View Poll Results: Is this Merchant fraud?

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  • Yes

    33 91.67%
  • No

    2 5.56%
  • Don't Know

    1 2.78%
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  1. #1
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Merchant Fraud?
    I recently came across some comments by an Affiliate Manager that gave me pause. This is a Manager that is respected by many in the Industry and has a reputation of being a pro-affiliate Manager.

    Their comments were basically that with all the programs they have been invovled with (and indeed with most Managers they know), that the Merchants back-end systems are set up such that if a consumer returns to the Merchant and makes a purcahse within the cookie duration timeframe from any other source aside from a direct type-in the affiliate WILL NOT be paid the commission. And in fact, no rationale marketer would do anything else. Upon checking the terms that this Manager handles, their cookie terms are 60 days with unlimited occurrences. I could find no separate TOS on their web site nor through the Network they run on outside of the Networks general TOS stating they only honor their return day terms for specifc types of return traffic or specifically state types of return traffic which will not be compensated for under their cookie policy.

    So the poll question is:

    Is this Merchant fraud (ie contractural misrepresentation) towards not only their affiliates but their Network also?

  2. #2
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Many merchants eliminate affiliate cookies when the shopper returns through another traffic source. It should definitely be disclosed by merchants, but very few do.

    Without the disclosure, I think it's definitely contractural misrepresentation, so that's how I voted.

    Do I think the practice of overwriting affiliate cookies (with proper disclosure) is fraudulent? No.

    Do I like it? No.

    Do I see some justification for it? Sure. As an affiliate, we weren't able to deliver. The merchant had to use other channels to actually generate the sale. The most recent click is obviously the most important part of the process in generating the sale.

    The one exception I woud see is for merchant newsletters. If I send a customer to a merchant and they sign up for the newsletter instead of buying something, then get a newsletter the next day and buy through that, I think I'm fully justified in getting credit for the sale.

    Do I agree with the statement that no rational merchant would do anything else? Absolutely not. Even if the affiliate wasn't the only reason that the sale closed, they were still an important part of the process.

    I think it would be prudent for merchants to pay affiliates even if the customer subsequently clicked through from another source, but to monitor and track what percent of affiliate sales were generated after a click-through from another source. I think they'll be surprised to find that it's a relatively low percentage, which would make it a very minimal cost to maintain an "affiliate friendly" program. (Perception is everything to affiliates.) They might also be able to gather some very useful information to pass on to affiliates to help them convert an even higher percentage of sales without requiring a click-through from another source.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  3. #3
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    It shows there's still a lot of confusion about affiliate marketing even from "pro-affiliate Manager". The networks have failed to educate their merchants. They don't respect their contracts with their affiliates and hope nobody will notice. The networks are not bringing us any transparency.
    Without proper disclosure it's just FRAUD.

  4. #4
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    Is this Merchant fraud (ie contractural misrepresentation) towards not only their affiliates but their Network also?
    Yes...... and some Affiliate Managers need and should make the tough decision of how they want to be remembered at the end.
    Anyone can make Money anywhere at any time but, everyone can't say later that they didn't know the gun was loaded.

    That's something to think about for some other people, so far I still don't have to worry about any of that but, at the rate the pile of crap is growing...... who knows what can happen in the future.

    Sal.

  5. #5
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Zeus, this is a seasoned AM and indeed has presented at Industry events. In this type of situation (program operates differently from their stated program terms), I see that the Networks suffer lost revenue also.

    Michael you state it very well. Perception is everything to affiliates. So if the stated program terms are 60 day cookie and unlimited actions with no stipulations, that certainly is a marketing advantage for the Merchant in recruitment of affiliates to their program and how affiliates may promote that Merchant. For me it is a matter of disclosure if the actual operation of the program is not what is being put forth to affiliates when they are joining the program. If they say "we will pay for any purchase made within 60 days" then they need to be paying for any purchase made off of that cookie for 60 days. It is certainly within their right not to pay under specific situations if they have stipulated such. The affiliate is then able to enter into the relationship or not under informed circumstances.

    I think it is prudent of Merchants to fulfill their end of their own TOS to their affiliates. Their TOS must be reflective of how they are truly operating their program and what they are actually paying their affiliates for.

  6. #6
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    I've seen many tricks from merchants to overwrite our cookies. At least one of the worst have a message board here. I understand the networks are losing money but the terms of the contracts are discussed by them and they are paid to make sure both sides are in compliance. They are losing money because they don't do their job.
    One of the situation I understand is if the merchant uses PPC. But, a merchant should not have to use PPC to drive traffic if the affiliate program is fair for both parties.

  7. #7
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Spooky part of this is that AM and his merchant boss have to make conscious decisision on how to NOT PAY the affiliates their fair share when a program becomes successful. Many AM's know the BHO's and incent Dupers demand a bigger piece of the commission pie and they cannot defeat the cookie stuffing or fresh cookie on a BHO popup without termination notices. Their first choice, when the merchant boss yells WTF am I getting for this $120,000 payment to BF-CJ -LS, is to tell the boss he has hidden ways to reduce commission payouts. ALL those fraud, diversion, house cookie plays only work on the honest domain bound legit affiliates traffic and sales cookie.

    That's one major difference and key in my Safe Haven Network model as it strips this and any tricks from the merchants arsenal. Their only out is to disable the cart's checkout process....fat chance of that occuring.

    It is fraud if the AM plots the commission diversion play or knowingly hides the anti-affiliate cookie practice.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  8. #8
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Zeus thanks for elborating on your point regarding the Networks. As far as one of the worse offenders who has a board here, if we are thinking about the same Merchant at least they do disclose such in their TOS. Granted I think their TOS were updated to reflect this without many or most of their affiliates being aware of the TOS change, but it is in there. Affiliates do need to check TOS very carefully when joining a program just as you should before signing any type of contract. Of course, we could be thinking about 2 different Merchants.

  9. #9
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    Sure it is fraud but if you are not an insider you never know about it (unless you spend an afternoon reading all the TOS). It is just a dirty little secret shared by the inner-circle types who protect each other.

  10. #10
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    Kellie- if we are thinking about the same Merchant at least they do disclose such in their TOS.
    We're thinking of the same and yes, they did update their TOS after a few complains. As long as there's a full disclosure, the responsability to work with them or not is ours. To change the terms in our back without warning is fraud.

  11. #11
    Member Chocolate_Chicken's Avatar
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    any other source aside from a direct type-in the affiliate WILL NOT be paid the commission.
    So if the customer bookmarks a particular page on the site, instead of typing in a 60-character URL string, the cookie is null?

  12. #12
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Kellie, the scenario you described is certainly FRAUD in my book!

    I think it is prudent of Merchants to fulfill their end of their own TOS to their affiliates. Their TOS must be reflective of how they are truly operating their program and what they are actually paying their affiliates for.
    Not only prudent, but legally required!
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  13. #13
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Who's the sh!t stain lying and stealing theif? Please also post their terms.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  14. #14
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Aargh!

    kellie - take a week off!

    ben - take a week off!!

    Wouldn't it be cool if - just for a week -

    all tracking worked flawlessly

    TOS were actually enforced

    all merchants worked with affiliates to improve their partnerships

    ben found absolutely no "bad players"

    Linkshare posted "We made a mistake" (applies to any linkshare thread)

    coupon sites posted actual valid coupons that could be redeemed by a customer

    kellie threw out all her spare computers because she couldn't find any devious installations

    google notified me that they based their algorythms on MY site design - and I will always be #1

    aaah... I can dream can't I???

  15. #15
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Now your talking Haiko as I'm sure this merchant helped make ABWers some money and then reversed their tactics when we pitched in to make them even more sussessful. Now they don't need us having learned the secrets to bring inhouse and discard us like toilet paper.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  16. #16
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    Oh, come on. This AM knows he is a lying, stealing thief and helping others to be lying stealing thieves.

    Amazing the lies liars will tell to themselves to justify what they KNOW is wrong.

    Me, I have more respect for an honest thief who admits they are what they are than one who tries to fool himself about what he is doing.

    So, since I am sure they are reading this. Yo! Dummy! You are a lying, stealing thief! Grow up and either get out or live with that fact. Don't try to get validation from people like Kellie and the rest of us for what you are doing because it ain't going to happen.
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  17. #17
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    SSanf,

    ...and people keep questioning my impetus ... WTF!!!! Wait till all see who it is.

    BTW AMs, either your in, there or here ... there you can get uh huh's, here you can get traffic and sales ... I'll draw the line of demarcation very soon.

    Choose wisely
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  18. #18
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    Haiko, other valued friendships not withstanding, I have never for one second doubted you! Not one second!
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  19. #19
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Is their a Jim Jones type affiliate cult community out there? See how alert I am? If they're harboring double dealing AM's then the next step is drinking each others coolaid and group grooping for cookies. Ms. B's old tagline had something to do with "keep your hands off my cookies" so, as she's the anchor woman in Haiko's show, I feel safe throwing out my wisdom here. After all she has one of my secret decoder rings and can write a best seller book.... when either Al Quada or some Adwhore operation takes me out.... to get tutored.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  20. #20
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    The comments were made by Beth Kirsch in response to a blog entry by Jeff Molander regarding Cookie Durations and Best Practices.

    I can find no stand alone terms to copy here. There's just the terms through the CJ interface (which I've stated already) and a couple of references in the affiliate section of the audible site which generally states payment for any sales within 60 days.

  21. #21
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    I am such a sexist! Please, correct the above post to read he/she!
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  22. #22
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    So audible is not laudable?

    Next thing your gonna tell me is that they allow iGive into their program.

    Oh shoot, mrmerchant and all his "bitties" (SP) allow and support iGive, I forgot.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  23. #23
    Troll Killer and best Snooper!
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    I know it's not the norm around here to post links to other boards, but I'd like to read Beth's comments for myself. Could someone either post the URL to the thread in question or send me a PM with the URL?

    Muchos!

  24. #24
    Yup, Sure ... now let me check ... Cagles Mill's Avatar
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    It appears that Beth Kirsch also "runs" "the Affiliate Manager Boot Camp". At least according to this article: http://www.*************/bethkirsch/

    Does that mean she is helping to teach other affiliate managers how to cheat us?

    Aaaaaaacccchhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

    Ironicly, in the article to the right of Ms. Kirsch's picture in the above link, there is an article about affiliate managers being ripped off by affiliates who cheat. I guess her response would be to cheat them (affiliates) before they cheat you (affiliate managers).

    Hmmm. I can't seem to get the link to work right. Am I trying to do a no no?
    Rick M.
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  25. #25
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Audible! *Glad I didn't sign up for that!*

    a blog entry by Jeff Molander
    Molander...Bah!

    Hmmm. I can't seem to get the link to work right. Am I trying to do a no no?
    That site must be on the blacklist. And if they support Audible's thievery and are trying to spread it, I agree--let it ROT at the bottom of the engines, linkless.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

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