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Thread: Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?


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cosmology44

Posts: 8
Registered: 09/30/11
Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Posted: Sep 30, 2011 9:41 AM
 
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Is Amazon stealing from you?
Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Only Amazon knows how many E-books they are really selling.

We have discovered that Amazon/Kindle is altering sales figures and royalty rates.
We have inquired of Amazon/Kindle and they have ignored our inquiries--they have not even sent a generic reply.

FACTS:

We opened our Kindle account approximately 40 days ago, immediately saw significant sales and uploaded additional books, all at the 70% royalty rate. However, we soon noted aberrations in the sales numbers, unusual fluctuations in sales with blocks of sales on specific days and then days going by with no sales. We began charting to determine patterns. This is when we discovered that sales were being deleted by Amazon. By deleted, we do not mean "refunds." The sales just disappeared such that total sales on Day X would be lower than the previous day, or total sales on the morning of day Y would be higher than total sales on the evening of day Y.
-Please Note: We have had only 1 book refunded. These fluctuations are not due to refunds.

1) Alterations of Sales Records--Case in point:
Sales on the morning of September 27 = 125 became Sales of 117.
These reductions are not due to refunds. We have had only one e-book returned.

2) Alterations in Payments Due
-On September 28, despite additional sales, we discovered that the amount Amazon had calculated as payment due had not kept pace with the sales figures they were reporting. Amazon was under reporting sales income by at least 25%.
-On September 30, we discovered Amazon was under reporting sales income by nearly 40%
In otherwords, Amazon had gone back into our account and altered and reduced the amount due even further.
-Please Note: We have had only 1 book refunded. These fluctuations are not due to refunds.

3) Alterations in Royalty Rates
We took a scientific approach to pricing and marketing, and chose a 70% royalty rate for all books.
-On September 28, we discovered Amazon had altered the royalty rates, giving us a royalty of 35% on almost 1/4 of the books sold--even though we specified 70%.
-Further we discovered that Amazon altered royalty rates on the same books sold the same day, such that sale of Book A on the morning of the 27th might be charged at the 70% rate, but sale of Book A on the evening of the 27th would be charged at the 35% rate.
-On September 30, we discovered that Amazon had made additional alterations in royalty rates, such that almost 1/2 the books sold were being calculated at the 35% royalty rate.
In other words, Amazon had gone back into our account, and made additional reductions in royalties.

4) Amazon has not replied to our inquiries. However, after we made inquiries, Amazon did go back into our account and reduced the royalty on additional books.

5) Amazon is stealing from us. Are they Stealing from You?
We have evidence that Amazon/Kindle is altering sales figures, income, and royalty rates.
-Electronic sales invite theft and fraud. As there is no inventory, only Amazon knows how many E-books they are selling.

6) QUESTIONS FOR AMAZON:
Why are you stealing from us?
Why are sales being deleted?
Why are you altering royalty rates?
Why are you charging two royalty rates, for the same books sold the same days?
Are you refusing to respond to our inquiries because you have been caught "red handed" stealing from us, and have no explanation?

7) We Urge E-Book Sellers/Vendors To Keep Detailed Records.
-Electronic sales invite theft and fraud. As there is no inventory, only Amazon knows how many E-books they are selling. Because all sales are electronic, Amazon can alter sales records and royalty payments after the fact so as to reduce the amount of money they owe you.
tmancour

Posts: 34
Registered: 03/01/11
Re: Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Posted: Sep 30, 2011 2:06 PM   in response to: cosmology44 in response to: cosmology44
 
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Dude, read your pricing agreement more carefully. A 70% royalty rate is applied for most US sales, while overseas sales to UK, Aus, NZ, etc. are done at a 35% royalty rate. It isn't Amazon stealing, it's what you agreed to.

If your numbers fluctuate, that could be an issue, I suppose. But I've been monitoring my numbers hourly for months and charting it "scientifically", and after 6 months of data I can't find more than a few minor discrepancies. And we're talking thousands of sales of five different books.

Screaming about Amazon stealing from you isn't the professional thing to do, IMO. Reading your contract and knowing what it says, exactly, is a good place to start. And if you don't like the level of service, you know you can always take your stuff down anytime you wish.

Now, they could be better about remittances in a timely manner after a simple change of bank account information, but compared to dealing with a "for real, tho' " traditional Publisher/Editor/Printer/Agent arrangement? You don't know how good you got it.

TLM
hotbutteredbooks

Posts: 117
Registered: 05/28/10
Re: Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Posted: Sep 30, 2011 2:19 PM   in response to: cosmology44 in response to: cosmology44
 
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I carefully record my sales and a friends sales. Between 2 accounts I've noticed a few disappearing sales. Most of the time I just consider it my error but it has happened many times. I dont know if its Amazon stealing or their error but sales do disappear from time to time.

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cosmology44

Posts: 8
Registered: 09/30/11
Re: Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Posted: Sep 30, 2011 3:02 PM   in response to: tmancour in response to: tmancour
 
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There is no evidence that Amazon has sold these books to other countries, other than the stats they offer for Germany and the UK, and this should be the same royalty rate.

Further, why should Amazon provide 35% for some countries but 70% for others. They are not mailing these books. They are being downloaded. They already charge a downloading fee. If its costs more to download, then the download fee should go up. There is no reason for the royalty fee to change.

Thus, Amazon has reserved for itself the right to offer different royalty rates with no accountability and no evidence to back up their claims. We are being asked to trust them even though they provide no verification. This system of no accountability begs for abuse.

Moreover, the royalty rate for our books has changed after the fact. Almost 50% of our books have now been discounted to a 35% royalty rate. Coupled with other charges, we are earning around 10% royalty on half the books we have sold. This system is designed to cheat vendors by offering no accountability other than the mantra: "trust us" and "read your service agreement." However, what this really means is that Amazon can pay you whatever they want and they do not have to provide any accountability.

We agreed to 70% royalty rate. We did not agree to give Amazon 90% of the sales price, and this is what they are taking on almost half our books. Since they are doing it to us, they are doing it to everyone.
hotbutteredbooks

Posts: 117
Registered: 05/28/10
Re: Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Posted: Sep 30, 2011 4:48 PM   in response to: cosmology44 in response to: cosmology44
 
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Nobody is watching over Amazons accounting practices. They can do whatever they want. They rule our world and we are lucky we get part of the money we earn. I've learned not to question and quietly take my monthly royaly check no matter what.
Be careful because rocking the boat gets you knocked off and then you get nothing....
rickjcarufel

Posts: 74
Registered: 09/14/11
Re: Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Posted: Sep 30, 2011 5:00 PM   in response to: cosmology44 in response to: cosmology44
 
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I had a book published here and a friend of mine bought a copy. She pointed out a spot in the book where somehow a few pages were omitted. I removed the book from sale to fix it. That sale never appeared on my reports and I was never paid for it. Even though I pulled the book I did sell a copy and should have been credited with the royalities for the sale.
hotbutteredbooks

Posts: 117
Registered: 05/28/10
Re: Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Posted: Sep 30, 2011 7:01 PM   in response to: rickjcarufel in response to: rickjcarufel
 
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Absolute power corrupts absolutely

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hotbutteredbooks

Posts: 117
Registered: 05/28/10
Re: Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Posted: Sep 30, 2011 7:05 PM   in response to: hotbutteredbooks in response to: hotbutteredbooks
 
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Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it"
hotbutteredbooks

Posts: 117
Registered: 05/28/10
Re: Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Posted: Sep 30, 2011 7:40 PM   in response to: cosmology44 in response to: cosmology44
 
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I've also notice Amazon alters sales from new sellers more than people who have been around for a while. If your new your easy pickins cuz you dont have a clue.
gldrummond

Posts: 4,734
Registered: 05/08/09
Re: Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Posted: Sep 30, 2011 9:40 PM   in response to: cosmology44 in response to: cosmology44
 
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"2) Alterations in Payments Due
-On September 28, despite additional sales, we discovered that the amount Amazon had calculated as payment due had not kept pace with the sales figures they were reporting. Amazon was under reporting sales income by at least 25%.
-On September 30, we discovered Amazon was under reporting sales income by nearly 40%"

Were you checking your weekly sales report? Because it's only updated, you know, weekly. Not daily. In fact, it should update tomorrow evening sometime, and I bet your sales this week are there.

And how are you counting these sales from your month-to-date reports? Human error can occur when transferring numbers from monitor to paper and/or using a calculator to tot them up.

Errors can also occur copy/pasting the month-to-date report into an Excel file - sometimes the whole copied area doesn't paste. Not sure why, but it has happened to me a few times.

As for the 35% in some countries and for certain prices (under $2.99 and over $9.99, in case you didn't catch that part in the agreement), 70% for others, it may have something to do with there not being many ebook sales in the countries not listed yet as 70% territories.

I've been selling on here for almost four years now, and the only time I've seen sales 'disappear' from day to day is when I made a mistake transferring or adding numbers up.

Software glitches do, however, occur, so your best bet is probably to contact Amazon and ask them to check into your disappearing sales.

I'd leave off accusing them of stealing in that query, but that's just me.


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daxxus386

Posts: 24
Registered: 09/14/11
Re: Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Posted: Oct 1, 2011 2:45 AM   in response to: cosmology44 in response to: cosmology44
 
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All of this is really taking the wind out of my sails re feeling positive about publishing an ebook.
Yesterday when I started checking out these forums I discovered that non us authors are discriminated against by Amazon and/or IRS by way of the 30% tax withholding taken out of your 70% which you then have to try and recover from the IRS through some form or other. Imagine the endless fun you could have trying that. And what do payments to a UK citizen for work created in the UK have to do with the US govt anyway?
However I thought if I'm really serious that's what I'll have to do and logged in today to post a question about the $3,600 allowance and came across this thread which appears to suggest that there are legitimate concerns about Amazon's trustworthiness regarding getting paid what you're due, to which so far they haven't bothered to respond.
Does this get any worse?
gldrummond

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Re: Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Posted: Oct 1, 2011 9:01 AM   in response to: daxxus386 in response to: daxxus386
 
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It's the IRS, not Amazon. ;)

And as for this thread suggesting a 'legitimate' concern re: Amazon's trustworthiness, I think you skipped over reading the responses of those who've been KDP authors for a while.

This thread was started by someone who didn't read bother to read the Terms they agreed to when joining the KDP program. That person is throwing a hissy fit when it's their own failure to do so and comprehend what they agreed to that is the so-called problem.

I've been publishing through the KDP/Amazon since December 2007. I've received my payments owed, and have never seen any problems with my sales reports.

There are many KDP authors with the same experience as mine. I say that because it doesn't appear that every KDP author is on this forum, and if they weren't getting paid or thought that they had some sales reporting issues, they'd totally be on here making a fuss. :)

There have been some instances of glitches in the system, which when Amazon has been notified of those by concerned KDP authors, they've researched and taken care of.

Yes, sometimes it takes them awhile, and no, they aren't completely infallible, but overall, Amazon does a pretty damn good job at paying its content providers (us), compared to earlier experiences I've had with other businesses.

Frankly, from what I can remember, the only people who come on the forum and have major freak outs over Amazon 'cheating them' or not being paid are newbies.

And a lot of the time, it's because they didn't read the Terms and have no idea about there being a set amount of monthly earnings required and there being a 60 day wait period before they receive payment. Or how the 35/70% rates are applied to sales.

The trick when you do encounter a problem is to first make certain you actually have a problem, and that you're not missing some piece of information that would tell you it's not really a problem at all. Just your impatience showing or lack of reading comprehension. :)

If you believe it really is a problem, then contact Support and give them a few days to respond. Don't bombard them with emails because you didn't get a reply in an hour.

Also don't accuse them of cheating you and stealing your money. Just state the problem and ask them to check into the matter for you.

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, or so the saying goes. ;)

And above all, don't come to the forum and see posts about 'Amazon's stealing from us' without taking a grain of salt check. See how many posts the original poster has made.

If' it's only a few posts, they're new and probably freaking out over nothing because they didn't read the fine print. [b]Not always[/b], but a lot of the time.

If it's a lot of posts, then they're KDP 'veterans' most likely, and there probably is a real reason for concern.

You'll have slow months and months where your ebooks sell like hotcakes. You might sell 100 copies on Monday, and only 1 or even none on Friday.

There is an ebb and flow to ebooks sales just like any other product out there. It's not necessarily always a glitch, and I seriously doubt a slow day means Amazon is 'cheating' anyone.

The American (and really the global) economy is in the toilet. Unemployment is high. People don't have the disposable income for entertainment much of the time.

Your cover and description might suck, or you might be pricing too high or too low for customers to want to take a chance on a new author.

There are a multitude of reasons for lack of or slowing of sales.

The answer is seldom 'Amazon's cheating me'. Think about it: What exactly would that accomplish for Amazon?

We'd pack up all our toys and go home, cutting the number of ebook titles they can offer. Not to mention, if Amazon really were cheating its content providers, there'd be some rather large legal problems that could, potentially, put Amazon out of business.

Not reporting a few people's $2.99 or 99c ebook sales is hardly worth the trouble it would cause Amazon when it was uncovered.

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tunskit

Posts: 311
Registered: 07/10/10
Re: Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Posted: Oct 2, 2011 3:43 AM   in response to: gldrummond in response to: gldrummond
 
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For the first time ever, I've noticed a problem. I did an estimate of sales two days ago. I added it up twice, just to be sure. I know there will be fluctuations, as the price will differ from 35% or 70%, depending on where the sale was made, but going by an estimate of based on the assumed price/royalty rate, I got an estimate. I have used this same method every month, and it is usually spot-on, within a few dollars (due to the aforementioned differences in locations' sales) when Amazon generates the monthly report. However, I checked the numbers again tonight, and the sales for 9/1-9/30 are now almost $100 less than they were two days ago. I had accounted for refunds previously, so it isn't that. Am I missing something? I hate to make accusations, or suggest there has been an error on Amazon's side, but where did $100 in sales disappear to? With all the problems I'm having with Amazon lately, I truly am considering not publishing with them anymore.
gldrummond

Posts: 4,734
Registered: 05/08/09
Re: Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Posted: Oct 2, 2011 6:53 AM   in response to: tunskit in response to: tunskit
 
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Are you using the month-to-date report and trying to estimate earnings by number of sales, or totting up the prior six weeks reports for September?

If you're adding up the prior six weeks reports, you may have had sales during the last 4 days of August for the week ending 9/03, so your actual September sales totals would be less that what the six week report totals show.

If you're using the month-to-date report, and have a number of sales less than when you checked the day before (not earnings, since they aren't listed on that one), without any extra refunds, then I'd contact Amazon because yes, your account may be affected by a software glitch.

If you're not doing one of those two things, I don't understand how you're estimating your earnings based simply on number of sales (month-to-date) instead of the report that shows your earnings (prior six weeks), so probably didn't answer your question.

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tunskit

Posts: 311
Registered: 07/10/10
Re: Is Amazon Stealing From You? Why is Amazon Altering Sales & Royalty Rates?
Posted: Oct 2, 2011 10:02 AM   in response to: gldrummond in response to: gldrummond
 
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I use the month-to-date sales. I tend to ignore the six weeks sales. I have yet to figure out a reliable, useful purpose for that information, since we're paid monthly, not every six weeks. LOL. It sounds like I should contact Amazon. Oh, fun. I'm sure I'm fast becoming their favorite person, between not being paid for September (and continuing to email to ask about the status, since replies are sporadic) and now this issue.
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