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What Will Guide You

Over the past two years I have tried not to criticize any company’s business decisions. Although I may not have agreed with the decision to terminate a certain group of Affiliates over nexus issues, I have always respected the right for a company to make the decision that is right for them. I only asked two things. One is that the decision was an educated one, based on counsel from qualified counsel. The second was that Affiliates be treated with respect. We have made some gains over the past couple of years since NY passed their version of the Internet sales tax, but today demonstrates just how little we have gained.

We will assume that the merchants who terminated overnight had legal counsel, they are just too big to assume otherwise, so they made an educated decision. What was not demonstrated was respect for Affiliates. Once again, Affiliates are simply cast aside and terminated from a program with no notice. Sure there was warning months ago that if a law passed action would be taken but Affiliates should be given notice and a chance to replace links. In my opinion, sending an email in the wee hours of the morning is not good business practice. Notice of intent to remove should have been sent out to Affiliates when the Governor signed the bill.

It becomes clear that Affiliates have now become political pawns in the nexus battle.

I am hoping that the merchants who terminated Colorado Affiliates sought counsel before doing so because I do not believe removing Affiliates will have any effect on the impact of the new law. Of course I am not a lawyer or accountant, as I have urged for a few weeks now – Merchants need to retain qualified counsel!

Do not follow the moves made by others. There is more to this story of the decision to remove Colorado Affiliates. Is it just a move to follow through on a threat, a philosophical stance, a raising of swords or is there another reason? We may never know but it does answer one question.

Are we (Affiliates) valued partners? No, in this case, definitely not valued (and I never really felt “partner” was a good choice of words) but it becomes obvious that we are political pawns.

If you are a merchant do not follow blindly. Seek qualified counsel before deciding to remove Colorado Affiliates because removing Affiliates may not remove your need to comply. Don’t be guided by the actions of others without having full knowledge. Merchants, please make the decision that is right for your business and do not become a political pawn in a battle.  Be guided by your own counsel and not by the actions of others.

Merchants, your decisions and your actions will be seen by hundreds of thousands of affiliates.  Be sure you are making educated decisions and, treat Affiliates with respect; everyone is watching.

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • MileHighTechGuy March 8, 2010, 5:24 pm

    Hi. Just FYI…

    I’m a Colorado affiliate marketer with several web properties.

    I posted a related article titled “Bad Colorado legislation forces Amazon.com to cancel Colorado-based Amazon Associates” regarding how the so-called Amazon tax affects us all:


    Thanks for any more punch you can give to this issue for the side of affiliate marketers.


  • How To Vanish March 8, 2010, 6:54 pm

    Melani, it is unfortunate that the State makes geographic discrimination, like other forms of discrimination, such a nasty issue.

    While I agree with you that affiliates should be treated with respect by the companies it is also important to keep in mind that affiliates have had adequate warning and three high profile examples from the companies that produce value that if they have affiliates who are supposedly represented by ‘looters and moochers’ (a phrase from Atlas Shrugged) and those looters and moochers attempt to loot and mooch them then the affiliates will be sacrificed in an act of self-defense.

    The bottom line and profitable actionable path is simple. Affiliates should take proactive steps, like relocating to ‘Galt’s Gulch’, to protect both themselves and the companies they produce for from the looters and moochers that are strutting around in their costumes and threatening to extort the producers. The message from the looters and moochers to affiliates is clear; they do not care about your business and only want their salaries and pensions even if that means destroying your income streams.

  • AffGuru March 9, 2010, 12:46 am

    What will they tax next? Maybe sex.

  • Ken B. Denver March 9, 2010, 5:35 pm

    I wonder if Amazon would shut down their entire aff. program “to make a point”?

    One large internet retailer did the same in response to the co. law. (law hadn’t even been signed yet!)

    Amazon depended heavily on affiliates in the early days, don’t know if they bring a large % of revenue now though.

  • Mary Young March 10, 2010, 12:08 pm

    Hi Melanie,

    Thanks for your article – you make some good points. Educated decisions and respect – I don’t think it’s too much to ask for any relationship. I know there are some good organizations for affiliates, however to me this highlights a need for an Affiliate Marketing Council as part of the powerful IAB, which has made a lot of headway in markets like the UK: http://www.iabuk.net/en/1/affiliatemarketing.html

    Networks of course also need to do our part to educate merchants so there isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to this.



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