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  1. #1
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Merchant Terms that REALLY Cross the Line
    I've been an affiliate from more than a dozen years now, and I've read hundreds and hundreds of merchant terms, including those "Special Terms and Conditions" that some thrust upon unsuspecting prospective affiliates. Some I've seen over the years contain some questionable requirements, and some impose restrictions than are a real imposition, and many seek to protect as proprietary generic terms to which they have no rights greater than the affiliate.

    But, this weekend, I saw the "Special Terms and Conditions" for the CJ merchant Virgin Mobile, and I could not believe what I was reading. Their requirements to apply are so far beyond ridiculous and over-burdensome to be considered by ANY affiliate who actually bothers to read them. I suspect that the bulk of their active affiliates have not read them, and have put themselves at risk of losing commissions and being terminated from the program for failing to comply with these horrendous terms.

    Included in their TOS are the following:

    (Note that while the TOS are for the merchant program Virgin Mobile, the terms refer to the merchant as "Sprint" which I assume is the parent of Virgin Mobile)

    The agreement itself is secret:
    "Publisher will not release information about the existence of this Agreement, including its value, or its terms and conditions, through any media including but not limited to, the issuance of any news release, announcement, denial, or confirmation."

    Insurance - they REQUIRE their affiliates to have workers compensation insurance (no waiver if you have no employees) auto insurance (when is driving part of affiliate marketing?), and liability insurance, all of which names THEM - including a long list of individual employees - as an insured entitled to receive claims pay-outs:
    "Publisher agrees to maintain policies of insurance covering insurable risks of activities in connection with this Agreement that include, but are not limited to, worker’s compensation, general commercial liability and auto liability in sufficient amounts to comply with applicable law, and insure its performance under this Agreement. All insurance policies will have limits of at least $1,000,000 per occurrence, and liability policies must name Sprint, its officers, directors and employees as additional insureds."

    What you must have on YOUR computer(s) to be in the program - Not only must you have a password-protected computer, your password itself must comply with a litany of requirements. No one else, like your spouse or independent contractor, can have access to the password:
    "*If the end user computing device contains Sprint information, the device must be configured to require a password for access at initial power on. If the end user computing device contains Sprint information, the device must automatically lock after 15 minutes of inactivity. Users must enter a password to unlock the device.* If the end user computing device contains Sprint information, the device must be loaded with current anti-virus program and signature files, if technically feasible. Access to Publisher’s networks and systems must be granted based on the premise of least access required….

    Users may not share or provide their password with others. All systems, applications, and computing devices must not allow users to reuse the same password for 5 generations. All Publisher’s systems, applications, and computing devices must force users to change their passwords every 90 days. Additionally, authorized users should use passwords that follow these or similar guidelines:
    ·******** Passwords must be a minimum of 8 characters;
    ·******** Passwords must be composed of a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters and numbers;
    ·******** Password must not contain the user’s name or user ID;
    ·******** Passwords must not contain repeating or sequential characters or numbers;
    ·******** Passwords must not contain more than 3 consecutive repeating characters;
    ·******** New passwords must not contain sequences of 3 or more characters from any of the previous 4 passwords; and
    ·******** All default passwords used with default account names must be changed as soon as possible on all computers and networking equipment."

    Does your computer have to be in a vault:
    "Appropriate physical measures must be in place to prevent unauthorized physical access to Publisher’s networks and systems."

    There is more, but you get the idea.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

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  3. #2
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    LOL - oh my.

    Looks as if they took their standard Contractor Agreement and substituted "Publisher"...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  4. #3
    Affiliate Manager AffiliateWarrior's Avatar
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    wow... that is absolutely ridiculous. I'm with Convergence on this one.
    Wade Tonkin - Affiliate Manager - Fanatics
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  5. #4
    Affiliate Manager
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    That is insane! The Insurance paragraph especially baffles me. How would they even expect to enforce it, even if there is a reasonable need for it? All affiliates must submit proof of all that insurance every year that they are part of the program? I can't even imagine they legally could require that, but I suppose someone as big as Virgin Mobile/Sprint probably had their legal team sign off on this TOS.

  6. #5
    Member Prosperent's Avatar
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    wow....

  7. #6
    ABW Ambassador JoyUnltd's Avatar
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    Speechless! I wonder if Richard Branson has any idea what idiots he has in his legal department. Stupid and lazy is as stupid and lazy does.
    Renée
    Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain. -Wizardress of Oz

  8. #7
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound View Post
    The agreement itself is secret:
    "Publisher will not release information about the existence of this Agreement, including its value, or its terms and conditions, through any media including but not limited to, the issuance of any news release, announcement, denial, or confirmation."
    1 - Phil, you're breaching the rules of that "Secret Agreement" by posting about it!

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound View Post
    (Note that while the TOS are for the merchant program Virgin Mobile, the terms refer to the merchant as "Sprint" which I assume is the parent of Virgin Mobile)
    2 - According to my Wordweb English thesaurus and dictionary, the word:
    Sprint = Run very fast, usually for a short distance...

    Did you joined that merchant after all???

    ===============================

    3 - CJ sucks!

  9. #8
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Mr. Sal - I have not joined and will not under those terms, and thus I have NOT breached anything as their "double secret probation" applies to their "publishers" of which I am not now, nor likely ever, one.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

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  11. #9
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    I should also mention that I emailed the affiliate manager expressing these same thoughts, and have yet to receive a response.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

  12. #10
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound View Post
    The agreement itself is secret:
    "Publisher will not release information about the existence of this Agreement, including its value, or its terms and conditions, through any media including but not limited to, the issuance of any news release, announcement, denial, or confirmation."
    Guess you blew that one.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

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  14. #11
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Michael, how did I "blow it" if I'm not a publisher in their program? How could I be bound by terms that I have never agreed to?
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

  15. #12
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Turn off the lawyer, Phil - folks just making funny
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  17. #13
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

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  19. #14
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Yep, just yanking your chain.

    Even if that was a term of the contract, I think it could be argued that it's an illegal term, because the FTC requires disclosure in many cases, which is tough to do if you're not allowed to confirm that there's an agreement.

    Hope they also had a severability term, so that the entire contract doesn't become void as a result.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  20. #15
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    So, I never received a response to my email to the affiliate manager, then today I received a new solicitation to join the program, as if she had never seen my prior communication. I sent her a copy, then a little while later, I received this:

    "Hi Phil,

    Thank you for reaching out. We appreciate your feedback regarding the terms. Although the program is not a good match, we appreciate you taking time to investigate the details of the offer and wish you best of luck in your future programs."
    Amazing.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

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  22. #16
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    AffiliateHound, those are just ridiculous terms. Unlike you I am very now to the affiliate game (<1 month) and I am just finding out that understanding and managing the terms with each brand is a big part of this. I find some of the terms that I come across to be way to strict and limiting. However, I am learning as I go along.

    Certainly can imagine your frustration here. All the best.

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