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October 14th, 2005, 09:36 AM #1Unhappy customer
OK, I'm feeling a little broken and need something (advice, encouragement?) to keep the fires burning ...
For about a week, I've been helping a visitor get help with a product she ordered from my site. OK, so the merchant finally came through and got her the product she was having a problem downloading. Today, I get an email from her stating that she's very dissatisfied with this product and bought it on "my" recommendation, etc. I feel horrible!
SO, my question is: "How far do we go and how much personal responsibility should we assume when writing "copy" for our affiliate merchant products? The product in question is a download and certainly not a life & death issue, but I feel like I "recommended" something that was total crap and now have a disgruntled visitor. I take my online (and off line) reputation seriously ... should we test-purchase everything we sell on our pages? I would venture to say that ethically we 'should' if we are going as far as writing "ad copy" that comes across as a recommendation of a product.
I signed up with an affil program last week that could be questionable and asked for (and got) a sample of the product to see what it was I would be selling to make sure it was safe and something that I would recommend based on my opinion but the 2 products are very different. The one in question is a party book, the one I insisted on checking out was health advice.
The customer is demanding a refund. OK fine ... hopefully she'll get one ASAP and if not I'll be all over it until she does but ...
Basically, I feel like knowing someone bought something she feels is bad from MY site and a product that actually sells pretty well (possibly because I 'talk it up' ...). I haven't heard of anyone else disgruntled with this item. Should I pull this product from my pages or should I just get over myself? LOL - If my site was a retail outlet, I'd KNOW what I was selling and be able to judge for myself.
Anyone else been in this position? Any insight?
October 14th, 2005, 10:02 AM #2
In my opinion (and it's just an opinion) you have little to worry about legally.
So it's up to you to decide how careful to be. I value my sleep and self-respect far more than the money, so there are some areas and merchants I won't touch. It looks like you do the same. So if things accidentally go wrong it isn't because you were intentionally at fault. Don't punish yourself, but try to make it better.
If you have any doubts about the product check it out for yourself. And remember, some customers are nut cases, and the best you can do is ignore them.
Where are you in Los Angeles? Let's do lunch.
Last edited by missdonna; October 14th, 2005 at 10:05 AM. Reason: spellingAffiliate Marketing - The hardest easy money I ever made.
October 14th, 2005, 10:11 AM #3
Good grief! We just write advertising! Do you think everyone hired to write ad copy for an advertiser stands behind the products, themselves? Do the customers chase down and demand satisfaction from the copy writers? What nonsense.
How did the customer even contact you?
Why on earth do you have your e-mail on your site?
You sell nothing! You write advertising. If you don't know something to be true about a product, don't write it.
After that, forget it. It is the merchant's problem and not yours as long as you haven't said anything you do not know to be the facts. It is, of course, immoral to trick someone into buying by telling lies. You, obviously, do not have any personal moral shortcommings.
Don't offer your e-mail and if they track you down just refer them to the merchant and forget it.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!
October 14th, 2005, 10:17 AM #4Originally Posted by missdonna
I am not worried baout the legal ramifications here, mostly the moral ones. Going through a "trusted third party" I have never really worrried about the quality of merchandise or information supplied in an e-book so I add the stuff that's pertinent to my pages. I, too, value my sleep and self-respect to the point that I don't feature merchants or products that sell well in my niche because I don't believe in them.
I do understand about nut case customers ... that's why I no longer work in retail. :-)
I do not promote any merchant or product I feel might be shady or junk but it's hard to know with a download product unless we check them all out first. Are we within our rights to ask for a sample of each one? I would imagine a reputable seller would be happy to offer a sample so we can better sell it.
I'm in Studio City. Where are you? Absolutely let's do lunch! We can ***** and moan and commiserate in person. :-)
October 14th, 2005, 10:20 AM #5
- Join Date
- January 18th, 2005
Forward all correspondence from the customer to the merchant. You are not responsible for the customer's satisfaction, the merchant is.
Ask the merchant for a free copy of the product. If you sell any volume at all, they will give you a copy of it. Evaluate for yourself if it is good or not.
I spent many years on the merchant side of this equation and I am here to tell you that a certain percentage of people will ***** about anything and everything. There is simply no pleasing some people.
As a rule, I do not promote downloaded products because most of the time the merchant represents them as a boxed product when they are not. Any time a merchant uses the term "Free Shipping" on a download, they are being deceptive and you are asking for trouble by promoting them.
Try to turn it in to a positive. If the customer will write a letter that you can post on your web site stating that they were unhappy and you personally made it good, then you might want to send them a money order for the purchase price (if it is a marginal amount) and use thier letter to let your visitors know that you are indeed reputable and insist on your shoppers being 100% happy. Will this open the door to more situations like this? Perhaps. But it will also give you a LOT of credibility.
The percentage of crappy customers who ***** about everything is (hopefully) much less than the percentage of those who are not like this.
Let us know how this is resolved.
Best of luck!
October 14th, 2005, 10:28 AM #6Originally Posted by SSanf
I am accessible to my visitors via email because I want to be. Currently, ther are more than 1100 emails in my inbox ... yeah it's a pain but I try to help people through my site and am open to offering advice to a lot of people who need it so I leave it. I DID take it off every page and just have it on my main page, however. If someone wants to write me, they have to look for that email link. :-) I will also always help a visitor with a merchant on my site if there is a problem. I find that being an affiliate, I can most times get answers and problems solved better than they can and I want to stand behind every merchant on my pages.
Because this woman wrote to the merchant, stating that she bought this product because it was on MY site and she trusts ME, it's especially difficult to let it go as just the merchant's problem. My site is not only a shopping site but a site I've built on reputation and years of interpersonal rapport with my visitors. So I suppose I need to be more careful with what I "sell" because it comes across as a recommendation no matter what I do or don't write about any given product.
Thanks for responding Sandra and for the insight. I think I'll just make sure the customer gets a refund and let it go. If I get any other complaints about this product, I'll pull it. What else can we do?
Last edited by Rexanne; October 14th, 2005 at 10:31 AM. Reason: typo
October 14th, 2005, 10:40 AM #7a certain percentage of people will ***** about anything and everything. There is simply no pleasing some people.
we started to offer free shipping.
a customer that ordered the day before we went free,
is now asking if she can re-order and cancel the other order
where she paid shipping..
if she looked at it, she would see that it would be less money
if she stayed with her original order..
October 14th, 2005, 10:42 AM #8Originally Posted by UncleScooter
I would gladly refund the customer's purchase price (it's negligible) if the merchant doesn't.
I think I will ask each merchant for a copy of the product when I add a downloadable to my site. I did with s health e-book because I would never suggest health advice I didn't check out first and because my health opinions are not mainstream and part of my "mission." The "party book" is a book of crafts ... how freaking complicated is that? But this woman says it's crap so I have to pay attention. She'd been complaining about not being able to download the product and I helped her get that resolved, now this so it IS possible that she's "one of those ..." Still, it's left me with a sick feeling.
I DO state on my site that I stand behind everything sold on my pages. So far, I haven't added a testimonial page on my site. If I get one on this, I'll think about it. I have far better testimonials than this could ever be but I see how it could ease a concerned "shoppers" mind ... Gotta get out of "content" brain and into "shopping site" brain. ;-)
October 14th, 2005, 10:49 AM #9
Don't know the details on what you are promoting but in general I won't promote something if I think its a scam. In fact I won't even promote a merchant if I see them pushing a single scam product. It sounds like you checked this product out which is way more than some affiliate marketers do. If the product delivers what it promises, even if you yourself wouldn't buy it, it's not a scam.This World is Not My Home
We're gonna go inside, we're gonna go outside, inside and outside. . . And then we're gonna go go go and we're not gonna stop til we get across that goalline! Quotes from the movie Rudy, 1993
October 14th, 2005, 10:51 AM #10
I decide when the pigs fly!
- Join Date
- January 18th, 2005
- New York, USA
Rexanne it sounds as if you're doing your best to make sure the customer is happy. The only complaints I've ever had a customer ask me to help with is when a product didn't ship on a timely basis. Everything has always resolved well in the end. I think your willingness to assist the shopper is commendable.
But I gotta ask...why take a risk promoting downloads of any type? I would worry it might be bundled with something nasty and that while the program might check out okay today, by tomorrow or next month the creator could throw a switch to turn it into a parasite of some sort.
October 14th, 2005, 11:42 AM #11
I'm sorry you're feeling so low. UncleScooter and SSanf have very good points and sound advice. It is very possible she is just 'one of those people', or maybe she is just so annoyed with the fact she had trouble getting the product in the first place, that it is clouding her experience with it, even though you helped her as much as you could. Human beings are funny things.
I personally choose to send the message on my sites that I only provide products that are the most popular in my niche - that way I'm saying all these people like this, so maybe you will too. I'm not saying I stand behind it 100%. No one can legitimately do that. For example, Proactive is hugely popular, and I've personally known women that had great success with it. I tried it, followed all the steps, and it didn't work for me at all. If I go by my experience, I wouldn't even push it, but I know that for some people, it has been a lifesaver. Different strokes for different folks. Maybe just let her know you're sorry she's unhappy, and that you provide this product because it is popular with many of your customers. Don't make her feel like her opinions of the product aren't valid, just let her know that you don't just promote these things for the hell of it. Other than that, there isn't much you can do.
L~Lisa - Brilliant Mastermind, or Nut? You decide!
October 14th, 2005, 11:57 AM #12
I'm sorry you found yourself in this situation. I've found that with downloadable products, no matter the quality of them quite often you get folks who just want them for free and will take full advantage of any money back guarantees. I, personally, have had people order a download and then immediately ask for a refund when they had barely enough time to download it and look at it. I'm not saying that's the case with your customer, but it's possible. I agree with the advice that you should do what you can to satisfy the customer and perhaps get a testimonial from her.
October 14th, 2005, 12:36 PM #13Originally Posted by Rexanne
I have my email addresses on my sites, though they are informational as well as sales sites and I've sorted a few (very few) problems out. I know it's helped as for instance I had a customer who wanted to order from Turkey a couple of weeks ago and most recently one in Singapore. Without the email address I would have lost the (healthy) sales for minimal extra effort.
However.... there are those who seem to think the internet is some huge magic facility where things just happen for you and somehow, stuff will get done despite how awkward and juvenile you behave. I used to worry sometimes about emails I hadn't dealt with, but find that once I delete it it's like it never existed!
Maybe you're just sounding too approachable and friendly and inviting people to email you? If you stretch yourself too thin, you'll become ineffective, if you keep emails too long, they will prey on your mind, but you're still not doing anything useful as the sender hasn't had a reply. Hit the delete button more often!
I guess you're getting many non-sale emails through your site/s do you have an archive of emails answered? I rarely write anything that I can't save and use again somewhere.
October 14th, 2005, 12:55 PM #14
Interesting point about a download product possibly being corrupt. Yikes ... never thought of that. Another worry. LOL As for the customers who orders, downloads and then demands a refund just because they can, yep ... bless their souls because they will end up paying way more in karma than the stupid products cost. Well, that's IMO only. ;-)
Lisa, I, too, could sell Proactive and Muriad out my ears if I thought they worked. My daughter tried both and neither helped her acne so I won't promote them, either.
I'm pretty sure this customer will get a refund. It was through Clickbank. I might be blowing this out of proportion and need to step away and remove myself from the quality of product issue and just do what I do. But I think it IS a good idea to check out all products we sell on our sites that could be questionable. Because my site is so personal and my visitors feel and think they "know" me, there is a trust factor that I take very seriously. This is another reason I get riled up about merchants who treat us like we're indispensable ... yet another rant I will not go into. LOL
If I wanted to deal with retail customer mentality, I'd be in a very different situation today ... my mother had a very successful wedding business that she begged me to take over when she retired. I hated it so much I refused. Meanwhile, it was and is still a multi million dollar a year store. Means nothing if life entails having to listen to women ***** and moan about every little detail of their weddings and the fact that they're fat and gross means I have to pretend a size 16 is a size 8 just to make a sale. LOL - It's a sick business. I've maintained a serious dislike for retail all my life because of the few years I managed that store.
I hear you all about the perpetually unhappy customer. Problem here is, I don't know that she actually is and I will assume she's not unless I see the product and agree with her assessment of it. Affiliate marketing just got tougher! ;-)
Everyone's input and support is very much appreciated!
October 14th, 2005, 01:02 PM #15
If YOU refund the money, tell her to send you the product. You paid for it!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!
October 14th, 2005, 01:08 PM #16Originally Posted by Paul Ward
I sure do save every email I answer. Mostly because they're questions about my niche market that would make good fodder for an e-book one day. LOL - I also have email "templates" that I copy/paste for a lot of things, just can't really do that with the personal ones. I get a lot of email from kids (teenagers mostly) asking for help on various issues. I always answer those personally and try to reach them and also help them realize their parents aren't the huge a&&holes they believe them to be so this type of email has to be answered individually. Yep, I do make myself too accessible. You're dead on right about that. I've started to remove the "email me" links from all individual pages. There's just not enough time in a day to deal with a lot of idiotic questions that have nothing to do with what my site is about. I have a few "cooking" pages on some of my sites, just for ideas. I get people asking for all sorts of bizarre recipes. Do I look like Betty Crocker?! Geesh. I fast learned to remove the chipper "email me if you need help!" links from all those pages!
For now, the only emails I feel comfortable deleting are the link requests from irrelevant sites that seem to multiply by the hundreds daily. Damn those automated "link exchange" programs!
Thanks for your input! It is much appreciated.
October 14th, 2005, 01:53 PM #17Originally Posted by SSanf
Just found the download link on the email the customer sent me (she originally replied to the download email sent to her from the merchant and copied me). I'm looking at the product and it's very well done and exceeds MY expectations.
I'm going to answer her, make sure she gets a refund and keep selling this product on my site. As a matter of fact, now that I've seen it, I'm gonna recommend it even more! Sure hope I didn't download any nasties with it. LOL
Thanks again everyone for the input. It seems this is a disgruntled human, not necessarily a disgruntled customer.
October 14th, 2005, 02:16 PM #18
On most of my sites I lightly alter the vendor's descriptions in their datafeed and put it up. I don't have any of "my personality" showing on those sites, I don't say I'm personally recommending anything. The whole site is just: "here's this product and here's what the vendor says about it, click here for more info."
For those sites I feel the vendor bears the legal and moral responsibility for the product descriptions and the product quality.
I do have *one* site that openly says it's largely about stuff I've tried or have definite opinions about -- seasickness remedies I've tried, book reviews of books I've read, etc.
On that one site I do leave my email enabled. And on that site, since I'm recommending stuff -- even if it's from datafeed sources in some cases -- I'll try to help people who write to me with questions. Sometimes I'll point them to other products on my site. Sometimes I'll do Google searches for what I think they really need and point them to products elsewhere.
That site was the first one I did. Since I'm recommending stuff I also feel obligated to help people with questions and problems that arise from it.
And I *like* getting the "thanks, your page on your personal experiences with lotsa seasickness remedies really helped solve my seasickness problem!" emails.
But the time that it takes supporting questions and problems from other visitors drove me to not do sites like that anymore. Some folks seem to expect me to be their "personal search engine" and help them find what they want on the Web.
So now the rest of my sites aren't "I recommend this neat stuff" sites, but are impersonal ones that just say "here's the info, I hope it's useful" instead.
Even doing sites that way still gives problems. I've picked up a new vendor who has a datafeed with a mix of some flakey (in my opinion) health-related products and some effective ones. I'm looking into how hard it'll be to separate out the "clearly flakey" categories from the ones that appear to be effective. If I can't do that I'll just have to pass on them. Sigh...
I think most folks in this business are concerned with the issue of "is this a good product that I'm helping promote?" And we all make different choices and have different places to draw the line.
As MissDonna and others have said, you gotta be able to go to sleep at night with a clear conscience. It's not worth it to do it any other way.
-- MikeA joy shared is a joy doubled.
A burden shared is a burden lightened.
October 14th, 2005, 02:54 PM #19Originally Posted by Mike O
LOL about visitors expecting you to be their personal search engine. I do this a lot, too and end up sending them away to another site that has what they're looking for. It's all I can do not to say: "Google works the same for everyone ... use it!" But I don't. ;-) Some people are really clueless and just don't know. Then if we help, it's good will and hopefully they will return and TRUST us when we recommend something and/or they'll buy something from our sites. More of a reason to be careful about what we pitch and promote. We do expose ourselves to the crazy masses by having web sites and 'email me' options. Oh well. Some of these people have become great supporters and help drive more traffic to my site so it's a toss up. And yeah, those "thank you so much. You helped me!" emails are priceless when the rest of the world gets you down.
October 14th, 2005, 03:03 PM #20
- Pick the right vendor (by doing your homework/research)
- Don't trust the vendor until you've worked with them for a year
- Always quote them in your "recommendations" (so that noone holds you accountable for improperly described/presented item/product)
And, most importantly, do not take situations like this too close to your heart! Even a negative experience should be viewed as a learning experience. Spare your nerve cells for big troubles.
Geno Prussakov AM Navigator LLC Twitter.com/ePrussakov We Manage: These affiliate programs My Services: Affiliate program management, audit, consulting, speaking
October 14th, 2005, 03:18 PM #21Originally Posted by Geno - RussianLegacy
While I'm thrilled beyond belief to find that the e-book in question is actually an awesome effort and a good deal, this has made me realize that I need to be more demanding and informed about just what it is I'm selling even if it's not life & death or important in the big scheme of things. It IS my reputation's life or death which I value highly.
And I will always go after any merchant who tries to f*** with one of my visitors. They're my "kids" and I'm a mama bear. LOL
Last edited by Rexanne; October 14th, 2005 at 03:20 PM. Reason: typo
October 14th, 2005, 03:53 PM #22Originally Posted by RexanneAffiliate Marketing - The hardest easy money I ever made.
October 14th, 2005, 06:16 PM #23
This is another reason why it can never hurt to throw a disclaimer up somewhere on your site that says somethin' like "This site contains links to third parties. This site cannot be responsible for the content or products found on third party sites, blah blah blah..."
October 14th, 2005, 07:28 PM #24I am accessible to my visitors via email because I want to be. Currently, ther are more than 1100 emails in my inbox ... yeah it's a pain but I try to help people through my site and am open to offering advice to a lot of people who need it so I leave it.~Rexanne
I'd have foisted that customer off onto the merchant without hesitation. For customer service, I want the 90%, not the 10%!!
If someone wants to contact me on one of my aff sites, they generally have to be savvy enough to know how to use the whois. I think I've gotten all of 2 customer emails to aff sites in 5 years. Even the couple of sites that have an email hidden somewhere don't get any (nonspam) emails! Thankfully!
On GoodBulbs they can email me, but that's different. If someone emails me *there,* it's about something I can directly do something about! Or NOT to do anything about, like in the case of people who ask for a snail-mail catalog (there isn't any paper catalog)...
This site cannot be responsible~deepestblue
IMO policies should state things in a technically accurate sense: "ExampleDotCom IS NOT responsible for anything outside the domain "www.example.com."There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway
October 14th, 2005, 07:45 PM #25Originally Posted by Leader
Originally Posted by Leader
Originally Posted by Leader
When I answer email about advice someone is seeking, I go to extremes to let them know that I am not "qualified" beyond "experience" to give advice and to check with a "professional" whoever applies and not take just my advice, unless it's something benign and basic that's just common sense, which I get a lot, too.
As for taking care of one of my visitors and making sure she's a happy customer, I will continue to do that for anyone who buys off my site, within reason.
LOL about suing weather.com because it rains ... classic! I wouldn't be surprised if it's already happened somewhere idiots cluster.
Thanks for your input Leader!
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