November 01, 2007
Problems with Chitika's non-existant support and uncashable check payments
Publishers probably remember the Chitika audited payments scandal which saw many publishers earnings drop by about half, with some losing as much as 90% of the earnings. I was one of the victims, and ended up removing Chitika off the majority of my sites. I do earn enough with referral earnings and the limited pages I still run it on for test purposes to get a check a month. Isn't much, but meets the minimum check requirement and supports my Starbucks addiction :)
However, when my check arrived at the end of September, my bank would not accept it. Why? Because they had also printed someone else's check on the back of mine... complete with their name and earning amount (no, I am not going to say whose check I received printed on the back of mine). But whoever did the Chitika checks thought it would be fine to just simply use a pen and cross out the other check printed on the back of my check and then send it off to me. Well, funny, but banks don't seem to like a second check printed and scratched out on the back of a check I am trying to deposit!
So, fine, everyone makes mistakes, it should be simple to clear it up, right? Fire off a support ticket and get the check re-issued either immediately or at the very least, when the next payment for me is processed at the end of the month. Apparently not, it is definitely easier said than done. I submit a support request on October 4th, mark it as priority urgent and explain the situation. And get no response. So I follow up again two weeks later, on the 19th, again tagging it as urgent. And no response. So now here we are, one day short of two weeks after my last support request, and nearly a month after my initial support contact and my support ticket is still sitting as "Open" without a single response from Chitika. I can't imagine they have so many support requests that mine could possible go nearly a month without a single person looking at it or even sending a simple "Hey, I need to check this out, but I'm on it" response.
And aside from the fact I can't get a support response, then there is the privacy issue. I know I certainly wouldn't be happy if it had been my check on the wrong side, and this other person saw my payment amount and details printed on the check and check stub. But here I am with Mr. K's check printed on the back, knowing exactly how much he made.
And what about Joe Publisher who might really need that money for rent, mortgage or food? Not cool for Chitika to not even respond, even if the issue couldn't be dealt with immediately. Any response is better than complete silence. And Chitika's competitor's fix their payment issues when they pop up.
I did see my check for September earnings has just been sent, but no, the amount of the August earnings was not added to that, because I also had wondered if maybe someone had dealt with it but a response back to me was never made. No such luck.
Now, someone blogged today (and many times over the past month while I have been waiting for a response) from Chitika, so somebody is home. But it seems getting a support request answered is impossible. With no way to get a response from Chitika, I am basically writing off this amount since I can't get a response and will be removing the last of my Chitika from my pages, something I do know many publishers have done for their own reasons. But this entire situation is definitely a disappointment from someone who lived through the audit fiasco and lost a substantial amount of money because of that too. I know others have had issues with Chitika as well, and now no longer use them or recommend them.
Perhaps I should have challenged them to a Team Slayer match so I could have finally gotten a response from them, and gotten 4000 MS points to boot.
Update: I have not received any communication from Chitika other than the comments some Chitika people made to this blog entry, and a blog post they made. No emails or phone calls whatsoever, and my support request online simply vanished from my account, instead of Chitika posting something on it as a followup or the ticket being listed as closed. Ryan Travis of Chitika posted that the check was being sent Fed-Ex, but it just finally showed up today having been sent regular USPS snail mail.
Posted by Jenstar at November 1, 2007 11:45 AM
Hi Jen -
Yes.. somebody is indeed home :)
I apologize for the payment goof-up. Rest assured this will be taken care of immediately.
Unfortunately, when handling over 16,000 publishers and sending out payments via check, PayPal, and wire each month, you can see how human error may come into play. (In fact, you mentioned that even a multi-billion dollar company like Google ran into such an issue).
The bigger issue though, as you alluded to, is the issue of customer support (or seemingly, lack there-of). In truth, we have a dedicated team of customer support reps who not only handle questions that come into our ticketing system, but also actively jump into our online forum (https://chitika.com/forum/) on a constant basis to help out and offer tips to our publishers. I'm really shocked (and ultimately - disappointed) that your ticket somehow slipped through the cracks, and I guarantee you that I will be personally looking into what happened immediately to make sure this gets fixed.
On the other hand, I do want to point out that for the past 19 months, we have successfully processed payments to thousands of happy customers right on time at the end of the month. This is just one of the reasons that our network continues to grow at a rapid rate (you can see from Compete's stats - we are listed in the top 200: http://siteanalytics.compete.com/chitika.net/?metric=uv ).
So again, let me re-iterate that I am truly sorry about this, and tomorrow I will Fed-Ex you a check for the amount owed to you.
Posted by: Ryan Travis at November 1, 2007 04:01 PM
I am currently having better results from Widgetbucks so I too am loosing enthusiasm for Chitika.
Posted by: Rick Blythe at November 1, 2007 06:10 PM
This is quite a mix-up & terrible mishap on our part. Please accept our apologies as I will make sure this is fixed for you immediately.
Posted by: Karla at November 1, 2007 07:07 PM
It's great that Karla says everything will be fixed immediately, but what if Jen wasn't who she is and this happened to some small fry? How long would it take for this sort of thing to be cleared up?
Posted by: Gary R. Hess at November 1, 2007 08:58 PM
Woah that really blows, but it doesn't sound like the Chitika I know. I agree with Gary though, what if this happened to a small fry, like me? Lol. My Chitika "handler" has been really great and helpful though, and I've actually made friends with him over the months that I've been using Chitika, so it's a real shame that someone like that exists in such a cool company. I hope he gets booted for messing with customers and for giving Chitika a bad name.
Posted by: JErm at November 2, 2007 07:21 AM
If I didn't get a response in a day or so I would have called the phone number that is listed on the bottom of pretty much every page on their site. I suspect the issue could have been resolved quite fast that way.
Posted by: Jeff at November 2, 2007 07:43 AM
Jeff - it is a 1-866 # (toll free) however I do not live in the United States. There is not a regular phone number on the site at all that I could phone. Interestingly, that number is also only listed on the blog and on the bottom of the main index page, it is not on the account or support pages at all... go and check yourself. When you click the support tab, it wants you to submit a ticket for support, there is no mention of phone support at all.
Posted by: Jenstar at November 2, 2007 11:29 AM
"There is not a regular phone number on the site at all that I could phone."
The "Contact Us" page lists a regular phone number (508.449.3870) , as well as a support email address support at chitika.com).
Posted by: Jeff at November 2, 2007 01:02 PM
Once again our sincere apologies for this terrible inconvenience. We took care of it, and the check is on it's way: http://chitika.com/blog/?p=300
CEO, Chitika, Inc.
Posted by: Venkat Kolluri at November 2, 2007 01:44 PM
So Jeff, you are trying to blame Jensense for not phoning from outside the country or emailing too after she followed their instructions for getting account help? It's sure not her fault Chitika's customer service sucks. You are awfully defensive of Chitika and awfully aware of the ways to contact them. If I was a betting man, I'd say you worked for Chitika.
Posted by: Scott at November 2, 2007 03:49 PM
Personally, I find it amazing that ad agencies are still using old fashioned cheques for paying publishers.
Based in Europe, the only time I ever see a cheque now is when a US company needs to pay me.
Everyone else uses direct bank transfers.
It's quicker and cheaper for everyone and I really cannot understand why companies still insist on sending slips of paper in the post. It's archaic and out of date - and ironic for an industry which prides itself on being moderately close to the cutting edge of technology.
Posted by: Ian Mansfield at November 3, 2007 02:09 AM
Nope, I don't work for Chitika and don't use them. It certainly isn't Jen's fault that Chitika screwed up. But if I didn't get a response from a support ticket in a day or two I wouldn't wait a month and then blog about it. I'd look for an alternative means to contact them. As for being "awfully aware of the ways to contact them"... It isn't too difficult to find their website and click on the "Contact Us" link which is what I would have done in her situation.
Posted by: Jeff at November 3, 2007 06:50 AM
I'm wondering if the Chitika Publishers can file for workers compensation for the losses. 90% is way too much for publishers to lose!
Posted by: Myspace Generators at November 4, 2007 05:36 AM
Jen, I'm sorry to hear that you had problems with Chitika.
My experience couldn't be better. I never had any troubles with their tech support. In fact, Ryan is the best rep I ever had in any program. His replies are almost instant and problems, if possible, are solved promptly.
If they failed in this case, that doesn't mean that Chitika tech support sucks as somebody said. That's a puerile assumption.
The best thing to do is to try to solve the problem. Let them know what they did wrong and then move on.
I had the most bizarre problems with Amazon associates program, and even though, I don't think they suck at all.
The 90% loss is a exaggeration. At the beginning of the program they were doing the only auditory at the end of the month and I remember that they deducted me a 50% (a lot, of course) and many have been in the same boat. The average was between 40 and 60%. After all the complains, they changed the auditory timeline and if I'm not mistaken, they now perform a daily preliminar auditory and also they block clicks from non supported countries, which was something they didn't do when they started. Many measures have been taken to improve this. I'm not quite sure about how they perform the auditory, but now, in my case, it is below the 18% range.
Trying to make Chitika look like an unprofessional or unreliable company is not correct.
There are a lot of webmasters that had an excellent experience with the company, the system and the men/women that run Chitika.
I don't work for Chitika. I live in Argentina, and I'm not a star. Yet, I'm treated like one.
Posted by: Enrique at November 4, 2007 04:45 PM
It's not like Google Adsense ever responds to support either. They're the absolute worst of all the affiliate programs. Not to mention if you go on their Adsense Support Forum, you'll get click-bombed and have your account banned.
At least Chitika knows how to audit clicks, it seems something so simple that Google can't figure out in their hueristic approach of indiscriminitely banning people without proof.
Posted by: Dave (The Other One) at November 5, 2007 10:37 PM