Q: One of my merchants, which I sold over $6,000 of products, ignores my e-mails about paying my commissions. They owe me about over $1,400 of commissions. What recourse do I have toward this situation? Any bright idea or experience you may have yourself encounter which could help me?
A: One thing you should do, if you haven’t done so already, is to review the affiliate agreement for this affiliate program. Check whether the manner in which you promoted the affiliate program is forbidden in their agreement.
For instance, many affiliate programs forbid affiliates bidding on their company name in pay per click search engines. If you violated one of the aspects of the agreement, then you are going to have a tough time getting those commissions, as the agreement may well state that such activity results in forfeited commissions.
Assuming you abided by all of their rules, try the following.
If the affiliate program in question is part of an affiliate network, my first suggestion would be to contact the network and share your story with them. Check whether they have some sort of arbitration procedure in place for cases like yours.
In the event the affiliate program is an independent program, do some research and find out the name and contact information for the CEO. Don’t just settle for e-mail – trying reaching them via snail mail and or phone with your story.
If this does not provide any resolution, consider bringing the issue to a local attorney. Ask them what their rates would be to take action against the company. It may be effective for them to send a letter on their letterhead to the merchant.
However, given the total outstanding balance is $1,400, you may find that a good portion of the outstanding commission is vaporized in legal fees. Bear in mind, there is no guarantee that they lawyer will get a positive result for you, but they can better determine this, since I don’t have all of the facts and IANAL (I am not a lawyer).
I’ve come across an “affiliate collection agency,” but I wouldn’t personally recommend this avenue. They ask for a 50/50 split of outstanding commission payments, and claim 100% success, but there is nothing to back up that claim.
Further, I contacted them to get more information, and requested an NDA before handing over my personal, sensitive information. They didn’t have an NDA, which is a big, red flag. Stay away from this sort of service.
Looking to the future, I’d encourage you to perform due diligence on any affiliate programs you promote. It may sound like a hassle to do five minutes of research on any affiliate program you want to join, but it’s a lot better than driving yourself crazy trying to collect commissions from them later on.