I'm not usually one to brag about my accomplishments but today, today I won a small battle for small businesses everywhere. I conquered the PayPal "Your funds will be released in 30 days" gauntlet! A 1 hour and 23-minute phone transfer marathon and a feat of pure will and determination. PayPal withholding funds is the bane of small business existence.
If you're not "in the know," on top of all the other challenges we have to overcome on a daily basis, small businesses are frequently held to the whims and mercy of major corporations like this and other social media platforms, search engines, and payment processors that use computers and code that are not familiar with the nuances of our situations. There are no easily accessible phone numbers to call to talk to anyone with any authority in the decision-making process regarding the most critical aspects of their policies and how they affect your business.
This self-appointed award is accepted with many thanks to a long family line of entrepreneurs, especially Mom. Mom taught me how to argue my point and never give up, which probably bit her in the butt during my teenage years. But look at me now Mom!
I hit an arbitrary "limit" of receivable payments, not the worst complaint, but that is our working capital for event catering. I received an email that stated a client had paid but a portion of the funds were being held and would be released in 30 days. It further stated that I shouldn't worry because the money is mine, I just can't have it yet (paraphrased). I had heard tales of people, specifically new businesses, encountering this situation, but as an established customer with a 5+ year history, I never imagined I would have to deal with these issues.
Basically, PayPal gets to hold funds hostage on an interest-free loan to itself for 30 days because, if you're legitimate, your business grew too fast or you're taking on more business than the algorithm anticipated.
The logical first step was to contact the "customer service" department. Sarcastic quotes because they were unable to offer any solution other than submitting an additional request on my behalf and I would have to wait 24 hours for a response. The department that makes the decision on fund releases or limit increases, possibly made of humans but possibly not, doesn't have a phone (in the year 2023) or at least not one to which customer service has access. That makes sense, right? Instead, they offered me a mailing address to which I could send a written complaint about the policy.
Did I scour the web for any other internal phone numbers for PayPal conflict resolution? Absolutely! Do any exist? Absolutely not! They do, however, have a fancy department that offers loans to small businesses. Was calling this number a long shot? Yes. Did I sit on hold for 14 minutes formulating the calmest way to clearly articulate my grievance? Yes. After getting a human, I kindly explained that it is, in fact, absurd for PayPal to offer me a loan when they are holding my company's money hostage for their own benefit and that it is ridiculous to say that the money is mine if I do not have access to the funds. After verifying account details and explaining the entirety of my business structure and a few extended hold times, the wonderful human on the other end of the phone was able to release my funds.
I do understand the need for payment processors to exercise caution and that the flagging system is in place for those with nefarious schemes, and I do truly appreciate being able to get this issue resolved. I just don't think that real people with real businesses should have to jump through so many hoops to get help. There definitely needs to be a policy change for companies that hold our livelihoods in their hands... or code.
I hope this experience and blog helps someone.