Sunday, December 21, 2014

Apple App Store Affiliate Payments

Dr. Drang:

But I am annoyed at PHG’s policies for releasing funds. First, there’s the 60-day delay between the sale and the payment of affiliate fees. Given that all these transactions are electronic, I don’t see why the delay is more than 30 days. Second, there’s the $30 threshold that has to be met before payment is sent. I understand that PHG doesn’t want to accumulate the administrative costs that come with lots of very small payments, but Amazon’s threshold is only $10 if you have the money sent directly to a bank account. Finally, there’s the fact that PHG applies the $30 threshold not to the aggregate of all fees, but to each individual currency used in the various iTunes Stores.

It’s this last policy that really bothers me. At the moment I have the equivalent of about $100 in fees from non-US purchases sitting at PHG, but because they’re spread across several currencies, I can’t collect any of it.

I’m guessing that the 60 days is related to credit card chargebacks. My own affiliate sales are even more modest than Drang’s. I barely cleared the $30 USD threshold for the first year. Most of the other currencies are under $3. For the last couple month’s, I’ve had a mystery $33.19 credit in my bank account from American Express. Neither the bank nor the credit card company was ever able to tell me where it came from. After reading Drang’s post, I logged into PHG for the first time in a long while and noticed that Apple had automatically paid me that same amount. I still don’t know why the credit shows up as from American Express, given that all my other Apple payments show up as from Apple.

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The 60 days isn't just for credit card chargebacks. Many interbank transactions can be reversed unilaterally within that 60 day window; there's never a "this transaction is final" event, merely a "it's too late for the bank to undo this transaction without your consent" date. This includes a lot of transactions that look to the customer as finalized -- the bank is actually assuming the risk when they irrevocably give you the money, and if the transaction is undone they just eat the costs. (Which is part of the reason they charge fees for things; it's a kind of self-insurance)

It's important to remember, when dealing with financial institutions, that they're moving very hesitantly and with great reluctance into the '90s. (The 1890s, that is) It's pretty much a given that the more research you do into how the world financial systems work, the more horrified and appalled you'll be.

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