Saturday, 3 September 2016

Guilty until proven innocent

The Paypal Saga 

A traffic exchange that I own had its Paypal account limited a few months back. What had I done? Did I pay commissions to the wrong person? I thought all my customers were happy ones. What did I do? Why? There are many questions. I still don't have many answers. One really frustrating thing was...I did really well the month before grrrr......Now this!

It all started with the email:

We have recently reviewed your PayPal account activity and determined that
you are in violation of PayPal's Acceptable Use Policy regarding your sales
or offers on

As a result, your account has been limited temporarily.

To help us resolve this, you will need to:

- Remove PayPal as a payment option, as well as all references to PayPal,
including the PayPal logo and/or shopping cart, from
- Submit the online Acceptable Use Policy affidavit.

The PayPal User Agreement, which you read and accepted when you created
your account, states that PayPal, at its sole discretion, reserves the
right to limit an account for any violation of the PayPal User Agreement,
including the Acceptable Use Policy.

Under the Acceptable Use Policy, PayPal may not be used to send or receive
payments that support pyramid or ponzi schemes, matrix programs, "get rich
quick" schemes, or certain multi-level marketing (MLM) programs. In
addition, only approved MLM programs may be allowed.

Ok this is one of those phishing emails right? So I logged directly into Paypal via my browser to find the message in there. First thoughts: have I paid someone who is not in good standings with Paypal? Looking through the last months payments nothing seems odd. I just paid commissions but I don't actually know who these people are. I paid for a promo..twice deliberate from me.

Next I call Paypal. First thing they are asking me is do I know what Traffic Monsoon is? What? I joined when it first launched and I heard Paypal limited them...I didn't know the details then. So I told them I didn't know much about them. They couldn't tell me why my site was limited. I told them I was into advertising just like many other traffic exchanges out there. I bought the LFMTE script just like the majority of other TE owners. Why is R4S targeted? I was told just click the 2 tick boxes on my Paypal account, read the terms and user agreement etc and the site will be unblocked. I kept asking them what did I do? This is his reply: Talking to him was "talking to a brick wall" (his quote) he wasn't going to even try to answer any of my questions and was quite rude and arrogant, treating me with disrespect. Is this customer service? I think NOT! 

After the review I was lucky the account was limited to only a weekend. 

Next email: Thank you for making the necessary changes in order to comply with PayPal's Acceptable Use Policy. After a recent review of your account, we have found that you have completed the requirements to remove the limitation and have granted an appeal.

Please note that your use of PayPal for further sales that are in violation of our Acceptable Use Policy may result in a higher or even permanent account limitation.

In this regard, we would like to remind you of our policies. 
Under the Acceptable Use Policy, PayPal may not be used to send or receive payments that support pyramid or ponzi schemes, matrix programs, "get rich quick" schemes, or certain multi-level marketing programs. In addition, only approved MLM programs may be allowed.

I also had to remove ALL references to Paypal on  my site meaning the signup area PLUS all buttons EVEN AFTER the limitation has been "appealed"

In order to comply with our Acceptable Use Policy and return your account to good standing, you will need to: 
- Remove PayPal as a payment option, as well as all references to PayPal, including the PayPal logo and/or shopping cart"

BUT their reply to me for further information is this: PayPal has made the business decision to not support this type of business model and therefore requesting the removal of PayPal.

Why does this matter?
A good explanation is below from THIS site: 
"...the hard truth is you cannot stop accepting them (Paypal).
Paypal has made the reputation for being the easier, faster payment processor out there which caters to lots of people.
No matter how frustrating it is, buyers still insist on paying with Paypal.
It is an epidemic and at worse, sales slowly start to decline as you halt Paypal as your payment processor.
Paypal has brainwashed users into using them, so stopping them completely is almost near impossible unless you are okay with some decline in sales.
Best solution is to simply be alert and to not do any sort of action, activity that provokes a Paypal limitation."
Ok it's my turn to have a say about how Paypal are treating THEIR customers. Yes our community are their customers! Do you pay a fee everytime you send/receive a payment? We pay them for a service. Are they delivering?

We see Paypal as a "temporary" placement of funds before these get transferred to our bank account or we buy something. They are a medium. They are not a law unto themselves. If we deposit money there it is not THEIR money. FULLSTOP! 

Quote from Anon:

"If I were a gigolo and the next morning I go deposit say $500 cash in my physical bank account, the bank teller will NOT be asking me where the money came from.


However, when does Paypal have the right to NOT let us use our own funds? In other words LIMIT our Paypal acounts where we cannot send/receive or transfer our money into our bank accounts. With the right to CLOSE an account and lock funds? There seems to be a snowball effect currently. More and more of our community owners are reporting limitations and now more well known traffic exchanges and mailers are too. Even ones that have been around for several years. Paypal continues to limit accounts of many affiliate marketers/ owners in our industry. 

Yes, we have to abide by their terms and conditions, we have to be real people, but to rob people of not accessing their own money is the crime. They have no right to limit our business activities without substantial warning and justification. We can try to defend ourselves, email Paypal, call them but when a decision has been made we don't seem to be able to change their minds.

Even if a "limitation" has been lifted and I continue using the account it may be permanently closed...that's blackmail if I ever heard it! Yes I'm not keeping much money in that account just in case they just simply freeze my account. They didn't even give me warning for the limitation to begin with why trust them now!

I was prepared to email Paypal with my plea to prove my site innocent. This whole incident has made me feel like I have done something wrong! I changed my whole site to be in good report with Paypal. I changed the account levels to just one just in case they misinterpret the MLM structure. One referral level but with a choice of 4 upgrades seems easy enough to understand for us but who knows how Paypal views this. They probably think I have referrals 4 levels deep! 

Another owner whos account also got limited tried to email Paypal:

"sent a detailed email with every feature we offer and how it works and how it doesn't break any terms of theirs.. that didn't help and I doubt they even read it...none of (this) really makes sense...we have renamed some features to be on the safe side...still were out to get (us). Actually went really bad when I asked for them to re-check...and limited the account again after giving Paypal admin access."

Great! I'm not sure I want to give Paypal any excuse now to relook at R4S. They may also find something else to re-limit my account. I try to have minimal money sitting in that account now. I do not want to be under their radar. Im hoping over time that I might email them to see what eventuates. No loss if they decide to limit when I have taken out the money already into another payment processor. I do not have anything to hide though. This is another point. No matter what they will try to find some reason to label R4S as ponzi.

I grabbed what money I had in there and transferred it to my personal Paypal. I kept ringing weekly to try to get other people to answer. Some were nice and positive others not so nice. It really depends on the person I spoke with at the time. 

Paypal also told me and gave 30 days to cancel all subscriptions because Rewards4surfing is not allowed to receive or send through Paypal. Then the thought dawned on me after much chatter with other owners why some of us were targeted. Paypal thinks R4S is a "pyramid or ponzi schemes, matrix programs, "get rich quick" schemes, or certain multi-level marketing programs"

After removing the Paid to Click section from R4S, rewrote/added TOS and Refund Policy etc I unfortunately don't think I will be able to convince Paypal to fully let me use them as a payment processor because they have written off my site as some sort of junk site.

I have a business model just like most te around and dont pay more than 30% comms. I was going to email them to prove that its NOT the case. But now I'm not sure I will get anywhere. 

I wonder if we should all petition Paypal to not lump TE in with other bad owners eg. Traffic Monsoon and ask for our business model instead of presuming we are bad. I was paying members the commissions they are owed. My Paypal account was only limited for a weekend but I am not allowed to send/ receive payments for R4S. Tell that to my upgraded subscribers who I had to email to cancel. Anyway any good petition sites? As a community we are all at risk eventually. We are guilty unless we prove we are innocent.

I still pay via Paypal now but with NO note attached. Hence I have to ask members when they want to be paid to send via support ticket so I have a record.

When I finally spoke with someone at Paypal they told me the issue. They again told me they don't like my business model. So YES I now have to prove R4S not like Traffic Monsoon which I think started this whole thing. (They told me the Traffic Monsoon story) They suggested I prove that I'm not like them.

Prove Thyself Worthy: Some considerations why R4S is NOT a Ponzi

Ponzi definition: A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors. Ponzi scheme organizers often solicit new investors by promising to invest funds in opportunities claimed to generate high returns with little or no risk. In many Ponzi schemes, the fraudsters focus on attracting new money to make promised payments to earlier-stage investors to create the false appearance that investors are profiting from a legitimate business.(

It seems Paypal would like us to not pay out commissions and keep the money for ourselves?

So Paypal obviously thinks TEs involve investments. Do they realize that R4S offer FREE memberships PLUS upgraded members are just paying for a quicker timer and advertising each month in that cost? If people don't want to surf to earn credits, they can spend money to receive credits, and/or banners/text impressions. No TE would claim that they are "a get rich quick" as they simply are not. When members pay for an upgrade they get something tangible in return at relatively low prices. 

R4S ensures that more money stays in the site than goes out and adjusts prices accordingly. R4S makes the most to gain from a sale not a member. Just like any business should. Sustainable business model, focusing on sales.

Members can choose to be FREE where there is NO monetary payments. Referrals are earned not bought nor sold. There is NO requirement on the part of a member to refer. R4S does not pay to refer. 

R4S is a traffic exchange. This is an advertising platform period. It consists of surfing: looking at other members (free or upgraded) websites in return for people looking at your websites.  It is straight commission based even for free members. Most of the profits/revenue go back into promoting the site!

The cheekiness of Paypal, an email I received 2 months later:

"We've noticed your business hasn't been making as many PayPal sales as it used to. If you’ve hit a stumbling block or aren't sure what your next step with PayPal is, give us a call and we’ll help get you back on track." :o I wonder why??? I could be really sarcastic here!

There has been many threads to what has been going on in our traffic exchange/affiliate community. Here's a few other useful blogs about the issues with Paypal:

Follow the Traffic Monsoon case

What we can learn from all this?
- never buy overpriced advertising packages lol
- if you have money in Paypal get it out quick before they limit you paying your members. 
- Owner DID pay his members their legitimate earnings it was only when Paypal limited his Paypal account and he couldn't pay his members when the problems started
- Paypal may "limit access to your account, restricting: Access to your funds; and/or
Your ability to send or receive funds and make withdrawals." Without warning! They only need to suspect a site and they can limit the associated account.
- Don't tie your money up 100% with Paypal use other payment sources as well.
- Paypal can't dislike our referral program they used to have one themselves
- Paypal don't like certain transactions (still trying to work out which ones)

Some sound advice: 

1) The #1 RULE and the most important rule is to not offer commissions to more than one person per sale - they (Paypal) will consider this multi-level. 

2) When displaying your membership options - do not use the words LEVEL - use something like membership benefits.

3) When displaying your compensation plans - be sure to mention the commissions generated are on the sales of products and services from their direct referrals.

4) Make sure that you have your Terms of Service page accessible on your main website - which is the part viewable by everyone without having to log in to an account. Include a disclaimer on HOME page and MEMBER HOME page that this is not a get-rich-quick-scheme, R4S only pays 1 level of direct referrals only, that fraudulent activity from any or all members will not be tolerated

5) Make sure you have your contact information displayed on your website: Owner's information and Contact details are a must. When someone contacts you please do yourself a favor and respond within a reasonable time. A reasonable time frame would be 2-6 hours. Anything faster than 2 hours only works to the owners advantage. If you are not able to respond in that time frame - be sure to mention it.

Feel free to list the sites that Paypal have targeted in comments. To the members of those sites, be patient and DONT BLAME THE OWNERS!


Adrian said...

I always hated bullies and that's what I see here (and in other cases). The only real preemptive choice honest owners have is to break this cvasi-monopoly (preferably before they are targeted). This payment processor, as all of them, has owners. And owners want profit. When their profit dives (clients moving to other payment processors, less transaction fees), they'll stop being bullies. It's also a great opportunity for other payment processors to enter the big league. Where there's diversity, where there are choices and true alternatives, where there's competition, clients are treated with respect. If we want respect, we need alternatives!

Kris Rogers said...

Totally agree Adrian. I dont like my sites being hostage. Being without paypal has been liberating as I dont have to keep watching over my shoulder. I should not have to feel like this is I have done nothing wrong!

Jill said...

Ugh, Paypal was the bane of my existence together with eBay, I'd never use PP as a real payment processor. 10 years ago I was making over $144K /year on ebay until one day I got a call and said I was suspended.... (no reason whatsoever).

I thought it was the end of my life. But reluctantly I found and followed the teachings of the owner of this forum here

It's been over 10 years now and I haven't gotten any major issues to date.

But yes, I'm limiting the use of my PP to just eBay stuff.

Kris Rogers said...

Now its the Payza saga! With all USA accounts been frozen.