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  1. #1
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    I've been watching this topic re-emerge over the last week or so.

    In fact I was also prompted to double-check on this - as a result of some ABW members emails to merchants I've had two contacts from affiliate managers (including someone in client services for one of the big 3 networks) email me asking if I had any updates on the past Morpheus videos.

    Today I've downloaded and installed the latest version of Morpheus and unless I'm missing something it looks as though the 'slider' windows have been removed.

    I just wanted to be doubly sure that I'm not missing something here.

    Morpheus 2.0 installed. Under options I have show reward icons/show both selected.

    I do not appear to have the slider windows appearing after checking a few merchant sites including:

    1800flowers
    buy.com
    zappos.com

    It looks as though Morpheus have removed the slider - can anyone else with Morpheus installed confirm?

    I've also tested the placement of cookies - ie. clicking through from an affiliate link and then cross-referencing the affiliate ID in the temp internet folder and all looks OK.

    So do we give these guys a clean bill of health (for now!) or are there other issues at hand I haven't noticed. Please let me know as I'm standing by to create another screenshot video to help illustrate to merchants any ongoing issues.

    All the best,

    Neil Durrant

  2. #2
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Neil,

    You are correct, the slider bar is gone. At least on copies that d/l this week. On copies d/l prior to this latest revision it was still there. Or it was for me yesterday morning before I uninstalled it and installed the newest one.

    What I do still have is the sailboat icon. What I have seen is that if you go to a merchant through an affiliate link the sailboar will blink for a few seconds red. At that time if you right click the icon the menu has changed to Add "no cash" and "earn rewards." If you click on "earn rewards" it takes you to the buyersport splash screen the same way the slider did and the process is the same as when there was a slider and you clicked on the earn rewards. I followed through with clicking the link on the buyersport page taking me to buyersport.com and then following the merchant link there. Of course, the original affiliate cookie was overwritten with buyersport's at that time. But not until I had followed clicked on buyersport link on their site.

    If you click "no cash" in the menu it takes you to a page that explains what the menu and icons mean. The red flashing per buyersport indicates that the user has arrived to a site where rewards are available.

    It seems that the issue has come to whether or not just having the tray icon and not a pop up or slider makes them not parasites. It's looking like each will have to make their own decision about that. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    You can try running it like I've just outlined and see if you get the same results. Thanks for asking the question and coming by.

  3. #3
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    I'm showing the same in all of my testing, and all of the folks at Wurld Media have confirmed this as well.

    They don't appear to be stealing any commissions.
    They don't appear to be using pop-ups or sliders.

    Under the current version, I can't find anything wrong with them at all. I can't find anything that would clasify them as "ParasiteWare".

    Of course, I could be wrong, but that's what I'm seeing at this time.

    Shawn Schwegman
    Overstock.com
    801-947-3119
    shawn@overstock.com

  4. #4
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    They have become the good guys before and gone to the dark side when noone was looking. If you give them a third chance you are as bad as they are.

    Andy Williams

    Keyword DARTs - New search engine optimization software
    http://www.affiliate-masters.co.uk/k...timization.htm

  5. #5
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    Shawn, what's your opinion on this blinking sailboat icon?

    -------
    Dawn is nature's way of telling you to go to bed.

  6. #6
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    My opinion is that it is OK.

    A pop-up or slider is very intrusive and makes the commission theft issue much more of an issue.

    After using Morpheus for a while, I don't even see it blinking when I'm at a participating Merchant's site. It's not intrusive at all in my opinion.

    I guess, I'm having a real hard time with this whole Morpheus issue. You have to opt-in to install their software. You have to go into the options and turn it on for it to begin working. And, the tiny little flashing light in the systray is so miniscule that I don’t see it as causing a major threat.

    Of all the “ParasiteWare” players out there, I think the folks at Wurld Media have made the most amount of changes to their software in an attempt to play nice with the rest of the affiliate world, yet they are receiving the most heat. I understand the past issues are a cause of this, but they seem to have cleaned up their act.

    Personally, I no longer view them as “ParasiteWare”. Yes, there were previous issues, and yes we need to stay on top of them and make sure they continue to do the right thing. However, my opinion at this particular moment in time is that they are not currently guilty of being “ParasiteWare”. They are an opt-in service. The end user has to jump through several hoops to use their software.

    There are several other players out there that are not playing fair and aren’t willing to make any changes to their software to appease the community. Wurld Media has stepped up and they are trying to play fair. Their current version is proof of that fact.

    But, that’s just my personal opinion at this particular moment in time and is subject to change based on additional data I might be lacking (In other words, DISCLAIMER, DISCLAIMER, DISCLAIMER, please don’t blast me…)

    [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    Many thanks,

    Shawn Schwegman
    Overstock.com
    801-947-3119
    shawn@overstock.com

  7. #7
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    What might be interesting is if the current version of the Morpheus software sends a DIFFERENT "REFERRAL" header from the older versions (which were pretty definitely parasitic) then merchants could set up a quick filter to discard cookies and not pay commissions on any sales originating from the old (i.e. parasitic) versions of the software that are still installed here, there and everywhere.

    I agree the above certainly doesn't restore to affiliates any "lost" commission - but it also means that the Morpheus folks don't profit in the present from past misdeeds, and it would therefore focus their minds intently on keeping the current version "acceptable" so that they continue to enjoy some form of income.

    Not to mention the fact that Morpheus would then need to promote the upgraded (i.e. parasiteware-free or reduced) version as quickly and as widely as possible to start re-earning income from it - which would greatly lessen the negative impact on affiliates.

  8. #8
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    "but they seem to have cleaned up their act"

    AGAIN, and for how long?


    "they are not currently guilty of being “ParasiteWare”. They are an opt-in service"

    Those who opt to steal commissins can do so. WTG Shawn

    "Wurld Media has stepped up and they are trying to play fair. Their current version is proof of that fact"

    So was the last version of Morpheus until they tried to pull the wool over everyones eyes.

    "Leopards never change their spots." unkown quote

    "They evolve into more dangerous predators! " PerfectG

    Andy Williams

    Keyword DARTs - New search engine optimization software
    http://www.affiliate-masters.co.uk/k...timization.htm

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
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    I wonder how patient and forgiving the merchants and networks would have been had a publisher - instead of a big parasiteware company - been caught stealing commissions from other publishers.

    Do you think they would have spent weeks debating and investigating before taking action?

    Do you think they would have given the publisher another chance to behave after they were caught the first time?

    NO WAY!

    The publisher would have been terminated so quickly, there wouldn't have been time to think about it! The standards are not the same.

    Andy

  10. #10
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    I and others have mentioned that mere mortals would not have been given a second chance.

    The answer?

    Parasites are good affiliates in that they bring in a lot of sales. Hmmm. No one doubts that.

    Andy Williams

    Keyword DARTs - New search engine optimization software
    http://www.affiliate-masters.co.uk/k...timization.htm

  11. #11
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    quote:
    Not to mention the fact that Morpheus would then need to promote the upgraded (i.e. parasiteware-free or reduced) version


    I understand that they are not as obtrusive as they were before, but I hate to see them called "clean" or "not a parasite". And this is totally unrelated to what's going on with Shawn and OS. The reason is as soon as it appears the affiliate community agrees to that, then there will be an even bigger proliferation of programs putting out this type of programming. The internet will be bombarded with them because they've "gotten permission it's ok." It's not going to take the consumer long to start figuring out what the hoops are they have to jump through when they start yelling "where's my rebate from when I bought from XYZ Store." Next thing you know, people will be losing as much commissions as they did with the pop up in your face and affiliate link swapping programs.

    Maybe the program should be called parasite-lite. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

  12. #12
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    I keep hearing complaints that others would not have been given a second chance. I can't speak for everyone, but I can tell you that I would give anyone a second chance if they cleaned up their act.

    Additionally, I have laid out a plan to compensate ALL of my affiliates who believe they might have incurred a loss due to the whole Morpheus issue, so my affiliates have lost nothing from Overtstock.com in terms of Overstock.com commissions.

    Look, I honestly believe that the whole industry is in an uproar because of a lack of standards. If Industry-wide standards were in place, I think we would have far fewer issues like this. I spoke to LinkShare, BeFree, and Commission Junction today and they all have indicated that they share my opinion on the following:
    Right now, it appears that Buyersport is not doing anything wrong.

    I am also working with the networks, other merchants, affiliates, and other industry leaders in an attempt to rally folks together to create a common standard that will be adopted industry-wide. I honestly think this will take everyone's help to fix. As always, I will keep you abreast of my findings.

    I do appreciate your candid feedback and your opinions.

    Thank you,

    Shawn Schwegman
    Overstock.com
    801-947-3119
    shawn@overstock.com

  13. #13
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    The customer does NOT get to decide that theft from my site is "okay" just because it benefits them. Big or small, not-so-intrusive or in-your-face, the customer does NOT get to make that choice.

    I can't tell a third party that it's "okay" to break into your house and steal your TV every time I want a new one.

    And a little bit of not-so-intrusive theft does not make you "clean." That's somewhat akin to saying that it's really okay for someone to break into your house and steal your TV -- because that's not nearly so bad as someone breaking into your house and stealing your TV, computer, DVD player, and XBox.

    -------
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  14. #14
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    How exactly are they stealing?

    If I am an end user and I jump through all of the constant hoops with Buyersport to be a member of their rewards program, then I'm doing it because I want to be a member of their rewards program. So, who are you to tell me the end user that I can't collect my reward?

    Please understand that I'm not trying to be argumentative. I've heard this objection a few times and I haven't heard a decent answer against it.

    Thoughts?

    Shawn Schwegman
    Overstock.com
    801-947-3119
    shawn@overstock.com

  15. #15
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    I pay for the store to be built, I pay for the store to be advertised -- heck, I pay for EVERYTHING that leads the customer into making the decision to buy.

    Then a competitor walks into my store handing out flyers to my customers (and my customers LIKE this) saying "if you buy from me, I'll give you money."

    In the offline world, it wouldn't happen because I have the right to show the flyer-handing-out competitor the door. In the online world it happens because I can't kick the competitor out (not without kicking the customer out, too).

    The parasite is unfairly enriched by my work and reaps the rewards of everything I paid for by using MY STORE to step between me and my customer (again, it doesn't matter that the customer says this is okay, it's my store). If you don't call that theft, what do you call it?

    And I'm also not trying to be argumentative. I'm much too weary for that.

    -------
    Dawn is nature's way of telling you to go to bed.

  16. #16
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    In an affiliate relationship, there are two parties, who behave as follows:

    1) The affiliate sends visitors to the merchant
    2) The merchant attempts to convert the visitors from the affiliates into sales (and compensates the affiliate accordingly if the traffic "works")

    Affiliates get paid for driving visitors who buy. In other words, the VALUE PROPOSITION is: "Make the effort to go out and find me visitors willing to buy my product, and I will reward you with a cut of the sales)

    Now here's that other picture:-

    1.a) The affiliate sends traffic to the merchant
    1.b) The parasiteware/shopping coupon bot/whatever leaps into the picture, encourages the visitor to click on the coupon/flashing doodah/whatever, resets their cookie
    B) The merchant attempts to convert the traffic from the PW/SCB/whatever into sales (and compensates the PW/SCB/whatever accordingly if the traffic "works")

    Now scroll back up to the top, and look at the value proposition again.

    Affiliates get paid for driving traffic that buys. Traffic costs money (either actual $ on PPC search engines, paid search engine listings and the like) or time-as-money (time spent building new sites, updating content, soliciting reciprocal links).

    Parasiteware-type apps get ALL of the benefits (i.e. commissions on sales) with NONE of the costs (they don't pay for the traffic - the affiliate did that)

    I can't paint a simpler picture than the above. If it still sounds fair, then I guess I'll have to take up art classes [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  17. #17
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    You're a glutton for punishment Shawn! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

    quote:
    If I am an end user and I jump through all of the constant hoops with Buyersport to be a member of their rewards program, then I'm doing it because I want to be a member of their rewards program. So, who are you to tell me the end user that I can't collect my reward?



    a) I'm not telling the end user they can't have their reward, I'm telling buyersport they can't have my commission. Big difference.
    b) Everything Cedric said in the post above yours. What I don't understand is why you don't understand that the end user can't say it's ok for buyersport to get another affiliate's commission.
    c) your not technically a member of their rewards program until you also go to their site and register also, even though they tell you that you are earning rewards. So the whole arguement about the end user wanting a reward becomes mute. The end user didn't get a reward, the affiliate didn't get their commission, and buyersport got the commission. I know, not a very valid argruement, but it's just something that bugs me about their whole program.
    d) I have no issue with buyersport having a rewards program and giving a part of their commission back to their shoppers, as long as the originating clickstream to the merchant's site didn't start at another affiliates site. If the end user comes to my site and sees OS and clicks my link and then while browsing around then says hey wait I belong to buyersport and I can get a rebate on this purchase. So they leave OS and go to buyersport and then go to OS that's one thing. That's the free market competitive capitalism. But to have buyersport cuing them along during the process is not ok. That's not free and fair trade. If I have several credit cards and some of them offer some type of bonus and others don't, it's up to me to remember which card I want to use as a consumer if I want my frequent flyer miles. It would not be ok for a message to come back cuing the sales clerk to use the incentive card if the none incentive card was used. If someone implemented that little technology wizard through the AVS system you can bet some greedy bank owners would doing Club Med at compliments of the government. I ask you how is it different?
    e) Is it ok for the end user to steal the cable signals because they jumped through all the hoops to get a descrambler? I mean as the end user, if they are welling to go through all the steps to get free cable who is the cable company to deny them of getting their cable?

    I'll stop now because the comparasions could go on forever and ever.

    My big question is why doesn't buyersport just make their little app where it when an affiliate URL hit the browser their system just remains dorminat. No blinky icon and no change in the menu to have a choice that direct to the buyersport site? I think this would be an easy modification for them to make. It's all they would have to do if they really wanted their program clean. Not rocket science here and then everybody could move onto other things in life. I have to think at this point that they don't do that because they are getting a certain % of their traffic from other affiliate site's and they want to hold on to as much of it as they can. I've tried to figure out a rationale, and I just can't come up with any other reason.

    Keep Your Hands Off My Cookies

  18. #18
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    A metaphor...

    Sales clerks work in a store and are compensated on commission. When they ring up sales, they enter their clerk-code to record that they originated the sale.

    There are 10 sales clerks in a store. 9 clerks are working their posteriors off, going up to customers, being helpful and friendly and generally encouraging people to buy.

    The 10th clerk is sitting on the sidelines, reading the newspaper and drinking beer.

    Now, a funny thing happens...

    Every so often, the 10th clerk comes up to one of the other clerks just as they're about to ring up a customer's sales. He smiles broadly at the customer and asks them if they happen to have seen the new display of widgets over there ("It's right behind you - look").

    The customer turns around, the 10th clerk hits a concealed button and the clerk waiting to record the sale plummets through a hidden trap door that opened under his feet, gets swirled around a long, dark chute and dumped outside the store's main entrance.

    Meanwhile, the 10th clerk smiles again at the customer as they turn back around after looking at the widget, and starts ringing up their order with his clerk-code.

    As soon as the customer leaves, he goes back to his newspaper and his beer.

    At the end of the month, the 9 hard-working salesmen are left counting their tiny paychecks from the few sales they managed to register when the 10th salesman was distracted or they stepped off the trapdoor in time.

    The 10th salesman always remembers to bring a wheelbarrow to the store on payday...

    This cycle of abuse continues ad-nauseam until one or more of the following happens:

    A) The other sales clerks gang together to stop the 10th guy (did I mention he's 7 foot 8 and weighs about 500 pounds, all of which are muscle?)

    B) The owner of the store notices that his sales staff are getting more and more disheartened, makes inquiries, grasps the basic unfairness of the situation and fires the 10th sales clerk unceremoniously the same day, ordering him to never set foot in the store again

    C) The store goes bankrupt because all the sales clerks except for the 10th one quit

    -----------

    Ok, the above is obviously contrived - but I think it parallels the parasiteware/affiliate debate VERY closely.

  19. #19
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    I would just like to BUMP this up because Cedric stated the facts that not even Shawn can see. Or is it not wanting to see it because the parasitic theif delivers so much from OUR work.

    Again . . . I don't see evidence that any merchant cares where their customers come from.

    quote:
    I pay for the store to be built, I pay for the store to be advertised -- heck, I pay for EVERYTHING that leads the customer into making the decision to buy.

    Then a competitor walks into my store handing out flyers to my customers (and my customers LIKE this) saying "if you buy from me, I'll give you money."

    In the offline world, it wouldn't happen because I have the right to show the flyer-handing-out competitor the door. In the online world it happens because I can't kick the competitor out (not without kicking the customer out, too).

    The parasite is unfairly enriched by my work and reaps the rewards of everything I paid for by using MY STORE to step between me and my customer (again, it doesn't matter that the customer says this is okay, it's my store). If you don't call that theft, what do you call it?

    And I'm also not trying to be argumentative. I'm much too weary for that.


    Thank you Cedric for stating this so clearly.
    Even IF the thing does NOT pop a blatent advertisement, I do not care.

    How would you like me to park my truck in the middle of your store? It's the SAME for not wanting their damn sailboat in my customer's face.

  20. #20
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    You want to know what they are doing wrong?

    Ask yourself who would have gotten paid if you weren't parasite infested?

    And there is the wronged party.

    Ask yourself where all your sales are going to come from when every site in creation drops you because you feed these thieves.

    Thats right - your 'free sales'. No affiliates except one, and no free sales.

    Do you understand that these are our sites? You really think the end user has title to our sites???


    The reason the networks are telling you these thieves are doing nothing wrong is because the networks want a percentage of *all* your sales - not just the affiliate ones. If they told you the truth they'd have to give up the prospect of these.

    At that level you do not pay a lawyer to tell you what to do - you pay them to tell you how to do it consequence free. Except it isn't consequence free. Its consequence free for the network, thats all.

    Ask your in-house lawyers what they think - not the crooks lawyers. Ask them who has title to a particular website. The viewer, or the owner? Morpheus does not have a license to advertise on my sites.

    The one who is paying what you so delicately call 'rewards' is *me*. As in - but for Morpheus interference in my lawful business I'm the one who would have that money.

    Do you realise what a collassal load of prats you've made out of the people here who trusted you? Everyone had confidence you would do the right thing.

    This means a little more than paying compensation after the fact. Its not about money fundamentally - its about who owns the sites we have sweated over.

    I'd venture to suggest the person who owns my site is me.


    I

  21. #21
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    Shawn do you spend money to advertise for Buy.com?
    I don't think so. Why would you? I don't think you would advertise for buy.com thinking, well when they see those high prices, they are going to come to buy at my store.

    Am I now in a position to have to spend money to advertise for Wurldmedia?

    Yes. Because you and others accept them into your program. Very simple, regardless if the end user did this or that, I am spending money to drive traffic to my site, to drive it to your site. Wurldmedia is stepping in every so often and saying of the commission - I'll take this one.

    Wurldmedia is giving something to you. Giving something to the end user. But giving nothing to me, the person who spent money to drive the traffic to you. I am spending money, not based on if I get some money as you are, that is a safe bet. I am spending as a gamble. And sometimes even when my gamble pays off - I lose.

    Do you call that fair? Is that a gamble you would take? Considering I can look and say per visitor I get this many clicks, this many purchases. That is how I base my advertising and promotion. Please, explain it to me, how does Wurldmedia not affect this ratio? And if it does, and I have a choice between mechants that accept wurldmedia and don't.

    Isn't the choice obvious?

    My driving of traffic is sales not going to you - they are coming to me and I am deciding where they go. The user is there because of me and going to where I decide they go. They are not going to see my pitch for a product and a link to amazon and go - wow! I really want to purchase that from overstock.

    Shawn, you are marginalizing our role in the process and saying we have to adjust our ratio and accept some loss.

    Why? I can just drop your program. I have held out, because I know what i am saying above is not something you already know. I though you would do the right thing. For your latest responses, I see you are not going to.

    And as for your being on these forums, I only held out this long because you are here.

    Shawn wurldmedia is not like death and taxes. It is not something unavoidable. This is not a question of legal or illegal, I am asking you to have morals. If all merchants decided that they valued and respected their affiliates, they would drop wurldmedia. If people are not showing you some respect you think you deserve shawn, it is because you are showing none in return. Since you do not respect my role in the process, I do not respect you or your company.

    Chet

  22. #22
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    I think there are two issues here (in terms of what the recent posts have been covering), which are being blurred into one by the fact that this thread is in the Morpheus forum.

    1) Does everyone in this debate now understand what Parasiteware is and why it is wrong? (covered in depth in the last 5-6 posts)

    2.a) Is the current incarnation of Morpheus still parasiteware?
    2.b) Bonus question: If 2.a is "no" should Morpheus still be punished for "past sins"?

    I think if we can reach a consensus on issue 1 we will have made a MASSIVE step forward! Issues 2.a and 2.b are just a small spinoff issue from issue 1 - since a full and complete understanding of issue 1 will define the merchant approach to ALL present AND future Parasiteware, and all the rest is just case-by-case analysis and decision-making!

  23. #23
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    I really appreciate everyone's honest, open, and unemotional feedback. Again, I'm not trying to start anything, but understanding everyone's viewpoints in a forum like this is exactly what I'm after. Thank you.

    Shawn Schwegman
    Overstock.com
    801-947-3119
    shawn@overstock.com

  24. #24
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Um, do I have this correct?

    Last week Morpheus had a slider, distracting the site visitor. And last week's slider was the second such attempt by Morpheus to hijack commissions from affiliates?

    And now, the slider is gone, in its place is a sailboat that is unobtrusive but does the same thing?

    Shawn, what happens if Morpheus comes back a third time with either existing or new technology, and begins to hijack commissions again - will you ask them to stop and continue on as usual?

    The pattern is what bothers me. It almost sounds like we need to be on our guard, and catch them. I guess we'll let you know, and you can ask them to stop again. That is a process isn't it?

    Fred [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif[/img]

    In an effort to watch your cholesterol, you eat Spam Lite.

  25. #25
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    Shawn, here is a question for you and please answer honestly.

    If a customer of Overstock types in their browser "overstock.com" Clicks on the link to go to your site. Now this is your link not an affiliates link remember. When they get to your site(overstock), the rewards program pops up offering the visitor(your visitor who is already at your site ready to buy) a reward to go through their links and shop. Now, they were already at your site for free through your own personal link, no affiliate links involved so there wouldn't of been any commissions to pay out.

    Now the shopper clicks on the rewards links and low and behold you have to pay a commission that was your traffic to begin with. ROTFLMFOA!!! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] Sorry about the laughing Shawn, it is just too funny. Don't feel bad though because most of the merchants are being Duped into believing what they are told. When they do their tricks that they do, the merchants loose money also. They think they are making it but sooner or later you'll get the picture.

    Ya know what though, CJ still makes money on it, Linkshare still makes money on it and so to all the other trusted third party's make money on it. Yup, so that sale that was yours to begin with Shawn without having to pay a commission on was taken away from Overstock. But the scumware made money and the trusted 3rd party's got their cut too.

    Not an emotional post here. Just trying to give some food for thought and hey, who knows I could be wrong. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    So my question is Shawn, is the above example OK. Is it fair play for you to have to pay commissions on sales that were Overstocks to begin with?

    Affiliate Programs That Kick Major Butt

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