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  1. #1
    Member
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    Unhappy Honesty in reporting
    I am discouraged by the widespread fraud on the part of the affiliate companys in the
    affiliate industry. I love affiliate marketing but after experiencing over and over
    the nonreporting of commission sales. I am upset that merchants have little reason not
    to cheat affiliates by nonreporting. I have even had a subcompany report several sales
    for the affiliate company and the affiliate company report little or none. The sub company
    after this stated "please rely on what the main affiliate stats state"

    There seems to be little or no protection for the affiliate marketer. I don't know what to
    do. Please help because the honor system just does not work in affiliate marketing. I
    use a conversion tracking service the affiliate company just states its inaccurate.

    I have even had my family members buy products from my line and nothing reported.

    Please help.

  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager Howard Gottlieb's Avatar
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    Will you identify the merchants please?

  3. #3
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Trcyph I understand your frustration but there are honest merchants around. Search the merchants name here on ABW before you decide to work with a new merchant and see what experiences others have had with them. If there are no recent posts for that merchant start a thread an ask what experience others have had. This is no guarantee that your experience with a particular merchant will be the same but it will help you weed out some of the bad ones.

    If you are dealing with merchants that you know for sure are not reporting sales (which it appears that you do) report them to their respective networks along with whatever proof you have (the purchases by family members as an example). If they are cheating you than they are also cheating the network. If the network is unable to resolve the issue your only other recourse may be to sue the merchant if the amount is enough to make it worth your while. But certainly drop the merchant and start a post here to warn others. There's no point promoting a merchant that you know is cheating you.

    Unfortunately fraud is still a part of affiliate marketing and a small affiliate has few resources that we can rely on to put pressure on a merchant to "do the right thing". Affiliate commissions appear to be fair game for some merchants when they want to increase their bottom line. For some reason they don't see this as illegal or immoral. Go figure.

    -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

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador
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    This is clearly a widespread problem in affiliate marketing. The networks craft their affiliate participation agreements very carefully to assume absolutely no responsibility or liability. I've been saying for years that the affiliate marketing industry needs oversight. Until that happens, there will be no change. Some of the merchants and networks operate in the wild west. They know they are dealing primarily with small operators who cannot afford to go after them to make them accountable.

    I do think it will eventually catch up with them but I fear that at some point the industry will explode. You can only cover up your faults for so long.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador
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    "I am upset that merchants have little reason not to cheat affiliates by nonreporting."

    There's a big one, how many affiliates would work with merchants that were outed for doing that? Imagine the amount they think they would get by cheating affiliates vs. affiliates finding out, a merchant having that rep of not reporting etc. Good way to kill a program. I think a very small percentage are shady like that. Most merchants are going to want to report sales and for things to go smoothly because that will just make affiliates want to promote them even more and that's what most merchants want. And you can say what you want about the networks but they want all sales reported too since they get a percentage of that. It's in a network's best interest to track everything.

  6. #6
    Classic Rocker Mack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trcyph
    I have even had my family members buy products from my line and nothing reported.
    Post the results in the test purchase section. This will alert other affiliates about the program, and will keep them from wasting time promoting the merchant.
    Quote Originally Posted by trcyph
    I am upset that merchants have little reason not to cheat affiliates by nonreporting.
    Posting the name of the merchant here would be a great incentive. Just make sure you are telling the truth, and post the merchants website. Then mail them a link to the thread and offer them a chance to respond. Then we take the response and post it in the daily chuckle, because most of them use the same excuse.

  7. #7
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    As someone else asked, which merchant(s) or network(s) are we talking about? And what data do you have to support the claim that transactions aren't being reported?

    I've certainly detected tracking issues for several merchants; in most cases, I report these in the "Test Purchase" forum here, but sometimes I can quickly see that it's an aberration that is quickly fixed. (For example, my largest merchant for the past two years has "broken" their tracking code a total of three times during that period, but as soon as I saw transactions at zero for a day, I questioned the merchant and the problem was instantly fixed and the merchant manually checked and credited missed transactions. One of those three times, the merchant fixed the problem before I noticed it.)

    Personally, I believe that the "affiliate networks" should be initiating test transactions at least once per quarter for each merchant, to validate that tracking is working (merchants would then manually reverse those transactions). To the best of my knowledge, none of the affiliate networks actually do this, and none has ever responded meaningfully to reports of "untracked transactions" when I report them. Indeed, I'm still quite disappointed at the number of "defunct merchants" that are listed as "active" at ShareASale, and of course SAS is my favorite of the affiliate networks.

    In any business, you must have a system of "checks and balances" in place to insure that everything is working properly. As an affiliate, I work hard to verify that transactions are being properly tracked and reported.

    For more than a decade, I've always said that the hardest crooks to catch aren't those who cheat you all the time, but those who cheat you only a fraction of the time. That's certainly true in this space: we usually just assume that if we're seeing multiple transactions per day for a particular merchant, everything is working fine, but it's entirely possible that a significant percentage of commissionable transactions might be unreported.

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador
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    Yes, always post those test purchases, even the good ones. It's a good way for people to compare notes. If you have something that didn't track and people read it and they had their own that didn't track or notice that their sales have taken a dive, good chance there is a real problem.

  9. #9
    Member
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    thank you to all who have responded to my post. As always I take all your comments to heart.

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