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  1. #1
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    I'd like to introduce myself, I'm Steve Pike, the Executive Vice President of Services, here at Be Free. I'm responsible for implementing and executing on all the services we provide to both merchants and affiliates. As such, I want to ensure that we are providing affiliates the best possible service. And in monitoring this board, along with Heather, I have seen posts from some of you who have stated that you aren't getting the help you need.

    I want to make sure that you are getting the help you need, not only from Be Free, but from any merchant that uses Be Free as well. I believe we've posted a few times the ways that Be Free can provide help to you, and I hope that you are taking advantages of these help options. Based on some of your feedback, we've made improvements to highlight how to receive help (such as better visibility on the Be Free website, highlighting the help area on Reporting.net, and adding an additional link to get help if you're having trouble logging on).

    Again, here's the best way to receive help:

    If you have a question for Be Free that isn't specific to a particular merchant, the best way to get the answer to your question is to use our online help. Log in to Reporting.net, click the "Help" button on the left hand nav bar, and follow the directions from the Help Section. If your question isn't answered there, you can also easily escalate from there to a support rep at Be Free who will help you resolve your issue.

    If you have a question for a specific Be Free merchant, there are a few ways to get help. You can log on to Reporting.net, enter the merchant area that you have the question with and check their FAQs or online help section. If your question isn't answered there, then you can also email the contact at the merchant. If you don't receive a response, please let Be Free know (by using the Help section that's described above).

    I'd also like to add that I am available to make sure that you get the help you need if your issue is still not resolved. If you aren't getting what you need, either from Be Free or a Be Free merchant, please send me an email with the specifics of your problem--and I can help make sure that they are resolved.

    I can see that there is frustration with some of Be Free's merchants, but in order to help, I need specifics--not just who, but what is wrong--specifically. This isn't a limited time event--any time there is a problem, please feel free to contact me at pike@befree.com with the specifics of your issue.

    I look forward to receiving emails from you and helping you resolve any open issues you have. (And if you have any comments, suggestions, etc. that you'd like to pass along, feel free to do that as well.)

    And I'd like to say in closing, that Be Free does care about affiliates a great deal. Quite simply, you are the life blood of the industry, and without success for you, there is no industry. We've been making improvements to the services we provide to affiliates, and the processes and information that we provide to give you greater visibility into your payment status, reporting across programs, health of merchant programs (Acclaim and Active/Advisory). And more is on the way, as we want to continue to improve your experience and ease your management of your Be Free programs.

    Best,
    Steve

  2. #2
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    Hi Steve! Its great to see you here!

    As the life blood of the industry, many of us wonder why Befree gives free board and lodging to so many vampires?


    I

    [ 08-15-2002: Message edited by: Icicle ]

  3. #3
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Steve,

    Hi and Welcome to ABW!

    I have an issue ... Befree allowing Gator as a merchant.

    Haiko

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador
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    quote:
    I have an issue ... Befree allowing Gator as a merchant.




    My two cents too:

    A "trusted third party" that allows this is just as culpable as the lookout man in a bank robbery.

    [sorry misread "merchant" for "affiliate"; comment stands if that is the case]

    [ 08-15-2002: Message edited by: Uncle_Deelz ]

  5. #5
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    The internet is all about testing new business models. Some will work really well and thrive. Others as history has shown have fallen by the wayside. In the case of Gator, consumers are told explicitly that they are downloading the eWallet and the Offer Companion. Unlike other shopping comparison tools, the consumer knows what they are getting. It’s their choice and nobody can control the consumer.

    While you may not appreciate Gator’s business, they aren't breaking any laws, nor in this case being covert about their business model. I realize this is a hot topic and Gators continued growth is a concern for this forum. But, if Gator provides a service that consumers want, they will continue to grow independent of you and I do.

    I’m happy to exchange this kind of dialog with you and also realize that we may not ever agree on this. But, my real aim here is to make sure you all are getting the support they need with respect to their merchant programs.

    Best,
    Steve

  6. #6
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    "In the case of Gator, consumers are told explicitly that they are downloading the eWallet and the Offer Companion. Unlike other shopping comparison tools, the consumer knows what they are getting. It’s their choice and nobody can control the consumer."

    Nope, uh-uh. The consumer only knows what they're being told, the spin - they are not being told they are supporting theft.

  7. #7
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    "Nope, uh-uh. The consumer only knows what they're being told, the spin - they are not being told they are supporting theft."

    Consumers are gator bait when there is no full disclosure.

  8. #8
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    quote:
    Unlike other shopping comparison tools, the consumer knows what they are getting. It’s their choice and nobody can control the consumer.


    If this is the case, then how do you explain Gator's practice of silent drive-by downloads? I've had it happen to me at least 3 times, but I have my Active X preferences set and it was caught. One of the attempts was on Wurld's Media soon to come site for their "charitable" organization, the Lexy Foundation, which seems to justify, in their minds, their theft. Both my Mom and sister have had in download on their computers several times unknown to them. They start having computer problems, I tell them to run Adaware, and there is Mr. Gator. Neither one has agreed to have this software run on their computers. :mad:

    quote:
    they aren't breaking any laws


    Well, the verdict is still out on that one. Let's see what the Federal courts say about the Gator campanion. As it is, the judge has already seen fit to issue a temporary injunction for them to cease and desist running their popups on the plantiffs web sites.

    Nevertheless, Gator has changed their "business model" over time. These changes have usually reflected lawsuits that have been filed against them and they have been forced to make the change. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

    Even if they did inform the end user (which they don't always do), it doesn't make their practices anymore ethical or legal(time will tell). Just because the bank robber enters the bank in the middle of the day wearing no masks and says "I'm taking your money" to inform everyone present, doesn't mean it's not robbery.

    What this says to me is the BF is more interested in the double dipping they're getting from association with Gator vs truly helping Joe Blow affiliate. A help button on reporting.net doesn't fix this problem.


  9. #9
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    I have to agree with the stealth downloads and installs. If it were not for my firewall software, I would unknowlingly have Gator software transmitting who knows what information from my computer without my knowledge. After it detected the secret transmission (I never said "yes" to any installs), trying to delete the software from my computer took another half a day of finding, installing, and running special software to purge them from my system, since it installed info in my registry which made it near impossible to get rid of...

    I support different business models and competitors that play on a level playing field, but they, and a few others, are a whole different ballgame. Be careful whom you support, people had nothing but good things to say about the Enrons and WorldComs of the world a few short months ago, praising their "different business model" and look how many people got screwed...

    I have many good things to say about BeFree, but partnering with them and the likes is definitely not one of them.

  10. #10
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Welcome Steve to the ABW board. Since I'm one of your first affiliates with a long history of trying to get your merchants to convert and even pay up ..I'm not the enemy! I'm vocal here and because of my ..not your activities.. educating merchants at BeFree on how to grow their program and increase conversions you'll notice some rants from me.

    I helped TigerDirect climb from a so so merchant at BeFree to being your top producing product sales merchant. You never even bothered to profile them at your site.

    Take the initiative to do something positive like reponding to questions here. Place the conversion stat for every merchant on the merchant summary page at reporting net. This stat simply show the number of clicks each merchant averages across their affiliate pool to produce one sale. No one currently is willing to take a chance on blindly sending traffic to BF merchants hoping they convert. Those who do will show up in this stats and those who don't convert will be pressured to lower that figure.

    ABW members also want to know the number of cookie days each merchant provides. I've sent 2614 clicks to Ashford without one sale in the last 2 years. I've had to pull back exposure to Smartbargains, Barnes & Noble, and 14 other BF merchants who have never reported a sale since Christmas regardless of the traffic I send them. 100% of your efforts should be made to force merchants to accurately report sales and generate conversions every day they use your network.

  11. #11
    Content $ Queen Ebudae's Avatar
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    Hi. I have yet to be paid by Overture.
    I have written them, no reply.

    I would like to know when we are going to get paid.

    Vicki [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Welcome Steve,

    Rather than get into the Gator issue, I will leave that piece of YKW to others. Let me give you a generalization of what kind of action would be great to see from you.

    Bless Heather's heart, she had the guts to come here and try to answer our questions. Unfortunately, her "operating envelope" only covered "explain how things work at the BeFree site." That was nice, but most of us here are way beyond understanding how to click on a mailto: link, or a javascript help window.

    We have issues, some of which are specific, and others that are general - all are things that never get answered by BeFree or the merchants (save for a few). And are certainly outside the scope of your site's interface. I have been part of the BeFree program for almost three years now, and I could go on for days about the bad experiences, but that doesn't solve anything.

    I will use Linkshare's participation at ABW as an example. Sarah has been assigned (volunteered?) to be the liaison for Linkshare. Wait, I should have said "empowered" by her management. When someone here has an issue that doesn't get resolved through regular channels, she will usually get hold of the problem within a day or two of posting here and get action. This may be an internal Linkshare issue, or an issue with a merchant. Also, we have her e-mail address, and feel confident that we can e-mail her directly to discuss things that may not be suitable for everyone.

    I had a problem with a merchant spamming me inside the Linkshare mail system - she fixed it. I had a problem (as did others) with a merchant's images loading - this was a Merchant issue. She worked to get an answer for us, by contacting the merchant for us (the merchant had previously ignored us). Her actions totally renewed my faith in her organization. She did this for me, a very mediocre affiliate. In any event, I'll bet money sales have increased for her Merchants due to renewed participation by affiliates.

    Sorry for the soapbox routine here, I would just like you to know what I think will work here. Communication is a great first step, followed by action and results. You have many things to fix, and it can't happen overnight, but we need to start somewhere. If you are empowered to make these things happen, you'll find many allies here who will be happy to help your programs grow.

    Thanks again, and welcome.

    Fred

  13. #13
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    >>But, my real aim here is to make sure you all are getting the support they need with respect to their merchant programs.<<

    My understanding was that you were Here To Help. Dismissing affiliates' concerns with "it's not illegal and I want to talk about other things" doesn't exactly feel helpful.

    IMO, get the BeFree house in order supporting affiliates before worrying about whether your merchants are providing the needed support. I can dump a bad merchant, but if the network isn't giving me the support I need, the behavior of an indivdual merchant is irrelevant.

  14. #14
    Full Member Abusaki's Avatar
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    Hi Steve,
    Welcome to this forum.
    I have an issue with return sales especially Best Buy.
    Almost all sales we have made for Best buy have been returned most of the time when the sale is above $300.
    Recently we made a sale almost $2000 which was shipped and the commission added but was cancelled the next day.
    How could a shipment have been returned on the same day.
    I would want you to look into this.
    I think there is something fishy here.

    Here is a copy of the reports


    Transaction Day Transaction Date Shipments Shipped Sales Returns Returned Sales Net Sales Site Revenue
    Friday 01/04/2002 2 $899.98 2 $899.98 $0.00 $0.00
    Wednesday 01/23/2002 3 $239.97 0 $0.00 $239.97 $12.00
    Saturday 02/23/2002 1 $899.99 1 $899.99 $0.00 $0.00
    Monday 02/25/2002 5 $62.95 0 $0.00 $62.95 $1.89
    Wednesday 02/27/2002 1 $99.99 0 $0.00 $99.99 $1.00
    Tuesday 03/19/2002 1 $1,899.99 0 $0.00 $1,899.99 $57.00
    Sunday 03/24/2002 1 $299.99 0 $0.00 $299.99 $3.00
    Monday 04/15/2002 1 $1,799.99 1 $1,799.99 $0.00 $0.00
    Monday 04/22/2002 1 $2,999.99 1 $2,999.99 $0.00 $0.00
    Friday 06/14/2002 1 $47.49 0 $0.00 $47.49 $1.42
    Sunday 06/30/2002 1 $236.92 0 $0.00 $236.92 $7.11
    Friday 07/05/2002 1 $139.84 1 $139.84 $0.00 $0.00
    Sunday 07/07/2002 3 $337.97 1 $299.99 $37.98 $1.14
    Friday 07/19/2002 1 $49.99 0 $0.00 $49.99 $1.50
    Thursday 08/01/2002 1 $15.99 0 $0.00 $15.99 $0.48
    Friday 08/02/2002 1 $1,499.99 0 $0.00 $1,499.99 $45.00
    Sunday 08/04/2002 0 $0.00 1 $1,499.99 ($1,499.99) ($45.00)

  15. #15
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    Hi Steve,

    If you notice, the Linkshare sales guys make a living stealing High EPC Merchants from CJ and constantly bringing over Be Free Merchants. There have been a lot of high profile snatches in the past few months.

    At any rate, get Reporting.net up to speed, get your Merchants to adopt Cookie Duration and bring back the 0's in Revenue, it's bizarre that the upgrade took them away.

    -- Affiliate Musings

  16. #16
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    quote:
    BestLittleFreeHouse:
    If this is the case, then how do you explain Gator's practice of silent drive-by downloads? I've had it happen to me at least 3 times, but I have my Active X preferences set and it was caught. One of the attempts was on Wurld's Media soon to come site for their "charitable" organization, the Lexy Foundation, which seems to justify, in their minds, their theft. Both my Mom and sister have had in download on their computers several times unknown to them. They start having computer problems, I tell them to run Adaware, and there is Mr. Gator. Neither one has agreed to have this software run on their computers.

    quote:
    Steve:
    they aren't breaking any laws


    I wouldn't be so sure about that. There is little difference between a virus and a
    non-consentual "drive-by download" as outlined above that significantly impedes the performance of the user's system and sends out sensitive data about them without their knowledge.

    {

    [ 08-16-2002: Message edited by: eaglefire ]

  17. #17
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    Steve,

    Welcome to ABW. May I recommend that you start a second thread, called "We're here to LISTEN" and this time you really do LISTEN to what people are trying to tell you.

    Helping people is a good thing, but most of the people know WHAT to do already - it's the problems with your affiliate service and the merchants that use it that are holding them back, not an inability to set up links or understand how to generate reports.

    At first, you'll find it a HORRIBLE experience. Let's face it, people don't generally bother to post unless they've got some problems to get off their chests. But if you really do LISTEN - and more importantly, begin to take POSITIVE ACTION to actually implement change, I think you'll find people here are very willing to work with you to continue and extend that process.

    On the other hand, if you really don't have an interest in listening and making improvements, it would be good if you could be up front about it - and save us all a lot of typing!

  18. #18
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    Steve,

    Gator is involved in illegal activity. From unlawful conversion to criminal damage and copyright issues.

    You know this now *because we have told you*. We know whereof we speak and if you want proof of what they do - just ask.

    If you do nothing but fence sit, it makes your company liable for damages as you are knowingly conspiring with them.

    Lose them now. It won't completely erase your liability, but it would show a certain anount of good faith. If you want to go down with them - just carry on.

    Your lawyers will be happy to say things like "well you could make out a case for..." etc. This is how they make money - defending you from the trouble they got you into. Soon as you run out of money you'll run out of lawyers. They are bigger parasites than Gator.

    So choose your side and choose it now.


    I

    [ 08-16-2002: Message edited by: Icicle ]

  19. #19
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    Well I’m glad to see this is a very lively board! You’ve brought up a lot of issues, so let me get to each of them.

    A few of you brought up an issue of not getting paid, Girlie and Vicki. I’ve forwarded your post to our support team, but since I don't know who you are, I need you both to go to Reporting.net and open an issue in the Help area by clicking on the Get Help button on left nav bar. By doing that we can track your issue and have a way to contact you. I’ll keep in contact with the Support reps and make sure this gets resolved. If you have trouble finding that, please email me directly.

    Webmaster Mike asked for visibility of cookie duration. It probably has been explained before that the reason we haven't displayed this information is that it doesn't exist in our systems. We have heard your requests for this though and are currently working on collecting this information and presenting it and other merchant program details on reporting.net.

    As for Gator, we will monitor them closely and if their actions are proven illegal we will certainly reconsider our decision. Don't take this as indication that we're ignoring this issue. We are talking to Gator and other affiliates who have had questionable practices and encouraging them to listen to the feedback and make changes to be better Internet citizens.

    Fred brought up an excellent point regarding empowerment. I can assure you that as EVP of Services I am empowered to make changes. My intent on coming on this board is to better understand your issues and resolve them. I’m sure there will be times we can't see eye to eye, but I’m confident that you will see that we do care about you and want you to succeed.

    We've hit on some tough issues already and you'll see that I'm not going to dance around them. You might not like all the answers, but that's business.

    Best,

    Steve

  20. #20
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    >if their actions are proven illegal we will certainly reconsider our decision.

    By the time their actions are 'proven ilegal' you'll all be too busy looking down the backs of your sofas for spare change, to reconsider your decision.

    You know theft and criminal damage is illegal - or *should know*. This means you are liable in negligence.

    Ask them to indemnify you against a negligence suit. Watch them run. Try the same with your lawyers.

    These people steal from *us* - and we are the people you'll come crawling to to save your ass when it comes time to pay back all your ill-gotten.

    Then its our turn to fence sit.


    I

  21. #21
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Steve,

    I've been speaking with Scott Eagle (CMO) and he said that he was willing to implement code that would preclude popups on affiliate traffic in return for my removal of www.gatorisacrock.com site which can be found at [bh][removed link after Steve saw it][/b] (non public view). Firstly, have you read the gator thread in my ParasiteWare forum? It is Here. Basically any company that blackmails publishers with fees of up to $50K for not popping up on them is not only unethical it is illegal.

    There are many articles and references to their [Gator] activities Here.

    Lastly, regarding your statement that the consumers know that they are downloading Gator/Gain then please re-read the articles and learn about drive-by downloads and the infamous trickler.exe file ... trickler basically initiates the gator download and will continue to stealthaly download the complete gain application at a later time ... HONEST isn't it?

    Business is one thing, BUT LOOKING THE OTHER WAY IS ANOTHER! If you continue to support them, then BeFree is an accomplice to the CRIMES against publishers (not a threat but a reality, which is well known amongst my 5,200++ members who have been encroached and stolen from).

    Respectfully,

    Haiko
    PS.

    [ 08-16-2002: Message edited by: Haiko ]

  22. #22
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    >>As for Gator, we will monitor them closely and if their actions are proven illegal we will certainly reconsider our decision.<<

    As an old prof used to say "When you get to the point of asking yourself if something is illegal, you've generally long-passed the point of whether it's ethical."

    Glad to know you'll "reconsider."

    >>We are talking to Gator and other affiliates who have had questionable practices and encouraging them to listen to the feedback and make changes to be better Internet citizens.<<

    Which begs the question, why doesn't BeFree make the change to become a better Internet citizen? You can hardly expect Gator to listen to such advice when you're not willing to take it yourself.

  23. #23
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    Since tracking or lack of it is an important topic with all of you, I want to address it.

    If a Merchant sends us incorrect or no information then our system will not have the right information. This will appear to you as Be Free not tracking. So, if you believe that a purchase was not tracked here’s what I’d like you to do. Using help at Reporting.net send us order confirmation number or transaction ID, date, amount of purchase and description of item. We’ll then review our database to see if the information is there. If not, we’ll contact the Merchant on your behalf and work to a resolution. If the data is there, we’ll work with you and the merchant to determine why there’s a discrepancy.

    This is exactly why I’m here. If you can give us the specific information, we’ll fix that problem.

    Best,

    Steve

  24. #24
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    Haiko: "the infamous trickler.exe file ... trickler basically initiates the gator download and will continue to stealthaly download the complete gain application at a later time ... "

    Is that why I have iegator*.cab files showing up in my cache even tho I click NO to the downloads? They're sneaking it in in pieces so I don't notice?

    And as only a semi-related pet peeve with Microsoft's software - how come that download box has a check box for "Always trust content from XYZ.com" but they don't have a checkbox for NEVER trust? Then I wouldn't even have to see their download boxes.

  25. #25
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    Anyone got any code I can put in my pages to detect whether or not Gator is installed on the customer's machine?

    I'd like to redirect them to a page that teaches them how to do an uninstall, and I'd like to not let them on my site again till they've cleaned up.


    I

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