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  1. #1
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    Exclamation The Truth and Facts About Affiliate Commission Reversals
    I would like to start a thread where we can learn more details about affiliate reversals from those in the know. I have been an affiliate for years but I have never really questioned the reversal process and I would like to know more about it. I do however question reversals and contact the AM but sometimes they don't even bother to reply. At the end of the day I just have to accept what they say is the truth but I'm suspicious that some AM's are using reversals as a way of saving money as the stats don't backup these transactions. I want to know more....

    So some questions are:

    Do ALL of the main networks (LS, CJ, GAN, SAS, Avant etc) inspect the merchants accounting to see for themselves or is it just based on what the merchant says?

    I like how ShareASale let affiliates see the merchant reversals details before signing up, are there other networks that also offer reversals transparency?

    As an affiliate, do you question reversals and ask the AM to give you more details on each reversal?
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  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador kse's Avatar
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    Yes I question merchants all the time on reversals if I start seeing a pattern. One of my merchants has their program on SAS & LinkShare. I asked them last week why all the reversals, their answer was: If their is an affiliate sale and their is a cookie from both SAS & LS for the same day LS affiliate will always get the sales no mater who was last.

    Not going to name the merchants because I going to move to their LS program and stop using their SAS links.

    I get the feeling that the networks do not keep track of what merchants do. And yes I feel that their are a lot of merchants who reverse the sales so they do not have to pay the affiliate.
    MERCHANTS: Start showing your coupons directly on your site, that way your shoppers will stop leaving your site looking for them!! If not then remove your Coupon Box!!

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  4. #3
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Do ALL of the main networks (LS, CJ, GAN, SAS, Avant etc) inspect the merchants accounting to see for themselves or is it just based on what the merchant says?
    I have never had a network question a reversal. I did have an affiliate complain to AvantLink and was promptly contacted by the network to determine the cause of the reversal. In this case they were returns from the merchant that were blindly added to the account i.e. it had nothing to do with the individual affiliate.

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  6. #4
    Affiliate Network Rep JCrooks - AffiliateWindow's Avatar
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    Since you asked, I can tell you at Affiliate Window, when a commission is reversed the merchant must provide a reason, and those reasons get pretty specific, because it isn't fair for the affiliate to wonder why.

    We monitor the affiliate to see if they have a trend of reversals/bad traffic, but we also monitor the merchant to make sure they don't have excessive rejections. If there's a trend on either side, there may be a problem, and we choose to be pro-active about things like that.

    I agree, kse, that it is frustrating for affiliates to compete with affiliates from other networks for a sale. Our system automatically shows merchants the time between cookie drop and transaction, so I've fought successfully to prove that the sale was the result of our affiliate's activities, not someone else's cookie dropped at the last second. I think you know me by now - always ready to fight over something I believe in!

    Within our network, as an affiliate before you join a merchant you can see their:
    - Conversion rate
    - Approval rate
    - Validation period (the real thing, not an estimate)
    - EPC
    - Payment status (we pay our affiliates once the transaction is approved, even before the merchant pays us)
    - AWin Index (key evaluation factors on a scale of 1-100)

    One last thing - if an AWin affiliate has a question about a transaction (or anything!), the Account Manager's contact info is right there, and we are always glad to answer your questions. When you call/email us, we call you back.
    Jeannine Crooks - Always happy to share what I know! - Voted Best Network Rep 2013 & 2014
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  7. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by glittered View Post
    Do ALL of the main networks (LS, CJ, GAN, SAS, Avant etc) inspect the merchants accounting to see for themselves or is it just based on what the merchant says?
    As Chuck said, reversals work on the honor system with all networks. It would be pretty difficult for a network to get the kind of details they need to audit a reversal I would think. The merchant would really have to open up some information that would go against most privacy policies. In the case of AC Lens, most of our product line is governed by HIPPAA laws so we couldn't release details of an order even if we wanted to.

    My guess is that most merchants are legit when it comes to reversals. AM's and OPM's normally have a bonus/commission component as part of their compensation. If they're reversing orders, they're not getting credit on their own pay check.

    I guess in theory some merchants could base their bonus/commission on profitability of the program which may cause an AM/OPM to fraudulently reverse an order. Small companies who have owners running the program could also be tempted to reverse commissions fraudulently but I doubt either of those practices are very wide spread - I'm not an affiliate though so maybe I'm living in a dream world.

    Bob

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  9. #6
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Certain merchants in specific niches, ie: Fashion, reversals are common. You get to know the pattern of those merchants so we rarely question those unless the reason given is "other".

    Common reason given for "other"? Another marketing channel got the sale. That's one reason we have a hard time with.

    We tend to question the reversals that come two weeks later for the reason "out of stock/can't ship" - why the delay?

    Strangely enough, we don't see a lot of small $2-$5 reversals, maybe they just don't stick out like the $20-$30+ reversals. Did have a merchant reverse a $110 commission last year that stuck out. Item was returned just under 3 hours before the 30 day day lock period (we also time stamp each click). Have also seen reversals come in late at night that were under an hour before the lock.

    Some merchants state in their terms, and is allowed by the network (LS) that merchants can reverse a sale 90 days after the event date even though you have been paid. LS is also our lowest converting network - wonder why.

    Getting to "know" your merchants helps ease a lot of the concerns about reversals - that takes time...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  11. #7
    Affiliate Manager
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    Another example: If a merchant is in multiple networks, managers will remove duplicates monthly.

  12. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by glittered View Post
    I like how ShareASale let affiliates see the merchant reversals details before signing up, are there other networks that also offer reversals transparency?
    ShareASale is the only network I work with that actually has a field for affiliates to see reversal details before signing up. On my other networks though, I always make sure to include somewhere in my terms and conditions a List of non commissionable items and reasons for reversals section. Our program pays commissions on free trials so we have to be very specific about what does and does not constitute a commission.

    Quote Originally Posted by glittered View Post
    As an affiliate, do you question reversals and ask the AM to give you more details on each reversal?
    From the AM side, I try to be as transparent as possible when I have to make a reversal. I actually prefer affiliates contact me asking for a reason so I can explain it to them and lessen the chance of botching the relationship. If your AM is actually doing his job correctly and ethically, then he will have no problem explaining to you exactly why the commission was revoked. My advice to affiliates is to demand answers and be persistent about it- you're selling OUR products and you deserve to know why you're not getting paid.
    Mike Hourigan
    Affiliate Manager for [URL="http://www.shoeboxed.com/?utm_source=abestweb&utm_medium=signature%2B&utm_campaign=abestweb"]Shoeboxed.com[/URL]
    [EMAIL="mikeh@team.shoeboxed.com"]Email[/EMAIL]|[URL="http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=131457835&trk=tab_pro"]LinkedIn[/URL]

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  14. #9
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    For us, reversals generally only happen when a customer cancels or returns an order, but in those cases this automatically fed back to the publisher through the network. The only times I am ever manually reversing a commission is when we're working through a fraud issue and then I reach out directly to the publisher to let them know what's going on.
    [SIZE="2"][COLOR="DimGray"][B]Online Marketing Manager[/B] (tom.featherstone at surlatable dot com)[/SIZE]
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  16. #10
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    My merchants either send batch reversals or manually add them. Regardless if an affiliate inquires we run it down and answer the affiliate back. Its all about the relationship.

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  18. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCrooks - AffiliateWindow View Post
    Since you asked, I can tell you at Affiliate Window, when a commission is reversed the merchant must provide a reason, and those reasons get pretty specific, because it isn't fair for the affiliate to wonder why.
    I'm going to start promoting Affiliate Window merchants a lot soon, this is really good to hear that you are watching reversals where other networks don't seem to care.
    Quote Originally Posted by Convergence View Post
    Strangely enough, we don't see a lot of small $2-$5 reversals, maybe they just don't stick out like the $20-$30+ reversals. Did have a merchant reverse a $110 commission last year that stuck out. Item was returned just under 3 hours before the 30 day day lock period (we also time stamp each click). Have also seen reversals come in late at night that were under an hour before the lock.
    I find it really weird when merchants are reversing just before locking, something does not add up when they do that and consistently.

    I have 2 merchants that I have reversals and I questioned these. I have the network onto one of them and it has been 2 months now that we are waiting for a reply. Another one I have never had any reversals and then I got this big sale recently. it was reversed but they never replied back to me after I quested it. I have another merchant who I have been promoting for years with very few reversals but lately they are reversing around 40% of sales just before the lock period. Most merchants I promote and I have thousands hardly ever reverse a sale but there is a few that seem to be reversing more than is normal. The problem I have is if you want to step it up for that merchant and use them on a project then you look at the reversals and you think hhmm, what is the point of promoting a merchant with 50% reversals when I can select another with ZERO?

    I'm writing an article on this and doing quite a bit of research plus making a lot of enquiries to networks, merchants and those in the industry as I want to see some changes happen in the industry as I think affiliates deserve better than this. If anyone can provide more details, more info on this subject then it is most appreciates and will be helpful for all.
    Last edited by glittered; April 12th, 2013 at 09:47 PM.
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  19. #12
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    Here is an example of a letter I wrote to a merchant called Lorex, I have made sales for them in the past without reversals. So I wrote to the listed affiliate manager AGAIN:

    Denys Posokhov, I sent you an email several weeks ago asking for more details for the reason why you reversed this sale ID --------- on the 29th of March for $85.34 and you have failed to reply which is just not acceptable. I'm doing a study on this actual subject at the moment, you might be interested to read and participate in this discussion on the affiliate forums: http://www.abestweb.com/forums/midni...ls-165223.html
    Another example of a letter sent to Intuit’ QuickBooks Canada:

    Laura MacKenzie-Callow

    I sent you an email well over a month ago asking for more details for the reason why you reversed this sales on the 15-Feb for a commission of $928.90 and you have failed to reply which is just not acceptable. CJ have also asked you twice now and you have failed to reply to them. I'm doing a study on this actual subject at the moment, you might be interested to read and participate in this discussion on the affiliate forums: http://www.abestweb.com/forums/midni...ls-165223.html
    The most annoying and arrogant thing and something I really don't accept is when an AM does not communicate. If they don't have the skills to understand the importance of communication in this industry then they are most certainly unqualified for their job.

    They get a certain amount of time before I make phone calls to the company CEO, owner or director.

    What do other affiliates do when they have bad AM like above? I know that this is the minority as most AM's seem to be doing a very good and honest job but the bad ones need to be questioned.
    Last edited by glittered; April 12th, 2013 at 10:22 PM.
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  20. #13
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glittered View Post
    What do other affiliates do when they have bad AM like above?
    Drop them. Like I'm getting ready to do with Target.com...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  22. #14
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    The most annoying and arrogant thing and something I really don't accept is when an AM does not communicate. If they don't have the skills to understand the importance of communication in this industry then they are most certainly unqualified for their job.
    Maybe they have so many inquiries about reversals they just haven't gotten to you yet?

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  24. #15
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    With most of the merchants I work with, reversals are rare. If I do have a merchant/AM that starts reversing and I see a trend developing, they are dropped. I refuse to spend time sending emails regarding reversals that usually never get a response. My theory is, even if they were to reinstate my commission, what about the next time? Will I be contacting them again in the near future for the same thing? Probably.

    A merchant/AM is either honest or not, an email from me isn't going to change their mindset.

    Quote Originally Posted by Convergence View Post
    Drop them. Like I'm getting ready to do with Target.com...
    Funny you posted exactly what I was thinking earlier today. I'm sending far too much traffic to them with very little reward.


  25. #16
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    I like to see other ideas though that the usual "just drop them" as this is just giving them a green light to keep doing this and the wrong message to other affiliate managers or advertisers besides the affiliate loses their income because of a bad or corrupt AM.

    To many of us this is our full time job and it's not acceptable to not have full transparency and honesty in our everyday working environment.
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  26. #17
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    To be clear, I will contact a merchant/AM regarding a reversal if I feel it's out of the norm. I only drop them when I either get no response to my email or I don't like/believe their answer.

    Nothing catches my attention quicker than to see one of my merchants name in an ABW thread title. One way to possibly get a merchants/AMs attention regarding reversals or any bad practice is to post the issue in the forum. It's important to let the merchant/AM know about the discussion so they can respond if they feel it's out of line. If they don't care enough to post and try to resolve the issue, it's here in the forum for affiliates to see and judge their program by it.

    Believe me, the method above has kept me from joining many programs. The internet is forever....

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  28. #18
    ABW Ambassador boningroup's Avatar
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    I always inquire about a reversal when the reason is "other". 50% of the time I never hear back from the merchant. I have had Zappos make reversals and when I question them, I have had some added back with the reason being a mistake.

    I recently had EntirelyPets on CJ reverse a commission with the reason that the order wasn't shipped as everything was back ordered. What they did not know was that I was the customer. The order was shipped and I wrote to the AM several times advising him that I was aware the ordered was shipped. At first he indicated that once the back ordered commission would be credited to my account when it was shipped. After it was shipped nothing. He no longer responds to my emails. I had been a regular customer for years as they had a product that I could not find anyplace else. Now they have lost a customer. I guess some merchants don't realize that affiliates are customers also. I try to purchase as much as I can when I order online from the merchants that I promote.

    We are at the honesty of the merchants that we promote on whether or not we get credit for sales that are made off of our websites.
    Danny W Bonin Jr
    Bonin Group, Inc.

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