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  1. #1
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    David's Cookies - eBates, iGive, UPromise, etc...
    eBates, iGive, UPromise, etc...

    Since you're a psychologist, I'm curious if you can address my fears that by promoting you, I'll be providing traffic (and therefore income) that sustains people who steal from me (and from you as well). I have this hangup where I don't understand why you'd inflict financial injury to the company that sustains you, and in so doing, set me up for some of the same.

    Is it as simple as David's is making so much profit that they don't care about paying commissions to underserving BHO affiliates, so there's no real injury being done by your affiliate choices to David's?

    If so, I'm still stuck on the injury those choices would cause me as your affiliate, can you help me "see" past that situation as well?

  2. #2
    Affiliate Manager davidscookies's Avatar
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    Donuts,

    Dude, you have me completely lost. Can you start from the beginning? Have you had a bad experience with my company in the past? I've been heading up the David's Cookies program for six months, so if there's something that happened before that, please let me know and I'll make good on anything we're responsible for.

    I have a degree in psychology and I go to therapy every other week (mostly "life coaching" stuff), but I'm far from a psychologist. I've been in Internet marketing for about 6 years.

    I pay out commissions every month, and in my opinion, by using a 3rd party program like Linkshare to track sales, it significantly reduces the likelihood of foul play for us or any other merchant.

    Since I took over this program, we've doubled sales through Linkshare and doubled our monthly payouts, so I'd say chances are, if your traffic is on target with our product, you will make money.

    Naturally like anything else, there will be some obstacles that limit you to a degree - but most of these are entirely out of my control. Affiliates compete with each other, just as merchants compete with each other, if that's what you're eluding to. I would hope that you decide to work with me, but that is also out of my control.

  3. #3
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Thanks for replying!

    Sorry for confusing your degree with your profession, but I was serious about you analyzing my hang ups in an area you seem to not really understand from a marketing point of view, so perhaps the "why's" behind my feelings can wait until you've progressed to a better understanding of what I mean by your choices of affiliate partners. But if you've been involved in affiliate marketing for 6 years, I'd expect you to know the "deal" already - let me assume you don't unless it's obviously otherwise going forward.

    Nope, I have not had any bad experiences with your program at all, have never joined it. I know your brand as a shopper and it holds quality, didn't have to look at anything as an affiliate for me to know that part about you. Site looks great, that's usually my first quick screening step. You're at ABW, that's a huge positive for me personally. Then I went on to spot check some partners of yours, as I do with all merchants. And I quickly see loads of bad affiliates in your program.

    Quote Originally Posted by davidscookies
    in my opinion, by using a 3rd party program like Linkshare to track sales, it significantly reduces the likelihood of foul play for us or any other merchant.
    For me, knowing your at LinkShare does not reduce the likelihood of foulplay. In fact, for me, it raises the likelihood. LinkShare promotes certain affiliates, with rewards, recognition and even dedicated promotional steps, that are monetizing traffic at your site via software they distribute, not by introducing or referring visitors - they simply have a software application (a browser plug-in, aka Browser Helper Object, or BHO) that fires off the tracking mechanisms when someone with that software installed lands on your site. Using software tricks to claim credit, is very different than earning it. That same software, often interferes with the legitimate tracking of your affiliates who actually do refer visitors to your site - so one ethical affiliate does the work - and one sneaky one takes credit for it. Since the sneaky has the ability to post so many "sales", LinkShare, earning a % of every sale, chooses to turn a blind eye to it. At times, LinkShare does worse that that and extolls the virtue and sales power of these BHO affiliates (who are actually taking credit for visitors who are already at your website). In short, LinkShare has you snookered. Go ask them to read this post and to them explain away what I've shared with you concerning BHO affiliates.

    Here are some videos that explain how BHO affiliates do their evil magic:
    http://www.affiliatefairplay.com/adware_tutorial.html

    Part IV is an example of interfering with an earlier legitimate affiliate referral that was overwritten by a BHO affiliate - this tactic harms your honest, valuable affiliates. The other 3 examples deal with damages done to your other departments at David's, like your SEO team, your PPC team, and other branding and promotion channels - because the BHO affiliate take credit for those sales too.

    LinkShare knows this whole story, of course. So if you look to them for trusted advice on making money, think again. If you want advice on how to inflate your affiliate channel's reported sales, at the expense of your coworkers and ethical affiliates who are actually doing the real work to produce sales, then you've found an ideal partner in LinkShare.

    Quote Originally Posted by davidscookies
    Naturally like anything else, there will be some obstacles that limit you to a degree - but most of these are entirely out of my control. Affiliates compete with each other, just as merchants compete with each other, if that's what you're eluding to.
    Competing fairly with others is something I relish, because I take a great deal of justified pride in myself by doing very well in that environment. But getting stolen from isn't my idea of fun or achievement (since someone else gets paid for the traffic I would drive to you). And monitoring your affiliates tactics and knowing who adds real value and who cheats, certainly is within your control. You get to choose to allow or disallow any individual affiliate - you control the entryway - you're the bouncer, so to speak. If you let cheaters in, that steal from me, I'm not interesting in spending my time or money on your business.

    Explore the technology yourself and learn the truth - this poaching is limiting, not aiding David's in it's growth. Your affiliate channel swells alright, but it's because water from your company's other revenue buckets (PPC, SEO, Brand name recognition, direct mail, email, radio, tv, your ethical affiliates) is being poured from those respective buckets into the affiliate channel bucket by virtue of the BHO's ability to claim credit for sales they didn't refer.

    You're paying commissions to them for unearned sales, you're hurting your other departments by taking credit for their work and you're disincenting your ethical affiliates with lost sales (lower earnings) and in many cases, you're hurting your recruiting as well because we know you're not exercising proper stewardship over your program.

    When the bouncer is blind by choice, shenanigans ensue and real customers run for the exits.

    It's ironic that you sell "cookies" - because "cookie" tracking is where you're being screwed by your trusted third-party. If UPromise does well for you, I'd find a great deal of humor in David's sending them boxes of cookies for the year-end holidays... getting cookies for stealing cookies... I bet they're privately laughing at you!

    Personally, I don't think it's very funny. I think it's sad that LinkShare would condone this behavior while further enriching themselves, at your company's expense, by characterizing these BHO affiliates as playing an important role in your growth. It's like WalMart's security company dropping off busloads of shoplifters and then telling you everyone how much faster the goods will fly off the shelves!

    Whether you choose to uncover the truth yourself or to just go on believing LinkShare, good luck in your personal journey.

  4. #4
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    You've got way too much time on your hands, Donuts. If you want to single out a company for affiliating with Ebates, et al., communicate directly with the AM. David's Cookies didn't deserve this in a public forum.

  5. #5
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Snowman, sorry you feel that way, but you're entitled to your opinion too of course.

    Personally, I believe ABW exists to discuss things exactly like this and I don't think I'm being overly harsh or making it a personal attack either. I also believe this is a more effective use of my time, I can influence others in this forum who lurk and my experience tells me the email wouldn't likely even be read. Further, I believe I'm doing a favor to David's by explaining my feelings and reasoning - evidently, somebody needs to tell them in a frank manner.

    I also feel that I'm doing a favor to my fellow affiliates, even you. :-)

    But I understand your position, and I respect it too. They certainly are a strong looking merchant. I will tell you that I strongly dislike seing them fooled, and as a result, seeing my peers affiliates being stolen from.

    Outside if this specific merchant, I think it's way past time to speak frankly about harmful decisions made, whether intentional, through ignorance or through misplaced trust.

    But there's certainly room for us to disagree on that as well.

    So keep calling me names (I'm referring to another thread) and expressing your disappointment in my posts and my tone, but rest assured if I'm posting here, I'll be dishing out plenty more of the same - as I have done for years.

    And I'll look forward to your input characterizing my posts as attacks, expressing my "ugly side" and your general opinion that much of what I post is undeserving - it does let me know people are reading it.

    Feel free to add me to your ignore list if the truth upsets you.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador kse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    .... I also feel that I'm doing a favor to my fellow affiliates, even you. :-) .....
    Yes you are Donuts and Thank you...

  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager davidscookies's Avatar
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    Donuts, I do appreciate your insight and I will certainly look into the right course of action here. As Snowman suggested (thank you, Snowman), I would have preferred to have this discussion offline as I'm a low drama guy and do try to do the right thing, without the pressure of a semi-permanent medium and making promises I may not be able to keep in order to save face.

    I've gotten several calls today from friends and other people who saw your post and most said that as a merchant, I'm better off not contributing to ABW and that I should just, "back out graciously" and avoid this board because posting on this forum will do nothing positive for my company. I'm hoping that's not true, but I will say that when it comes to spending advertising dollars in 2008, a merchant would be more likely to spend that money on a board or other resource site where they feel welcomed and not attacked. You were polite and respectful in your posting and I do appreciate that, but I didn't come here to get into anything heavy - I just wanted to post a coupon code in the appropriate area and offer a little advice on things I might know a thing or two about.

    Please understand that I'm new to David's Cookies and because I'm new, it's not the right time for me to drop any affiliates who look good on paper. I doubt I will be in a position to make a decision like that until after Christmas to be perfectly honest. In the meantime I will certainly read that link you've posted and consider my options for when the timing is better. Fair enough?

    As for my knowledge of online marketing, feel free to call me up and I'll gladly explain my history and who I've worked with offline. Sometimes a conversation between two people on the phone or in person is a lot more productive than a board post or email, but that's just my opinion :-)

    Hope you decide to give me a call...

  8. #8
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Damn Donuts you've written an professional essay to this Cookie outfit as if this elitist AM. Like he doesn't know he's stealing sales via BHO's, and other OUTED LS forced cookie stuffers, from the non-commissionable traffic generated by David's Cookie marketing teams.

    For every hijacked sale rung up by these shopping cart & Trademark poachers that gets credited to the affiliate sales channel... someone in management just got smoke blown up their butts. Those purchases belong to non-commissionable in-house sales efforts due to a cookie plant or some originating referral traffic affiliate got his return day cookie whacked by an overwrite.

    Simple test for the AM, or real merchant management, is to take the top 50 earning affiliates and see how many are incentive based. Then look at their sales if see what percentage has an incentive attached (Coupon Rewards points etc) . Example: If a coupon site has only 10% of their sales without a coupon attached to their orders... then they originated those shoppers. BHO's never originate traffic... they intercept it or redirect it to a competitor.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  9. #9
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidscookies
    I would have preferred to have this discussion offline as I'm a low drama guy and do try to do the right thing, without the pressure of a semi-permanent medium and making promises I may not be able to keep in order to save face.
    Doing the right thing wouldn't need to be surpressed from public view, actually you'd probably be lauded for it.

    Quote Originally Posted by davidscookies
    I've gotten several calls today from friends and other people who saw your post and most said that as a merchant, I'm better off not contributing to ABW and that I should just, "back out graciously" and avoid this board because posting on this forum will do nothing positive for my company.
    I'm sure I can find you many more merchants and people who would tell you that active participation and running a clean program has done nothing but drastically improve their business -- but I guess they are all wrong? LMAO!

    Quote Originally Posted by davidscookies
    I'm hoping that's not true, but I will say that when it comes to spending advertising dollars in 2008, a merchant would be more likely to spend that money on a board or other resource site where they feel welcomed and not attacked.
    If an affiliate can't post questions about notriously questionable affiliates that are in your program, then I'd suggest you don't particiapte nor post coupon codes for free much less buy an ad or any other potential advertising because every affiliate has the right to ask and discuss your or any merchants' affiliations with parasites here on ABW! With or without any "marketing dollars"!!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by davidscookies
    Please understand that I'm new to David's Cookies and because I'm new, it's not the right time for me to drop any affiliates who look good on paper.
    Yeah I'm sure it's tough to do, but it is the right thing to do and ASAP is the right time to do it.

    I'm not trting to bully or push my weight around I felt I needed to answer some points in your post.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador meadowmufn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    I also feel that I'm doing a favor to my fellow affiliates, even you. :-)
    Thanks, Donuts. I appreciate your efforts on behalf of affiliates to educate merchants on running clean programs.
    -Don't criticize anyone til you've walked a mile in their shoes. Then when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and have their shoes.
    - Silence is golden. Duct Tape is silver.

  11. #11
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    Donuts and Haiko are spot on in their comments.

    Don't wait until after Christmas, to resolve these issues.

    Do participate, those that fail to do so, do so at their own peril.
    Bob Pets Warehouse
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  12. #12
    Member lookingfortips's Avatar
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    I had no idea such affiliate websites created "commission theft" problems for affiliates. I knew they were riddled with horrible spyware/adware programs but I didn't know they could steal your sales. This forum really is a deep well of knowledge and you guys are great. I have already learned so much in such a short time.

    Although I don't have such sites as my affiliates since I just launched my program, I will be sure to keep such sites out of my list of affiliates.

    Edit: I should probably ask now that I think about it. What are the names of these sites that cause such problems for affiliates? Ebates is one, obviously. What are some others I need to watch out for? Is there a way to know by looking at the sites?

  13. #13
    Affiliate Manager davidscookies's Avatar
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    There are some good, valid points here, and some points that are completely off the mark, particularly those that pertain to my company directly. I'm not going to get into this, nor am I going to act on impulse. I'm sure you're all great people and I hope to see you at a tradeshow or something. A couple of you are in NY (Haiko, Bob) so let me know if you'd like to have a face to face in Manhattan. I'll buy you dinner and we can have a real discussion.

    I do think this is a great board with valuable information and a lot of opinions and I wish you the best. I hope that by using me and the company I represent as an example, you've made your point and achieved your goal. Better me than someone more reactionary. For now I think I'm going to switch to lurk status. Peace.

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidscookies
    I've gotten several calls today from friends and other people who saw your post and most said that as a merchant, I'm better off not contributing to ABW and that I should just, "back out graciously" and avoid this board because posting on this forum will do nothing positive for my company. I'm hoping that's not true, but I will say that when it comes to spending advertising dollars in 2008, a merchant would be more likely to spend that money on a board or other resource site where they feel welcomed and not attacked.
    Don't you find it strange that these "friends and other people" are apparently avid readers of this forum yet they recommend you stay away? If I felt I should tell people to avoid a forum, I surely wouldn't spend time there myself.

    Those who say you're better off not contributing here are likely, IMO, those who have been outed here for some "undesirable" practices. I've been a member for years and can't imagine running my business without ABW. I make mistakes and get called on it. It's not pleasant but I'd rather someone take the time to tell me I messed up than just avoid my programs altogether. If you're an affiliate manager, why would you not want to be where the affiliates are? Now, a con artist would avoid this place like the plague because it would just be a matter of time before they are caught and hung out to dry here.

    It seems you're at a crossroad here. You can heed the advice of Donuts, who knows more about this biz than most people could ever hope, or you can blow it off and just lurk here without being a part of where it's at. I hope you choose the former because those who take the time to contribute are usually the ones who care the most.
    Greg Rice Affiliate Program Management
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  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador newestuser's Avatar
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    Sure you can lurk, and yes, the posts were a bit strong... But the fact remains that you're doing business with these companies which exist just to take commissions from potentially loyal affiliates and your company.

    Do a test.. Drop those parasitic affiliates, and see if overall company sales go down. My guess is:
    1. you'll make the same overall money for the online purchases,
    2. most genuine affiliates will earn more money, and in turn hopefully promote you more,
    3. you'll be paying less in commissions overall, becaue you won't have to pay for parasitic sales you were getting anyway.
    4. you look like a superstar to your company for saving money!

  16. #16
    Affiliate Manager davidscookies's Avatar
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    Sure, but here's the thing: I'm not going to make an impulsive decision in the span of an hour, or even a day or a week. Would you agree that it's better to take the time to make the right, unbiased decision, after all information has been gathered from all sides of a disagreement before making a decision?

    Or how about this, if you felt strongly about a particular decision, wouldn't you want to be in a place where your suggestions carry more weight? It would make sense that if it did come to my wanting to filter out who we do and do not do business with, I would need to strengthen my position in the organization. In any company we all know that means bottom line. If our numbers are higher than when I started here by a significant enough amount, then I have more leverage because clearly the decisions I've made thusfar have resulted in increased revenues. These numbers only come at Christmas time at a seasonal gifts company like ours. And any smart company - ours or otherwise, would be conservative about making major decisions that change their revenue model so close to their peak season - it's too high a risk.

    David's Cookies is a very low tech company - we bake cookies and we're very good at it. If you saw our office you'd choke on the comment above about smoke up people's butts in our gigantic marketing department. With the exception of some drop shipping deals, I'm the online marketing guy - me. So as far as smoke up my butt goes, I'd get plenty more if I wasn't paying commissions to the above affiliates and keeping revenues constant because our costs are lower in-house. For that matter, there aren't many other companies like ours that offer free shipping on all orders and still pay affiliates on the entire sale while we eat the shipping costs.

    In 2008 I'm hoping to hire more staff including some dedicated AM's once the model is solidified. Right now I'm busy just getting the site from 1999 to 2008 and promoting it enough to cover our costs.

    At a mom and pop company like ours (yes, a $35MM mom and pop company), when it comes to online strategy, it takes a great deal of time for me to push through new ideas. 99% of this business is built on wholesale deals and direct sales. Affiliate Marketing, Online Marketing and the like are very alien concepts here. So, anything different than what's been done for 6 years during a mostly unmanaged program because it "worked" needs to be restructured in baby steps.

    I don't want to be a lurker - I don't have a lot of posts but 90+ ain't bad for a merchant. However, I'm also not going to make a major decision in a message board thread. So, where does that leave me? This debate would just get drawn out and I'm a lone wolf here my friends. I could ignore this thread but as soon as I post something useful or helpful or heaven forbid I drop a coupon code in the coupon forum, I'll get pounced on. All because I'm not ready to make a hasty decision because I heard one side of an issue. What would you do if you were in my shoes?

    A test sounds great but you can't exactly drop an affiliate and then say, "hey ok you can come back now, we're done with our test..." We've got plenty of other affiliates who make real money with us, so I'm not ready to accept a single sided argument as the end-all-be-all.

    Here's what I am open to: I just put a small pixel tracking script on our site for some advertising campaigns. It's extremely low tech, but if any of you want to show and not tell, work with me on this. Join our program and I'll set you up with a link that's tracked at both ends, then we compare Linkshare's numbers to mine and see what's what. For this *limited test* if any clicks that originate from you get credited to a hijacker, I'll still pay you for the sale. In the meantime I'll look at our adwords, yahoo & other numbers and see if I can find any correlations. Any other reasonable and conservative suggestions?

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador Sam Bay's Avatar
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    Thank you, Donuts, for your time and effort spent on this which benefits all of us and the merchants, too, if only they could see that. Some "ABWers" who think being concerned with parasites or cookie stuffers is what whiners who doesn't make enough money then blame others do, should they take note of this, not try to hide their own wrongdoings by asking people look into the mirror, as that's exactly what they need to do.
    Last edited by Sam Bay; September 18th, 2007 at 11:34 PM. Reason: I think it's fine just the way it is.

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador newestuser's Avatar
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    I don't expect you to make a decision overnight. I think the pixel thing is a good idea.

  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador Sam Bay's Avatar
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    Dennis,
    I think what you propose is reasonable and fair. Since you seem to have your company's best interest at heart, I wouldn't be surprised if you were on the same page as Donuts, after you do your own due diligence on this issue.

  20. #20
    http and a telephoto
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    Dennis, read this thread for starters.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  21. #21
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Andy Rodriguez's Avatar
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    I was one of those people that called Dennis today. We spoke for a few, he is sincere, willing to learn and only has the the best interest of his program and the affiliates in mind.

    I told him what he could expect when he drops the parasites and runs a clean program. I told him that D-man was spot on and he should read more about how the parasites operate within his program. We spoke briefly about my experience at TigerDirect and the increase in revenue when I booted the major parasites back in the day.

    I believe Dennis will do the right thing once he learns more and gets himself more educated on how the dark side of this industry works. From personal experince, I know it can be a tough sell to management. Dennis has my contact info and told him he could contact me anytime to ask any questions or get more clarification on the issue.

    Dennis, it was good talking to you today, I hope you stay with us, learn about parasites and how they affect your program ... welcome to our family ...
    Andy Rodriguez Consulting, Affiliate Program Management and Consulting Services, Since 2001
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  22. #22
    Believe knight01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly
    Dennis, read this thread for starters.

    Thanks Debbie, that's a good read even if a little older. Still makes very good points and examples.

    Dennis - you say you're new to the company. What better way to make a mark than to show them how they can save money in the affiliate channel without losing significant sales.

    BTW, Dennis, kudos to you. Even after all these posts you didn't quite understand, you're still here, you're still reading, you're still learning. That is what it's all about. You may be new but you're on your way to being a great affiliate manager. Keep moving forward.
    Someday starts today
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  23. #23
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knight01
    BTW, Dennis, kudos to you. Even after all these posts you didn't quite understand, you're still here, you're still reading, you're still learning. That is what it's all about. You may be new but you're on your way to being a great affiliate manager. Keep moving forward.
    Yep, and best of luck straightening things out.

    Geno

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidscookies
    I've gotten several calls today from friends and other people who saw your post and most said that as a merchant, I'm better off not contributing to ABW and that I should just, "back out graciously" and avoid this board because posting on this forum will do nothing positive for my company.
    Those people are not your "friends", they are people that have a vested interest in you not listening to people like Donuts.

    Having a forum here is very beneficial to your company and your affiliate program and the people that would tell you to leave are people you need to *not* listen too. I am going to be away tomorrow, but would love to talk to you Thursday.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  25. #25
    Affiliate Manager davidscookies's Avatar
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    I appreciate the positive feedback and Andy, thanks for your call. You were in the, "other people" category but I think you'll become a friend soon enough :-)

    Loxly, you know you can call anytime, you've always been a warm, honest and welcoming person to me.

    Knight - thanks for the kudos. For the record though, I fully understand all of these posts - I won't hide behind my own feigned ignorance. When the time is right and I've done my due diligence, I'll take the most appropriate course of action based on a fair and unbiased evaluation of all options.

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