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Affiliate Vendor Central

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

This thread is for the discussion of Style Forum's Affiliate Vendors.

 

The purpose of this thread is manifold:

  • A place to ask questions and find answers concerning Style Forum policies regarding affiliate vendors
  • A place to discuss vendorship in general. What makes for a good vendor, what makes for a bad vendor, etc
  • A place to single out exemplary service or community involvement on the parts of affiliate vendors, giving them the positive attention they deserve.
  • A place to voice concern about or criticism of affiliate vendors which are in some way performing below expectations or providing substandard service

 

This thread was started for several reasons:

  • A recent controversy with a soon-to-be former affiliate vendor made clear that many people were not aware of the nature of the relationship between Style Forum and affiliate vendors.
  • The affiliate threads are essentially paid advertising space. This thread is not. Therefore, what may be inappropriate to discuss in various affiliate threads can be discussed freely here.
  • Most importantly, at least to me, is to give excellent vendors the recognition they deserve. The vendors that provide great products and great service should get more customers. In doing this, this thread will hopefully provide incentive for other vendors to become more than just merchants and become active participants in our community.

 

A couple of miscellaneous points:

  • This is a DH thread and will be moderated accordingly. So avoid ad hominem attacks and the like
  • I may add more stuff here in the next day or so.

 

Fok:

 

Hey @Claghorn, thanks.  Incidentally, I see that you are using the BB1 editor.  I converted this post to richtext.  I would really advise using the richtext editor. Unfortunately, it doesn't work on mobile yet, but it is a much more using friendly editor.

 

In any case, here is the policy* for affiliate vendors that was requested:

 

Styleforum collaborates with our hosting partners in deciding what will be a good fit for the community - our goal is to have affiliate vendors with whom members would like to engage, and who have products in which community would be interested.  However, we do not, for the most part, administer the contracts directly, and we do not, as an organization, officially endorse any product or vendor.  Any promotion of the vendor is either part of our contractual obligations or a value added product.  We provide a space for a vendor to engage directly with a communuity focused on discussions about mens clothing, footwear, and accessories.  A vendor has the privilege of requesting that posts that a reasonable person could construe as being off topic, inflammatory, or deliberately antagonistic, be removed from the thread, as well as information about the company that could reasonably construed to be proprietary information.  This is not to say that members are not allowed to bring up customer service concerns in the affiliate threads in a reasonable and respectful manner.  (Oddly enough, this is actually the same behavior is expected on the rest of the forum.)  To bring up the bar analogy that we've used for so long, the affiliate threads are private rooms that have been rented out for the night.  The patrons of the bar are invited to the private party, but if you go into the private room for the express purpose of yelling at the host, you can expect to be disinvited.  

 

Officers and agents of Styleforum are also prohibited from providing reviews for payment in cash or in kind while acting in an official capacity.  We also do not allow any private member from publishing any review for payment in cash or in kind, without full disclosure, and anyone solicitying vendors for payment in cash or in kind for a review is strictly in contravention of Styleforum policies.

 

Styleforum does have a review process, which is a paid service requiring oversight by Styleforum officers.  There are safeguards in place which insulate the reviewers from undue influence by the vendors being reviewed.  Generally, reviewers are chosen by Styleforum, and the reviewers receive goods for review, which they are allowed to keep for their time.  In some cases, depending on the terms of the contract, reviewers are also compensated financially for their time. Compensation is adminstered by Styleforum, not by the contracting company, in these cases.  Styleforum invoices the contracting company regardless of the outcome of the reviews.  We do not instruct reviewers except on style and organization.  Where there are more than one review, companies must publish all the reviews if they wish to do so.  In certain cases, reviews are contracted to be used internally.

 

*these policies are subject to change without prior notice, etc..., insert legalese boilerplate that our lawyers require, here.  The policies laid our here are the language of user LA Guy, who is, in this instance, acting outside his official capacity, and without consultation with legal counsel, and should be in no way considered to be binding on Styleforumnet LLC (the Company), it's officers, subsidiaries, partners, associates, contractors, or any person or entity that may be construed as acting as an agent of the Company.

post #2 of 24
Quick work & thanks
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 

Henry Carter and No Man Walks Alone

I've mentioned a number of times, particularly in the Good Natured Advice Thread, that the two affiliate vendors I like and respect the most are Henry Carter and NMWA, not so much for their products (which in my experience have been mostly excellent), but for the fact that they are actually members of the community first and vendors second, particularly Henry Carter.

 

Howard Yount

has nonexistent communication. I have no idea what the deal is. Love his pants and am very fond of his ties, but he's not signed on the forum for a year or more and doesn't answer his emails. While his wares don't have the same issues as Passaggio Cravatte, the lack of communication is troubling. As someone who buys a lot from the guy, I really wish he'd do something about it. I, and other members, have done a fair amount of apologizing for him in his affiliate thread. And I, and other members, will probably continue buying from him. But I'm not sure I could start this thread without griping about this.

 

@gsugsu, for posterity's sake, as I don't know what's going to happen with the PC thread, you mind recounting that whole bit of drama. It's kind of late here.

post #4 of 24
Perhaps Affiliate Vendors shouldn't ask for full payment upfront for bespoke and MTO. They want access to members, but don't trust the members to pay the balance?
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 

I think with MTO, don't they normally just take deposits? Payment in full for MTO, given some of the struggles many have had, does seem like a bit much.

 

For bespoke, that seems a bit unrealistic. For one thing, many AV's have customers coming from outside SF. For another, what's to stop some member from getting his tie and vanishing?

post #6 of 24
^I've used MTO and bespoke makers that charge just before shipment and others that invoice after delivery with no deposit (e.g., old-line tailors do this), but suppose with the internet deposit is a fair compromise.
Edited by Kuro - 7/4/14 at 11:50am
post #7 of 24
This thread was started for several reasons:
A recent controversy with a soon-to-be former affiliate vendor made clear that many people were not aware of the nation of the relationship between Style Forum and affiliate vendors.


Since an element of the PC thread had to do with language barriers, is this correct or did you mean nature?
post #8 of 24
I would be interested in hearing PC thread drama.

The affiliate threads i follow are few, but they are fun threads, and i have been pleased with doing business with them. Those being Skoaktiebolaget & LuxeSwap...
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claghorn View Post
 

I think with MTO, don't they normally just take deposits? Payment in full for MTO, given some of the struggles many have had, does seem like a bit much.

 

For bespoke, that seems a bit unrealistic. For one thing, many AV's have customers coming from outside SF. For another, what's to stop some member from getting his tie and vanishing?

I should point out that all the vendors on the forum have different payment terms,. and that these terms generally predate their affiliate threads from Styleforum.  Also, the general protocol for internet shopping is to pay before delivery.  I always advise that payment be made in a way that protects both the seller and the buyer.

post #10 of 24

I think there's quite an interesting dynamic of members who have been inspired and emboldened by their forum experience to actually start businesses - with SF affiliate status as a core part of their starting business model.  Luxeswap and NMWA being obvious examples, where not only are the businesses well-conceived, but the founders' popularity and familiarity with other members has really helped them.  Yellow Hook is another one - really generous and pleasant people to deal with, incidentally, although I note that Rob's SF participation as a member has rather fallen off in the last year.  I hope that's because his business is keeping him busy.

 

In light of the soon-to-be-ex-disgraced-AV scandal, and the comments above about Howard Yount, I have a suggestion: the limitations of the SF/vendor relationship commercially speaking, are rehearsed clearly above.  "Affiliate" is used in the most general, and non-legal, sense.  But as SF is very much a market place, the market management of course have an interest in a happy shopping community - as do the other AVs, for that matter.  I think one of the problems with The-Italian-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named is that when the first suspicions were raised about misleading product description etc., there was no SF system in place to begin a "process".  I'm certainly not implying that Howard Yount represents anything similar in terms of integrity, but I do think that they've moved from irritation to alarm bells over the last few months.  So perhaps, in both cases, things would be easier if there were a set of procedures to be initiated by a certain level of customer concern. Triggers to begin such procedures might include:

 

- AV thread unattended for period "X"

- Sustained concern from members at AV service levels 

- Credible allegations of misrepresentation or fraud (especially if the AV avoids addressing them)

 

I'm sure others might have suggestions, but basically I think what is needed is a formal set of "concern procedures", involving emails/calls from SF to the AV asking for clarification, expressing concern, and eventually of course to suspending, then terminating service to the AV. The latter parts are a big deal in terms of requiring an evolution of terms and conditions when AV contracts renew, but the first stages at least could be instituted quickly as a policy without pain, I think.

 

The fact is that one out of sixty-odd AVs got himself into a mess with his customers (I won't speculate as to the degree of malicious intent versus haplessness), and I think it's fair to say, rejected all opportunities to rescue his standing.  In the end, Fok has done what he had to do and giving notice on the arrangement.  That's just one vendor.  The rest are, as far as I know, all people of greater integrity.  So I'm not suggesting any hysterical overreaction here, but I think  as insurance in the future, and a matter of clarity for both the vendor and the broader SF community, it would be useful to spell out at what point AVs are contacted by SF to express concern, and what constitutes a worrying departure from expected affiliate standards.  The recent events might even have given Fok a roadmap in his own mind of what happened when, and what might reasonably have happened a touch earlier - if anything.  Publishing such a map would be a reassuring step for members, but also a little nudge to AVs to keep the bar high.

 

So back to Howard Yount: as I mentioned in the AV thread, I've had only one experience that wasn't entirely smooth.  Delivery was very slow, and communications ignored for weeks.  But eventually it was resolved with complete grace, the product is good, and I harbour no ill-feeling to HY at all.  But it does seem to be a situation that's worsening rather than improving.  Setting out some expected standards and just expressing some concern, might be a helpful step at this point from SF.  Perhaps even ask if they need a little help?  This place is full of people who like to get involved.

 

In the mean time, I can say that as well as my nice jacket from HY, I have received exemplary service (and some wonderful products) from:

 

Henry Carter

Kent Wang

Exquisite Trimmings

Yellow Hook Necktie Company

Conrad Wu

Andrew Lock (that was the charity auction, but still counts!)

Malford of London

Shibumi Berlin

 

I've just remembered that Meermin are also on the list these days.  Happy with my shoes, but they need to sort out their stock management/delivery systems and manage customer expectations of when products will actually be made and delivered.

 

P.S.  Was Panta ever an official affiliate?  Vanda?  Sam Hober?

post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 

My closet reflects:

Kent Wang

Howard Yount (probably more than any other AV)

A Fine Pair of Shoes

NMWA

Exquisite Trimmings

Unipair

Meermin

Henry Carter

Conrwad Wu

 

as well as family:
Sam Hober

Vanda

Panta

Wolf vs Goat

 


 

AV's have a pretty damned good track record. But it would be nice to see if SF, either the management or the community, could get Jamison to explain his poor communication. I'm not suggesting that we somehow get him to rectify it (that would be nice, but that's his prerogative), but it would be fair for the other side to acknowledge it.

 

Again, I love Howard Yount. He's been fantastic when it comes to international shipping and I've had no problems with him. I did recommend him to one of my students and he sent the wrong tie. But he quickly rectified it and let them keep the extra tie as an apology for taking so long in getting back to them.

post #12 of 24
I forgot to mention that I have been pleased with the service and shoe products that I bought from The Hanger Project.

I have also used Bespoke England, and while service is always good, I have noticed communications are a little lacking lately. It has been standard procedure for me lately to follow up on emails sent. I hope all is well with Nick's business, as he is always polite, and the services (and GG flexibility) he offers is great.
post #13 of 24
Another thread with "Affiliate" in the title...good.
post #14 of 24

I forgot Hanger Project - bought some ties in their sale last year.  Very smooth.

post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuro View Post

Perhaps Affiliate Vendors shouldn't ask for full payment upfront for bespoke and MTO. They want access to members, but don't trust the members to pay the balance?

Well from my point of view I have always charged up front to keep things simple in terms of admin and in the early days to make sure I always had the cashflow to alter/rework or remake a garment if it came down to it.

I have started taking deposits on balances over 4k recently but it is very hard to know when exactly you will get paid and that is challenging for a small business. It's not so much that a client may dodge or refuse to pay but even operating in good faith a client may be unable to come in on time for fittings or for a pick up. I have at any one time about 5 suits on my rack that have been finished and awaiting pick up for not just weeks but months.
Edited by David Reeves - 7/6/14 at 6:02pm
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