Pissing on my SHOEmoney System Subscription

Data point: I subscribed to the ShoeMoney System in January on Launch – I’ve been paying $197 for the past two installments and the 60 days ‘clickbank refund’ window will be up in two days from now (the 26th) for the first installment.

Mind you, I used my own ClickBank affiliate link to sign-up. That way eventually it would only cost me $100 a month.

Got a nice e-mail from John Chow’s e-mail list last night: He has a link that will get me the Shoemoney system for half price, for a total of $97.

That really pissed me off. I asked myself… So am I going to keep paying $197, when I could be paying half – Heck I don’t even know what the commission level John Chow is getting. He might be getting $0 and struck a deal for his readers (Can you believe I actually thought this? I’m way more stupid/naive than you imagine).

So I did my worst-case scenario: I sign up at $97, the difference is minimal between paying $197 and getting a $100 kickback versus paying $97 and getting $0 kickback. So worst-case I cancel the new membership with an “oops, my mistake for ordering twice the same thing”. No-brainer, nothing to lose here.

As I was driving in the morning I had a brilliant idea (yeah, right)! Maybe I can fire up my ShoeMoney System campaign and slap some half-off ads and kill it! .. Depending on the commission level, which I can find out by signing up.

So I grab John Chow’s link, and of course it had “ttznet” as the Clickbank affiliate when you get to the purchase page. For a moment I thought about leaving JC in there, nothing to lose from my current vantage point (yes, I’m really that stupid). Then I thought what the heck, I’ll just change it to me… But how?

I fired up the LiveHTTP extension to Firefox so I could see the URLs getting requested. It went from Aweber to XR.com (a URL shortener) for some reason I have yet to discover (why not direct from Aweber?), and from XR.COM to eventually an unencrypted Clickbank URL http://ttznet.shoemoney.hop.clickbank.net/?sku=1262274158&item=2

I thought – Awesome, all I have to do is replace ttznet with my own affiliate ID. Turns out, the deal is a bit more exclusive than that. No matter what I put in there, I would always wind up with Chow-Chow as my affiliate, chomping at my wallet. I was clearing the right cookies. So that’s kinda shitty – That means the shoemoney system was rewriting the affiliate to John Dot Com Pho Chow. Oh! A puzzle! Awesome! So I set about figuring out how to get myself in there, and I did manage it. Here’s how:

I opened the order form of the special offer, and looked at the URL. Can’t tell much by just looking, need something to compare it to, so I opened my own normal Shoemoney System hoplink – copied them to a little doc and compared them. I spotted two differences, a “?time=1269…” part that had a different number between them and a bit at the end of the URL that was missing from mine “%26item%3D2” – those %26 and %3D are encodings of & and = respectively. … So all I did was grab my order form and append “%26item%3D2” to request the other product and presto! The right order form came up, and I was able to sign-up for $97… And found out what Johnny Boy’s take was.

Much to my surprise, when I logged into the affiliate account, I had freshly-minted $44.37 – So the offer included a 50% commission for the affiliate.

I just sent my cancellation notice for the one paying $197-100=97, and will keep the account paying $97-44=40. I can deal with $40 a month.

I haven’t been able to figure out how to offer this offer myself – Looked at the headers and URLs from Clickbank and I’m not sure – The best I could do was to clear the affiliate to “none”, but can’t seem to set it. By what I can tell, going further into getting my ID in there would start turning too close to black hat.

You know what pisses me the most about all this? The brazen lies like: “16 students has already
taken advantage of the offer since last night. 19 more and the deal will close for good.” (copied from John’s e-mail). Everybody does this – but just because everybody does it doesn’t mean its a good practice for your peers. Its hard enough to build rapport, let alone a community, now imagine you slime-ball your peers. Unless you’re just aiming for their wallets. Bingo.
That’s just not good business practice – In business and life: Talk straight, walk straight.

So how do recurring businesses tackle launching at a premium and later offering lower prices to reach wider audiences? There are whole chapters in marketing textbooks about this – I’m sure there are whole books too, though I haven’t checked. How would I do it? One word: Tiering. Tell people that already signed up that they are at the Gold level and give them monthly bonuses and differentiated service – People can sign up at Gold level, or join low at Bronze member – and they can go between levels. Presto! Tiering is a way to maximize the revenue from a service – Why not do it here instead of pissing people off?