Ethical Dilemmas.

Last Update: October 20, 2020

Hey all,

I've encountered a strange situation that I am really bothered by. Now that I know about affiliate marketing and some of what it entails, I am able to spot an Amazon link that was created by an Amazon Associates member based on the URL.

I regularly visit a forum online, and one user on there has made a thread that he updates on a daily basis that has links to current sales on Amazon (and other websites). I never would have known this before WA, but I now know that he is doing this in the hopes of getting commissions by other posters on that forum who click his links and then make purchases. The thing is, he is NOT disclosing this, and never has since he first started promoting these sales.

It has been bothering me since I first realized what he's doing, but I'm not sure how to handle it...

A. I have started reporting his posts with Amazon links to the website moderators, saying in the report details that he is not disclosing that he's an Amazon affiliate. Unfortunately, this website's moderators are unpaid and have a reputation of ignoring important reports from their visitors. They also tend to be a bit snarky when you try to ask them for help or point out problems with the website. That all said, I highly doubt that my reporting his links will get any action from the moderators on this website.

B. I've thought about calling him out on his dishonesty. Unfortunately, people on the forum really love his "sales" threads, and I worry that I would stir up some trouble not just with him, but with the other posters on the forum as well. What's worse is that this would NOT be the first time he and I have clashed about the things he posts. It has become a bit of a "thing" between us now. I am not a fan of his, and he is not a fan of me, and the rest of the forum knows this. I don't want to draw a bunch more attention and possibly isolate myself on this forum, because otherwise I really love posting on it.

C. Ignore it and get over it. People are dishonest and unethical, and the world isn't a happy Care Bear land where everyone keeps their front doors unlocked and tells you about Amazon sales because they just want to help out of the goodness of their hearts.


I don't like option "C!" Any insight would be valuable! Obviously I'm bothered by this person doing this, especially because I'm trying to actually build something with hard work and good intentions.


Thanks all,

Max

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JeffreyBrown Premium
I always find that it is necessary to worry about myself and what I am doing, and if what I am doing is ethical, then that is all I am worried about! I don't have time to police everyone else. There are already way to many things to worry about in this world which pertains to me. If he is wrong, then he will eventually get caught, and it truly will not affect me one way or the other in the slightest, IMHO!

Jeff
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MelWaller Premium Plus
Do what's right for you and don't worry what others do. You already notified the moderators. Sounds like that's the best you can do. If people go there to Amazon and purchase that's because they want to purchase what they see. Sure, they might not realize he is getting a commission, but I wouldn't let that get you down.

Focus on what is important for your business.

Mel
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mtraylor87 Premium
It's hard to not worry because that's just not who I am. Stuff gets to me, probably more than it should, but that's just the way it is. It's not something I can fix about myself. I guess I can try though.
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MelWaller Premium Plus
I used to be that way also Max. Still do sometimes. But other people's business is none of my business. I/we just need to focus on what we have to do. You only hurt yourself getting worked up over it.

Mel
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jadeb113 Premium
This is definitely a tough call. I agree though, that option C is not a good option. Plus, it's obvious that you wouldn't be comfortable with that either; it would clearly continue to bother you.

I think you should for sure report it to the monitors of the website, and consider calling him out on it as well. You may make him and other forum users unhappy, but at the end of the day, you're the one who is doing the ethically correct thing, and you're the one who it legally correct too.

I suspect that the vast, vast majority of people who buy from him don't know he gets a commission from his sales, and they will appreciate your honesty. It's pretty easy to verify that you're the honest one.
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mtraylor87 Premium
Thanks. I may break and call him out at some point. For now I'll keep reporting and see if anything happens...
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thomhee Premium
I mean how is it being dishonest? It wouldn't bother me in the slightest. It says it's going to Amazon correct? I don't see the big deal.
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mtraylor87 Premium
It is being dishonest because as WA describes, Amazon Associates are required to disclose that they are such and will earn commissions from their links. He is doing none of that. I believe that to be dishonest. That's fine if it wouldn't bother you, but it bothers me.
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thomhee Premium
Well, I don't see it that way. The Amazon policy states that the disclosure has to be somewhere on your site. Mine is on my privacy policy page and you know how many people actually go there and read that. That policy is just mumbo jumbo in my opinion created by lawyers. There are millions if not billions of affiliate links all over the web without any kind of disclosures. In my opinion if he says something like "Go over here to Amazon and check it out" there isn't nothing dishonest about that. You should spend your time working on you and your site or campaign and not worry about him. That's just my $.02
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