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  1. #1
    Verbosely Virtuous Mutt spacedog's Avatar
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    Ameriquest not paying its affiliates
    I'm guessing this has happened to all other Ameriquest affiliates as well (let me know if it's just me). Today I noticed in CJ that my "Extended" amount in "Pending Commissions" was suddenly higher, and the culprit is Ameriquest. April leads have all been extended. What kind of merchant ever extends leads for 30 days?? Extending is a function in CJ to protect merchants that sell products and have to deal with product returns, not a function to abuse the CJ payment system and delay payouts to affiliates. Ameriquest pays out on leads for mortgage refinance inquiries, and should know very quickly if a lead is "not qualified" and thus should be reversed. I've been a partner with them for many months, and have only ever had about 3 leads reversed (out of many, many referred leads). They've never extended leads until now.

    I am starting to see the writing on the wall with Ameriquest. Last month they did not pay out their commissions due (at least they emailed after the fact to let us know), and now they're extending leads so that they don't have to pay us yet again. Not good.

    Just last year they had several commercials in the Super Bowl, and now they can't even pay out their leads on CJ. I'm this --> <-- close to hitting the Expire button.

  2. #2
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    CJ also extends transactions if they don't get paid for them. I still have transactions from 2005 (for another merchant) that I've been trying to get paid on for well over a year.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
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  3. #3
    Speechless OTProf's Avatar
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    Given the state of the mortgage industry (esp. aggressive players like Ameriquest), you might want to start counting some of those funds as 'bad debts' that may not get paid.

  4. #4
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    Yep, the mortgage lead business is in big trouble. If they can't pay their employees, you can't expect that they'll pay their affiliates.

  5. #5
    Believe knight01's Avatar
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    Speaking as an insider, I got out of the mortgage origination business about 3 years ago due to what I saw some of the companies doing, this is a long time coming. If you have any affiliate relationships with what are commonly known as subprime companies, in the business they are b-c-d credit, you need to end those or at least watch them very carefully.

    Not sure if I can mention names, so I won't, but there have been massive layoffs, a few out right shutdowns/bankrupties and other companies that have been up for sale for years.

    The BCD business was a very agressive business, the old saying is you get what you advertise for, they wanted junk paper and that is what they got. They made a ton of money on it initially, but with the flattening real estate market there is no chance to re-refinance these people as the equity is gone from the homes and many of them are unable to keep up with the adjusting rates.

    If you want to stay in the mortgage lead business, look for "A paper" companies that don't have a subprime unit (this is very rare), they won't pay you as much, but they will be around to pay you.

  6. #6
    Verbosely Virtuous Mutt spacedog's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. Very good points you've all brought up. And welcome to ABW, knight01. I'm definitely reassessing whether it's worth promoting these subprime lenders from now on.

    I emailed CJ support today (from the "Ask A Question" section) and asked why Ameriquest extended transactions and whether it was CJ or Ameriquest that did so. Their reply [my emphasis]:

    Dear xxxxx,

    Thank you for your inquiry regarding transaction status. Keep in mind that advertisers may extend any of your transactions one time for an additional month to allow them more time to make sure the transaction is valid, allow for any returned merchandise, confirm credit card processing, verify it is not a duplicate transaction, or any other reason; transactions that "lock" will be paid out once the advertiser deposits the funds. CJ does not have the ability to extend a transaction; this is something that can only be done by the advertiser.

    Please contact the advertiser for more information, on why these transactions have been extended, through the “Mail” Tab within the CJ Account Manager™. Once there:

    • Click on the Compose button.
    • Scroll to the advertiser’s name in question.
    • Once the message is composed, press the submit key. This will submit your inquiry directly to the advertiser.

    If you wish to use another mail program, email addresses for the advertiser are often included on the advertiser detail page. You can access any advertiser’s detail page by clicking on the advertiser’s name anywhere within your account.

    If you have further questions, please follow up with us through the Help page in the CJ Account Manager.

    Sincerely,
    Commission Junction Client Support
    MichaelColey, it sounds like you may have been misinformed that CJ can extend transactions. Are you sure that your problem merchant didn't simply put them in extended status initially and never touched them again, and that that's how they've stayed since the merchant hasn't paid up nor responded to CJ's requests?

    I'll try contacting Ameriquest directly, but in the past my couple of emails to them have gone unanswered.

  7. #7
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    No, I'm quite confident. There a report on CJ called "Extended transactions due to non-payment", so I'm quite sure that CJ extends transactions if the merchant doesn't pay them.
    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

  8. #8
    Verbosely Virtuous Mutt spacedog's Avatar
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    Hmm. Figures, those CJ reps not telling us the whole story when it comes to how deadbeat merchants get treated. Also for once their reply to my question was very fast (< 2 hours, even) and you can see that he/she didn't do too much digging to find out for me what was going on with Ameriquest. Basically just told me to ask them myself. Anyway, we'll see if I get a reply from Ameriquest. For now they are going to be put on hold in my PPC campaigns and sites until and unless I am confident they will be paying affiliates.

  9. #9

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    We still haven't been paid for the month before either. Ameriquest sent out a notice that they would get it taken care of, and instead this month we are now extended. No, it doesn't look good for Ameriquest I believe it's time not to waste anymore money on them until we get paid. They are now in the thousands with me alone (two months) and I am not going to risk any further dollars on them.

    I am surprised they don't just pull a LowerMyBills type of deal and screw up their tracking so they get the leads but we don't get credit for it (LMB did this again last month). Seems like if they have trouble paying they just take the leads and just don't show the tracking for it and thus don't have to pay (yes, we have tested them).

    OR better yet pull a American Lending Partners (probably one of the most sleeziest outfits of them all) and just reverse everything claiming various reasons. (and yes we tested them as well over several months)

    GetSmart is about the only reliable one right now in this department.

  10. #10
    Verbosely Virtuous Mutt spacedog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nakedgamer
    I believe it's time not to waste anymore money on them until we get paid.
    Agreed. I paused my PPC campaigns with them yesterday.

  11. #11
    Believe knight01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nakedgamer
    (snip)

    I am surprised they don't just pull a LowerMyBills type of deal and screw up their tracking so they get the leads but we don't get credit for it (LMB did this again last month). Seems like if they have trouble paying they just take the leads and just don't show the tracking for it and thus don't have to pay (yes, we have tested them).

    (snip)

    GetSmart is about the only reliable one right now in this department.
    I think I want to chime in one more time. (Geesh, I'm starting to be a regular with these posts!) IF, you want to stay in the mortgage leads business, companies like getsmart, LMB or even (choking) LendingTree are probably the way to go. They are lead aggregators, not loan originators.

    The origination companies have a direct and immediate benefit to getting leads and not tracking correctly. Not that they are doing it intentionally. I'm sure they would like to use the model that the payday loan companies use where they only pay for a lead that results in a closed loan. Unfortunately due to federal regulations, they can't do that. So... the alternative would be... well, you come to your own conclusions.

    What will eventually happen with aggregators is they will lower the amount they are willing to pay for the leads. They SHOULD NOT have any reason not to pay for a lead. They will be forced to lower the amount since fewer and fewer of their customers are paying them for the leads.

    Now, something that could get interesting is if they change the T&C of the program from you sending them a lead = payment to something like if the lead is purchased = payment. This wouldn't be in violation of any federal regulations as they are not the loan originator. I wouldn't be surprised to see that become the next wave. It keeps them from paying for leads that they can't sell and still keeps leads coming in.

    I spent 18 years in the industry, some days I miss it, most days I watch what has happened to it and am happy to be at arms length from it.
    Last edited by knight01; May 9th, 2007 at 01:04 PM. Reason: added snips - corrected some grammar

  12. #12
    Verbosely Virtuous Mutt spacedog's Avatar
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    Great posts, knight01. Makes me look at the mortgage/refinance industry in a whole new way. It never seemed to me that Ameriquest was intentionally not tracking leads, or reversing them unfairly. I had a very good success rate and few reversals or tracking problems (that I knew of, anyway). But what they're doing now of course... it's just as evil (worse!) to not pay your affiliates what you've promised them as to cheat affiliates in other ways. Let's hope they come around and pay. If Ameriquest can't afford to do business this way any more, they should shut down their CJ program ASAP. And immediately pay what they owe, of course. Or they should settle on a different amount per lead after doing extensive analysis on what they can afford.
    Last edited by spacedog; May 9th, 2007 at 02:37 PM.

  13. #13

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    We tested several of these advertisers such as LMB and ALP. You can even see when LMB would mess with their own tracking as their numbers (on CJ reports) would dip around the time we suspected they "messed" with their tracking codes. They did it in Feb and did it this month.

    To me there is more likely to be "questionable" actions on the part of the advertisers than the affiliates since mortgage lead companies have plenty of time to "qualify" leads and possibly reverse them. LMB just found a way without getting a real bad rep by just letting many of the leads go through but not give the affiliate credit.

    You can tell because they change their form constantly as well. Then they can always blame the lack of proper lead tracking on a "broken" form or such.

  14. #14
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    I am surprised they don't just pull a LowerMyBills type of deal and screw up their tracking so they get the leads but we don't get credit for it (LMB did this again last month). Seems like if they have trouble paying they just take the leads and just don't show the tracking for it and thus don't have to pay (yes, we have tested them).
    NakedGamer, where did you get this information about LMB? I actually question their tracking quite frequently, especially within the last 2 months (ie - one day will be great, next day horrible... all with the same traffic on a day to day basis) My average with them has been consistant with them ever since I started promoting them... however recently the fluctuation has been terrible and unexplainable. I would really like to know more information on tracking issues that you are talking about....

  15. #15
    Verbosely Virtuous Mutt spacedog's Avatar
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    Heads up on Ameriquest
    So I just tried to call Ameriquest to find someone who might have a clue about their CJ affiliate program, and I called several of their myriad toll free numbers and customer service reps, but no one had any idea who is in charge of the affiliate program (or even that one exists). I finally left a voice mail message with their main Corporate Vendor toll free line. There wasn't even a "0" option to speak with a rep at this number, so I had to leave a message.

    I found out something else interesting: while Ameriquest's own web site says that they offer loans in all states except Nebraska, Virginia, West Virginia and Utah, this is no longer the case. The toll free system's message said "We are currently offering loans in California, New York, Florida, and Rhode Island". Just to be sure, I spoke to a loan rep. She said that yes, although not long ago (weeks? months?) they offered loans to 46 states, they have reduced that to just 4 states.

    This does not bode well for Ameriquest or their affiliate program. There's been no word on what's going on since their CJ internal email of April 18, they extended all April transactions, none of their affiliate correspondence has any names or phone numbers, and I've emailed them several times and have never gotten a response. Now they are only offering loans to 4 states.

    I've halted my PPC Ameriquest campaigns, and now I'm just hoping I'll receive the several hundred dollars they owe me. If anyone else has been able to contact them, please let us know.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh
    NakedGamer, where did you get this information about LMB? I actually question their tracking quite frequently, especially within the last 2 months (ie - one day will be great, next day horrible... all with the same traffic on a day to day basis) My average with them has been consistant with them ever since I started promoting them... however recently the fluctuation has been terrible and unexplainable. I would really like to know more information on tracking issues that you are talking about....
    This information is compiled and tested by us. We have names, dates, information, tracking, and plenty to back up everything I state in the matter and much more.

    I trust advertisers even less than other affiliates (well, perhaps not as much as some here at ABW) and often try to test out the ones we promote. There might be a lot of affiliate fraud but I bet many don't realize how much "fraud" is done by those advertisers they just assume are doing everything on the up and up.

  17. #17
    Member cgates's Avatar
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    Now, something that could get interesting is if they change the T&C of the program from you sending them a lead = payment to something like if the lead is purchased = payment. This wouldn't be in violation of any federal regulations as they are not the loan originator. I wouldn't be surprised to see that become the next wave. It keeps them from paying for leads that they can't sell and still keeps leads coming in.
    Wouldn't this be a violation of RESPA? Even Lead Aggregators have to be licensed in states they are generating / selling leads in depending on state laws. I don't think it would be legal for an aggregator to pay affiliates only if the lead is sold to a Loan Originator. While this is possible that some of them may try to do it this way, it certainly wouldn't be legal.
    [FONT=Verdana]Chris Gates[/FONT]

  18. #18
    Believe knight01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cgates
    Wouldn't this be a violation of RESPA? Even Lead Aggregators have to be licensed in states they are generating / selling leads in depending on state laws. I don't think it would be legal for an aggregator to pay affiliates only if the lead is sold to a Loan Originator. While this is possible that some of them may try to do it this way, it certainly wouldn't be legal.
    I don't think so. RESPA prohibits the payment of 'referral fees' based on a loan closing. i.e. if they close a loan I'll pay you $500. , not for information only leads.

    This is not much different from what is already happening in some respects to loan based criteria. (loan amount under $100k, refi only, etc.)

  19. #19
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Check your CJ internal email
    Check your CJ internal email.

    Important message today from Ameriquest:

    I expired my membership in their program after reading the message and their warning at the bottom of the message that it is prohibited and may be unlawful to post or distribute the conents of the message.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
    "Raj, there’s no place for truth on the internet." -Howard Wolowitz[/SIZE]

  20. #20
    Verbosely Virtuous Mutt spacedog's Avatar
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    I just now read that CJ email from Ameriquest. How is it unlawful, or for that matter, against any Terms and Conditions (rules) of CJ or any merchant's affiliate program, to disclose/post the contents of an email sent by them? I'm not going to post the contents because I suppose it may be unethical to do so. But it's only unethical in my mind because this particular email said not to disclose or post it. I'll not post the contents simply out of respect.

    In any case, if you are a CJ publisher with Ameriquest, you'll want to read your CJ email as AffiliateHound said. Let's hope Ameriquest hurries the process and pays out what they owe us. Now.

    I will not terminate my relationship with them until they pay me (not sure if keeping active with them even matters in terms of getting paid out more quickly but I'm not chancing it). But I'm certainly not advertising for them any more. Haven't done so since this thread began in early May.

  21. #21
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    As to prohibiting you from disclosing the contents of the message, a merchant can terminate an affiliate for any reason or for no reason. To suggest it's unlawful to disclose the content of their message (notice they purposely used the word may), is clearly untrue and a desperate move from a company in a desperate situation to survive. To threaten their creditors as they have done here is simply very poor business practice. It's also very poor business practice for CJ to continue to allow new signups with this merchant and to give no indication that this merchant is seriously in arrears of paying their publishers.

  22. #22
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowman
    ...To suggest it's unlawful to disclose the content of their message (notice they purposely used the word may), is clearly untrue and a desperate move from a company in a desperate situation to survive.
    I don't think that they can send out a large mailing to thousands of affiliates and have a reasonable expectation that it's contents will remain secret.

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowman
    To threaten their creditors as they have done here is simply very poor business practice. It's also very poor business practice for CJ to continue to allow new signups with this merchant and to give no indication that this merchant is seriously in arrears of paying their publishers.
    Not paying commissions + Mounting legal problems in several jurisdictions = Their days are numbered.

    CJ needs some sort of a warning flag for merchants in this situation, not unlike SAS's "Low Funds" warnings.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
    "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" -John Wooden;
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  23. #23

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    Any disclosure, copying, distribution, posting or use of the contents of this information is prohibited and may be unlawful.
    Keywords = "may be".

    My keyword = "bullshit"

    I do know fraud is unlawful and they seem to be moving quickly into that arena.

    To summarize this "Program update" it states that between June 8th-12th they basically didn't track or credit ANY leads for that time period.

    In addition they are restructuring things and have once against delayed payment and screwed over their "loyal" affiliates.

    I don't care if they terminate my Ameriquest affiliate account as I seriously doubt at this point we will be paid, and if we are paid anything it will be partial until they fold up shop.

    At this point they owe myself thousands of dollars in qualified leads that sit in the locked position (for now two months). Yet, they continue their operation in taking new leads and even stealing leads between June 8th and 12th to help pay for things. They are running up bills they can't pay, and in the end will just fly away and CJ will just twiddle it's thumbs. Seems that CJ can certainly make an affiliate pay for any fees incurred, but merchants seem to operate with impunity.

    As I have stated before this particular market is in a downward spiral and advertisers are dropping like flies. AmeriQuest is on that list as GetSmart just died on June 15th. Seems that LowerMyBills is also in the same boat as AmeriQuest as their "tracking" has been affected (though no disclosure on their part) since March.

    Irritated? Yes.

  24. #24
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    WOW! This is unbelievable. They acknowledge they didn't track and then threaten their affiliates if they tell anyone??? Every Ameriquest affiliate should copy the full message and send it to CJ.

  25. #25
    Verbosely Virtuous Mutt spacedog's Avatar
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    What would CJ bother doing if we affiliates did that, though? I spoke to a really annoyed and unhelpful CJ rep on the phone and she basically shoved me off, saying the Advertiser Relations Dept is "working on it" with Ameriquest and there's nothing she nor I can do about it. We can plainly see they're in bed with all their big name merchant partners with only their interests in mind, and as naked said they let those guys get away with cold hard fraud. Wow, I'd be much more than irritated if I'd lost thousands as naked has. I'm pissed enough as it is having several hundred I fairly earned sitting in limbo.

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