Monday, 12 March 2012

Paypay UK blocks "Behind the Sofa" Charity Book

"Behind the Sofa", is a collection of over 100 celebrity memories of "Doctor Who" - contributors include Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Ross, Chris Tarrant, Michael Grade (!), Lynda Bellingham and Hugh Bonneville. 100% of the proceeds of the sale of the book go to Alzheimer's Research UK. There are a variety of "sale" packages available and pre-ordering opened last week. There was, however, a worrying development today and here's the blog post by Steve Berry who compiled the collection:
This morning I received a very short, very terse telephone call from a lady called Francine, who works for PayPal.

Francine informed me that the PayPal account associated with Behind The Sofa had taken a lot of money over a very short period. She explained that she had looked at the site and understood that I was taking orders for a book.

I told her that the money generated by the pre-orders taken through the web site effectively pays for the production and distribution of the book, with the net profit thereafter being donated to Alzheimer's Research UK.

All of this you will know if you have seen the rest of this site. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and enthusiasm of all those who have pre-ordered a copy of the book. In fact, I set up this site as an experiment in "crowdfunding" after I couldn't find a satisfactory solution elsewhere. Had the book failed to generate enough money to fund the book, I was prepared to do so out of my own pocket.

It seems that I will now have to do that.

Francine explained that PayPal would be freezing my account, meaning that the project is stalled. The phone call was followed by an "account frozen" email.


Well, they won't tell me the details. They would like to investigate my account first. They are asking me for documentation about my business (I am not a business) and proof of invoices/suppliers, etc (which I cannot give, because I am still in the process of completing the final manuscript of the book with design and layout all being carried out by some excellent volunteers). So there is no way for me to resolve the situation using their "resolution centre".

And there is no way to contact them otherwise.

Francine flat refused to provide me with information about how to contact them (by phone) to discuss to issue, or indicate how long my account will be frozen pending their review. She then terminated the call. I cannot use the account at all until PayPay deign to contact me.

Over 100 celebrities have given their time and contributed memories to the book, not to mention four years of my time getting the project to the stage where it is ready to launch. But, of course, there is no way to explain any of this to PayPal because they simply don't want to talk.

Note: not one single penny of the money taken so far has been lost. I am endeavouring to find a way to discuss this with PayPal. In the mean time I would ask for your patience and, if you feel inclined, your support by Tweeting @PayPalUK and letting them know what you think of their customer service.

If I can't resolve the situation with PayPal, I will of course refund everyone's orders in full and try to find an alternative way to raise the required investment.


So - come on, fandom. Get tweeting and let them know what you think of this appalling action of theirs. Steve Berry HAS tweeted that the book WILL be published - with or without the funds collected by Paypal.

Behind the Sofa on twitter
Paypal UK on twitter