Whovians vs PayPal

New Doctor Who charity book Behind the SofaWell it has been a fascinating couple of days, but the saga of PayPal freezing the pre-order monies for the Behind the Sofa charity book has finally ended.

In a fast moving online world, we opted to avoid publishing anything on the site concerning this bizarre demonstration of how poor PayPal’s PR and customer service can be, preferring to cover it on Twitter.

Over the past couple of days the situation has developed from PayPal “blocking” the book to the online payment service being the target of angry tweets from fans and the Doctor Who-loving celebrities (Charlie Brooker’s outburst was particularly amusing) who’s recollections are featured in the book.

PayPal blocked further pre-orders and froze the funds collected so far in respect of its policy to protect buyers from receiving goods that never arrive. Clearly this otherwise admirable policy hasn’t worked in this case, but fortunately following a couple of days of reasonable relations between the book’s editor Steve Berry and the multinational online payment system, the following statement has been released:

PayPal and I have today released a joint statement, as follows:

PayPal has apologised to Steve Berry for the way it handled payments for his book about Doctor Who, Behind The Sofa. It is working with Mr Berry to make sure funds are released as they are needed to pay the publisher and other suppliers.

PayPal placed restrictions on Mr Berry’s account because the payments were received months before the book was available. This is in line with PayPal’s policy of protecting buyers in case they don’t receive goods that they have pre-ordered. But we should have explained things better and worked more quickly to find a sensible compromise to ensure the success of this very good cause.

Mr Berry commented: “I am delighted that PayPal have responded to my concerns about the handling of the account being used to fund the production of the Behind The Sofa book. We have now come to an amicable resolution and I look forward to publishing the book and fulfilling all the orders placed by generous Doctor Who fans.”

We think everyone will be relieved that this matter seems to have finally been put to bed, and while the funds will remain restricted from Steve Berry until receipts are provided for various services (proofing, publishing, etc.) that take place as part of compiling a book, the book will still go ahead and those of you who have ordered copies have nothing to worry about.

However if you’re astonished by PayPal’s actions here, they do have a very specific set of criteria, something that many other users and small businesses/sole traders have fallen foul of over the years.

Now, let’s forget about this and wish Steve all the best with the tricky job of compiling, editing, proofing, and having the book published before the real hard work of managing the orders begins!

Christian Cawley

A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

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