Zyra's website //// Affiliate Marketing //// What is affiliate marketing //// Buy.at Merchant List //// bunged up //// Site Index
Old, historical page, about things in the past
There is a long history to this, and it makes interesting reading. Remember, though, this is history, and it is how it ends up that matters. Worth reading the whole page before deciding what it means. Meanwhile, for the present-day situation about Buy.at, see the New Page of Buy.at !! Now the history...
Buy.at / Perfiliate used to be a good affiliate marketing company. In fact, in the early days it could even have been considered a low-fuss network, but that's a long time ago now. The links are good generic flexible links, and there are some curious custom Austrian domains in use which have .at on the end. It was an interesting company also involved in charitable works. Some well-known companies have their affiliate program at Perfiliate / Buy.at , such places as Iceland, Powergen, Butlins Holiday Camp, and Thorntons Chocolates, LX Direct and it may have been worth looking into.
THE LINK HAS
ACTUALLY BEEN REMOVED
To be fair to you, this link was removed as I could honestly no longer recommend Buy.at , for reasons which I will explain, although if you still want to visit the place the address is: www.buy.at
AND, Buy.at has (or had) a noble and generous arrangement by which, if you run a charity or good cause, you may set up a "virtual shop" and earn money towards your good cause. More about this at the page Buy.at Shops to Help Good Causes. I hope this still continues! Also, in 2008, Buy.at was listed as the 9th fastest growing technology company in the UK?
You can also see the list of Buy.at merchants here.
.AT?! This is starting to catch on! There's now Zyra.at! More about dot AT domains here!
We're a bit worried to hear that Buy.at have been taken over by AOL, but let's try to keep calm about this and hope it's not too bad.
Well hopefully, Buy.at will get it all sorted out and it won't end up being a problem. But meanwhile, I would advise ALL MERCHANTS not to have all their eggs in one basket (advice which can be seen on the advice to merchants page, and now there's an extra page warning against the dangers of exclusive contracts), and to have affiliate programs with several different affiliate networks. Then, if it all goes to pot, they'll still have affiliate links from numerous sites, INCLUDING THIS ONE! (via other networks)
Plus, to the people who work at Buy.at , remember that we the affiliates have some sympathy and solidarity with you. It could be like the situation at another company, when a third of all the staff at Affiliate Window decided to leave and set up a new network, Webgains? Affiliates joined both networks, and promote via whichever is the more reasonable at the time. This system of FAIR COMPETITION is what helps to ensure no company gets TOO BIG FOR THEIR BOOTS!
We get on well with both Affiliate Window and Webgains, but that's largely because both continued being good networks. In contrast, what happened at Buy.at was that a good network was taken over by AOL, and even if you like them as an ISP (which not everyone does), it's a fact that their main strength really is NOT as an affiliate marketing company!
This smacks of 'Putting a bunch of accountants in charge of a cake factory!' which was the grave error that was made by Sarah Lee. When Brossards was taken over by Sarah Lee, the old management team were replaced by a new team with little or no knowledge of dessert manufacture. So much so, that great things were promised to the only client Tesco. Production would be upped and all things would be tickety-boo! Wrong - the newly named Dessert Company, rapidly became the deserted company, as the great things that were promised were impossible to achieve. The accountants soon found themselves on the cake lines, trying to meet their ridiculous targets. What was the end result? Closure of the factory, as Tesco moved their business elsewhere. Let's hope the Buy.at merchants don't do the same!!
Further update: Although a reasonable agreement was agreed in principle, with the pink and blue annotations added to the contract following a detailed critique, this was not what appeared on the black&white contract that Buy.at sent in the post. Hence, the following...
Sent: 18 February 2009 14:43
To: Fred* at Buy.at
Subject: Re: It's been nice knowing you Re: Terms and Conditions
I have received the terms and conditions in the post, thanks. However, as these fail to take into account our carefully discussed and arranged agreement (pink and blue etc), unfortunately I can't sign it in the rather rigid form in which it currently is.
This is regrettable, and I suggest that you reconsider getting the legal department to write us a proper agreement taking into account those important things we discussed. Otherwise, if you just expect me to sign the paper, then... well it's been nice knowing you! I have not given up hope (yet) that we will reach a sensible amicable agreement, but I have already started migrating the considerable wealth of merchants away from the Buy.at network at this site. You may yet be able to halt this hemorrhage, but this should be done soon for preference. (I think it only fair to inform you that the list at www.zyra.eu/buy-at3.htm has already been made available to several of the other networks, some of whom showed considerable glee at the opportunity).
* Note that the person is not actually called Fred. The names have been changed to protect the privacy rather than to hoist someone who's just working for the company.
Now bearing in mind I am refusing to sign a contract which is not what we agreed to, it seems a bit much that this was Buy.at's response...
Unfortunately I now have to give you 14 days notice that you will be removed from the buy.at network.
On the morning of Tuesday 10th March you will no longer have access to any buy.at programs and also will no longer have access to the buy.at management area. We will of course honour the appropriate cookie periods after this date and you will receive any commissions earned in line with our standard payment terms and conditions.
In the period that you may be earning cookie sales but no longer have access to the management area we will be sending you weekly performance reports for accounting purposes and will be happy to produce any other reports you may require for this purpose
Any questions please ask
I think a better outcome was possible, but unless Buy.at change their tune radically and quite soon, it will be BYE-BYE BUY.AT!
I refuse to sign a contract which appears to say something which could be interpreted as "you the affiliate shall do anything we tell you to", and which has an entirety-clause which obviates at a stroke all the notes and annotations regarding the correct understanding of the clauses. But rather than get an amicable agreement, there's now a situation where Buy.at could be throwing away a huge amount of business. This may not be good news for me as an affiliate, but it's surely disastrous news for the merchants?! I feel sorry for them, and I hope we can get them moved to affiliate programs which are agreeable!
It's not that great for other affiliates, either. A number of them are leaving Buy.at ; some publically, and some quietly.
Although some of this may look as if I am just an awkward person, the fact is that I believe in keeping my word, and that means that I won't sign things that I don't agree to! You can see the sort of thing I agree to or not at a general-purpose page I wrote some time ago about clauses in contracts
Come on, Buy.at , you can save yourselves a lot of embarrassment by getting this sorted out before all of the pages with Buy.at links have to be bunged-up and the merchants informed why.
Update: Despite commendable efforts of some very helpful people at some of the big merchants, most notably Littlewoods Shop Direct and Aviva Norwich Union and Saga, and many others, to try to persuade Buy.at to see good sense, Buy.at slapped it all back in their faces and failed to take part properly in carefully-arranged conference calls, reasonable negotiations, or good diplomacy. In the words of another affiliate "Buy.at have negotiated in Bad Faith".
It's a tragedy because everyone needlessly misses out on good business, and most are blameless. Although I, as an affiliate, stand to miss out on about thirty-six thousand pounds per year of affiliate income (Buy.at representing about a fifth of the total income of this site), the merchants stand to miss out on millions of pounds worth of sales per year. I hope for their sakes as well as mine, that the merchants can escape from Buy.at and can have new affiliate programs at networks we can still all trust! ( You can check the state of merchant migration here )
I have always loathed the type of business practices where companies have a stranglehold on the market, and where they try to arrange to keep everyone under their iron grip by misuse of legal agreements. Therefore it has always been a policy at Zyra's site that no company shall have a controlling interest in the market. In affiliate marketing, this site is a member of about twenty affiliate marketing networks, and that the merchants are spread throughout the networks, with a deliberate preference for small affiliate marketing companies! (Don't have all your eggs in one basket). That way, if any one of the networks should GO BAD, it can be removed.
Merchants: I advise you to have an affiliate program with at least one of the other networks. You should definitely avoid exclusivist contracts
Affiliates: I advise you to avoid joining Buy.at , and join other networks (there are plenty). If you have already been silly enough to sign Buy.at's 2009 contract, ACTUALLY READ IT, and if you find you don't actually agree after all, it's up to you whether you want to continue dishonourably or to tear it up and ceremoniously resign. If the latter, please let me know, and I'll give you a special link.
Customers: Don't worry. All the pages remain up, and the links change wherever possible to be via a different network. You still get to the same shops. Even when there's no link, there's a nice page explaining why, and the web address is given as a matter of public information.
There is some update on the situation, which I'll explain here. First though, you must understand that the "Buy.at Problem" has upset MANY people. There are many affiliates who have problems with the new Buy.at contract, and yet, if any affiliate speaks to Buy.at about it, they are generally told "You are the only one who has a problem. Everyone else is happy about it". I intend to expose this matter, as I know several affiliates who have a problem and who have told me themselves! Plus, even some agencies are upset about the problem. At one notable agency, someone in an important job described Buy.at as "A PAIN IN THE NECK", which I think is an especially polite way to express a feeling which some other people might have put using sightly different words.
Well obviously I won't sign the standard contract, so I suggested that Buy.at should change the standard contract to be more FAIR to all affiliates. They refused, and it may be appropriate to show my critique of the contract on another page here. (The original standard contract is no longer confidential as it was made public by at least one of the merchants). Besides, hush-hush agreements in secret clandestine cloak-and-dagger under-the-counter ways? Surely that is not right? Or it could be said "It Stinks!".
Anyway, Buy.at had initially seemed intent on avoiding any sensible negotiated solution, and had cancelled meetings at the last minute, etc. There are some situations in which it appears in my paranoid imaginings that the other person was "got at" and eliminated from the negotiations, in some cases. However, this type of behaviour was ceased after the event on Friday 13th 2009.
On Friday 13th March 2009 I decided that the bad feelings and unreliableness and unprofessionalness and the whole problem with Buy.at was so bad that I would have all the links CORKED. It was cheaper to chuck away Buy.at and the thirty-six thousand pounds per year of affiliate income, than it was to suffer any further nights of suicidal tendencies. So, that night, ALL of the affiliate links from all of the affiliate pages at this site in which merchants were still stuck with Buy.at, were CORKED and the site was published! That means that when the people at Buy.at went in to work on Monday morning, they would see there was now ZERO TRAFFIC from this site. Of course the merchants would then be onto them for it. How could Buy.at have fouled things up so badly that an affiliate would do that? Well of course they could have pretended that it was the affiliate's fault, or that the affiliate was blaming the merchant. However, that would have been a LIE, and it would have been a very stupid lie, because the pages at this site had been very tactfully corked-up, with properly written pages pointing out precisely why the links had been corked. Eg. Don't blame the merchant for it. It's not their fault. It's Buy.at and their contract that's the problem! For example, see Saga Corked, and LX Corked, and Aviva Corked and numerous others, etc. Remember: It's not their fault!
Remarkably quickly the phone started ringing, and it was Buy.at , now willing to negotiate a new contract. Oh good! Welcome, Buy.at! Yes, of course I'll discuss it. (I was a bit disappointed that it was going to be a "special agreement" rather than being a fair agreement for ALL affiliates, but it was still better than nowt!). So, the discussion began. Buy.at and I talked and went over the original contract carefully and we made adjustments, and in some cases I gave a bit, and in some cases they gave a bit, and in some cases it wasn't the legal meaning of the clause that was the problem, but the way it was phrased. (A lawyer might not see this, as if something is the same legally then it's the same, isn't it? Well no, it's not! It's a matter of personal honour, and I pointed out some allegory that illustrated this). In the end I offered to rewrite the clauses involved, and the results were agreed (after minor adjustments) by the lawyers at Buy.at , thus resulting in a contract which was getting towards being signable. The only thing remaining was the matter of the CONFIDENTIALITY. Obviously I can't promise to keep a company contract confidential forever as I'm going to write my life-story, and I offered "three years from the day of signing", and then Buy.at offered "two years after the termination of the contract". I agreed that was acceptable, but with one special exception. Although I'd agree to the DETAILS of the Special Agreement being confidential, I would not agree to keep secret the very existence of the agreement. I mean, come on, after I've pointed out that I REFUSE TO SIGN THE ORIGINAL CONTRACT, people would quite reasonably ask me "Did you sign the contract then?" and I'd want to answer "No, I refused to sign the original agreement, but I have signed a special agreement which Buy.at and myself have negotiated", and then if I was asked about the details I'd say "Sorry, I won't tell you about the details, because I've promised to keep that confidential for now". That would have been moderately acceptable. What would NOT BE ACCEPTABLE would be the betrayal of truth involved in having people assume I'd signed the original contract, which I had condemned. Besides, it would have made me a stoolpigeon by which Buy.at might (if they were so minded) use as propaganda such as "The contract's alright - look - even ZYRA has signed it!", and I would have been unable to counter that by telling the truth which would have been "NO! I have not signed your original agreement. We have a special agreement, as you well know!".
In the end, despite a huge amount of work having been put into the special agreement by both sides, Buy.at have chucked it all up in the air by refusing to accept that to be truthful I must be allowed to say "I have a special agreement with Buy.at". I'm not going to lie about it. That would be dishonest. In my opinion it's bad enough having a private agreement without also having to deny it and lie about it! For more details about the problem, see The Buy.at Contract and the story about it.
So, no agreement. Meanwhile, The AA have moved away from Buy.at , and we're now having a discussion with another merchant, and so on. The more merchants we can get to leave Buy.at and move to other affiliate marketing networks, the more the point will be driven home: You can't mistreat affiliates and get away with it. Proper affiliates, with proper websites, that have actual write-up material on them, will write about it.
If you'd like to see the current state of the Abandonment of Buy.at it's all there for all to see at www.zyra.eu/buy-at3.htm !
Personal principles of honour and chivalry have more SAY than legal litigiousness. It may be a shocker, but that's the way of the future world.
Update!: Now in the year of 2010, early in the month of March, there is some big news: Buy.at has been taken over by Affiliate Window! Yippee! Whe-hey! This is great news, and it means that we could get back to being good for business for all these merchants and especially those that had been corked. Some of these are notable places which have missed out to a considerable extent. But now, they are likely to be back, being good for business, in the long term. Now that there's good news, Buy.at turning over a new leaf, there's a new page, a New Buy.at Welcome Back!
I get the impression that many people have a grumble about AOL, but they are usually AOL customers, of the AOL ISP, and all they've lost is a bit of net access uptime, or at worst they've lost their AOL Hometown website. If that's you, and you feel you want to grumble about AOL, spare a thought for those big-time companies who have been completely snookered by the problems of Buy.at during the dreaded "Platform-A" period!