Over the years I've signed up to thousands of affiliate programs. Years ago I used to get really pissed off with American based companies who didn't design their forms to be suitable for webmasters outside of the US and Canada. Being from the UK, this was a big problem, particularly when you were signing up to dozens every month. It doesn't happen as much anymore but it still does happen (and did this week).
The affiliate registration form would have a field where you could choose your country of residence. So I would choose ‘United Kingdom'. I would then complete the usual details like name, address, email etc however I couldn't submit the form.
There were a few reasons for this but usually it was one or many of the following :
- The zip code field is only setup for USA residents. Even though I chose UK as my country the form was asking for 5 numerical digits. Unfortunately, the UK zipcode (known as post code here) is 6 or 7 alphanumerical characters long therefore I couldn't complete the field.
- State/Region : Instead of just placing a blank field where the affiliate can enter any region, the form asks for a US or Canadian state. This is annoying as hell : even though I have told the site I'm from the UK it is asking me which US state I am from and won't let me proceed until I pick one.
- Tax ID – Another field which is only relevant to USA citizens however the form won't let me submit my application until I have entered something.
There are sometimes some other USA specific fields but the list above covers the main ones. Some forms are ridicously long and make you enter traffic details of your website and how you found their company etc, which I have no problem with. However, quite frequently this long form will reject your application because you didn't enter your tax id correctly (even though I've already said I'm from the UK!!) and then slap you across the face by clearing the whole form. So you then have to go hunting on the web for a fake address and tax id and enter everything again.
Finally you submit your application which is a mixture of your UK street name and city and USA state and tax id and you get approved. You then have to email the affiliate company and tell them to change the details because they are wrong. In theory this is easy but so many times the affiliate company takes weeks to respond or doesn't respond at all. So you're sitting there with a perfect website to advertise their product and you can't because the form isn't set up for non USA based citizens.
USA readers will probably be blissfully unaware of any of this but I'm sure readers from other countries will have been in this position before.
So if there are any affiliate managers out there, for the sake of my sanity, please make sure your developers make your registration forms friendly to non USA visitors :)