Amazon’s third-party-seller business enables merchants to sell their products on its website. The amounts of money Amazon holds in excess of the time allowed by law range from a few dollars to thousands of dollars. All the while, Amazon keeps the interest and other gains generated by the funds owed to Plaintiffs and the Class and utilizes the available cash in its business. The scale of Amazon’s practice makes it lucrative. Amazon.com, Inc. reportedly generated over $20 billion in third-party sales on its website in the fourth quarter of 2012 alone. By holding on to this daily cash flow for only a few days or weeks, Amazon is able to invest this money in money market funds, marketable securities and other investments, and utilize the cash as working capital in the operation of its business.
I can unfortunately confirm that’s the case – I have money made as an Android developer stuck on Amazon.com, have tried to contact customer support numerous times, and all they do is reply with the exact same answer,
Thank you for writing in. No payment has been issued as your earnings do not exceed the payment threshold after rev-share and tax withholding. Note: payments are issued per marketplace and each marketplace is subject to a payment threshold. The following thresholds must be met after rev-share and tax withholding before Amazon issues a payment:
USD Direct Deposit: $10
EU Direct Deposit: 10 Euros
EU Wire: 100 Euros or 100 GBP
UK Direct Deposit: 10 GBP
Swiss Francs Direct Deposit: $10, 10 Euros or 10 GBP
JP Direct Deposit: 1,000 JPY
JP Wire: 10,000 JPY
Check: $100, 100 Euros or 100 GBP
I am above the threshold, but, can I reply and dispute it? No.
*Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. For further questions, please return to the Mobile App Distribution Portal using the following URL: https://developer.amazon.com/help/contactus.html
Fair enough that they provide two links in the email for you to click in, and provide feedback if your case has been solved or not. Again, it’s feedback, not a continuation to the support request. Once you submit the feedback for your No answer, you’ll then need to open another support request regarding the matter. A new support request for a case marked as closed after its initial response, no right to answer. It’s answer then loops in the Amazon’s copy and paste standard reply schema, and that pretty much makes you start the initial request all over again. Back to zero. 5 months later, and I still haven’t received a penny.
No wonder someone started a lawsuit against them in the same grounds,
Terrell Marshall Daudt & Willie PLLC, along with The Monts Firm and Crowley Norman, LLP, have filed a class action complaint on behalf of third-party sellers against Amazon.com holding the sellers’ monies longer than allowed by its own contract and Washington state law.
As read in the March 15th 2013 edition of the Seattle Times,
Small online merchants file suit against Amazon.com
The lawsuit centers on an Amazon.com practice of withholding payments to third-party sellers over questions about the sellers’ accounts.
I’m trying to cancel the sale of my apps in Amazon at the moment, but there seems not to be a way of doing so. Once it’s in and making them money, it’s in. So here I go to get another set of copy and paste, un-replyable texts from its customer support in a loop. I hear you saying “best of luck with that, Rove”.
Word of advice – even if you do have the prospect of somehow eventually getting paid in the end, don’t bother with Amazon’s bureaucracy and dubious practices. Avoid a lot of headaches and sell and/or publish your stuff somewhere else.
If you are buying from a third party seller and/or developer on Amazon, please do take notice of what are this same sellers and developers going through.
And above it all, if I haven’t managed to take my apps out of sale in Amazon and you are considering buying them in there, please don’t. Get them from Google Play instead – I might highly disagree with Google, plus their cut is pretty high and everything you put in their store is open for widespread piracy, but at least the developers get paid. Well, I did anyway.
Update, 3rd of April 2013: After a shower of one-sided customer support tickets, I made a scandal while insisting on knowing how much is it actually cut from sales, insisting on knowing how much a developer makes in the end. Surprisingly enough, I did manage to get a near-objective answer to that question: the value seems to be of 40% (30% gone in royalties to Amazon.com, plus 30% taken by Amazon.com as well in withhold taxes) of the sales total.
For each sale of an App, the Amazon Party that made the sale will pay you a royalty (“Royalty”) equal to 70% of the List Price (defined in and subject to Section 5i) for the applicable Amazon Marketplace as of the time of purchase. No Royalty is payable for Apps with a List Price of $0.00. Taxes and any separately stated fees or charges are excluded from the purchase price and List Price when calculating Royalties. A Royalty is due only for sales for which we have received final payment from or on behalf of an end user. If an App is purchased using a credit card or bank account deduction mechanism, final payment will be deemed to have occurred when the applicable credit card company or bank has fully settled the payment for the applicable purchase.
U.S. tax law requires us to report royalty payments made to entities and persons who are selling titles in the U.S. and are resident outside the United States. We are also required to withhold and remit taxes on such royalty payments to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Although you may also be required to report and pay taxes to your own government, we are not involved in this process.
The tax withholding rate for royalties paid to non-US payees is 30%. If the country where you claim to be a resident for purposes of that country’s income tax has an income tax treaty with the United States, you can claim a reduced rate of withholding by completing the tax interview with your valid tax identity.
Less local taxes as mentioned (25%) and miscellaneous non-described charges (transfer fees, bank charges etc), leaving the developer with about an astonishing 10% to 15% of the sale.
Amazon.com App Distribution Agreement
5. g. Our Operations. We have sole discretion to determine all features and operations of the Program and to set the retail price and other terms on which we sell Apps.
5. i. List Price. The “List Price” for an App for an Amazon Marketplace is an amount that does not exceed, at any time, the lowest price at which such App (including any similar edition, version or release) is available for sale through any Similar Service in a country served by that Amazon Marketplace. (…) List Prices are inclusive of any VAT or similar taxes included in the purchase price displayed to end users, but those taxes are excluded from the List Price for Royalty calculation purposes. For example, if the List Price for your App for an Amazon Marketplace is 1.15 Euro and we display prices to an end user of that Amazon Marketplace inclusive of 15% VAT, the List Price for Royalty calculation purposes for a sale to that end user is 1.00 Euro.
5. i. says that they are taking the 15% consumer taxes from the advertised price out of the developer’s royalties as well. Is there anything left?
If there is, as mentioned by TMWD, the next problem is that the payment is arbitrary. According to the TMWD, Amazon.com holds on to your money for as long as they can in order to invest and collect interest over it. In volumes, that means big money (for them).
As for the seller/developer program itself, there’s no charge for joining the program at the moment, but they do charge a fee of $99 as of your account’s first anniversary,
Amazon.com App Distribution Agreement
2. b. Program Fees. You will pay an annual non refundable program fee of US$99 to participate in the Program. We are currently waiving the fee for your first year. Program fees for subsequent years will be due on the anniversary of the date you accepted this Agreement. We do not charge a listing fee for Apps.
If you didn’t really read the agreement to start of with (most people don’t, as they tend have the misconception that if a big company is where they are, it is because they are trustful and know what they are doing, when in practice the exact opposite is true), you would think that it is free forever, as the initial fee is waved under the banner of a waved fee for the program, not a waved fee for only the first year of the program.
In that case, at the current rates, one will have to sell over 10,000 apps to cover the fee alone. In a world of millions of apps, one will be lucky to do that. And if done, Amazon got $300 to $600 in royalty, plus the $99 from such a fee, leaving one with returns of about $1, if lucky. At the time of requesting a termination of your account faced with all of that, you have pretty much bought 3 Kindle Fire HD from Amazon.com, and received none, because you gave them all of the money for nothing.
I formally requested a termination of my contract and the deletion of all my apps and account on Amazon.com, plus the payment of all of my unpaid sales (the 10% above, I only bothered doing it as a matter of principle), to which I also got a reply,
We will remove your apps from Amazon Apps per your request. Please take a moment to review the terms of the Amazon Mobile Apps Distribution Agreement to ensure that this app withdrawal is in compliance. You can access the Distribution Agreement at the bottom of any page in the Amazon Mobile Apps Distribution Portal. We want to encourage you to provide the full selection of your apps on Amazon Apps in order to provide the customers with the broadest selection. The app removal process usually is completed within 10 days. You will see the app under the “suppressed” status when the app removal process is completed. We will show your app as “currently unavailable,” also it will no longer show up in search results.
Please note that we are currently waiving the Distribution Program fee.
If you would still like to close your account, please send an e-mail with your developer name, contact information, and a list of your applications to apps-notices AT amazon.com with a carbon-copy via e-mail to contracts-legal AT amazon.com. We will notify you of receipt of your e-mail and respond within 48 hours with confirmation of your request to close your account.
All requests to end the agreement with Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program will be final, and all sales of your applications within Amazon Apps will be suspended. You will have limited access to Amazon Mobile App Distribution Portal after the account has been closed.
Of course there is no mention of any money in the e-mail.
I have done all as requested, and I will now wait for the 48-hour account deletion confirmation period and a response about the owed money, of which, again, I will only follow with as a matter of principle.
All in all, it does makes one feel like the poor sods earning cents in them Chinese factories (Foxconn brings to mind), literally killing themselves making iPads and iPhones – except that this people have (presumably) seen some of the coins tossed in their direction.
Update, 15th of April 2013: I got an email on the 4th of April from Amazon, stating that,
Per your request, we have begun the process to close your Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program account. Please allow 10 days for this process to be completed. Once completed, any earnings will be issued via the payment information currently on file.
Thank you for your participation in the Amazon Mobile App Distribution Program.
If you have any other questions, or would like to contact us in the future about participation in the program, please use the “Contact Us” feature within the Distribution Portal.
As per usual of course there is no chance of replying to this ticket, other than starting a new one. As of the 15th of April, I have received no more emails nor a single cent in payments, or even a single explanation for such.
For everyone that bought anything from me via Amazon, please notice that you gave your money to Amazon, and not me. I haven’t seen and very likely will never see a single cent of it; All in all, I have unwarily worked for free for Amazon.