back to article PayPal slaps down Dr Who ‘charity book’

This can only end in tears: a PayPal processing ban has stalled production of a charity book based on celebrity’s memoirs of Dr Who. Just ten days after the producer of the book began his “crowdfunding” experiment by accepting pre-orders for the book, PayPal stopped accepting payments, according to the producer’s blog. …


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  1. ratfox Silver badge

    Oh boy

    He ran afoul of PayPal's Byzantine processes? He's done for. Even Google has better customer service.

  2. Ian Ferguson

    When will people learn

    not to trust PayPal an inch. It's not just their T&Cs to be wary of - but their unbelievably minimal, bottom line driven customer service.

    His only hope is publicity. Negative publicity is the only thing that has saved myself and many others from PayPal resolution hell.

  3. Boris S.

    Actually PP may be doing the right thing here

    Technically you are not suppose to be selling goods on PP that you do not have available for immediate shipment. The obvious reason for this is because scam artists can take hundreds of thousands of dollars in "deposits" and then disappear. That would not be good for trusting people... or a charity that didn't get the promised funds.

    Once the books are printed and in the seller's possession, then they can technically use PP to process payment and immediately ship the books. That is the proper means of operation.

    1. Chris 3

      Re: Actually PP may be doing the right thing here

      Agreed. I strongly dislike PP, but their Ts&Cs do clearly state that if you take payment it has to be for something you can deliver, not for something you claim to be able to deliver in the future, I believe,

      1. g e

        Re: Actually PP may be doing the right thing here

        Presumably the seller made it pretty clear this was 'pre-order' or 'crowdfunding' ?

        As long as the buyer is clearly made aware then PP cannot claim anyone was mislead, surely?

        I couldn't possibly recommend PP to anyone as anything more than a hobby level payment solution, they're too much of a liability, like an apple app store for your money, it's up to them if they let you at it. I know many companies put big sums of money through them but I'd never trust them with my business' primary revenue.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Actually PP may be doing the right thing here

      There are many "proper means of operation" and pre-orders and crowd sourcing are some of them. All that is required is full disclosure of what you are doing. I helped start a non-profit that is now a US$2+ million corporation using similar techniques. We sold memberships in a convention and there was no way a dozen college students were going to have the money to have print the programs, buy the supplies, and pay the hotels without income from the pre-sales. Yeah, it could be a scam. As a consumer you do your due diligence before you buy. Whole sectors of markets start out this way. If he's got a known reputable publisher and letters or agreements with the stars lending their names to the project, that is all that is necessary to validate the project. But if it isn't a real live person who can make a value judgement answering the phone, you can't submit those.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Actually PP may be doing the right thing here

        If you are going to use PP then you agree to abide by their terms which means you have the property to ship when ordered. Pre-sales are not allowed. PP is right on this deal.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: selling goods on PP that you do not have available for immediate shipment

      Does PayPal permit transactions for pre-sale items?

      Pre-sale items are advertised for sale before the seller has the items. Often, these items are sold before they are available to the general public. Or, the seller uses the funds from the sale to purchase the item that has already been sold.

      PayPal permits pre-sales on a limited basis, only if the seller guarantees delivery within 20 days from the date of purchase and clearly identifies the item as a pre-sale. PayPal may apply additional conditions, such as proof of the seller's ability to successfully deliver the product: supplier information, purchase invoices, postal information or proof of delivery.

  4. Martin Lyne


    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      You need a US address and formal US ID to run a Kickstarter project (anyone, anywhere can contribute to an existing project).

      Kickstarter have been promising to open up to other countries for a couple of years now. First they blamed Amazon Payments for only being available in America, but that's no longer the case. They've even stopped giving updates of when they expect to offer Kickstarter in the rest of the world.

  5. W.O.Frobozz

    I will say it again...

    ...Stop. Using. Paypal. End of story. I got downvoted for saying "Good" when Google wanted to force Marketplace devs to use their system instead of PayFiend. I still stand by that.

    The day PayFiend closes shop will be a very good day indeed.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paypal is useful..

    For buyers :)

    Paypal is one of the best things ever, if you're a buyer. But it's a bit of a wild west for sellers. As a regular ebayer, I love the convenience and protection of Paypal. But would I feel comfortable using it as a primary means of collecting payments as a seller? No!

    1. NonnyMus

      Re: Paypal is useful..

      PayPal screws buyers too! Their only concern is their bottom line.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i wonder

    if this is why that paypay guy tried to play superman in california, yesterday.

  8. nsld

    when will people learn

    That Paypal is not a proper merchant account.

    A simple read of the terms and conditions will tell you that, shortly followed by comparing the rates they offer versus a bank.

    Even the high street shysters are cheaper and at least the terms and conditions are not onerous when compared to Paypals.

    If you dont want to be bent over and given the good news by Paypal get a proper merchant account.

    1. theModge

      Re: when will people learn

      Tis true, I run a business that offers both as a means of payment and the labyrinthine mucking around to get a merchant account is as nothing compared to getting paypal to work for us. We need to use them because we sell in part via ebay and in any case buyers like it, but getting them to allow us to take more than £2k a year with them is a process that started before Christmas and has yet to finish!

  9. Graysonn

    I'm not surprised PayPal froze the funds. The guy called them and said he's selling something he doesn't actually have. It would probably be different if he was a charity. But he isn't. He might be doing it for charity, but anyone can claim that.

    Of course he has a blog to back up his claims......

    He probably could have used western union. But it's used by loads of scammers so he probably used PayPal because it's trustworthy. And he's surprised they wouldn't just take him at his word.

    1. g e

      Errr what???

      He used paypal because it's..... *cough*

    2. Tom 13


      No, he used PayPal because proper merchant agreements are scary to read and problematic to implement. Proper merchant accounts make you personally liable for anything that goes wrong with processing the account. If you aren't a corp (a whole other mess to setup) that properly scares the crap out of people. Then the people selling you the merchant account have no idea how to implement it for a website, so you need a third party processor. Paypal has a simple form sign and done. Yeah they take a higher percentage, but it looks less intimidating.

      At least that was my experience setting it up for the non-profit I mentioned above. No, I didn't trust PayPal and wasn't ever going to sign with them. But their stuff does look better on the surface.

  10. Clyde


    "and since PayPal is holding the funds while its investigations continue, nobody will lose their money."

    Boll_x - Paypal will snaffle everything that's in the account, and everybody can go whistle.

    Payscammers are a law unto themselves - they care nothing for right or wrong - they exploit every hiccup to confiscate funds. They are not interested in resolving anything properly.

    The Law needs to take a firm hand with them.

  11. opaque

    I agree with Martin, this is what Kickstart is for.

    If you don't want to get screwed over by Paypal then try obeying their rules or don't use them.

    I bet he'd get a lot more interest if he restarted on Kickstarter too.

    1. Oninoshiko

      USAian then?

      You cannot start a kickstarter project from the UK,

  12. Stewart Cunningham

    Given paypals dislike for selling a promise, it seems a bit odd that uses paypal as the payment method...

  13. The Original Cactus

    Ready to ship

    What if he'd been selling vouchers, redeemable at an unspecified future date in return for a copy of the book?

    Punter makes payment > PayPal processes payment > author sends voucher to punter by snail mail or email > PayPal have no interest in what happens after that.

  14. Eddie Edwards

    Uh oh

    I was just on crowdfunder, and they use PayPal to take the money, and to give it to the venture. Since none of those ventures have product ready to ship, presumably this is also against PayPal's T&Cs?

  15. The Axe

    Alzheimer's Research UK

    So he was going to be giving the profits from the book to the charity Alzheimer's Research UK. The charity has an income in millions and a budget of over £300K with 22 staff for advertising and fundraising. Why doesn't the charity fund the development of the book since they'll be getting the profits. A bit of investment with a good return.

    1. Dick Puddlecote

      Re: Alzheimer's Research UK

      A point I made at my blog, Axe (I'd link but, house rules y'see).

      It's a fine idea, and I'd like to buy it when it's published, but he has either been knocked back by ARUK, or naive enough not to have approached them. Not making himself aware of PP's T&Cs just compounds the problem.

  16. Michael Kean

    A place for BitCoin.

    BitCoin is useful in situations like this since it is a peer to peer payment system and therefor avoids middlemen; but unfortunately it's not well known, and has attracted a fair share of poor 'trading and speculating sites' giving it a bad name at times. However, direct currency transfers generally avoid that problem, with the only potential problem being that there's no mechanism for chargebacks. has a list of currency exchanges.

  17. John Angelico

    One day those T&Cs will kill 'em

    PayPal's T&Cs are fiddlesticks - they hold themselves out to be "the easiest way to send or receive money around the world". But every single T or C which restricts that represents more and more misleading advertising.

    I hope that one day someone with deep enough pockets takes them up on their whinnet-ridden (thank you, Douglas Adams - a truly pungent turn of phrase) T&Cs and goes through the organisation like a dose of salts.

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