Author Topic: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!  (Read 5162 times)  

Offline MMSN

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Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
« Reply #25 on: November 01, 2020, 11:10:40 am »
I've no idea of course, but this is my opinion: Amazon wanted to create an audiobook subscription model (a la KU) but the cost of audiobook creation was financially prohibitive to such a model. So, instead Amazon created a somewhat different model (ACX), one that urges listeners to "buy" the audiobooks with very fluid "credits" which are then restored to the listener upon the listener's return of the audiobook so the listener can "buy" another one, which Amazon encourages the listener to do. Amazon then clandestinely passes the financial loss onto the audiobook creator. ACX thereupon ends up being essentially the same model as KU, just gets there by a different route. Audiobook creators suspected (just like KU authors suspected when Page Flip appeared and their page reads started diminishing) but didn't know for sure until Audible did the October 20 glitch which exposed it.

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    Offline Usedtoposthere

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #26 on: November 01, 2020, 06:28:57 pm »
    Audible has always been a subscription model (using credits), for the record. I was an early customer. ACX is different only in that individual authors can publish audio, rather than just publishers.

    As a huge Audible customer for 20+ years, I do have to say that I have never, in all this time, been encouraged to return an audiobook and get another one instead. I haven't looked at my returns. I'm sure it's an issue, but I don't think there's anything nefarious. It's a screw-up, like many others. One thing I've learned in 8 years of hybrid publishing is that there are always screw-ups! It's one reason I went for the opportunity to put my books into Escape--because you never know what the platforms or publishers will do, so if something looks like it'll be good for you short-term, it might be worth going for it.

    Offline Undercover Writer

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #27 on: November 01, 2020, 06:39:28 pm »
    I've just submitted a request to join the FB group, and I will suggest this there, too...

    Why not copy [email protected] on any ACX emails? This scam should be screamed to the highest Amazon officers, not to get anything done, but to let them know that we're on to them!

    Offline SusanMayWriter

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #28 on: November 01, 2020, 11:56:22 pm »
    I'm hoping that this is some ill-conceived idea by some bean counter who had no knowledge of how a credit return works, to get the Audible ship across shallow Covid waters.
    Then someone came up with an idea to keep those subscribers on. Instead of one credit per month for $14.95, they can now have unlimited.

    I think this is pretty right Wayne. Only thing is, I thought this was impacting on my sales way back about nine months ago and we've found blog posts dating back to 2016 teaching how to do this. Many on Reddit pre 2019 too. A FB post in an audiobook fan group about this dates back more than twelve months. We just hadn't noticed because of the omission of a column for returns and even code credits. Seems simple enough to split both those out, so an author gets an accurate picture and Audible too.

    I mean if you got 30 to 50% of your books being returned from you book shelves, you'd think you might want to weed those books out for poor customer experience maybe. Then again, the customer experience as you say might be exactly what they want. My personal opinion had been this was an ill conceived marketing idea that grew and grew.

    However we are now well into the second week and seven email chains long on ACX not giving us our returns data. This makes me think there is something rotten in Denmark.

    You'd be losing a bit, I would think with your sales. I've seen several larger income authors here talking about their audible sales decreasing and I'd put it down to this. 50% return is a pretty high tally. Hopefully we'll eventually force them to give us our data. There does seem to be a change in the app pushed through today stating the returns are capped at 90 days now. Seems very convenient when there's a rabble at your door with pitchforks and waving email chains demanding audits. We'll see...

    Offline SusanMayWriter

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #29 on: November 02, 2020, 05:43:38 am »
    I've just submitted a request to join the FB group, and I will suggest this there, too...

    Why not copy [email protected] on any ACX emails? This scam should be screamed to the highest Amazon officers, not to get anything done, but to let them know that we're on to them!

    Trust me, we have. Dozens of authors have written to ACX & Jeff asking for our returns data. So far not getting anywhere. We just keep getting cookie cutter replies & escalation that ends up back to the same answer & low level operator. Its quite bizarre actually.

    Offline markpauloleksiw

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #30 on: November 02, 2020, 09:11:05 am »
    I am not in audible and don't plan to. But, is it possible Amazon has problems with product quality and this is their way to deal with it.  Of course, this is no fair to authors.

    Mark

    Offline ShawnaReads

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #31 on: November 02, 2020, 10:10:57 am »
    I am not in audible and don't plan to. But, is it possible Amazon has problems with product quality and this is their way to deal with it.  Of course, this is no fair to authors.

    Mark

    I wouldn't say it's not 'fair'. 'Fair' is to some extent a matter of opinion, and it implies it's up to Amazon's discretion what they pay authors/publishers for selling their books. It sounds like a child asking for a better hand-out from a parent. It puts authors/publishers/narrator in the role of supplicant, which is never a great stance to take when you're trying to hold a massive company accountable. This is a matter of what they legally owe authors, what their actual legal obligations are and whether or not they're meeting them. It's not a matter of 'fairness'.

    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #32 on: November 02, 2020, 11:00:45 am »
    I wouldn't say it's not 'fair'. 'Fair' is to some extent a matter of opinion, and it implies it's up to Amazon's discretion what they pay authors/publishers for selling their books. It sounds like a child asking for a better hand-out from a parent. It puts authors/publishers/narrator in the role of supplicant, which is never a great stance to take when you're trying to hold a massive company accountable. This is a matter of what they legally owe authors, what their actual legal obligations are and whether or not they're meeting them. It's not a matter of 'fairness'.

    Legal obligations come first, but I can't really agree that fairness is irrelevant. It may be irrelevant to what Amazon does, but it's not irrelevant to business.

    Business can take advantage of people, but IMO that's not the best long term move. Eventually, people who are treated unfairly wise up and find someone who treats them better.

    I always try to pay my contractors fairly. That way, they have a reason to stay with me long term, and I don't have to go to the trouble of finding new contractors. Win/win.

    Offline jb1111

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #33 on: November 02, 2020, 02:26:00 pm »
    Yes, that is correct. A year later, the author will receive a negative against sales for the day & the amount of that sale will be deducted from their profit tally.

    Some days you lose money on Audible sales. Whats worse is that we have no way of knowing how many have been returned as there is no returns column like there is in KDP.

    Currently as we are requesting this returns tally, we are getting the run around with them saying different things.

    Some customer service reps say its there in the end of month reports. Its not, never has been. Others are saying theyll forward it to the design team as a future feature. A future features??? Its a basic accounting necessity.  Others are saying theyll investigate & sorry if its mildly annoying. Mildly annoying??  Youre encouraging piracy & hiding it. None of us signed up for an unlimited lending library for no payment.

    Its a big issue & leaving Audible will not solve it. Going to wide distribution you still need to distribute back to Audible & are captured in this returns fraud. This is an issue that affects all indies & possibly even authors distributed through publishers.

    I know it sounds incredible, that ACX & Audible would commit this type of fraud right in the open but its happening. Go to the Audible advertisement page & log out if youre a member & look at what they call a benefit. Its a varying wording of return you books anytime, no questions asked. Check your audible app & look at the pull down menu next to a book youve bought. It has a return button. Thats all it says. If you hit that button, it automatically returns.

    If you return too many times, all you need to do is call, email or chat & theyll return the book for you. No problem. We pay for that!!

    But doesn't Amazon lose money on such returns as well? What is in it for them?

    Offline MMSN

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #34 on: November 02, 2020, 03:29:22 pm »
    The subscription money and keeping customers in the buy-on-Amazon universe.

    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #35 on: November 02, 2020, 03:47:20 pm »
    But doesn't Amazon lose money on such returns as well? What is in it for them?

    Amazon owns Audible. If a subscribers pays with a credit, I don't see why they would lose money on the return.

    If anything, they'll save money not paying the author for the sale.

    Offline ShawnaReads

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #36 on: November 02, 2020, 04:38:32 pm »
    Legal obligations come first, but I can't really agree that fairness is irrelevant. It may be irrelevant to what Amazon does, but it's not irrelevant to business.

    Business can take advantage of people, but IMO that's not the best long term move. Eventually, people who are treated unfairly wise up and find someone who treats them better.

    I always try to pay my contractors fairly. That way, they have a reason to stay with me long term, and I don't have to go to the trouble of finding new contractors. Win/win.

    Yes, true. I totally agree about that, in a broader business sense. I think for this particular Audible issue, we should be talking about the legal issues (whether or not this constitutes theft or breach of contract or something like that, for instance). I guess I would say that talk of fairness should only come in when the party in question would be entirely within their legal right to do whatever it is that's harmful to the other party.

    Offline Bite the Dusty

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #37 on: November 02, 2020, 04:57:58 pm »
    Weirdly, I just happened to have a Sarah Z YouTube video essay on while I was cooking and at the end of her video, sponsored by Audible, she mentions as part of her script that if you don't like an audiobook you use your credit to get, you can just return it and get a different one. They're literally advertising it.

    The video is two years old.

    I get that customer service is important, it's kind of a dying art if you look at our options for just about any service, but this is just advertising a loophole to abuse.

    Offline ShawnaReads

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #38 on: November 02, 2020, 05:54:46 pm »
    I get that customer service is important, it's kind of a dying art if you look at our options for just about any service, but this is just advertising a loophole to abuse.

    When it comes down to it, this is Amazon/Audible adding value to their product (the subscription service/monthly credit) at no cost to themselves, passing the cost directly onto suppliers (authors/publishers/narrators) with zero compensation and being incredibly shady about by refusing to acknowledge the issue or give suppliers access to returns information. Returns are usually fine because the vendor/store usually takes the loss. The store gets to decide the return policy, and the store is the one putting their profit on the line to back it up. That's not what Audible is doing, therefore the typical rules about the leeway a store has to determine their own returns policy doesn't apply (as far as I'm concerned). I really think (from my completely non-lawyer POV) that this practice would not hold up in any unbiased court, if anyone actually had the money to take Amazon to court over this. But maybe it's something that authors could get the government to look into as some kind of illegal activity or noncompliance with some kind of law/rule/statute, rather than trying to take them to civil court. But like I said, not a lawyer, so I don't know. (But I do know that the government is a lot more available to investigate complaints about companies misbehaving than the average person seems to be aware of.)
    « Last Edit: November 02, 2020, 06:02:23 pm by ShawnaReads »

    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #39 on: November 02, 2020, 08:16:51 pm »
    It certainly sounds illegal to me, especially if Amazon is encouraging returns (whether it's an accidental or intentional policy). But IANAL and I have not looked at the ACX contract to note the language regarding returns.

    It's certainly another in the no way ACX column for me. I hate ACX as it is--long wait times, low ROI, even on eBooks that sell a ton while the audio is out--but this is next level.

    Offline SusanMayWriter

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #40 on: November 03, 2020, 12:01:22 am »
    If anyone needs this completely spelled out and see the proof of what Audible/ACX/Amazon or doing in what I call #AudibleGate, here's my lengthy blog post on the subject.
    https://www.susanmaywriter.net/single-post/audiblegate-the-incredible-story-of-missing-sales

     Please share if you feel so inclined. The more the word gets out the sooner this will be changed and Audible gets their hands out of our wallets.

    Oh, and Cory Doctorow has picked it up. https://twitter.com/doctorow/status/1323469836941340672 

    I've been emailing him for a few days and he's just tweeted to his 500k followers and his commentary will be on his blog and in his newsletter tomorrow. So, this should become even bigger news in the coming days.

    If you want to join our group, even just for moral support or to see how this is progressing, we now stand at nearly 700 and growing, this is our feisty selves here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/fairdealwithaudible/

    This isn't one of those issues that is going away, trust me... because you can't trust Amazon, that's for sure and someone's got to stop them and say, hell, no!... and why not a bunch of indie authors and narrators?

    Offline SusanMayWriter

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #41 on: November 03, 2020, 08:15:46 am »
    When it comes down to it, this is Amazon/Audible adding value to their product (the subscription service/monthly credit) at no cost to themselves, passing the cost directly onto suppliers (authors/publishers/narrators) with zero compensation and being incredibly shady about by refusing to acknowledge the issue or give suppliers access to returns information. Returns are usually fine because the vendor/store usually takes the loss. The store gets to decide the return policy, and the store is the one putting their profit on the line to back it up. That's not what Audible is doing, therefore the typical rules about the leeway a store has to determine their own returns policy doesn't apply (as far as I'm concerned). I really think (from my completely non-lawyer POV) that this practice would not hold up in any unbiased court, if anyone actually had the money to take Amazon to court over this. But maybe it's something that authors could get the government to look into as some kind of illegal activity or noncompliance with some kind of law/rule/statute, rather than trying to take them to civil court. But like I said, not a lawyer, so I don't know. (But I do know that the government is a lot more available to investigate complaints about companies misbehaving than the average person seems to be aware of.)

    We're investigating every possibility. Got about 600 odd authors and narrators working on it as we speak. :)

    Offline nightwork

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #42 on: November 05, 2020, 03:47:59 pm »
    I am not in audible and don't plan to. But, is it possible Amazon has problems with product quality and this is their way to deal with it.  Of course, this is no fair to authors.

    Mark

    audible/acx spend a long time checking the audiobook for quality before they release it

    Offline SusanMayWriter

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #43 on: November 06, 2020, 05:25:52 pm »
    audible/acx spend a long time checking the audiobook for quality before they release it

    Exactly, they check quality, so returns cant possibly make any sense at 50% returns.

    This month we also have a feeling its grown higher. Im looking at 70% return/theft of my books & others are reporting the same. Please join our fight if you have an audiobook on Audible via any distributor as we need everyone. Even if you are considering an audiobook, you can get involved. This affects every author & narrator & publisher.

    We have about 750 in our FB group & we are getting somewhere. A lot of big organizations are looking into this through our efforts.

    You can read about it here: https://www.susanmaywriter.net/single-post/audiblegate-the-incredible-story-of-missing-sales

    and join us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/fairdealwithaudible

    Offline Kathryn Meyer Griffith

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #44 on: November 08, 2020, 04:48:24 pm »
    I've just asked to be admitted to your Facebook group. I have 35 ACX/Audible audio books and have been selling with them since 2013. I had NO IDEA about any of this 'returns' problem. I tried to look on my ACX Dashboard to see if I could see any signs of returns, etc. I can't. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place? Anyway, I will keep following this.










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    Offline Sam Kates

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #45 on: November 09, 2020, 02:56:31 am »
    I've just asked to be admitted to your Facebook group. I have 35 ACX/Audible audio books and have been selling with them since 2013. I had NO IDEA about any of this 'returns' problem. I tried to look on my ACX Dashboard to see if I could see any signs of returns, etc. I can't. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place? Anyway, I will keep following this.

    I believe that's the crux of the problem - they don't tell us how many returns we have so the only way we even know they happen at all is by monitoring the overall sales figures and watching for them to go down.

    Offline SusanMayWriter

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #46 on: November 11, 2020, 01:07:12 am »
    I've just asked to be admitted to your Facebook group. I have 35 ACX/Audible audio books and have been selling with them since 2013. I had NO IDEA about any of this 'returns' problem. I tried to look on my ACX Dashboard to see if I could see any signs of returns, etc. I can't. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place? Anyway, I will keep following this.

    Hi Kathryn,

    Thanks for joining us. Youre not missing anything. There are no returns figures to see. They are hidden beneath the sales.

    Weve also now sent more than a hundred emails to ACX & Audible from our group asking for the returns to be given to us in a separated spreadsheet. Many authors have also stated that as per the Audible/Acx agreements that they do not accept their last three months of statements & want them audited & again nothing has been supplied & no communication other than its been sent to the business unit & they have no idea when this will be actioned.

    We are now into week four of writing & its becoming a sickening joke as we watch returns still flood in, continue to watch Audible promote returns, no questions asked & read in FB groups about readers who urge other readers that if you cant afford to pay for audiobooks then go right ahead & swap already listened to books.

    If youve got that many books, you have had thousands if not tens of thousands, maybe more siphoned from your income. This is a very important issue for all authors, indie & trad pubbed to come together on.

    We welcome anyone else to join our fight. Our group is now 800 strong & growing every day, and we have one focus: stop this theft, make returns transparent so we cant be tricked again & recover our lost income. If anyone wants that too, please join us.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/fairdealwithaudible

    Offline jb1111

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #47 on: November 11, 2020, 02:01:27 am »
    After reading through the blog post you linked, it makes me wonder just how much money has been left on the table by those who claim to have made lots of money in audio books.

    Over the past several months, there have been various threads here on KB discussing the benefits / liabilities of going audio in indie book publishing. The pro-audio people say it's a good deal, if you have the capital to fund the audio. Liability-wise, of course, is that it's expensive to produce an audio book if you're not sure you'll get an ROI.

    Now with this apparent glitch in the system, I wonder just how much money even the successful audiobook indie authors have lost.

    I'm surprised more authors haven't said much on this thread. Maybe it only affects certain audiobooks?

    Offline SusanMayWriter

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #48 on: November 11, 2020, 05:00:12 am »
    After reading through the blog post you linked, it makes me wonder just how much money has been left on the table by those who claim to have made lots of money in audio books.

    Over the past several months, there have been various threads here on KB discussing the benefits / liabilities of going audio in indie book publishing. The pro-audio people say it's a good deal, if you have the capital to fund the audio. Liability-wise, of course, is that it's expensive to produce an audio book if you're not sure you'll get an ROI.

    Now with this apparent glitch in the system, I wonder just how much money even the successful audiobook indie authors have lost.

    I'm surprised more authors haven't said much on this thread. Maybe it only affects certain audiobooks?

    Ive been a little surprised too. This is a bigger story than scammers & fluctuating KU payments. But maybe authors are afraid to speak out or theyve just come over & joined our group without saying anything.

    I dont blame any author for being afraid though. Every person has to do whats best for them.

    And, yes, the bigger authors will have lost tens of thousands. Maybe more.

    Offline Kathryn Meyer Griffith

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    Re: AudibleGate & what you can do about it!
    « Reply #49 on: November 11, 2020, 09:38:43 am »
    SusanMayWriter and all here:
    I just got this update/notice from ACX: https://mx2.htc.net:7443/surgeweb?cmd=msgpart&sid=191861212&ident=1&fld_id=INBOX&msg_id=0_171300&part_id=2&process=simple_wash

    It talks about the "return problem" as well as the long delays in getting the new audio books out. Interesting.










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