Long Correspondence with Stripe
To augment our income for our church, I decided I’d start selling some of my used books through my website. Stripe is who we used as a church credit card payment processor, so I figured they would work just as well for used books. After giving them a lot of what I felt to be a bit intrusive information about the nature of my business, I got the following email from them:
>"Hi JB, >Thank you for getting started with Stripe. We’re reviewing the information >you submitted to us and will follow up on your account status within a few >business days. This means you can’t process payments yet, but you can test >charges on your Dashboard as you ramp up for integration. We might be >reaching out for additional information, so please lookout for an email from >Stripe Support so that we can resolve your account review as soon as >possible. > We hope to get beitesheldonate.org up and running on Stripe soon. >Thanks again, > Stripe "
Okay. Sounds good–except I all ready have this site up and running for like four years now.
The next email I received was this:
>"Hi JB, >We're reaching out today to request some information about your business, >Beit Eshel LLC (account ID: acct_1JXC1h2HH3zdbNzr), that we couldn't verify >using your website and Stripe account details. > >It is important that Stripe knows what businesses are selling, in order to >make sure that your business is supportable under our Restricted Businesses >list. >If we can’t verify this, we will eventually have to pause payouts to your >bank account on . >Action Required >To ensure your business is supportable under our Terms of Service, please >reply to this email with answers to the following questions: >What products or services do you plan to sell through Stripe? >We'd like to learn about your typical customers. Who is your target >audience? >Specifically, could you provide details around products/inventory, pricing, >shipping details, and customer-vetting processes, if applicable? >Once we hear back from you, we will review your information and get in touch >again within 48 hours. >If you have any questions, please let us know and we'll be happy to help. >- The Stripe Team "
Very annoying, but perhaps giving them the benefit of the doubt I went ahead and provided them this additional information although it is VERY APPARENT as I have used books up that this is what this “business” is going to sell.
Here is my reply:
>"Dear Stripe, > >I am going to conclude this is an automated problem, as I have used Stripe for >receiving funds for the Church I have on multiple occasions. The latest website >I modified for use is books.jbschirtzingerstore.com which is a place to sell >used books that I will use as a sort of gift shop to help support the church. >So, here are the answers to these questions, which I regard as somewhat >intrusive concerning all of this: >1. Used books/donations as I have been doing for over three years now. >2. People that want to buy used books. >3. To buy used books, you don't really have to "customer vet". Either a person >wants to buy the used book, or they don't. Used books tend to be cheap. You can >see the first book I have listed as Team of Rivals which is a book about Abraham >Lincoln which is selling for 4.50. Media shipping seems the logical choice."
I eventually get this email in reply:
>Hello, > >"Thanks for writing in. We’re reviewing the information you’ve provided, and we >aim to be back in touch within 1-2 business days. > >In the meantime, if you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to >reach out on this email thread and we’ll be happy to help. > >—The Stripe team"
What’s next in this rather annoying sequence with a payment processor I have been using for four years?
>"Hi JB, > >We're writing to inform you that we have determined your business, Beit Eshel >LLC (account ID: acct_1JXC1h2HH3zdbNzr), is in violation of the Stripe Services >Agreement. Specifically, we are unable to accept payments for crowdfunding as >mentioned on our Restricted Business List. > >We're applying a notice period of 5 days before taking action on your account. >During this 5 day period, you can continue processing normally, but after this >date, your account will be closed and you will no longer be able to accept >payments. We will continue making payouts to your bank account until you receive >all of your funds. > >Do you disagree with our decision? > >If you'd like to appeal your account closure, please reply to this email >confirming one or more of the following: > >All products or services that you're selling are in fact supportable > >All products or services which violate our Restricted Businesses list are >removed from your website Once we hear back from you, we will review your >information and get in touch again within 48 hours. Please let us know if you >have any questions. >— The Stripe team"
Crowdfunding? What? Stripe is used in countless charities to take in donations. That’s HOW IT BECAME a BUSINESS in part when I first started using them four years ago. Needless to say, I disagreed with the decision:
>Again, I am going to assume this is some automated issue within stripe. > >First, I am assuming further you are defining crowdfunding as the following: > >Money and legal services: Financial and professional services > >Financial institutions, money transmitters and money services businesses, check >cashing, wire transfers, money orders; currency exchanges or dealers; bill-pay >services; crowdfunding; insurance; bail bonds; collections agencies; law firms >collecting funds for any purpose other than to pay fees owed to the firm for >services provided by the firm (e.g., firms cannot use Stripe to hold client >funds, collection or settlement amounts, disputed funds, etc.) > >As per your own policy. We are not offering money or legal services to which >this specific rule would apply. Rather, our church has a firm goal which is >indicated on the site which it has not reached. >Secondly, assuming that what you say is true, I am a little confused as to how >Stripe is a business at all because well this: >https://www.thrinacia.com/blog/post/stripe-and-crowdfunding#! > >So is Stripe no longer supporting all of those platforms and what exactly >constitutes a "crowd"? I could, for instance, define a crowd as "people with >large sums of money that want to use Stripe to process said money". How do you >intend to stay in business if that is so? > >Clearly, this must be a mix up, so I will wait to hear back from you.
Finally I hear this back in return:
>Hi there, > >Thanks for your patience while we're completing the review on your account. > >I see you have an ongoing email thread with us in regard to the recent decision >made on your account. To centralize communications, I’m going to merge this >thread into that existing thread. I’ll notify the specialist working the >existing thread of the urgency of the issue, and let them know that you’ve >contacted us again. They’ll prioritize the case and get back to you as soon as >they have any update. > >If you have any questions, please let us know. > >Best, Kelsey
Several other “cordial emails are exchanged” and I get this reply:
>Hi there, > >Thank you for keeping in touch. After reviewing your account and website with my >team, I regret to inform you that we have closed your account and are unable to >provide you service. We’re very sorry, but as previously stated, your business >falls under our list of Restricted Businesses and Activities in our Services >Agreement: https://stripe.com/terms > >We are required to follow strict guidelines on the types of businesses we can >and can't support. We're unable to work with any business that we believe poses >elevated financial risk, legal liability, or violates our own policies; in this >case, after a thorough review of your account, we have determined that your >business falls within these categories. > >These regulations are firm, and I’m afraid we don’t have flexibility with them. >If you have any other questions or need further assistance, please let me know. >Best, Kelsey
And hereee was my reply:
>I cannot say whether I agree or disagree with what you are here saying because I >do not see a term which my "business" which I might point out to you is a >non-profit church violates. Rather, without the context it seems like you are >choosing a discriminatory path because you can always say what you have said >without quoting the violation and what is a business or non profit supposed to >do in reply? This is a little like arresting someone without informing them of >their rights, which is a violation of due process. > >What I will point out to you is that you have provided me service for four >years. What, exactly, is suddenly different? Well, I know one thing that is >different is that Stripe is now a much larger company. Of course, that can >always be changed. Tomorrow, you may find that your supporting partners in your >business suddenly cannot do business with you as you have become a "restricted >business" for unknown reasons. > >I do not intend to argue with you relentlessly over some nebulous policy that >you have suddenly decided to enforce. What I can tell you, unequivocally, as >that these are the End of Days and whatever it is you are here doing it is more >consistent with a discriminatory policy of something like the Anti-Christ than >anything actually just. Driving to work in the morning in your car carries >potential legal liability. Your communication to me also carries legal liability >which is something I think you might have overlooked. > >So, if this is the final decision, and you refuse to provide a firm rule or >reason for this, I will go with the most logical conclusion which is that Stripe >is discriminating against me funding my church and I will act on this truth in >accordance with not only my full power, but the power granted to me also by >Heaven and suggest that there is something of Judas in your organization. I am >quite sure you will understand how that ended for everyone involved. > >Sincerely, > >JB Schirtzinger
Finally, I get this in reply:
>Hi there, > >Thanks for waiting while my team and I took another look into your account, I’ve >got an update on this review. > >We do have to impose strict limits on the types of businesses we can and can't >support. We're unable to work with any business that we believe poses elevated >financial risk, or violates our own policies; in this case, after a thorough >review of your account, we have determined that your business falls within these >guidelines. > >That said, I can assure you that we have done a thorough review of your account, >and we will be unable to reverse our decision. We are unable to provide any >further details regarding the reason for your account's closure in order to >protect our processes. > >We, personally, would love to have your business, but our hands are also tied by >the legally binding policies. That said, we’ve been working to adjust these >policies, but have not made any headway so far. If you want to read a bit more >information about our stance, here is a great blog post: > >https://stripe.com/blog/why-some-businesses-arent-allowed > >I wish I could give you better news, but I'm afraid our hands are tied. Although >we cannot support your business, I hope you find success with another payment >processor! If you ever start a new business venture, you’re always welcome to >reach out to us in the future! If you have any more questions, please feel free >to reach out anytime. I’m always here to help. > >I wish you the very best in everything moving forward! > >Best, Kelsey
And my final interaction is this:
>"Very well. May the curse of Judas be your inheritance."
Why is this my final interaction? Because, over the past four years, I have done much to try to keep this little church going. It has been heavily discriminated against and this is the last of a long line of entities/people who have done so. As a consequence, I closed my Stripe account and I am dissolving the LLC which makes up the Church as a corporate entity. I am doing this because I feel this church is being unfairly targeted. I am aware Stripe has a history of pulling sponsorship out, but this, as I mentioned, is not the only incident that I have had to field concerning this little church.
So, to all you bad people out there that want to try to tell people how to worship, Congratulations, you won! The Church of Beit Eshel will be no more. Of course, I am also sure you all remember what I said would be the case should that occur and I am QUITE sure you remember the warnings I gave PREVIOUS to our current state of affairs in the world.
Ministry is a calling and messengers are provided. If you do not heed the warning, you cannot be too surprised by the outcome.
By the way, lest you think Kelsey was being super considerate above, she made sure to time several of her messages so that they arrived at three and four AM to make it rather harder to reply. Sometimes timing can be a quasi-malicious act.