06 Jul 09 6:05 pm
For 90% of affiliates, I think this is good news, not bad news. The #1 obstacle to making a sale online (speaking as a consumer, not someone with vast experience on actually making sales... but looking to change that) is TRUST. All of these scammers erode trust.
I got scammed buying software on EBay. My new rule: I'll never buy software on EBay again. I did my due diligence - UK shipper, over 300 reviews, over 98% approval, Paypal guarantee, read the fine print (retail version, not OEM). When the software came, it was shipped from China on a handwritten DVD with a crack code and the Paypal guarantee was worth than useless (to make good on it, I had to return the item to China using tracking, which would have been $80).
Okay, that's a roundabout way of saying that one network of Açai Berry Diet fake blogs claiming endorsements by Oprah and 60 Minutes took thousands of people out of the online fitness and weight loss market *forever*. They will never buy a weight loss product from you or me, no matter how great the product is and no matter what they endorsements are.
Then there's the issue that Jason raises - is this the right way to go about it? I don't know. I've seen how hard it is to educate people. I think you need to start there, but you need to really crack down too.
I think a lot of this would be solved by forcing people to have their terms and conditions displayed in a certain way.
When you signed up for Affiloblueprint, did you have any doubt whatsoever about what activity would happen on your credit card or Paypal account? It was 100% clear
- $197 to get started
- $47 per month after 30 days
- cancel at any time by going to Paypal and managing your subscriptions.
Most of these fake blog sites are for offers where you get a free trial, but you have to find a tiny link to the terms and conditions to learn that you will be billed $97/month, that this billing will start well before your "free trial" ends, that you will likely be unable to cancel before the first billing cycle, you can only cancel over the phone, and nobody actually answers that phone most of the time anyway.
Because of these deceptive practices, they were able to offer ridiculous payouts to affiliates - make $30-$50 for getting people to sign up for a "free" trial.
So... in my roundabout way, what I'm saying is that the FDA and FTC would be more effective if they cracked down on deceptive *billing* practices. That would bring affiliate payouts more in line with the true value of the offer, and that would cut down on *some* of this stuff.
I'm not naive enough to think that educating the public and policing the merchant, would get rid of all the scammy affiliates, but scammy merchants attract scammy affiliates, and top shelf merchants ban scammy affiliates.
And of course, there will always be those who prey on people's ignorance.