PayPal Bans Talking Bad About PayPal

Paypal has just sent out it’s Notice of Policy Updates for 2017.  Among the standard raising of rates, one new clause in the agreement caught my eye – the “non-discouragement” clause which makes talking bad about, or discouraging customers from using Paypal or promoting another payment method over Paypal, a violation of the Paypal agreement which could lead to your account being closed and/or your funds being “held”.

Paypal Non-Discouragement Clause

  • In representations to your customers or in public communications, you agree not to mischaracterize PayPal as a payment method. At all of your points of sale (in whatever form), you agree not to try to dissuade or inhibit your customers from using PayPal; and, if you enable your customers to pay you with PayPal, you agree to treat PayPal’s payment mark at least at par with other payment methods offered.

The first part of the non discouragement clause is a little confusing to me: “you agree not to mischaracterize PayPal as a payment method“.  This means that by calling Paypal a “payment method” you are wrong (mischaracterizing it) and violating PayPal’s rules.  What I don’t understand is, if Paypal is not a payment method, WTF is it? I’m sure there is some wording buried in the service agreement/terms of service/legal mumbo jumbo that names Paypal as something other than a payment method, but to me, if people use Paypal as a method of paying for stuff, it is a payment method.

Paypal non-discouragement clause
Paypal’s new “non-discouragement clause”

The second part of the non discouragement clause is the kicker and where Paypal can ban you for talking bad about, or not treating it the same as your other payment methods – or even trying to push people to using another payment method instead: you agree not to try to dissuade or inhibit your customers from using PayPal; “…and, if you enable your customers to pay you with PayPal, you agree to treat PayPal’s payment mark at least at par with other payment methods offered.”

This means that if you, for example offer both Paypal and Square, but you prefer people to use Square because they don’t gouge you as hard as Paypal, you can’t say anything about it, you can’t ask customers to use Square instead, you can’t offer an incentive to use Square instead of Paypal – you can’t do anything.  You can simply display a Paypal button/logo and a Square button/log next to each other. You can’t even make the Square logo bigger than Paypal’s button. The PayPal button must be “at par” with other payment methods.  Who decides if the way you placed Paypl’s payment mark is “on par” with your other payment method? Well, Paypal does of course.. But don’t worry, you can trust Paypal.. Right?

Unfortunately, because currently there really is no other payment method as large, easy to use, and as widely accepted as Paypal they have a virtual monopoly on the online payments market and can pretty much make up any rules they want, and still ban whoever they want.

 

Adsense Policy Warning Notices

Back in the old days of Adsense, if you violated any rules, you got an email that said something to the effect of “After reviewing your account we have determined that your account poses a risk of invalid activity.. Yada, yada, yada, you’re banned”.

But these days the Adsense team seems to be taking a kinder, gentler route with some violations.  Maybe because of the results of the survey they send to publishers, of which one of the questions is “how trustworthy is Adsense” and other questions that I’m guessing got very low scores. Or, maybe it’s from the lawsuits. No matter the reason, it seems that the Adsense team is kicking off 2016 (or maybe they’ve been doing it longer) with warnings for some policy violations.

In the last month, I’ve received warnings for two of my websites.  I got the notices via email and as a pop-up notice (impossible to miss) in my Adsense dashboard.  The reads (in part) like this:

Hello,

This is a warning message to alert you that there is action required to bring your AdSense account into compliance with our AdSense program policies. We’ve provided additional details below, along with the actions to be taken on your part.

You do not need to contact us if you make changes. Please be aware that if additional violations are accrued, ad serving may be disabled to the website listed above. You should immediately take time to review your pages with Google ads to ensure that they comply with our policies.

The email explained the violations, generic ways to resolve them, steps I needed to take, and reminded me it’s my responsibility to check my site, etc.  Overall a fairly friendly warning.

Upon logging into my Adsense Dashboard, there was a big red notice alerting me to the issue as well. Clicking the notice took me to the Policy Violations section which gave more information about the problem and has a button next to it allowing me to “mark as resolved”.  Once marked as resolved, it stays listed as a “Previous non-compliance” issue – meaning there is a record of all violations.  Adsense violation warning in the dashboard marked as resolved

In my case the violations were basically “too many ads above the fold” or using large ad units above the fold on a mobile theme and were (kinda) easily fixed.  A quick Google search shows a huge amount of other bloggers and webmasters have also received this same type of warning in the last 6 months or so, so it looks like the Adsense team is cracking down on this type of violations but are also giving publishers fair-warning to resolve the issue.

I expect that publishers will start to see more of these kinder, gentler warnings from the Adsense team for more types of violations in the near future.

Paypal Class Action Lawsuit

Notices are now being sent to claimants for the Zepeda v. Paypal class action lawsuit. This lawsuit affects anyone that PayPal tried to screw over from April 2006 and November 2015. Here is the notice and link to file a claim:

A settlement has been reached in a class action in which the plaintiffs allege, among other things, that PayPal improperly handled disputed transactions on PayPal accounts and improperly placed holds and reserves on accounts or closed or suspended accounts. Plaintiffs also allege that PayPal failed to provide annual error-resolution notices and monthly account statements under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act.

You are a member of the Settlement Class if you had an active PayPal account between April 19, 2006 and Nov. 5, 2015. Certain Settlement Class Members who had a hold or reserve placed on their account and/or who had their account closed or suspended by PayPal are eligible to receive a monetary payment upon submission of a valid claim form.

This notice summarizes the proposed settlement. For the precise terms and conditions of the settlement, please see the Settlement Agreement available at http://www.accountholdsettlement.com/, by accessing the Court docket in this case through the Court’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov, or by visiting the office of the Clerk of the Court for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, 1301 Clay Street, Oakland, CA 94612, between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Court holidays.

PLEASE DO NOT TELEPHONE THE COURT OR THE COURT CLERK’S OFFICE TO INQUIRE ABOUT THIS SETTLEMENT OR THE CLAIM PROCESS.