How My Ex-Wife Is Unintentionally Keeping Me Away From My Money

If you’re going to be goofing off on the Internet anyway, you might as well make some money at it, right? That’s how so many of us find ourselves doing tiny tasks using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk in the wee hours of the morning. Reader Alex recently started using it, too. He’s built up a nice balance, which he would like to withdraw using his Amazon payments account. Only he can’t, because that account is a joint one with his ex-wife. Who he never added to his payments account, but might have had a wedding registry with long ago. Now Amazon has locked him out of his payments account entirely, and he can’t fix the situation. Hey, $75 is $75.

I recently started using Amazon Mechanical Turk to earn a little extra money. You do these micro-tasks, like tagging photos, surveys, and giving opinions on products. In order to use Amazon MTurk, you have to have an Amazon Payments account; it’s how they send your money to you, via your bank account.

When I first looked at the account, I noticed that my ex-wife’s name was on it, in addition to mine. I figured this was because years and years before, when we got married, we’d had a wedding registry on Amazon, and her name was on it. Probably just some old data that had somehow migrated over to Amazon Payments. No big whoop. I went into the account settings, thinking it would be a simple case of taking her name off the account. Nope! No such option. Okay, so I then send a polite message to Amazon customer service, explaining the situation, and requesting that her name be removed.

The reply I received was…baffling. They said that because the account had been originally registered under both our names (it wasn’t, I’d had my Amazon account for years before I met my wife), they a) could not change the name, and actually, b) prohibit the joint ownership of accounts and requested that I withdraw the remaining balance on my account after which the account will be permanently suspended, and bonus: I would have to open up a new account, using a different email address.

Some fun facts: when you work on Amazon MTurk tasks, if you do it well (I do), you build up a good reputation, and an approval ratio, and you qualify for better and better jobs because of those factors. Add to that, if I was going to get a new account, why would I need to use a new email address?

I went around and around with them, via both email and telephone. Finally I spoke with a guy named [J]. on May 3rd, and he seemed to get it, that my ex had nothing to do with the account, that I had been jerked around, et cetera. He said he was going to elevate my issue to an account specialist. I thanked him, and breathed a sigh of relief.

Fast forward to a week later. I’d heard nothing from Amazon, good, bad, indifferent. I was finishing up a task (a rather involved one, worth a pretty good amount of money), and I got the completion code to put into the Amazon MTurk page. I put the code into the form, and clicked submit…and got this message:

—-

Your Amazon Payments account has been suspended

You will not be able to use Amazon Mechanical Turk until your Amazon Payments account is in good standing. Please contact customer service.

—-

Aw, hell. It was 2am my time (I’m in Chicago), so there was nothing to be done about it until morning. I sent a new message to customer service, just concerning the account being suspended, not even mentioning my previous issue, because I felt like based on my prior interactions, it would only confuse the issue.

I received a message back a few minutes ago, repeating the same story as before, they prohibit joint ownership of accounts, and that I should withdraw the remaining balance on your account after which the account will be permanently suspended. That last suggestion made me laugh, as due to the account being suspended, I couldn’t withdraw any money even if I were so inclined. Add to that, I have 45 tasks still pending and unpaid, for which I estimate I am owed upwards of $15; I have around $75 in my account now. This is just depressing; I’ve heard of PayPal being this awful, but not Amazon.

So, I’ll try to talk to the same guy I spoke with before, who at least seemed to understand the facts of the case. If that doesn’t help, I have no idea what I’m going to do. I’m open to advice. Thanks for reading.

Other than counseling patience, we also suggest dropping an e-mail to ECR@amazon.com, their executive customer service line. Include a link to this post, perhaps.

Comments

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  1. Blueskylaw says:

    “I should withdraw the remaining balance on your account after which the account will be permanently suspended. That last suggestion made me laugh, as due to the account being suspended, I couldn’t withdraw any money even if I were so inclined.”

    Right Hand, Meet Left Hand.

  2. Hoss says:

    $75. Get over it

    • Auron says:

      I’m curious: If your employer suddenly and without warning suspended $75 from your paycheck with no (logical) way of them releasing the funds to you. would you just “get over it”?

      • George4478 says:

        Of course not. People like him only hold this opinion about other people’s money. If it was his own, the bitchin’ and moanin’ about it would be deafening.

    • Lethe says:

      Really? You’ve never been in a situation, or know anyone who has, where you would have actually needed an extra $75 to pay a bill?

    • Admiral_John says:

      And if it was your $75 you’d be the first person submitting a story to this site complaining about it. Lose the self-righteousness.

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      Fuck you; $75 is two weeks’ worth of groceries. Three if I really try. Or two tanks of gas.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Not to mention, that represents hours and hours of tiny tasks to build that much up. It’s a lot of his time he’s basically wasted to earn it.

    • jiubreyn says:

      This story is about more than just the $75 being tied up. It’s about the time and effort he put into building a reputation completing said tasks. It’s easy for someone else to say “Get over it.” when it’s not their problem.

    • Difdi says:

      Get over yourself.

  3. jiarby says:

    get a job delivering pizzas

  4. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    I’d send an invoice to Amazon for services rendered. Added to the list would be the QA task, an additional $500, for finding a flaw in their process. Could be entertaining.

  5. CubeRat says:

    Well, I don’t think this idea would help the OP but it might help others. Is it possible to buy something on Amazon.com and use the payments account? I too would rather have the $75+ in cash (and this thing sounds interesting), buying something might be a solution.

    Also, as to the new e-mail for a new Amazon Payments account, you can open a e-mail that you only use for this payments account. And use your work phone for the phone number. Once everything is cleared up, wait a couple of more weeks and change your phone on Amazon (you might want to get any money owed first so it’s not tied up). You can do the same with the e-mail if you want.

  6. Tacojelly says:

    cut your losses and get a new account

    • temporaryerror says:

      But he’s already built up a reputation, and gets better paying tasks as a result. If he opens a new account, he has to start back at the bottom again.

  7. Timbojones says:

    Here’s another fun one: you can’t use the same Amazon Payments account for Mechanical Turk and for Kickstarter. I had an Payments account that I set up to do MT stuff long ago when it was first announced — so long that I had forgotten about it and was a little surprised when I decided to fund a Kickstarter project and my account already existed. But when I tried to send the payment, it gave me some cryptic error message.

    When I contacted Amazon customer support, the rep had to cancel my MT account, then I had to create a new account to use with Kickstarter.

    DUMB.

    I used to love Amazon a lot. This experience, and the locked-down suboptimal experience on the Kindle Fire (when I know Android is capable of so much more) makes me love Amazon only a little.

  8. MarineCorps says:

    I’m pretty sure that this just proves that Amazon outsources their payment CS as the difference between them and normal amazon CS is like night and day. All I have ever gotten back from them is canned responses.

  9. Kestris says:

    Amazon Payments IS awful. A few months back, they sent me an email stating that they needed my tax info or my account would be suspended.

    Even after providing it when I originally set up the account 5 years prior, I sent it again. A week later, they sent me ANOTHER email, stating it could not be verified, please check to make sure it was correct, which I did and again sent them.

    2 days later I get a notice that my account is suspended because they still failed to verify my tax info. Cue my trying to close the account because, quite frankly, if you cannot verify my tax info on your end, then it’s a problem on your end, not mine and I can’t be bothered to deal with such a faulty company. I immediately removed all personal information and bank accounts associated with the account- that was supposed to be the first step in closing it- then sent an email requesting it to be closed- that was supposed to be the final step.

    It took 3 WEEKS to get it through to them I was NOT trying to set up an Amazon Marketplace account, that I already had an Amazon Payments account and that I wanted to close it. I kept getting sent to the wrong CSRs- the ones that dealt with the Amazon Marketplace accounts, instead of the Amazon Payments only accounts. After a final, very strongly worded letter in which I laid out every way THEY had failed up to this point, and stressing that it was an Amazon Payments account I was trying to close, I finally got through to the correct CSR and was able to close my account.

    Come to find out, it wasn’t just me that had this sort of issue with them, several others I know had the same issue and it also took them several weeks to get their accounts closed as well.

  10. joako says:

    How about just use the money and don’t worry about the name??

  11. erinpac says:

    If they do not allow joint ownership of an account, why is there even a spot for a second person’s name to appear?

  12. freelancing says:

    I wonder how many millions of dollars Amazon has stolen from customers at the tune of $75 here, $5 here and $1000 there. A friend of mine bought some expensive software – and didn’t have time to open it or install it when it arrived because of major car trouble rocking her world. After getting her car to the shop, the estimate was $800, so she listed the software on Amazon’s page for this software where you can sell your own stuff. It was brand new, still in shrink wrap and she sold it for about $100 less than Amazon was selling it for so she could get her money out and make her repair.

    The software sells within 2 days and she dutifully shipped the package with tracking. The recipient signed for it and the tracking number is in Amazon’s system. They have flagged her new seller account, however. Then asked for her to provide answers to questions such as “how do you manage your inventory?” and “what is your DUNS #?” – she’s an individual selling her own stuff and while Amazon got paid by an individual customer, Amazon refuses to give my friend her portion of the money. It makes no sense. She’s at her wits’ end as she cannot afford to make a car repair – yet the money ($800) for it is sitting in Amazon’s tight fist.