Bargaineering.com relies on a mixture of advertising and affiliate marketing to generate income. Part of the affiliate marketing piece is that we get paid when someone signs up for accounts, such as a trading account with Zecco.com (not everything, just some things). A lot of personal finance bloggers pay the bills and generate income this way. Until about a month ago, no company has tried to influence my opinion until Zecco.
About a month ago, Zecco’s affiliate manager notified me that I would no longer be compensated for leads sent to Zecco because I had negative reviews about them on Bargaineering.com. I was told that I had to “remove any negative reviews of Zecco and [I] can resume promoting and sending orders.” They phrased it in a way that seemed like I was unfairly picking on them, so I said I’d take a look if they told me which posts they found to be negative.
They sent me these three articles as the worst offenders:
- Is Zecco a Scam or Legitimate? 
- On Zecco’s Poor Customer Service 
- Opening A Zecco Free Stock Trading Account, Part 1 
Nothing in the posts were untrue. When Zecco first launched, everyone wondered if it was a scam. Free stock trades? It sounded absurd. So I did some research and revealed that it wasn’t. It was run by Equinox Securities Incorporation and has a clean record.
As for poor customer service, I was repeating a well known fact that the 2009 Smart Money’s Best Broker ratings  listed Zecco second to last in customer service. I would worry more about your customer service than what your customers are saying.
If I changed my content, they would’ve let me back into their affiliate program and paid me for people opening accounts. However, I feel that I should always be giving you my honest opinion, good or bad, if I want to maintain your trust. I should be giving you all the facts that I know, whether it paints them in a good light or not. I could’ve just changed the posts to make them happy and chances are you wouldn’t have noticed, but I think that would be dishonest.
I have no bias against Zecco, I still don’t, and I’ve never said anything negative that wasn’t my opinion. Any facts I’ve shared are backed up with their sources, as was the case with Smart Money’s ratings. I’ve always believed that if you wanted free trades, you had to deal with a little bit of headache. You can’t have everything, but I suppose they didn’t like me saying that.
So they probably won’t like me saying that I think that their decision to strong arm affiliates into saying only positive things will come back to bite them in the future.