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VGrossack
06-25-2007, 07:01 PM
I invite all of you to comment upon genuine royalty issues that you have had with PA. Some of them are due, of course, to the very poor distribution and high prices and therefore miniscule sales - but I don't want to focus on that here. I'd rather focus on just the actual problems that people have in getting paid monies that are truly due.

I can think of three cases (at least) that have come up recently: Maria Pacha's situation where she was not paid for a book that was sold; Duped's situation where she has been paid with US checks which, as someone in the UK, she can't possibly cash (I consider this really nasty, for PA should not do business when their "authors" can't get paid); my situation, where PA mysteriously retyped my address into a place that doesn't exist and therefore my royalty checks were returned to them unopened (and they never communicated with me by email on the subject). They did, however, report my earnings to the IRS, which might have made it appear that I was committing fraud!

I think that by assembling a set of legitimate cases we can do a bit more to "take PA down". Perhaps Maria Pacha can use them to help persuade the arbiter; perhaps they can be used to convince potential authors of the problems of going with PA.

JimmyD1318
06-25-2007, 07:14 PM
[quote=VGrossack;1426273]my situation, where PA mysteriously retyped my address into a place that doesn't exist and therefore my royalty checks were returned to them unopened (and they never communicated with me by email on the subject). They did, however, report my earnings to the IRS, which might have made it appear that I was committing fraud!/quote]

Wow! I haven't heard of that one before! That was really low down!

Marie Pacha
06-25-2007, 07:18 PM
How about another royalty statement that gives an amount and then reads "special"...no numerical percentage and no explanation?

Yes, I have one of those too.

VickyH
06-25-2007, 07:41 PM
I live in the UK and have recieved royalty cheque from PA which my bank charge 8.00 (USD16) to cash.

allenparker
06-25-2007, 07:46 PM
When my wife and I went to PA to audit the books, they were in such disarray that had my wife not had a degree in accounting, she would never have been able to figure out what was what. The biggest thing is the massive hole in their accounting before 2004. It is like they lost all their data from before then and just made it up to fit the statements.

BTW, if you audit, give them a letter to sign where they give you permission to request sales information directly from Lightning Source. It will be "en-lightning".

Marie Pacha
06-25-2007, 07:53 PM
Why thank you Allen. My first contract was signing in 2003, and the date published seems to vary from source to source.

Do the records you saw actually show where the sales originated? Which bookstore etc? It seems to me that they would have to; in order for them to figure the proper royalty percentage.

I'm going to request that the arbitrator order those records presented.

DaveKuzminski
06-25-2007, 07:59 PM
What gripes me most about arbitration so far is that it has non-disclosure requirements imposed on the previous cases involving PA. To my mind, this smacks of a conflict of interest at best and conspiracy at worst.

Why?

As a conflict of interest, it gives the arbiters more cases because they know that PA will continue to behave as it has and eventually they will see more income as a result of that.

As a conspiracy, it gives PA the ability to continue to misbehave as it has knowing that they'll be called in occasionally and will have to pay a few thousand in arbitration fees and some more to the injured author, but because the settlement terms don't have to be revealed, PA can continue to get away because no one outside of the particular author involved, the arbiters, and PA knows what went on.

It's time for the arbiters to recognize that they can be held liable for their actions. They should not permit the settlement terms to be hidden. PA should be forced to behave like a responsible business.

VGrossack
06-25-2007, 08:06 PM
[quote=VGrossack;1426273]my situation, where PA mysteriously retyped my address into a place that doesn't exist and therefore my royalty checks were returned to them unopened (and they never communicated with me by email on the subject). They did, however, report my earnings to the IRS, which might have made it appear that I was committing fraud!/quote]

Wow! I haven't heard of that one before! That was really low down!

It was eventually resolved and I have deposited my last check - but not by anything that they did right! I had to write them over and over - I received standard emails from them which were not rude but were mostly irrelevant, and made me feel as if I were writing to a brick wall!

I became alerted to the problem after I demanded a contract release and got it. First they verified my address (which they had morphed into something incorrect). Then they sent me the IRS statement and I realized there was a problem (I have a co author so I assumed that the money had been paid to her).

Here are summaries of the e-mails that I received from them after I realized there was an issue:

(1) The standard "We've got lots of e-mails to respond to, so please be patient"

I waited a while, and wrote again

(2) A standard "this is why royalties can take a while to show up" e-mail (delays in Ingram and an explanation of the sale price to booksellers)

After this e-mail, I wrote to them in CAPS, saying YOUR RESPONSE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MY QUESTION! At which point the person actually looked into the situation and realized there truly were outstanding royalties

(3) They wrote to me that they sent a check

It did not arrive, and after a few days, I wrote again. And again.

(4) After a few weeks I received a check (certainly not the one from (3)), but for about 1/7 th of the correct amount - as they sent it for the royalties for the last period that existed, and, as I had been trying to get out of the contract at the time, there were very few sales

I wrote back - and I was getting rather firm or rude (depending on your point of view) and I asked HOW INCOMPETENT ARE YOU? At that point I was leaving the country for the summer and gave them my overseas address.

(5) They wrote back to say that they had actually noticed their error but had already re-issued the check to my US address.

This was really awkward, because at that point I would not be in the US for more than 90 days, and that's how long their checks can be cashed. So - not wanting to go through this again for such a small amount - I finally arranged for someone else to deposit it, and so the amount has cleared.

NB: What bothers me - even more than the general incompetence mentioned above, which might be interpreted as simple incompetence (and let's face it, they can't be paying people much, so they're probably not getting good people) is that they knew that they somehow had the wrong address, and did not contact me by e-mail to find out what it was. They were perfectly happy to act as if it were my fault that they had made a typo (which they had made, because before that I had correctly addressed mail from them). To me this is part of a consistent attempt on their part not to pay their authors the amounts that are actually due them.

Marie Pacha
06-25-2007, 08:23 PM
The arbitration procedure operates in a manner similiar (but not identical) to a lawsuit.

Certain procedures are followed, and it's fairly customary in lawsuits to not disclose the amount of the Award, and the arbitrator is not required to even tell me the specifics of what they base that upon. I don't know that judges are are required to do that in a courtroom; although they often give an explanation for their judgments and sentences.

In my opinion Dave, the American Arbitration Association is above reproach. Among other things they operate as a non-profit organization, and the attorneys whose CV's I was offered to consider have an incredible amount of experience. The gentleman who accepted my case has almost 40 years of experience; most of it in contract law, and he had to sign a notarized statement that he has no prior involvement with either of the parties in my case.

It seems somewhat unfair that one case's decision cannot be used to determine an outcome in another, or that a pattern of behavior cannot be used as evidence, but at the same time each case should be weighed on its own evidence.

Marie Pacha
06-25-2007, 08:34 PM
"NB: What bothers me - even more than the general incompetence mentioned above, which might be interpreted as simple incompetence (and let's face it, they can't be paying people much, so they're probably not getting good people) is that they knew that they somehow had the wrong address, and did not contact me by e-mail to find out what it was. They were perfectly happy to act as if it were my fault that they had made a typo (which they had made, because before that I had correctly addressed mail from them). To me this is part of a consistent attempt on their part not to pay their authors that are actually due them."

Let's put this in the context of a business with a regular product to sell; which in essence PA is or should be as publisher.

The product they are selling is books. So their suppliers are their authors. Do you know of any other business that restricts their suppliers in a manner consistent with PA? Many of us as authors (suppliers) have had difficulty receiving our statements or having our questions answered; and many of us believe that their payments to us are incorrect. And God forbid we try and find a solution to a problem by phone!

How many regular businesses would stay in business under those circumstances?

What happens is; the unhappy suppliers terminate their business agreements with PA, but PA knows that there is someone else there to fill the void.

And as far as errors or incompentence...PA is still responsible for meeting the terms of their contracts; especially since they never acknowledge errors.

Bo Sullivan
06-25-2007, 09:51 PM
I live in the UK and have recieved royalty cheque from PA which my bank charge 8.00 (USD16) to cash.

Hi, Marie already knows about my problem with receiving US$ cheques for small amounts which I also cannot cash due to the bank charges. PA told me to save them all up and send them in to be reissued when I have quite a few of them.

My sister Pamela also has the same problem and lives in the UK too. She cannot cash her cheques either.

Barbara

James D. Macdonald
06-25-2007, 10:08 PM
Sending checks in US dollars to UK addresses is part of their plan, I'm sure: They don't want those checks to be cashed. Every penny in an uncashed check is a penny still in their back account, still earning them money.

For other royalty fraud (and a pattern that goes back to their earliest days), check with Mike Manno. He hangs out at Mindsight, or used to. His book, The Deadly Habit, was an America House book, back while they were turning into PublishAmerica. (Oh, and congrats to Mike for his subsequent sale to Five Star....)

DaveKuzminski
06-25-2007, 10:34 PM
Maria, that was an opinion and statement about how I feel when arbitration or even real courts close their proceedings so that the public is ignorant of what transpired such as evidence of wrongdoing and awards and whatever else that the public might need to reach an informed decision. So yes, it's a conflict of interest for arbiters to fail to disclose the results publicly. By doing so, they put themselves into collusion with those, such as PA, whose activities are not above reproach.

Bo Sullivan
06-25-2007, 11:03 PM
Sending checks in US dollars to UK addresses is part of their plan, I'm sure: They don't want those checks to be cashed. Every penny in an uncashed check is a penny still in their back account, still earning them money.

For other royalty fraud, and a pattern that goes back to their earliest days) check with Mike Manno. He hangs out at Mindsight, or used to. His book, The Deadly Habit was an America House book, back while they were turning into PublishAmerica. (Oh, and congrats to Mike for his subsequent sale to Five Star....)

The only problem with our books and being with PA is that even though there is an unsatisfactory outcome, we have not got the privilege of going to Arbitration because my sister and I are in the UK.

My sister Pamela has never received a single penny in royalties since her book was released in 2005.

Barbara

Marie Pacha
06-26-2007, 12:29 AM
Dave,

I understand your desire to see information made public which might prevent similar incidents. But the arbitrators themselves are bound by the "Rules of the AAA, the Code of Ethics for Commercial Arbitrators and/or all applicable statutes." (That's a verbatim quote from a sworn statement.)

In order to change all the procedures under which they act laws would have to be changed as well. And the implications of that go far beyond what we discuss here.

Arbitration is by its nature designed to provide a relatively private procedure between two dissenting parties, and that's why it is listed as the recourse in many contracts.

I understand a lot of this, but I am not an attorney, and I am afraid any explanation I give is only superficial at best. Like it, or not, it's the way our legal system works.

Marie Pacha
06-26-2007, 12:56 AM
Barbara,

It took me a while to look it up in the commercial rules of the American Arbitration Association.
Commercial Arbitration Rules and Mediation PROCEDURES
(Including Procedures for Large, Complex Commercial Disputes)
You can find them here:
http://www.adr.org/sp.asp?id=22440

I'd read the whole thing if I were you, but specifically look up E6:

E-6. Proceedings on Documents

Where no party's claim exceeds $10,000, exclusive of interest and arbitration costs, and other cases in which the parties agree, the dispute shall be resolved by submission of documents, unless any party requests an oral hearing, or the arbitrator determines that an oral hearing is necessary. The arbitrator shall establish a fair and equitable procedure for the submission of documents.

Tina
06-26-2007, 01:30 AM
...Duped's situation where she has been paid with US checks which, as someone in the UK, she can't possibly cash (I consider this really nasty, for PA should not do business when their "authors" can't get paid...

I'm a bit confused so I beg your indulgence. Is this because the service charges are too high or because the U.K. bank won't take a cheque not drawn from a domestic account?

If the answer is the former, was PA smart enough to know their UK writers wouldn't cash cheques because of exorbitant service charges? I don't think of PA as being that smart - did they just luck out again? Willem should go to Vegas.

Here you can cash US cheques pretty easily and they simply give the amount in Cdn $ (which of late has only been about 7% less than the greenback.) I haven't done it in a while so I can't recall if there are service charges.

VickyH
06-26-2007, 02:31 AM
Banks here in the UK will cash cheques drawn on an overseas bank for a fee. In the case of the Royal Bank of Scotland, that's 8.00 or 16USD per cheque. It takes the cheque up to six weeks to clear, so unless the royalty amounts to a significant sum, which in all probability it doesn't, then it's not worth going to the expense of trying to covert it to sterling.

I'm told, although I have never enquired, that PA will "hold" your royalty cheque until such time as your book as earned enough to make it worthwhile converting it. Another option, and one which I took purely because I happened to be in the USA, was to go in to the bank on which the cheque was drawn (Wachovia) and ask to cash the cheque. It wasn't easy. I had to produce my driving licence, passport, and give my thumb print, although I never quite worked out why, before they'd hand over the cash!

Ken Schneider
06-26-2007, 03:32 AM
Bought my own book after the rights were returned.
Of course I checked stock at Ingrams before ordering. Zero in stock.

edit:
I got a royalty check for the previous six months, paid in Aug. 2006. My rights were returned in Feb. 17th 2006.

VGrossack
06-26-2007, 08:11 AM
I'm a bit confused so I beg your indulgence. Is this because the service charges are too high or because the U.K. bank won't take a cheque not drawn from a domestic account?

If the answer is the former, was PA smart enough to know their UK writers wouldn't cash cheques because of exorbitant service charges? I don't think of PA as being that smart - did they just luck out again? Willem should go to Vegas.

Here you can cash US cheques pretty easily and they simply give the amount in Cdn $ (which of late has only been about 7% less than the greenback.) I haven't done it in a while so I can't recall if there are service charges.

My belief is that the issue is that the service charges are high for converting checks in non UK funds. At least some European countries are not set up for checks, either - in Switzerland, people either take money to the post office to pay (quaint) or they transfer the money on the internet (more advanced). My understanding is that Meiners is from the Netherlands; he, at least, would be aware of the problem that people outside of North America would have in cashing USD checks.

Why do I think this is particularly scummy behavior on the part of PA? Because for a while PA had set up "Publish Britannica" - allegedly a company based in and servicing those in the UK - and weren't they nevertheless paying their authors in US dollars? (It is what I remember reading, but I would be grateful if someone else would confirm or deny.) If PB existed, then it should have had its own bank account in UK funds!

Besides, there *ARE* other methods of paying people - paypal, for example - but you have to want to pay them.

Bo Sullivan
06-26-2007, 10:44 AM
My belief is that the issue is that the service charges are high for converting checks in non UK funds. At least some European countries are not set up for checks, either - in Switzerland, people either take money to the post office to pay (quaint) or they transfer the money on the internet (more advanced). My understanding is that Meiners is from the Netherlands; he, at least, would be aware of the problem that people outside of North America would have in cashing USD checks.

Why do I think this is particularly scummy behavior on the part of PA? Because for a while PA had set up "Publish Britannica" - allegedly a company based in and servicing those in the UK - and weren't they nevertheless paying their authors in US dollars? (It is what I remember reading, but I would be grateful if someone else would confirm or deny.) If PB existed, then it should have had its own bank account in UK funds!

Besides, there *ARE* other methods of paying people - paypal, for example - but you have to want to pay them.

Even when Publish Britannica existed I was still paid in US$ for royalties and I never bothered to cash any of the cheques because of the high bank charges to convert them. I now have a jar full of cheques for nearly two years of royalty payments which amounts to about five dollars, making them not worth the paper they are written on. The Inland Revenue in the UK recently asked me to declare "any other income" for tax purposes and I replied "zero" although perhaps I should have said $5.00.

My experience with PA goes back to January 2004. My sister does not cash her cheques either, for the same reason.

Barbara

James D. Macdonald
06-26-2007, 10:46 AM
Yes, the fiction was that PublishBritannica was located in Milton Keynes, and that it was a British "daughter company."

It was, however, located in Frederick, MD. Leah Baird says, "...for a time, I personally was Publish Britannica," (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008505.html#164830) and provides a lot of pertinent detail. (Yes, the Frederick Three threatened to sue her over those remarks. She ignored them. No suit ever materialized.)

Anyone who was involved with PublishBritannica might want to read her information.

VGrossack
06-26-2007, 11:35 AM
Well, one of PA's great claims is that they "treat authors the old-fashioned way - we pay them." These remarks show that PA does not pay their authors, even where money is due.

To some this may be "splitting hairs" but it gets at their advertising, and is evidence of not fulfilling their promises.

DaveKuzminski
06-26-2007, 04:40 PM
Bought my own book after the rights were returned.
Of course I checked stock at Ingrams before ordering. Zero in stock.

Never got my royalties. I was planning on going to Disneyland. Bastids.
If it was delivered, then you've now got grounds for action against both PA and the printer. Talk to an attorney.

Ken Schneider
06-27-2007, 01:06 AM
If it was delivered, then you've now got grounds for action against both PA and the printer. Talk to an attorney.

B&N shipped the book. I ordered it after the date of my rights being returned.

I did get a royalty check after that, which I shouldn't have becuase there shouldn't have been any sales, in Aug 2006.

I have all the dates and everything and documents.

I've had it looked over, but nothing came of it.