I received a phone call today from a company that calls themselves Affiliate Masters LLC. They attempted to sell me an website and other promotional material, but what they didn't know is that I actually run my own online business and have dealt with similar scams before. Here's the dirt on what they are doing, and why you shouldn't give these guys a dime.
The initial pitch is similar for all of these call center “opportunities”. They have a rep ask you if you are interested in making money, then ask if you have a couple hundred dollars to invest and a credit card. They want to see if you “qualify”, which is code for they want to see if you have money to give them. Everyone with money qualifies.
They Are NOT Amazon
Amazon phone call scams are not uncommon these days. These companies use clever wording, implying that they ARE Amazon, or at least working for them Actually, Amazon does not recognize these companies, nor do they endorse what they do.
The Affiliate Masters LLC representative went so far as to say that of the 75 billion in revenue that was generated last year, “OUR company was responsible for 65%”. No doubt this number was for all affiliates, not just Affiliate Masters.
Let's be clear, they are just affiliates. It's free for anyone to join as an affiliate through the Amazon Associates program, and takes just a few minutes to set up. There's nothing special about it, and wording they use to imply anything else is just deceptive advertising.
The Audio Presentation
This is another standard feature of phone based business opportunities. There's a lot of misleading information about how easy it is to earn, how much you can earn, and how long it takes to earn it. They use phrases like “build massive amounts of income” with just “a couple hours each week”. Things like “turnkey business” and “piggyback off of Amazon” are all trying to trigger the get-rich-quick-and easy reflex in your brain.
Granted, all companies engage in some kind of sensationalist advertising techniques. Everyone knows that a McDonald's hamburger on TV doesn't look the same in the store, and not everyone with an iPhone immediately becomes popular.
Still, it's worth mentioning that if you really do want to make money online, it's going to take more than a few hours per week, and you will need a lot of time before you start making thousands per month.
The Senior Account Representative
I was finally hooked up with a senior account rep named Joseph. I am actually a professional affiliate marketer, so it was clear to me that this rep knew the basics of affiliate marketing, but was still reading from a script.
Make no mistake, these people are NOT using what they are selling. They are working in a call center trying to sell you a product. If this business opportunity was so lucrative, why would they be working in a call center? Yes, I also sell affiliate marketing training on my website One More Cup of Coffee, but I also implement my own advice and run my own affiliate sites.
I don't want to rag on Joseph too badly – he's just doing his job, and was clear that he didn't want me to get involved in something I didn't understand. He was very accommodating with answering my questions (up to a point), which is more than most of these reps offer. I've got some real horror stories to tell about other companies.
At the end of the day, he was just trying to sell me something, and when I said I didn't have the money, he immediately got angry. He complained that I lied about having money, that I didn't actually qualify for the program, and that he was “wasting his time on the phone with me”. He then asked if I was serious about making money, to which I responded, “This opportunity just isn't for me right now”.
His response was,
you have a great day because you're never going to make any money!
and then he hung up.
What Are They Selling?
Aside from the deceptive marketing and rude, uninformed representatives, let's take a look at what they are actually selling.
Websites Not Worth The Money
First off, they want to sell you a website for a minimum $199. The truth is, this website is worth exactly $10. There is absolutely nothing on this site, and it probably took someone 15 minutes to set up. They even have software which can create these types of sites automatically.
There are NOT custom designed. They are cookie cutter sites worth no more than the price of the domain name, which is $10 per year. You can learn how to do this in about 20 minutes.
The other package that Affiliate Masters LLC tries to sell you will cost $399. This second site is in even poorer condition. The name for this type of site is called a “squeeze page”. There are no links, no content, and just a form to submit your name, email address, and phone number. It “squeezes” the info out of you.
These sites do not rank in Google because of the lack of content, and convert into sales at very poor rates because people do not understand what they are signing up for. It's certainly NOT worth and extra $200.
Beware Of More Costs
I can almost guarantee that if you bought one of these sites, this would not be the end of your spending.
Most of the time, what happens after you buy, is that they try to sell you more stuff. I was told that if I sign up today, I would get access to an exclusive advertising network and unlimited access to advertising agents that will teach me the best ways to get traffic.
These are not experts. These are MORE sales reps working in call centers, whose job is to sell you traffic packages. The idea behind this type of selling is that if you are willing to spend $399 on a website, you'll probably spend another $1,000 to get traffic to it.
Advertising money goes fast in the world of online business, and even $1,000 might not last a whole month with Google Adwords. If these guys send you cheap traffic from developing countries, like many of them do, those clicks will not convert to sales, and you'll be in the red for another chunk of money.
6 Months Guarantee
Now, you might be thinking, “but there's a 6 month guarantee!”. Apparently they are supposed to pay you the difference of your initial investment cost and how much money you made over a period of six months.
So if you bought the $399 site and only made $50, they'll cut you a check for $349.
HOWEVER, these types of call centers are notorious for not honoring their guarantees, not answering phone calls, and thinking of ways to keep your money. Just check out the comments on Web Masters LLC.
UPDATE: While on the phone yesterday I told them I was unemployed. I received a call back today asking if I was still unemployed and whether or not I would be interested in this ‘business opportunity'. The guy must have ticked a box or put that in his notes.
It seems (not surprisingly) that they are intentionally targeting the unemployed. I would guess that the elderly, poor, and folks in some kind of financial hardship are also high on their list.
This is a company that's not to be trusted. Their prices are high, their staff are not professional, and they clearly don't know how to run a true affiliate marketing business. Stay away from any company that calls you on the phone with a business opportunity, and always do your research before paying anyone in this industry, any amount of money.
Have you been called or scammed by this company? Let us know your experience below. It will help other people just like you save time, money, and headache.