Every blogger gets them – emails requesting advertising of some sort. Some bloggers accept advertising, while others don’t, but we all get the emails.
And so it was that I got an email from Louis from Trivago in mid-August, requesting a sidebar widget on my blog. After a bit of negotiation over the price, we agreed to an amount and he sent over the contract.
And that’s when I got my first inkling that this company was… odd.
I’ve run a few ads on my site before, but have never, ever, had the stipulation that I would have to pay them back in the event that my PR drops. I wrote back to question that and told him I was very uncomfortable with that stipulation.
I got this in response:
In the end, I decided I wasn’t willing to live with their stipulations, and they weren’t willing to drop them, so I walked away. I figured I was done with Trivago at that point.
Louis then came back and asked about a sponsored post: would I be willing to write a post and link to the company? He felt I would feel comfortable with that because “there is no Page Rank condition in the contract for a permanent link.”
I negotiated with him a bit on this one, but somehow managed to overlook the “permanent” part of what he said. I wrote the post and sent him a copy before I posted it to make sure he was okay with what I wrote. I also requested the contract in advance to make sure there was nothing in there I couldn’t live with.
I will accept full responsibility for the failure of this particular negotiation. When I read through the contract and noticed it said a permanent link, I went back and read through the emails. He had been clear about requesting a permanent link the whole time and I had somehow overlooked it.
I wrote back and asked if we could remove the permanent terminology from the contract, as there was no way I could commit to forever.
I ended up deleting their link entirely. I, once again, thought I was done.
I should have walked away, but then he came back again.
After quite a few back-and-forth emails, we finally settled on the following:
I was fine with the terminology of “as long as possible,” which I would choose to interpret as one year. I thought everything was set. I wrote the article, posted it, and sent Louis an email saying the post was live.
He didn’t respond.
By now, we had been corresponding for 2.5 months. I knew Louis tended to take two or three days to respond to my emails, but this time, eight days went by before I sent another email.
He finally responded, politely apologizing that he had been out of the office. He attached the contract to the email.
promptly completed the contract and sent it back. By this point, the post had been live for eight days.
Trivago had been very clear and up-front about the fact that they take 21 days to process payment. I wasn’t sure if that was 21 days from when the post went live, or 21 days from when the contracted was submitted. I waited.
I will take responsibility for not following up as quickly as I should have, but I waited 25 days after the contract was turned in (33 days from when the post went live) to write back, once again, asking what was happening.
Louis wrote back promptly. “I sincerely apologize but there seems to be delays the financial department due to various reasons. I told them to place your invoice on a higher priority which should make the payment process go faster.”
36 days after my post went live, I wrote asking to speak to a supervisor.
39 days after it went live, I finally received payment. It had taken four months of negotiation to finally reach that point.
I write this post for one reason: to warn other bloggers about entering into negotiations with Trivago. For some reason, Trivago wants to limit the number of links we can have in our blogs. They also demand repayment if our PR drops – something beyond our control as bloggers.
I’ve dealt with many other companies in the past five years since my blog went live, and I’ve never seen the demands Trivago expects. My personal opinion is that their demands are unreasonable and they are taking advantage of bloggers who don’t know to ask the right questions.
My hope is that, by putting this out there, that the Trivago management will find out what their reps are doing. I have no doubt that Trivago is only trying to grow their business, but they are shooting themselves in the foot with the way they treat bloggers.
A note to Trivago management: We bloggers do want to work with you. We only ask that you streamline your process and make your demands more in line with what is expected by other companies.
Nancy Sathre-Vogel is a long-time schoolteacher who quit her job to spend three years cycling from Alaska to Argentina with her husband and children. Now she lives in Idaho, writing books and blogging to inspire others to pursue their passion and live their dream.
Have you worked with Trivago? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments below.