Are Your Customers Committing Fraud?

Are your customers committing fraud with their PayPal chargebacks?

It devastates me to say that one of my customers has committed fraud.

My goal here isn’t to name and shame this person (a book blogger, which actually makes me even more sad). My goal is to shed some light on what can and does happen to sellers every day. In fact, my husband showed me a huge topic on Reddit where people shared their experiences.

Someone bought my theme, downloaded it, then issued a chargeback with their credit card company

I sell pre-made WordPress themes. Due to the digital nature of these themes (there’s no way to “return” them) I have a no refund policy.

I also have a web hosting business. If you sign up for that hosting, you get my themes free.

A blogger purchased my WordPress theme

A book blogger purchased my Tweak Me v2 theme for $69. Shortly after, this person signed up for a hosting account with me. She asked for a migration from Blogger to WordPress as part of it. Then she emailed me saying:

“Hi! I bought the tweakme2 theme and was wondering if you could install it on my blog.”

So she probably bought the theme, not realizing it already came free with her hosting.

At the time, I hadn’t realized she’d only just bought it. If she’d bought the theme, used it elsewhere, then moved to my hosting, I wouldn’t have provided a refund at all. However, she’d only just bought it like a day beforehand and hadn’t used it anywhere else.

Even with that in mind, she wasn’t entitled to a refund because of my “no refund” policy. However, if she’d said something, I probably would have been understanding and given her a refund anyway. But she didn’t say something, and I didn’t realize how close the purchase times were until later.

But it’s important to see that she bought the theme, downloaded the theme (saved it on her computer), explicitly told me she bought the theme, said she wanted to use it, and was not entitled to any kind of refund because of my policy.

One month later, she claimed this was an “unauthorized purchase”

Almost exactly one month later, I received this email from PayPal:

Dear Creative Whim,

We’re writing to let you know that one of your buyers opened a chargeback with their card issuer. The buyer stated that they did not authorise this purchase.

And immediately, the $69 was removed from my account, pending an investigation.

I’m not sure what was going through the customer’s mind one month later. Maybe they woke up and realized that they could have gotten that theme for free and didn’t need to buy it. So then they decided to take matters into their own hands and get their money back. Or maybe they looked at their credit card bill and didn’t remember what the purchase was.

Either way, they would have remembered or realized eventually because I emailed them to ask why they did it and they never responded.

So anyway, I proceeded to pour over my BUCKET LOADS of evidence.

  • I had payment records from this same person on two different systems (one for the theme, one for hosting).
  • The IP addresses and billing addresses of both purchases matched. And yet one was supposedly “unauthorized” but the other wasn’t?
  • I did a geolocation lookup on the IP address and it matched the billing address perfectly.
  • I had logs (with IP addresses) showing that the customer downloaded the theme. Several times.
  • I had an email from the person’s PayPal email saying, “I bought the tweakme2 theme”. Was their PayPal account hacked too? Probably not.

In short, I had an OVERWHELMING amount of evidence proving that this purchase was completely legit and would have matched PayPal’s IP address/billing records for this same person.

This customer committed fraud

So by telling their credit card company that they didn’t authorize this purchase, when they so obviously did, they committed fraud. That’s illegal.

I handed over all the evidence to PayPal

I sent them screenshots, logs, detailed explanations… all of it. A few days later, I received another email from PayPal containing this message:

The disputed amount has now been debited from your PayPal account because of the following reason(s):

This transaction is not marked as eligible for Seller Protection.

In addition, you have been debited a chargeback fee.

Despite my OVERWHELMING evidence that my customer committed fraud, PayPal chose not to do anything about it because I’m not eligible for Seller Protection. Why? Because I sold a digital good. Does this suddenly give people the right to BREAK THE LAW and get away with it? How ridiculous is that?

And to take things even further, I was charged a $20 “chargeback fee”. So I lost the $69 from the sale and then had to pay $20 out of my own pocket, because someone else decided to lie and commit fraud.

PayPal’s unwillingness to see the facts and fight is ABSURD

It’s so stupid that you can have so much evidence, just to be met with a brick wall. And it’s so stupid that PayPal is choosing to protect buyers of digital goods, but not the sellers. The sellers are the ones making people money, so we should be offered protection.

I eventually called PayPal to complain. The case was now marked as closed, but obviously I was not happy.

Without me even having to ask, PayPal kindly reversed the $20 fee. Clearly even they could see that this customer was obviously committing fraud. They then told me that they couldn’t do anything since I wasn’t covered under Seller Protection (SIGH) but they have sent all the evidence to the credit card company, who will be running their own investigation. If they don’t respond back within 75 days then I should have my $69 returned.

What can we do to stop this from happening?

Honestly, I would have LOVED to take this person to small claims court. It’s a case that I would obviously have won, and I want to see people like this face the consequences of their actions. You cannot lie and commit fraud and expect to get away with it. That shouldn’t be how the world works. You lie, you face the consequences — that’s how it should be.

But alas, if I wanted to take this to small claims, I’d have to do it in this person’s state, which means actually flying to the United States. I don’t think that’s worth it for a $69 item.

At the very least, I’m hoping this customer’s credit card company drops them. Then at least they’ll face some kind of consequences.

I am looking into other payment options

I’ve started looking into other payment options because I’m unhappy with PayPal’s policies. I shouldn’t be put in this situation because they’re too lazy to protect sellers against fraudulent claims. I’ve been looking into options like SagePay, Stipe, WorldPay, and more.

I want a payment option that will actually stand by me when I have an overwhelming amount of evidence. I want one that isn’t afraid to fight to protect their sellers and the law.

But at the same time, I’m worried about losing customers who only want to pay with PayPal. Is that a risk I’m going to have to take in order to ensure this doesn’t happen again?

Have you ever had a customer commit fraud like this? Share your experience!

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I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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  1. Ugh! Some people just need to be slapped stupid sideways from Sunday.

    I’m sorry, I just really have no patience at all for idiots who think they can lie, con, and scheme their way out of things that they clearly know they’ve done and agreed to. I’m truly sorry that PayPal wouldn’t back you up and fight for your rights as a seller, that’s intolerable and ludicrous. It isn’t as if you were just pulling this shit out of your ass and fabricating what’s going on. You actually had proof and the very idea that you don’t qualify for Seller’s Protection because you are selling digital goods, is insanely ridiculous. I truly hate to see good, honest, and generous people such as yourself who take the time to make these themes and offer them at a decent price get treated this way. Please try not to let it discourage you, because for every lunatic out there who will do something like this, there are ten more honest people around the corner waiting to do business with you.

    1. I hate liars/schemers like this too. πŸ™ I just REALLY want them to suffer the consequences of their actions and it sucks when they can get away with stuff like this. They need to know that it’s not okay and that there’s a price to pay.

  2. Wow….I am really sorry this happened to you. It takes a really terrible, deceitful person to commit fraud to begin with, but then to do it to someone in their mutual community? I hope you write to this person and explain that you are firing her as a customer. She can take her hosting and lies somewhere else.

    1. Yes I have already told her that her hosting account is cancelled at the end of the billing term. πŸ™ I wrote her once to ask for an explanation, and when I didn’t hear from her I told her I was cancelling her hosting account because she committed fraud and “that’s not how I do business”.

        1. Yeah I want this to be more about raising awareness about the issue and less about naming and shaming the particular person… even if that’s exactly what they deserve.

          It makes me feel slightly better that they tried to move their site away from my hosting and completely fucked it up in the process. The site isn’t even working right now.

  3. I am sorry to read that this happened to you πŸ™ That makes me sad AND mad for you. I wonder if there is a way to show paypal there is a want,need, desire for better seller protection? Start a petition maybe? Don’t know if that sounds stupid or not.

    I know for me, it would become something I would have to consider as a costumer of yours if I would switch to a new payment system or not. I am very iffy about how many services have my credit card/bank account and would not really want to set up another account.

    Again I hate that this happened to you.

    1. I found A LOT of similar stories from other people (that Reddit topic being just one of them), so I’d imagine that PayPal already knows about the poor sellers being “scammed” by this. I think the sad thing is that PayPal knows they’re at the top of the “process online payments” chain so they can get away with not offering the best protection, since people will use them anyway. πŸ™

      If I did switch to a new system, it wouldn’t be one that requires an account that stores your details, like PayPal. I would set up a system with another company to process payments directly on my website (so you enter your CC details on my website directly). I know that still makes some people uncomfortable, but at least it wouldn’t require creating a new account on an unknown/new-to-you site. (other than mine, haha)

  4. i read this happened to someone on reddit. Except it was for 1400$ headphones. They filed a false charge back. Cant remember what happened but i think it was similar to
    What happened with you. Its disgusting and wrong and paypal needs to do something fast

    1. Yeah that’s the same topic I found! I believe they never got it resolved and got banned from PayPal, since their account was put into -$1400 and they didn’t want to pay that fee since the other person lied about it. πŸ™

  5. Wow! I can’t believe someone would do this. I’m completely shocked. As if committing fraud and lying to the credit card company wasn’t bad enough, this person took that money right out of your pocket. PLUS a fee. It’s so sad to think a fellow book blogger would do this to another. And especially you!! You are the first to help and do so much for us and never ask for a dime. You work so hard and deserve the cost of themes you sell. I feel so bad that someone would do that to you. πŸ™

    Lisa @ Lost in Literature recently posted: Lisa’s Stacking the Shelves & Weekly Recap ~ 3.14.15
    1. I know!! I think I would have been less pissed off had I not have to pay $20 out of my own pocket because of their lie. At least I got it refunded, but I was still SUPER PISSED for like two days until I spoke to PayPal on the phone and got that part reversed. πŸ™

  6. I think you are a very approachable person, and I think if someone said to you “Oops, I didn’t know if I hosted with you that I’d get that theme for free, is there any chance you’d consider refunding that amount as I’m now tied into a paid hosting programme with you?” that you would most likely consider it, as it makes business-sense long-term, and mistakes/errors of judgement do happen. This person decided to take matters into their own hands in an unkind manner, and it escalated to a place it didn’t need to go. The trouble now is, this person is still being hosted with you (?) and you provide a ticket-service, from what I can tell, to assist with issues that your hosted clients face. How can this individual expect to ask you for help and assistance in future when they’ve gone out of their way to be difficult? It was someone not using commonsense. Very difficult situation for you now, I imagine. I know PayPal is a payment option I like to use, but I wouldn’t be adverse to using others. Hope this gets resolved for you. R x

    1. Absolutely! I actually have done that before. I had another customer buy my theme (or plugin or something) then sign up for my hosting the same day. Then she realized her mistake and submitted a support ticket to me. I immediately refunded her.

      There have also been cases where someone bought my plugin/theme, didn’t read the instructions saying “This is for self-hosted sites only” then emailed me because they’re actually on Blogger and can’t use it. So I’ve refunded those people as well.

      Even though I have a no refund policy, I actually tend to be quite generous and offer refunds to people who have actually made a mistake and contacted me about it.

      But I’m NOT on board with someone taking matters into their own hands and committing fraud to get their money back!!!

      I contacted this person asking for an explanation and when I didn’t hear from her, I sent her another message saying that I was cancelling her hosting account at the end of her current billing cycle. I can’t do business with people who commit fraud. πŸ™

  7. That is the difficulty in being a digital seller πŸ™ Have you ever thought of just transferring deposits to your local customers to at least prevent a few % of it from happening? Paypal is actually pretty useful for inter nation customers and I don’t know other methods of paying, this must be hard for you Ashely. Paypal is BS HAHAHA

    Chyna @ Lite-Rate-Ture recently posted: Renaming your blog!
    1. I don’t think it’s realistic for me to do bank transfers for digital goods like this. πŸ™ I’d say 99% of my customers are international, since I’m in the UK and most of my customers are in the US. International bank transfers take days to go through.

  8. You may want to contact customer service and explain that your business revolves around services. Don’t use the word digital goods. Pay Pal does not make a decision for either party in disputes involving services. I’ve had this happen myself, and I have always been able to maintain the transaction on my end. Hope this helps you in the future.


    1. My business doesn’t revolve around services though. πŸ™ When someone buys a theme or a plugin they are buying digital goods. So I don’t think I can call PayPal and tell them otherwise.

      If someone did a chargeback on a custom theme then that would be a service. But a pre-made is in fact a digital good.

    1. Yeah I actually have refunded one or two people who made this same mistake and then immediately contacted me about it. It would have been no different for this girl. But taking things into her own hands, committing fraud, and landing ME with a $20 fine is NOT COOL. That’s not how you do things. πŸ™

  9. Wow, that totally sucks. I would have thought that since she agreed to your terms with the purchase that you would have won your case with Paypal. I worked fraud at a bank and Visa/Mastercard always came back against the bank when the customers had clearly agreed to terms and conditions – especially no refunds. Sad!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

    Missie recently posted: Week Recap - Sunshine and Spring
    1. The problem is that she’s claiming (falsely) that her credit card was stolen. And if that’s the case, you’re not bound by any T&C since you didn’t agree to them—the thief did. At least that’s how I assume it works.

      But if she had told the truth and issued the chargeback said, “I wish I hadn’t bought this because I already get it for free and I should get a refund” then she would have lost because I have a no refund policy. But instead she’s lying and saying it was an unauthorized purchase, so I assume they don’t care what my policy is, since they’re assuming she didn’t actually make the purchase at all.

  10. I’m sorry to hear this, Ashley.
    But that makes me think… do people really think it’s ok to lie and damage other people reputation?? Because when she says the purchase is unauthorized, she is accusing YOU of fraud, when SHE was the one who was acting in a criminal way (yes, it’s a crime). The worst way of starting a relationship with a provider…
    I’ve never heard anything about the seller side of Paypal, because I’m just a buyer, but that’s not fair at all! But I still think you could think twice about not accepting Paypal anymore. Now that I know you (sorry, I really feel I know, I wouldn’t mind paying for any of your products or services through my Credit Card, but for new sellers, I’d probably just do it through Paypal. I’m just worried this awful case may disturb your business.
    Good luck, Ashley! Dishonest people sucks, but hopefully they’re only a few πŸ˜‰

    1. I know, it’s horrible!! How can someone think this is okay??

      I fear that moving away from PayPal would hurt my business too… If I do decide to move, then I will be tracking my sales carefully. If I see a big dip in purchases, then I’ll know that I may have to just suck it up and stay with PayPal, or at least keep it as an alternative option.

  11. Jesus! That’s horrible I kinda wish you told us who the blogger is but I understand why you didn’t. I just don’t want to visit a blogger who would do this to another blogger.

    I really hope she gets in trouble at least with her credit card company. With all your evidence, I don’t see how she couldn’t. And, honestly, I would take her to small claims court (maybe plan a family vacation!) because she should not get away with this. I can’t believe paypal did this too.

    1. Yeah if I were in anyone’s shoes but mine, I’d probably want to know who it was too, haha. I’m just not sure how I feel about the whole naming and shaming thing.. I don’t want that to be what the topic is about. I want to spread awareness about the issue, rather than spotlight this particular person. Though, they’re quite deserving of any negative spotlight if you ask me…

      I’d LOVE to take her to small claims court.. It’s just that it would cost me like $1500 just to do that, plus any hotel fees. Presumably I could try to make her pay for those if I won, but I don’t know..

  12. Oh my freaking god. That is appalling!
    I’ve just launched my services and am looking at offering digital products and this scares the life out of me now. There’s got to be a better way.

    1. I REALLY hope this doesn’t happen to you, Jess! πŸ™

      Although it’s horrible, I don’t think it’s anything you have to worry about too much. I have almost 2,000 customers and this is the first time this has happened to me. It’s horrible, but I think it’s more the exception than the rule, you know?

  13. I think sometimes people don’t even realise that what we run are businesses, It’s how we live and that customer should’ve done more research when purchasing their product from you.Would they have done it to sites such as Etsy, Ebay or Creative Market? Probably, probably not. Either way it’s one shady move and I wouldn’t hesitate to never work with them.

    And wow, It’s a terrible thing for Paypal to not have been in your favour when the evidence was clearly there. It actually angers me because I use them for all my online transactions too. Let me know if you find a better solution for Paypal and fingers crossed this will never happen again.

    Georgie @ What She Reads recently posted: MISE-EN-SCÈNE: (BOOKISH) ART
    1. I know! I mean, it’s not like I hide any information on the hosting site. It’s one of my SELLING POINTS. I make it pretty clear that you get my stuff for free.

      I’d never sign up for a subscription type service like hosting without thoroughly reading all the available information. Especially if it’s more of a “premium” hosting like mine is.

      I guess it just always amazes me when people don’t read clear notes/instructions. Like, right below the purchase button for my themes/plugins I also have big notices saying it’s for self-hosted only, and yet I still get people on Blogger buying them. (I do refund anyone who tells me that and can reasonably prove it.)

      I am seriously considering moving to Sage Pay. The only downside is that I think they’ll work out to be more expensive in terms of fees, but I haven’t crunched the numbers yet. With PayPal there’s just a per-transaction fee, but with Sage Pay there’s a fixed monthly fee, a per-transaction fee, and a yearly fee. Each of those things are lower than PayPal, but combined they could easily be more.

      So we’ll see!

    1. Yeah, had she just told me that she made a mistake I would have refunded her. I’ve actually done that before. But of course once she submitted a fraudulent chargeback, I lost any and all sympathy for her. You can’t take matters into your own hands and lie and break the law to get your money back. πŸ™

    1. Yeah, there’s nothing to stop her from using this theme with another host, even though she now hasn’t paid for it. πŸ™

  14. Oh wow, this is absolutely awful. If i was in your shoes and the blogger asked me to refund after having purchased and not knowing that it came free with hosting I would have done it but because this blogger didn’t do that, she resorted to committing fraud which is absolutely disgusting! I’m also very sure you would have considered doing it even if it says it’s not possible!

    And Paypal? Whattt…?

    Erika recently posted: My 2015 Summer Bucket List
    1. Exactly! I have actually done that before. I’ve had one or two other clients make this mistake, they informed me, and I refunded them. I’ve even had people buy my plugins/themes, then realize they can’t use them because they’re on Blogger, and when they told me I also refunded them.

      None of those people were entitled to refunds because of my policy, but I like to think I’m a pretty nice and understanding person, so I offer refunds if someone has made a mistake and is upfront about it.

      If this girl had told me about it, I would have treated her the same way I treated those other customers. I would have sympathized and refunded her.

      But you cannot take matters into your own hands and LIE in order to get your money back. That’s not how this works!!

  15. Wow that is ridiculous and such a crappy thing for a person to do! I didn’t even know such a thing exists with PayPal (charge back). I don’t care much for PayPal anyways so it would be great if you got another payment system. The hosting service is the only thing I use PayPal for. Although I don’t know you in “real life” I’d trust you with my card info more than some big company like PayPal. πŸ˜‰

    Samantha recently posted: A Little Less Lonely Book Tag
    1. Thanks Samantha! There are definitely three categories of people:

      1. Those who hate PayPal and don’t trust it.
      2. Those who love PayPal and only want to use that.
      3. Those who don’t care either way.

      I’m afraid of alienating an entire category if I remove PayPal as an option. πŸ™ If I decide to try that, I’ll definitely have to monitor my sales to see if there’s a significant drop.

    1. I think it’s particularly absurd that they’ll protect BUYERS of digital goods, but not SELLERS. That just pisses me off! If anything, they should be protecting their sellers, because that’s where they make their money. PayPal gets a cut of every single product/service I sell through them.

  16. This is terrible! I hope everything goes well. Honestly, I don’t blame you for wanting to leave Paypal, with their terrible service and lack of protection for you and all.

    And don’t fret about changing to Paypal. Knowing you, you’ll find a way to code some way to do it. If not, just set to some other paying service, then set up a link for people who want to use Paypal to an auto email newsletter with the link for Paypal, if that could work.

    Shannelle C. recently posted: Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
    1. Checked out SagePay and there’s something about accepting Paypal there! I hope this is a smooth transition for you, if you decide to use something else. And if you, tell us all about it? πŸ˜€ *hugs* I hope you get your money back.

      1. Yeah I saw that as well, but I feel like if I offer PayPal as well, there’s nothing stopping people from just always using PayPal and then this happening again, you know?

        I feel like if I decide to choose another system, I’d have to not offer PayPal at all in order to achieve proper, full protection with my sales.

        So if I do go with Sage Pay, I’d probably turn off the PayPal option.

        I’ll keep you updated!

  17. I’ve never ran my own business so haven’t had to deal with things like this, but I think it’s really good that you shed light on these issues to all of your readers. I think oftentimes people think of freelancing as this super easy job where you just lay around in your PJs all day and do whatever you want (with a little bit of work thrown in here and there), but really, not only do you have to do the work and promote yourself and all that, you have to deal with issues like this. I’m sorry to hear Paypal wasn’t helpful in this situation, but I do hope the credit card company does the right thing. Shame it had to be an issue to begin with!

    1. There is a lot about my job that I love (wearing PJs often is one of them πŸ˜‰ ) but some parts are definitely harder than people realize.

      It’s much like being a self published author. Indie authors don’t just have one job (writing), they also have to be a marketer, publicist, cover designer, accountant, etc. It’s the same for me. I have to do all those jobs and then when something horrible like this happens, there isn’t an accounting department to handle it for me. It’s something I have to deal with on my own and it can be very stressful! πŸ™

  18. I am so sorry this happened to you. I could never imagine why anyone would want a refund for any of your services bec. everything you’ve done is amazing.

    So disappointed how Paypal handled all of this. I def will be willing to you to switch to a different form of payment if you decide to do so.

    1. Thank you Liezel! I really appreciate you saying that. I just hate the dishonesty of it all. πŸ™

  19. I can’t believe this happened to you! That is so upsetting! First of all, if that person had an issue, they should have talked to you about it, not committed a crime! And second of all, I can’t believe PayPal treated you that way. That’s just disgraceful.

    1. Yes it is very upsetting. πŸ™ I would have been sympathetic had they contacted me, but you can’t just take matters into your own hands and obtain a “refund” illegally!

  20. That is just horrible, and wtf Paypal!? I didn’t know their policies were like that, makes me sad because I use them so much. I’ve never heard of the other payment systems. Is there a way to use Google Wallet? That’s the only other service I use right now. I’d be willing to look at another if you recommended it. I trust your opinion as I know you would do serious research on it. You would want it to be great for you and for your customers, obviously, because a bad payment system would drive them away.

    Ariel @ Fictively recently posted: A Fictive Week (6) A rough week
    1. Well if I decided to move to another service, it wouldn’t be one like PayPal. By that I mean it wouldn’t be a service where you create an account, connect your credit card, and make payments through it. I would connect with an actual credit card processing company, and process the transactions directly on my own site. So customers would enter their card details on my site, and they’d get processed directly and put into my merchant account.

      That is kind of eventually what PayPal does, but they act as a middleman. Basically I would cut out the middleman and work with the processor directly.

  21. I had a customer charge back 3 tickets at a Wicked Book Event. An editor and blogger no less (I wonder if it’s the same person?) they put in the chargeback request within 5 minutes of the event starting yet stayed the entire time and posted photos of themselves with authors, holding swag bags and eating! There was no seller protection because it was a service. But PayPal was so nice and the lady there said she was going to fight hard with the cc company for me. She did, and I won!

    Mind you, not one complaint was brought up during the event, so I was given no opportunity to make up for anything she might have been unhappy with. This was just a blatant attempt to steal πŸ™

    1. That’s so horrible!! I’m sorry this happened to you too, Ana. πŸ™ It’s so great to hear that you won though.

      I can’t believe people think they can do this… Even if she had a problem with the event, you can’t just issue a chargeback. That’s like going to a restaurant, eating the food, then refusing to pay because you decided you would have rather had something else instead.

  22. Ugh, that really sucks!! I can’t believe someone would go to such lows. And yes, PayPal can be a pain sometimes. I hope you find a company that works better for you! πŸ™‚

  23. Wow…I don’t know why but it is so much worse to hear it was a book blogger:( This happens frequently to me at work. I get charge back notifications for application fees. We make sure that all applicants know that the fee is non-refundable. We outline all the requirements in advance and tell them not to submit an app if they think they will fail..and all of this is in writing on the application that they sign. There are still always those angry customers who want their money back if they are declined and tell their credit card companies that it was a fraudulent charge πŸ™

    Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf recently posted: Book Review: Nightbird by Alice Hoffman
  24. I really hate PayPals policies. A lot. They do nothing to protect sellers, like you said. But even as I look into other payment options, I worry about losing customers that trust PayPal. I think that’s why they can get away with doing all the stupid things they doβ€”because they’ve been around so long and have established trust with buyers. *sigh* I’m sorry this happened to you though! I worry about these types of things. It is amazing the work people do to get out of paying for services they ought to pay for…

    1. I think you really hit the nail on the head with PayPal, Kim. They completely dominate the market they’re in. PayPal is the standard that almost everyone uses as at least one of their options, if not their only option. Because of that, they can get away with things like this. πŸ™

      P.S. Your hair is AWESOME!

  25. I’m sorry for all the crap you had to go through with this individual, and then Pay Pal. You certainly don’t deserve to be charged for someone’s faulty claims — I can’t believe that was even a policy. Why the hell would you penalize your sellers? Without people using Pay Pal to facilitate transactions, Pay Pal would cease to exist. Terrible business practices and I am glad they refunded you. Gah, I understand not going to small claims court with the whole, not living in the US, but man this person deserves to be brought to court. Sue ’em not just for the $69, but the time and energy you had to take away from your job to do all of the tracking, evidence gathering, etc. I’m mad for you. But, hopefully it will be solved by the credit card company and you can just forget about this terrible person.

    Anne Engelhart recently posted: You should probably watch iZombie
  26. Unfortunately, I’ve run into this myself with Paypal. I sold a pair of boots on ebay. The buyer left positive feedback. The next day, she wanted to return them. I say “no returns” all over my listings, so she contacted Paypal and got her money back that way. Paypal froze my ENTIRE BALANCE, not just her amount. It took me 3 months of wrangling to get my money back and everything unfrozen. Paypal insisted that I refund her, ignoring my own policies, because they always protect the buyer. F*** the seller.

    Paypal did say she had to mail me the boots back. So she made a false mailing label with a tracking number. The boots didn’t move for over a month, so that showed Paypal she was screwing with me. They didn’t believe my other evidence, including emails from her. Eventually they did give me the money back, but damn. This is one huge reason I do not want to sell on ebay ever again or deal with Paypal, because it’s all about the buyer.

    Maybe Square will add web payments one day? Unfortunately Paypal is the market dominator, so if you pick something else, people may not buy from you.

    1. I am SO sorry that happened to you Leeanna! And I can’t believe how long it took. πŸ™ Some people are just so horrible. I wish they would suffer consequences for their actions.

      PayPal really needs to change its policies and start protecting sellers. I am going to try out another payment option in the future, but monitor my sales to see if they massively decline if I don’t have PayPal as an option.

  27. Oh my gosh Ashley, I am so sorry! Some people stink!! Seriously, I can’t believe someone would do this to another blogger.

    And if you did decide to go to small claims court it would cost you money up front, but you could also petition the court to have her pay your attorney/filing fees if you win. I’m only licensed to practice law in Florida but shoot me an email if you have any questions! πŸ™‚

    Also, if you do switch payment companies will it roll over us bookhost people with auto payments? haha

    1. Yeah, it’s horrible. πŸ™

      The main expense I’m worried about is having to fly to her location. My understanding is that if I want to take her to small claims, I have to do it where she lives. For me that means flying to the United States, then presumably booking a hotel room for while I’m there. That kind of cost is getting into the thousands.

      Then what if I get into a situation where she’s actually broke and can’t afford to pay my expenses? My understanding is that taking this to small claims court could result in her having to pay my expenses, but no one is going to sit there and make sure she actually pays them. So if she’s legitly broke and can’t afford to pay my expenses, I’m out $1k+ over a $69 item, you know?

      And as much as I want her to suffer some consequences, I’m not sure if all this is worth my time over a $69 item. This would be like 20 hours in flight times, plus many more hours for arrangements and filings, etc. It might be more effort than I’m willing to put in. πŸ™

      If I do switch payment companies then it would definitely be a system that supports recurring payments. πŸ™‚

  28. Wow, Ashley, that’s awful! I’m sorry this happened to you. This kind of thing should not happen. I also run a freelance business and accept payments through PayPal and I don’t know what I would do if this happened to me. Keep us updated on other payment options/what you decide to do!

  29. It sucks that someone did something like this to you. I work at a bank and we do come across cases where customers blatantly lie about purchasing something or about receiving the item they purchased. I also have a small shopping assistant business and had a customer lie about having received some items and attempted to do a chargeback. Luckily that didn’t go through but I do know where you’re coming from. Some people don’t realise that it’s theft they are committing. They pretend that ‘fraud’ is not the same thing as theft.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Kayla!

      In your experience, does the bank take these lies seriously? My customer is dealing with a credit card rather than a bank, but I’d still be curious to hear how the bank handles it!

      It’s crazy that some people think this is okay or that they can get away with it. It makes me want to do it to them just so they can see how it feels! >:(

  30. We actually have an investigation process. I can’t get into the details due to policy. But we try to establish the legitimacy of the claim. At the same time the credit card companies give us a short time to file a claim, and it’s sometimes hard to tell when the customer withholds certain facts [like in your case]. Lots of times though we do ask them to submit any correspondence they have to support their claim. Sometimes the seller does win if they can show proof that it was legitimate sale. On the other question you had… paypal is more universally accepted and I have had issues purchasing from certain places due to having a non-US card. It’s hard to be trusting but I think the most important thing you can do to get as much customers to review your products and give feedback. I didn’t know you used paypal until I made my first purchase, but having so many customers vouch for your product would have made me still purchase even without paypal (as long as it was a reputable company that I research for myself).

  31. Wow. I had no idea this could happen. Although, I’m not surprised that Paypal would do something like this and not offer Seller Protection on digital items. Paypal has its share of issues. I’m so sorry this happened to you, Ashley. I’m actually studying/pursuing a degree in Web Development. I’m still a newbie but I plan on selling my work online someday and would hate to have this happen to me. I really hope there is a better way of dealing with and preventing scams on Paypal and other online payment sites. I hope this all gets sorted out.

    Lanise Brown recently posted: F is for Finland
    1. Thanks Lanise! Sadly, at this time, there’s nothing we can really do to prevent this. Right now the only option is to use something other than PayPal until they start offering protection to sellers. πŸ™

  32. Something along these lines happened to my parents a few years ago. They were in charge of a summer craft fair and using PP as an “option” to pay for the booth fee. A man paid, participated in the fair with his booth and after the fair was over did the same thing! It was a frustrating nightmare for a little bit. Word of mouth to friends and family (after all this was a local community event!) and he was apologetic and paid again. He has also been informed he will not be invited back.

    1. I’m so sorry that this happened to your parents! But it sounds like they were able to get it resolved, and that’s great. πŸ™‚

  33. Ugh so relatable! I had a client receive ALL of her custom branding items (7 in total) and then dispute the total price which was like $100 I think. After I told them she already received everything she “paid” for. Then I got the money back. A week later, she dispute it again and said “she didn’t receive the EBAY item” I replied back with, “what ebay item?!?!” Needless to say, I had to block her and report her. But yeah, ugh.

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    1. What the heck!! What’s wrong with her?? I’m so sorry you had to deal with that.

  34. Hi, I am truly emphatic to your situation. I’ve had customers who bought a product, immediately issued a chargeback, and then had the nerves to keep the product. Worse yet, if your chargeback rate reaches a measly 1% (1 out of 100 transactions results in a chargeback), Paypal will flag and “restrict” your account. Unfortunately, PayPal will not fight for you. That cost them time and money. So nearly 100% of the time, no matter how strong your case, you will lose. The ONLY solution, is get get your OWN merchant account. It’s a pain in the toosh, because the approval process takes weeks and a lot of paperwork involved. But if you want a chance to win your cases, that’s what you need to do.

  35. I have to say it is your decision, of course, to not publicly shame this buyer, but you are doing the public no favors. I am in the middle of fighting a Paypal Chargeback that occurred over 90 days after the sale, myself.
    I have filed mail fraud complaints and a police report so I can have a record. Additional reports will be filed with the FTC and IC3.
    To my advantage, I live close to one of the people involved and will be taking her to court if I lose. I have all the proof as well. When I told the full story recently on a board, I noticed many women saying, I am ruining her life, let it go,etc.
    Sorry, but if they want to tuck her into bed and sing her a lullaby, by all means, do so, but SOMEBODY has to take a stand and say enough is enough.
    These people are crooks and need to be treated like crooks. Sometimes you have to take the time and do what is right and, in this case, I would shame her publicly to the Gods if you are unable to sue her.

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