I had a subscription system running under WP-MEMBER for about a year before that software flaked out on me. Multiple domains caused problems that were irreconcilable. I had donations for our work in Africa coming in (not through wp-member) and a few hundred subscribers to Informer through wp-member. All said, when I switched to Suma, I had 10,000$US in my personal paypal account. That was my family’s support money as well as money for our food program in Kenya.
So I shopped around and picked up Suma. In the process, we had to switch to a business account (although I don’t understand why…wp-member was happily doing recurring payments without a business account). That’s when all hell broke loose. Paypal required a proof of non-profit status (we’re not a non-profit yet, no 501c3 paperwork from IRS) which we don’t have (I selected the wrong box I guess) a printed bank statement (harder to get than you might realize, being overseas) which because a REAL problem because the account was in my name, not the business name and other information. Because I couldn’t provide some of the info (501c3 paper) and the other info (bank stuff) took a LONG time, PayPal restricted my account, meaning my subscription payments are bouncing, and I can’t transfer money out of my account.
PayPal has frozen my assets. We have no source of income beyond the car money we just spent in Kampala on Monday. I may very well have to return to Kampala and get the car payment money back to live off of. We are stranded financially and physically without a vehicle because of PayPal.
I’ve called (Contact PayPal Customer Support toll-free at 1-888-221-1161) to lift the restrictions, but they tell me to email service. Emailing service is ridiculous, and a week goes by between responses. Last I got from them was that I couldn’t talk to them because I emailed from an address that wasn’t on the PayPal account. So I had to create another email account, and try again (a painful process).
Now they are telling me that the bank info I provided isn’t correct because the bank account isn’t in the business name. Now I have to switch bank accounts in PayPal (again, overseas, less that dial-up, VERY HARD), get another statement to them and hope they accept it.
At that point they will probably deny me again because I haven’t sent them the 501c3 papers.
I asked to switch to a for-profit account (even though we’re not) through the “PayPal resolution center” but have received no response. This would remove the requirement for the 501c3 paperwork, but I have no faith in this process because everything submitted to the resolution center must be in a graphic format (png, jpg, etc) and I was forced to take a screen cap of a text document explaining my case. (I mean seriously??) Nothing from them on switching to a for-profit account.
I’d love to go back to having a personal account, but I can’t even imagine how I would request that, how long it would take, or if it would even be possible,
The bottom line is PayPal has frozen my assets (which aren’t theirs.. how can they do this?) including all the support money my family is relying on.
I’ve spent hours on the phone (on hold) to PayPal at approximately 30 cents a minute to try to get this resolved only to be told to use email. I’m considering legal action over this.
HFC is at a complete standstill. We can not order shirts for the conference. Subscriptions are bouncing. Informer is down. Subscribers are (rightly) pissed because they don’t have what they’ve paid for. I can’t order the items for the DEFCON auction. There are too many problems to list here. The biggest is that PayPal has locked down my family’s survival money.
I have no clue what to do at this point.
Does the EFF have any leverage? I can’t tell you how tempted I am to just turn to the dark side here and…
I might have a temp solution, check your mail.
Can you setup a new account at https://www.obopay.com in the mean time so people can get you money???? There may be other services like Obopay and paypal that you can us until this issue is resolved.
Good luck my man! Let me know when I can send money!
One contact, via Simple Nomad: http://twitter.com/simplenomad/status/2651148783
Keely Fox is the current PR person for paypal, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-844-6284 http://bit.ly/1ao6rt
PayPal is not a bank. They’ve done this to people before (freezing assets for various reasons) and their resolution process is slow at best. I would strongly urge you and anyone else to NOT use PayPal with any significant amount of money, nor should you rely on availability of funds at PayPal. I wish you & your family the best in getting this SNAFU un-FUd.
Walkabout Tigger wrote:
“I am also not above working my way down this list
until I get to a human being to have this issue resolved. I imagine them receiving dozens of calls would have a rather expediting effect on their customer service team.”
I’d start with Dickson Chu, Vice President of Global Product and Experience. Dickson.Chu@PayPal.com http://www.linkedin.com/pub/dickson-chu/0/10/280
at the absolute very least, if you were to cancel service all together would they at least SEND your money some place else? this whole mess doesn’t seem like something they want to get to the bottom of quickly, especially since it benefits them to keep your money in limbo longer.
there is no question the right thing to do is keep the white hat on in this situation. the moment you turn to the sith ways you loose any credibility you have to deal with them according to proper policy. that being said, if my family were on the line i can promise you my faith would have waned far into the neither regions of rage by now.
fight the good fight brother, just try to stay in contact and remember you will always have friends here.
Unfortunately that’s how paypal is, they are amongst the only games in town and as a result you have to play by their rules and they’ll treat you like it’s your privilege to store your money with them.
I just heard back from Keely Fox with PayPal PR, she says your account has been restored Johnny.
Let me know what I can do. I’ll send you cash via Western Union as well. Also, Ryan, Thor and I are working on getting the book project underway. We’re discussing ideas with Rachel now and Elsevier is on board with trying to make this happen. Good things are going to happen this year. Do me a favor, email me. If I can run interference on getting some of the 501c3 paperwork done, I’ll hop on that. Maybe we can avoid these issues in the future. Also, we need to discuss the first “Hacker Trip” out there, as well.
I am horrified to read this is happening to you; it just breaks my heart to see someone who is so dedicated to helping others having to struggle through such a mess.
Please let us know if there is any other way we can donate/send money to you in the interim. Lots of people obviously want to help. I will do my part by Digging this & linking it up on my Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, & Tumblr accounts as well as something on my blog later today. I only wish there were more I could do.
Namaste, friend, and stay strong.
Just emailed a contact at paypal. Maybe you’ll get a call soon.
I empathize with you and your situation, but PayPal cannot be entirely blamed for this. When you sign up for a business account, there is an agreement you have to sign and you should have read it. It seems like not all of your ducks were completely in order, which they should have been.
PayPal runs by a set of rules. Follow the rules and everything is fine (mostly, they are definitely guilty of screwing people over unjustly). I’ve been using PayPal exclusively for the past 7 years for all my billing and have never had any problems I didn’t cause.
That said, I withdraw my PP balance religiously because I can’t trust my money with an institution that isn’t regulated like a bank. It’s a big risk keeping all your eggs in a basket with a PayPal logo on it, not one I would take.
I run bustatheme.com (uber popular wordpress site) and have extensive experience in both writing wordpress plugins; and working with IPN. Feel free to email me if you’re looking for help in getting set up.
Unfortunately, PayPal is not a bank and is under no pressure to deal with you money like a bank does. The minute you give them any money, it’s theirs. If they they give that money to who you wanted it to go to, that’s great… But they aren’t required to. It’s in their TOS/etc.
The same goes for money already in your account. They can seize it at any time and not give it back. They do this quite frequently. Most sites give up after it happens to them 2 or 3 times.
I will be very surprised if you ever see this money again.
From what I have heard the situation has been corrected by Paypal. I would wait for a confirmation from Johnny though.
Ok that was supposed to be a joke, sorry was in bad taste.
I am praying, will put this before my church to pray for. I’ll see what I can do to get a media frenzy going. If this doesn’t resolve itself by Sunday I’ll put a call into Leo (the TWiT Army numbers in the thousands) on his nationally syndicated radio show (he has called out AT&T on it before over one of us TWiTs having a problem). He also doesn’t really like PayPal. So, by all means it should resolve itself quickly enough.
I’ve had the bad luck of running afoul of the PayPal gods, it was dealing with stuff in Uganda too…
I’m not sure how much this will help, but get in touch with Jon Gosier (@jongos on Twitter) of Appfrica.net – he’s in Kampala as well, and might be able to help in the short term until you get this stuff fixed.
Johnny, just tell us — what can we do to help?
I had a similar problem with PayPal. I selected non-profit because this is how I would classify what we do. However, we did not have 501c3 either so they froze the account.
I just told them that since we are not actually a non profit we ARE supposed to pay taxes for whatever goes on in that account and they should switch us to the correct setting.
Just tell them that you are not a non-profit yet and they should treat you like any other business.
That was enough to resolve the issue for us. We had under a grand in the account though.
I’ve made that same mistake as well for trying to switch over my personal to a nonprofit and it took a week or two to fix.
What I would recommend is starting the process by emailing email@example.com then call them and ask for a manager who can start a review on your account to restore access.
I think that’s the process I went through, but it is rather annoying, especially since you can actually switch your business info after the fact but you stay locked out.
Paypal did this to Ron Paul in the midst of a national election and didn’t care about it. They need to be regulated and watched MUCH more closely.
I agree, paypal is an evil website, like their partner Ebay. I had problem with ebay very similar to what you have encountered with paypal. Eventually I told them to F*** off and freeze my account. After reading your posting here I’ll probably go close my paypal account too. Best of luck in your endeavors.
I will contact everyone I know that maybe can help. That may be just raising the awareness level or funding. Let me know how I can do to get some cash to you.
I will be praying for you.
I have heard of many internet marketers who used PayPal being screwed over that way for no good reason. Maybe a search on that will bring you to someone who finally got resolution. Sorry I can’t remember specifically who got screwed how, but with your serach skills I am sure you could trun up someone. I do know most suffered with the same drawn out “customer service” you are experiencing. If I run across anything in my files I will post. I’m in hectic mode and I just ran across this post today.
Sent this out to the SANS Advisory Board as well, and I will speak to the relevant people at work tomorrow to see what we can do to help out.
The company that I work for heavily supports charities in a rather large way, so let me see what I can do. Please can you contact me though to let me know how to get best get hold your details, as if I can persuade work to help out then I’ll need to get hold of you.
Just know if you decide to sue you will have alot of supporters this has happened to countless people.
Paypal very sucks for always. So weird processing sometimes. I have faced many times. We shouldn’t use it anymore. Its security terribly affects our usability, and accessibility
Hey i think the paypal problem is solved now…..i heard a pretty interesting story that you told some of my friends at Defcon….about paypal releasing your account within few hours of this post :)