Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

It's little wonder that Internet Marketing has a bad name, when marketers—big name and otherwise—pull the stunts they do. Today I'm ticked off by those that either pay their affiliates late... or not at all.

One such marketer, someone whom you all would know if I named him, currently owes me $300 for sales I refered in November. Now, it's pretty normal in many affiliate programs to get paid the second month following the sales, to cover refunds that may have been requested, but that means I should have been paid in January. When I hadn't received anything by February, I wrote to find out why not; here's what I received back:

"...We had to update some records and databases and this most recent payout was delayed. You will be receiving you [sic] commission shortly.

"I apologize for any delay and inconvenience."

What particularly annoys me about this situation is that I had to inquire about the delay, when the affiliate manager should have contacted all affected affiliates when they knew there was a problem. Never mind this marketer has the staff and the means to take care of glitches like this in short order. BTW, here it is the beginning of March and I've still not been paid.

[Update: it was a glitch and I did end up being paid. And I will still promote for this marketer.]

But that's not even the worst experience I've had.

Back in November of 2007 I did a promotion for a marketer by the name of Jorge Sampson. He had a product that I thought was a great fit for users of $7 Secrets and, indeed, I did well when I promoted it to past purchasers. Jorge paid me reasonably promptly for sales in November and December and I was pleased.

Then I added the offer to my $7 Secrets download pages and I continued to make sales to new $7 Secrets users. I didn't do too badly for a passive promotion: there was about a 6.3% conversion rate and I earned $2085 in 2008.

Except that I didn't get paid a single dime on any of those sales.

When I contacted Jorge Sampson in early May about the money that was due me, he confirmed that he owed a "Total [of] $1,100.54 - NOT A SINGLE REFUND," but "I'm going to need your help because you caught me off guard :-)"

What?! He was caught off-guard? He didn't know that these were affiliate sales, that it was me that was producing those sales, and he just spent the money? (On an Internet Marketing conference, no less, as I found out in our e-mail conversation.)

Jorge's solution was to ask me to promote his product again, this time with a new back-end product tacked on: "I'll give you ALL the proceeds to pay off your commissions ASAP..."

I had to take some time to think about that. Should I put forth the effort to promote something that could conceivably double or triple what was owed to me—and then run the chance of still not getting paid?

In the end, with commissions due up to $1284, I had to tell Jorge that "I can't trust that I'll be paid for promoting [product]." Surprisingly, I never heard from Jorge again, even though I didn't stop the download page promotion until January of 2009—by which time I'd sent another ~$1700 his way.

(Kinda dumb, I know, but I was giving Jorge the chance to come clean.)

Now, I know that if I'm having trouble with [unnamed] and Jorge Sampson, then others are having similar experiences with their affiliate promotions. So, what's the answer to getting paid?

Well, if you're already out the money, as I am, there may be nothing you can do, short of shaming them by making their actions public. But for the future, there's one major rule you should follow:

Only affiliate yourself with marketers who use a proven third-party affiliate program.

For example, aligning yourself with someone who uses Clickbank is safe, because it's Clickbank that handles the payment processing and the affiliate payout. PayDotCom is similar (and I see I just got paid by Jon Leger, who's always good for payments), as are affiliate networks like Commission Junction.

Marketers who use $7 Secrets Scripts are also a good bet, because the software pays the affiliate immediately by PayPal.

Also, don't put all your eggs in one basket. Spread out your affiliate efforts, in case one or more eggs in a given month ends up rotten.