PayPal: Big Brother's Little Helper
March 14, 2003 4:33 AM   Subscribe

Has PayPal's acceptable use policy become much broader recently? I just received notice of changes to PayPal's acceptable use policy. I was surprised at the number of things that they have restrictions on. One in particular seemed like the kiss of death: No porn for you unless it's from eBay's Mature section. Won't somebody think of the cam girls? With many banks now offering some sort of internet check-writing facility is PayPal really even a valid business model anymore outside of eBay?
posted by substrate (10 comments total)
Please do a search before posting, or at least, scroll down.
posted by jpburns at 4:45 AM on March 14, 2003

What a surprise! PayPal continues to suck worse and worse!

Time to get these guys officially recognized as the bank they basically pretend they already are.
posted by shepd at 4:45 AM on March 14, 2003

jpburns, I did scroll down, this is different material. Please read the posts before accusing people of duplicating them.

The previous post was about PayPal disabling the accounts of somebody who dared to voice dissent. This post was prompted by the email from them that stated that they had changed their acceptable use policy (yet again). I was amazed at what they were policing. Some were related to federal regulations, which may be a requirement. Other enforcement could only be related to pressure from corporations. The final set of regulations seemed purely to bolster eBay's stake in PayPal in the name of squelching prurience.

On the other hand when I get cash from the ATM or from a real live teller they never ask me what I'm going to do with it. Never once have I been asked if I'm going to be spending any of my cash on anything illegal or immoral.
posted by substrate at 5:20 AM on March 14, 2003

I've been looking at the use of alternate e-currencies such as e-gold, but one of the key problems is that Paypal is amazingly simple to use for the purchaser/sender. It is only us vendor/receivers that have to deal with the changes in the rules. Hopefully, other alternatives with be forthcoming.
posted by geoffaw at 5:50 AM on March 14, 2003

"On the other hand when I get cash from the ATM or from a real live teller they never ask me what I'm going to do with it. Never once have I been asked if I'm going to be spending any of my cash on anything illegal or immoral."

Please do share which bank you operate with, because mine refuses to even listen to any of my money laundering plans.

this is different material

At least two of us disagree on that. Then again, I hadn't seen the other thread, so if anything the repeat has helped 8?)
posted by magullo at 5:57 AM on March 14, 2003

paypal has been a godsend in terms of buying and selling on ebay, and off of ebay. But with all the new rules, it has been getting harder and harder to do business.

I think those terms are mainly targeting shops that are listed in paypal shops index. It does say ANY transaction, but I think paypal is just covering their ass in regards to sellers listed in paypal shops.
posted by quibx at 7:22 AM on March 14, 2003

Of course none of these regulations are actually enforced, they're just there so Paypal can cover its butt in case anything illegal happens.

That being said, it's also obvious that Paypal is milking their innate advantage of not being subject to banking regulations, that their disclosure policies totally stink if you're unlucky enough to have your account frozen, and that whatever money you have in there doesn't quite enjoy the same guarantees they would if you were at a real bank. I'd recommend looking into Yahoo PayDirect, which is a joint venture between Yahoo and HSBC. (disclosure: I work for a subsidiary of HSBC, so I may be a bit biased!)
posted by clevershark at 7:22 AM on March 14, 2003

I posted this a few days earlier.
posted by Beholder at 7:24 AM on March 14, 2003

I posted this a few days earlier.

I actually do not think this is *so* outrageous (only a bit). There are differences between an ISP or a webmail provider and an auction house (i.e. fraud is probably a major concern).

"A brief visit to the company's Web site reveals that the "user contract" that visitors are supposed to read before agreeing to the conditions is 4,023 words long. One paragraph makes reference to the site's "privacy policy." The user has to click on a link and is diverted to another document that is some 3,750 words long. It then takes another 2,390 words to reach the section about which Sullivan told the legal authorities: The user's privacy is solely up to eBay."

Oh, boy! Are we complaining about not having read the small print?

I am a big-time consumer advocate - but they are providing a service under certains conditions. It is up to the user to find out about those conditions before *taking advantage* of the service.

That said, obviously Ebay/Paypal are trying to stretch their "bank not bound by banking rules" status as long as possible. Still, I only buy and sell Lego and a few other hobby-related stuff on Ebay. Have never had more than $50 bucks on balance and more importantly, never plan to write a letter to anyone that goes like this:

"Dear sirs,

I have recently noticed that my Paypal account with $900 (or $9,000, or $90,000) is blocked. I do know that my money is not insured like in regular banks, but do you think there is there a chance I'll get it back? Please take into account that my entire livelihood depends on a service with rules that I did not bother to read in the first place. The one item I've learned from it all is that I shouldn't have bought that extra cheap golden jewelry from a person located halfway across the world, and no previous record on ebay ..."

Which is what a suspiciously large part of the -and-the-like complains read like.
posted by magullo at 8:19 AM on March 14, 2003


The problem with just about every other online payment system (PayDirect included) is that it's US-only. Unfortunately, less than five percent of the world's population actually lives in the United States, meaning that around six billion people can't use the service. Including me.

Yes, in theory it's possible for everyone in the world to set up an account with a US financial institution, but is that really practical? I think not.
posted by lowlife at 1:27 PM on March 14, 2003

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