Is HostGator Cheating Affiliates With Their Affiliate Program?

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I’m a Hostgator Affiliate from last 4 years, and till now I have made over $25,000 from their affiliate program. Maximum ever I made with them in a  months was $3125, and you must be wondering why I decided to pick this topic, and calling one of my successful program as a SCAM. Even after earning handsome amount of money as their affiliate, I still have a big doubt about the way they track sales, and count them as confirmed affiliate sales.. At times I do feel that Hostgator is cheating their affiliate, and not giving them the money they deserve. For the beginner, here is one guide which you should refer to:

In past 5 years, I have been affiliated with many web-hosting companies and many non-hosting affiliate programs too.  I always share about those affiliate programs which are working for me, and should work for other bloggers in the same niche. You can find a big list of such successful affiliate program here. Now, getting back to how Hostgator is cheating their affiliates, and I feel I’m not alone facing this issue.

I have seen many bloggers and affiliate marketers ranting about the issue with Invalid and duplicate sales in their commission report. Here is a screenshot of my Hostgator affiliate dashboard. Notice the number of Inactive and invalid commissions:

Hostgator Affiliate dashboard

Why I feel Hostgator system is flawed or they are cheating:

I’m use to seeing Inactive, Invalid, Duplicate sales in my Hostgator commission report, but from last couple of months the number of invalid affiliate sales has increased tremendously.  Here is a response from Hostgator affiliate Director “Jay Weissman” from 2010, when I asked him to explain the difference between inactive, Invalid and Duplicate sales.

Hello, pending means that the commission is pending payment. That is the correct status for any sale which has not yet been paid out or flagged as invalid. Inactive means that the user has not yet made payment to us or is awaiting verification, that will go active once the users account is active with us.

Though this Email is from 2010 end, but I don’t think a lot has changed with their affiliate system in past 3 years. They still have the same system intact, and with the growing popularity of their hosting, they are degrading the quality of their affiliate program. in last 18 months, I have noticed that most of other hosting companies like Bluehost, Siteground, Webhostingbuzz (U.K. Hosting), Dreamhost have become very active with their affiliate program, and intact they have a relationship manager to look after active affiliates.

Whereas in past 12 months, I have been contacted twice by Hostgator Affiliate manager to help me with anything to improve the sales. Funny thing is, I replied to their Email with some of my queries, and they never replied back. I’m spoiled by the generosity of other hosting aff. manager, I see unreplied Email as very unprofessional move from Hostgator and more over it shows how least concern hostgator is about their affiliates.

Unlike Hostgator, I have never noticed such bad conversions on any other hosting program. This also made me think, why on earth someone sign-up for Hostgator, and never uses his account, or why they pay only for hosting which have active websites. Here is an excerpt from Hostgator TOS page on this:

“HostGator reserves the right to only pay for referrals that are active. Active is defined by clients with a website and domain name pointed to a HostGator server with user uploaded content. Commissions can be earned per each new client referred through the unique affiliate link”

 

The point of writing all this is not to say Hostgator is exactly cheating, but seems like their system is either flawed or the should re-work on their year old hosting affiliate program. Being an affiliate for years, it’s sad for me to miss out on one of the product that I use and recommend to others.

 

A good alternative to this is by joining their affiliate program via CJ Affiliate by Conversant, where they are paying $100/sale. Since the affiliate sale is counted by Commission junction system, you will be paid for every referral. This way you will avoid invalid sale issue and stuff, and will be paid for every customer (active or inactive) you refer to Hostgator.  The only problem is with new CJ account, as your application to join Hostgator referral program may automatically decline.

 

So this actually is a big pain for new affiliates or existing HG affiliates like me who wants to shift from their affiliate software to CJ. This post is about pointing out the problem with Hostgator affiliate system, and to inform them about their outdated affiliate model.  I still endorse Hostgator for hosting, but it’s the time they should work on building a better network and take care of this issues, which might make us think of them as a scam system. Here is my video take on Hostgator Aff. program:

If you also facing similar or any other issues with Host Gator aff. program, do share it with me via comment. What suggestion would you give to Hostgator Affiliate manager to improve their service and to make better relation with their affiliates?

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Blog post by Harsh Agrawal

Harsh has written 1051 articles.

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Comments

  1. Steve says

    It is now 2015 and this hasn’t gone away and continues to happen.

    Yes, Hostgator are scamming and skimming and certainly trying it on with many affiliates, particularly new ones.

    The likes of John Chow and some of the bigger known affiliates don’t seem to have this issue with Hostgator simply because they have the voice and the platform to actually do something about it if it happened to them on the scale that it is happening to so many others.

    Let’s also not forget that this is a products and a service that is actively promoted to the general public. Makes you wonder how many webmasters who used an affiliate link or coupon code are now also being skimmed and scammed by these companies.

    If a business like Hostgator treats its business partners (affiliates) in this manner then they will have absolutely no qualms about misleading and scamming its customers in some way.

    I understand and accept that Hostgator as a business need to verify that accounts are not fraudulent but as has been raised in this post and in many, many other posts on multiple forums and blogs, there is clear evidence that this is prevalent. Many affiliates have sent sales and have the proof that accounts are indeed active etc yet Hostgator won’t honour commissions unless you chase them for it. Why should affiliates be chasing at all?

    The tracking system that Hostgator uses is woefully inadequate for the transparency that is required here. If that tracking system did what it could do then this transparency would put a halt to much of this scamming and skimming.

    The current tracking system does not favour the affiliate at all and is woefully inadequate for a very good reason. Hostgator don’t want affiliates to know just how many referrals are actually being made. Tracking is simple, so why not implement it more effectively? The reason is that Hostgator don’t want to pay you what they say they will pay you.

    If CJ pay out regardless then why don’t Hostgator? Something fishy about that don’t you think.

    My advice to anyone who is considering becoming an affiliate to any of these hosting services is you should first make yourself familiar with their TOC’s and TOS. Research the company. They are all complicit in this practice and it is just a matter of time before they will be forced to become more accountable in their dealings, particularly since EIG now owns most of the largest hosting companies all under one umbrella, including Hostgator, BlueHost, JustHost, MadCow etc.

    If you are already an affiliate and have experienced issues with hosting services affiliate commissions then keep records of it. Shout about it. Post about it. Tweet about it. Tell the world about it. The more instances that are raised and recorded about a particular hosting service the more weight any future investigations and changes in the regulations and legislation will have.

    Raising awareness of this practice is key. The more that this is raised, reported and discussed the more transparent they are forced to be, even of that means reducing the incentives that grab your attention.

    This is fraud!!!! They have no intention of paying you out if they can get away with it.

    How many customer accounts are still active and still paying that Hostgator refused to pay out on? Fraud!!

    These hosting services are clearly adopting fraudulent practices when they knowingly offer a range of fees to entice an affiliate and then attempt to deny you of commissions and force you to resort to proving that those commissions should be paid. No other business type would be permitted to get away with this.

    Hostgator seem to have a book of answers to commission related issues and seem only prepared to resolve them and actually pay you if you are persistent and pursue them with evidence gained from the customers that you have referred. However, not all affiliates are actually diligent enough to request notification from a sign-up and Hostgator are taking advantage of that fact.

    I wonder how many affiliates have been scammed and skimmed and have just accepted it?

    Hostgator know that you have made those commissions. Their records and files show that you have made those commissions but they expect you to provide the evidence. This is fraud.

    Unfortunately the regulating of hosting companies is a grey area but it won’t be long before this becomes more transparent and they are regulated effectively. In the meantime there are plenty of things that you can do to avoid the fraudulent and immoral practices and tactics that these hosting services use to deny your affiliate commissions.

    Stop using them as an affiliate and stop referring your customers to them would be the most obvious solution.

    If you do use them and you have issues with being paid commissions then do the following:-

    Request information from Hostgator about your account through a Freedom of Information request. Ask specifically for all electronic and paper data in relation to your affiliate links used, coupon codes used and customers referred. This should give you a complete breakdown of your activity within Hostgator.

    Report the actions of your affiliate program directly to trading standards or equivalent.

    Report the actions of your affiliate program directly to the office of fair trading or equivalent.

    Report the actions of your affiliate program directly to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

    Report the actions of your affiliate program directly to Ecommerce Regulations.

    Report the actions of your affiliate program directly to Distance Selling Regulations.

    Report the actions of your affiliate program directly to The Federal Trade Commission.

    Appoint a Business law attorney.

    Hostgator and EIG need to take notice. Screwing with your affiliates will lose you business. We have a voice and a very large audience.

  2. Vishal Sharma says

    Hey Harsh,

    Hostgator affiliate is cheating their affiliates not only in the way you have shown above but also are eating affiliate commissions without even providing a proper explanation of sending the accounts to fraud list.

    They caused me a huge loss, a huge number of sales were made from my affiliate link and all were active after being verified but at time of payment they just told me my account has been fraud listed.
    I would like to share my full experience with hostgator: http://www.allbloggingways.com/2015/03/hostgator-affiliate-sucks-its-a-scam.html

    I don’t wish this happens with anybody else.

    • says

      @Vishal
      I read your post, and indeed it’s a sad thing to happen. It really feels bad when many of your referred sales doesn’t convert. More over, it’s a good brand that actually sales without much effort. The good thing is, Hostgator is changing their affiliate program from in-house to 3rd party affiliate program.(I received a letter few days back). I’m hoping this would fix their flawed affiliate system.

      • says

        Yeah it could be better if the changes you told takes place and I also hope they fix their flaws so that it doesn’t hit adversely to affiliates like me.

  3. Karl Bell says

    Hi all i am not happy with hostgator affiliate program they are a complete scam and promoted hostgator to private clients of mine and they were all referred using the voucher codes attached to my Affiliate id and out of 10 sales referred only 2 commissions were stated and paid and sent me a check after 2 months with $100.. Now this is when it gets weird i went to the bank put my check into my account and waited 4 days they then sent me another check saying they messed up the order number on my check and checked the bank and hostgator reversed the payment from my bank account and took -£79.90 !!! Stay away from these scammers people! Promote better company but i swear i wont ever promote hostgator again and if you do you will get burned!

  4. Ricky Figueroa says

    Hi Harsh,

    It’s interesting that I found your post. I’ve been an affiliate with HostGator for a year now. In 2014, my blog referred 16 new customers to HostGator. That means 16 sales happened which I confirmed with each one of the people who purchased through my link.

    Based on HostGator’s standards… none of the 16 sales qualified, which means I never got paid on any of the 16 sales to this day.

    All of it made me wonder… WTH… was going on with this affiliate program. All of those customers are still paying for their host gator hosting service and I still have not seen $1 in commissions.

    This is definitely not a rant. It is simply stating the facts. As a customer, I have no complains at all. They work well with customers, but I can’t say the same thing as an affiliate.

    Because of it, I’ve been considering moving to BlueHost as a customer and affiliate. I appreciate your post very much. Great value!

    – Ricky

  5. says

    Hi Harsh,

    I’ve been a slow, yet an affiliate guy for HG. I made three sales in total.

    Sale 1 – using an entropay vcc (few months back)
    Sale 2 – using an international debit card (recent)
    Sale 3 – using a credit card (recent)

    I’m the developer for all off them (individual clients)

    What I see in my affiliate dashboard:

    Domain Name Status Paid
    3 (as above) inactive pending
    2 (as above) inactive invalid
    1 (as above) threshold pending

    I’m totally clueless on what is this going on with HG. I’ve uploaded websites to each of them, still it shows the same. However, the domain 2 has some further issues, it doesn’t even show even though all the files are duly uploaded.

    Wrote to HG, no reply yet. Live chat shows hours of waiting. Clueless totaly. What might be the problem/what should I be doing? Any idea/help on it?

    Thanks
    PB

  6. says

    On the surface, Hostgator seems like the reasonable choice due to the availability of monthly billing; however, I think there are quite a few people who would prefer another webhost to refer their clients. If anyone has a good reputable webhost who pays decent commissions and allows monthly billing, sign me up.

  7. says

    yes Harsh sir, I am seeing many sites have hostgator advertisement, in Facebook also many of my friends also told we earned sufficient money from it, but know I saw your post, and shocked why they are doing that. I enquired so many famous bloggers but they don’t said it is cheating. anyhow right now be careful and keep one eye on it. thank you sir

  8. says

    Hi Harsh,

    Yes, I have notice on my Host gator account. I am not active affiliate of hostgator in 2013 year. I Got 4 to 5 Sales as I have purchased hosting for my friends and family and it not convert into sale but I have contacted sales team and they guide me to update Nameserver and A record. I did all changes on hosting / domain control panel but still not showing as sale but support team said me now your Sale is valid and you will get paid after completed 40 or 90 days. Finally I got paid on my Paypal account

    But in 2014 I am going to start new website for Host Gator voucher code. I have already design and upload on live url. Near to start SEO work on new website.

    After reading your blog post. I am bit confuse to work on my new website
    should I start SEO ? Do you think is wroth to work as Hostgator Affiliate ? Should I have same issue with me.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. It really helpful to me and others Affiliate user.

    • says

      @Shailesh
      They are not scam or it’s not like they will not pay you, but you should know that the conversions will affect. A good workaround is try to get into their affiliate network via CJ, and use that tracking link for your sales.. Hope that helps..

  9. says

    i have not yet joined their affiliate program, though their offer for affiliate marketers is really awesome and too hard not to promote.

    I think this post should be forward to their manager to read, truth is that you’re not the first to complain about this, hope everything is solved!

  10. says

    Hello!

    Really bad to see more than half of the commission is inactive/invalid. However, look at the domain names you referred, all the invalid/inactive domains are NOT pointing to HostGator. The biggest reason to this is their first month at 1 Cent offer. This offer only leads to this much spam and hence, affiliates lose their commissions. According to me, the HostGator’s affiliate tracking system is not faulty. Those are the people who abuse the offer provided by HG.
    The same reason is why Arvixe discontinued their 1 Cent offer.

  11. says

    Same here.

    I’m sorry to say, but HostGator is using a seriously flawed affiliate system. Even when you look at your affiliate statistics, only 3 out of 20 have been verified! I’m sure that there MUST be more than a 15% conversion ratio.

    Too bad I signed up with HG.

    Regards,
    JR John

  12. Sandeep Singh says

    Hello, I also faced this issue. After some research I found that most of the invalid sales generate from one cent coupon code. Many people use one cent coupon to give a test drive on Hostgator, as a results some of them cancel their hosting account and Hostgator gets only one cent from them. That’s why Hostgator considers those sales as invalid. Thanks for sharing. Hope any HG team will see and go something.

  13. Madhav Tripathi says

    May be they are cheating but they have worst support system. Their Indian unit was useless in the past, don’t know about current support system.

  14. says

    Harsh,

    Feeling sorry for your big loss. Secondly I am very shocked to see the big name like Hostgator cheating their hard working affiliate marketers.
    Actually I was searching for Christmas deal for webhosting as I am going to register two sites for clients with any of webhost and came across your post. You saved me from a big loss. I think Bluehost is good choice which paid me commission on time.

    Thanks for this valuable information. Now I will keep away from Hostgator.

  15. Jon says

    HostGator should first improve there customer service hotline as it was a nightmare to get anything do when I used them, so it would surprise me that they were also doing the above

  16. says

    Ofcourse they are cheating even i faced the same issue with hostgator Affiliate program. that’s the only reason i left promoting hostgator. If they want to do like this then they should stop affiliate program rather than cheating Affiliate users

  17. says

    You are absolutely correct, Harsh.
    Their Affiliate system is a crap!
    Even I have many invalid sales in my Aff. dashboard :P
    Actually, I think that EIG bought HostGator just to spoil their name.
    After they bought it, HostGator is having many issues like their Servers are down, Affiliate system is a crap and the HostGator support system that used to be rocking is also now a crappy piece.

  18. Ajay Kumar Jain says

    Harsh,

    I am not sure if it’s just happening with Indian affiliates of Host Gator or it’s a world wide issue. If it’s just related to Indian affiliates, then may be opening up of India office of Host Gator is to be blamed for this.

    Best wishes.

  19. says

    Hostgator start creating problems for their affiliates as well as hosting customers after it has been acquired by EIG (Endurance International Group). EIG Owned 100+ Hosting Brands like Ipage, Fatcow, Netfirms and so on.. EIG is Famous for Bad hosting provider because they oversale their servers which may cause slow website loading etc. They also did not pay their affiliates in timely manner.

  20. Anil Agarwal says

    Harsh, I’m also feeling there is some problems with the way they are counting active sign ups. I was actively promoting Hostgator on my blog for 2-3 yers. But for the past few months, I was feeling as if I was wasting lots of money making oppotunities by sticking with them only. So I switched to Bluehost affiliate program. With bluehost, there is no staus like pending, inactive, duplicate etc. In 99% of cases (Except refunds or deleted accounts), we get paid for every sign up we have with them.

  21. Veer Modi says

    Hi Harsh,
    I am completely agree with you. I am also facing the same problem with hostgator. They have no active affiliate manger like other companies for example Bluehost and Inmotion hosting.

    Hostgator should re-plan their affiliate system and affiliate commission to stay in this competition for long time.

    This topic is I think all hostgator affiliates are facing. Thanks for sharing.

  22. says

    Complains about their bad customer support were already rolling on internet and now your post made me confused to decide either to keep HG in my list or not. B/c I was just planning to launch a new campaign to promote different products including HG. Or I go with second option CB as you mentioned above.. what do you say?

  23. Nizam Khan says

    Excellent and detailed post Harsh! You made the right decision to take a stand against them and to spread word of mouth about their unprofessional affiliate program management. I too have the same issue and it’s always the same with the new sign up. It’s time for them to take a serious look into this and to make their affiliate program more accurate and professional with active affiliate manager. If not soon they’ll loose their affiliates and this will be benefit to their competitors as affiliates will migrate to other hosting affiliate program (eespecially BlueHost). If Hostgator is serious about their affiliate business then they must care about their affiliates.

  24. says

    Yes I do agree with you, Harsh.
    Same things are happening to me as the Hostgator affiliate.
    Last month two affiliates registered through my referral link, but one upload his site and he is valid.. but other one has not uploaded his site to the Hostgator server :(
    So that affiliate commission appears to be invalid :( They must change their affiliate model as soon as possible.

  25. Anoop Sudhakaran says

    I feel the same way, There are a few invalid sales in my Affiliate Account too when the site is clearly up and running on HG Server.
    I haven’t bothered talking to them about this since I have seen many reports of the same and they won’t reply with a satisfactory reply.

  26. hardik says

    Exactly 1.5 years back i think EIS group bought the Hostgator. they are the guys who buys big names in hosting and then transfers all those Hostings into their cheap low end servers. they don’t have reputation of good company, you can find many users in Web Hosting review site renting about how bad EIS is. I believe your complain of decline in commission is somewhat related to that issue.

    Personally i have feel the pain of EIS group on two different hosting sites i mean when they aquired bluehost and hostgator i have seen sites down many times in a week, which was previously got down may be once in a year .

    Let me know your thoughts.

  27. umair says

    Hi Harsh,

    It is confirmed not 100%, I can say it’s confirmed 1000%. They cheat.

    A person purchased hosting using my affiliate link. but, no commission shown. I personally contacted the owner and he confirmed the purchase and shown him as active user.

    Then, for confirmation I personally reffer one of my friend to hostgator for windows hosting. In purchasing and running his site I was personally involved to confirm his purchase.

    and then, you know what?

    They did not even show the reffer in my account :D Thats crazy man. may be you are in doubt. But, I am 100% sure they do.

    If you want evidance, I can provide.

  28. Derek says

    Finally someone wrote about this topic. I have always suspected that I was cheated out of comission’s and still there affiliate software is out of date and just confusing. When I join a web hosting business, I pay because I want my website up a.s.a.p. Something is just strange.

    I lost my account with CJ cause I was inactive for 6 months or made no sale for a long time. Never went back after 3 year’s ago. I really don’t want to switch to them to get the $100 comission because I have many HG affilite links around the internet. Would be a pain to search for everyone to post new URL. lol

    HG does update there affiliate banners but why not pay attention to the out-dated affiliate program. When I login with IE9 the page is aligned to the left and not centered. All that money they make and can’t hire a good designer to design the affiliate program or get a coder to add better features or fix any bug’s at least. I’ll still promote them because I’ve used them for a few websites in the past but wow, I could hope I’m not losing money from them.

  29. Istiak Rayhan says

    Hey Harsh,
    I also faced this issue. After some research I found that most of the invalid sales generate from one cent coupon code. Many people use one cent coupon to give a test drive on Hostgator, as a results some of them cancel their hosting account and Hostgator gets only one cent from them. That’s why Hostgator considers those sales as invalid.

  30. says

    No Harsh, they are not cheating at all. HostGator and Bluehost pay well on time and they do pay if you bring them new customers.

    One difference which I want to point out is that HostGator allows you to create a hosting account for free and you can pay your bill even after a month. And all these referrals which show on your affiliate backend are the ones that have created their account on HostGator with your link. But only some of them pay their bill and point their primary domain to HostGator’s nameservers which are marked active. And the others (which are in invalid) do not pay their bill.

    PS There are some duplicate accounts which are of previous HostGator users. Again, HostGator pays you for new customers not old ones.

    And on Bluehost, you can not create an account for free and you need to buy hosting for atleast one year on Bluehost that is why we have 100% conversions on Bluehost.

    :)

    • aashish says

      I would like to share you one of my personal experience.

      One of my friend need hosting with HG. I gave them my affiliate coupon to singup. They signed up for a domain (lets say 123.com). Later on they have some problem due to their payment processor (paypal). So they again signed up for hosting with HG with my Coupon for the same domain name (123.com). This time they paid for the fees but in my affiliate panel HG show me duplicate and invalid. So what you say now ? If a account is inactive then its alright but why they pinned Duplicate for the account which they paid. and of-course 0 Commision for me :p – CRAZY HG :P

      • says

        That happened to me exactly as you’ve described. But since I was the one that created the site for the person and was sure the duplicate was paid for and she’s started using the site. I contacted Hostgator about it. Explained the issue. And they told me they would pay it with next commission payout. And they really did without me having to remind them. But I agree that they cheat people on commissions, because if I hadn’t followed it up, that money wouldn’t have been paid.

  31. says

    the one and only suggestion I would like to give to Hostgator is to improve their customer support!
    they never reply to emails and their live support was once so helpful and now it’s so damn irritating, we’ve to wait for a long time :(

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