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Paypal update
December 3, 2009 7:05 PM   Subscribe

Paypal update: after two weeks of stalling, it's off to final review. Results should come in a few more days.

Just wanted to give an update to the Paypal/100k user charity drive raffle thing. Roughly in order, here's what happened:

1) throwing the raffle part violated the AUP at paypal, a limit was put in place to remove paypal from the raffle within one week (November 18)

2) I ended the raffle early to make sure it was done before the week was out

3) A second limit was put on the paypal account (November 20) for acting as a nonprofit/official donation channel for the nonprofits (proof required in order to lift)

4) I said that yes, our app violated the AUP and I'd never do it again, so limitation #1 was lifted on November 23.

5) the second limit still stood awaiting official nonprofit status documents from me, or letters from every nonprofit saying I was a designated agent (neither of which I can produce)

6) Limited account means no money can go out to charities, cannot be withdrawn by me, and cannot be refunded to donators.


So basically we're in the last stage limbo, as a paypal rep pushed it to final review today and says a decision will happen within 5 days (weekend days count).

I figure there are few possibilities:

- all donations go back to the donators, then we ask you all to donate as you stated
- we are cleared and allowed to donate to the charities to complete the project
- the mefi paypal account is locked/canceled with funds either returned or allowed for withdraw, we convert to Google Checkout in the future for new users/tshirts

That's about it. I really hate being stuck in limbo for three weeks, I hate having to hold onto everyone's money, and I really wish and hope we can get the donated money to the charities next week. I've emailed and called Paypal several times to no avail, and I'm pretty angry with them.
posted by mathowie to MetaFilter-Related at 7:05 PM (128 comments total)

This seems appropriate. Sorry you have to go through this.
posted by dead cousin ted at 7:09 PM on December 3, 2009


I just think it's funny how much they spend on advertising and then do things like this that are basically anti-advertising, like buying bad press. Smart companies just make stuff go away.
posted by smackfu at 7:22 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this is one of those times when that corporate policy of "let's save some money and not offer any way to get in contact with a human other than a web form" sounds like it would save a lot of money but ends up costing a shitload in squandered good will.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:29 PM on December 3, 2009


Thanks for the update, Matt.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:42 PM on December 3, 2009


Pat Rothfuss had to do battle with them in October over a similar issue, but his resolution was a lot faster in coming.

Maybe they have it in for you because of the all the asshole spammers whining after they get banned?
posted by CKmtl at 7:46 PM on December 3, 2009


I'm irrationally angry about this. Maybe we need to set up a non-profit Friends of MetaFilter group so that we can occasionally do the odd good work here and there?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:50 PM on December 3, 2009 [59 favorites]


Also, by my calculations paypal stands to net more than $524 in fees on this transaction, so you would think it would be in their best interest to get their heads out of their behinds. That's based on 514 equal transactions of $24.80, however since some people paid in more than one transaction the actual fees will be even higher due to the $0.30 per transaction flat fee on top of the 2.9% fee.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:52 PM on December 3, 2009


What the hell Paypal?
posted by nola at 7:59 PM on December 3, 2009


Just out of curiosity, I just changed my username by paying for another account. Is the $5 I just paid safe from your problems here?
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 7:59 PM on December 3, 2009


I'm in on the Friends of Metafilter. Tell me where to put my money and you got it.
posted by dead cousin ted at 8:00 PM on December 3, 2009


Maybe we need to set up a non-profit Friends of MetaFilter group so that we can occasionally do the odd good work here and there?

Char(ity)Filter? I'd be up for that...both posted the charities we support and are involved with and coordinating activities to help them out. Perhaps with a monthly choice of charity to be focused on?
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 8:01 PM on December 3, 2009


posted->posting
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 8:02 PM on December 3, 2009


It's the holiday season. It would be a terrible PR move for PayPal to be a Scrooge by denying 10 grand in charity donations.

We can raise some hell noise, eh?

...and #292 has a good idea.
posted by mds35 at 8:04 PM on December 3, 2009


I am not here to make you feel bad, but there have been a bunch of folks over the years who have asked you to not use PayPal because they do this kind of stuff often.

I assume that all of those folks will be in this thread soon to "I told you so", and I don't want to be part of a group jumping on you when you're doing such a cool thing, but please take this opportunity to stop sending them business.
posted by popechunk at 8:11 PM on December 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


My sympathies to the mods.

Handcuffing customers with bureaucracy and red tape when they're just trying to do a good deed--Paypal is really making themselves look like the Grinch this holiday season.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:12 PM on December 3, 2009


Pope Chunk... I have no feelings either way about paypal, but I live in Australia. How would I participate in things like this..or even join MetaFilter, without Paypal? Are there any truly international alternatives?
posted by taff at 8:19 PM on December 3, 2009


awaiting official nonprofit status documents from me, or letters from every nonprofit saying I was a designated agent (neither of which I can produce)

My account was locked by them for over a year for the same reason -- to this day I have no idea why -- and every email (dozens of them) that I sent just got autoresponder replies. Finally, I used their 'upload proof of your charity status' form to upload a .gif of text explaining that I was not and had never been a charity and didn't know why they thought I was claiming to be one, and my account got unlocked.

Paypal's customer service must have to deal with a lot of irate incoherent people, but damn, they really need an easier way to contact a real person via email or something.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:21 PM on December 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Party foul paypal. The fact that they make you go through this much rigamarole to give away money to people who need it especially during this sort of recession is practically and apotheosis of everything wrong with the world. I'm sorry about the BS.

I'm irrationally angry about this. Maybe we need to set up a non-profit Friends of MetaFilter group so that we can occasionally do the odd good work here and there?

Hey, that's not a bad idea. I wonder actually, since technically it's Metafilter giving the money to the charity and not the individual directly, if any of the donors can even write this off? Starting a foundation arm of Metafilter could have a lot of benefits - both for tax purposes of the site as well as individual members. MeFi would even be eligible for grant funding, etc... should a project arise that might warrant such. Heck, I even think the Metafilter Foundation, or whatever, could create a radically new and effective means of funding charitable organizations.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:25 PM on December 3, 2009


Starting a foundation arm of Metafilter

Paging rusty!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:28 PM on December 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Pope Chunk... I have no feelings either way about paypal, but I live in Australia. How would I participate in things like this..or even join MetaFilter, without Paypal? Are there any truly international alternatives?

All I have to offer are passive-aggressive denunciations. What you're asking for is useful advice. How dare you!!!!
posted by popechunk at 8:29 PM on December 3, 2009 [9 favorites]


the second limit still stood awaiting official nonprofit status documents from me, or letters from every nonprofit saying I was a designated agent (neither of which I can produce)

Out of curiosity, is it worth contacting the NPOs to have them send some sort of quick form letter to PayPal?
posted by niles at 8:40 PM on December 3, 2009


Out of curiosity, is it worth contacting the NPOs to have them send some sort of quick form letter to PayPal?

Most NPO's have stock 'letters of support' on hand. 'Designated agent' doesn't mean shit; all of the NPO's will claim you as a designated agent. Worse comes to worse, any of the charities we're talking about could fax over a letter literally tomorrow morning. Have you contacted them about it? I've never run into an NPO that wouldn't cut its own balls off for a donation i work in development, and I have offered many times to cut *a* ball off for this purpose.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:43 PM on December 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


The five letters was the angle I was thinking might work best, though it requires some legowrk, FAST. The Foundation angle is a great one, but won't solve this immediate problem.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:45 PM on December 3, 2009


Maybe we need to set up a non-profit Friends of MetaFilter group

the Little Haughey Urban Achievers
posted by Rhomboid at 8:47 PM on December 3, 2009 [28 favorites]


stav - so did the CMF ever actually do anything? or are you looking for matt to get advice on how to solicit money and then just keep it?
posted by russm at 8:48 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


moar like payenemy amirite
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:50 PM on December 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


The five letters was the angle I was thinking might work best, though it requires some legowrk, FAST. The Foundation angle is a great one, but won't solve this immediate problem.

Word. I would seriously just call them all up tomorrow morning. Ask for the Director of Development of Individual Giving Manager. Tell them the time line is tight. I guarantee they will all scramble to get you whatever paperwork you need. They can send a pdf or a fax. Um...and as silly as this sounds, I'm happy to help you make the calls. I do this sorta thing all day.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:51 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


*or* individual giving manager
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:52 PM on December 3, 2009


WHAT. THE. FUCK. PAYPAL.
posted by chrisamiller at 9:05 PM on December 3, 2009


I just want to say is, I don't care about this PayPal stuff right now. I mean, I bought tickets and all that, maybe $10 worth. So what?

What I want to say is, I love you, Matt.

That's all.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:21 PM on December 3, 2009 [6 favorites]


taff: Pope Chunk... I have no feelings either way about paypal, but I live in Australia. How would I participate in things like this..or even join MetaFilter, without Paypal? Are there any truly international alternatives

Believe it or not, with my first account, I actually put a five-dollar bill in an envelope, wrapped it in paper, and mailed it.

Yes, and it was a stone envelope with the address chiseled out by a bird using his beak, who squawed and said "eh, it's a living" to the audience, too.
posted by MikeHarris at 9:25 PM on December 3, 2009 [8 favorites]


Aw, that sucks. I'll await the update to find out what to do, but hopefully PayPal will just get the money where it was supposed to go as it was supposed to do in the first place. This doesn't give me a very good impression of PayPal, I must say. This stuff all seems rather bullshitty to me.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:26 PM on December 3, 2009


With all the work the Mods put in and all the goodwill shown by Mefites, this is a truly shitty thing to have happen and is sadly typical of the sort of service companies such as Paypal offer (and get away with time after time).

However, just to be a grumpy old curmudgeon, what tje fuck does this have to do with the "holiday season"? Corporate entities can be ruthless, heartless fuckers from January until November but in December they should only feed puppies caviar?

Please people, get a grip. This is shit behaviour whatever month of the year it may be.
posted by jontyjago at 9:40 PM on December 3, 2009


I'm irrationally angry about this.

Eh, I think it's pretty dang rational, myself.

Anyway: I like the idea of a foundation; I'm really sorry you have to go through this, Matt & Co.; and I don't think a chorus (or even a solo performance) of I told you so's is particularly appropriate or useful.
posted by scody at 9:48 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Has anyone read The Castle by Franz Kafka?
posted by pwally at 9:55 PM on December 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


What will happen if Paypal keeps the money?
posted by Malor at 9:56 PM on December 3, 2009


I don't think I understand what's going on. PayPal won't release the funds to anyone right now, but does that mean that they won't release them to anyone ever? Let's say they decide that the site was running a scam, do we get our money back? If we don't what happens to the money we "spent?"

I will swear on my honor that I will donate any money I get back to the charity I originally designated. I'll donate some even if I don't get my money back.

Can I just point out that Meg Stapleton was affiliated with PayPal to the extent that she intertwined it with eBay. Can we have an agreement that no California MeFite votes for her please?
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 9:58 PM on December 3, 2009


Oh god! I subbed Sarah Palin's moron spokeswoman for Meg Whitman! I am shamed. I accept every ugly thing people say about me on this point. I am a terrible person.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 10:00 PM on December 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


the Little Haughey Urban Achievers

Please. Please let it be this.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:04 PM on December 3, 2009


Nothing new with Paypal, folks -- they suck. I hope this situation turns out better than the Something Awful / Hurricane Katrina Paypal disaster.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 10:18 PM on December 3, 2009


I assume that all of those folks will be in this thread soon to "I told you so"

Despite being fairly negative and potty mouthed about PayPal in the raffle thread even before the bad shit went down, I would not even considering giving Matt guff.

Mostly because I'm angling to get onto the board for the Friends of MetaFilter, but still, the guy's trying to do some good, it'd be kind of low to piss on him for making a call that turned out to be not so great.

Seriously though, the chair for the subcommittee on appropriations was made for my ass. Let's talk.
*Makes hang ten/phone me gesture*

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:22 PM on December 3, 2009


Has anyone read The Castle by Franz Kafka?

Couldn't get into it.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:41 PM on December 3, 2009 [18 favorites]


Thanks for the tips Lutoslawski, I actually worked at Creative Commons for over three years and even being on the inside, we never got a request like this and I didn't know the first thing I was supposed to ask for.

If anyone wants to help and can track down these documents (I guess in blank form) and email them to me, I could fill them out and try and submit to paypal during this review period. It'd probably guarantee the best possible outcome.

I am at the hospital tomorrow for another day of tests though, so I'd probably not be able to get anything back to Paypal until tomorrow night.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:36 PM on December 3, 2009


I'm sorry you have to deal with this shit. I realise that dealing with shit is really your job to a large extent, all you moderators, but this shit is beyond what even you should have to deal with.

It does look like either option has money either going to you or back to us, so I'm happy. I can donate directly myself if necessary, I just don't want the money so somehow end up with paypal itself. Which doesn't look like it's going to happen so cool.

I was thinking about this yesterday and how the only reason why this works is because I somehow, despite my being your standard jaded mefite, I honestly believe that Matt's a good person who will do right. I don't believe that as much as I'd like but in this case I do. Not just Matt either, all the official metafilter-ite peoples, but mainly largely I think because Matt chooses good people to be with (they are good people too, that's an independent opinion separate from Matt). I've dealt with online people offline in many ways and I'm an extrovert people person generally, I don't think my filtering capacity for people is off. I think Matt is actually real, totally not perfect, and overall well meaning and honourable, and I trust him.

So I think a metafilter type foundation is a great idea because I know the people in charge won't screw it up. So do it.

(But as a student I've always been strangely cold on the scholarship ideas, too much effort for not enough return. Clearly the rules her are different, but unless it's enough to live on and from a source I'm happy to put on my academic CV I'm actually better off without)
posted by shelleycat at 12:53 AM on December 4, 2009


Are there any truly international alternatives?

I buy stuff from overseas all the time. Just this evening even. Worldpay pops up most often but there are other credit card processors out there too. I'm a 'nice' nation (same as Australia) so maybe something like worldpay would screw over out Nigerian members and I'm sure the more dedicated processors cost more too. But there are options. But if they take most of the five dollars in transaction costs I can see how it would be less appealing.
posted by shelleycat at 1:01 AM on December 4, 2009


Good Luck for your day at hospital Matt. I hope Lutoslawski can help sort out the paypal nightmare for you. Jessamyn's suggestion is pretty awesome and would probably be a good way to go. I am more than sure there is enough expertise among members and willingness to get this off the ground. shelleycat is completely right here, you guys are good people. I am sure this paycrap episode can be overcome and a viable international payment system found. I emphasise the international as that is an important part of what gives this place its flavour.
posted by adamvasco at 1:51 AM on December 4, 2009


stav - so did the CMF ever actually do anything? or are you looking for matt to get advice on how to solicit money and then just keep it?

Sorry, I don't understand any of the questions you asked there.

I was just talkin' about possibly relevant experiences in my life the way friends do, you know?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:19 AM on December 4, 2009


I'm sure that there have been people in the past who have used PayPal to "collect" funds for a good cause and then walked off with the money. I'm not naming any names but I can't get the words "yacht" or "monocle polish" out of my head for some reason.

We know that Matt is going to do as he says, but PayPal has no way of knowing or caring about that. All they care about is the cost of the chargebacks if it is a scam.

This still doesn't excuse them from being a particularly ugly and painful boil on the ass of the Internet.

Good luck with your tests, Matt. I'm a lot more worried about your health than I am about the fate of the few dollars that I contributed.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:23 AM on December 4, 2009


Also, by my calculations paypal stands to net more than $524 in fees on this transaction, so you would think it would be in their best interest to get their heads out of their behinds.

Although you're ignoring credit card company's fees, which could wipe out the majority of the profit. So while it might be $10,000 to us, to PayPal it's worth maybe less than $100, which explains why even large customers don't get personal treatment.
posted by cillit bang at 4:08 AM on December 4, 2009


Doesn't PayPal do exactly this nearly every time some upstart tries to collect payments for bundling? This has happened thousands of times, over and over, and it makes perfect sense. They have no reason to trust you — you're not a charity, just yet another guy with an undistinguished account setting off all their fraud alarms.

PayPal is plenty friendly to actual charities taking direct donations, they'll even cut their fees.
posted by blasdelf at 4:22 AM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


mathowie: "we convert to Google Checkout in the future for new users/tshirts"

Can we do this no matter what the result, please? We should reconsider giving them our money when they decided it was a legitimate business practice to treat us like criminals for wanting to give money to charity.
posted by Plutor at 5:11 AM on December 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


We should reconsider giving them our money when they decided it was a legitimate business practice to treat us like criminals for wanting to give money to charity.

Most def.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:16 AM on December 4, 2009


They have no reason to trust you

blasdelf, the issue here isn't the initial freezing; it's the continued intransigence even after there's been plenty of time for it to be crystal clear to PayPal what's really going on. We'll see how it shakes out in the end, but at this point, anything less than "Ok, we understand you're not running a scam, we're releasing the funds but please don't do this again without properly incorporating as a foundation" is an asshole move.
posted by mediareport at 5:30 AM on December 4, 2009


the Little Haughey Urban Achievers

And proud we are of all of them.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:36 AM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe if everyone who donated contacted Paypal to tell them we want the payments to go through?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:53 AM on December 4, 2009


...I don't want to be part of a group jumping on you when you're doing such a cool thing...

But that didn't stop you, did it?
posted by SLC Mom at 6:01 AM on December 4, 2009


PayPal's crime isn't putting this in review (the rules were broken), it's their terrible customer service.
posted by Mick at 6:23 AM on December 4, 2009


We know that Matt is going to do as he says, but PayPal has no way of knowing or caring about that.

Or, you know, they could type the name and website on the account into Google and note that Matt and his website have been featured in multiple national magazines and newspapers and are widely considered legitimate fixtures on the internet.

They could take a look at the account transaction history and note that Matt has sent them steady, legitimate business for several years.

Then, they could have actually picked up a phone to call the account holder and find out a little more about what was going on.

Does this mean that there's no possibility of Matt running off to the Cayman Islands with the money? No, but that's part of the risk of doing business. Some due diligence on Paypal's part would have led them to reconsider locking the funds.
posted by anifinder at 6:42 AM on December 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm unable to navigate to the part of Paypal's website that will allow me to send them my feelings about this. I will politely suggest that their customer service is in need of repair. Can anyone help me to contact Paypal?
posted by Hobgoblin at 6:51 AM on December 4, 2009


What a stupid mess. This is one of those classic 'everybody loses' scenarios. Matt (and co.) has this gigantic tangle of crap to deal with, in the course of trying to do good. So he maybe thinks twice about trying to do something like this again. Other people see this hassle and think twice themselves. Paypal loses money and a HUGE amount of reputation (how many people here have a worse opinion of PP because of this? Thousands? And this COULD have been a situation where PP got some GOOD press for once. Their default setting is clearly "dumbass") The charities have to wait for their money (or the money gets refunded and maybe comes back and maybe doesn't)

Admittedly, we apparently were not in the clear light of rule following but it is SO CLEAR that it was a simple mistake, and not any sort of chicanery.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:02 AM on December 4, 2009


PayPal's crime isn't putting this in review (the rules were broken), it's their terrible customer service.

Yeah, this really. I remember the SomethingAwful debacle and I recall seeing how PayPal has to stick to their rules and how it prevents people stealing money raising for charity, but really the problem here is I've been shouting at a wall for two weeks, trying to get answers or something out of them. I just can't handle the added stress during this time.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:18 AM on December 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


What will happen if Paypal keeps the money?
Ve cuts off their Johnson.

Seriously, Matt, we are all keeping a good thought for you today.
posted by tizzie at 7:41 AM on December 4, 2009


Oh man, I'm sorry you're having to deal with this on top of everything else, Matt. If you were here I'd make you cookies.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:57 AM on December 4, 2009


They did the same thing to Something Awful when they were taking donations for charity after Hurricane Katrina. Eventually all the money was refunded to the people who had sent it.
posted by mrbill at 8:05 AM on December 4, 2009


we convert to Google Checkout in the future for new users/tshirts

I ditto this; I've used Checkout without issue at all, while Paypal has always been a hassle, even as an enduser only. As long as one has a credit card, this appears to be pretty painless from an enduser point of view. I don't know how big a caveat that is compared with Paypal, however.
posted by bonehead at 8:08 AM on December 4, 2009


What the hell?!?! PayPal can't tell the difference between Metafilter and some scumbag in Nigeria who sends cardboard phones to people? How hard is that to figure out?!
posted by Melismata at 8:24 AM on December 4, 2009


Can you just go to google checkout regardless?
posted by boo_radley at 9:07 AM on December 4, 2009


Paypal has an advantage over google checkout in that you don't need to sign up for anything to use it, you can just enter a name and a credit card number if you don't have a paypal account, just as if it was a normal checkout step at a merchant. That kind of thing doesn't matter to me since I have accounts at both but some people might be put off by having to create another account and sign up for something else in order to first sign up for metafilter.

Also what about the possibility of getting a merchant account from a bank and then doing the card transactions yourself? That way you could use it both for signups and any future charity drives without having to worry about interference from an intermediary. Of course then you have the whole other issue of dealing with chargebacks which might be more of a headache than the occasional paypal hiccup. And you'd have to be sure that whatever gateway you use takes overseas CCs. I don't know if that's an extra headache or not.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:26 AM on December 4, 2009


What I want to know is when jamaro is going to register the 100,000 account.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:32 AM on December 4, 2009


Screw it -- I just went to the Doctors Without Borders site and gave 'em 25 bucks direct. I should have done that a long time ago anyway without needing a raffle prize.
posted by JanetLand at 9:56 AM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to see if any of my contacts has an actual Paypal name we can deal with. Also Twittered with a request for contact info.

Matt, I am not worried about the money. I just want you to get better. Please don't let this stress you out.
posted by misha at 10:32 AM on December 4, 2009


I threw $10 to the charity in CKmtl's link.

I don't care about the disposition of my $5 (though it would be nice it it went where I intended).

I for sure as fuck don't want anyone stressing about it.

I'm pretty sure as much money could have been raised if instead of a raffle it had been a "Christmas Presents for the Mods" fund. I threw in my $5 for the fun. I guess I'd feel different if I was coldchef and had put in 10k.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:44 AM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I'm sorry you're having to deal with this on top of everything else, Matt. If you were here I'd make you cookies.

Well, I'm going to go ahead and make cookies for Matt anyway. But since he's not here, I will eat them instead. [nom nom nom]
posted by The Deej at 10:56 AM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Update: I got the go ahead from Jessamyn and I've got a call into Doctors Without Borders' Development Department and I'm just getting around to tackling the rest. I will let everyone know the status.

Matt: I hope everything goes well today. Relax, and don't worry about Metafilter for once!
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:15 AM on December 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


Hey everyone: so all the appropriate people have been contacted. At least one letter has already been sent. Thanks to anastasiav for helping me out! I'll let you know when I know more!
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:50 AM on December 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I realize that none of this is immediately helpful. Next time, it might be easier to try Firstgiving. They're a company that lets anyone set up little fundraisers for any nonprofit (the charity doesn't have to sign up with FG, and you don't have to be affiliated with the nonprofit). I think that the organizer can see who's donated, so you'd still have that info even though the money would go directly to the NPO.

But the best idea is the Metafilter Foundation.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:54 AM on December 4, 2009


Also: Matt, it's dumb that you have to deal with this at the same time as your health issues. I hope that you and your family are in good spirits.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:55 AM on December 4, 2009


Sounds like worst case is that we all get our little refunds and then donate directly. And then we get the tax deduction, since it's not a raffle anymore! So I hope you can put it to the back of your mind and focus on the really important stuff going on for you right now.
posted by palliser at 11:59 AM on December 4, 2009


I love the idea of a Metafilter Foundation and raised this previously. I think an annual scholarship would be cool, as would a list of metafilter approved charities.

I know it's dumb, but I got more of a thrill out of the $5 I put in the raffle and the small donation to the thepinksuperhero's Christmas fund, than I do from any of my normal charities. Maybe because I got to make jokes and talk about it. No one really cares if I donate to NPR.

I'd definitely kick in a little every year.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:00 PM on December 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, man. If a Metafilter Foundation rose out of the ashes of this Paypal debacle, it would be worth the hassle (I think, speaking as a person who isn't having to deal with the hassle).
posted by padraigin at 12:10 PM on December 4, 2009


Hey Matt, the thing in Rio didn't fall through. If you haven't got the plane tickets yet, get them for Aruba instead. I think it's better if we split the money between us and go in different flights, just to be sure.
posted by qvantamon at 12:14 PM on December 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, wait, this isn't the mefimail form now... is it?
posted by qvantamon at 12:15 PM on December 4, 2009


I just want to add that Lutoslawski is amazing. He generously said I helped, but he mostly had things done in the time it took me to read his email.

And I, too, think that the Metafilter foundation would be a great idea. It actually wouldn't be that hard to do, and I think its clear that there is a lot of untapped potential out there.
posted by anastasiav at 12:18 PM on December 4, 2009


Misha: I'm trying to see if any of my contacts has an actual Paypal name we can deal with. Also Twittered with a request for contact info.

I posted this in one of the other threads, but if you are a member you can use the contact form or if you're not a member, call customer service at 1-888-221-1161.

Or a physical address

PayPal, Inc.
2211 North First Street
San Jose, California 95131.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:24 PM on December 4, 2009


I agree with the idea of a MetaFilter Foundation and think that while Our Fearless Recumbent Leader is at the hospital, maybe one of the others could start the paperwork towards registering us as a real non-profit?

And I'll echo what I said in the MeCha thread that TPS put out about the NYCares thing: giving money like this (and like I did for Desert Bus for Hope) is way more fun than your average telethon, NPR drive, or PBS week of awesome repeats.
posted by TrishaLynn at 12:26 PM on December 4, 2009

PayPal, Inc.
2211 North First Street
San Jose, California 95131

Dear PayPal,

I want to commend you for trying to keep me safe from criminal riffraff on the internet. I'm guessing you were wondering what the hell I was thinking when I decided to send $5 to: [redacted Matt's paypal address and the transaction number], but I'm writing to assure you that I did indeed intend for this Metafilter entity to get my $5! Please assure this happens in a timely manner.

I know a lot of other people are in the same predicament as I am and would like to see their money released to this Matt Haughey guy (no matter how shifty he seems to you). In fact, I bet of the thousands of people that tried to send him cash, not one has asked for a refund. You're welcome to prove me wrong on this one and provide me a list of the people asking for their money back. You can't can you? Because there is no such list!

Trust me, I've looked into it, and this man is no Nigerian Prince trying to illegally smuggle millions out of his country. Haughey doesn't even want my routing number!

So again, please cut him a check, and in the interest of good customer service maybe you'll want to consider eating the transaction fees on this one, because honestly, I've been waiting over 2 weeks for you to do what I paid you to do.


Sincerely,


Christopher L. Jorgensen
Sent today. Nigerian joke stolen from Melismata.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:55 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


cjorgensen, you need to write back to PayPal and apologize.

See, I actually did ask for my money back.






note: this is not actually true
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 2:14 PM on December 4, 2009


I'm sure Matt knows how to use the Google but in the event that he doesn't, some useful resources for problem-solving can be found here, or you could just communicate with PayPal CEO Scott Thompson directly. (Don't spam him, Mefites!)
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:04 PM on December 4, 2009


Well, if I'd been thinking I should have asked for everyone's money back and provided my routing information and promised to let people know they could just contact me for a refund then I could have just given mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey his cash.

The huge irony here is that I am usually a PayPal defender. I have had an account since the days where they paid you to sign up. I used to use them all the time when I sold books on eBay (but then eBay raised their listing prices and my margins no longer made sense). I never put money in my account. I never take money directly out.

I will use the money people send me to buy things online that take PayPal.

I honestly don't know how much money I've cycled through my account over the years, and can't even remember how long I've had it, but I know I've gained and spent well over $2,000.

This is the very first time I have ever had a problem.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:02 PM on December 4, 2009


Well, I'm sick and can't go out and bored, so I'm on the phone with PayPal right now.

I have to say that the experience is so infuriating that I'm simultaneously drafting a letter to my state Attorney General. Tying up interest-free money for a month without allowing it to be returned to the original donors (and probably keeping fees!) - that is Not Cool.
posted by lalex at 8:09 PM on December 4, 2009


501(c)(3) has a nice ring to it. Well, no, it doesn't, but it's waiting to fill the void.
posted by holgate at 10:46 PM on December 4, 2009


So, if there was a foundation, could the $5 sign-up fee (which I believe Matt has said isn't a significant income stream) be a "donation" to the foundation? And then, when the SEO spamming douchebags get banhammered, rather than refunding them their precious $5, they get a receipt for their charitable donation, and we do good things with it?
posted by maxwelton at 11:12 PM on December 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, and you guys yearning for Google Checkout?

As bad as Paypal's customer service is, Google doesn't even have customer service. They do have a special system for 501(c)(3) non-profits to collect direct donations with, but are otherwise much more restrictive: they'll freeze the fuck out of your account if you use it for something other than selling things to people — Paypal at least has the nominal "Send Money" use case.

Neither want to be used to process funds for a lottery and they don't give a shit where the proceeds go after they've been in your pocket.
posted by blasdelf at 11:59 PM on December 4, 2009


they'll freeze the fuck out of your account

Unless I'm misunderstanding, Matt's account has been frozen.
posted by lalex at 12:45 AM on December 5, 2009


And let me be clear as I've spent a lot of time on the phone with PayPal tonight.

It is, at best, unethical to do what PayPal is doing - they are freezing funds in non-interest bearing accounts.

I'm not going to argue about whether Matt violated PayPal's AUM; on that issue I think Paypal is acting shady but whatever. The bigger issue is the fact that they've refused to refund the money to the donors, which essentially means they're freezing money in non-interest-bearing accounts (although I'm sure they're collecting interest and past experience says that they'll probably keep all transaction fees.)

Again: this is, at best, unethical of PayPal and has absolutely nothing to do with legitimate legal AUM concerns about rafffle-type fundraisers.
posted by lalex at 1:04 AM on December 5, 2009


From Paypal's standpoint, before they refund money they need to know that no services were provided or no goods were shipped. Otherwise one side could end up with the $ and the goods.

I donated a decent amount of money. I would love to have it back to give to the charity I designated or have Matt keep it and give it to whom I designated. That said, I am willing to wait patiently while they work it out. This was a violation of the terms of use. If PP looks at this in the aggregate, it is over $10k and subject to all sorts of AML law. Probably some Patriot Act too as that seems to catch everything where money transfers happen.

As for putting this in non-interest bearing accounts, I am not sure what the interest rate you are looking for is, but banks are not giving much more than zero these days anyway. If you use 1% interest on $12k for a month, you are talking somewhere in the neighborhood of $10. You would need to do a lot of holding money to make it a business.

I hereby pledge to add to my donation the forgone interest on the total amount of money donated, not just my own, using 1% if the money is held up to one year. I think it would be too cumbersome to distribute it pro rata, so I will send it to Doctors without Borders charity as they had the majority of the money. For the record, that was not the charity to which I made my pledge.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:48 AM on December 5, 2009


Yay, it's finally over. All limits on my account have been raised. I'll be submitting donations in the next couple days and posting receipts/screenshots.

Thanks all for the last-ditch efforts yesterday getting the charities on board.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:19 AM on December 5, 2009 [11 favorites]


$725 is off to Creative Commons.

We had $915 slated for DonorsChoose, but I ended up funding $1,007.50 worth of needs-based projects in science, music, and reading.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:36 AM on December 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yay, I'm so glad [and very very surprised] that this had a happy ending.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:41 AM on December 5, 2009


Awesome!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:46 AM on December 5, 2009


Cool, this is excellent news! But I'm hungry for details (but aware you've got other stuff on your plate, so no rush). What happened? Was it just that the 'final review' came back and PayPal said, "oh, nevermind"? Was it Lutoslawski's calling campaign come through? Are you still gonna use PayPal, or something else now for monetary transactions at MetaFilter?
posted by carsonb at 9:46 AM on December 5, 2009


Yay and boo to you and PayPal, respectively.
posted by subbes at 9:50 AM on December 5, 2009


Ossum!
posted by special-k at 9:59 AM on December 5, 2009


I don't know what the backstory is, but several mefi members called paypal and tried to get somewhere (I have an email with contact info for one paypal review worker that was appalled I've been locked down for over two weeks with the money), and several helped contact the charities to get letters of support explaining that they were indeed waiting for donations from us. I uploaded those letters yesterday and this morning I got a nondescript "all clear" email saying I was completely free to use the service again but reminded me to never run a raffle, lottery, etc.

So yeah, happy ending. I'll donate to Kiva and Doctors w/o Borders on Monday, since I might have already passed my daily money limits on my Paypal account this morning. I'm taking screenshots of the receipts and will be posting them on the raffle page.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:07 AM on December 5, 2009 [7 favorites]


Hooray!!!
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:59 AM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's a Haugheyday miracle! Thanks for your hard work, Matt (now take it easy and get well!) and to all those who needled Paypal into doing the right thing. As for the Metafilter Foundation (or MeFi Cares, or GiveMe) I'd love to see an annual fund drive, or even the possibility of a monthly auto-donate system.
posted by hangashore at 11:19 AM on December 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yay!
posted by rtha at 11:55 AM on December 5, 2009


Yay! A million thanks to you, Matt, and to everyone who helped get this ball rolling.
posted by scody at 1:00 PM on December 5, 2009


Thanks for all your work Matt and everyone who helped.
posted by marxchivist at 2:30 PM on December 5, 2009


Rhomboid: "Also, by my calculations paypal stands to net more than $524 in fees on this transaction, so you would think it would be in their best interest to get their heads out of their behinds. That's based on 514 equal transactions of $24.80, however since some people paid in more than one transaction the actual fees will be even higher due to the $0.30 per transaction flat fee on top of the 2.9% fee"

Late to the convo, but I worked on a charity event last spring that sold tickets through PayPal, and we dealt with the exact same thing, and rest assured: PayPal gets their cut in fees up front, regardless of the final disposition of your money. Overall, they are simply not the right financial middleman for a charitable effort.

Glad it all worked out here, though.
posted by pineapple at 2:40 PM on December 5, 2009


Dammit Haughey!!!!! Now I have no grievance to air on Festivus!
posted by The Deej at 2:45 PM on December 5, 2009


Now I have no grievance to air on Festivus!

Sounds like a grievance to me!
posted by scody at 3:31 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


So glad this worked out!
posted by radioamy at 4:26 PM on December 5, 2009


Oh good! Glad it has worked out finally.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:08 PM on December 5, 2009


Hugs and kisses for everyone!
posted by ocherdraco at 11:50 PM on December 5, 2009


Huzzah! Great news. Kudos to Matt and all of the MeFites who pitched in to help resolve this.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 12:48 AM on December 6, 2009


yay!
posted by juv3nal at 4:00 AM on December 6, 2009


I'm so glad to hear this. I hope we do this again next year.

Hugs and kisses to all as well.
posted by elmono at 8:05 AM on December 6, 2009


Thanks so much for seeing this through!
posted by Nelson at 8:26 AM on December 6, 2009


Kiva is donated. I have a $3,000/day limit on donations to Doctors Without Borders, so I've done one donation and will be done with it by Tuesday.

I noticed Doctors Without Borders has a fundraiser page with tools for planning fundraisers and tracking donations directly through their site, so next year, I think we'll be going that route instead.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:16 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


True story: I have had the song "What a Friend We Have in Jesus"1 stuck in my head for over 20 years, which wouldn't be so disconcerting if I knew all the lyrics and wasn't an atheist. I've got some kind of mental block that keeps me from remembering the song title or the words. I kinda hum/whistle it pretty much several times a day. Just today I had to ask the girlfriend, "What's that song I always have stuck in my head?" She remembers. She tells me. I'm guessing because she finds it as annoying at I do.

I recently had a tumor removed from my head, and though there's no proof to back this, and I am pretty sure it's not scientifically plausible, I remain convinced it was a physical manifestation of that damn song. Jesus song = Tumor.

Anyway, if this whole PayPal thing didn't work out, I was going to start telling people, "I know this guy on the internet that got a tumor from PayPal!" because it's nice to have something to blame for these things. PayPal = Tumor.

I'm only saddened there's no way my letter could have reached PayPal by now so I can't take credit. Though I will still insist I am the reason the Catholic Church brought back indulgences.

1. If you really want to pity me I've had the singular line "I want to be the girl with the most cake," from the song "Doll Parts" by Courtney Love's band Hole running through my head for only five years less.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:34 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


damn you, cjorgensen... it took me years to get that exact line from that exact Hole song out of my head!
posted by scody at 6:57 PM on December 6, 2009


Glad to hear this got sorted. I missed out on buying any tickets because of the early end date, but I just remembered to go donate to DWB anyhow. Thanks for running this, y'all, and for putting up with all the crap from paypal in order to get it figured out.
posted by nat at 5:05 AM on December 7, 2009


scody: "it took me years to get that exact line from that exact Hole song out of my head

There's a very disrespectful Kurt Cobain joke somewhere in there, but this oblique reference is as close as I'm going to get to making it.

posted by Plutor at 6:34 AM on December 7, 2009


no worries, your oblique reference is enough to make me laugh and then feel bad about laughing. Sorry, Kurt!
posted by scody at 11:48 AM on December 7, 2009


And we are done, screenshot evidence is here on the raffle results page.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:34 PM on December 8, 2009


Mathowie, you are awesomeness.

I'm sorry it was such a battle, but I am very happy it worked out; thank you for making participation in this possible.

And thanks too, to all who helped make it happen. Sometimes this here internet thing is pretty damn cool.
posted by faineant at 5:06 PM on December 9, 2009


Yay!
posted by Mitheral at 10:11 PM on December 23, 2009


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