Tuesday, December 6, 2011

And a Merry Freakin' Christmas To You, Too, PayPal!

*Warning: This post contains no foul language. The same can not be said of the links. Just FYI.

I am furious. Read this: http://www.regretsy.com/2011/12/05/cats-1-kids-0/ and tell me you're not absolutely incensed. The short version (and this is as short as it gets) goes a little something like this:

April Winchell, the founder of humor blog, Regretsy, decided to run a Secret Santa campaign to deliver toys to 200 vetted children in need this Christmas. Many may only get this one toy, and a few may only get this one Christmas. April put a PayPal "Donate" button on the site, and encouraged readers to contribute whatever they could to the cause. My heart grew three sizes as, within a short period of time, the goal was met, and enough extra was raised to also include a monetary donation to the children's families--not much, but enough for a nice meal or to pay a bill. I even tossed in a fiver, myself.

PayPal froze April's account. They said she used the wrong button, made her refund all monies that hadn't gone through, but kept their fees.

Here's what they told her:

PAYPAL: Only a nonprofit can use the Donate button.
ME: That’s false. It says right in the PDF of instructions for the Donate button that it can be used for “worthy causes.”
PAYPAL: I haven’t seen that PDF. And what you’re doing is not a worthy cause, it’s charity.
ME: What’s the difference?
PAYPAL: You can use the donate button to raise money for a sick cat, but not poor people.

April did as told, and then tried again, this time using the correct button, and they did it again, this time freezing her personal account as well, for six months. No idea why. For kicks, I guess. They told her she'd have to start a new website to take the donations; that it was suspicious because the buyer and recipient lived at different addresses (really?); that they knew what she was doing and "weren't going to play games". Lovely.

Anyway, she, again, had to refund all money. Of course, PayPal kept their fees on that fundraiser, too. Plus, anyone who donated has an outstanding transaction on their account, so they can't close them.

The toys had already been purchased (through PayPal, who kept those fees), so the children are getting their toys, thanks to April's generosity (since almost all of the money was refunded), but there's no money left over for the monetary donations. Merry Christmas.

In case you're interested, there's a wonderfully researched and well-presented explanation of all six ways from Sunday PayPal has wronged this fundraiser and the people involved with it. There are screen grabs and everything, and it's a very interesting and enlightening read, especially if you have anything to do with the PayPal company.

Today, after an onslaught of emails, twitters, Facebook messages, phone calls, and even faxes, the PayPal people have said they wish to make a donation and will try to help April with this mess. I certainly hope they do. Unfortunately, it's hard to see this as anything more than a half-hearted stab at turning around some extraordinarily bad publicity. Seriously, what's more vile than stealing from little kids at Christmas? I guess Mr. Potter, Ebenezer Scrooge, and the Grinch are more than works of mere fiction. I think I need a drink.

***UPDATE! The PayPal company has unfrozen all remaining assets, including April's personal account, and a deal has been made where PayPal will donate $100 to each of the $200 families.

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