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Have a Penny, Donate a Penny, PayPal takes a Penny.

Posted: May 29th, 2006, 1:10 am
by SpellSword
When the 'Have a Penny, Donate a Penny campaign' started I thought "That’s a brilliant Idea!", and then this mess with PayPal taking the penny as part of the cost for the transaction occurred.

I'm personally hoping it's just an oversight and that they'll smooth it over.
I thought it may make an interesting chat topic, so what does everyone else think?

I've include the relevant news entries (So far) for those who haven't be following main page's news:

(Classic DOS Games News - 17 April 2006)
"Started the Have a Penny, Donate a Penny campaign. I realized that the site gets about 6000 unique visitors per month. If 1 in 6 of them were to donate a penny, all of the site's expenses could be covered. PayPal allows donations of a single penny, so if you find the site worth a penny to you, please consider donating one."

(Classic DOS Games News - 18 May 2006)
"A major problem has been identified with the Have a Penny, Donate a Penny campaign. I forgot that PayPal charges a commission on all donations made by credit card (but not from bank account or PayPal balances), which is the most common way for people to transfer money. The fee apparently rounds up to the nearest penny, so PayPal is simply keeping all donations. I have contacted PayPal to request that they refund all donations to the donors and have offered a compromise where they can take their commission from all pennies donated on a monthly or annual basis, rather than on every donation, so that they aren't charging a 100% commission. If necessary, I will refund all donations out of my own pocket (through my bank account so that it actually gets to them). In the meantime, please donate your pennies by means other than credit cards, or donate them to charity instead. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far."

(Classic DOS Games News - 28 May 2006)
"PayPal's response to my concerns about charging a 100% fee on transactions and keeping all donations to the Have a Penny, Donate a Penny campaign was that they cannot change their fee structure, so they apparently believe that charging a 100% fee is acceptable and ethical business practice. I have sent two additional emails to request that the policy be reviewed, which have gone unanswered. Rather than let PayPal keep your donations, I have refunded all donations to the campaign. Although I was assured that the fees would also be refunded, PayPal seems to be charging a fee of $0.01 on the refunds, so it appears that PayPal has "refunded" your money, only to keep it for themselves as a transaction fee. I have sent an email to ask why a fee appears next to the refund in my transaction list. Rest assured, I will fight for the return of your money on ethical grounds."

Edit Note:
Odd, the boards Quote code didn't work.

Posted: May 29th, 2006, 1:46 am
by DOSGuy
The situation is becoming more and more comical. Here's the response I got when I asked PayPal if they had charged a fee when I refunded the donations.
Dear DOSGuy,

Hello my name is [deleted], I will be happy to assist you with your question regarding transaction fee issue.

If you have an account with PayPal a record of all your PayPal transactions is kept in your 'History'. To view your History Log, please follow these steps:

1. Log in to your account at

2. Click on the 'History' subtab.

3. To view specific transaction types or dates, enter specifics in date box and pull-down menu at the top of the screen. After making selections, click 'Search' to view.

4. Click 'Details' to view specific information concerning this transaction.

If you do not have a PayPal account, you can refer to the email receipts you received from the seller. Or, you can review your credit card statements for PayPal transactions.
Thank you for being part of the PayPal community.

Community satisfaction and your experience with PayPal are very important to me. You may receive a survey from our third party vendor, Benchmark Portal, about the service you received.

I would appreciate any feedback that you can provide.

PayPal Global Services
PayPal, an eBay Company
Do you think he even read my email?

I will, of course, be pointing out that he didn't answer my question when I get his feedback form, but no one responded to the feedback form I sent last time, so it looks like this is going nowhere. If the pennies are gone, they're gone.

It's a shame, because I can easily see a revolution on the web of people donating a penny or two when they come across a site they really like. I respect the fact that not everyone can afford to give larger amounts, but surely we can all afford an occasional penny, right?

If PayPal can't keep up with the latest trends on the web, maybe they're in the wrong business. Let's put some people power to work on this. If there are any message boards you regularly post on that allow miscellaneous rants, try posting about the issue of excessive fees, or blog about it, and see if we can generate some buzz. If it looks like the issue is going to get bad press, maybe PayPal will re-evaluate their position. I don't want to hurt PayPal, I just want to wake them up.

Good news, maybe.

Posted: May 31st, 2006, 9:05 pm
by SpellSword
Alright, the good news (If I understand it correctly.) is that the -1 cost on the refund is actually saying 1 penny has been refunded.

Here's a reply I got on another forum.
Quote: Syke of the Shivae Studios Forums.
Paypal clearly outlines that there IS a fee. It's 1.9% to 2.9% + $0.30 USD. There's also a REFUND button, which doesn't charge you when you hit you... since I've used the refund button before, I know it doesn't charge you. (Maybe it charges for a different kind of account than I have, I've just never seen any such fees.) This is kinda why I stopped accepting donations under $5. He needs to look into bitpass or have people tape the coins to a card and mail them. It costs money to do transactions and paypal is not set up for that kinda thing and probably will never be, because let's see... if it costs Paypal 2 cents for every transaction and your transaction is 1 cent... uhhh... there's a problem there. You can't expect Paypal to operate like that and just GIVE away money when they're in the business of making it.

I checked. There isn't a fee on a refund, but the way it appears in Paypal is probably confusing the guy, since it will show up: -1 Fee -.01 . The help states that there isn't a fee on refunds and I just DID a refund where there wasn't any fee and I'm sure they'd charge a fee on more money than less. I'm sure in a short time when someone who's donated verifies it, he'll find out that the money was indeed returned and he needs to be more patient about something as trivial as pennies.
Tones a little condescending but the information is useful I hope.

Posted: May 31st, 2006, 10:42 pm
by DOSGuy
The transaction shows that a refund of -$0.01 occurs, and shows $0.01 in the fee column which, by my way of doing math, indicates that a fee of $0.01 has been charged on the transaction. I'll take his word for it that PayPal isn't charging a fee on the refund, even though they list one.

My experience in business is that credit card companies charge 2-3% on all transactions, and naturally PayPal will want to make a profit. I realize that they can't charge less than a penny per transaction, which is why I proposed that they take their 3% at the end of the month or year. Maybe I'm a dreamer, or just ahead of my time, but I believe that this is possible. I don't expect them to change the way they do business because I ask, which is why I'm suggesting that lots of people should ask and shine a spotlight on a policy that charges a 100% fee on transactions. Small donations that anyone can afford is the future, so the question is whether PayPal wants to join us in the future or remain in the past.

I realize that these are just pennies, but I'd be very surprised if the idea of a 100% fee isn't offensive to someone other than me. I keep costs low and I can run this site for pennies a month, assuming that those pennies get to me. Paying for this website is not trivial to me.

Thanks for taking the time to post about this issue on other forums, SpellSword.

Posted: January 18th, 2007, 4:30 am
by DOSGuy
You know, I hate to use the forum to only talk about the bad things that companies are doing. I'd love to have threads about good products, good movies, and good companies. We do have a thread for favorite games and people. I prefer to be positive, but right now I only have negative things to say about PayPal. Since there was already a thread about them...

As I've posted in the past, I have more free time at the moment because my contract at work expired. Being unemployed put me in a tight spot financially so, I'll admit, I was one of those guys who waited in line to buy, or pre-order, Nintendo Wiis and PlayStation 3s. I only waited hours, though. I'm not one of the guys in a tent who waited for days. Nevertheless, my goal was to purchase the consoles in order to sell them on eBay, which I did.

The mistake I made was accepting payment by PayPal. I sold two Wiis, one of which was a local pickup, and the other was shipped. Someone claiming to be from PayPal called my house at night and asked me for tracking numbers. I was shocked! Why would they ask me for a tracking number? It was none of their business. I had a legally binding contract to ship the Wii to the buyer, and PayPal was a third party. They had no right to intervene in our transaction unless the buyer filed a dispute against me. I told them that I would never give the tracking number to a third party. I thought the guy was a scam artist, because there was no way PayPal would presume me guilty of fraud and take preemptive action against me.

Well, I was wrong about that. They really did want the tracking number, and they placed a hold on my account that prevented me from withdrawing my money. I repeat, they refused to give me my money, even though they had no reason to believe that I hadn't delivered the Wiis to the buyers. It was kind of important because I needed that money to pay the credit card that I used to buy the consoles!

Eventually the buyers left positive feedback and PayPal removed the restrictions on my account, but that isn't good enough. They treated me like a criminal, and held my money hostage without justification. I was guilty until proven innocent. I acted in good faith, but they assumed bad faith. How can I trust them if they don't trust me? At the very least, I felt entitled to an apology, and I'm still negotiating with them to get one. Apologies are free, but they're even fighting me on that.

Here's their latest correspondence, and my latest reply. If you're wondering why I referred to corporate liability and class action lawsuits to PayPal, and to the helpful fellow from Petition Online Support in another thread, it's because my mother is a legal clerk, and I work for the federal government. She knows the law first hand, and I deal with people who are suing the government, or being sued by the government, on a regular basis. There's a lot of legal knowledge in our family. I have been invited to participate in class action lawsuits on at least three occasions in the past, and the companies have settled in every case. I have never sued anyone, and have no personal interest in litigation, but I know how vulnerable corporations are to legal action.

PayPal wrote:Dear DOSGuy,

Thank you for contacting PayPal.

We deeply regret the necessity of limiting any of our valued customers' accounts. Unfortunately, there is, historically, a very high risk of fraud and loss associated with the sales of so-called "hot ticket" gaming systems, particularly before or soon after the release dates. This risk is compounded by the fact that most of these sales are for considerably more the retail price of the gaming system. To mitigate this risk, we limit accounts and hold payments for these items on the front end until we are able to verify that sellers have the items in hand and they are being shipped to the buyers. While we understand that situations like this can be frustrating, these measures are in place to protect the entire PayPal community, including you.

We apologize for your frustration in this matter, and any inconvenience the situation may have caused for you.

At the time you account was placed under limited access you had received two payments for Nintendo Wii's, and had not had any feedback within the past year. In addition, once limited you were unable to provide valid online tracking for the shipment of these high risk items. Without online tracking you would be liable for any reversals due to customer complaints of non receipt, chargebacks or buyer fraud, as you would not qualify for PayPal's Seller Protection Policy. Please understand that this limitation was not meant as an accusation toward you of any kind.

As an online service PayPal does not have the privilege of face-to-face contact with our many valued customers. As a result individuals of low character will sometimes attempt to exploit this fact and use our service in an attempt to defraud both buyers and sellers.

To combat such attempts PayPal employs some of the most rigorous security procedures on the Internet. The success of our efforts is measured by the fact that PayPal currently suffers a rate of fraud that is less than half of the industry average of 1%.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us again.

Executive Escalations
PayPal, an eBay Company
DOSGuy wrote:It's not that I was unable to provide a tracking number, but that I refused to give a tracking number to a third party. I received a suspicious phone call in which someone asked me for a tracking number, which was none of your business! You had no right to take pre-emptive action against my account. If the buyer hadn't received her Wii, she would have complained.

We both know that any business relationship requires trust. When someone promises to do something, you give them an opportunity to act in good faith, you don't assume that they will act in bad faith. I know you understand that because they teach it in kindergarten. I know you understand that PayPal is wrong, but you can't admit it because I might submit your admission of guilt in court. I'm not going to do that. I haven't asked for any money. All I want is a sincere apology, and you can't even give me that!

Eventually someone will file a class action lawsuit against PayPal, but it won't be me. I'm sure that thousands of your customers have been presumed guilty without justification, and suffered financial losses as a result. PayPal may be able to protect itself from individual litigants by creating terms and conditions that waive you of responsibility for financial loss, but we both know that if a company is acting unethically, courts can and do award damages to the victims of that company. You need to stop doing this to people immediately, because this is a major liability for your company. The longer you get away with it, the larger the class action will become.

There can be no business relationship between PayPal and me because there is no trust. You didn't trust me to act in good faith, and I can't trust you to hold my money in trust on my behalf. I was so relieved when I learned that Google was offering a competing product called Google Checkout. You've violated the trust of a lot of people over the years, and they can't wait to leave you. Now that you aren't a monopoly, you have a choice to make. Are you going to do the right thing, or the wrong thing?