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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Note: To authors finding this topic, I have outlined pretty much 100% of the details of my situation on the first three pages of this thread and I do not have any additional information, tips, or advice to give concerning ACX. I beg you, do not PM me here, on Facebook, or through my website contact form to ask for details because I will no longer be responding to them. I want to keep this thread alive, but I do not want to be forced into anonymity, so, please, do not contact me concerning this thread or ACX. Thank you. - GD


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This isn't a question or a bragging point, just an FYI to keep you good folks in the loop in case it happens to you. I have 10 audiobooks currently with ACX, and have used the promo codes with services like Audiobook Boom to get some exposure as well as sending out codes to members of my mailing list.

Last year November after finishing up an audiobook, I get an email from Amazon, tagging ACX (Note: the email address was: [email protected]):

Your ACX account and related ACX titles have been flagged due to unusual activity. We have confirmed fraudulent use of the promotional codes for your ACX audiobooks. While we support the legitimate efforts of our users to promote their audiobooks, attempting to manipulate the ACX platform and/or ACX programs is not permitted.

Please know that you are responsible for making sure that you observe ACX's guidelines (http://audible-acx.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/8887 ). You must confirm that you will no longer abuse promotional codes by replying to this email at [email protected] to confirm your receipt. Failure to reply within five business days will result in restrictions against your account, up to and including termination.
So I immediately respond, and get this from ACX (LOL):

I am sorry to learn about fraudulent activity with the promo codes you were sent. When I reviewed your account in our system, I found no such information. The last email that was sent to you from ACX, was on 10/31/18, letting you know that we were unable to provide you with an additional set of promo codes but provided links to help market your audiobook title.
(Note: so obviously Amazon and ACX aren't communicating, but stupid me, I assumed the best from that email.)

Fast-forward to this year and ACX's change in promo codes, which now allows you to get them a la carte through the dashboard along with the system keeping track of them. ACX emailed me about the change, and I am like, "great, I can share some codes with the mailing list again." Then I go looking for that promo tab on my dashboard, and voila, it isn't there :( . So ... me, still unaware of what I now call my shadow-ban, called ACX to ask about the status of my account. The CSR was very nice and helpful (they always are), but ended up putting me on several holds before citing IT as the issue. I work in IT, so I know this blow-off well, but I played the game and asked him to email me regardless. Here's the response:

My name is (snip) and I'm the ACX lead that you are currently speaking to over the phone via live assistance. At this time, I've gone ahead and submitted the screen-shots that you provided us to our Web Developers to further investigate. As soon as this issue is rectified we will notify you. We appreciate you being so patient with us. You will hear from us shortly.
Okay... they're looking into it, I can relax. Nope! Two months later and more emails telling me that the "tech team" is looking into it, and I come to the conclusion that I am screwed. The head is not talking to the tail, and there are 1000 examples on this very board as to Amazon's horrible customer service when it comes to producers. I decided to force a real response, so I write a terse email asking for them to escalate my issue and stop lying about my account. I expected more flowery words and inaction, but instead I get this:

Thank you for contacting ACX!

I understand you'd like to know the status of your recent query about the promo codes button not showing in your account.

The delay is due to our internal teams reviewing your ACX activity to ensure compliance with our content guidelines and terms of use. Until this work is completed all submitted titles will remain on hold, and will not be made available for sale nor promo codes. While we hope our internal teams complete this investigation soon, as you can tell from the wait thus far, we cannot guarantee it. In the meantime we ask that you do not post more titles to the ACX Marketplace, or submit titles through our DIY channel.

We certainly appreciate your patience while we work toward resolution of this matter. We will follow up with you when we have an update.
How is this okay, kboards? How is this okay?

What bothers me is that due to them misleading me for months, I have three audiobooks being worked on at the moment within their flawed system. Now that I've been made aware, I will pay the producers and get the hell off that ship with my audio, because according to this quote, they don't plan to allow me to sell them until their non-investigation is concluded: "all submitted titles will remain on hold, and will not be made available for sale nor promo codes."

While I can (and will) take my future audio to another company to publish, the blindside and serious lack of f---s from ACX has me seeing red right now.

Has anyone else dealt with something like this dealing with ACX? I am genuinely curious if anyone has managed to resolve their account once it has been flagged.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
TwistedTales said:
Are you saying you're banned from promoting your audio books through ACX, but no one bothered to tell you? Yes, exactly this. I have the email trail to prove it too.

Are you exclusive to Amazon or can you sell your audio books on other platforms? All of my audiobooks have been exclusive (stupid me, I know), but the current three are still being recorded, so there's a question as to whether they belong to ACX already, or is it only locked in after the final agreement with the production.

Are you producing the other 3 audio books through ACX? If so, I wonder if they have some liability given they won't allow you to sell the audio books through Amazon. See below :)

Doesn't sound right anyway. Maybe package the story up and send it to the Jeff Bezos address. Might not change the outcome, but it can't hurt to get it looked at again. Audio is expensive and usually takes years to earn back the costs.
I have asked them (ACX) if i'm stuck or can I leave. I am still waiting to hear back from them since I fired off that email an hour ago. If they say, no, then I will leave those projects forever in limbo and take my files elsewhere. If they say yes, then I'm going to have a lawyer look things over to see what I can.

Thanks for the heads-up about going to Bezos btw, I just alerted my audiobook producers, and if the next email from ACX is anything short of, "you are free to go," I will prep for what's to come.
 

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From your comments it is abundantly clear that Amazon and ACX are acting like unethical monopolists that don't give a jot about you, their business partner.

I am amazed at the patience you're showing over the stench. Why not take your audiobooks elsewhere and get out where the air is fresh?

A lean, mean and ethical competitor would respond with urgency and courtesy and settle the matter on the spot.

This may bode ill for Mister Bezos because his company has possibly reached critical mass at 630,600 full-time employees (according to Yahoo! Finance) and may imminently collapse like a house of cards.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
johannesrexx said:
From your comments it is abundantly clear that Amazon and ACX are acting like unethical monopolists that don't give a jot about you, their business partner.

I am amazed at the patience you're showing over the stench. Why not take your audiobooks elsewhere and get out where the air is fresh?

A lean, mean and ethical competitor would respond with urgency and courtesy and settle the matter on the spot.

This may bode ill for Mister Bezos because his company has possibly reached critical mass at 630,600 full-time employees (according to Yahoo! Finance) and may imminently collapse like a house of cards.
I was just explaining to my wife how this feels no different from eBay when you're a seller who gets stiffed by a buyer (they don't care about you... lol). I'm careful with how I post, so I seem patient, but I'm angry to the point where no words will be written for my WIP today. I took Twisted Tales advice and sent an email to [email protected], and I am waiting to hear back from ACX if they intend to freeze the three audiobooks being recorded currently. As to my current audiobooks, they are still selling but under contract with ACX, so i'm stuck for 7 years with those books. As to future projects, I will consider my third-party options. One thing I am happy for is that I have a good relationship with my favorite narrators, and they aren't tied to ACX.
 

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Greg, if you paid the narrators up front and the books have been listed for at least a year you can request to move to non-exclusive status with ACX. It won't remove them from ACX, but at least you won't be exclusive anymore.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
CassieL said:
Greg, if you paid the narrators up front and the books have been listed for at least a year you can request to move to non-exclusive status with ACX. It won't remove them from ACX, but at least you won't be exclusive anymore.
Wow! I had no idea. Thanks so much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Got another email this morning, and this one takes the cake... and i'm wondering if it's more CSR misinformation to get me to stop asking questions. In any event, i'm going to keep pushing to get real answers, particularly what abuse are they referring to, and why it took two months of telling me my account was good for two back to back messages saying differently, one accusing the other of being untrue. This is hilarious.

Hello,

Thank you for contacting ACX.

My apologies, my colleague sent you the wrong message for this instance.

Your titles are fine and none will be held, but due to the past promo code abuse your promo code privileges have been permanently revoked.

You are free to continue to use our platform, but none of your products will be eligible for promo codes.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to us via phone (888-396-6347) or email ([email protected]). Our support hours are from 9am to 7pm, Mon-Fri. We are happy to assist.

Sincerely,
The ACX Team
ACX.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
TwistedTales said:
Does that mean you can still sell your audio books on Amazon, you just can't use the promo codes?

That's better than an outright ban on your audio books. It means you can still sell them, albeit with one hand tied behind your back.

If that's true, then the next question is why do they think you were abusing the promo codes? Generally Amazon won't explain their reasoning. People assume that's so they don't reveal how they identify scamming, but I've always thought it's a bit of a cop out. Not having to justify your decision to the person/company affected tends to encourage sloppy practices.

Given Amazon's scam ban approach, it's difficult to undo that decision because they won't give you any details. It's not an "innocent until proven guilty" rule, but a "guilty because we said so", and their decision is usually final.

The "guilty because we said so", where arbitration is the only recourse, is too heavy handed in my view. It's one of the reasons I won't get in deep with Amazon and have never touched ACX.
This is what I am thinking--but unsure considering the opposing emails, and I know they won't tell me what I got flagged for... I question if they themselves even know (do you notice that the last email has no name to tie it back to? I don't trust that). For now, all I can do is wait to see if I get a response from [email protected], but I'm not a "let's go back to the restaurant that spit in our food" type of person, so this is a deal-breaker for me moving forward. They better pray my platform stays tiny because this whole experience has been unacceptable, and I won't forget it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just got a really nice voicemail from someone at ACX support, telling me that my promo tab is back in place and wanting to speak to me about this entire circus. I will have to call them back next week since it's the end of the workday here, but with respect to anyone who has read this or will be reading this, I hope that this illustrates that it is worth pushing back when you've been wrongly accused.

Hello Greg,

My name is (snip) and I'm the (snip).

I just left you a rather long and very wordy voice message.

I'm hoping I can connect with you on the phone next week when I return to the office. Please feel free to reply to this email with the best time and number to reach you at.

I'd like to discuss your concerns and make sure everything is resolved and save you the trouble of further email tennis.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great weekend.

Sincerely,
(snip)
ACX.com
and there it is:


While I tend to be extremely sensitive to these sort of things (once bitten, twice... you know the rest), I do appreciate a human being stepping in to read through the emails and fix the issue. I was in the midst of pulling out 100% when the call came in, so I will be speaking to him next week about my lack of confidence in their handling of our issues. What I would love to know is how I was flagged, why it came from an amazon email, and why they allow their CSR's to respond the way they did. My wife thinks they use bots, but those emails seem too aggressive for AI.

Anyhoo...

I want to thank everyone who gave me suggestions on fighting back. I've learned some important things here for the next time I run into an issue.
 

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OMG, I am so sorry this happened to you. Thank you for sharing. I don't yet have audio books, but I will certainly do a great deal of research before I jump in. I hope you find a satisfactory resolution to this terrible situation. Let us know how it is resolved.
 

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You know the good turnaround is because you emailed Jeff, right? Those people hop-to when there is a complaint sent to their Executive offices and it is legit. Congrats. Now go to "non-exclusive."

Greg Dragon said:
Just got a really nice voicemail from someone at ACX support, telling me that my promo tab is back in place and wanting to speak to me about this entire circus. I will have to call them back next week since it's the end of the workday here, but with respect to anyone who has read this or will be reading this, I hope that this illustrates that it is worth pushing back when you've been wrongly accused.

and there it is:


While I tend to be extremely sensitive to these sort of things (once bitten, twice... you know the rest), I do appreciate a human being stepping in to read through the emails and fix the issue. I was in the midst of pulling out 100% when the call came in, so I will be speaking to him next week about my lack of confidence in their handling of our issues. What I would love to know is how I was flagged, why it came from an amazon email, and why they allow their CSR's to respond the way they did. My wife thinks they use bots, but those emails seem too aggressive for AI.

Anyhoo...

I want to thank everyone who gave me suggestions on fighting back. I've learned some important things here for the next time I run into an issue.
 

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TwistedTales said:
The "guilty because we said so", where arbitration is the only recourse, is too heavy handed in my view.
Just a note --the ACX contract doesn't have an arbitration clause last time I checked anyway. Disputes are governed by the laws of the State of New York, so I'm guessing any legal action would have to be filed in a court, there.
 

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I don't know how audiobook scamming works either. Here's my guess. OP says he used Audiobook Boom. Audiobook Boom says "if you're willing to leave an honest review, the author may choose you to receive their audiobook for free!"

I suspect ACX frowns on authors offering ACX books for free, in exchange for reviews.
 

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D. A. J. F. said:
How do they know that? :eek:
Probably through educated guesses. Otherwise, if you're anonymous here, they wouldn't know, unless you gave enough data about your books and the like.
 
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