The year-long industry dispute between some affiliate marketers and the Grand Prive Affiliate Program (see previous InfoPowa reports) moved a further step closer to a hopefully mutually satisfactory conclusion this week as the extended 31st December deadline for submission of claims to third party auditor eCOGRA passed.
The deadline followed an extensive information campaign both directly to affiliates and through affiliate information sites advising affiliates with a legitimate claim to submit details via an online facility on the eCOGRA website.
With the festive season now a fast-fading memory, eCOGRA's chief executive, Andrew Beveridge, started 2010 with a progress report to claimants advising that a total of 58 claims had been received and were now going through a preliminary screening process.
"We will shortly begin the full analysis and assessment of claims using a range of information from the Grand Privé Affiliates Program database, your personal claim and the very constructive and useful feedback that we have received from affiliates and other interested parties advocating on behalf of the affiliate community," Beveridge wrote in his update to claimants.
He added an assurance that each claim will receive the direct and personal attention of himself and fellow eCOGRA senior auditor tasked with the investigation, Sean Roberts.
"We intend to complete the work as quickly as possible, commensurate with the professional thoroughness that this audit requires, and your patience whilst this process continues would be much appreciated," the letter continues.
Beveridge informed claimants that the eCOGRA team will move into the Grande Prive operational base this week for a full on-site investigation, with access to all relevant records and the cooperation of the GP management team.
He goes on to remind claimants that the eCOGRA mandate covers:
* Independently investigating the manner in which the Grand Privé Affiliate Program was terminated and the reasons therefore;
* Carrying out a full and independent review of the program software and data to confirm amounts owed to claimants;
* Determining a fair settlement for claimants taking into consideration the potential lifetime earnings of each affiliate’s respective players; and
* Compiling a full and transparent report which will be publicly released on conclusion of the investigation.
"Sean and myself have both the specialised professional qualifications and wide relevant experience to bring a fair and reasonable conclusion to the project, and we will communicate again with you once we have something concrete to report and discuss. In the meantime, if you have further information you would like us to consider, please feel free to email Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org," the update concludes.
InfoPowa contacted Beveridge to confirm the contents of the update, and the eCOGRA chief executive commented: "Thus far the exercise is on track and the claims have been coming in smoothly, with claimants displaying a positive attitude.
"We did have one unusual approach from a body claiming to represent almost 4 000 affiliates and seeking to file a non-specific and general claim on their behalf, and we have explained to the person submitting this claim that such an approach is clearly impractical and conflicts with our mandate to assess and audit direct individual claims from affiliates who were impacted by the closure of Grand Prive in 2008.
"However, we want to make sure that our investigation embraces all legitimate claims, and we have suggested to the organisation concerned that they gather specific details from the individual affiliates they seek to represent and forward these to us despite the expired deadline. We will then interact directly with those individuals to ensure that their interests are protected."
Beveridge said that further reports on progress would be issued in the interests of transparency as the enquiry moved forward. He was unable to provide a timeline for completion, saying only: "We aim to finalise this matter as quickly as we can, having regard for the need for accuracy and a detailed audit before we conclude mediation and submit our report."
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