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  1. #1
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    Merchant Reversal Policies
    I don't usually post anything, anywhere. However, I've had this happen twice now and figure its worth mentioning to other affiliates so that they all know exactly who ShareASale is working for.
    Here's the quick story: I have had two cases where merchants have voided sales and after contacting the merchant to find out why the reasons why, the reason given was, in my opinion, invalid. (Just to be clear, I've had many sales voided and most for seemingly appropriate reasons.) I contacted ShareASale support for these two instances and both times I was told that even though ShareASale felt the sales shouldn't have been voided they could do nothing about it. Here is an email I just received for the most recent occurrence:

    Hi Kraney,

    I agree, the merchant should have that qualification listed in the "Program Agreement". Unfortunately, only the merchant can void and restore commissions, so there is not much that I can do for you. Your best bet is to take it up with the merchant directly.


    Edited by Brian - ShareASale : Edited out contact information only. I would generally prefer that you not post email content that is between yourself and ShareASale. But please definitely refrain from posting things like individual contact information, technical specs, error messages, etc... as they can contain sensitive information. At least check with me first
    So the point of my post is to make all affiliates aware that any merchant can void any transaction for any reason they want, valid or not. If a merchant does this it is ShareASale's policy to do nothing to help the affiliate. All of the power rests in the hands of the merchants. If an unscrupulous merchant decides they don't want to pay you, oh well.

    Cheers

  2. #2
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    Tell me which other network is better in this regard!. I think all networks are the same in this regard and pretty much do nothing against merchant voids or reversals. That being said, the incidence of reversals may be more predominant with smaller merchants and SaS has a large number of smaller merchants compared to other major networks like CJ / LS / Performics.

    However, based on my recent (1 to 2 month) experience with SaS and its merchants, overall SaS seems to be doing pretty good

  3. #3
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    It sounds to me like you were doing something the merchant didn't like. It is not Shareasale's responsibility to go to bat for you with the merchant. Your relationship is with the merchant and that is who you need to have issues with. And if you think Shareasale is treating you unfairly and not representing you, try CJ or Linkshare!

    Shareasale is the best network in this industry at this moment in my opinion. They do not have enough staff to hold hands but when a real problem arises you will be amazed to see how fast things are fixed.

    I would select another merchant if I were you and make sure you read their terms and abide by them.

    Other than that, welcome to ABW

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    You ask who SAS is working for?

    They lost their also so both of you lost, that comment is off base IMO
    Bob Pets Warehouse
    Worlds Largest Pet Supply DataBase
    Join our Share-A-Sale Program [since 2003] Twitter



  5. #5
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Kraney,

    I do understand the problem, and where you are coming from. At this time in this industry, merchants are very sensitive to the various methods that are being used by affiliates to drive traffic. Some merchants see certain methods as non-valid, and we try to work with our merchants to make sure those terms are listed in their accounts. I am currently
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  6. #6
    Classic Rocker Mack's Avatar
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    At least you got a reply, more than you get at LS/CJ.

    The issue is with the merchant, not SaS. Reversal rate is something easy to see in the merchant stats. If they have a high history of reversals, you may want to select a different merchant in the same category. Some just have a high rate naturally, like hosting or shoes.

    You never mentioned the circumstance. It appeared to be a policy violation that wasn't defined by the merchant. Which merchant was it?

  7. #7
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    ... sorry, my computer was about to reboot itself, had to post quickly. ...

    Continuing the post....

    I am currently attempting to work with this merchant as this issue has come up with a seperate affiliate. I don't know how successfull I will be but if I am able to get that commission back for you I will.

    Ultimately, a merchant decides what they will pay out to affiliates, and while we do everything we can to try to keep a fair and level playing field - there are times where a merchant makes a decision that we can't influence. If we feel that a merchant is unfairly taking advantage of their affiliates we will at times be forced to close their account but it is a step that we don't like to take.

    As a pre-warning/note to affiliates... if you plan to do ANY type of PPC marketing I HIGHLY recommend that you contact the merchant AHEAD of any campaign to make sure that what you are planning falls within what they feel are acceptable marketing practices. This is especially true in the case where no PPC policy is stated either in their affiliate agreement or through the tools available on ShareASale. My advice here is strictly to help you avoid any problems, it doesn't mean that I think merchant's actions are always justified...
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  8. #8
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    I'll echo what others are saying here. Yes, there are times when I don't like what SAS says in response to my complaints, and I wish they would respond faster than the typical 24-hour turnaround time -- but they always respond, and they always clearly understand the issue and give a reasoned conclusion.

    In contrast, CJ and LS usually ignored all efforts at communication; on the rare occasions when CJ or LS staff did reply, it was many days later, demonstrated an incorrect understanding of the question, and failed to provide an intelligent answer.

    Of course, when I did participate in CJ's network, I did have some very wonderful merchants with competent, responsive affiliate management staff; but I've never found any reason to believe that anyone at CJ or LS was competent, nor cared about anything.

  9. #9
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    "This is especially true in the case where no PPC policy is stated either in their affiliate agreement or through the tools available on ShareASale."

    I wish all merchants, regardless of network, would be required to state that policy clearly in their terms. That would help alleviate these kind of issues. When a merchant signs up to the network, in the box where they are supposed to put the PPC Policy, put the word required on that box. Problem solved. They can't go live until they fill it in. And you can get the merchants already in the network to comply. I think CJ kind of did that? with the keyword links, the merchants are supposed to have one but haven't checked if they all have one up.

  10. #10
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian - ShareASale
    This is especially true in the case where no PPC policy is stated either in their affiliate agreement or through the tools available on Shareable.
    Brian I disagree with this statement. As I understand it a merchants Affiliate Agreement is a binding contract and the fact that a merchant has neglected to include desired terms should not be our problem. Merchants have the option of updating their terms at any time that they wish. It's not our job to baby sit them. If an affiliate is denied payment because of something a merchant "should have had" in their terms they are clearly in the wrong. You can not enforce a term that neither party has agreed to in Illinois or any other state to my knowledge.

    If a merchant does not state a PPC policy in their agreement, then they have no PPC policy. Noene of the networks should hold affilaites to a standard that isn't required of their merchants.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  11. #11
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    Redtagdeals,

    In my experience, a better network is ClixGalore when it comes to going to bat for affiliates.

    UncleScooter,

    I did read the merchant’s terms, as I do all merchants, that is the issue. They listed no PPC restrictions. After I generated sales they decided that they didn't like PPC. I have no issues following Merchants rules; I have issues when the merchant comes up with rules after commissions are generated. By the way. there is still nothing listed on their terms regarding PPC.

    PetsWarehouse,

    They are working for the Merchants, the comment is on base. Think about it, they are an intermediary and in both cases they clearly stated to me that the commissions shouldn't have been voided. However, they can do nothing about it because their policy is that the merchants have the final say in whether or not to pay commissions. Their customer satisfaction policy appears to be lopsided towards the merchant; that is why I say they are working for the merchants.

    Brian,

    I appreciate what you have been able to do, building a quality network that screens affiliate fraud heavily. I don't appreciate the fact that, even when it is clear that commissions are owed, ShareASale's policy is to appease the merchant and not pay justly earned commissions. Both cases I pleaded to Michael had found that no violation of any terms or conditions set forth by the merchant or ShareASale occurred; the first case the merchant accused me of owning a site that I clearly had no affiliation with (I still have no idea how she associated that site to me). It's frustrating that ShareASale won't go to bat for the affiliate. Merchants can be "sensitive" to whatever they like; they can have whatever rules they like. I respect that completely. However, these rules should be clearly specified by the merchant. ShareASale has one of the best set ups to quickly show the merchants' "sensitivities” if they choose not to use that, that should be their loss, not the affiliate's.

    Mack,

    The issue is ShareASale AND the merchant. Just as I stated above, ShareASale doesn't support the affiliate, they appease the merchant in lieu of having and/or enforcing rules that would make merchants pay justly earned commissions. The merchant has elected not to pay commissions, a complaint is made to ShareASale, ShareASale concurs that the commissions should be paid but states, "Unfortunately, only the merchant can void and restore commissions, so there is not much that I can do for you." So as I stated above, merchants have the final say in paying commissions even if ShareASale feels that the commissions were unjustly withheld. As far as which merchant it was, I am not sure it would be prudent to say on here. As much as I'd like to warn all, as it seems according to Brian, that I am not the first person to experience this with this merchant. By the way, I have never had any issues getting a hold of someone at CJ or LS.

    Trust and Rematt,

    Thanks for the support. It's frustrating to me, too, that the merchant's failure to specify terms is the affiliate's responsibility. If it isn't obvious enough, I agree with both of your posts.


    All,

    I appreciate the feedback. My only point in posting this was to let everyone know ShareASales position. In my opinion, this is summed up in this quote: "Unfortunately, only the merchant can void and restore commissions, so there is not much that I can do for you." As long as everyone is clear that that is ShareASale's position I have achieved what I set out to do. ShareASale has the right to take whatever position they want, I respect that as well. I just think it should be clear to everyone who does business with them.
    I don't plan on replying anymore to the thread; if I am going to be on the computer I'd rather be making money than defending my position.

    Good luck to everyone in their marketing endeavors.

  12. #12
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    I did read the merchant’s terms, as I do all merchants, that is the issue. They listed no PPC restrictions. After I generated sales they decided that they didn't like PPC.
    That being the case, if you were doing web based PPC, then I believe the merchant should be paying out. Merchants should not be allowed to retroactively apply terms that they change in their affiliate agreements. Terms apply from the the the time they are changed onward and all affiliates need to be notified of the change to the Terms and Conditions.

    Perhaps this is something that SAS could do, ensure an alert shows in the SAS interface if a merchant makes a change, so that the T&C can be reviewed for changes by their affiliate partners.

    Cheers

    Chris
    Affiliate Marketing by AMWSO. Skype - chrissanderson ::: TEL 1-720-336-1784 ::: www.amwso.net
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  13. #13
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    "I wish all merchants, regardless of network, would be required to state that policy clearly in their terms. That would help alleviate these kind of issues. When a merchant signs up to the network, in the box where they are supposed to put the PPC Policy, put the word required on that box
    Agree with that too. I helped a merchant get setup and after I asked him if he entered a ppc rule here said 'where is that?"

    Brian, perhaps a suggestion would be to add another link or another tab for that "PPC Bidding Rules" also right in the 'Account Settings > Edit Settings' for merchants, right there so they don't miss it when setting up the program too. And like trust said make it a required prompt. The yellow 'PPC Bidding Rules' link is good, but maybe some think it is a SAS rule and maybe don't see it or click on it or know what to enter there.

    Kraney,
    "I did read the merchant’s terms, as I do all merchants, that is the issue. They listed no PPC restrictions. After I generated sales they decided that they didn't like PPC. I have no issues following Merchants rules; I have issues when the merchant comes up with rules after commissions are generated. By the way. there is still nothing listed on their terms regarding PPC."
    That is what we are saying. The merchant had no PPC rules in there and after you made the sale they decided to take it away. It's not fair to you I know but don't blame SAS for it blame the merchant for reversing a sale instead of warning you one time and explaining why.

    I can assure you that SAS is top notch on that and they do go to bat for the affiliates, I had prove of that years ago with another merchant and an affiliate so have claims or SAS having lack of support or not fighting for YOU is not true.

    Just look at the response you are already getting here from Brian. Not too many places/networks will reply here to help you as he has done on a Tuesday after 8pm.


  14. #14
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    If no stated PPC restrictions were in the merchant terms, the merchant has no right to void commissions. Period.

    Most networks have a policy not to pay affiliates unless they collect money from the merchants.

    However, networks can TURN OFF a non-paying merchant or a merchant who does not comply with its own stated terms.

    Hope SaS does the right thing in this case even if this means taking an action against the merchant.

  15. #15
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    he merchant had no PPC rules in there and after you made the sale they decided to take it away. It's not fair to you I know but don't blame SAS for it blame the merchant for reversing a sale instead of warning you one time and explaining why.
    Actually I'm going to disagree in part here, it would be simple for SAS to have something in their Terms and Conditions for merchants that states that; changes in marketing policy (such as to PPC marketing conditions) can not be retroactively applied to sales that have happened before the change in policy was posted in their T&C. (not the exact wording but you get the idea)

    That being the case any merchant doing so would be violating the SAS T&C and could be bought to task by Shareasale.

    That of course would then create a mass of work for Brian, watching 2000 odd T&C for changes and checking every return to ensure it is legit, it might not be the best use of the SAS teams time.

    Cheers

    Chris
    Affiliate Marketing by AMWSO. Skype - chrissanderson ::: TEL 1-720-336-1784 ::: www.amwso.net
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  16. #16
    Classic Rocker Mack's Avatar
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    I agree changing the terms after the fact, and not paying a commission, is bad. Merchants like that will lose affiliates.

    Just my opinion and I'm sure many will disagree, it would be easier to just say it's not allowed unless the merchant opts in. Part of the opt in is to clearly define the rules in using PPC.

  17. #17
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    One question:

    WHO IS THE ADVOCATE FOR THE AFFILIATE?

    We are expected to abide by the networks terms and the merchants terms. However when either does not abide by THEIR OWN TERMS we are still left holding the bag.

    It was my (apparently mistaken) impression that the network was an intermediary to ensure that both parties play by the rules. It now appears that the network is there only to make sure that WE play by the rules.

    Again: WHO IS OUR ADVOCATE?

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  18. #18
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    What does the network TOS say about their role in merchant/affiliate disputes over commissions paid or not paid? Are the terms stating that they do or do not intervene in cases of disputes?

    Is there any reason that affiliates can legitimately claim that the network is responsible to act as an intermediary if there's a dispute?

    You agree that shareasale.com, although the provider of the Service, has no responsibility or liability as a result of Your placement of authorized Links from Your Web site, and You, and the Merchant, jointly and severally agree to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless shareasale.com and its affiliates, officers, directors, employees and agents from and against any and all liability, claims, losses, damages, injuries or expenses (including reasonable attorneys' fees) directly or indirectly arising from or relating to any offer or any other matter related to this Agreement or the subject matter hereof and any dispute relating thereto.
    It's between the affiliate and the merchant. Period. If there's anything promising the contrary, it should be there in the SAS Terms of Service. So find it for us.

    That said, no doubt if there's a pattern of dishonest, unethical or illegal behavior, that would be a matter between the network and the merchant, which is not the same thing as the network acting as an intermediary in any individual disputes.

    If the merchant is a deadbeat, drop them, cut your losses, stop whining and move on to a competitor.

  19. #19
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    I'm with Rematt (Post #10) on this.

    It's absolutely bogus if a merchant can just invent some previously-nonstated reason and not pay. To allow that is not just asking, it's BEGGING on bended knee for crookery!!!

    SAS needs to do the right thing and make that merchant pay up (or boot them). Otherwise, SAS's credibility just went down a jarringly large step.

  20. #20
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    I don't plan on replying anymore to the thread; if I am going to be on the computer I'd rather be making money than defending my position.
    Surface with 2 posts to ***** and moan, then terminate dialog. You just got to love it.

  21. #21
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    If a merchant changes their terms, they should pay the commissions due up to the point of the terms being changed and the affiliates being notified. They *should* not be able to reverse sales that are made in good faith.

    I have to agree with the statements though that TOS agreements are between merchant and affiliate, that has been pointed out many times over and over. If there is a dispute then the affiliate needs to pursue action such as BBB complaints. The network loses money when the affiliate commission is reversed as well.

    Networks are tracking systems, and payment systems that do not get involved with individual disputes. Brian has stated he is working with the merchant to get them to change their stance, however it is not his responsibility to police individual disputes.

    As affiliates we choose which merchants to work with. Bad merchants get outted and we can choose to stay away from them. If a merchant engages in fraudulent activities, then networks need to take action.

    Shareasale does more than any other network to advocate for its affiliates and provide services that affiliates AND merchants request.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  22. #22
    Outsourced Program Manager Jorge - SHOPiMAR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bumpaw
    Surface with 2 posts to ***** and moan, then terminate dialog. You just got to love it.
    Wonder why and was thinking the same thing. But was there an actual reason behind it?

    > In my experience, a better network is Cli....ore
    > I have achieved what I set out to do
    > I don't plan on replying anymore


  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leader
    I'm with Rematt (Post #10) on this.

    It's absolutely bogus if a merchant can just invent some previously-nonstated reason and not pay. To allow that is not just asking, it's BEGGING on bended knee for crookery!!!

    SAS needs to do the right thing and make that merchant pay up (or boot them). Otherwise, SAS's credibility just went down a jarringly large step.
    In all fairness, there have been several instances in the past where SAS merchants were clearly in violation of their responsibility for TOS compliance on more than just one issue and/or were engaging in unethical practices, but were allowed to remain:

    Merchant TOS (PDF file)

    Merchant's should be terminated for TOS violation and at times they haven't been.

    Added:
    It won't copy and paste from the PDF, but very specifically, bullet point #7 was clearly violated and all the merchant got for their continuing crookery (great word) was a slap on the wrist and is still in the network. I can find the thread where the tumult about it first took place.

    Fair's fair, and in all honesty the "system" isn't altogether perfect. Not until we can see thieves and shady practices given the boot when they deserve it.

  24. #24
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    All good points, and I would like to add the following:

    1. Kraney didn't do anything wrong... he/she is a victim of really poor behaviour on the part of a merchant. There isn't anything wrong with Kraney bringing it up here on AbestWeb either, Kraney is a valued affiliate for whom I would love to solve this problem and will attempt to do so. Whatever is said here, I don't want it to turn into a negative thread against Kraney just because he/she has posted negatively, etc...



    2. We actually do a lot of what is being said in terms of what we "should do", but there is ultimately a catch-22 that arises. We are often forced to deal with the option of either A) cancelling the merchant program and angering a whole bunch of affiliates who were earning commissions from that merchant or B) not-cancelling the program and angering a group of affiliates who were being wronged.

    Often times there isn't a really great easy solution - but with this case I will treat it like all others which means I will do everything I can to make the merchant understand that this isn't an acceptable practice and at the very least get their program corrected so that they have appropriate terms of use, etc...

    In terms of what rematt said, ... I agree... it is a binding agreement. However, ... our option if they violate a TOS is to terminate their account. If you think about it in terms of the overall picture, this does not help the situation that the affiliate is in. I would much rather, in general, attempt to work with the merchant to solve the problem and hopefully recover a commission for the affiliate.

    Kraney,

    I understand if you don't want to reply here, etc... and I respect your decision. Either way, I will be following up with the merchant in an effort to regain your commissions. I know that you've stated it is not an acceptable answer, but our reality is that we can't just charge a merchant's account without obvious reprecussions coming from that action against the merchant. Our attempt will be to explain to the merchant why what they did was incorrect and to convince them that they need to reinstate the commission.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  25. #25
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    Brian, what about making it a requirement for new merchants to fill in the PPC Policy box and working on getting the current ones to do it**? I don't see why anybody would have a problem with clear cut rules. As an affiliate, I would love it. A merchant shouldn't have a problem with it either, ones that do, you don't want in your network. Clear cut rules eliminates these type of problems.

    **Something along the lines of we need your PPC Policy by the end of the month.

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