November 2009
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(If they correctly guess the letters that have been starred out, it’s quite likely the title of this post will attract the attention of the Neteller staff that are following my Twitter feed. If it does, how about finally answering my questions please?)

There’s a difference between a wannabe bank not being able to do bankish things, not being able to add up correctly or having generally useless support staff, and one that makes you feel like a crook while you’re the one getting robbed.

Neteller frequently winds me up because they give two or more different answers to the same question and won’t let me get at my US Dollars without transferring them via at least two other currencies first.  Or they act all concerned for a moment but then never get back to you when you ask serious questions. Yet somehow I’ve never really been that worried about leaving significant sums of money in their hands.

However, when I attempted to withdraw some money from Moneybookers to a US bank account recently, they decided to treat me like a criminal, froze my account and now won’t give me any information – or my money.

It’s definitely worth pointing out that their withdrawal page actually suggests withdrawing to a US bank account as an option.  I wasn’t trying to subvert the system, for once.

Here’s another important point: while Moneybookers is a popular online payment method for gamblers, I’ve never actually used my account for gambling.  I’ve used it to receive payments for a business service which, in one case, just happened to be from someone whose email address has the word “poker” in it.

That probably means I’m a terrorist.

After my first attempt to withdraw, this is what they said:

Please be kindly informed that according to our Terms and Conditions with which you agreed upon registration of your Moneybookers account  we are strictly forbidden to allow gaming funds to be withdrawn to US bank accounts as such payments are restricted due to the legislation in the USA.

Please be kindly informed that according to our Terms and Conditions with which you agreed upon registration of your Moneybookers account  we are strictly forbidden to allow gaming funds to be withdrawn to US bank accounts as such payments are restricted due to the legislation in the USA.

The email refers me to sections 6.6 and 7.5 of the T&Cs.  The first section has nothing to do with this and the second one doesn’t even exist.

It does say the terms were updated on November 6th and I can’t find an older copy, so this is very worrying.  Although the (current) terms say that they’ll give you two months notice by email of any changes, it doesn’t look like they even tell their support staff when they decide to change the rules.

This time, I don’t think it particularly matters that they’ve pulled a switcheroo on me and I don’t have a printed copy to back up what I thought I’d agreed to – because even under the current terms, I’ve done nothing wrong.

However, if you use Moneybookers you might like to review the T&Cs – and then ask them why nobody told you they had changed.

I duly replied to tell them that this was not illicit gambling money – assuming that having received several months of payments for the same amount on the same date it would be quite obvious I was telling the truth.  They asked to see some photo ID and a copy of a recent bill – pretty standard stuff, which I did – but then:

In order to be able to complete the account verification procedure we would kindly ask you to provide us with some more information about the purpose of receiving payments via our services.

Would you please provide us the URL of your website and a brief description of the services you offer.

Well, frankly, what the fuck business is it of theirs?

I sent them a link and simply said “web hosting” after typing and deleting something to the effect of the line above.  The equivalent of muttering under your breath in an email.

I thought that when they replied to say:

We are writing to inform you that your account has been successfully verified.

that that was that.  They did point me towards section 11.2 of the T&Cs, which does exist this time but stipulates a restriction on residents of the USA from receiving gambling funds.  This couldn’t be more irrelevant, so I tried again to get my US Dollars out – after all, why would they still offer me a US bank withdrawal option if it wasn’t actually possible after I’d jumped through these hoops?

And then this:

We are writing to inform you that your account is under audit.  Once the audit has been completed we will be in contact.

Here’s where it starts to get stupid.  I said:

What does this mean?  I thought I’d just been through your verification process

And they replied.

Please be kindly informed that your your account is under audit.  As soon as the audit has been completed we will contact you.

It’s only because they changed the wording slightly in the second reply that I knew it was a real person fucking with me, not just a stupid autoresponder.  I tried again:

This is identical to the last message I received.  Can you please let me know what this means?  I have literally 3 transactions to audit.

And the last thing I had from them by email was:

We transferred your case to our security department and they should be getting back to you in the next 48 hours with more information about your account.

Two weeks, and three phone calls later, my money is still locked up in Moneybookers’ private jail, and I have no visitation rights.

This morning, all I could get out of them was that they’d make a note on my account and pass it to the security department as a matter of urgency.  I would hear back from them probably today, or at the latest tomorrow.

That’s exactly what they told me last time, but today I was told there was no such note on my account from any previous call.

I don’t really know what to think.  This should not be hard.

If you don’t allow withdrawals to the US, don’t offer it as an option.  If you still have cold feet about letting me withdraw to the US after telling you what you needed to know, then just say so and I’ll withdraw to the UK.  If you absolutely have to audit my account, go ahead.  It should take about thirty seconds.

But don’t be stealing my money with no good reason.

Because if you do, I’ll write about it on the internet and expose your shenanigans to, on a good day, dozens of people.

5 comments to Money***kers

  • Send a cease and desist to their head office. Send it recorded and send them a fax copy too. There\’s no other way to get past the kind of fuckwittage that you\’re getting from the custserv droids.

  • Resolution. Just had a call from country code +359. Bulgaria, apparently.

    I had to press quite hard for them to commit to which section of the T&Cs they were acting under in suspending my account for two weeks. He said:

    17.5. We may suspend your Account at any time if:
    17.5.1. we reasonably believe that your Account has been compromised or for other security reasons

    I argued that there was no possible security reason surrounding this, as I had been in contact with them, they knew I was responsible for the transactions and I had already completed their KYC checks.

    In their mind, an attempt to withdraw money to a US bank account is classed as a security risk. I guess it is – for them – but it’s a highly dubious interpretation of this rule in my opinion.

    I go back to my earlier point of WHY OFFER IT AS AN OPTION AT ALL?

    He also tried to tell me that there was another issue with a non-delivery complaint from the customer who had sent the money and I was like ORLY? and he soon changed that story. Maybe that one works sometimes.

    But at least they called me eventually. Still waiting to hear from Neteller…

  • Any legal test for “reasonableness” would blow that excuse out of the water. Claim interest on the withheld money and threaten legal action to recover it; mention the words “punitive damages”, that tends to get the legal boys involved fairly quickly.

  • jim

    not related to post but i like the fact there is now mobile version

  • It’s quite smart isn’t it? Only thing I’ve found is that it doesn’t scale down images. My traditional 450px width just about fits iPhone on its side, what it’s like on your Nokia?

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