I was at my local Whole Foods supermarket. I'd been waiting in line for 15 minutes already. And when I made it to the register I rushed to give my items to the cashier. My daughter would be getting out of school in another 15 minutes, and I had to make it down to the subway - stat.
"$42.34, " she says.
I swipe my debit card. My PayPal debit card.
"Your card has been declined, " she says. "You wanna try another one?"
"No. . . that can't be, " I stammer - partially embarrassed, partially annoyed. "I KNOW that card is okay. I'll try it again. "
Once again I swipe the card. And once again the card is declined. Now I'm nervous. Did the waiter steal my card number the other night and sell it on some illicit hacker chat room for a hundred bucks? I pull out another card, swipe it, and haul away my organic oranges and carrots.
Even though I'm running late I can't bear the thought of getting on the train without knowing why my card was declined. So I give PayPal a call. Knowing that I had more than $3K in my PayPal account, my heart was pounding as the rep pulled up my account information.
The kindly older gentleman tells me that all of my cash is there. (Whew!) I just need to send PayPal some documentation to verify the details on my account.
An account that I'd had for nearly 6 years already. An account that had been verified, confirmed, and put through $5K sales days, as well as eBay PowerSeller status.
There was no reason for this demand. No explanation offered by the kindly older gentleman, even though I prodded. This was just something I had to do if I wanted to have a PayPal account.
In the meantime, I could not accept any payments nor can I remove any money from my account. I am more than a bit shaken by this bit of news, and my shaken hand hails a taxi.
That evening I faxed all the required documentation to PayPal. A bank statement with my address on it. A copy of my identification. A copy of my credit card statement with my address on it. Plus 3 other items. The rep told me that somebody would verify my information in the next 2-3 days.
In the meantime I've got a core group of 15 super-affiliates who promote one of my ebooks on a regular basis. Not to mention a universe of 2,000 affiliates, any of whom can randomly produce sales. And with no PayPal account, their promotional efforts were useless. No orders could go through.
There was some back and forth conversations with no fewer than 7 PayPal reps that week. But to my great surprise, they did in fact verify my paperwork and my account was re-instated 4 days after they'd shut me down.
The Angel of Diversification Wrapped Me in Her Loving Arms. . .
Those four days gave me the opportunity to realize that I'd been playing Russian Roulette with my delicate-as-a-flower ebook business.
I'm not some big business owner. In the banking scheme of things, I'm disposable. So are you - trust me on that one.
By routing ALL of my ebook sales through PayPal I left myself open to disaster. Disaster happened and my cash flow immediately stopped. I felt like I'd been fired from a job.
So you're probably wondering. . . do I still use PayPal? Of course I do. It's good to see that they're proactive with the verification process.
Is it my only payment processor? No way.
PayPal is now one of three payment processors in my arsenal. I also use Google Checkout and 2Checkout.
Even if you have your own merchant account, it's absolutely, positively necessary that you have a payment processing back up plan. Don't assume nothing can go wrong. There's always somebody out there with a story of something that did go wrong.
So What Can You Do Today?
- Do a Google search for “payment processors. " Examine the terms for each one you're interested in. Really read the fine print so that you don't violate any of their restrictions.
- Sign up for at least one additional payment processor now. Don't wait until you have an emergency situation, because you never know how long the approval process is going to take.
- Always keep your important documents within arm's reach just in case you have to submit some information to a bank or payment processor. If you're on vacation, bring a copy of those documents with you.
As the old saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. "
Alexis Dawes intimately talks about what it's like to sell information online through her Alexis Dawes blog. If you'd like to see the problems, pitfalls and power moves ebook authors go through, click over to (http://www.AlexisDawes.com )