"ONLY SIX WEEKS, QUIT YOUR WHINING"May 5, 2001 (Updated May 31, 2001) Write an essay on this topic.
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I've been here exactly one year now. I joined Epinions on May 3, 2000, and wrote and tentatively posted my first piece four days later. Coincidentaly this is my 150th piece. While I realise that s not an overly impressive number, I'll live with it.
To celebrate this double event, I decided to post a little rant, er excuse me constructive criticism. I went back and checked and I've only put a couple of other general comments pieces up before. Therefore I'm well within the 10% rule.
I read that earlier here that one really shouldn't be posting more than 10% of their Epinions as General Comments. I've noticed a couple of blatant abusers of this on the site recently. The person with a total of 20-25 Epinions of which 18-23 are just General Comments. Little or no reviews of anything, just general venting. There has been some call to the effect that no moneys should be paid for these pieces, mainly because of the preponderance of them lately.
A lot of these recent rants have been about royalties being dropped to a penny a hit and/or bemoaning the fact that it may now take up to six weeks to get a cheque. A large number of these Cassandra wannabees have equated this to the inevitable demise of the site. Personally I don't think I'd want to book a trans Atlantic cruise with any of this doom and gloom brigade, especially in ice berg season.
Everybody seems to be whining on how they can no longer hit the redemption button every time their penny count reaches $10.00. They're limited to one cheque a month and the fact that it may take a month and a half to get it. Grow up people and quit your whining.
Have you really convinced yourselves that this is a major source of income. Unless your name is Ptiemann, or a few others, it's not. Doubt me go and look at your hits and divide by 100. Not impressive is it. Maybe it's time to go out and get a job, and while you're at it get a life too.
Now I realise this doesn't apply to the great majority of us. We long ago realised that this is a place to come and have a little fun, and maybe learn something along the way. A little pocket change is a nice bonus.
Don't get me wrong, I'd probably stop contributing if they stopped paying. Mind I write for a living and to be honest what I make here is well below scale. There are other reasons though why I still bore you on occasion here, aside from the monetary rewards such as they are.
Any ways back to the six weeks. Like I said I joined a year ago and didn't get my first cheque until around the end of February this year. Six weeks, I can do that standing on my head, I waited ten months.
It's not that it took that long to amass enough pennies to qualify for a cheque. There were other factors. Those like me who don't live, work or play in the states might want to take note. This applies to you too.
First when I joined Epinions only paid out to those who lived in the US. Those of us in the rest of the world were of course welcome to contribute, but as for seeing anything for our efforts forget about it. I was told that they were addressing this problem and would resolve it shortly. I figured what the hell and started posting.
By August, I'd built up a fair collection of piece on here, and a decent WOT. The accumulated hits were adding up to a fair amount every week. Mind I was doing mainly travel stuff at three cents a hit. However still no word on when we could sit a t the big kids table and cash in.
Around this time there was the great exodus over to Themestream. Ticked off at the non payment policy and other things, a couple of writers here pulled their stuff and went to work for the competition. Soon others followed, including a few who were drawn by the ten cents a hit that the new kid on the block was offering to entice new writers.
I joined up and began merrily posted over there. I didn't pull my stuff from here though. I gave myself a deadline of one more month for Epinions to start paying or else TS would be getting a whole bunch of slightly used travel articles and the TOS be damned. I really doubted that Epinions TOS would stand up in court even if they chose to take it there. Especially as I had yet to be paid.
At the proverbial last minute, I got an e-mail form Epinions congratulating me and letting me know I was no a real person and could be paid. Great let's cash in and blow the found money on something important. I think there was enough for a beer or two.
Not so fast skippy I was told. You just can't get a cheque that easy, after all you're a foreigner and this here Internet is an American thing don't you know. Check out it's name WWW, that stands for American Wide Web don't you know. There are rules here and you're going to have to follow them.
OK why not, how bureaucratic can this get I thought. First rule you've got to have at least $100.00 in your account to redeem it. No problem, I've got that and then some, send it to me. Nope we need for you to have a TIN. A TIN what the hell is that I asked, and they told me.
A TIN for those who are curious is a Taxpayer Identification Number a sort of Social Security Number for those without a Green Card. I was advised this was necessary because Epinions had to report my income to the IRS and they might want a cut.
I nicely pointed out that Canada and the US have an existing tax treaty and no withholding taxes are deducted. It is up to me to declare the earnings from the US on my Canadian tax return and be taxed accordingly. Something which I do by the way, but then I'm an honest bugger. It must be the Irish Catholic in me, the guilt thing.
Oh we know that, Epinions wrote back, but we still need a TIN. As an aside I pointed out that a regularly wrote for US based magazines and newspapers and they'd never asked for this. They just mailed my cheques in lovely US Dollars which I cashed when the exchange rate was favourable. Even Themestream who I'd been writing for for less than a month had already sent me my first cheque automatically.
No sorry, no TIN no cheque. So I resigned myself to it and acquired and filled out the necessary forms. Being Canadian and having worked for our Government I'm used to bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy. Canada has over the years has developed this to an art form unto itself. I gotta give it to you Yanks though, your IRS comes in a close second.
After filling in the forms, they needed proof of who I was. Being too old to get a note from my Mommy, besides she lives a thousand miles away and wouldn't write it for me any ways, I went to plan B. I sent them notarised copies of my Passport, Birth Certificate etc. etc.
Four weeks later I received a nice letter in the mail from the IRS. Gleefully I opened it hoping my magic TIN would fall out. No such luck, there was nice letter telling me that the proof I'd sent was unacceptable. Never mind the fact it was as per the instructions from them., it wasn't good enough.
I tried phoning them to discover what to do now. The IRS it appears has never heard of e-mail, would some kind soul out there explain it to them, that'd be nice. After a day of enduring long distance voice mail hell, I gave up and decided to start all over.
Obviously Canadian notarised copies weren't good enough for the US Government. Canadians being foreigners after all. This time I sent them originals. A spare copy of my Birth Certificate, an old NATO photo ID card and whatever junk I had lying around I thought I could spare.
I even threw in a buck to cover the return postage with a note explaining what it was for. A Canadian SASE wasn't going to work I knew that, and it was too much bother to get US stamps.
Four weeks later another letter. Finally I jumped up and down with joy by my mail box, drawing really strange stares from everyone else in the lobby of my apartment building. Inside again no TIN.
However there was my dollar back. There was also a nasty formal note explaining that a representative of the US government couldn't accept a monetary gift. What the hell did they think I was doing, trying to bribe them with a buck.
About this time I gave up and consigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to get a cent from Epinions legally. A week later another IRS letter arrived. I was a little more cautious opening this one.
For all I knew I was being indicted on charges of attempting to bribe a Government official and this was a summons. Hey I already had a record with Canada Customs as an admitted Moroccan produce smuggler (See my review of Broke Down Palace for the sordid details) and a history with US Immigration (ditto my review of Greyhound).
This letter simply acknowledged that my application for a TIN had been received, more to follow. Follow it did, a week later another letter came telling me they were reviewing my application. Soon after a third advising that my application had been accepted.
I guess I'd dodged the bribery bullet. About once a week I received another letter from my buddies at the IRS charting the progress of my TIN application. I was feeling quite close to them by now, a bond had developed.
When the last letter arrived I almost didn't notice it. I presumed it was another notice telling me where exactly in the process my application was. I wonder does the IRS get a kick back from the US Post Office, for the all the business they supply them. We were well over $1.00 in stamps by this time.
I almost tossed it in the recycling bin unopened. Good thing I didn't. Inside was my long awaited TIN. There was also a nice letter congratulating me and addressed to "Dear Taxpayer." Hey the whole purpose of this exercise had been to avoid paying taxes.
Now I had to send a copy of the TIN to Epinions along with the requisite paper work. Fortunately they were willing to accept a copy, either that or my Moms' note worked. Soon after I received verification they had received it and I could finally redeem my Eroyalties.
As we were now well into December, and had started this around Labour Day, I figured I might as well wait until the end of the month. The last week of the month I e-mailed in a redemption request. According to the records my request was granted with due haste and a cheque was cut and mailed out on January 31, 2001. Hey only four weeks after my request, that was fast.
Of course I didn't get it right away. Around mid February I was still waiting for the cheque and e mailed customer services. This is how I found out the date the cheque was produced.
I was also advised that I was the first Epinions International member to redeem their Eroyalties and be issued a cheque. Whoopee is there a prize with that. What I should have done is what dozens of other "International members" had been doing.
Basically lying. Claiming they were US citizens and having the cheques mailed to friends and/or relatives living in the states. As you can see honesty is it's own reward.
The cheque eventually did turn up a couple of weeks later, at the end of February. Canada Post must have been feeling threatened by the actions of the IRS and decided to demonstrate to me that they were still the masters of incompetence. They delivered it to the building next door to mine, even though my address was clearly visible on the envelope.
The guy who they delivered it to hung onto it for a couple of weeks before giving it to my building super. He then passed it on to me. I guess the guy next door couldn't cash it at the local Money Mart. I was just about to leave for Costa Rica and it came in handy as extra spending money down there. What you though I'd use it to pay off bills or something.
Now you see why I have little sympathy for someone whining about six weeks. Any ways it says up to six weeks, you may get it sooner. it all depends on when your request is processed in relation to the cheque production schedule. After one or two cheques it should be easy to figure out and put in your redemption requests accordingly.
By the way, I'm about to submit another redemption request. Anyone up for a side bet on how long this one takes.
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