Finish Line Steals My Money Then Cancels My Account

Wow, talk about a “nice” wake up message. Yeah, I’m lying about the nice part. I post this not only to get back at the company that has basically lied to me as an affiliate but has then decided to cancel my account. Here’s the exchange, mine first:

Greetings,

I am one of your affiliates through the Google Affiliate Network. I recently purchased something for myself through the affiliate link and I’ve yet to get credit for it. I’ve never seen anything which states that affiliates can’t purchase items through their own links and get credit for it, so I assume there’s an oversight issue somewhere. The full receipt is below; I’ve attached a pdf of the same information in case what’s below doesn’t come through to you. My publisher ID is XXXXXXXXXXXXX. This is the fourth email I’ve sent; please let me know what’s going on.

You’ll notice I wrote “fourth”; that was over a 2-week period when they were ignoring me. Here’s the response I got earlier today:

Although it is allowed for affiliates to purchase shoes for themselves, we do require a site to look up to a certain standard and we do require a certain amount of sales per month. All that being said, I have reached out to our GAN team and we are not seeing anything on your transaction which means your cookie was not activated for your transaction thus why you did not get credit for it.

In addition, your site does not go along with our theme and your 3-month EPC is $0.64 while your 7-day is $0.00. Unfortunately, since the transaction is not in the affiliate channel, I can do nothing at this time. In addition, due to your site quality and low EPC and 7-day I have to cancel our affiliate partnership.

Good luck. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Wow, really? The site has been the same since they originally approved me, even updated some, and now suddenly they don’t like my site anymore? Would they have canceled my account if I’d never written them? What the heck; how bogus can an affiliate get?

This is the downside of affiliate marketing folks. You’re at the mercy of these guys who come up with arbitrary decisions as to whether you fit what they’re hoping for. And unfortunately, it often comes up when you make a sale, even if it’s you purchasing the product. I mean, it took them two weeks to come up with a reason for not giving my my legitimately earned money, since even the guy says I’m allowed to buy from my own affiliate program, and they weaseled out like this.

So, I’m done with Finish Line. I will obviously continue wearing the sneakers I ordered from them, but I’m cutting up my Finish Line card and I’m never giving them any more of my local business, which is close to $400 a year; they could care less. I can buy sneakers anywhere, and I’m sure I’ll find better loyalty, honesty and dignity from someone else.

All this for maybe $12 or so; wow…

Follow up: I have now been threatened by Finish Line for this post, and I have the email to prove it. I’m not removing it, but I have removed the guy’s email address and added this statement here:

“All personal messages express views only of the sender, which are not to be attributed to Finish Line and/or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, and may not be copied or distributed without this statement.”

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32 comments on “Finish Line Steals My Money Then Cancels My Account

  • This is one reason why I mostly only use Amazon Affiliate, I can pick my products and they won’t penalize me or hold me to a certain amount of sales / clicks per month. Even if it is only 4% commission, I often sell enough to make the 6% commission bracket which is only 7 sales in a month.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      I’m not sure if Amazon has pulled out of New York, Justin, as they have with many other states that have passed laws stating they have to collect taxes, but that’s one reason I never signed with them. It’s so strange, though, that affiliates will pull you because you don’t make sales for them, even if you promote them. They have nothing to lose; idiocy.

      • I agree, if Arizona did some stupid affiliate tax law which caused Amazon to drop us, I would be hard pressed to find an alternative since I built amazon stores into my site and tons of embed codes.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Really Holly? They’re one of the top sports apparel companies in the U.S., especially sneakers. I’ve been a loyal customer for more than 10 years or so, but no more.

  • Dean Saliba says:

    What a rotten thing to do to you. And now it seems they are trying to bully you, I hope you stand your ground and do not remvoe this post. People deserve to know the truth. 🙂

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Thanks Dean. That’s why I’m asking for support, because if they can try to bully me for what they’ve done to me then they’ll do it to anyone, and large companies don’t have the right.

  • I don’t think I’ve ever bought from Finish Line. I don’t understand, well, I do understand, but it’s still dumb, how companies don’t care about their customers’ loyalty. Sure, it’s just $400 a year from you, but if you know 10 people who spend $400 a year and they know 10 people, and so on and so forth, then they it’s not just $400 a year. I think it’s great that you call people/companies out when they do something wrong, just like you would point out something great if the reverse were true.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Thanks Anne. I stand up for others and of course I take a stand when I feel I’m wronged. Luckily I’m not as angry as I was when I posted this; man, can you imagine walking around with that kind of anger for a long time? And you’re right, I write about customer service all the time on my other blog, and I’ll often say that the customer isn’t always right, but they are the customer and you make sure to treat them fairly; I’m thinking this wasn’t the best example of that.

  • Depends really on affiliate program, For nearly 12 years doing affiliate marketing, I have seen many affiliate programs that are cheating, some do not have proper tracking, others get closed, there are also many scams. The most ridiculous case was about 5 years ago which actually the affiliate manager used to collect all the commission from his affiliates and got fired, of course, I didn’t get my money. Generally, most affiliate program state that you can not buy from own link, however if this is not in t&c they don’t have any right to cancel your account.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Actually Carl, most affiliates that I deal with don’t say you can’t buy from them, and I’ve made sure of that because I’m probably one of the few people you know who often reads those things just to make sure. They have a lot of rules on how you can advertise them, but usually that’s it. I’ve had other affiliates not pay me and then I’ve dropped them, but this was a first.

  • Good for you Mitch for sticking to your guns and not pulling the post! And shame on them. If they really cared about their brand they would of not only given you your affiliate commissions but thanked you for being a loyal customer!

    I don’t think they realize the impact of a persons voice with social media! Never used them, but not definitely never will.

    Awesome!

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Thanks for the support, Michele. Sometimes it seems hard finding affiliates that one can trust, and in general, unless we’re selling our own products, we’re often at the whim of these people. So sad…

  • Wow, Mitch,

    Talk about some low cheapskates, they did all this for a measly 12$, but I think they might be doing this on a grand scale and cheating a lot of affiliates thus if you do 12x 10 000 affiliates, business must be going well for them.

    Also, I think you should optimize your post for something like finish line affiliate scam or something so that people who want to deal with them, may find this post and see them for the unprofessional people they are.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Alex, I never even thought about that when I put the post together; now that would have been interesting. You know, I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever written a post with a title like that, and I don’t think I have. I just did a quick search for the term and came up with this interesting tidbit and then this one talking about the growth of the program and how they treat “us” (since they terminated me) as part of the in-house team. Guess I was part of the outhouse team.

  • Carolee a.ka. Blogging Biz Mom says:

    I’ll boycott them, too… both online & offline.

    That is not good company policy at all!

  • Jessica Sieghart says:

    I don’t do any affiliate stuff on my main blog, but I just started another project and decided to try Amazon over there. I haven’t heard anything bad and I see it on Justin’s sites so I thought I’d give it a try. What Finish Line did was ridiculous. I don’t shop there, anyway so they won’t miss me, but I’ll pass the word around 😉

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Thanks Jessica. When I told my wife what happened she couldn’t believe it; sometimes she thinks I react badly to things, but this time she was with me.

  • I really do not understand some of these people. I mean, you require a pre-approval process to be able to market their products. I am assuming that they approve your site based on some, “human” like analysis and not by bots. If your site was not up to their standards, they should not have approved it in the first place, period. They only find excuses to rip us off and come up with all this mambo jumbo BS..

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Thanks DiTesco. I’ve written about this same thing in the past, because I’m thinking if you’re advertising people, whether you’re making them sales or not, it’s a benefit because it should be keeping their names in people’s minds. It was the double slap that got me this time around.

  • Mitch,

    This is pathetic. Finish Line really doesn’t get customer service. It’s one thing to close your account – and that’s bad enough, the way they did it. But to turn around and threaten you for posting your views? That’s just dumb.

    I hope they reconsider and publicly apologize to you. While they may have the right to re-evaluate affiliates’ websites, they should honor all commissions!

    You won’t find me in a Finish Line store or site, ever. (I’m not big on name brand stuff, anyway. But we usually go to Dick’s.)

    Cheers,

    Mitch

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Thanks Mitch, but Dick’s is a big name company as well. I’ve always felt comfortable in a Finish Line store, but I’ll get used to Dick’s or one of the other stores as well.

  • What morons Mitch. You gave them proof that you purchased their product so it’s only fair that they pay your commission. I don’t understand why these people are prepared to lose a loyal customer, as well as suffer bad PR for a lousy few bucks.

    If I had a product I would have no problem at all giving my affiliates commission for buying the product themselves. Heck what better way to get the product out there and if the product is good you’re bound to get some good PR in return, as well as the sale.

    Like I said, morons.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Sire, I guess when all is said and done they could care less about me than anyone else who’s not a famous celebrity that would be on TV everyday talking about how they were treated. And proof these days means nothing to some folks, just to save a few dollars, and then the other part… well, what can I say about that?

  • Hi Mitch,

    I found out about this issue because Vernessa included it in her How Bloggers Monetize Content post on PerformInsider.

    Finish Line has made a big mistake and if they are wise they should even now contact you and rectify it because otherwise they are likely to end up being used as an example of what not to do and which affiliate programs to avoid indefinitely.

    Perhaps they are not aware that influential bloggers know each other and even if we’re really busy and don’t even move regularly in the same blogging circles we rally to support those who have been done wrong.

    Power affiliates all research a company before they decide whose products to promote and we discuss among ourselves what programs work and which don’t.

    It would be wise for them to make amends and do the right thing. As you say, we’re only talking about $12 and there is no telling how much money that is going to cost them in the long run.

    Companies are used to having everything their way for a very long time. They need to get on board with the fact that it doesn’t work that way any more.

    They may not think affiliates and bloggers are influential enough to worry about, but if we’re influential enough to be singled out by Cornell University / Yahoo Research Studies and put together massive collaborations like the one Rohan is building at districtblooms.com they are going to be in for a surprise sooner than they think.

    I plan to tweet them this comment when it goes live and suggest they may want to change their ways and work WITH their affiliates, bloggers and social media influencers instead of against them.

    • Mitch Mitchell says:

      Thanks Gail. They and some of the affiliates from CJ haven’t been living up to what we as marketers believe they should, and it stinks. Affiliates really aren’t taking care of us and it’s unfortunate. It’s supposed to be a symbiosis between both parties; maybe one day, with all of us rioting, it will be.

      • Most people can only see their side of things; wise people consider how what they do affects everyone involved. When merchants and affiliates are PARTNERS in promoting businesses and creating sales they will be far more successful than when they operate as though they are adversaries.

  • I heard many fraud cases in affiliate marketing because of this I more prefer to add Google adsense or Amazon for earning money.

    Today I come to know one more fraud case of affiliate marketing, thank you for sharing your experience. Through your post other will also come to know what actually happen in affiliate marketing.

  • Hi Mitch, I saw you link to this on your post today, and I decided to pop by and comment. I never heard of the company, but it’s now on my I’ll avoid at all cost list. I’d be outraged too, it’s also amazing how some aren’t aware of the power that many bloggers have.

    With one of my old sites, I’d occasinally write reviews for different companies. The site, that I was writing ‘forgot’ to pay me. I’d sent them three emails, after I hit the virtual airways by posting about the poor communication on their part on my blog. It seems others had faced the same issue too. That posts got a lot of hits.

    One of the reps eventually stopped by to comment. Shockingly enough, they still tried to lie in the comments. Which naturally had me posting the emails I’d sent to them with no response. I eventually got paid, but I never did business with them again.
    Opal recently posted…Plenty of firewoodMy Profile

    • Opal, as you saw this guy actually tried to threaten me but never offered to pay me, and it would have been a nice little commission as well. They’re not the only affiliate that hasn’t paid me but they’re the only ones to contact me and then cancel my account and not pay me. That’s the one major downfall of affiliate marketing; you just can’t trust that companies will honor their commitments to you.

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