Holiday Horror Story

Written By: Jackie Weger - Dec• 27•18

The grinch who stole my writing career

As an experienced indie author I know two things: 1: How to write a book and take it to publication and 2: Marketing 101. Up until 2017 I thought I knew what I needed to know to market my books. I adjusted to every twist and tweak the market threw at me and all other indie authors. I stayed positive, rolling with the industry, but things changed. I can’t tell you what changed, I just know the results. Mainly what I noticed was well-planned promotions that in the past always showed a halo effect i.e. that promotions continued to work their magic of  KENP pages read, sales and borrows of books in Select of one’s stable of books continued for days and often weeks.  That stopped.

In 2018, I adjusted again. I designed monthly cooperative promotions with eight to a dozen authors. We worked and we moved free and 99c books.  A few of us saw short halo effects, but most saw our books drop into the gutter in stats within hours of the closed promotion. After five years indie, I started plotting and planning for a more successful 2019.  I got one book ready to go into pre-order and started the work on another for a mid-year drop.  But I didn’t expect the rug to be pulled out from under me from out in left field.

Just the thing for a writer who gets distracted from writing those wonderful stories. It works. 3.95 on Google Play.  20 minutes and it will boost your energy and creativity for hours.

This happened.  In late August 2018 I ordered an item off a sponsored ad on Amazon. Paid for it via Paypal which is connected to my checking account.  The item never arrived. Email to the order site’s support kept referring me to tracking numbers. Most of which gave me a 404 Error. The last tracking number had more characters than the English alphabet and said the item had been delivered and showed which USA Post offices it tracked through. Printed them all out took them to 3 local post offices. All of which had no record whatsoever of the package in their systems.  Mmmm.

Next, recurring charges from a company I did not know kept showing up in my checking account. In late November I called the number my bank provides to handle things like this. Fraud department of Wells Fargo. Telling you up front I’m severely hearing impaired. Phone conversations are a witch.  I understood this much: We’ll cancel your Visa and issue you a new one. Those charges won’t get through. Did that while on the phone with the guy. I gave him the name of the company to search for so I could cancel that order that never arrived. I told the guy, “Keep me in the loop.” He said: “Sure will.” He didn’t.

But he did this: He filed unauthorized Paypal disputes with every vendor I used via Paypal as far back as August 14, 2018. That included 35 of my favorite promoters/vendors and service folks. My formatter. My cover artist. The aggregator I hired to upload my books to iTunes and Google Play. The company that prints my swag.

I woke up to my mail box filled with people I’ve been doing business with for years asking what’s going on? Some were irate beyond measure. Holy smokes. I went on Paypal to withdraw every dispute and Paypal told me I couldn’t. The dispute was filed electronically by Wells Fargo and had to be withdrawn electronically by Wells Fargo. Not only did Wells Fargo file 35 unauthorized disputes, it added an insult by charging my vendors $20 or $25 per each dispute. Whoa.

Over two days in December I spent more than ten hours in front of my banker trying to get this mess cleared up. For many of those hours, we used my iphone and were kept on hold for up to an hour as each person we spoke with shunted the call up the chain of command. I insisted my vendors were reimbursed for those insulting fees. Well Fargo said it had no mechanism to do that. Really? I do. So the bank made that $790 available to me and I returned those fees to my vendors.  Now I’m told it will take thirty days to withdraw those unauthorized disputes that only took some guy five minutes to initiate.

Here’s the snag: While those disputes stand my vendor’s money is in limbo.  Until Wells Fargo/Paypal withdraws the disputes and returns their monies, I cannot put my new release in pre-order because I don’t own my cover. I don’t own my formatting. Unpaid, my aggregator can unpublish my books.  I can’t buy promo slots. Many of the slots I had purchased for a December promotion were canceled. Killed the promo. Done.

I’ve emailed each promoter to let them know what happened. I sent an update. Some did not want to wait. I sent them their  original fees. Now Wells Fargo says, the entire issue was not handled right to begin with, so debited my account for the $790 insult fees I reimbursed my vendors.

Courtney: The Master Negotiator in our family. She gets the job done.

Many of my favorite vendors are upset. IMO they have every right to be annoyed. I’m annoyed for them. When things like this happen my goal is to resolve the issue. But, I’m old. I’m deaf. I’m emotional. And I can’t get traction, so I’ve called in the one person who Wells Fargo cannot ignore. My incredibly intelligent granddaughter who is a master negotiator. She spent less than an hour with the bank president, stated the issue and how it needs to be resolved.  He listened. Meanwhile, until the people I do business with who are beyond helpful to my success are made whole, my indie author career is on hold. But, not my life. Good things still happen. The government forgave my school loans. I won $60 in a Lotto scratch off I got for Christmas. I found hungry homes for the three 18# turkeys I got for the holidays. 2019 beckons. Bring it!

Weger ~ an old lady author having a coffee in the Woodlands, Texas

P.S. Lesson learned: Do Not Shop sponsored ads on Amazon that are not fulfilled by Amazon. Else one can end up being scammed by a China Holding company.

@JackieWeger 2018. Thanks for visiting. Comments Welcome because everybody has a story to tell.

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31 Comments

  1. I’m sorry this happened to you, Jackie. I sure hope things look up from now on, and may 2019 find you on the bestseller lists!

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Thank you, Suzanne. Making a list would be a grand slam, but at the moment being able to publish is my best hope. It will happen.
      Telling on myself, but I’m using the down time to read so many wonderful books by my colleagues living on my ereaders.

  2. Linda Lee says:

    What a nightmare, Jackie. I’d have despaired, but not you—you’re a trouper! Thank goodness for your granddaughter. Hope that your vendors come around and 2019 is a good year for you.

  3. What a worrying and frustrating position for you to be in. Kudos to your granddaughter for getting some results.

    I hope it’s all cleared up soon but it is a troubling sign of the times when things like this seem to send our accounts and our lives into free-fall.

    As my dear old dad used to say: “Illegitimi non carborundum”.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Rosie Dean, Your Dad had it right. What is getting to me is one Wells Fargo department isn’t talking to the other.
      They are not copying one another on emails or letters to me. I’m doing as told. Hang onto everything and once holidays are over,
      we’re back in the fray. My granddaughter has her head on straight, sorts all and cuts through the minutiae.

  4. Robyn M Ryan says:

    Jackie,

    What a nightmare ~ everyone’s worst fear…and it happened to you. So glad your granddaughter could work her negotiating skills on the bank president. I so hope your vendors and you are made whole within 24 hours. May 2019 shine so brightly that you’ll look back at 2018 as a mere blip.

    Happy New Year!

    ~ Robyn

  5. vinnyo says:

    What a nightmare you went through. I was surprised when one of your paypal payments to Awesomegang was cancelled but knew there had to be a bigger issue. I said to myself Jackie must have made a mistake or something simple. I wish it was that way. I appreciated your email letting me know what was up.

    When you are ready to promote that book send me an email and I will blast it out for you across all our sites for free. Least I can do for your troubles.

  6. Emily Kaplan says:

    What a horrible ordeal. Here’s hoping the new year treats you well.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hello, Emily. I’m gonna do the start of 2019 as I always do. Watch the festivities in Times Square while tucked snug in front of
      my fireplace with an afghan on my lap. I know all will come right eventually. What I noticed sitting in front of my banker, who was doing all she could to help,
      that even she was getting frustrated with her own people on the phones. She kept saying: “That’s not helping, let me speak to a supervisor.” Five hours of that.
      I felt bad for her because we did that for two days in a row. If I knew the name and address of the fool who initiated all of those disputes, I’d send him an Alpo Dog food coupon and tell him to have lunch on me. Prolly a waste of good dog food though.

  7. What a nightmare! Just love how the bank charged you for their error, frustrating!
    I’m more than happy to put your books on my blog anytime, just shoot me the info. It’s not much, but every little bit helps {{hugs}}

  8. Gosh! Every family needs a Courtney — is she for hire? Roll on 2019 – like you, I’m hoping it will be better than the past year. Hang in there, Jackie.

  9. Oh Jackie. I can’t even begin to imagine what all that must have felt like. You deserve a new year of only precious, soft and warm stuff. Just to compensate for this nightmare, if anything, and I wish it for you. And you know, it’s pretty certain that after this ordeal better days can only lie ahead. Because that’s how life works, as I am sure you know. Hugs!

  10. So very sorry you have to go through this. It’s unfortunate that the world is full of unscrupulous people. It makes it hard to trust anyone. Hopefully, 2019 will be better for you.

  11. Julie Frayn says:

    Jackie, I am so sorry. There have always been nefarious folks in the world but the internet gives them opportunities like never before. I hope you and Courtney get it sorted out fast. And I hope 2019 is kinder to us all. 2018 was a bitch. Love to you.

  12. What a mess, Jackie – I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with all this. Here’s hoping it’s sorted out soon, 2019 is a fabulous year for you, and the guy who did all this found a stocking full of Alpo on Christmas morning. 🙂

  13. srmallery says:

    OMG. How awful and scary! And what a world we are living in. I wish you good luck with all of that…. and thank you for sharing as a dire warning for the rest of us! xo

  14. P. C. Zick says:

    How awful! Our world has become smaller and easier in some ways, but in reality, we are now opened up to so many potential scammers that we must stand guard. So happy your granddaughter cut through the crap and found someone to reasonably listen. And I always knew Vinnie of Awesome Gang was a good guy–it’s one reason I always use him during my promos. I hope 2019 puts you back on track, Jackie.

  15. Judith Lucci says:

    OMG, Jackie! This is a horror story. Thank you so much for the heads-up and I’m so glad to learn from it. I am so sorry you had to go through this. But, this year is gonna be great for you! Hugs, Judith Lucci

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Judith! Thank you for kind words. I’m coming down from the angst now. Resolutions are in the pipeline.
      I didn’t get to be my age without learning how to cope with misery and set back.
      What appalled me most was so many innocent and good people were affected. I count that as wholly unfair.

      Love it that you stopped by. Wishing you and yours a grand 2019. xoxoxo Jackie

  16. Mary Smith says:

    This is a shocking story, Jackie. I’m so sorry it happened to you. It’s getting harder than ever to spot the scammers. Well done, Courteny for being top negotiator. I so hope 2019 will be a better year for you – sounds like it’s going to start well with your Lotto win! 🙂

  17. Jinx Schwartz says:

    OMG Jackie, what a cf! Thanks for the warning, and thank goodness for that young lady!

  18. Kimberly Paulus says:

    Oh my goodness! It can only get better from here!. I was just going to tell you the Fur-real Tiger finally made it here. It was delivered to the wrong address, and a kind person that lives there….brought it over! It is soooo fun! I am “old” but it is going to be sitting on my work desk. I am still excited that I won it from YOU! Thank you so much!
    Onto another thought….
    I can wait to dive into The House on Persimmon Road . It is my next read! I will post a review as soon as I am finished! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

  19. JP McLean says:

    What a horrible end to 2018. I sure hope 2019 treats you better.

  20. lizkflaherty says:

    Wowser! What a story. 2018 was a cluster for many people. Here’s hoping ’19 works out better.

  21. […] vendors $20 or $25 for filing complaints against them with Paypal.  You can read the horror story here.  The snag was while the complaints were being sorted, I didn’t own the cover to my new […]

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