❗️IMPORTANT NOTICE 1: this will NOT impact the production of the ‘New World’ album & music videos – we have already safely received $52,000 out of the $56,000 pledged. All bundles (even the ones held by PayPal) will be fulfilled.
❗️IMPORTANT NOTICE 2: you can still take part in the crowdfunding safely (24 hours left until the end) – we disabled the PayPal payment and since then $32,000 were pledged through Stripe (credit/debit card processor #1 in the world) without any problems.
IMPORTANT NOTICE 3: Please DO NOT ask PayPal to refund your money (we are working on it so that you can re-pledge via Stripe but its important that we initiate it ourselves). If you do it, they will just initiate a customer complaint and blame it on us (“your customers want refunds – bad business”) to prove their point. Instead, tell them that you WANT THE MONEY TO REACH US asap.
If you took part in our kickstarter or bought something at our webshop, you might have noticed that we stopped accepting payments through PayPal on day 4 of the campaign – 19th July 2021. (Currently we only accept credit/debit cards – through Stripe.)
The metal community loves buying merch via PayPal – but this trust is misplaced. Please consider the hell that many bands go through (along with paying ridiculous commissions) in order to offer this to their fans:
On 19th July PayPal blocked our account – refusing any withdrawals (but still allowing payments) and asking for a heap of documents about the business. The reason was “an unusual increase in revenue” (fans pledged more than $20,000 in the first 24 hours). Obviously PayPal doesn’t like when their clients earn money…
Now you might think this is because we are Russian. But actually both our webshop and crowdfunding operate through our partner company in the United States, and all payments go to the US – because neither us nor our fans want to deal with the Russian financial system.
Because of this, PayPal got all the legal, bank and business documents the same day. However, next they asked for PROOF OF FULFILMENT – for all the CROWDFUNDING bundles which are not even produced yet and are due to be fulfilled in December/January when the album is released.
Just let this sink in: proof of FULFILMENT for a product which we are so far only raising money to PRODUCE. PayPal definitely has a logic of its own.
After that we had 2 calls with the PayPal customer support, over the course of which we meticulously described the situation, citing our websites, social media with hundreds of thousands of followers, digital streaming services, touring records, the Wikipedia article about us, multiple media mentions of us (including major ones like The Guardian, Classic Rock and RockHard) and our crowdfunding – and trying to explain to PayPal that they are jeopardising our crowdfunding and holding the money which our fans have voluntarily pledged to us so that we can record the new album.
The first call didn’t render anything useful. They listened and did nothing.
During the next call they promised a review within 48 hours. And behold – after 48 hours the limitation on the account was lifted, but…. “An amount of $4000.00 has been set aside from your current available balance and has been placed in reserve”, “Your reserve will be set to retain 10% of the processed amount for each day, to be held for a 180 day rolling period beginning on the above date” and “The decision regarding your reserve setting was based on our review of the level of risk associated with your account.”
In common language that means that they have taken $4,000 of the money and won’t tell when its going to be released, PLUS they take 10% of every payment we receive and keep it for 6 months. And that they consider a successful international heavy metal band that has been around for 9 years to be a ‘high-risk’ endeavour – just like selling firearms, gambling or drugs.
After this we had 2 more conversations with support, which all promised reviews, but nothing happened.
So we decided – ok, we can manage this, that money will be unlocked at some point and we can deal with that. And today we decided to re-start PayPal because some people are asking us about it. However when we opened the account, we were greeted by a red flag and an enlightening message: “Because of potential risk exposure, we’ve permanently limited your account. You’ll no longer be able to use the account for any transactions.”
This (just like the previous limitations) came without any warning – no e-mail, no text, nothing. After calling the customer support yet again (and this time we recorded the conversation), we learned that the money in the account ($4,013) will be on hold for 180 days – that is until end of February. A little googling revealed that PayPal has a track record of NOT returning that money and keeping it for themselves as a “fee for violating our user agreement”.
More googling revealed that we are not the only ones who have been scammed by PayPal – there are many others and there even are law firms specialising on suing PayPal for such things (that should ring a bell!). And those cases are usually won by the plaintiff (surprisingly its actually illegal to hold money which is not yours).
Actually, PayPal is well known for their support for consumers at the cost of the sellers. The thing boils down to the fact that if you buy something through PayPal and then request a refund – there is nothing the seller can do, and he is also punished for that. Hence there is a popular scheme of ordering something, paying with PayPal and then filing for a refund. This scheme forced us to switch to only shipping with tracking (because that is proof of fulfilment- but even this doesn’t always work), involuntarily increasing the price for our customers. Some friendly bands have also complained about some ‘fans’ stealing merch in this manner.
We regard these actions by PayPal as hostile towards Imperial Age and our fans, and as such we will retaliate. We will not succumb to the dictate of an international monopoly which has given itself the right to manage the money which our fans have pledged to us.
Since the whole things operates through our American partners, we are fully covered by the US justice umbrella, and we are already taking legal action to hold PayPal responsible.
WHY ARE THEY DOING IT?
Probably they are investing this money and keeping the interest. There have been several court cases on this issue already.
WHATS THE PLAN
The plan is as follows (the next step will be taken if the previous one doesn’t bring results):
1. File a legal complaint to PayPal’s physical mail in San Jose, CA
2. Submit a complaint to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) – they have PayPal in their drop-down list of businesses when you file a complaint, which is also interesting. There is successful practice with this body.
3. Escalate the case to the American Arbitration Association (AAA). There is a lot of successful practice with this body vs PayPal and a lot of compensation paid.
4. File a case in a Small Claims Court
5. File a fully fledged business lawsuit (will require a separate crowdfunding for this one)
HOW YOU CAN HELP
1. Spread the word. Share this text as much as you can everywhere – on social media, via text messages, email etc. Make as many people aware as possible:
FACEBOOK POST: https://www.facebook.com/imperialageofficial/posts/380905533400271
THIS PAGE: https://www.imperial-age.com/paypal-bans-imperial-age-account-amid-successful-crowdfunding-withholds-4013-of-fans-money/
2. If you are a finance lawyer in the US or happen to know a good one, and can help us with this matter please contact us asap.
3. If you are a reporter or a blogger – feature this case in your media, tell your audience.
4. Pledge to the crowdfunding (just 1 day left) – the payments work fine through Stripe, we withdraw funds immediately (just in case).
5. Write PayPal an e-mail demanding to lift the limitations on our account and making sure the fan money reaches us. If they do nothing or give you a standard stupid copy-paste reply – write again and ask for a human to answer you. Even if you did not take part in the kickstarter, you can still write them. We have hundreds of thousands of fans and if even 1% does it they will have to notice.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE ALBUM, VIDEOS & AFFECTED PLEDGES
Everything goes as planned. We will produce and deliver the album, videos and bundles as promised. Even the bundles the money for which has been nicked by PayPal. We have $52,000 out of $56,000 (as of this writing). The law, as well as legal & court practice are on our side and we have all chances of winning this case.
We have great trust in our fans and we are happy that they have as much trust in us.
There is 1 day left until the end of the kickstarter, and you can pledge safely with credit/debit cards. All payments are powered by Stripe. Thanks to them for being much more friendly than PayPal.
-Aor, Jane & Co
#paypal #scam #fraud #alert