Doctor Who defeats PayPal on Planet Twitter

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By Tamebay's Doctor Who correspondent, Dan Wilson.
Steve Berry had a cracking idea. He put himself to work compiling and editing a book of recollections about Doctor Who from celebrities and well known Whovian actors called Behind the Sofa.

All the profits from the books would go to charity and all was going well. The book was attracting support and publicity. His only mistake was choosing PayPal as a payment method.

Because publishing and producing the book would require funds, Berry sought what essentially amount to subscriptions through pre-payment for the books. These pre-orders of the book and this was going well but PayPal didn’t like it. Here he fell foul of PayPal’s rules who froze his account and refused to release any of the funds until the orders had been fulfilled. Needless to say, this was a cashflow problem for the endeavour.

But Berry had chums on Twitter, celebrity chums, including Sci Fi legend Neil Gaiman and Charlie Brooker. They encouarged their thousands of followers to put pressure to bear on Paypal who have subsequently offered to compromise. As Berry notes: ” Pity the poor, well-intentioned PayPal user who does not have such high-profile backing.”

PayPal and Berry have issued a joint statement. Funds will be made available to Berry to publish the books (although it seems he will have to provide receipts proving the spending) and the rest of the funds released on fulfilment of the orders.

Mission accomplished, I suppose. But it is still disquieting. PayPal sit as judge and jury on these issues, seem to have little common sense until pressure comes to bear and are very poor at communicating, explaining decisions or hearing appeals. The lesson for other ventures of a similar kind must surely be: steer clear of PayPal.


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