The online payment processor PayPal is considered the “go to” utility for online payment processing, particularly for individuals and many small businesses. Indeed, since its inception in 1998, it has become so popular that large online vendors who used to exclusively utilize large payment processors now include PayPal alongside their regular payment options. PayPal is also the premier payment option for eBay buyers and sellers. The service has over 110 million active users and can be used to make purchases at thousands of online merchants.
Anyone who is familiar with the #paypalsucks hashtag however, is probably aware that not everyone is a PayPal fan. The company has found itself at the center of numerous controversies over the years, some users going public with complaints over frozen accounts and poor customer service.
In April of this year, PayPal froze the assets of Pink Pagoda Girls, the company that provides services for relocating baby girls in The People’s Republic of China who are at risk for female infanticide due to that nation’s “one child per family” laws. The story of The Pink Pagoda, the organization that executes travel and placement for the baby girls, was detailed in the book The Pink Pagoda: One Man’s Quest to End Gendercide in China.
At first, PayPal demanded Pink Pagoda Girls’ bank records, their business description, and other documents, including proof that the organization was a 501(c)3 nonprofit entity, citing a policy that demands they have proof of such things for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
For a number of organizational and practical reasons, Pink Pagoda Girls is not a nonprofit corporation, something they make quite clear to all of their participants seeking to aid in the company’s mission. Pink Pagoda Girls’ officers informed PayPal that the organization is not a nonprofit; it pays taxes as a Limited Liability Corporation (it is registered in the US as such); thus, it could not provide proof that it is not a nonprofit.
For some reason, this didn’t seem to matter to PayPal. In a frustrating bureaucratic nightmare reminiscent of the Terry Gilliam film Brazil, PayPal insisted that Pink Pagoda Girls was indeed a nonprofit organization, and reaffirmed their request for the relevant documentation. In fact, every overture toward clarifying the legal entity status to PayPal on the part of Pin Pagoda Girls was met either by the same form email, or the same canned response from PayPal personnel.
The PayPal website currently shows that the requisite proofs of identity have been fulfilled by Pink Pagoda Girls, yet there is no longer a utility (or link) on the “Resolution” webpage to communicate with PayPal (as there was when the issue was raised) – and Pink Pagoda Girls’ funds remain frozen.
Is this mere bureaucracy or some sort of contrived targeting? While PayPal has been accused of being a left-leaning company with a history of inconveniencing overtly right-leaning customers, others have accused it of being a right-leaning company with a history of inconveniencing overtly left-leaning customers. Disgruntled customers on both sides of the political spectrum claim to have been targeted or persecuted by the company for their political leanings. There is also plenty of online testimony that PayPal is notorious for arbitrarily freezing accounts and being extremely difficult to communicate with.
So, for nearly four months now, funds that have been provided by conscientious people for services intended to aid at-risk baby girls in China are sitting idly in the PayPal’s coffers, earning interest (presumably along with the funds of other irate PayPal users) that neither Pink Pagoda Girls nor the girls they are trying to rescue will ever see. As detailed in the book The Pink Pagoda, baby girls in China whose parents desire sons are routinely drowned in rivers, buckets, and toilets, strangled, suffocated, or buried alive.
Pink Pagoda Girls’ founder, Dr. Jim Garrow recently expressed his frustration with the PayPal stalemate. “Normally we would never have set up a site for the receipt of gifts or donations as we are clearly not a charity. We are a philanthropic effort and self-supporting. We set up the PayPal account on our website as an accommodation to all the folks who indicated that they had felt led to gift monies to the Pink Pagoda Girls effort. PayPal continues to ask us for proof that we are a charity. Are these people insane, in need of remedial reading lessons, or is this another outworking of the left’s attack on everyone who seems right wing to them?”
Regardless of the leanings of PayPal’s executives and administrators, one would think that the welfare of baby girls possibly facing death might transcend petty ideology, and that having made clear their legal standing, Pink Pagoda Girls would have long since had their funds released. After all, there is ample evidence in the public and IRS records that they are a prominent and legitimate business with many supporters.
For the last month however, all communications to PayPal from Pink Pagoda Girls have gone unanswered, and two weeks ago, PayPal also discontinued Pink Pagoda Girls’ ability to receive funds as well – yet they are prohibited from closing their account and choosing another payment processor, per PayPal policies.
“We’ll let you know if the phone rings, though,” Dr. Garrow told Instigator News. “I don’t know how PayPal gets its license to operate as a bank, but it should lose that right. They are clearly motivated by something other than being of service.”