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  1. #1
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    I finally got to look at the "new" monthly payment reports at Linkshare. I saw where February's report shows a negative amount for a particular merchant. Upon digging in, I found that this merchant apparently went back to Oct 1 of last year and batched up around $800 of commission chargebacks and applied them to the February payment, wiping out the month's commissions of nearly $700 and creating a negative balance that draws down the March payment as well.

    Needless to say, I'm hot under the collar. I had been giving this merchant good exposure on my site because I believed they were converting well. Now I feel I've been duped.

    Does Linkshare allow a merchant to batch up months worth of chargebacks and apply them all at once, or could this be a Linkshare accounting/reporting screw-up?

    No one from the merchant or Linkshare had the courtesy to call or write me and let me know that my commissions for February were being dunned by this substantial amount.

    The phone lines are going to be burning Monday morning!

    I advise all you Linkshare users to take a good look at those new Linkshare Payment Reports if you haven't already ... compare them with each month's Sales and Activity Report and have a stiff drink at your side.

  2. #2
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Does the difference equal the affiliate managers salary plus 40% for possible product returns??

  3. #3
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    Why don't people post the name of the merchant when making complaints like the one above? Isn't one of the goals of this forum to expose shoddy merchants?

  4. #4
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Us normal affiliates are all optomists and hope there was an honest mistake made and thta we will get paid before we drop their links. Right now all activity reports at Linkshare show ZEROs. I just hope thta they didn't drop the whole database and have to start over.

  5. #5
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    I will post the name of the merchant if everthing bears out true after I get on the phone Monday. They're not a big player so I doubt many other people here are their affiliates.

    WM Mike, I suggest grabbing a hard copy of the reports whenever they're up. Then you can compare later to see what changed.

  6. #6
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Good suggestion on the hard copy reports. My main problem at BeFree is those 60+ merchants whos commissions earned amount hasn't changed for months on end. No regular commission check coming my way ...no traffic to them since my shoppers tell me who's the best by sales.

  7. #7
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    Is it a clothing merchant?

  8. #8
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    No, it's not a clothing merchant.

    The merchant is running an audit now.

    Anyone know who I might talk to at Linkshare about running audits there too?

  9. #9
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    I don't know who you can talk to. But audits at LS are bad news.

    Outpost.com went back thru a year's worth of data once and erased many thousand$ in sales.

    If it were me and the negative balance was less than the minimum payment threshold (negative in this case), I would pull the old merchant trick and stop promoting them before they ask for cash back.

  10. #10
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    jimbo, I will happily let the merchant take back anything I didn't earn, but they should do it in a reasonable time period and be able to support it with proper accounting data.

    The problem I'm having is that sales are being taken back from months ago that the reports indicate never happened in the first place. So now I ask were sales made that were never recorded, while the returns were, or were the returns recorded in error?

    I think it's important to get to the root of this, even if it does open Pandora's box. Affiliate marketing can't achieve its potential with mystery accounting.

    I urge everyone to start taking a closer look at their Linkshare reports, especially the new Payment Report that you can access from a link in the lower part of the right column on the main page.

    When you open the Payment Report, click on the dollar amount in the column labeled "commission earned this period". A detailed report will open up showing you the commissions you are actually being paid for. Now go try to reconcile this against the Sales and Activity Report and the Individual Item Report that you acess via the "Run Reports" tab. You can do this for past months. Then come back here and tell me if you can make much sense out of it, even after reading Linkshare's explanation about how payments are processed (explanation on the Payment Report page).

    Tell me if the Sales and Activity Report that is updated daily is going to be of much value as a tool measuring your daily sales successes, when the payment is going to be based on the Payment Report that can be modified, apparently by unaudited merchant input, weeks or months after the month closes.

    In one sense, I applaud Linkshare for providing these detailed reports. If not for these reports, I could only shake my head in wonder when a commission check shows up $600 short, and boot the merchant off my site when the problem may not even be theirs. These reports may very well open Pandora's Box but maybe they can also help us ferret out where the holes are in the affiliate merchant and Linkshare accounting systems, bringing the pay-for-performance concept of affiliate marketing to actual fruition.

  11. #11
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    Hey Whiz,

    Whatever number they put up, I bet it's pure fiction.

    Let Steve pay the overage, he stole enough from affiliates to afford $600.

    Pull the link and send an email to the merchant to let you know when they have decide to become honest.

  12. #12
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    I warned Linkshare months in advance that The Outpost was going under and had turned OFF their reporting tags and was skimming back sales. They ignored all my pleading to to investigate this so I just took the points at Pud's FC.com and called it a day on the Outpost whom I supported for 3 years. They also got away with not reporting sales ..only impressions and clicks for 9 months when they found a loop hole in Linkshares ASP software. They would invite active affiliates to signup for a increased commission for a 30 day promotion period. When the promotion ended all the regular creatives and search boxes never reverted back to the normal commission rate and wouldn't compute or record sales. Those opting in to get 5% for the 30 days ended up getting ZERO % for the following 9 months til mysteriously the error was corrected in silence. They did send me a 25.00 gift certificate to try and silence me.

    [ 04-09-2002: Message edited by: EcomCity.com ]

    [ 04-09-2002: Message edited by: EcomCity.com ]

  13. #13
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    Whiz, I only see one merchant who did a big reversal last month. I didn't know the payment report got so detailed when you clicked on the dollar amount. I'll have to look into it.

    Mike, did Outpost/Fry's ever make good on the last month's payment? Besides turning off tracking for over a month with Linkshare's implicit blessing, I think they skipped payment. As I look back on this year's spreadsheet, I don't see an Outpost check. Maybe whatever they paid only covered their Linkshare expenses.

  14. #14
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    WM MIKE >> I warned Linkshare months in advance that The Outpost was going under and had turned OFF their reporting tags and was skimming back sales. They ignored all my pleading to to investigate

    Has anyone had success asking Linkshare to audit an account where fraud of this nature is indicated?

  15. #15
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    I asked, begged, pleaded, threatened amd just about anyother thing you could do.

    Results - ZIP. Linkshare DOSEN'T CARE.

  16. #16
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Besides turning off tracking for over a month with Linkshare's implicit blessing, I think they skipped payment. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Sounds like a perfect merchant for CJ.

  17. #17
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    No last payment from The Outpost who declared bankrupsy. The shady stuff happened months earlier when they were being acquired and over inflated the goodwill value of their affiliate base. I think it was PcConnections ( deactivated at BeFree now)who backed out of the purchase then Frys bought them ...then the burial at FC.com. Their old affiliate manager tried to ream me at Revenews over my predictions they'd fold owing affiliates a ton....ooh I hate it when I'm right all the time. Wish I could break this damn crystal ball since I don't practice witchcraft.

  18. #18
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    Well, here my conlusions to the thread I started.

    The merchant involved is PerformanceProducts.com. Chargebacks for about four months were batched up and my account debited $585 in February.

    Their current affiliate manager explained that their last affiliate manager was manually entering chargebacks to Linkshare. He left and no one knew to do this, until this new manager and the accountant got involved and saw what was happening. So they batched up these chargebacks and applied them in February.

    He apologized for not having thought to notify affiliates. He also said changes in their reporting system should prevent any future occurence.

    So there you have it. I'm not mad anymore ... just disappointed.

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