Yup sending statements to claim commission is a pretty common thing in my experience.
I don't know about the affiliate side of it - just starting to look into that myself.
But I deal with similar situations here in NZ where we create a "buyer created invoice", ie, we are the client being invoiced and paying the bill, but the invoice is in fact created by us.
I can see that working very well in affiliate siutations, assuming it satisfied the authorities.
Might be worth asking about.
It does appear to be a UK madness, but true, nevertheless. For the major UK affiliate partnership that we are engaged in (Espotting), we have to send an invoice to collect the payment. This is of course despite the fact that everything is fully automated.
Interestingly we also have to include VAT on that invoice (which is also calculated for us). It makes sense I suppose, but having mostly dealt with US affiliate schemes before it came as a surprise.
Amazon (com and co.uk) and CDNow just send you the money. Another UK scheme I joined asked me to send in an invoice for payment of affiliate fees - but they have just moved their scheme into Tradedoubler who I think will just mail out cheques when they reach the minimum amount
Thanks for the replys.
I wonder how come Amazon and Tradedoubler get away with it? Maybe something to do with being an american company?
I can understand needing a vat invoice if the affiliate is v.a.t registered but for private individuals it seems ridiculous.
But hey, who am I to argue with the taxman !
As an affiliate I would find the requirement for an invoice to be a strong disincentive to promote your company, because I HATE paperwork.
I'd say get a second (or third) opinion on this ... I do some promotion for a UK company and they just send the commissions owed, without any hassle at my end here in Canada.
Affiliate Window & DGM2 (UKAffiliates) both Networks based in the UK generate an invoice for me every month. CJ and Tradedoubler don't bother with invoices. I seem to have to send have to send invoices to all of the merchants who run their own program in the UK.
I spoke to the inland revenue last week on this matter.
What they told me was that invoices were not necessary to make a claim for expenses etc.
They did however say that one should be able to provide evidence of claimed ammounts being paid out. When asked they agreed that a simple list of payments made which can be cross referenced with bank account cheque payments would suffice.
My own experience of government departments however is that you get a different answer depending on who you speak to. Always you fault of course when you follow the advice of one of their "experts" only to find later that they hadn't got a clue what they were on about. :)
We have affiliate sites promoting around 20 UK companies. Many are household name, Footsie 100 companies but only 3 ask us for invoices. The remainder just send a cheque each month ;)
This is an interesting topic.
The VAT thing won't apply to transactions across EC boundaries, of course.
Along a similar note, I recently figured out that according to german law, the entity owing the money can demand to get an invoice for their books. In the extreme case, if someone refuses to make me an invoice, then I don't have to pay them!
When I resell software (or components) written by other people, I normally send them a statement about what I have sold at which prices, and then they will in turn send me an invoice about the total sum and VAT. That way no further explanations are required for tax declarations on either side.
In an affiliate set up where everything is automated, I can imagine that it would be ok if the merchant generated the invoice, and sent it to the affiliates "for review". If the affiliate doesn't complain within a reasonable time, you can then assume that they accept that invoice as if they had written it themselves. You could even argue that the affiliate was really generating that invoice by sending referrals to the merchant.
There's no need for the seller or service provider to print out the invoice himself and send it per surface mail. All that is required is that the invoice exists to document the transaction, and that the copies on each side tell the same story. In fact, I send most of my invoices in PDF format, for my customers to print out on their own. The situation in the UK may be slightly different, but I don't expect any fundamental discrepancies.
After a lot of discussion I have managed to get a compromise deal from the accountant. (we're UK based by the way)
If the affiliate is a vat registered company then they must send us a vat invoice prior to us sending payment. (I think Amazon already do this)
If the affiliate is a private individual we will pay them without an invoice as long as they do not earn over £500 per year. Over this figure and the affiliate will have to invoice us.
This is basically to cover us against claims of money laundering. Although how this will do it still seems a little suspect. Surely if we wanted to launder money I could just make up fake invoices myself?
Anyway, this clears the way for me to get the thing started. I'll argue about the £500 limit as and when it comes up.
Thanks for all the feedback.