Is Epic the Next COPEAC? Non-Payment Stories Grow.

According to affiliates and various insider forums, Epic Media Group’s Affiliate Division, formerly known as Azoogle, has not been paying their bills to affiliate publishers.  The rumors of theseissues have been popping up since last summer, with some  affiliates on message boards pointing out that in their opinions that there has been excuse after excuse on why they haven’t been paid. As one of the top networks in the industry, any financial problems that they are facing, could be a bad sign for the industry as a whole and have a significant impact on the financial stability of companies that depend on their payments.

We had written to several people at  Epic Media Group to offer explanations about what was happening over there. Unfortunately their VP of Marketing had recently resigned, and it was hard to reach anyone. Luckily we did reach someone, and was promised an interview to address these and other issues. However, almost two weeks passed since that promise and we haven’t heard back to address these issues.

We had hoped to hear their side of the story, instead of just affiliates and to find exactly what was going on over there, hoping to quell any rumors and uncomfortably about the company.

While Epic has been a standard in the industry for over a decade, it seems in my opinion that there are issues with the company, but no one will address what these issues are, leaving many to assume that the company is having a cash flow problem. Often companies with cash flow issues will start paying selectively, in order to try to recover over time. Instead of paying everyone at once, they will pay out those who are continuing to contribute to the network, and ignore dead affiliates.

GalaxyGold on DigitalPoint Forum, points out that this seem to be what is happening over at Epic.

 Azoogle / EpicDirectNetwork is not paying most of its affiliates since may 2011. Reason they are telling them is of “technical nature”, sometimes “Bank Issue” and some times their AM’s just avoid affiliates. Is this really happening? I my self have 4 months of earnings stuck there and still I hear every time I ask them stories that I’ll be paid next week and this keeps on and on. I was even told those who are doing good volume with them are getting paid but average affiliates are not. Is this really happening with you as well? It started from a simple excuse “Bank Issue” with me and Now I hear from some folks who used to be with azoogle that they are having cash flow problems. If that’s the case, Is azoogle still a #1 choice for Affiliates?

Affiliates on Warrior Forum responded to my question about Epic payments

 Paused traffic with the delayed payments last summer. Still can’t get paid outstanding amount. AM is no longer there and accounting told me they’re only paying active affiliates (still delayed). I guess you write it off or sue them………. There has never been any direct communication from the company about the payments matter; totally pathetic way to handle the situation. I think they’ve built up a lot of ill will with everyone they’ve silently screwed over. I doubt they’re around for long. I can’t imagine who would still do business with them (unless getting paid weekly, in advance!!!) They used to be great though AZOOGLE; a few years ago… Had a lot of fun at the parties. Time to move on.

Another Affiliates shared the following story

I haven’t been paid by them since July 2011… They owe me from Aug 2011 – Jan 2012 total of $1761.25. I have been getting the same story for months about problems they had in the summer and they are still sorting it out and I have emailed many of the people that work there and I get the same answers they have no clue when payments will be released. The most recent was from Samir Jordan which was referred to me by Blake Baldwin which is like the 3rd network manager my account has had since Jan 2011. Also Samir told me to email Matthew Mirman VP of Network Distribution. I have not heard back from Matthew as it seems they are just bouncing me around until they figure out whatever they are trying to figure out. I have stopped promoting all ads with Epic and have been telling others to do the same.

Some are comparing Epic Direct to the unfortunate story of  COPEAC, which faced payment problems last year and just recently shut down. Both companies had been hit hard with re-bill issues when the same Acai advertising didn’t pay their bills. However, unlike COPEAC, Epic hasn’t been sued by the FTC or had many of the same legal problems.

Even the normally quiet Jason Akatiff (CEO of Ads4Dough) commented in a forum, seeming to point out that the cash flow issues were correct, but defending them:

Azoogle is a few months behind in payments. They’re having some cash flow issues from what they say which should be remedied by end of year. We shall see. They’re saying everyone will get paid 100% it’s just going to take a while.

Additionally, Epic is considered a fairly stable company, with a major display division that is seen as one of the top players. There has been no major discussion their their display division has been having issues or display publishers coming out of the woodwork making similar claims. It’s very possible that this is just a strategy to increase their value, albeit a very bad strategy that has hurt their brand.

There was rumors that Epic was trying this year to sell off its affiliate division, and perhaps was not paying the bills in order to make it more profitable or keep it from taking money from the main company. An insider at Neverblue confirmed that they had in fact spoken to Epic executives about buying Epic out, but nothing came of the discussions.

We have also found that Epic is involved with several major lawsuits, including being pursued by Essociate for Patent Infringement. Additionally, Quicken Loans has filed a lawsuit against them, claiming damages as part of another action. We have found also that they are going after an major advertisers, for non-payment of more than $1 Million.

So what does all of this mean? I guess time will tell how Epic fares with these issues, but at the moment in my opinion, it seems that they are facing an uphill battle to recover their now damaged brand. If this is only a temporarily setback, which we all hope, they have to regain the trust of the affiliates to move on. The company has some great executives and has cut severely many overpaid VP type positions that with salaries over $350k a year. I’m pretty sure that they will make the right decisions to save their network, but I thought the same of COPEAC and was surprised when stopped paying completely, answering phone calls.

Still, with several other large affiliate networks shutting down in the last year, people have a right to be wary and wonder about the future of the company. Hopefully they will be more open with their affiliates and publishers and start addressing what they are going to do to change in the near future.

 

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