I have been using Affiliate programs as a source of income since Amazon introduced their program back in the 90s and even ran my own program when I had an online retail business in the early 2000s. Over the years, some programs have worked very well, generating consistent income, while others have been complete duds. Sometimes, I have replaced an existing program, with a near-identical offer, only to go from a program that had generated several hundred dollars per month to a program that generated zero with the exact same highly-qualified traffic.
Occasionally, I have tested my suspicions with a booking, and found that I was not credited with referring a sale.
Only last month, I tested two programs with bookings that I made for myself: I was credited with neither commission.
With one of the programs, which is direct with the seller and generates several commissions every month, I can guess where the referral was lost. So I put that down to the fact the the seller has no incentive to cover every possible crack where a referral chain can be lost.
The second program is with one of the largest affiliate networks in the world, and I was testing my suspicions that there is a large-scale fraud occurring. I have now had several occasions where people have told me through social media that they have made bookings, yet we were not credited with the sale. On one occasion, we even walked a user through the entire purchase process from our website, but were never credited with the sale.
There have been similar experiences over the years. In some cases, it has been direct with the seller, and their tracking just does not work, but in other cases, the programs have been with huge multinational corporations, and I am forced to conclude that there is a massive level of fraud occurring.
Without mentioning any specific networks or companies, I would like to hear about other experiences and whether other webmasters consider that there is widespread systematic fraud among larger affiliate programs or networks..