Why Lux Tenebrae no longer accepts Paypal. A story of sneaky fees, frozen accounts and being forced to make and send orders without payment.
I started using Paypal in 2003, and stopped in 2014. During this time they froze my account multiple times for no reason, withheld money, and reversed transactions that had already gone into my bank. Their worse behaviour (reversing my withdrawals and then freezing my account for 3 months and we are talking four figure sums here) happened back in their early days before they were part of the UK banking system and were still outlawed in some US states, an act which nearly put me into bankruptcy. The first few times this happened without any notification from Paypal, I found I simply could not log in to my account, I was suspended, they had the money that had just been paid for a wedding dress, but I still had to make the dress. Eventually, the reason given was there was too much body hair on one of my (male) website photos, and this was not acceptable in the US.
Fast forward to 2014, and whilst they have modified their behaviour to get in line with UK banking regs, they still have a tendancy to suddenly put a hold on your money. These days you get one of these emails:
'This money is being temporarily held in your pending balance. It will be held for up to 180 days. While it’s being held, it won’t be available for withdrawal.'
So that's 5 or 10k frozen for 180 days, but I still had to process these orders in the hope that I will at some point receive my money.
After numerous emails and calls, sometimes I could progress to this stage:
'We’ll move the money to your available balance after 21 days as long as your buyer hasn’t reported a problem. It may be available sooner if we can confirm that the item was delivered or, if this is an eBay item, your buyer leaves positive feedback.'
I would just like to point out, that since 2003 I have not had a single chargeback, or any case where my customers did not receive their goods, or were unhappy with my service. Never. Not one complaint against me to either PayPal or the credit card companies. Zero. Oh and I don't sell on Ebay.
'We apologize for any inconvenience caused and we appreciate your business.'
So, I've finally had enough. I'm leaving Paypal. Because once they freeze your funds, it doesn’t make sense to continue accepting money through Paypal if I can’t access it. With a secondary risk of me sending out goods and then not receiving payment. Not good.
So I'm out. Lux is joining the mass exodus of sellers, before Paypal can wreak anymore havoc upon us.
I have a great merchant banking system in place, the fees to me are tiny - only £15 a month irrespective of currency and amount (see article below about how Paypal are stealing sneaky money via currency conversion fees), and both me and my customers are covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (see below how you are not covered for purchases over £100 on Paypal, which let's face it are most items on this site.)
So, if you buy anything from Lux from today going forward, your payment will be processed by Shopify, Amazon pay or Apple Pay and will be displayed as such on your bank or card statement. And hopefully, this marks the beginning of a new hassle free era.
Further reading about the countless Woes of Paypal here:
(UPDATE, 24 hours after posting: it seems this blog post found its way to the powers-that-be at PayPal HQ and I received a phone call telling me that I could now access all the funds in my account. I’m grateful for that, but I still won’t be using PayPal again.) Over the years, I’ve heard countless tales of PayPal screwing over my friends who choose to sell products, services, or tickets through their system (UPDATE, 2 hours after posting: how timely — now it looks like Andy has got his account frozen, too). I’ve read numerous horror stories about what happens when PayPal’s staff blindly follow their draconian rules without applying common sense.......read more.....
PayPal's one of the truly ubiquitous names of the internet. It's been around since e-commerce first became a Thing, and it's even got its own Mafia. Like every Mafia, though, some of its practices are a bit shady, bordering on the downright nasty. It's time for that to change....read more....
I don’t usually write about the financial side of business. But I know many of my clients use PayPal and are probably facing the same situation that I have dealt with. So, this exception seemed to be in order....read more.....
Update July 2015 Via Martin Lewis' Money Saving Expert.com
You’re losing valuable Section 75 rights:
An ever-growing number of retailers now encourage customers to pay via PayPal, but if you’re doing it on a credit card – for items that cost £100+ – you’re missing out on valuable extra protection. That’s because using PayPal scuppers your Section 75 rights.
Section 75 says if you pay for something costing between £100 and £30,000, specifically on a credit card, the card company is jointly liable with the retailer.
- This doesn’t just protect you if the store goes bust. As it’s ‘jointly liable’, you can go straight to the credit card firm if the shop goes bust, doesn’t deliver, is abroad, or is just a pain in the bum to get in touch with.
- You have identical rights as at the store. In other words, if what you've bought is faulty, broken or doesn’t arrive, the credit card firm is obliged to put you right. Of course, if you just want a replacement or exchange and can go to the store, you may as well, as it's easier.
- As long as you pay 1p on the credit card, you’re fully protected. While the goods have to cost between £100 and £30,000, you don’t have to pay the full amount on a credit card. If you pay any amount on the card, and the rest in cash or on a debit card, the credit card firm is legally liable for the entire amount, as our ‘I got £23,000 back after paying just £200 on a card’ article demonstrates.
Here's what the Financial Ombudsman said about Paypal when asked to confirm -
"Although PayPal appears as the merchant on the cardholder's statement, it cannot be seen as the supplier in a debtor-creditor-supplier agreement under Section 75 because it merely acts as the payment intermediary by transferring the money from the buyer's account to the seller's account. Therefore it breaks that chain to be considered under Section 75."
In plain English, this means you can not claim from Paypal as you don’t have Section 75 protection.
Does that mean I’m completely unprotected if I buy via PayPal?
No. You have standard consumer rights from the retailer, and PayPal has its own buyer protection scheme – in itself that’s not too bad, yet it is inferior to Section 75.
First of all, PayPal protection isn’t the law – it's just the companies internal code; second, there are timing restrictions; and third, it only applies to 'misdescriptions' or misdelivery, as opposed to the much meatier SAD FART consumer rights rules you get via Section 75.
So if you have the option to pay via credit card for goods over £100 direct rather than through PayPal, at no extra cost, that's the better route.