If you have a minimum commission amount before you pay affiliates, then this should not be much of an issue.
Say the minimum before payment is issued is $50. If they order a $30 item and get a 10% commission then you don't owe them anything anyway. Unless they bring in more sales or buy more themselves over time.
If they buy $500+ then yes, you owe them $50+ but at that point, who cares. Nice enough sale.
I think you should disuade people from it. Say it's against your terms, but I'd probably turn a blind eye to it. The number of times this is actually going to happen is fairly low. Yes, you're going to wince every time it happens, but that's just the cost of doing business.
The purpose of affiliate programs is to help generate sales. Who cares if it's them buying or they get someone else. Most stores give employee discounts. It keeps workers happy while encouraging them to also buy there. I don't recommend disuading them from using their account to make their own purchases. If you do so, those inclined to purchase this way will either not join or set up a deal with a friend to get around the rule. Just keep them happy and they may help generate quite a bit of sales for you.
> Am I just too uptight?
No, of course not. I think this would make anyone chafe.
But, like universetoday, I'd suggest ignoring it. You made the sales (the most important thing) and (I don't know about this for sure, I'm just guessing) you probably have repeat customers at this point.
Chalk it up to "lesson learned," maybe add something to your affiliate and/or site terms & conditions, and try not to worry about it too much if it happens again. :)
I think you're being too uptight. The whole idea of the affiliate program is to generate sales. If the affiliate buys your product and likes it, he'll probably put more effort into promoting it which should generate more sales.
This happens to me all the time. But because I use a third party to run the affiliate program, if that commission never gets paid out to the affiliate (which I am certain happens on a regular basis), that earned commission goes back to the third party company, not me :(
Thanks for the feedback.
I agree a sale is a sale.
I am like Jenstar, my affiliate program is run by a third party and I am sure that those folks probably do not ever get there money.
I might add something to the site per Hawkgirl...
I think you SHOULD be uptight about this, because it breaks faith with productive affiliates who are sending traffic to your site. If someone signs up as a new affiliate then buys through their own link, the person who really deserves the commission gets [insert vulgar verb of your choice].
I know some savvy super-affiliates who refuse to promote merchants who feature their own affiliate program too prominently on their site, for this very reason.
Look at it from affiliate point of view.
How can I check that I will be paid?
How can I check that ordering and cookies are working properly?
Are the customers treated properly?
No better way than order myself
A valid point that affiliates may want to just check the waters, to see if they really would be paid. However, I think the worry is that a customer just sees the affiliate sign-up as a way to earn a discount, without intending to promote future sales.
re: the TOS, Amazon prohibits it and allposters encourages it. I'd say encourage it. Have a minimum payout rate, people are used to it. Maybe to achieve that rate they'll buy a few more as gifts, but then you've achieved something. Depends on how much it actually costs you to have an affilate -- if someone just goes through the motions and generates a half dozen sales, is the return still worth it?
It's natural to want to make as much money as possible, but you shouldn't forget that you provide a service, and happy customers come back, and will in all likelihood spread good word of mouth about you. So you lose a couple of bucks here and there in the short run. In the long run, I think having satisfied customers is the way to go.