Why is Amazon sending me money?
April 25, 2014 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Amazon put a large deposit in my checking account for no known reason, and I'm trying to find out what the money is from.

I was checking my bank balance online and was surprised that it was higher than I thought. Then I saw that I had a rather large deposit (a couple hundred) a few days ago, labeled as:

AMAZON.COMxxxxxx Misc. Paym

Where each "x" stands for a number.

I have no idea what this is from. I am indeed a member of Amazon associates. That is due to a website I have, related to a TV show, that earned me some money a few years ago when the show came to DVD. I haven't gotten any payment from there in a long time, and a search of my email shows that Amazon Associates even sent me an email on April 1st stating that I had not earned enough during the quarter to receive any payments.

Some googling took me to payments.amazon.com which I was able to login to with my normal Amazon account, but it showed nothing in the transaction history, for any time period I sent it to.

I've searched my gmail for:
-Any messages from Amazon around the time of the deposit
-text referring to the amount of the deposit
-the string of 6 numbers listed with the transaction

And found nothing. I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I'd like to know where this money came from so that I know it's not a mistake. Any ideas on how I can find out?
posted by LaurenIpsum to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you talked/chatted with Amazon Support? I always find them to be incredible helpful.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 12:12 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

In order to direct deposit payments, Amazon uses ACH, which only uses routing number and account number as the keys. Perhaps someone mistyped their bank account number and you received their payment?
posted by tomierna at 12:14 PM on April 25, 2014

Do you buy ebooks from Amazon? There was a recent class action settlement for anyone who purchased ebooks by certain publishers.
posted by telegraph at 12:14 PM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do you buy ebooks from Amazon? There was a recent class action settlement for anyone who purchased ebooks by certain publishers.

The payouts from the settlement were dispersed as credit specifically towards Kindle books, so I don't think that's it. (I received such a refund/credit -- the money sat in a separate bucket on Amazon from my regular gift card balance, and I was alerted with a specific email.)
posted by alleycat01 at 12:19 PM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Just a heads up, telegraph, it was provided as much as I'm aware of, in the form of an ebook only credit. Both my kindle and nook credits were dispersed this way.

I'm thinking it's a miskey of routing information and it's someone else's payment .... or there's a huge backup in payments and it's now getting to you.
posted by tilde at 12:20 PM on April 25, 2014

If it was an ACH payment, then your bank should be able to assist you with getting some more information. They should be able to call the sending bank and obtain a contact phone number. It may be an Accounts payable number or something that is more specific to this transaction than the main Customer service number. The bank should also be able to give you an ACH trace number which Amazon could use to track the specific source of the payment.
posted by saffry at 12:58 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

And if it was an ACH payment be prepared for it to just unexpectedly be reversed without bothering to inform you. The stories of these screwups and subsequent reversals (which sometimes have bit people on the ass when they didn't expect their account to just diminish in volume w/o their involvement) are legion if you go looking.
posted by phearlez at 1:34 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Any chance you used to have an Amazon Associates account affiliated with an old bank account and just updated it? I did that and got a surprise payout (not a couple hundred, but certainly larger than what my normal payments had been).
posted by jabes at 4:34 PM on April 25, 2014

Upon further research, it was possible to request the credit as money (instead of a Kindle credit), but it had to be explicitly requested in advance.

In any case, I think you should contact Amazon.
posted by telegraph at 6:17 PM on April 25, 2014

Do not spend the money.

Sounds like it was deposited in error. As such, the bank is liable to reverse the deposit with no warning. Follow the advice here about doing some investigation, but please, leave the money alone until it's sorted.
posted by valkyryn at 12:03 AM on April 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yes, deposit error. My bank did this once, over $1k! I called them and they sorted it out... I'm sure someone is waiting for that!
posted by jrobin276 at 1:49 AM on April 26, 2014

Once $40,000 appeared in my bank account. It disappeared very quickly, I'm sure when whoever it belonged to missed it. Call your bank, and call Amazon. Don't spend it until you know it's not a mistake.
posted by catatethebird at 9:24 AM on April 26, 2014

Thanks for all the answers so far. I called Amazon Associates, who checked my account, as well as Amazon Payments, and they have no record of sending me money. I asked if someone could have mistakenly entered my bank account number, and they said that's not possible because the account would already have been verified (with test deposits, etc) before an actual payment is made. Also, Associates payments are made at the end of the month, not the middle, like this one was.

So after being on the phone for an hour while they checked and checked, I still have no answer. They said they aren't able to look up transactions by date/amount to see what it's related to.

So, any other thoughts? I used to do Mechanical Turk, but stopped after only earning a few dollars. I used my seller account once, over 5 years ago and had already been paid for that. I am not an author or anyone who sells merchandise on Amazon. I did not buy enough ebooks to get that kind of money back on them. I'd love to believe that I am suddenly a few hundred dollars richer, but having this money is making me uncomfortable if it's not really mine and therefore I can't spend it.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 9:11 AM on May 5, 2014

Has your bank gotten back to you yet on the source of this?
posted by tilde at 12:33 PM on May 12, 2014

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