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Before checking the “I Agree” box, picture this real life situation: You just heard about a new affiliate program that has a high commission percentage, state-of-the-art banners and promotions, a terrific affiliate manager dealing with all your questions in a matter of seconds, and you are thinking to yourself that it is time to close the deal because this program  is everything you ever dreamed of in this business. You express your intentions to them and just before the deal is closed they send you a document to fulfill a “routinary” procedure in which you agree to their terms and conditions.

You are excited, there is a blood rush going into your head, you can’t wait to start working with these people and make tons of money. You take a minute and,  just as it is routinary to do, you skim through the terms and conditions and there it is: the truth about the affiliate program is out… and there you are, with the same face you had when you were 13 and found out Pamela Anderson’s goodies weren’t real. The only difference is that in this case the hidden truth does make the subject less attractive.

The Terms and Conditions Trick

This is a legendary trick that has been used across time and civilizations, by men and women of all ages and colors. The idea is simple, yet few have been able to resist it. Basically, the trick involves a partial display of information in which the recipient of the message is told exactly what they need to hear in order to give into the desires of the other, whom we could call an illusionist. Eve did it to Adam, that ugly mean woman (now his wife) did it to your neighbor, and  the international law did it to Calvin Ayre (too soon?).

Some affiliate programs play this trick on affiliates, so it is important that you keep an eye open for when you might run into it. The trick is that the affiliate program’s website or representative will only display positive information about the program, hoping that their affiliate-unfriendly terms and conditions will pass unattended by you and the deal will be closed in a fingersnap.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t because the terms and conditions in this cases often do not favor affiliates, and this is where the affiliate program cannot camouflage nor hide things from you. The terms and conditions is a legal document which describes the real compromise being made between the parties, so any affiliate should take it seriously and do more than give it a glance.

Now… Don’t Get Scammed!

One hell of a t-shirt!

The obvious solution to the terms and conditions trick is to recommend affiliates to read the terms and conditions of each affiliate program carefully and decide if they fit you well enough to initiate business. However, there are two things that affiliates must watch out for that could go unnoticed:

  1. Fine Print. Many times, you will find that the terms and conditions have a section of fine print that is almost impossible for you to read. Read it! At all times! Under all circumstances! Even if it means that you run to the store to get a magnifying glass. Don’t let anything go unnoticed, make sure you read this document upside down, back and forth, all night long.
  2. Legal Terminology.  Sometimes, even after spending a fair amount of time on this document, you will miss a few details that are undercovered behind legal terminology. There is an easy solution for this and it is that there are plenty of legal dictionaries online that can help you navigate through incomprehensible terms, and once you do this a couple of times you will be an expert at going through these type of documents.

 

Further Knowledge

Here are a few tips on how to deal with these documents in a more general sense:

    • Don’t spend too much time reading the terms and conditions unless you think the program is worth it; if the program isn’t all that great and you notice a few sketchy things in the terms and conditions just drop it and move on, there’s plenty more where that one came from.
    • It is always good to have someone with legal knowledge look over a terms and conditions agreement.
    • Look for achievable terms and conditions. Affiliates pointed out at the CAP forums that some programs can have conditions that are highly demanding of affiliates, and close to impossible to meet in order to cash out. Make sure that you can fulfill the conditions efficiently before signing up for the program and spending time and resources on it.

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