Dark For A Day – A SOPA And PIPA Protest Infographic


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This month, we protested SOPA and PIPA proposed Internet legislation by blacking out web pages, making calls, tweeting, and sending emails. All of this resulted in a huge success for those of us who value a free and open Internet. The news media even embraced our concerns, with Arizona’s Channel 3 TV reporter Jared Dillingham stopping by my office to interview me about it.

It goes without saying that the Internet has become a communication tool that far outweighs lobbying by large organizations. That’s an awesome thing and it’s one of the reasons we need to fight for our online freedoms.

Today, Frugal Dad released an infographic showing just how much happened on January 18, 2012, the day the internet stood still.

infographic

Source: frugaldad.com

Did you protest? If so, how did you make your voice heard?

PayPal Destroys Violin And Burns The Seller


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There are a lot of sellers out there who try to rip people off, so it’s not without reason that companies like eBay do whatever they can to protect buyers. After all, that’s where the money comes from, right? Unfortunately, the solution isn’t a simple one. In their efforts to protect the buyers, eBay and their payment arm, PayPal, may be unduly turning their back on the sellers.

PayPal Knows Best

The most popular way to pay for anything on eBay is through PayPal. Outside of eBay, PayPal pretty much has the market cornered for smaller transactions and even a lot of online shopping. People use PayPal because people use PayPal. Most times, PayPal transactions occur as anticipated. A buyer sends money. PayPal takes their cut, and life goes on. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. In the past, PayPal has been known to freeze accounts simply because they had too much money in them and more recently, they nearly ruined Regretsy.com’s charitable Christmas giving. This month, PayPal seems to have not learned anything about bad publicity as they instructed a buyer to destroy a product in order to get a refund. Below are the photo and the details the seller sent to Regretsy.com.

smashed PayPal violin

I sold an old French violin to a buyer in Canada, and the buyer disputed the label.

This is not uncommon. In the violin market, labels often mean little and there is often disagreement over them. Some of the most expensive violins in the world have disputed labels, but they are works of art nonetheless.

Rather than have the violin returned to me, PayPal made the buyer DESTROY the violin in order to get his money back. They somehow deemed the violin as “counterfeit” even though there is no such thing in the violin world.

The buyer was proud of himself, so he sent me a photo of the destroyed violin.

I am now out a violin that made it through WWII as well as $2500. This is of course, upsetting. But my main goal in writing to you is to prevent PayPal from ordering the destruction of violins and other antiquities that they know nothing about. It is beyond me why PayPal simply didn’t have the violin returned to me.

I spoke on the phone to numerous reps from PayPal who 100% defended their action and gave me the party line.

The first thing I wondered when reading about this is why PayPal would make such a decision. As it turns out, they even have a clause in their user agreement stipulating that destruction of an item may be required of the buyer in order to get a refund. I can understand if a seller sells something – not worth paying to have shipped back and then relist – and decides he or she would rather just have proof that the unwanted item was destroyed for a refund. It’s still wasteful, but I get it. In this case, it seems the buyer disputed the authenticity of the item and PayPal agreed to a refund if the buyer would provide proof of the items destruction. This also makes some sense if the item is confirmed counterfeit and it’s an illegal knock-off, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Now the buyer is getting (or has gotten) a refund from PayPal, the seller is out a violin (or $2,500, depending on how you look at it), and PayPal is surely going to have to back-pedal again to save face.

PayPal Can Fix This

All hope is not lost. Regretsy tells us that PayPal assures them the matter is being looked into. Perhaps Anuj Nayar, Paypal’s Director of communications, will issue another post similar to the Regretsy half-apology on the PayPal blog. Personally, I find it interesting that he even has a somber picture for posts like this and a smiling photo for up-beat news. That may also hint at what I think the real problem is with PayPal. Any time I hear about PayPal from people, they’re often frustrated with PayPal’s customer-unfriendly decisions and, like many huge companies, PayPal seems to be reluctant to admit any mistakes until the bad press is beyond real repair. My suggestion to PayPal is to take a good look at your account holder/PayPal dispute policies and figure out better ways to work with people instead of just wielding a gavel. I suspect that for every Regretsy who gets resolution to a problem via social media outcry, there are scores of average users who’s voices go unheard.

As for the issue with the violin, I foresee a lawsuit. If PayPal received and debunked the authenticity of the violin, themselves, I would still question the legality of their authority to do so, but ruling in favor of the buyer, sight unseen seems like a legal fumble by PayPal at best. I think PayPal should decide they just bought a violin and pay the seller, especially since the violin is no longer around to authenticate.

What do you think?

Full Disclosure

I’m currently a little peeved at eBay for some anti-seller action they took against me today, but this isn’t about that. Mine is a love/hate relationship with eBay. I’ve been a buyer and seller on eBay for more than 15 years. Sometimes I love them and other times I get pretty annoyed at how disputes and other actions are handled. It really just depends on when you ask. Honestly, though, this is more about PayPal – a part of eBay, but not eBay, itself. I haven’t had any disputes with PayPal, personally.

2011 Social Year In Review


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As we come to the end of another year, many of us will reflect back on things we’ve experienced, lessons learned, and just everything the last 12 months brought us. 2011 has been an incredible year filled with tons of important world events as well as a lot of interesting celebrity events and gossip. Sadly, but not surprisingly, “interesting” squashes “important” online, putting celebrity news and gossip far ahead of important world events when we measure our digital voice online. Frugal Dad put together the following infographic, showing what the world found compelling enough to search for, share and talk about on Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

2011 in review infographic

Source: http://frugaldad.com

What was the single most important piece of news you shared this year (online or off)?