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  1. #1
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    I am posting the response to a rebuttal of eBates' first response to the initial complaint filed through the Better Business Bureau for a couple reasons. First, their stance on this issue should be common knowledge. Second, this may serve as ammunition in your own complmaint or legal action against eBates.com. This is straight from their CEO:

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>
    By way of background, we launched our discount shopping portal over four years ago. We offer a free service that pays cash back when users buy items from Merchants we promote. The Merchant pays us a sales commission for sending them a customer, which we give back (either in part or entirely) to the user. The user benefits in an obvious way (they get cash back). The Merchant benefits by getting a motivated, eager shopper who buys their products. Similarly to other discount shoppers (coupons, bulk purchases, seasonal sales, etc), our customers, knowing they are getting a better-than-normal deal, buy in larger amounts and with greater frequency than a ‘normal’ customer. And this increased purchase behavior does not cost the Merchant any more than it would had the sale come through any other Affiliate site, like the one Mr. XXXXX may operate since our discount comes from the sales commission other sites normally keep. We are termed ‘Affiliates’ of the Merchants we partner with, as are other partners who operate through the same technology providers (there are a few of these technology providers: LinkShare, BeFree, Commission Junction, and Performics are the biggest of the so-called Affiliate Aggregators).

    Not surprisingly, we had many complaints similar to Mr. XXXXX’s when we first launched. These complaints are founded in frustration at having a less-valuable offering to the consumer, not in any unethical or illegal business practices on our part. They claimed it was unfair that we gave back some of our commission, and that we’d be stealing sales from people who kept all of their commissions. It was argued that our lack of concern for other Affiliates who needed to keep all of the commissions amounted to unfair competition. We are under no legal obligation to have ‘concern’ for other Affiliates of our Merchants. To the contrary, they are competitors. Lack of concern is not, to my knowledge, grounds for a complaint to the BBB. Nor is innovation in marketing deemed illegal or unfair. As we grew into the marketplace, we have become the largest traffic and sales driver for most of our Merchants, and we have spawned dozens of similar discount-oriented shopping portals. What used to be novel four years ago is now an accepted marketing method.

    As stated in the user agreement, download agreement, and elsewhere, the Ebates Moe Money Maker (MMM) is a small piece of software that users can choose to install as part of our service. Users can use our service without downloading the software. They can also easily uninstall the software at any time in any of the normal fashion that software is uninstalled. The software was developed in order to address our principal customer concern: forgetting to use our site, and missing out on the discount we would have provided. Customers would then be forced to return the items they ordered, and re-order them through u in order to earn the discount. The software is for users who wish to make ALL of their qualifying purchases through us. If a user arrives at a Merchant with whom we work, the software will detect this and route the user through Ebates, alerting them that they are now saving the amount we offer our customers. The user is alerted each time the software acts that they are saving through Ebates. They are free to uninstall the software, or to turn it off at any time, and shop through another portal.

    Users choose whether or not to install the software. They choose to install it because they simply want to save as much as possible. Mr. XXXXX may choose to assert that our customers “foolishly installed it”, but this is a groundless claim. We have further been deemed entirely in compliance by all of the Affiliate Aggregators who provide the underpinnings for sites like Ebates and Mr. XXXXX’s sites in working with Merchants (BeFree, LinksShare, Performics, Commission Junction, etc), and who police the workings of software that impacts how customers reach their Merchants. All of our major Merchants are overjoyed at the ability we have to reach customers through MMM. Dell, BN, Staples, American Express, and over 600 other Merchants all agree that we market in an ethical and legal fashion. We can provide contacts at each Affiliate Aggregator should you desire.

    The only people who are unhappy with MMM (and our service in general) are competitors like Mr. XXXXX. We had half a dozen of our 600 Merchants (all in the bottom 5% of our sales) leave due to the complaining of people like Mr. XXXXX. Almost all of these have since come back to our site and offer discounts through us as before. Mr. XXXXX only argument for us lacking integrity is that Merchants dropped us, and that we have been threatened with lawsuits. A Merchant may or may not agree with our marketing methods, and are free to choose whether or not to work with us. This does not prove a lack of integrity. Neither does being threatened with lawsuits.

    Mr. XXXXX is no doubt aware of the intellectual inadequacy of his claim in this regard.

    Ultimately, the customer is free to choose whether or not to purchase from a site like that Mr. XXXXX may operate, which keeps all of the sales commission forwarded by a Merchant, or whether to purchase through a site like Ebates, which cuts them in on our commission. Our customers are also free to choose to download a tool that reminds them to shop through the portal of their choosing. But since Mr. XXXXX knows that this puts him at a disadvantage (i.e. renders his service is inferior), he must rely on baseless claims that we are ‘stealing’ sales. We do not steal commissions. We save our customers millions of dollars per month. Our member growth has been explosive, as has our list of affiliated Merchants.

    Absent any precedent for MMM or any other part of our service being illegal, it is our position that Mr. XXXXX statements are indeed libelous. He has accused us of stealing money. He has communicated this accusation to other persons. I’d invite Mr. XXXXX to show any precedent to establish that our service is illegally taking anything from anyone. He may not like our service, he may not like our software, and he may be at a competitive disadvantage, but this is because we offer a service that people want. Our legal counsel, Fenwick and West also agree that Mr. XXXXX is engaging in an apparent attempt to defame our company in an effort to hurt our business. One cannot legally accuse a company of theft without legal grounds to do so. We have initiated legal action against several infringing parties in the past, no doubt this will be necessary in the future as well. As you in the BBB know better than anyone, a company lives or dies on its reputation. Our good reputation in the industry and with our customers and Merchants is something we guard aggressively, and we do not lack in resources in this regard.

    All wishful thinking of Mr. XXXXX aside, this is not an issue that should impact the BBB’s view of our company. These complaints are rooted in matters outside business reliability, customer dispute resolution, truth-in-advertising, consumer education, or charity review. Mr. XXXXX is simply trying to defame our business in any manner possible. None of his claims are meritorious, being neither customer facing issues nor based on any legal precedent or factual basis.

    Sincerely yours,
    Alessandro Isolani
    C.E.O.
    Ebates.com

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador phillyburbs's Avatar
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    Phew.
    That's going to take some time to digest.


    Karl Smith
    phillyBurbs - Your Internet Starts Here

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador cditty's Avatar
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    Sounds like it came from a lawyer all right.

    Chris

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    Scriptsforyoursite.com - Featuring datafeed import scripts for Art.com, Backcountry Store, Coldwater Creek, Mondera.com and many more.....

  4. #4
    15 years and counting
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    A nice way to twist the truth. I'll like to know the merchants who left to come back later. I know of the Inkjet Cie. Who are the others?
    Thanks Celicaphile, very informative...

    It's not the big that eat the small... it's the fast that eat the slow. Jennings & Haughton

  5. #5
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    hey, no problem. I had been sitting on it for a while...had to retype it (3pgs) ...I'll dig up their original response & see if it's worthy of being posted. This one really got under my skin though, so I had to share
    I hope that if anyone else files a complaint, they'll share their responses as well

  6. #6
    15 years and counting
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> We have further been deemed entirely in compliance by all of the Affiliate Aggregators who provide the underpinnings for sites like Ebates and Mr. XXXXX’s sites in working with Merchants (BeFree, LinksShare, Performics, Commission Junction, etc), and who police the workings of software that impacts how customers reach their Merchants. Alessandro Isolani <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Don't you like that? He forgot to say Ebates was not in compliance before being caught and was overwriting our cookies during the last shopping season.

    It's not the big that eat the small... it's the fast that eat the slow. Jennings & Haughton

  7. #7
    Merchant Linda's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>We had half a dozen of our 600 Merchants (all in the bottom 5% of our sales) leave due to the complaining of people like Mr. XXXXX. Almost all of these have since come back to our site and offer discounts through us as before <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    "Half a dozen" is 6. We all know for a fact that more than 6 merchants have reported right here on ABW that they ceased affiliation with eBates. I'd like to know which of the "almost all" merchants took them back in.

    I noticed also that he forgot to tell them that eBates was not in compliance until they were forced to be. And that they have their little "glitches" every so often.

  8. #8
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Let me slide though all the smoke amd mirrors thrown out by the leader of eBates.

    1. eBates deviously used other affiliates recruited to them by BeFree to seed their group of "incented" shoppers. They then secretly devised a way to sneak in the More Money Maker Top-Moxie plug-in infecting millions of their users systems to hijack taffic and swap affiliate ID#s last year at this time.

    2. They have never informed the 600 eBates merchants that MMM monitizes ALL linking methods to a merchants web site. Non-commissionable links in the SE's, bookmarks, e-mails and direct browser address bar type-in were all burdened with eBates commission cookie.

    3. eBates demands and receives a higher commission rate than other network affiliates and only passes on the difference between normal commision rate and their preferred rate to their users.

    4. eBates and other Top-Moxie powered BHO's does practice restraint of trade by getting autoloads of incent offers daily by the networks. This puts the normal affiliate at a complete disadvantage even if they are a cpoupon/rewards site.

    5. eBates advertised their offers, unrestricted by any domain boundry, on both affiliate and merchant sites and their activities and income hijacking totals are completely non-transparent. Not until normal affiliates caught them and their ilk ( Morpheus & others) stealing commissions and traffic with MMM did they address the thievery.

    6. Merchants who were not part of eBates incent program got targeted Rewards & coupons popping up on their sites at the point of sale triggered by keywords.

    eBates obviously works under the honor plan when it comes to the CoC issue. If we catch them stealing they have a 60 day open grace period to correct their thievery. Meanwhile they milk their merchants by double dipping them on all non-commissionable links to their domains. Is this covered under the Rico act as the Gator and WhenU factions actually charge domain protection fees to keep those buggers off their sites.

    Since when are the eBates users authorized to get commissions for shopping the merchants I showcase on my site? ebates lit up EcomCity last year and did the same with TigerDirect with their incessent pop-ups. It wasn't always easy to remove ebates from an infected system.

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

  9. #9
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Pure Unadulterated Horse Hockey!

    <font size="2" face="Verdana">Haiko


    The secret of success is constancy of purpose. ~ Disraeli
    </font></p>

  10. #10
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Well I tried being nice about it Haiko.

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

  11. #11
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    This really is unbelievable...

    Thanks,

    -Brian Littleton
    -Owner/Operator Shareasale.com
    brian@shareasale.com

  12. #12
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Considering previous public statements by Alessandro Isolani, thankfully I had the presence of mind to put on my hip waders and a clothes pin on my nose before I ventured into the muck of his response.

    Keep Your Hands Off My Cookies

  13. #13
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    Geez, they are using an ineffectual agreement, that does nothing for the affiliates, to legitimize their practices and now get to say they are in compliance and they work with people.

    Wow. Who would have seen that as the outcome of the meetings and agreement?? Who indeed...

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Not surprisingly, we had many complaints similar to Mr. XXXXX’s when we first launched. These complaints are founded in frustration at having a less-valuable offering to the consumer, not in any unethical or illegal business practices on our part. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Hmmm...yet, in spite of their competition having a "less-valuable" offering:
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> The software was developed in order to address our principal customer concern: forgetting to use our site, and missing out on the discount we would have provided. Customers would then be forced to return the items they ordered, and re-order them through u in order to earn the discount. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    "FORGETTING TO USE OUR SITE" !!!

    Seems to me that the "less-valuable" sites have MORE VALUE to their customers than their very own site, since their customers can't even remember to go to their site when they want to shop, so they can get those much desired "rebates"!

    That sounds pretty "value-less" to me...

    Andy

    "If you were born to be shot, you'll never be hung." -Unknown

  15. #15
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    I'm curious as to what merchants think about his response...

  16. #16
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    I wonder if the merchants and affiliate aggregators have talked to their attorneys about their potential RICO liabilities?

    Jimmy James Inc. fan club membership # 3312

  17. #17
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    wow, thats pretty astounding!

    two years and counting.... nothing much has changed... commissions stolen daily... billions of impressions served...

  18. #18
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Did I actually say those words above ...my my

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

  19. #19
    ABW Veteran jc101's Avatar
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    I would like to comment on this

    Not surprisingly, we had many complaints similar to Mr. XXXXX’s when we first launched. These complaints are founded in frustration at having a less-valuable offering to the consumer, not in any unethical or illegal business practices on our part.

    Answer: Pure Horse Hockey!, With a good traffic ranking in Alexa, and A Amazing Traffic Increase of 50% in a three month period (by Alexa ratings) I have to disagree with Alessandro Isolani's comments.

    Not only does our service offer a much valuable service then Ebates, But our customer comments we get every day by Email and pure comments by X-Ebate users tell us differently, We save our customers (loyal customers) more then a lousy 3% cash back deal that Ebates Offers. with a 20%+ return ratio, I have disagree with that. Ebates (money Maker is un-ethical advertising) and I think these hijackers should give there customers the real truth on what these so called applications do to Ebate Customers computer systems and what they do to other businesses and affiliates. Sure we may be there competition but they don't have a right to steal from us. These applications are the same as a shoplifter coming into a grocery store and stealing a $100 wine bottle. Would that be legal? nope. My 2 cents here!

    Jason

    xtremeshopping.org

    aim: ssn jason

    "Some people stay away from the door for the chance of it opening up- Billy Joel, An Innocent Man

  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador Radegast's Avatar
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    Grrrrrrrrrrr......

    The real enemy here are the 'affiliate aggregators'....

    the networks.

    "We can provide contacts at each Affiliate Aggregator should you desire."

    That's the main problem. To anybody who doesn't understand what is going on here (it's taken me the best part of a year to figure it out, and I'm directly involved), an endorsement from the networks gives Ebates and their ilk the seal of approval, and makes us look like a bunch of whingers and whiners.

    Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.........

  21. #21
    Just Lurking
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    Shame we can't start a Union or something. One strike and eBate (and the rest) would be out of business since their using ours sites (well mostly your sites -- no traffic yet on mine) to make money. The Networks wouldn't have a choose but to dump them. Of course getting everyone to strike during the shopping season would be impossible even for such a worthy cause.

    Just dreaming ... ahhh sweet dreams.

  22. #22
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    I'm just seeing this thread for the first time.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> He may not like our service, he may not like our software, and he may be at a competitive disadvantage, but this is because we offer a service that people want.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    For a lawyer Mr. Isolani is making a fundamental logical error. Even if someone wants a "service", that does NOT make it right to provide said service if it is morally or legally flawed in some way.

    If it did, even a mafia hit man could justify his activities in court by saying he was just offering a "service that people want".

    Most normal people recognize the absurdity of that example, yet Mr. Isolani asks us to accept exactly that logic regarding some aspects of his activities.

    What's wrong with this picture?

    Elisabeth Archambault

  23. #23
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Radegast:
    Grrrrrrrrrrr......The real enemy here are the 'affiliate aggregators'....the networks.

    "We can provide contacts at each Affiliate Aggregator should you desire."

    That's the main problem. To anybody who doesn't understand what is going on here (it's taken me the best part of a year to figure it out, and I'm directly involved), an endorsement from the networks gives Ebates and their ilk the seal of approval, and makes us look like a bunch of whingers and whiners.

    Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.........<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Well now.... that seems to me like someone has hit the nail on the head this time. Radegast is absolutely right. Even though I think that Messer is way ahead of the pack when it comes to applying any effort in to correcting this problem - there simply has not been near enough pressure. Here are some of Steven's own words when it comes to knowing the amount of pressure that "could" be applied.

    quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The diversion programs have made life difficult for affiliate marketers in the last year, said Steve Messer, chief executive of LinkShare, a company that runs a major affiliate network. But he sees a silver lining. "It's showed affiliate marketing has come of age," Mr. Messer said. "If you look at it, the volume of transactions passing through LinkShare's affiliate marketing got so big that when affiliates get upset, the largest merchants in the world react. If it's just a few dollars, nobody would've noticed."

    LinkShare is working with other companies in their market to come up with industry standards to govern ethical practices in online advertising, Mr. Messer said. "For some people, WWW stands for the Wild, Wild West," he said. "Hopefully, that's coming to an end."

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We are one of the smaller merchants on Linkshare, at least in the sense of national brand recognition and it never ceases to amaze me at the sheer volume of affiliates that apply to our program through Linkshare each week. It also never ceases to amaze me at the number of novice affiliates that come in packed to the gills with these god-forsaken parasites ready to overwrite and steal any spec of earnings they might be lucky enough to scratch out.

    Even if the networks could do something as simple as sanitizing new affiliates as they joined, it might at least help to reduce the propogation within the network.

    With over 1 million affiliates, I am going to venture that Linkshare will have to lead the fight and be the ones to set the standards. So long as any BHO's are afforded any level of legitimacy by the largest aggregator nothing is ever going to really change.

    We could put the owness on the merchants - but as long as the networks continue to promote the BHO's and their offers, the unknowing merchants are given a green light by the network. And the "knowing" merchants that participate will hide under the protection of "network oversight" .... Well of course we are in compliance... we've signed an agreement...blah, blah. blah.

    We could put the owness on the affiliate - but as long as the networks continue to promote the BHO's and their offers, the unknowing affiliates will be drawn to their free download programs as the "end-all" answer to sure fire traffic builders and wealth generators legitimized by the "networks" seal of approval.

    We could put the owness on the consumer - but .... but.... okay, nevermind.

    Or last, but not least we could put the owness of it on the Aggregators, for so long as they continue to legitimize their programs and keep the BHO supply chain full of new affiliates and willing merchants, the problem will never go away.

    As the search engine and portal world continues to rapidly evolve in to an equal cesspool of forced PPC and less than relavent search results. Merchants will be flocking to build new affiliate programs or re-build the ones they have forsaken. And if BHO's continue to be legitimized within the networks, I can't imagine what a lovely environmnet marketing on the web will be. The only silver lining that I see at this point is that down the road, merchants may one day realize that between the BHO's and PPC driven search engines (and now Yahoo Store and Hosting even) they will no longer be able to acquire a customer on the internet without paying for them over and over again. Whether they are a loyal repeat customer or not. Possibly, then will things come to a head.

    Maybe we could start an affiliate Union. Union dues could go to building a new cooperative marketing organization that would provide protection to affiliate merchant relationships and support litigation endeavors against the BHO's....

    Hmmmm..... Haiko for President.

    Dale Wentzel
    Director, Online Marketing Motormint.com
    365 Day Cookie | Parasite Free | Commission on ALL Sales


  24. #24
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Gatekeeper:
    Maybe we could start an affiliate Union. Union dues could go to building a new cooperative marketing organization that would provide protection to affiliate merchant relationships and support litigation endeavors against the BHO's....<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    http://www.AffiliatesUnited.org ... (Down tonight) but, Very soon

    <font size="2" face="Verdana">Haiko


    The secret of success is constancy of purpose. ~ Disraeli
    </font></p>

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