Saturday, October 04, 2014

I HAVE to use PayPal after all; is Bitcoin next?

Last night, I needed to make a contribution to secure a reservation for a film screening (“Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda”) at HRC.  When I went to the appropriate website (Reel Affirmations) I found the credit card payment links grayed out and only Paypall working.

It turned out that I do have an old PayPal account, which I reinstated.  I had not used it in years, partly because of all the phishing spam pretending to be it.  Then, late at night, I found that to pay with it, I needed to put money in the account, which cannot be done immediately with a bank (an e-check takes 2 business days), and would require a trip to a retail establishment to pick up a MoneyPak card. 
So I went to RiteAid this morning (Saturday) and the clerk didn’t know what it was.  But we found it after a while, and I bought one on a debit card for $100.  There was a $4.95 service fee.  I was able to put the money in the PayPal account when I got home, but I have no way to know if my contribution and ticket reservation went through. 
Smaller retailers or non-profits might start expecting consumers to be able to use PayPal.  It is not practical for them to deal with the security problems of handling their own credit card processing, although in the past practically all non-profits have used ticket-processing companies (like Mission Tickets or Brown Paper Tickets, or Ticketmaster) to process the credit cards.
Maybe there is a social issue going on here.  Some consumers don’t have credit cards or debit cards or even checking accounts, partly because of poor credit scores.  Maybe some of the non-profits want the more affluent clients to experience “how the other half lives”.  I wonder.  I also now wonder if I could suddenly need to have an active Bitcoin account, even for totally legitimate purposes.  

Update:  Oct. 6.  Called HRC and completed the transaction with a credit card.  I was told the credit card link should have worked   There was no intention to force use of "non bank" resources.   But now I'll keep a small amount on PayPal, just in case this happens again somewhere else.

Update: Oct. 14.  The film is reviewed on the Movie Reviews Blog today. 

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