Saturday, June 23, 2012

Online writers, make sure you get paid

I write for a living. That's how I pay my bills. Some of my writing is for online sites such as Triond, but most of it is for books or e-books, sold through Amazon and the usual online spots. I've been making this my career for a few years now, since being let go from a newspaper after having been a journalist for twenty years. I decided to go out on my own.

From time to time during these three years, there have been a few snags here and there when I try to receive payment from one company or another. Nothing major, just a delay of a few days because of a glitch or a holiday or something. From time to time I've had to provide some extra information to receive payment, or I've had to jump through a small hoop or two. While I'm obviously not happy having to deal with such situations, none of them have been overly strenuous.

Until now.

No, I will not use the name of the company, and no, it does not appear elsewhere in this post. I don't need the hassle of a bunch of e-mails spouting legal mumbo jumbo about how some company will have its legal department get in touch with me. And frankly, I do not wish to give this particular company even one single bit of advertising, even if in a negative way. Also, I will be changing a few of the technical details below so this company cannot be readily identified.

I will say this, however, if you are a writer for many of the content creation sites, you have probably run across the site of which I'm writing. You might even be a writer for the site.

I have been a writer for the site for nearly three years. It does not pay much, but that is familiar territory for such content sites. I never planned to get rich, just to make a little extra cash. Over the years I have received payments from this company, usually about twice a year, the amounts not a lot of money but at least enough to fill up the gas tank in the car or to take the family out to eat. I never had any problems.

Then about eight months ago I requested a payment, which is how the site operates. A couple of months passed and I still had not received my payment. I asked for payment again. I was told there was a problem with my mailing address. I could not understand this as I had been at the same address for several years, but I tried to work with the team behind the site. Months passed again. Twice more I was told my payment had been sent but there was a problem with my mailing address. At this point I admit to becoming frustrated, but I never took it out on those I was dealing with at the company. Part of my frustration was I did not understand how my mailing address could be a problem when I had had the address for several years and had never had any other problems with it.

At this point the company's representatives suggested a new online payment program they were just beginning to test. I thought that sounded like a good idea, so I agreed to give it a try. I was told I would receive an e-mail from a different company, the one in charge of the payment program.  A month passed and I had yet to receive the e-mail.

I complained, nicely. I was asked to be patient and that my e-mail was still coming. About this same time I stopped providing new content for the site, and have not done so since.
A couple of weeks passed. No e-mail.

I contacted the writing site yet again. This time I was not so nice, but I did not curse or call names or makes threats nor anything like that. I simply wanted to let them realize how frustrated I had become. I was told again to be patient, that my e-mail was coming.

Another week passed, then one morning I received three e-mails in a matter of minutes. The first e-mail was telling me I had received my payment and that is was available in my account with the new payment program. Yippee! I thought, at least I will have my money.

Then I looked at the second e-mail, which was from the writing site. Here I was told that my situation had been corrected and they were glad of it. Okay. Well, I thought this was a little presumptuous since I had yet to contact them, but whatever.

And then I checked the third e-mail. It was from the payment program site informing me the payment that had been sent to me had been withdrawn. Yes, withdrawn.

That was Monday of this week. It is now Friday as I write this. Since then I have traded e-mails several morning times with my initial contacts at the writing site. Apologies were given to me a couple of times, but frankly I'm sick of apologies. I want results.

I was asked to give them another mailing address. I don't have another mailing address. Then I was asked to provide them with another e-mail address, and while I do have more than one e-mail address, I refused to do this. I had done enough, as far as I was concerned. I had been mostly nice up until the last couple of months, and I had already been waiting for more than half a year for my money, which isn't even all that much money in the first place. And since I had initially put in my request for my money, I had earned more money, but I've yet to request those funds.

At this point the company's representatives told me they could no longer help me since I was not being cooperative. Me not being cooperative? After everything I've already been through, after all my patience and waiting. No, to hell with them.

The last e-mail I sent told the representatives to close my account. I did not tell them to keep my money, but I did mention I believed they would do so anyway.

Now, that was a few hours ago. Since then I have come to a conclusion. Either the company I was dealing with is an out and scam, or it is run by some pretty inept people.

Frankly, it should not take that long to receive a payment, and one should not have to jump so many hurdles to receive a payment, especially a payment that was not even more than a hundred U.S. dollars.

So, all you other writers out there, be careful. If you're not getting paid, stop utilizing the site. If you're not writing for money, that's fine, do as you will. But you still need to be careful.

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