USHist no longer accepts PayPal
June 19, 2006 at 7:35 PM
Sellers Beware of PayPal
Last Updated April 24, 2012
|Strike 1||Strike 2||Strike 3|
I closed a bank account because it was no longer needed. I then removed it from PayPal. The PayPal account still had a debit card attached to it and had $169.31 of MY MONEY in it. My son went to purchase 2 items for less than $15.00. PayPal DID NOT allow the payment to go through because I was "over my spending limit". The money had been pulled from the bank account while it was still attached to PayPal and the account was a "Verified" account at that time and had been since November 3, 2000. They then un-verified the account (What? Did I all of a sudden become not me?). Therefore causing 2 "unpaid item cases" to be placed against my ebay account.
After calling PayPal customer service as stating I was going to report them to the U.S. and State of California Attorney Generals offices they temporarily removed the restriction so I could pay for the 2 items. Temporarily, as in I again can not spend MY MONEY that is held in MY PayPal account. Imagine going to your bank to withdraw some money and being told you are over your withdrawal limit so you can't have YOUR money, PERIOD.
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On June 19th 2006 at about 7:30 PM, PayPal found tobacco items on our web site. (See the email from PayPal about this.) On one of our Props pages we had 1 cigar type, a tin cigar box with 4 cigars and 4 reproduction period tobacco packages which contained tobacco, being sold as props not tobacco (see below). Although we were unaware of it at the time, PayPal restricts the sale or purchase of tobacco (although they allow the sale of alcohol) with PayPal. They site a vague reference to varying laws in different jurisdictions and the problem of verifying the purchasers age (I have no clue how this is not the same for alcohol sales, which require a higher age and in some places are totally outlawed (IE: dry counties). Yet, alcohol sales are not against PayPal's rules.). They "Limited" the PayPal account linked to this site so that I cannot receive money, take money out, ship orders using the PayPal shipping option, remove any email addresses (for example to move one to our personal PayPal account that is still fully useable), remove our bank account links to this PayPal account thereby preventing PayPal from taking money out of them and kept over two thousand dollars that customers sent to PayPal to be given to me for the purchase of items from this web site. PayPal's official policy is that THIS DECISION can not be appealed, although my PayPal account representative attempted to appeal this decision after I had removed the tobacco items from the page they were on.
Because of this problem, PayPal's attitude (not including my PayPal account representative) and the treatment I have received from PayPal; I CAN NOT and WILL NOT any longer recommend PayPal to anyone! I believe that "if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem" and since I feel PayPal was Heavy Hand and acted with absolute disregard to the damage that their actions could and would have on their customers. I feel that their "Customer Service" position is one that benefits ONLY PayPal and that they will do things that violate the contract and the trust that they have with BOTH the seller and the buyer, even if the transactions involved DO NOT violate the "User Agreement", the "Acceptable Use Policy" or any other PayPal rules. Think I am an isolated case? Check out http://www.paypalsucks.com and do a search for "PayPal Sucks".
PayPal has kept ALL the money (over two thousand dollars) in my PayPal account. Even if they return it after ONLY 180 days it seems unjustified and I have to rely that they will return it. PayPal says they will return it after 180 days IF I request it (Why should I HAVE TO REQUEST it, it's not PayPal's money so I would think they should AUTOMATICALLY return the money after 180 days). If it is not illegal for PayPal to HOLD someone else's money, without an existing legitimate claim, it should be. Paypal claims that they are keeping the money on the pretext that there COULD be credit card charge-backs (IE: no existing legitimate claim.) during the next 6 months. If that is in fact the reason they are holding that money, then there should be no need for them to have access to my bank account. If the retain access to take money from by bank account, then they should not need to hold any money in the PayPal account. IF ANY AMOUNT is to be held by PayPal, then the amount held should be equal to a 6 months of average credit card charge-backs on that PayPal account. Of course by PayPal holding the money, they are in fact increasing the probability of credit card charge-backs. The PayPal account holder has not received, nor have access to the money, that the buyer sent for payment. As such the purchase price HAS NOT been paid to the seller and should the seller deliver the purchased items, he is doing so without payment; only with the hope he will receive the payment eventually from PayPal. This is NOT PayPal's money that they are keeping, it is the seller's money that he gave to PayPal in good faith with the intent to have PayPal then transfer it to the seller for payment of items purchased. By the way, none of the money that PayPal is holding is from the sale of tobacco products, as I have not sold any tobacco items in many months.
If at least some of these actions DON'T violate laws, they should. It is about time the government decided that "if you look like a bank and act like a bank" you should be regulated like a bank.
PayPal's actions and attitude seem very arrogant. This seems to be a very one sided association, where PayPal stacks the deck totally in their favor. They seem to have no concern or interest in the customer, beyond what they can make off of them. Certainly not a positive customer service position. I guess I am under the delusion that business provide a service to their customer in a way the is beneficial to both. I think the "No Appeal" position especially shows this.
I have a problem with the fact that PayPal shut down my PayPal account with no warning and officially allowed no appeal to this decision. To allow no appeal to a decision implies that the decision was made by someone that is infallible. As far as I know PayPal is not infallible, only God is.
I was not aware that the sale tobacco was prohibited by the "Acceptable Use Policy" which has changed over time. I do not know when this restriction was implemented. Although I technically should have been aware of this restriction, it is difficult to be aware of everything in PayPal policies that are contained within at least 2 huge documents. It takes some digging and several clicks to even find the tobacco restriction IF you go looking for it. And I don't think anyone can be realistically expected to do hundreds of searches to verify whether anything they sell violates some PayPal policy.
I was willing to remove the tobacco items from my web site and have done so. The items were removed from the page they were on while I was talking to my PayPal account rep when I first became aware it was a problem. The "include page" with these items was manually deleted from all three servers later that evening.
I have had a very long relationship with PayPal:
I am not sure that these items even violated the intent of the restriction. I am not in the business of selling tobacco, as such. These items were listed in the Props section of the web site with a disclaimer that they were not intended as a way to buy tobacco but were offered for use as props or conversation items for reenactors. It also said that they were not guaranteed to be fresh. When Google looked into my site, they also have a restriction against the sale of tobacco, they decided that my offering of these items DID NOT violate their restriction against the sale of tobacco, as I was selling reproduction items that happened to be tobacco and I was not in the business of selling tobacco. To apply this to a site with over 750 web pages and thousands of items, for 6 tobacco items (that are not even intended for use as tobacco) on only one web page would seem to be excessive.
I don't believe that this restriction has anything to do with "the many difficulties inherent in assuring that tobacco sales comply with applicable laws" or else the sale of alcohol using PayPal would also be prohibited. I believe that it is a Corporate decision that PayPal does not want to be involved in the sale of tobacco, even indirectly. Although companies have the "Right to Refuse Service", I am not sure that this doesn't go way beyond the intend of this. To go into the business of supplying a service of handling Internet credit card payments and then limiting that service due to personal opinions would seen to me to exceed the normal "Right to Refuse Service" principal. If you want to limit your service, beyond anything illegal, maybe you should find another business to go into.
PayPal's own spoof email department considered the "Notification of Limited Account Access" email, sent by PayPal to notify me of this action, to be a "Spoof" email.
PayPal uses different terms to refer to this action in various places. They refer to my account as "Limited" in some places and "Closed" in others.
PayPal says "Please log in to your account and update any necessary information, as PayPal cannot be held responsible for incorrect information provided by the account holder." Yet they do not let me update important information such as deleting bank accounts or emails. Perhaps they will use this later as an excuse to NOT SEND me the money held, after the 180 days elapses.
I have problems with the fact that PayPal either hasn't addressed or doesn't care about what could be major consequences to a recipient of this or similar
actions by PayPal. In a sense, you could say that the punishment PayPal invokes for this type of infraction far exceeds the severity of the infraction; EVEN IF the sale of tobacco
items were a major part of the business, which in my case they certainly weren't and that assumes that you disagree that my intent was to sell props, some of which involved tobacco,
not sell tobacco.
On several occasions I have lost credit card chargeback claims, even though I provided PayPal with tracking information that showed that the customer had received the merchandise. So far in all these cases the customers have been honest enough to send me a check or money order to replace the funds that PayPal had returned out of my PayPal account. When I called each customer and explained what the charge was for, they said that they had received the merchandise and were happy with it. They also did not understand why it went through as a chargeback, because they had not filed a credit card chargeback, but had only requested information on who the charge was from, because the did not initially recognize it. Of course, in all these cases PayPal said it was not their fault, that they had done everything that they could and they had tried to defend against the chargeback. They said it was the credit card companies fault, because they made the final decision. It is interesting to note that I have NEVER had a chargeback on my merchant account, only on my PayPal account.
After many discussions with PayPal, they have suggested that we run all PayPal payments through one (1) PayPal account. Although this is an accounting and organization nightmare, we are again accepting payments through PayPal. At this time we cannot afford a standard credit card merchant account due to the monthly fees and minimums. I am also not comfortable with the security implications. We are looking into the alternatives and may change things in the future. I still don't see why two separate and unrelated businesses can't each have their own PayPal account, even if the same person (the webmaster) is the contact person for both businesses!
Because the PayPal buttons shopping cart that we had used before has limitations, we are looking for a better shopping cart and will implement one as soon as we can. Unfortunately as we had to remove what we had prior to December 6th, it will take some time to get a shopping cart implemented. Please stay tuned.
Note: About three or four months later I was assigned a PayPal Account Representative. When I told him about the 3 account problem and the fact that the 2 business accounts were for separate and unrelated businesses, he gave me permission to create and use a third PayPal business account. All the hassle, all the time wasted, all the time separating the orders by company from the single PayPal account; only to be able to go back to the separate accounts when I finally was able to talk to an account rep.
PayPal has had a rule that an individual can only have two accounts. Because I personally already had two PayPal accounts and would also be the contact person for USHist, I had concerns as to whether that would violate the policy. SO BEFORE we even opened the PayPal account for USHist we call their customer service and explained that we wanted to open an account for USHist and that USHist was a Corporation. We were told at that time (9 months ago) that because it was a corporation and a corporation is an entity itself that it DID NOT violate the policy.
For the last 9 months there have been no problems. On at least 3 occasions we were asked why the three accounts and as soon as we explained that one was a Corporation the subject was dropped. One of those occasions was with a PayPal customer service supervisor when I was charged twice for a $900.00 purchase (which turned out to be a bank error).
Then on 12/5/2001 I called the PayPal customer service to suggest that they add size and color options to the PayPal shopping cart. I was again asked why three accounts and again explained one was for a corporation. This time the representative pushed that you weren't allowed three accounts and I kept saying the USHist WAS NOT my account, it belonged to a corporation and that I was only the contact person. At the end of the conversation I THOUGHT that everything was OK. NOT SO, about 5 minutes later I received three emails informing me that ALL three accounts had been frozen (Account Restricted - details).
I have no spent nearly a full day to resolve this. It has involved AT LEAST six phone calls, most to people who basically said "That's the rule, NO exceptions, we don't care if the third account actually belongs to a corporation and we will not escalate this problem to someone involved with making or reviewing a policy to see whether PayPal's actions were appropriate and followed the intent of that policy". I did finally on my last call reach someone who was willing to be reasonable and tried to help me make changes to my contact information. Unfortunately, that would require a new person to be added as a signer to the corporate bank account. Because of banking rules and the difficulty of making changes to corporate bank accounts that could take a week. I do not have anyone that I could/would add to my personal bank accounts, so that I could then change the associated PayPal account.
I cannot afford to have all three of my PayPal accounts frozen for a week or more and it would not be fair to my customers or the people I make payments to using PayPal (IE: eBay purchases). I cannot send money or access the money customers have sent me for purchases as long as the accounts are frozen. And, I can't afford to send out merchandise to customers on the hope that PayPal would resolve this and I would EVENTUALLY be able to receive the money.
I have therefore reluctantly closed the USHist PayPal account in order to save the other two. I am hoping that PayPal will eventually allow the corporation to reopen its PayPal account and be able to use PayPal again for credit card processing. I do feel comfortable with their security and feel that they are one of the most secure ways to make Internet credit card purchases. Unfortunately at this time they have a policy that prevents USHist from having a PayPal account that will work under our corporate structure (I can't just give access to our bank account to anyone just because PayPal can't or won't use a reasonable criteria to determine ownership of PayPal account. Such as Tax-payer ID, bank account, etc.; instead they use contact name and phone number.)
I have been seeing a growing number of eBay sellers that say they no longer accept PayPal, I guess I have now been added to that list.
USHist Contact Info.
PayPal customer service: (888) 221-1161