Fernwood Publishing currently utilizes PayPal to provide the opportunity to conveniently purchase our books online.
However, since PayPal provides an international service for online payments, it was surprising to discover that these payments can be monitored under U.S. law.
Beginning on May 1, 2013, four consecutive orders that were all destined for Canadian addresses were monitored by PayPal. In essence, books purchased by customers in Canada were monitored by U.S. law. With each transaction, we received the following note from PayPal: “Regulations require us to review selected transactions more closely. This payment is pending while we make sure it meets regulatory requirements.”
When the first of these four orders was flagged as “pending,” Fernwood Publishing contacted PayPal to inquire as to the reason for this new procedure as it was something we had never before come across. PayPal’s response was as follows:
“The transaction has been pended due to US governmental regulations, which impose sanctions on specific countries and individuals.”
We were also provided with a website link for further information: http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Documents/license.pdf
The response goes on to say: “It more or less is random selection and should be completely ignored unless the payment is declined.”
The payment for the four transactions were all approved very quickly. However, we took issue with the fact that Paypal indicated that the selection of said transactions was “more or less random.” Perhaps what they meant to say was “not random at all”? In fact, the only time this issue ever came up was when customers ordered the book Cuba and Its Neighbors. Coincidence? We think not. Random selection? We think not. Did we ignore it? No, definitely not. That’s why we looked into this issue and are sharing it with you.
So, why are we frustrated about what PayPal is doing in this regard? Because we feel it is an unnecessary infringement on people’s privacy, especially considering the customers are not living in the U.S., the book was not being shipped to a U.S. address and they were ordering a book from a Canadian company. So Cuba-U.S. relations are a part of your PayPal transaction. And U.S. law governs PayPal transactions. Who knew?
We plan to send a copy of this blog post to both PayPal and the Minister of Trade. Have your say and let us know what you think.