The Abyss of Meta/Facebook support
Have you ever watched an episode of Mad Men? That intro, of Don Draper falling into a never-ending series of pictures? Yeah, that’s what dealing with Meta support has been like for me, let me tell you a story….
I am a writer. Self-published. In the past I have done some slight attempts at getting an agent, and attempting the traditional publishing route, but for now, I’m doing it all. I don’t mind, most of the time. I’ve learned a lot, made some horrible mistakes, and had some great surprises. It’s been a fun ride so far, and I don’t regret it.
One area where I’ve always had to fight through it, is marketing. Ads. It doesn’t matter if they are Amazon ads, Facebook ads, or one of the more niche places that self-pubbed authors advertise. It’s not my natural inclination to try and sell things, or myself. But, to have any success in this game, you have to be willing to do it.
Oddly enough, my best success has been (or had been) Facebook ads. It’s a strange animal, Facebook ads. Far fewer targeting options than Amazon or more book centric places, but for some reason I found success there. I was doing ok and running two ad accounts. I had two simply because in the past I had already run into issues with their business support. I had updated the expiration date on a credit card I was using for the billing, and they locked the account for a week, flagging that simple change as potential fraud. As eighty percent of my sales come through Facebook ads, that was a painful week. So I made a second account, just in case, and everything was running well.
In December of 2021, I was offered a chance to change both the ad accounts to net 30 payment terms. This was a great thing for me. Before, the ads accounts were on payment threshold billing (remember that term gentle reader) when I would hit it, I get billed for all the money. Net 30 means I get billed at the end of the month, and I have 30 days to pay it. As I am an Amazon only seller, including Audible for audiobooks, I get paid by them on the 29th of each month, and the net 30 would be due on the 3rd, right after. Wonderful for cash flow. I eagerly signed up for it.
I made changes to how my cash flow worked to line up with the changes. And all was great, for two months. Two months were everything worked. And then, March came along. See I had some other expenses that month that I was paying for out of my ‘book account’ and since I don’t like to leave things to chance, I went to pay the March net 30 on one account two days early, instead of letting it automatically charge my account then. Two days. That was all it took for everything to come apart.
When I went to pay, the American express card I was using (for the points, it’s a Hilton honors card) flagged the payment as potential fraud. I hadn’t used the card for that before, and I don’t blame them seeing a largish charge like that and checking to see if it was legitimate. I told them it was, and they said to do the payment again, and they would let it through.
But then the Facebook billing system…the headache that never seems to go away, struck. When I went to pay the charge again, the net 30 that was due in two days, NOT the current charges as those weren’t due yet, the system instead switched the payment to the current due. It’s a bug. You can select the current bill and the moment you hit charge it will switch it to the other charge. I realized what had happened in a few minutes, and annoyed, opened a ticket asking if I could get a refund, so I could use that money for the right payment. Or, barring a refund, could they allocate the money to the other current bill.
And that is where it all started. I made the ticket and was told, it will be 24-48 hours to get an answer. 48 hours was at the limit of when the current bill on that account was due, but I figured it was worth a shot. If I didn’t hear anything, I’d pay it and try to get it cleaned up afterward, right? Simple, easy.
No. Not even close. See, two things happened the next day. One, they locked that account (this was the backup account) and said they were ‘investigating fraud’ which made no sense, but ok. The billing date came and went, and I never got charged. Then, they unlocked the account saying all was good. I went to pay, since the account had been turned off since I hadn’t made a payment and… it wouldn’t let me. It would say the payment went through, but it never got applied and in fact, no charge ever got to any card I tried, even going through PayPal as an intermediary.
And then the fun really began, when the support team closed the ticket. No notes, no call, they just closed the ticket and said it was resolved. Now, my day job is in IT. I know how it goes. I know a lot of places expect a certain number of tickets to be closed per week or day, or whatever internal metric they want to use. I get that, it’s part of the way that stuff works. But… don’t close a ticket you haven’t fixed. Sad to say, this would soon become a reoccurring issue.
I reopened the ticket, which by the way, you have to log into the support page, find the ticket and respond to it within twenty-four hours of them closing it to reopen it but they never send any notification it was closed, you just have to go look. Sneaky, or underhanded? You decide!
So that ad account is down, but I have my main account, right? Well, I did. Until suddenly I got hit with an unexpected charge. Now, remember when I said they offered me the chance to move from payment threshold to net 30? It’s one or the other. That’s it. Yet, somehow, the account when I look at it says Net 30, and when they look at it, it says payment threshold. I sent them screenshots, and then… silence for a week. The payment didn’t go through, mostly because I wasn’t ready for it, not having expected it, at all. And so since the payment didn’t go through, my account was locked for non-payment. (Yay!)
After a week, they got back to me, saying that they don’t know what happened, or how it happened. BUT all is well! It’s fixed now. Just pay the current amount due, and everything will be back to net 30 only and all will work. On both accounts. So, I moved money around and paid both accounts and everything was good.
For twenty-four hours.
And then both accounts stopped working. Locked again. No reason given, just locked. Then they unlocked the next day on their own, worked for three days, and then, locked again, and refused to unlock. I, of course opened yet another ticket. You can’t call Meta/Facebook support. There isn’t anyone to talk to, and EVERY ticket you will get a new person. Or, persons, as I was about to find out.
First person who got the ticket: “Just pay the amount due and they will work. Closing ticket.”
Me: “That’s what you said last time.”
First person: “It will work, we are sure!”
Me: Attempts to pay, it wasn’t a large amount, just three days’ worth. Payment fails. On both. There’s money, but the system refuses to take it. “It’s not working.”
New person: “Closing ticket, have a great day! If you feel you have had good support, please let us know…”
Me: Reopens ticket “It’s still not working.”
New Person: “That’s very strange, let me bump this up to… the ‘Internal Team’
Now, the ‘Internal Team’ is a mysterious group. No one likes to talk about it, sort of like Fight Club. Tickets go in, and do they ever come out? I’m not sure. Rest assured, if a ticket goes to the Internal Team, you will never speak to them. They *may* pass information to someone else to tell you, but themselves? Never.
A week passes. I, watching my book sales tank, go and make a third ad account. It won’t be net 30, but at least I can run ads. But this is also a headache. See Facebook ads need training and time. And the older account is the better it performs. Starting from scratch is painful. It’s better than nothing, but painful.
I, being the annoying person that I am, ask for an update. Silence. I wait for a few days, and ask again. Silence. Of course I get annoyed and spend four days trying to find anyone, someone who can actually help, and not just give me the run around. My search was fruitless, and a massive waste of time. I tried contacting people at Facebook via linked in, I tried twitter, I tried emails, I tried whatever I could find.
But see, I’m not a big company, I’m just a lowly author. I don’t have a publisher to help, so… crickets. I’m a nobody to Meta. I grumbled but got to work training up the new ad account. And then, a call.
“We have really fixed it this time. We are sure!” She was a very chipper and nice woman. I’m sure she might have even believed it. So, since it was still only a little amount of money, I did try it. And it worked! For three days again. And the exact same error came. Money owed. Can’t make payment because the system won’t let me. They still see billing threshold on their side, and I still see Net 30 on mine.
Once again however they attempt to just close the ticket. No notice, just closing it. I reopen it of course, and then I get a call.. again.
She was a very nice different woman. I explain the whole saga up to that point, and after being on hold for fifteen minutes she says the dreaded words. “This has to go to the internal team again.” At this point I sort of imagine this internal team and a bunch of people in robes chanting from the Necronomicon over a server and hoping it works.
Now it’s not this womans fault. She was pleasant, and she must have apologized for all this ten times. She even says that once this is resolved, they will give me ad credit for my trouble. That’s nice of them, and since I know it’s not her fault, I agree to the mysterious internal team ‘fixing’ it again.
Another week passes, with no update. Then I finally get an email, saying that it’s fixed. I don’t have to pay the amount due, all is well. I go to look and it’s working. Now, since I’ve been burned twice, I wasn’t sure I believed it. But since It was working, I asked about that ad credit, I’m not one to let free advertising money go. I was told that they couldn’t just ‘give it to me’ I had to… drum roll please…’ File a ticket for it.’
I was told to do it, and to reference the other tickets as to why I should get one. And guess what? That’s a different ‘internal team. I do so, but having that familiar feeling in my gut that this wasn’t going to work.
Everything worked, until… both accounts tried to bill be for payment threshold. Again. AND had the same amount listed in net 30! So… yay me!
I opened a ticket again. Which they attempted to close with no contact at all this time.. again. Note, they had already closed all my old tickets, I missed that one. I reopened, again. I got a call.. again. I was told that they had finally really fully found out why my account had both payment threshold and net 30, and if I just paid the payment threshold amount due, everything would be fine.
I did so, and… the net 30 stayed there. Now I had just paid that amount, down to the cent. And yet, the system was asking for another payment. So I let them know, and they fixed it! Sort of. One net 30 went to zero, but the money in the payment threshold line.. came back?
The other account the net 30 dropped to just 150$, but that was it. And, neither will let me pay them, and both accounts are locked out.. again.
All over again.
To add to the problems, the ad credit was denied as ‘you have not met the requirements for an ad credit.’
They never say anywhere where the requirements are. Just denied, go away.
That was where things sat.. until today.
So today I got a call from Facebook. Assuming it was yet another support call I almost didn’t answer, but being the glutton for punishment I am, I answered. It turned out to be from the Marketing team. See, FB likes to try and get you to spend *more* money on ads, so they have these marketing experts call you and try to get you to change your ads to more expensive ones. I’ve yet to talk to anyone in the author circles who had any luck with the changes they suggest.
What surprised me was that she was calling about the two locked accounts. The two accounts that had been in the stygian abyss of support for months now. She had no idea they were locked or having problems, because… support doesn’t tell marketing that information.
I know she was just trying to be helpful, but she opened all NEW tickets. Which Facebook support answered in a few hours (I guess having someone in marketing make the tickets gets better notice.) But.. they said just pay the money, closing the ticket.
I pointed out I *CAN’T* pay it, the system won’t let me, but they close to two new tickets anyway.
So now I sit here. I still have a ticket open with the mysterious internal team, who may or may not ever come up with a solution. And of course Facebook keeps asking me for money to pay to bill, which I can’t pay, since their own system won’t let me.
I’m sure at some point they will tell me it will work, and it won’t. Or that they have really for sure fixed it this time… and they haven’t. Or they will just closed the ticket and hope I go away, which I won’t.
I could give up. I wonder if that is what they are counting on. I could throw my hands in the air, and forget the whole stupid thing and just concentrate on the new ad account, which is performing roughly half as well as the old one.
But I won’t. I don’t like to give up. The whole thing annoys me from both sides of my life. It annoys the IT support side of me and the writer side of me. While I’m long past my PC tech days, I can’t stand people being an ass about tickets. Basic IT is simple. Get problem, fix problem, forget problem and move on.
They like to skip the fixing part.
As a writer of course it sucks. Since this all started, my monthly sales have dropped in half. That’s painful. It’s not my main source of income so that’s good, but having it cut by that much due to no real fault of your own, and in fact due to the rather abysmal support offered to you makes it sting all the more.
I don’t know if anyone from Facebook will ever see this. But please, for all that’s good in the world.
Fix it for REAL.
Stop closing tickets that haven’t been actually fixed.
Organize your support better, I’ve heard the phrase ‘that’s a DIFFERENT internal team than the others’ way too much.
Whatever the bugs are in your billing system? Tear the whole damn thing apart and fix it. Excuses will not help.
Revamp the marketing assist calls. It’s not one size fits all. A self-published writer is going to have very very different marketing strategies than someone selling hair care products on their own websites.
Please. Fix it.
And stop breaking my accounts, ok?
I wonder if FB nightmare stories are like dentist stories: everyone has one.
I feel your pain. My partner is an author and I get to wrestle with FB marketing of her books. We both have backgrounds in IT, so we know the whole ticket/stats/KPM hamster wheel business.
My author partner has had those offers of a FB marketing support call, three times. I suspected these calls were for the up-sell. She has a US phone number, though we live in México. All books and all FB ads are in English. Three times, we have received the ‘Internal Team’ phone call, long-scheduled a week or so in advance. Three times, the caller asked ‘can you speak Spanish?’ When she said No, as she speaks little, the caller hung up, without further comment, each time.
So I am amazed you have tolerated this BS for so long. Dealing with Amazon is almost as bad but at least money flows out of there! With FB, money only flows in one direction.
I know. Every few days they send me a canned email stating “we are still investigating.” They like to send them now at like 2am my time and request a response within 24 hours or they will close the ticket. I’m hurting their numbers LOL
I wish I could get Amazon ads to work for me though… I just can’t seem to get traction.