I’ve been seeing my previous post about this getting a surprising number of views, and some boosts on Mastodon as well. So, wow, hi everybody coming over here from Mastodon, or anywhere else. I have an update to share on the Draft2Digital situation I posted about yesterday.
In response to the hostile “your account is terminated and by the terms of our TOS you can never have an account on our service again”, I sent them the following cranky email in reply:
Nobody ever asked me for documentation of who I am. I asked for you all to reach out to me multiple days ago, and now I’m hearing that not only are you shutting down my account and pulling my booiks, you’re _also_ prohibiting me from ever having an account on your site again? Just because I haven’t had the cycles to log into that account in months and _you all_ shut the account down on me?
YOU DID NOT ASK ME TO GIVE YOU DOCUMENTATION. THIS IS THE FIRST I HAVE HEARD FROM YOU AT ALL.
This is _horrible_ customer service and _I will be telling authors I know about this to warn them off of using your service in the future_.
And if this is an indicator of how you treat authors who don’t make enough money on your service, and who have been impacted creatively by the pandemic, I will _also_ be removing my account from Smashwords since you all own _that_ now too.
Deeply disappointed, and also pissed off,
This morning, I logged on to see a response to that ticket, from an actual Draft2Digital account review manager:
Your email was forwarded to me to handle. I am the account review manager and would be happy to look over the details pertaining to this event that occurred with your account and even see if we are able to overturn the decision for you.
I see that your account was flagged by our team because it flags against several hundred accounts committing fraud on our site using the domain of (redacted). This appears to have caused your account to be grouped in with other accounts which were terminated for fraud.
Unfortunately, when your account was terminated your payment details and tax forms were closed out and will need to be re-entered to continue with publication on the site. If you wish to proceed with Draft2Digital we can perform an account review for you after you have provided your Tax forms with us and payment details again. Please let me know when this has been completed for your account (Account–> Payment Options) and I’ll be happy to personally review your account for publication again.
I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you.
So. Now I know a bit more about what the hell actually happened. I’m somewhat less pissed off because I have some clarity and am in communication with an actual human about the situation. But I’m still not happy, and here’s what I said to the account manager in reply:
Thank you for reaching out to me. I appreciate knowing a little bit more about what the actual root cause of this problem was.
I’m aware that Amazon has been flooded with a boatload of fraudulent and generally AI-generated false ebooks, and suspected that something of this nature had hit your all’s service as well.
However, before I proceed any further with the idea of reinstating my account on your site, I want a couple of things abundantly clear.
One: I appreciate your apology for the inconvenience, but what I actually want an apology for is going straight from “author emails in to ask what steps she needs to do to reinstate her account” to “author is told she’s kicked off the service and can never use it again because she didn’t provide documentation of her identity”, with no intervening steps in between.
I don’t even object to my account getting flagged as possibly fraudulent, really, now that you’ve told me what was actually going on. My dayjob is in tech. I get that network security is a thing. I even get that accounts that sit idle for months on end on a system can be considered a security/hacking risk.
What I _do_ object to is never being even asked to prove I am, in fact, _who I say I am_. In my initial support request, I explicitly asked for steps I could follow to reinstate my account. Nobody ever gave me steps to follow. Nobody ever asked me to provide documentation of my identity. I didn’t even need to know necessarily that my account had been flagged or why. It would have been adequate for your support team to simply say something like:
“Due to security concerns, before we restore access to your account, we need some documentation of your identity. Here are steps you can take to provide that documentation.”
Before I can be comfortable trying to reinstate an account on your system, I want some assurance that steps will be taken to address this in support procedures in the future. Not only for me, but for any other author who might have the misfortune of having to deal with a similar situation.
Two: The initial reply to my support request _explicitly_ said that by D2D’s Terms of Service, _I was explicitly forbidden to make an account on your system ever again_.
Are you telling me I can disregard that? Because if I try to rebuild my account and republish my books with you, I don’t want some backend system seeing “Angela Korra’ti” and locking me out as soon as it sees me
Three: Related to point two, if my account was flagged explicitly because I was registered on your system with my fastmail address, then I am going to have to evaluate what alternate address I would want to use instead. I need to evaluate my options there.
So right now I am not going to proceed yet with trying to re-establish an account for you. Before I do so, again, I want some assurance that your customer support team will adjust their procedures in the future, and I also want your explicit confirmation that I would not be in violation of D2D’s TOS if I tried to recreate my account.
And again, thank you for reaching out. I am still not happy about this situation, but I am somewhat less pissed off now that I’m in communication with an actual human and have a better understanding of what’s going on.
So, we’ll have to see what happens next.
Whether or not I reinstate an account with D2D is going to depend very heavily upon what this account manager tells me next.
There’s also a legit question of whether I should even bother. It’s not like I was making high numbers of sales off that account; I wasn’t. My D2D account was basically piping my books to Kobo and a couple of other sites, and nothing I was doing there is anything I can’t also do on Smashwords.
My concern here though is that D2D does now own Smashwords. And since I do work in tech in my day job, I know exactly what almost always happens every time company A buys company B: company B’s functionality gets rolled into company A, and company B is eventually shut down.
But that feels like a question for Somewhat Future Me.
Current Me is going to simply have to see what the account manager tells me next, and if I do want to go through with recreating a D2D account, what email address I’ll need to use for that purpose.
6 thoughts on “Followup on the Draft2Digital situation”
Thank you, most illuminating since I use that same email provider. I’m impressed that you got a response. All I could ever get to any attempt to communicate was “This account has been terminated.” The end.
I have now received (today) an email about tax information being available through the D2D website which of course I can no longer access.
This affair has cost me a great deal of time. I had relied on Books2Read for all the links to all my books, and had to go through and change those everywhere. At least three days work.
I had to go through my accounts to identify payment receipts, since I no longer had access to any statements on D2D to complete my Australian tax affairs which is on a different time schedule from the USA.
And now I have to worry about the tax issue again. I can’t afford to have tax liabilities potentially existing in the USA that I can’t even find out the details of. It’s infuriating.
It would be a cold day in hell before I ever went into business with D2D again. I don’t need the angst.
I’m posting this under a pseudonym as I’m afraid to share my identity online. It doesn’t mean I’m a liar or a fraud.
I’m honestly surprised they answered me, too. Given that the original response I got said that if I wanted to appeal I’d have to do so in writing, that basically read to me as “you’ll have to send us an actual paper letter”. Which boy howdy was I not inclined to do.
And hell, it ain’t like I’m making any money selling my books through them. I’m not. So I don’t even have the clout of “high-volume author” to draw on here.
Right now I’m just trying to get this account review manager to try to commit to the idea that, in the future, they will perhaps improve their support procedures so that if this happens again to me or any other author, we actually are given the necessary steps to fix it. Rather than just going straight to “fuck you, you can’t ever have an account on our system again”, and shooting the account straight into the sun.
One thing that may have influenced this conversation might simply have been that I bothered to get pissed at them at all. Which is a thing fraudulent actors wouldn’t really bother to do. I have a legit email address and am carrying on a legit conversation on it, so that by itself kinda puts me a league ahead of any bad actor who’d just try to spit out an AI-generated garbage ebook and call it a day.
Wow, that sounds like a frustrating situation. It’s always frustrating when a company doesn’t communicate with their customers and then makes decisions that negatively affect them. Have you heard back from Draft2Digital yet? I’m curious to know if they will change their decision or if there is any way for you to resolve the issue.
I did hear back from them, yes, and it’s been resolved. I’ll be putting up another, final post. I’m still not pleased the whole situation happened, but now at least I have access to the account back, and i don’t have to rebuild it from scratch or try to reupload my books to it.
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