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  1. #1
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    Greetings affiliates of the Web! I've been chatting with several active affiliates under another thread called Reporting.net.

    I'll be hanging around this forum quite regularly. So if you have questions that relate to your participation with Be Free affiliate programs, don't hesitate to ask. And I know you will be sure to share thoughts and feedback on both Be Free and industry topics!

    Glad to be here.

    Best,
    Jennifer
    Be Free, Inc.

  2. #2
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Jennifer;
    You'll always get mostly ignored at BeFree by normal affiliates, since most can never achieve the minimums to even begin the payment processes. Some how your network has gotten mixed in with DoubleClick and 24/7 as a PURE PLAY advertising vehicle ..not pay per performance network. With no notice ever given as to cookie day durations your merchants will keep on disallowing repeat sales and often going months without recording any sales regardless of traffic. PcConnections did this for 6 months and finally dropped out of the program since they achieved there traffic goals (bookmarks) and filled up their e-mail flyer lists for real sales efforts. Your MicroWarehouse account will be doing the same thing..dropping out.. once the affiliate sales commission backlog gets to a point where they will have to pay something other than network fees. Ashford will follow Service Merchandise, FingerHut, Martha Stewart, and other general gifting merchants into affiliate limbo due to poor conversions

    IBM records clicks at 5 cents each but in 2 years never a sale!! Everytime I send multiple complaints to your merchants over tracking issues some sales start showing up ..then dry up till more complaints are lodged. It's all about TRUST and conversion. Earn the trust and display the conversion ratios and more will be willing to take on the quarterly payments and high minimums to get a check. Learn to cater to the likes of TigerDirect who are willing to make their program earn immediate sustainable results for BF affiliates. Most of your other affiliate merchant managers work under their companies advertising divisions and therefore have no incentive to sell via affiliate links. On any given day 70% of all your merchants product links lead to dead items which they only update every 6 months. Set in place a script that checks for dead links like CJ does to alert merchants they have to update the creatives.

    Don't let your merchants like Dell e-mail a promise to affiliates they'd get paid, regardless of minimums, for all December sales, and then not even bother to process the commission voucher in the middle of Feburary! Bet they won't pay Dec sales til March!!

  3. #3
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    Jenn,

    Mike's right - with the exception of Tiger Overture and a couple of other - beFREE
    sucks.

    The general impression of affiliates worldwide is join befree and beScrewed - hence your worldwide nickname.

    When you run out of venture capital money - you and everybody there will be looking for a new - I recommend McDonald's.

    And I don't want to here about everythings peach keen there - we got the COMPLETE picture on how you guys operate when we threatened to sue BeFree and they told us the whole story, item by item about how afiliates get screwed, and settled with us.

  4. #4
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    Correction:

    When we threatened to sue FREE SHOP and they...and settled.

  5. #5
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    Geez, Prof, they aren't all that bad.

    BeFree is a public company so they won't run out of venture capital, and as a stockholder I know they're flush with lots of cash which gives them long term staying power.

    You've got a right to express your opinion, and I will agree that they have their share of losers (as do all the networks) but for better or for worse I've made a ton of money from their merchants over the past couple of years.

  6. #6
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    Jenn, thanks for your response about tracking and reporting on the reporting.net thread.

    I really do think most of your Merchants are honest and can be trusted. I'm glad to hear BeFree does some real testing and auditing. Checks and balances are a proper facet of doing business. I especially applaud those merchants who take the intiative to let us know when they have found a problem through their own internal checks and balances, and what they are doing to correct it and compensate for it. I'm sure you know who some of those are and they deserve a great big pat on the back and believe me, I work my butt off for those merchants and it pays off for both of us.

    Still, I sometimes get nervous with the behavior of the numbers, as I'm sure most affilates do from time to time. I'd love to see BeFree report on the date and results of official audits for all their merchants. That could sure set BeFree out from the rest of the crowd.

  7. #7
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    Whiz -

    They suck to beat the band, whether you made money or not. And not because they have had their share of dud merchants.

    They treat affiliates like fecal matter. Do you know that every order reported comes strictly from the merchants - they are not tracked at all by beFree. All beFree records is that an affiliate clicked thru and triggered a SALE link. They do not track sales at all. They just report what the merchant tells them.

  8. #8
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Fredrick;
    I take it it's run like the Boy Scouts ..on an Honor System. When Computers-4Sure was there they showed many sales in 1999-2000 for over 1000.00 for me and I made at least 200.00 per month with them. Then they got in a financial bind and in all of Y2001 til they exited in the Fall not one sale for over 400.00 ever showed in the reports. Affiliate manager salaries should not be contingent upon their finding loophole to negate sales commissions equaling their paychecks. Those who choose to report every sale like Andy at TigerDirect do this network a service.

    Only the BF network monitors really know if a merchant is reporting sales and I'm sure their mum on some that show no sales on thousands of clicks. Anyone in today's non trusting affiliate environment who relies on the honor system for commission reporting and payment terms is subject to get burned. Bet the private tracking deals with portals -SE's like Looksmart and Gator types get paid monthly ASAP.

  9. #9
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    WM Mike, we could only hope it runs as well on the honor system as does the Boy Scouts.

    How 'bout it Jenn, any insight you can give us on the strength of the merchant honor system and auditing?

    And Prof, isn't Linkshare run on a similar honor system, only more mysteriously (and I make money there too)?

  10. #10
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    Hey Whiz,

    Making money is a plus - but are you sure you are making all you are entitled to receive.

    That is the $64 question?

    How much $$$ you actually got could be only a small percentage of what you should have gotten. There is no way to tell short of an order audit from both the merchants and beScrewed or Snare.

  11. #11
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    Why is Befree so secretive concerning merchants' shortcomings?

    Specifically, why not just say which criteria they fail in trying to qualify for the Acclaim program?

    And why not tell affiliates the reason a merchant is in "Active/Advisory" status? (Why are they still active anyways? The deadbeats should be dumped.)

    It is all such an insult - it is like reporting.net is telling us there is something wrong with the affiliate program (like 'Ha-ha, you are getting ripped off big-time, but we're not telling you!').

  12. #12
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    Prof, it's all about supply and demand and market forces.

    So I have quality traffic to sell. Whoever pays me the most and pays reliably gets the traffic (assuming they have quality goods or services because I will only deal with quality merchants).

    It's nice to have good tracking and reporting so I know early if suddenly something happens with a merchant and I can react before sending a month's worth of traffic into a black hole. It's nice to see how well a new web page or promotion is working. But when it's all over and done with, I look at how fat my monthly check is and if I think it can be fatter from somewhere else, that somewhere else gets the traffic. If a merchant likes my traffic, they're usually smart enough to see that my check is fat enough that I don't point that quality traffic elsewhere.

    However, it is upsetting to look at some of the stats and see strange things happening and not be able to get a straight answer, if any answer at all. As affiliates, we're supposed to be working on a pay-for-performance basis but until we've truly got sound tracking and reporting and auditing in place we've got to take more of a supply and demand approach and simply masquerade it as pay-for-performance.

  13. #13
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    Jenn,

    Can you explain more something you said in the reporting.net thread:

    ==============
    "When Be Free redirects the user from your affiliate link to the merchant's site, we pass the merchant an identifier that tells us which affiliate sent the user and also uniquely identifies this user. The merchant then captures this identifier. If this customer completes a transaction, the merchant will save the affiliate and user identifier information . Then, on a nightly basis, the merchant sends Be Free all of their transactions that have Be Free identifiers attached. Be Free will load these transactions the same night we receive them so they will appear in your reports the next day.

    Percent of Sale Merchants can send Be Free orders and shipments separately. Typically they send the order when the end user places it, but they don't send the shipment until the item(s) are actually shipped from their warehouse. Your commissions are calculated when they send us the shipment record."
    ===============

    How often must a merchant communicate the order placed to befree and are they able to delete or alter the information from their side of our transactions? Sometimes on a Saturday , I'll see an order placed for a previous Tuesday. Do merchants have several days to batch something and is there any way to see if they have deleted orders received?
    I think you said that orders are batched nightly but I'm sure many merchants don't do their bookkeeping on a daily basis.

    Will befree be developping something automated so the actual sales are in live time and listed on the affiliate stats? If the clickthroughs are listed as they come in, couldn't the sales also be listed?

  14. #14
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    I guess I shouldn't have praised OverStock so much since they are a 1 day cookie and parasiteware supporter. Their largest affiliate is Gator.com. I've been trying to get them to raise the cookie to 10 days since they do sell very highend namebrand items like 6000.00 watches at 50% off list. They are in the top 50 e-commerce sites for traffic and have side deals with all commers like AOL -Yahoo and Amazon so they sure don't need to resort to stiffing affiliates for FREE traffic. Amazing after I spotlighted them as an exceptional program regardless of the cookie preventing repeat orders and revenue I see for the first time in over 9 months I won't be getting a OverStock check for Jan and Feb. 2783 click throughs from my normal pre-sold traffic only recorded 3 sales and 12.80 commission. What's up with that or have they failed to become IE 6.0 compliant on their 1 day cookie.

  15. #15
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    Frankly I have never been impressed with Overstock.

    About a year ago we picked them up because they had a line of products that had been discontinued and was unavailable elsewhere. That was good until they too ran out.

    Since then I have tried products in nearly every category they have, but the results are dismal when compared to other merchants.

    For Jan-Feb I sent about half as much traffic as you, and earned about $2.

    One problem is the cookie. Other problems are mysterious reporting.net tracking, and the parasiteware.

  16. #16
    Member heywood's Avatar
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    I think we are giving the wrong impression here...

    Enews.com has always been very supportive to me and they pay up reasonably fast. Their only problem is the 15% commission was half of magcity over at CJ.

    Chipshot.com converted well and paid on time until they went belly up owing me $3000 [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img] ouch!

    Carparts.com also converted and paid well until they were swallowed up by JCWhitney. BTW, when will I get the outstanding $32.61 they still owe me?

    BeFree still struggle with the basics such as:
    • Pain in the ass to add extra websites
    • Unable to update my mailing address with several merchants
    • Lack of essential information such as cookie duration[/list]

      Apart from that, they're fine! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  17. #17
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    >>Carparts.com also converted and paid well until they were swallowed up by JCWhitney.

    CarParts.com was not swallowed up by JCWhitney ... JCW is now managing the remnants of the CarParts.com affiliate program but they didn't acquire CarParts.com.

    A best kept secret revealed ... JCWhitney.com conversion rates are phenomenal ... and they're on CJ so you get paid quick. Even with their lower commission structure, you can get fat commissions from JCW sales. Their affiliate program manager, Rick, is an A+++ affiliate support person.

    If you're sad over the demise of CarParts.com, and you've got quality car parts and accessories traffic, give JCWhitney.com a spin. I think they'll cheer up your day.

  18. #18
    Member heywood's Avatar
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    Thanks Whiznot!

    I've been having limited success with Partsamerica.com but whenever I search their site they never have what I'm looking for.

    I'm heading over to CJ now to sign up with JCWhitney...

  19. #19
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    WhizNot. I'm glad that you received my response on tracking. I have given your suggestion on posting official audit information to the product development team. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Best,
    Jenn

    quote:
    Originally posted by Whiznot:
    Jenn, thanks for your response about tracking and reporting on the reporting.net thread.

    I really do think most of your Merchants are honest and can be trusted. I'm glad to hear BeFree does some real testing and auditing. Checks and balances are a proper facet of doing business. I especially applaud those merchants who take the intiative to let us know when they have found a problem through their own internal checks and balances, and what they are doing to correct it and compensate for it. I'm sure you know who some of those are and they deserve a great big pat on the back and believe me, I work my butt off for those merchants and it pays off for both of us.

    Still, I sometimes get nervous with the behavior of the numbers, as I'm sure most affilates do from time to time. I'd love to see BeFree report on the date and results of official audits for all their merchants. That could sure set BeFree out from the rest of the crowd.


  20. #20
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    Merchants are required to submit the order files nightly. However sometimes merchants don't rpeort over the weekend. That would explain why Friday transactions don't always appear until Tuesday. They were received on Friday night and not summarized until Monday night.

    We are, in fact, looking for different ways to track. There's always room for improvement and innovation. We have a development team specifically working on affiliate sales tracking and reporting right now.

    Best,
    Jenn

    quote:
    Originally posted by reflections:
    Jenn,

    Can you explain more something you said in the reporting.net thread:

    ==============
    "When Be Free redirects the user from your affiliate link to the merchant's site, we pass the merchant an identifier that tells us which affiliate sent the user and also uniquely identifies this user. The merchant then captures this identifier. If this customer completes a transaction, the merchant will save the affiliate and user identifier information . Then, on a nightly basis, the merchant sends Be Free all of their transactions that have Be Free identifiers attached. Be Free will load these transactions the same night we receive them so they will appear in your reports the next day.

    Percent of Sale Merchants can send Be Free orders and shipments separately. Typically they send the order when the end user places it, but they don't send the shipment until the item(s) are actually shipped from their warehouse. Your commissions are calculated when they send us the shipment record."
    ===============

    How often must a merchant communicate the order placed to befree and are they able to delete or alter the information from their side of our transactions? Sometimes on a Saturday , I'll see an order placed for a previous Tuesday. Do merchants have several days to batch something and is there any way to see if they have deleted orders received?
    I think you said that orders are batched nightly but I'm sure many merchants don't do their bookkeeping on a daily basis.

    Will befree be developping something automated so the actual sales are in live time and listed on the affiliate stats? If the clickthroughs are listed as they come in, couldn't the sales also be listed?


  21. #21
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    WhizNot.

    Affiliate Program Managers often have to fight for internal support for their program and need to justify the expense with record-levels of sales generated thorugh the channel. It's in their best interest to report accurately.

    Also, in cases where our auditing has found a discrepency, it's been a technical glitch -- not a purposely deleted file - that we were able to correct.

    That being said, Be Free is looking for ways to improve tracking that would eliminate the need for merchant file transfers. We want our products to be effective and accurate for all constituecies.

    And contrary to popular belief on this forum, we are not "out to get the affiliates." It's in our best interest as a company to make sure that you all succeed. If the affiliate model fails, so does part of our business. We are here to solicit feedback in order to make our products better. Thanks to those of you who have engaged in providing thoughful commentary and suggesting feedback honestly and positively.

    Warm regards,
    Jenn

    quote:
    Originally posted by Whiznot:
    WM Mike, we could only hope it runs as well on the honor system as does the Boy Scouts.

    How 'bout it Jenn, any insight you can give us on the strength of the merchant honor system and auditing?

    And Prof, isn't Linkshare run on a similar honor system, only more mysteriously (and I make money there too)?


  22. #22
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    Jenn,

    We have been giving you feedback for over a year on where all the problems lay.

    Nothing has happened. beScrewed just goes on
    screweing affiliates left and right.

    Maybe not on purpose in all cases but it happens.

    Track all the orders IN HOUSE like Clickbank does and YOU send them to the merchants. Not the way you do it now.

    That will solve all the problems.

    And tell Sammie to stop with all the corporate BS and FIX the damn problems. It
    could all be done in less than 10 days.

    And where's our money from all the deadbeat merchants - I haven't seen you guys sue any of them for defrauding YOU and affiliates.

    Ah just right them off attitude dosen't cut it.

  23. #23
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    quote:
    And contrary to popular belief on this forum, we are not "out to get the affiliates." It's in our best interest as a company to make sure that you all succeed.


    I think it is going to take awhile for some of us to warm up to this concept.

    For years Befree's only effort at addressing affiliate concerns consisted of the same cut and pasted blurbs to the effect that they only sell software, affiliates are not their problem, contact the merchant's affiliate manager if you can figure out how, etc and so on.....

  24. #24
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    quote:
    Originally posted by Professor:
    Jenn,

    We have been giving you feedback for over a year on where all the problems lay.

    Nothing has happened. beScrewed just goes on
    screweing affiliates left and right.



    Fred,

    You should run for political office in Vegas.

    Your sense of tact and the manner in which you express yourself i'm sure has helped you reach the hights that you have reached today. With a few more years of this positive, productive attitude, you should fit right in to a political seat in Las Vegas.

    Please, I invited BeFree to this forum so as to benefit everybody involved. BeFree would have an inside look at the affiliate point of view and you, the affiliate would better understand the inside workings of BeFree.

    I did not invite them here to be engaged in the manner that you lead your daily life. Communication is an art that you simple have no clue of Fred, and it is people like you that place road blocks to open and effective communications between business partners, which is what we are.

    Again, if you can't say something in a constructive manner that will help to encourage open communications and lead to issue resolution, then in my opinion, you should just - DON'T SAY ANYTHING !

    If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

    My 2 cents....

  25. #25
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    Jenn, thanks for your information. It does help clarify things a lot. And thanks for participating in this forum ... please continue to hang out here. BeFree has a good and profitable program and your presence here shows they are interested in learning how to make it better. At the same time, maybe you can give us pointers on how to be better affiliates.

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