Poor Affiliate Communication: AJ Madison Case

Let me start by saying this: I admire AJ Madison’s customer support, aggressive pricing, and marketing methods. What follows in this post stems from an unfortunate affiliate experience that serves as a vivid illustration of the affiliate communication channel breakdown. While it may in no way be characteristic of the overall brand, it must be brought to light.

On November 23 I clicked an affiliate’s link to place my order for a fairly expensive item (at the 3% commission that AJ Madison was paying affiliates then, the commission should’ve exceeded $75):

AJ Madison invoice

I was informed that no commission got credited to the affiliate account, and, in fact, no sale registered:

No AJ Madison sales

I checked my computer to ensure that the cookie is in place (and, of course, it was after me clicking the affiliate link for at least two times before placing my order), and on November 25 I emailed AJ Madison’s affiliate program manager (Jonathan) about the problem:

The below order was placed via a CJ affiliate link, but the commission was never credited. Could you please let me know what happened?

I also encouraged the affiliate to follow up with the merchant.

Giving the affiliate program manager the benefit of the doubt (after all, 11/25 was followed by a long Thanksgiving weekend), I reminded them of the problem on November 30 writing:

I would highly appreciate you responding to my below message, and letting me know why the $75+ commission was never credited to the affiliate account.


To this date, after being contacted by email (my messages) and via the Commission Junction’s internal messaging system (by the affiliate) — total of 5 efforts within 20 calendar days — the reply from AJ Madison’s “dedicated program managers” (see below) is yet to be received.

AJ Madison affiliate program management

As I was observing all of the above happening, I was happy to see Melanie Seery’s post on the importance of timely manager responses to affiliate support needs, and Logan Thompson’s post where among the 10 most annoying things about the affiliate marketing industry he listed “affiliate managers who don’t listen”. The problem of communication in affiliate marketing is huge. Between the attention deficit on affiliate network level and unanswered/ignored affiliate messages to merchants, everyone who is involved (affiliates, advertisers, networks, OPMs) is loosing real money. A recent survey attributed as much as “$338.5 billion in lost business to flawed customer service efforts” [source], and the fact that we don’t have such date for the affiliate marketing industry, does not mean it isn’t happening the same way in affiliate marketing. Day in and day out disappointed affiliates just pull merchants’ links, and terminate relationships with unresponsive networks and advertisers.

So, what is the maximum acceptable period of time affiliates are willing to wait for a reply to their message?

Maximum acceptable affiliate program manager response time

  • 79% of affiliates want to get a reply within 3 business days
  • 21% are willing to wait for as long as 7 business days

If you haven’t yet voted on this poll, please do.

It is clearly unacceptable to wait for a team of “dedicated program managers” to remain silent on a problem for over 20 calendar (or 12 business) days.

4 thoughts on “Poor Affiliate Communication: AJ Madison Case”

  1. Hi Geno,

    I am Dayana Villagomez, I handle the affiliate program for AJ Madison. I noticed that you have recently posted a poor affiliate experience with AJ Madison. The reason for no response on our end is due to Jonathan no longer being an employee. I appreciate you documenting your experience which has brought to my attention that we need to update our CJ contact information immediately.

    I hope we can rectify this situation and give the affiliate credit where it is due, please contact me. I am available today between the hours of 10-5pm eastern or please email me when is the best time to contact you.

    Thank you.

  2. Dayana, I must admit, I am utterly impressed with the speed of reaction to my post. Thank you for your yesterday’s email (shortly after the post went live), and your today’s message assuring me that the affiliate whose link I clicked has been located, and that you are working on it.

    No, you do not sound “cheesy” when you say that you “do care about affiliates”. Your actions precede your words (in this case).

    Three lessons to learn (for all merchants) from this:

    1) When the main contact info for your program changes, change it everywhere, and/or forward mail from that “Jonathan’s” email address to land in the appropriate email box.

    2) If you’re running your program on an affiliate network, make it your daily routine to check your affiliate network’s inbox.

    3) When a negative experience is posted, tweeted or reported in any other form, address it swiftly and honestly. Negative reviews do increase sales, especially when properly addressed.

    By the way, why hasn’t that sale tracked in the first place?

  3. Geno,

    I just confirmed with CJ that the order has been approved and they have issued the credit to the affiliate you used.

    It appears there was a synching issue when we sent our reporting to CJ.

    Once again, my apologies for your experience and your 3 lessons are duly noted.

  4. Thank you for looking into this so swiftly, Dayana.

    On a separate note, while in my above post I’ve mainly touched upon the problem of merchant-affiliate communication (or lack thereof), there is another problem that is even more important to address. As an affiliate has tweeted:

    Untracked affiliate sales problem

    …with such “synching issues” you definitely want to check with CJ if this has happened (or still is happening) with other affiliate-referred orders. Your affiliate program’s AOV must be quite high, and with the 4% commission you’re paying now, having issues like these would mean substantial amounts of commission leaking.

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