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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador La_Valette's Avatar
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    Beware of Oriental Trading Company
    We generated around $12,000 in commissions for these folks since Nov 2005.

    They paid us for Nov & Dec (around $1,200). After that, nothing.

    We recently noticed that they had stopped paying us and wrote to them and LS to figure out what was going on. They had never made us aware of any problem, asked any question about what we were doing, or anything like that. We were an affiliate in good standing and kept getting their newsletters calling us a valued affiliate and telling us how proud they were we were on board etc. Last one I have from them is dated a few days back in fact.

    Well they ignored my emails. LS investigated and found out they placed our account on hold without telling us. When we finally manage to get a reply out of OTC, it's their lawyer (their AM refuses to speak on the phone and he copies the legal department on all correspondence) on the line telling us he wants to know where we get our traffic from, what keywords we use for ppc, and all that stuff. Alot of this information we can't provide months after the fact. And after providing them all we could, they keep saying we're being too "vague".

    So it seems we're guilty till proven innocent, even though we never violated any terms and they have absolute zero evidence to substantiate their claims.

    Here's the letter they sent to LS:

    >> From Oriental Trading Company:
    >> Violation of merchant terms
    >>
    >> Oriental Trading Company is withholding commission payments in order to
    >> better understand your marketing practices. It is our hope that the sales
    >> earned by [us] are legitimate and not obtained through brand
    >> bidding or some other violation of our terms and conditions. Please
    >> forward
    >> an outline of your marketing practices so that we make reward you for
    >> your
    >> legitimate commission earnings.
    >>
    >>

    Here's the reply I sent back:

    > We did not violate any merchant terms. This merchant is making up an
    > excuse not to pay us.
    > Even that message from the merchant clearly shows they have no evidence to
    > back up this
    > outrageous claim.
    >
    > Not once did the merchant or Linkshare ever bring notice of this hold on
    > our account to our attention.
    > We had been working for this merchant for six months and they had been
    > happily accepting our sales
    > during that time, and sending us affiliate newsletters, etc.
    >
    > We expect full payment of the amount owed immediately and will explore all
    > legal options available
    > to us if it is not effected in due course.
    >
    > We strongly suggest that Linkshare work with the merchant to make sure
    > this happens. This incident
    > violates all the trust principles upon which affiliate marketing depends.
    >

    We're prepared to take legal action in this case since the amount involved is substantial, but beware of these guys unless you're prepared to do likewise to defend your rights. We've stopped doing further business with them, obviously.
    Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try. -- Homer Simpson

  2. #2
    More Cheesier Than Ever Cheesehead's Avatar
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    12K in commission? That's a lot of party favors! If you had to do a lot of PPC, you really would lose on this if they don't pay. Sorry to hear this happened.
    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

  3. #3
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    There is definitely something screwy with these guys. They dropped me from their program more than a year ago, owing me money. After emailing the AM to find out WTF was going on since I was sending them good traffic, they re-instated my account but I never put them back on my site. The "trust" factor was lost. Annoying because I could have made good $ with them. Now I'm glad I didn't put them back on my site ... sounds like they're way unstable and not a good "partner."

    Good luck getting paid.
    Peace,

    Rexanne

    Rexanne.com
    Loving Everyone's Child Creates Magic


  4. #4
    Shimmy Shimmy Bang Bang shimmy's Avatar
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    I thought Merchants just paid Linkshare and Linkshare then paid us. I didn't know merchants could choose which affilaites to pay. Where in Linkshare do you see if Merchants haven't paid you?

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador
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    La_Valette, while I agree that this company has done a very poor job in running their program (you don't just withhold commission payments without ever contacting the affiliate first), you shouldn't expect to make any progress with them based on your response. What did you provide to them that they say is too vague? Do you feel that your traffic would substantiate such a significant amount of commission based on such small ticket items? If you earned $1,200 total for the two busiest shopping months, it certainly stands to reason that a huge jump in sales for far less busy shopping months would raise a red flag.

    Here is yet another example of Linkshare failing their affiliates. Linkshare should simply not allow something like this to happen. The merchant is outright wrong for not communicating with the affiliate all the while getting free advertisement on the affiliate's site.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador La_Valette's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowman
    If you earned $1,200 total for the two busiest shopping months, it certainly stands to reason that a huge jump in sales for far less busy shopping months would raise a red flag.

    Here is yet another example of Linkshare failing their affiliates. Linkshare should simply not allow something like this to happen. The merchant is outright wrong for not communicating with the affiliate all the while getting free advertisement on the affiliate's site.
    We only had less traffic for Nov & Dec because we were still new to this program at that point. We have increased traffic consistently month over month as we worked more on them.
    Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try. -- Homer Simpson

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador La_Valette's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shimmy
    I thought Merchants just paid Linkshare and Linkshare then paid us. I didn't know merchants could choose which affilaites to pay. Where in Linkshare do you see if Merchants haven't paid you?
    It's not easy to detect. Basically the only way is to go into Synergy Analytics and look at your payment checks one by one to see which merchants are included in the list.
    Last edited by La_Valette; May 20th, 2006 at 02:59 AM.
    Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try. -- Homer Simpson

  8. #8
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    Your lawyer needs to talk to their lawyer!
    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!

  9. #9
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    So you were just bidding on generic keywords and not trademarked keywords that they prohibited in the T&Cs?
    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

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador La_Valette's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    So you were just bidding on generic keywords and not trademarked keywords that they prohibited in the T&Cs?
    Yes. But really the point is, even if we didn't, they consented to whatever we were doing.
    Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try. -- Homer Simpson

  11. #11
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I don't see any restriction in their T&Cs, so that may help. Did they consent in writing, or by not telling you to stop? Still, so many merchants restrict trademark bidding, I wouldn't recommend it without explicit permission.
    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

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    I don't see any restriction in their T&Cs, so that may help. Did they consent in writing, or by not telling you to stop? Still, so many merchants restrict trademark bidding, I wouldn't recommend it without explicit permission.
    Here is the restriction:

    (a) Use or otherwise incorporate the word "Oriental Trading" or variations or misspellings
    in the domain name(s) of any of Partnerís site(s), on any meta tags of web pages comprising
    partnerís site, or in advertising or searchable keywords;

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador La_Valette's Avatar
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    Folks, if they thought at any point that we were engaging in such behavior (which we weren't), they should have just contacted us about it - or terminated the relationship outright. They don't have any evidence whatsoever to backup these claims, yet they're not paying.
    Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try. -- Homer Simpson

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by La_Valette
    Folks, if they thought at any point that we were engaging in such behavior (which we weren't), they should have just contacted us about it - or terminated the relationship outright. They don't have any evidence whatsoever to backup these claims, yet they're not paying.
    So you can't just give them a list of keywords you used and on what PPCSE and be done with it?

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador La_Valette's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by melty
    So you can't just give them a list of keywords you used and on what PPCSE and be done with it?
    Would you give out the keywords you're bidding on? Besides, I doubt that would work even if we did. I believe they're just looking for excuses not to pay.
    Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try. -- Homer Simpson

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by La_Valette
    Would you give out the keywords you're bidding on? Besides, I doubt that would work even if we did. I believe they're just looking for excuses not to pay.
    I feel you. I wouldn't be happy to give it out. But if that's what it takes to get paid, I would do it.

    I would try working through Linkshare to get this resolved. IMO, they need to facilitate the situation and be the bridge to get you paid.

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador La_Valette's Avatar
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    Linkshare isn't helping (yet). So far the approach they've taken is that this is between us and the merchant. We disagree. They put this merchant up on their network in the first place. It's in their interest to restore trust in their merchant network amongst affiliates after all. If LS affiliates can no longer depend on getting paid, that hurts LS most of all.
    Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try. -- Homer Simpson

  18. #18
    Action Jackson - King of the World
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    I assume you're not using the words Oriental Trading anywhere on your pages? I am and this is very disconcerting. How else am I going to say view Oriental Trading Company's products?

  19. #19
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    They should be turned over to a good collection agency.

  20. #20
    Not that fat. ReallyBigGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by melty
    Here is the restriction:

    (a) Use or otherwise incorporate the word "Oriental Trading" or variations or misspellings
    in the domain name(s) of any of Partnerís site(s), on any meta tags of web pages comprising
    partnerís site, or in advertising or searchable keywords;
    I think a LOT of sites are in violation on that one. In a search on Google for "Oriental Trading Products" all the top sites have Oriental Trading in the meta tags.

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador La_Valette's Avatar
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    No material intervention that I can discern from LS to correct things. Pretty disappointing. My faith in this network doing the right thing and protecting affiliate rights is certainly damaged. Looks like we have to fight this kind of daylight robbery all by ourselves.
    Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try. -- Homer Simpson

  22. #22
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    They've let Overstock under pay affiliates for over 2 1/2 years. Networks haven't fulfilled they're selling point years ago of being a "Trusted Third Party" When things like this get brought up, it should be handled. Customer Service.

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador La_Valette's Avatar
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    And here's the latest email from OTC - they won't pay me, but they insist on thanking me for my continued partnership. LS is letting them get away with murder (ok, at least theft).

    The red, white, and blue must be cringing....

    ------------------------------------

    Promote $2.95 Shipping in June
    with fun crafts, gifts, candy, and party supplies

    Dear [my name],

    Hooray for the Red, White, and Blue! The Oriental Trading Company Affiliate Team thanks you for your continued partnership. We are proud of every successful promotion. By supporting the most engaging consumer promotions and rapidly-growing conversion rates, your earning opportunities are limitless!

    Terms & Conditions Updates
    We want to keep you informed. Therefore, Oriental Trading Company would like to encourage all of our partners to frequently revisit our affiliate terms and conditions for changes, updates, and continued success. As a friendly reminder, please refrain from posting other savings codes unless we specify otherwise.

    Official Promotion
    $2.95 standard shipping now through June 30, 2006 on all purchases of $60 or more within the contiguous United States! Use promotion code RT2XY06 at check out.

    Red, White, and Blue!

    The Affiliate Team
    affiliates@oriental.com
    Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try. -- Homer Simpson

  24. #24
    Outsourced Program Manager
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    I have never used these people, heard if they are good or not, and am not endorsing them in any way, but wanted to make sure you knew they were around:

    http://www.affiliatecollectionagency.com/

    Sorry to hear about your situation, good luck.

    -Michael

  25. #25
    ABW Ambassador La_Valette's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EasyClickTravel
    I have never used these people, heard if they are good or not, and am not endorsing them in any way, but wanted to make sure you knew they were around:

    http://www.affiliatecollectionagency.com/

    Sorry to hear about your situation, good luck.

    -Michael
    I'll probably stick with my lawyer for this one, but thanks.
    Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try. -- Homer Simpson

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