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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Inactivity Fee? Really?
    Every time I think I'm moving forward something comes up and smacks me across the face. I joined this forum in the hopes of figuring out how to actually make some money as an affiliate instead of just helping to promote merchants for free.

    I started adding new advertising to my newest site yesterday and today there's $10 mysteriously missing from my CJ account. Lo and behold, it appears to be an inactivity fee. According to some old blog posts, had I raised the white flag, gave up and closed my account I would have gotten paid that money. But, because I plan to renew my efforts and give it a good go, I've been dinged.

    So disheartening and certainly counterproductive. No email, no warning, no nothing, just the little bit of money I have managed to earn disappears. Gee, did maintaining my little $22 balance really impact CJ that badly? I've been wondering for a while now if the hundreds of clicks and hundreds of thousands of impressions have truly led to so few sales. (I know it's a far higher number for both but I can only see stats for 150 days. Really?)

    I've looked around at SAS but haven't signed up yet. Do they do this nonsense too?
    Last edited by MicheleH; July 1st, 2011 at 10:31 AM.

  2. #2
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    To my knowledge, CJ is the only one but I don't belong to all the networks. I actually do belong to Shareasale (I think), but never had the time to look for merchants that I could use.

    I have belonged to CJ for 4 or 5 years. I earned $6 early on; then it was wiped out. Happily (or not), I earned nothing more there in spite of having at least one link that should have generated sales. Not a fortune, but some. It was for a concert sold by both Live Nation and Ticketmaster, back when they actually had affiliate programs. I sold maybe a dozen tickets via Ticketmaster, on Buy.at, and zero via Live Nation, on CJ. Draw your own conclusions.

    I currently have $4 and change in my account from a purchase that I made (which is allowed by CJ and the merchants). I don't expect to see it.

    Basically, if you have a small site in a small niche, I wouldn't waste my time with CJ. Perhaps wait until you have thousands of daily visitors, and a product set that matches well, before taking the time to add links to merchants on CJ. I'm sure it can work for some, but not for the small niche player, or for someone who is doing their site very part time and expects to take years to build up volume.

    Unless, of course, you spot a product that is expensive and that you know how to sell in volume. If so, go for it!
    ---
    Valerie Magee
    [URL=http://mageenet.net]MageeNET[/URL]

  3. #3
    Outsourced Program Manager Paul Schroader's Avatar
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    MicheleH,

    I've never heard of CJ imposing an inactivity fee before. Is that how it's worded in your reporting?

    I have a couple of test accounts that date back a number of years. One of them has a $56 balance and the other has no activity in at least a year. I'm not seeing an inactivity charge on the one that has done nothing for a very long time.

    Can you give a bit more detail? Did the fee appear after reactivating the account (meaning that there was actually a period when you couldn't log in to the account)? That's happened to me on these tests accounts and I never noticed the inactivity fee.

    I would be curious to see the exact verbiage.

    If they are taking $10 away from smaller, less-active affiliates, then it's not a very smart way to encourage growth.
    Paul Schroader
    PS Web Solutions, Inc.
    Phone: 800.823.2602 | email: pauls at pswebsolutions.com | Y!: pswebdude

  4. #4
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Michele,

    The road is a bumpy one, but it just makes you stronger

    Ok so your site ... herbs ... that's cooks, market cooking stuff, and kitchen gadgets, wines, etc. Know your market and market to your demographic, then any inactivity fee will be something you laugh about
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

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  6. #5
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Paul,

    They've been doing it since '03 - http://www.abestweb.com/forums/commi...ales-1706.html
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  7. #6
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    Paul, if you have inactive accounts that have never been hit by the fee, consider yourself very lucky. It's a known provision of their program and I'm pretty sure it has been discussed here before. They take the money and close your account, but give you a link to reopen it. Less the money they took. If you had less than $10, then they take what you have, but do not take more from future earnings. It is documented somewhere I am sure, but I'd rather get back to productive work than look for it!

    They also say that you must reestablish your relationships with merchants, but that does not seem to be the case (at least for me).
    ---
    Valerie Magee
    [URL=http://mageenet.net]MageeNET[/URL]

  8. #7
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Found this in SAS' TOS:

    Affiliate accounts that are left inactive will be removed from our system if their balance is equal to or less than $25. If an abandoned affiliate account has a balance between $25 and $50, a $25 fee will be assesed once per calendar month, until the balance is equal to zero dollars - and is closed. At no time will an affiliate ever owe monies to Shareasale.com, Inc. based on fees - the account will simply be closed. An abandoned affiliate account is defined as any account that has not been logged in to for a period of 6 months, nor have any transactions been posted to that account. If one or the other of those conditions are true - the account will remain in an active state.
    Source: http://shareasale.com/agreement.cfm
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  9. #8
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    Convergence, if logging in is all that is required, then that's not the same thing at all. Good info to know!
    ---
    Valerie Magee
    [URL=http://mageenet.net]MageeNET[/URL]

  10. #9
    Outsourced Program Manager Paul Schroader's Avatar
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    Interesting. I guess because I mostly play on the Merchant side of the fence I wasn't aware of this, but it is good to know.

    I really try to understand what affiliates have to deal with and this is news to me. It looks like it's been discussed at length in the past, but I guess that's the beauty of ABW. Even old dogs can learn something new.

    So, it's supposed to be $10 if you're account doesn't produce a sale in a 6 month time frame? It's curious that it didn't affect that specific test account but that may be because it's so old. I set it up in '99 at Todd Crawford's suggestion when I was researching CJ for a Merchant.
    Paul Schroader
    PS Web Solutions, Inc.
    Phone: 800.823.2602 | email: pauls at pswebsolutions.com | Y!: pswebdude

  11. #10
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    It could well be age. Since the policy was instituted in 2003, they may have programmed it to just apply to accounts going forward. See how lucky you are? Some people actually buy something each quarter (I think it's quarterly) to avoid deactivation, but unless I really need something I am not going to do it. And, as I said, I haven't had any money in there since they took my Emusic $6 years ago.

    In my current situation, what I bought was something that I resell. The publisher's retail price was less than the wholesale or artists' price (that's a whole other story). The distributor wouldn't lower his price, so I bought retail (this is an item I sell directly). I bought 20 at the time. The price was great. It's still at that price, so I suppose I should buy more ... maybe enough to actually get my money!
    ---
    Valerie Magee
    [URL=http://mageenet.net]MageeNET[/URL]

  12. #11
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Paul,

    There were a few accounts that were flaged as "keep alive" in '03 I'm sure your '99 test account was one of them. I'm aware of a few others that are still "active". And yes CJ does keep a "Chinese Wall" between merchant and aff experiences ... that's how they perpetuate the ignore the whiners and stay with our recruiting/managing services with these SUPER AFFILIATES. Sadly, though it's not just CJ that follows this M.O.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  13. #12
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    With regards to ShareASale - it is a matter of law, not intended to be a "gotcha" policy. very few accounts are ever placed in this state but if you ever find that yours is just shoot me an email amd we'll get it fixed up. The policy is 6 months of no login or account activity (transactions) though in practice it is often more like years.
    Thanks,

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

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  15. #13
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    That's good! Your policy is fine and reasonable.

    Guess I should log into my account! As I said, I think I have one - for one merchant whose product was too expensive for me buy just to review it, and who wouldn't give me (or lend me) a "review" copy. So I took down my link because I couldn't write a review (and I am not about to use other people's reviews). Oh well ...
    ---
    Valerie Magee
    [URL=http://mageenet.net]MageeNET[/URL]

  16. #14
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    I logged into my account several days this week and just added a new merchant and a new link on one of my sites. Seems even more insulting under the circumstances. Yeah, I haven't made many sales lately but I am trying.

    Seems like the policy is a blackmail of sorts to force affiliates like me who haven't yet figured out the secret sauce to make a purchase from one of their merchants. Doesn't seem like that would be something the merchants would want to see happening.

    I refuse to give up and did send an email to CJ requesting an explanation. I received no email, no PM or anything else other than a debit marked "Fee". I have no doubt the fee is buried somewhere in the TOS but it seems counterproductive to not offer a struggling affiliate a warning or even assistance in fixing the situation.

    Brian, based on your comment and participation in my little rant here, I will definitely look harder at your service.

  17. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian - ShareASale View Post
    With regards to ShareASale - it is a matter of law, not intended to be a "gotcha" policy. very few accounts are ever placed in this state but if you ever find that yours is just shoot me an email amd we'll get it fixed up. The policy is 6 months of no login or account activity (transactions) though in practice it is often more like years.
    Just to clarify, the dormancy policy would not kick in if I had accessed/logged into the account even if I had not yet managed to make a sale or hadn't made a sale in a while?

  18. #16
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    I think that is right.

    Vietnam Veteran 1966-1970 USASA
    ABW Forum Rules - Advertise At ABW

  19. #17
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    You are receiving this email because your Commission Junction publisher account has not generated any valid commissions during the last five months. Commission Junction is committed to maintaining a dynamic and productive marketplace. Consequently, per the Publisher Service Agreement, we regularly deactivate accounts that are not actively earning commissions and do not have a sufficient balance amount. Your account has been deemed inactive and is scheduled to begin the dormancy process in the next 30 days. What that means is that beginning 30 days from now, your account will begin accruing a monthly dormant account fee against any balance that currently exists in the account. Once the account has reached a zero balance, the account will be deactivated. This fee only applies to dormant accounts that currently show a balance; if your account currently has a zero balance, no fees will be assessed and your account will be deactivated immediately following the next 30 days of inactivity. Please note that once your account is deactivated, you will not track or earn commissions and your advertiser relationships will expire if you do not reactivate the account within the first 90 days of dormancy.
    I don't think just logging in will save you.
    You must climb this mountain. There is no elevator. ---- Don't stick your finger in the liquid nitrogen.
    Carolina China

  20. #18
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    The usually suggested way to save your account is to make a self-purchase that will generate some commission. You will need to do this at intervals when your account is in danger of being closed.
    You must climb this mountain. There is no elevator. ---- Don't stick your finger in the liquid nitrogen.
    Carolina China

  21. #19
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    MicheleH,

    That is correct it isn't based on sales alone. Just the act of logging in is enough for us to consider the account active.
    Thanks,

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

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  23. #20
    ABW Ambassador I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
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    Brian, can you clarify the legal reference you made? Is there a specific law that leads to policies like this, and how does the inactivity fee help compliance with the law?

    I'm assuming that can be explained without writing an entire book on the subject, but even if you have some linkage or something for reference, I think that would be interesting to understand.
    Matt Bidinger
    Online Community Engagement

  24. #21
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    On January 1, 2011, CJ closed my account and zeroed out the balance, because I hadn't had sales for a long time. Ironically, I'd logged in dozens of times in December to add CJ links to several merchants (and generated test clicks) for a new site which launched on January 1, 2011. When I complained, CJ re-activated my account (still with a zero balance). As you'd expect, I pulled down most of my CJ links. Since then, I've accrued a few sales transactions each month (for one book publisher); but since I generally earn only 80 or 90 cents from each transaction, my balance after six months is still below $50.

    ClickBank has a pretty confiscatory inactivity policy, which is especially atrocious when combined with several other policies (including a "hold-back" of partial commissions for 3 months, as a reserve against returns or fraud complaints). Thus, even if you generate enough transactions with the right combination of payment methods to meet their bizarre requirements to qualify for actual payment (which I assume 90% of active ClickBank affiliates never accomplish), part of your earnings will be held, and then if you don't generate new sales, the "hold-back" amount will be confiscated. Oh, and ClickBank charges you $2 each time they pay you any amount, and requires that your first two payments be by a physical, mailed check. (Do you get that I don't like ClickBank? Good. Do I still work with ClickBank? Yes, because of one merchant's products.)

    Are CJ or ClickBank the worst affiliate networks because of these confiscatory policies? Absolutely not. There's a reason why a dozen "bottom tier" affiliate networks aren't ever discussed on ABW -- because no intelligent publisher would ever participate in such unprefessional networks with such bizarre policies.
    Last edited by markwelch; July 1st, 2011 at 01:05 PM.

  25. #22
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Generally...there are State laws with regards to holding funds for people.

    There are too many to go into and they often have conflicting parameters...hence there is a need for a policy to deal with them - but as I stated earlier, this policy is pretty rare for an affiliate to find themselves in and if anyone ends up here just email me.
    Thanks,

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

  26. #23
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    There are laws governing how long a company can hold your funds.....I think that it is a few months....CJ makes sure that they confiscate the small amount before the law requires that they pay up. The fees that they charge are legal service charges.

    As far as this business of inactive accounts and confiscating funds, to my knowledge, has never been a problem with SAS or even LS ..........But CJ seems to get a kick out of kicking the smaller affiliates.

    Mark said it right...........I work with CJ, but only because one merchant asked me to
    You must climb this mountain. There is no elevator. ---- Don't stick your finger in the liquid nitrogen.
    Carolina China

  27. #24
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    No email warning for me Witzer. Logging into the account does nothing with CJ - I've been in and out all week, added a new merchant and added a single new link that generated 80+ impressions and 2 clicks within a 15-18 hour period. Support is basically saying it's our policy, you agreed, tough tiddlywinks.

    Thank you Brian for the clarification. You should be seeing more of me.

    If the issue is holding money, seems like it would be easier to just close the account, pay off the affiliate and tell them they can't reapply for 6 months or something. Seems like I was at least due a warning. Oh well, live and learn.

  28. #25
    Full Member Lanny's Avatar
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    @OP I suggest you join LinkShare
    @OP MicheleH I suggest that you join LinkShare. They do *not* do what has been described in your original post and in many replies in this thread. I believe they will pay you, if your account balance is USD$1.00 or more. They pay Affiliates, weekly. I believe the Advertisers pay LS once a month, so after they pay LS, you will be paid, a few days later, or the next week, depending on what day the payment comes in from the Advertiser. LinkShare Publisher Support will reply to you and LinkShare participates here on ABW. On at least one occasion, LS sent me a Direct Deposit the same day they showed payment received from the Advertiser, but that's not typical.

    Seems like I read that CJ did have a rep on ABW, but they did not come back, because there were so many complaints?

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