Banned By PayPal TWICE!

This post is a followup by a reader based on their experience with Paypal:

PayPal again permanently re-limited our account and froze our funds on the SAME false grounds, two and a half years after our previous incident when the executive had assured me it would never happen again. And you all thought they were going to do the right thing, didn’t you? LOL.

On June 26th, 2018, I was notified by email that an automated system of PayPal had permanently limited my PayPal account without the chance to appeal, without providing any reason why. I called and spoke to several supervisors over the course of three weeks who strongly suggested this was a technical error that had recently been affecting many innocent accounts recently who had also been calling. The supervisors also viewed my account’s transaction history, YouTube channel, and website, and saw no wrongdoing or any violations of the Acceptable User Policy present. One Paypal CSR even recognized our logo on our account because her son was a fan of our channel and had just watched one of our videos earlier in the day with her.

The supervisors at PayPal’s call center in Nebraska, who don’t have the authority to overturn the limitation themselves, left detailed notes to the brand risk management department stating their findings that this was strongly believed to be a machine-made error, and requested the internal team to review and reinstate my account at their earliest convenience.

However, upon his inspection, Paul of the brand risk management department saw notes from some of our patrons alluding to the viewing of behind-the-scenes extras attached to their voluntary donations to us. Paul hastily and incorrectly assumed this meant we were “selling videos” to our fans, and upheld the machine-made permanent limitation on the false grounds that we were “selling prohibited items.” Paul actually refused to disclose his reason for upholding the erroneous decision, and instead sent me a canned response through email after I contacted his department using the aup@paypal.com email address.

I called PayPal again and requested my case to be escalated to their executive department, and my request was granted. I received an email from this department a week later, and the employee confirmed in an email to me that Paul’s reason for upholding the decision to ban me from PayPal was for accusations of “using PayPal to sell prohibited items.” This of course was a false accusation, as I have never used PayPal to sell anything. Likely in response to my detailed email back to the executive, my funds that PayPal was illegitimately holding ransom for 180 days were suddenly released to me, and I immediately transferred them to my bank.

I have since partnered with new money-transfer services for receiving donations from our loyal and supportive fans, and I’m much happier knowing that we’ll never have to deal with PayPal and its sketchy, unprofessional business tactics again. I’ve left them behind for good, and I strongly advise everyone out there to take caution if you decide to use their service, because they apparently can legally falsely accuse you of nonsense, freeze your funds, and get away with it because they’re currently the biggest money-transfer service out there — but they aren’t the only service out there, and at this rate, one day that will hopefully change.

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.