiliate Marketing Patrick Vesperman's Avatar
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    justnet (and others) - Here's the reason I do (now did) it:

    I have to report on the stats to the CEO. Each month, on the day I run the returns report, I had to explain why there was a spike in returns and a big drop in stats for the day I processed them. So I started editing the transactions instead of voiding them. Thats all.

    Based on the response here, I'm happy to change.

    It isn't a "tactic" or me trying to be underhanded…I think most of you know that I run a clean, honest program and that this is a mistake or oversight. Simple as that.
    Last edited by Patrick Vesperman; June 9th, 2011 at 05:21 PM.

  18. #14
    Full Member justnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Vesperman View Post
    Guys - Here's the reason I do it (and I guess I should stop)
    I have to report on the stats to my boss. Each month, on the day I run the returns report, I had to explain why there was a spike in returns and a big drop in stats for the day I processed them. So I started editing the transactions instead of voiding them.

    Based on the response here, I'm happy to change.
    Reversed sales are not important to your boss?

    Patrick, where do you draw the line?
    Last edited by justnet; June 9th, 2011 at 05:19 PM. Reason: grammer

  19. #15
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Wow! Talk about a poorly thought out way of handling reversals, especially coming from such a well respected AM. (Patrick took second place in the 2009 Best New AM poll.)

    I spent quite a bit of time visiting with Patrick at Think Tank last month, and I could tell from our discussions that he's trying to run his program in an ethical and affiliate-friendly manner, but this is a pretty major lapse in judgment. We rely on those statistics, so whether it was intentional or not he's still misleading current and prospective affiliates.

    Quote Originally Posted by justnet View Post
    Mods, please don't move this thread to their sub-forum. That would defeat the purpose of letting all the SAS members see it. Oh and it could get hum "edited"
    I think it would serve better in the Legacy Learning forum (and I can assure you that it wouldn't get edited or deleted) and that the title should be updated to something like "Legacy Learning Was Editing to $0 Instead of Reversing", but I'll honor your wishes.
    Michael Coley
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  20. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by justnet View Post
    I am a bit sneaky in how I do reversals. Since they hurt my numbers, instead of "voiding" the transactions, I simply "edit" the transaction pay 0% commission.
    As a merchant this is a bit troubling and the system needs fixed. Return rate is probably a big factor when affiliates are selecting who to partner with and if we're doing it the right way, and show 5% returns, while a competitor is gaming the system to show 0% (when they're really 10%), then there's a big issue here.


    Quote Originally Posted by helpingmoms View Post
    I think it is a HUGE problem because one of the stats that I tell new affiliates to look at when determining merchants to work with is the Reversal stat. If a merchant is manipulating commissions to get around having a true reversal number show up, it completely undermines the statistics and makes them useless.
    Not to get off topic but this why I dislike affiliates using program wide metrics to select a merchant. EPC, return rate, etc can all be gamed or manipulated in some form or fashion. Even if they aren't gamed, one fraudulent affiliate could make your return rate look awful for 30-60 days which may turn off affiliates who are looking for merchants in that time frame.

    Bob

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  22. #17
    ABW Ambassador SunshineTricia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Drumm View Post

    Not to get off topic but this why I dislike affiliates using program wide metrics to select a merchant. EPC, return rate, etc can all be gamed or manipulated in some form or fashion. Even if they aren't gamed, one fraudulent affiliate could make your return rate look awful for 30-60 days which may turn off affiliates who are looking for merchants in that time frame.

    Bob
    Agreed. It's a starting point but not the whole picture. If a number is ever askew, the affiliate needs to dig deeper to find out why. Sometimes there is a good reason and sometimes there isn't. It's just one more piece of the whole evaluation process.
    --Tricia Meyer-- I love being the exception to the rule.

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  24. #18
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    > I am a bit sneaky in how I do reversals. Since they hurt my numbers, instead of "voiding" the transactions, I simply "edit" the transaction pay 0% commission. <
    > "...this is a pretty major lapse in judgment. We rely on those statistics, so whether it was intentional or not he's still misleading current and prospective affiliates." <
    Intentional? Huh?

    This was a direct admission that the goal was to conceal reversals, in order to manipulate the merchant's statistics as shown by ShareASale to other publishers -- so that publishers who are wary of high reversal rates would be deceived.

    It's intentional, it's dishonest, it's unethical. It's not something that can be viewed as a "misunderstanding" or an "honest mistake."

    Don't forget the context: http://www.abestweb.com/forums/affil...es-143075.html
    Last edited by markwelch; June 10th, 2011 at 02:48 PM.

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  26. #19
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Two words: Holy Crap!
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  27. #20
    ABW Ambassador JoyUnltd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by helpingmoms View Post
    Agreed. It's a starting point but not the whole picture. If a number is ever askew, the affiliate needs to dig deeper to find out why. Sometimes there is a good reason and sometimes there isn't. It's just one more piece of the whole evaluation process.
    So agree! If I see a high reversal rate, I look for other red flags: toolbars, leaks, etc. If they aren't there & the merchant is a good match for my site, I take the chance & join. Then I'll check up once in a while & see if reversals are a constant or only an occasional issue. Your own sales & reversal history with a merchant add to the picture. Can lemons be turned to lemonade? Sure. But it can take time....weeks & months.
    Renée
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  28. #21
    The "other" left wing davidh's Avatar
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    I'm with Mark. It was also an effort to hide something from upper management. With employees like this on the payroll, a company could find itself being sued, fined, lambasted on television, or more... completely by surprise.
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  29. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Vesperman View Post
    justnet (and others) - Here's the reason I do (now did) it:

    I have to report on the stats to the CEO. Each month, on the day I run the returns report, I had to explain why there was a spike in returns and a big drop in stats for the day I processed them. So I started editing the transactions instead of voiding them. Thats all.

    Based on the response here, I'm happy to change.

    It isn't a "tactic" or me trying to be underhanded…I think most of you know that I run a clean, honest program and that this is a mistake or oversight. Simple as that.

    wow, so u lie to your Boss?? amazing
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  30. #23
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    Just to add insult to injury, today I received (from Legacy) an email containing an updated 52-page "program agreement," which includes the complete text of some FTC regulations (along with commentary and garbled footnotes) plus the full text of the FTC Order regarding Legacy. Yes, it's actually 52 pages: I cut and paste the agreement text (excluding the email headers and SAS footer) into Microsoft Word (using the default 12-point Times font with default 1-inch margins).

    Basically, they're dumping the whole pile onto publishers, and then demanding that publishers provide an "e-signature" agreeing to the terms:

    To join our affiliate program, affiliates must read the FTC Order and supply Legacy with an e-signature indicating the affiliate has received a copy of the order and agrees with it. Affiliates who do not provide an e-signature indicating they have received the FTC Order will have their account suspended until Legacy receives the e-signature.
    The agreement actually doesn't explain how publishers are expected to create and submit these "e-signatures," but I infer Legacy wants publishers to transmit an image of a signed copy of its "Affiliate Pledge" form (a separate 2-page PDF document).

    Though I've never generated any traffic or sales for Legacy, I've finally dropped the program today.
    Last edited by markwelch; June 15th, 2011 at 07:37 PM.

  31. #24
    Full Member justnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch View Post
    Just to add insult to injury, today I received an updated "program agreement" from Legacy, which includes the complete text of a series of draft FTC regulations (along with commentary) AND the FTC Order regarding Legacy.

    Though I've never generated any traffic or sales for Legacy, I've finally dropped the program today.
    So have I.
    I may revisit them if they bring Matt back

    Last edited by BurgerBoy; June 15th, 2011 at 07:41 PM. Reason: Fixed Quote

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