After freezing payment of a $35,257 donation for cancer treatment, PayPal has released the funds.
According to report in the New Zealand Herald, Justin Crockett and his family were raising money for chemotherapy to combat his aggressive brain tumor. The Crocketts started fundraising last year for the treatment. On Tuesday, they received $45,000 New Zealand dollars from a “friend of a friend” living in the U.K. The family was using PayPal to accept international payments and could not access the money because PayPal had frozen the account.
They needed the money right way to start Crockett’s treatment, scheduled to begin in 10 days. His wife, Jane, called PayPal repeatedly to prove that the account was legitimate to no avail.
“I just think it’s a bit appalling that they have that power to freeze it,” she told the Herald. “It’s not their money. People shouldn’t be put through this stress.”
Apparently, PayPal only responded after the issue caught the media’s attention, and a company spokesperson said it was a mistake. The money has since been paid out.
PayPal is one of the dominant forces of online payments. The company has 132 million customers and is active in 193 markets and 25 currencies around the world. It processes more than 7.7 million payments everyday (although for a few days, not the Crockett’s.) The company has a reputation for subpar customer service and occasionally freezing payments when it shouldn’t. Last week PayPal blocked the account of GlassUp, a Google Glass competitor that was raising money on Indiegogo. GlassUp had raised $100,000 of a $150,000 goal and PayPal informed project founder Franceso Giartosio that he would only release “a tiny amount of the funds” until final delivery of the product — funds that Giartosio needed to deliver the products.
Like the Crocketts, Giartosio received no advance notice and was put through a lengthy authentication process. This also happened in 2011 when PayPal froze a charity’s account, requiring massive documentation before releasing funds. PayPal has since released the money for GlassUp and the Crocketts, but not without causing the owners of the funds inconvenience and anxiety. For GlassUp, this hurt their ability to raise enough money for their project. For the Crockett’s, it was literally the difference between life and death.