In a move that (once again) makes the people at iUniverse’s parent company Author Solutions look like total douche bags, author Jodi Foster has now been told she can’t talk to anyone in the company except Eugene Hopkins. And Mr. Hopkins, oddly enough, is never available to talk.
Apparently the people of Author Solutions are punishing their own customer for daring to hold them accountable. In an email yesterday, Jodi wrote to me, “Customer service says that my account is locked to them.”
What kind of company does this to any customer, let alone one that has paid thousands and thousands of dollars? I can’t decide if the executive team at Author Solutions is just that stupid or that evil. But I lean toward evil, given everything else I know about them.
iUniverse Royalty Reports are Inaccurate
Jodi found out about the customer service lockout when she tried to contact someone regarding the royalty check she received for her book’s first quarter sales. “The check is for $41.92,” she wrote. “Apparently they withheld taxes of $16.30, which I asked them not to do months ago.”
But this is about more than their failure to get a customer’s tax withholding right. When Jodi received her check yesterday, she immediately compared it to her royalty report. Her official iUniverse royalty report says she earned $81.93 in the first quarter for sales of her books in all formats.They weren’t supposed to take out taxes per Jodi’s request, but they did. So let’s do some quick math to figure out how much she should have been paid after the taxes were removed from the equation:
$81.93 – $16.30 = $65.63
Jodi should have received a check for $65.63, but she did not. Instead they sent her a check for $41.92. Where’s that additional $23.71? We may never know because they won’t talk to her. Maybe instead of just printing books, iUniverse has been cooking them too?
iUniverse Breaches Own Contract
Another interesting dilemma Kevin Weiss, Keith Ogorek and Eugene Hopkins are going to have a difficult time explaining away involves the very contract they use with their clients. Number 8 on the iUniverse Select Program Publishing Agreement states:
[box style=”rounded” border=”full”]8. Royalty Payment
PUBLISHER will make four royalty payments per year, if earned, to AUTHOR within sixty (60) days of the end of each calendar quarter and shall post related royalty statements on PUBLISHER’s website. If the royalty payment due in a single calendar quarter is less than twenty-five U.S. Dollars ($25) the balance will be applied to the next calendar quarter until the royalty payment due equals or exceeds twenty-five U.S. Dollars ($25), at which time PUBLISHER shall make the appropriate royalty payment to AUTHOR.[/box]
(See full iUniverse contract.)
Additionally, the FAQ page on their own website addresses the issue of timely royalty payment and reporting:
[box style=”rounded” border=”full”]iUniverse will process your royalty payment, according to our publishing agreement, 60 days after the end of each quarter. For example, in the first quarter (January 1 – March 31), we will post your royalty statement and send your payment by May 31. View the royalty disbursement schedule by logging in to your myUniverse account.[/box]
Not counting the end date, 60 calendar days from March 31 is May 30 and NOT May 31. That means these two statements from Author Solutions don’t quite jibe. I am arguably splitting hairs over this one, but we are talking about a legally binding contract here. You’d think they’d set terms they could abide by. You’d think someone there could count.
Author Solutions Customers: Check Statement and Payment Availability & Report Violations
Nonetheless, we checked amongst ourselves at the end of last week and discovered several instances of royalty reports not being available to authors within the specified 60 days, which violates the terms of the contract. From this point forward, I recommend that all Author Solutions authors (that includes any who have published on their many imprints Author House, Xlibris, Trafford, WordClay and iUniverse, etc.) document when reports are available to them. If you discover that Author Solutions et al have not reported on time, you should:
- Write Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and report Author Solutions and the specific imprint or brand you used for breach of contract.
- File a complaint with the Central Indiana BBB making note of the breach of contract and requesting a full refund.
I realize that there are plenty of reasons to believe taking these steps won’t get you anywhere. I’ve read the accusations about Zoeller and I know that BBB accreditation is only awarded to companies that pay for it, BUT both Zoeller and the BBB have reputations to protect. Don’t let them ignore this.
iUniverse Backdating Checks to Cover Its Ass
Jodi reports more dubious details about her royalty check. Yesterday she wrote: “I find it funny that the royalty check says it was posted 5/29/12. When I tried to talk to customer service last week regarding the check, three different people said there was no info available and it wouldn’t be available until June 9. So how did I get a check today (June 4) that was supposedly posted on 5/29/12?”
In light of this information, I also urge iUniverse and Author Solutions customers to report royalty checks that have not been delivered within the 60 day timeframe. Keep comparing their reports with your check amount and officially report the discrepancies every quarter.
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