Wednesday, August 14, 2019

It's Just Bad Business

Now, this is only peripherally a writerly type post, but bear with me...

Earlier this week, I got an email from Goodreads telling me that I have a credit on my marketing account or some such thing and that I needed to do something about it. 

First off, I thought it was a spoof email and I sure as hell wasn't clicking any links* in it.  Why did I think it was a spoof?  Because, to the best of my knowledge, I had never marketed with Goodreads or put any money into an account with them, so how could I have a credit?

Well, it turns out that at some point in 2015, I had done something.  My best guess?  They offered me a $1 credit to play with.  So, I used the credit to set up an ad for Dying Embers.  One person clicked the ad and then the ad was done.  Leaving a whopping 50c in my account with them.

According to the email, that 50c is going to become the property of the state of Delaware if I don't claim it.  (From what I gathered, I can contact support at Goodreads and have the money transferred into my bank account.)

Delaware?  But Goodreads is in CA.  Hubs says a lot of companies incorporate in DE, so that explains that.  :shrug:

Anyway, I've already wasted more than 50c of my time dealing with this, so I moved the email into the Archives so I wouldn't have to look at it anymore. But it stayed in my head. 

This is bad business.  It's also bad government, but I won't get into that here.  Think about it... Goodreads - a business - offers its customers a credit (not real money) to encourage sales of its marketing but when the credit isn't used in its entirety, they're willing to send the remaining credit as actual money to either the customer or, according to the laws of the state of Delaware, to the state of Delaware.  But it was never actual money.

I never gave Goodreads my account number.  I never transferred any money to them via bank or credit card.  It's not my money.

And it's not the state of Delaware's money.

It's Goodreads' own money.  Because even though it wasn't actual money when they gave me the credit, it's actual money now - ready to be plopped into a bank account somewhere.  Sure, it's only 50c for me.  But what if 1000 authors received the $1 credit and never put it to use?  10000?  Now we're talking money any one of us would certainly like in our own pockets.  Drop in the bucket for Goodreads, right?  Probably, but that's not the point.  It's bad business. 

And it's bad government because I'm sure this thing where they're offering to give the money back - well, not really 'back', per se - is driven by some strange ass law in DE. 

Part of me wants to claim the damn 50c because I don't want the state of Delaware to have it.  It doesn't belong to them.  But it doesn't belong to me either.  It belongs to silly-ass Goodreads.  And it always has.

Frankly, I'm surprised that a business like Goodreads would make such a gaff.  Especially since it's now owned by Amazon.  But the credit was given before the takeover, so maybe that's the answer.  :shrug:

Any of you get a letter like that from Goodreads?  Have you ever used Goodreads to market anything?  How'd that work for you?

* I don't click links in emails unless I know exactly who it's from, why I'm getting a link, and where it's going to take me.  In this case, I went directly to Goodreads and checked my marketing account (not easy to find, BTW) to verify that the email was correct.  No link clicking necessary.


  1. I don't think I've set up a marketing account on Goodreads. Unless I did so by hosting a giveaway... *shrug* And what's really crazy? At some point, your name will appear on a page for unclaimed property. It will say B.E. Sanderson, [your last known location] and then property amount--either over or under $100. At least that's the way the State of Oklahoma sets it up. Banks, companies, businesses--any entity with a fudiciary function has to turn over unclaimed property (that includes items in safe deposit boxes that have been abandoned), to the state. The state then gives "notice" by posting on their unclaimed property page. I often check all the states I've lived in, just in case, and have found and claimed stuff. Which reminds me...I need to do that soon. Anyway, it seems crazy for 50 cents but the law is what it is. Oh, and by the time you finish filling out all the paperwork and possibly having to pay postage to mail it to Delaware, you'll be out more than the original amount. Bureaucracy at it's finest. (Where's that sarcasm font when I need it?!?)

  2. I haven't tried marketing with GR. Sounds like it's not terribly useful.

    I don't know about coupons -- that part seems incredibly weird! -- but in California, if a bank account isn't accessed in a certain amount of time, 7 years I think, then the money gets turned over to the state. It goes on the unclaimed website-funds for a while before it gets swallowed up.