· 715 words · 4 minute read

The Paypal Incident

On 8th of December 2022 I received an email by PayPal, saying that my PayPal account has been limited. Payments and withdrawing money to my bank account were disabled. PayPal said that I needed to provide some more information about my business. Such as personal information / ID card, invoices, proof that my customers have received their goods and more.

But the point is: That PayPal account that was connected to my private bank account and was solely used for personal transactions to friends, family and for collecting donations for metalhead.club and trashserver.net. There was never any serious business going on with this account. Just private stuff.

As turned out quickly, PayPal assumed that my account was not used privately, anymore. Some users of my public 650thz.de services seem to have declared their donations / voluntary payments as “payment for good or service” (or similar). That probably made the PayPal algorithms think that I was running a business related to that account. (No shame on those users - I’m happy about their donations and they couldn’t know!)

I reached out to the PayPal support team the same day and tried to sort things out with them. They could not tell me why my accounts got suspended - they just assumed the same reasons like me. And they couldn’t help, either. I asked them to restore my account and re-enable payments, but they couldn’t. The German support team was not capable of removing the account lock and needed to file a ticket to another internal team - and did so.

In the meantime I was recommended to provide as much useful information as possible via the PayPal form that asked me to upload more information about my business. I tried to explain how the account was used and why I couldn’t upload any evidence of running a business (because - well. … I had none. There was no business associated with the account …).

One day later I received another e-mail: “Your PayPal account will be closed permanently”.

I called the support team, again. There were in fact nice people, but could not help immediately in my case. They filed another ticket and re-submitted a complaint. A few days later I received an answer by the support lady, but she had bad news. PayPal’s decision was clear: After “re-evaluating” my case, they did not change their opinion. (I’m sure there was no actual re-evaluation. There was just somebody being lazy, uninterested and probably hating their job - hitting that “reject” button, again).

Well, and here I am now:

  • My PayPal account cannot be used for donations, anymore.
  • I cannot access the money that has been on that account. It contains almost all donations from October/November
  • The money will be released after 180 days (at least PayPal stated so)
  • I will never be able to use PayPal again: My bank accounts and cards have been added to some blocklist and cannot be connected to PayPal ever again.

Lessons learned:

  • Never ever leave money on your PayPal account! Withdraw it to your bank account. PayPal is not a safe space to put any money.
  • PayPal is just another company that does not care about a single customer. Sure, you can talk to support representatives. But tell will probably not be able to help.
  • PayPal seems to use aggressive anti-scam algorithms that do not accept any unregular behavior, such as collecting donations or getting money without any compensation/good/service.
  • PayPal cannot be trusted.
  • I’m done with PayPal. They have lost me as a customer. Even if they told me that I needed to pay extra fees when collecting donations - I would have been fine with that. But just closing my account? Not hearing me? I’m done.

Plans for the future:

  • I will run metalhead.club and trashserver.net as services of my Leister IT small business. That way I will probably be able to avoid confusion regarding any donations / fees / commercial background.
  • I will set up a Stripe account for Leister IT and pay the fees that apply to commercial use of the payment processing platform
  • I will tell every single person to avoid PayPal if possible. Having checked the internet, it turned out that I’m by far not the only person who has gotten locked out of PayPal.