What organisation actively campaigns against transparency, blocks charity drives indiscriminately, deprives young creators of their hard earned cash and hates the very customers that give them business? That organisation is Paypal.
People across the world have had the utmost horrific dealings with this sorry excuse for a company. Here are a few experiences.
SomethingAwful’s Charity Drive
When hurricane Katrina smashed into the city of New Orleans in America it left behind a trail of devastation unmatched in the history of the United States. It left approximately 1836 people dead. Federal and state agencies were slow to act leading to various private non-commercial entities to step in and provide aid for those who survived the worst of the storm.
The tragedy of the disaster was immense and the crowd at SomethingAwful (an internet parody site that mock everything and anything) decided to try raise some funds for the Red Cross who were trying to save as many lives as possible in New Orleans. As they wanted to name everyone who had actually donated to their drive on their website they chose to work through Paypal rather than the Red Cross who don’t give out details about their donors.
The campaign was a roaring success in terms of raising money. Within just nine hours they had raised $ 30 000 (approximatly R250 000) worth of aid. This kind of aid would go towards blankets, food, shelter, medication and medical services. Things that could mean the difference between life and death for the people trying to survive the Katrina aftermath.
This load of money prompted Paypals dreaded automated systems of indifference into action and promptly froze the account. No warning was given, no indication and no chance to give an explanation as to why so much money had been earned so quickly. It was then that the guys at SomethingAwful came to believe that, “Paypal's outlook is that every single one of their customers is a liar, a cheat, and a thief.” To see the argument for this stunning accusations read their post on the whole matter.
Eventually after battling with the grindingly slow Paypal support machinery and dealing with the type of staff where people have a “personal hatred” of you they just gave up and asked for all the money to be returned to the donors. They then found another way to donate to those in need and left this parting shot with Paypal.
“... I harbor a fundamental disagreement with their business practice of assuming all their clients are filthy criminals who must repeatedly prove their innocence to a series of unmanned servers and computer systems. I do not support their ability to freeze entire accounts, take money from whoever they want at whatever time they want, and impose whatever arbitrary rules and regulations they deem necessary without having to answer to any organization. Every single cent in every single Paypal account is earning their company ungodly amounts of interest in their central bank account.”
Minecraft, one of the most famous indie games of all time was not spared the wrath of Paypal. This time they withheld over $750 000(R 6,4 million) from the creator of Minecraft Markus Persson. They decided to flag his account as suspicious despite him having a history of receiving money for his game.
Markus was however aware that Paypal were known for there dubious ways of freezing accounts out of the blue and he had been clearing his account out every week. Naturally Paypal waited till his sales were doing really well and then froze his account and sat on the money earning interest while Markus desperately tried to get hold of them.
You almost feel his frustration when he says, “There's over 600 000 Euro in there. Money I was planning on investing in the new company.” To any entrepreneur or businessperson this kind of treatment should be ringing every single warning bell in your head.
There are so many stories that they really can’t all be listed here but let me point you in the direction of some more pertinent ones if you’re still not entirely convinced about what sort of company you’re dealing with.
Read about Chris Rossi here, a web developer in Australia who paid a coder for a plugin for his website. That coder happened to run an adult website on the side. Paypal banned Chris Rossi for life.
Another person whose conference was almost ruined by Paypal was Aral Balka, who prudently didn’t trust Paypal at all and withdrew all his money frequently. In fact what he had to say about Paypal was so damning it needed to be included here.
“Can you imagine what would have happened if I had trusted PayPal” Aral Balka. Read his story here.
Lastly, if you’re a Dr Who fan, go read here. In this case a charity book that was being created by Stever Berry to raise funds for Alzheimer's research had it’s account frozen by Paypal. They demanded that he produce goods before receiving payment even though he was asking people to fund the book.
Stay tuned for the second part of the investigation into Paypal. Where we look at how they went after an anti-censorship and anti-corruption website, how they treat customers who complain and how their own approach to security not only results in them screwing over their customers but leaves their customers accounts extremely vulnerable.