Friday, November 06, 2015

Consumer Advisory: Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware) For Indie Authors Using "Book Tweep & Ebook Promoter"

Hello All,



During this era of what seems to be a second revolution of the printing press by means of the digital Internet. The rise of Independent Authors or Indie Authors has exploded from the blogs to the ebook to paperbacks. I count myself amongst them riding this current societal trend for the last decade or so. This period reminds me of the gold prospectors of the 19th century California 49'ers. Where in American History tens of thousands of men went to the Western United States particularly California to mine for gold. In the process causing horrendous environmental damage as the technique of strip mining came into the modern age.

Aside from this only a minority of gold prospectors ever struck rich veins of gold. Be it as dish panners at a river bed or stream or deep in the belly of unstable mine shafts. Of those that struck it rich most pissed away their new economic wealth having never before experienced it so quickly. In parallel we the Indie Authors have found ourselves in a similar fervor to date. By hoping for our works to strike gold and to develop a reputation of prestige in such a vocation or calling of the heart and soul. Much like the historical American 49'ers of Californian 19th century era. The Outfitters as the logistical suppliers that made a killing hand over fist equipping those gold miners and prospectors. These small business operators from the reputable to the fly by night selling defective gear and equipment. Which sometimes were sold as unneeded equipment for the task at hand occurred wholesale in that society.

Unfortunately today is an unusual entry from my characteristic self. Where I offer spiritual wisdom by means of inspiration and empowerment and my innovative conceptual designs as solutions for an endless tomorrow. This blog entry post is a Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware) advisory for Independent Authors as consumers of online social media book marketing. From two particular websites apparently owned by the same outfit. They are "Booktweep.com & Ebook Promoter" (bookpromo.net) what follows is my opinion and experiences with this online small business seemingly based out of India. (India is my guess since "bookpromo.in" redirects to "bookpromo.net")

Below is my personal experience and may not be indicative of other customers past or present. However their customer service was basically non-existent when it came to responding to my customer email inquiries. This is my story first dealing with "Ebook Promoter" online they friended me on Twitter offering their online social media marketing services for Indie Authors. A few weeks later I checked them out and it appeared legitimate from a cursory glance. I subscribed for the monthly subscription of $9.99 US via Paypal.com. The account was tied to a "Mr. Durgesh Pratap" which later on turned out to be by my speculation a remote account that was seldom attended by anyone.

I set up my order for their Twitter, Facebook, etc... social media marketing of one of my books. I received an auto-responder that my order was received and a 2nd email from Paypal that my payment was made and I had set up a monthly subscription to "Mr. Durgesh Pratap". Two days go by and no response. I shrugged it off and waited a full week and started to get concerned. I emailed the customer service email of: jaydpromo@gmail.com and my message was never acknowledged like it went into a black hole. Two weeks go by figuring I was screwed out of my $9.99 US. I attempted something creative I messaged all the Twitter accounts by private message for help. None responded, I then came across one that auto-responded with an email link which I followed that link to a email that did work! It came from "Book Tweep", which at the time back in August of this year 2015 "Book Tweep" was part of "Ebook Promoter" service. (It seems there is a secondary market of buying and selling Twitter accounts at least or I presume there is such a practice that have large followings?)

I sent a partially desperate and embittered email to "Book Tweep" asking for their company to honor the $9.99 US I paid upfront. I didn't receive a response by email, but within two days or so my marketing Tweets began appearing. At first it was by 5 Twitter book marketing accounts I didn't fully recognize, minus the lone @BookTweep account I did recognize. This went on for a period of two weeks time until towards the end I was only being Tweeted by 2 of their accounts.

It seemed that the "Ebookpromo.net" was a derelict website since all of their Testimonals were from 2013. That I noticed at first but didn't think anything of it by assuming they were still in business. Also all the social media icons in the upper right hand side of their website are presently outdated and/or are bad links. I had subsequently canceled my Paypal monthly subscription with "Ebook Promoter" shitty service. I received only about $5 dollars worth of service from a $9.99 US rate I paid for a months time.

Thinking to myself I chalked this up to a bad experience I moved on away from these amateurs. A week or two later I noticed "Book Tweep" broke off from "Ebook Promoters" with their own service of $8.99 US a month. The "Ebookpromo.net" website also got slightly updated since losing the "Book Tweep" Twitter account and a few others. The new "BookTweep.com" website is very sleek and intuitive in its presentation compared to "Ebookpromo.net". Knowing that "Book Tweep" gave me a honored pro-rated amount after I reached out for help from them. I sent them an email asking if I signed up to their newly offered service would they cover my 3 books on a rotating basis for the one monthly subscription. I received a response with an affirmative that they would do so.

So I signed up to "Book Tweep" thinking there was no former association with "Ebook Promoter" that later on proved to My Mistake once again. I paid up front my $8.99 US for my first month installment and in a day or so my Tweet's from their 3 Twitter accounts began marketing my one book. I again assumed that my other 2 books would begin to appear in my marketing Tweets. They didn't after the first week and so I sent a follow-up email asking why and never got a response. The service continued until day 28 of this first month and my marketing book Tweets stopped without notification.

I didn't realize this had happened since I had another company also tweeting my books. So my Twitter account Notification column was constantly flooded with alerts. I paid my 2nd monthly installment of $8.99 not realizing the service stopped cold turkey on day 28 of the first month of tweets. Two weeks go by and I look at my Twitter Notification alert column and these folks dropped me without an email or a refund. I sent a polite but firm email asking for a full refund of my 2nd installment of the monthly subscription. Again I never received a response, it's like emailing a black hole!

This time I started a dispute with Paypal to get my money back which Paypal uses a two tier process for customer / merchant refunds. The first stage is disputes which is hashing it out with the merchant or seller and the 2nd stage is a claim. After the 1st week I escalated my Paypal dispute to a claim. One thing I failed to mention is that the "Book Tweep" Paypal account is the identical "Mr. Durgesh Pratap" nobody home customer service outfit. I later concluded that "Book Tweep" was a spin-off by a "Mr. Jay D." (perhaps Mr. Drugesh?). Another two weeks go by as a Paypal status claim and it seems the "Drugesh Pratap" account never responded to Paypal claims staff is my speculation. I was awarded as a refund by Paypal my 2nd installment of  $8.99 US, which I canceled the monthly subscription with "Book Tweep" a week earlier.

By the look of it both "Book Tweep & Ebook Promoter" have customers via their Twitter account feeds and affiliate Twitter accounts. I hope those are happy customers, but in my case I was screwed twice without the respect of being responded in any of my initial and follow-up emails. So be careful fellow Indie Authors in using their social media book marketing services. Another item before I close their customer service weblink of http://jaydpromo (.com) (Don't Use the Link, my Norton Anti-Virus blocked it as a Web Attack). That is listed in their Paypal invoice when you first sign up to both "Book Tweep & Ebookpromoter". Leads to a fake customer support scam alert that my anti-virus of Norton spared me from on my PC computer. So food for thought from this bad actor outfit based out of India at least in my personal experience.

(* I searched via Linkedin.com for "Mr. Durgesh Pratap" and several Indian names appeared. So it seems this is a common name in some respects. Please forgive me if your duplicate name appears here from someone else in social media marketing eliciting a poor reputation from my perspective.)