Existing businesses Beware - Issues with Shopify Risk Team

New Member
3 0 0

Strap yourselves in... this is a bot of a long thread, but at this point I don't know where to turn.


First a bit of background: 


We are a large (13,000 sq ft) gift shop in Michigan. We opened in 1990, currently have 30 employees, a warehouse, and have a low 7 figure yearly revenue. We started using Shopify for web sales about a year ago to expand our customer presence. We were pretty happy with it, and had been looking to upgrade our POS in store for quite some time, and after some research we decided that Shopify POS would fit the bill, and made the jump this February. This involved almost 2,000 man hours of labor to re-inventory and add 17,000 sku's to SHopify, purchase of new hardware totaling $10,000, and a large amount of in-house training.


Pre-Shopify we had been sold CBD by a rep, who told us it was completely legal to sell. When we added these sku's to Shopify, we realized that this was not the case. We received a notice from risk operations telling us they were not allowed under TOS; we immediately removed all CBD related items as it was not a significant part of our business, and we didn't want to be doing anything shady / not allowable. They removed the hold and we went back to business as usual.... Until last Sunday. 


At about 6:25 I received an email that stated: 


Hello! ?

XXXX (name omitted) here from the Shopify Risk Team!

We have seen that your store has continued to accept CBD products after being warned against this previously. Please can you explain the reason why these products were re-added to your store?

Risk Analyst | Shopify


I was confused to say the least, because I had been staring at all the CBD we did have in the corner of my office for the last 3 weeks trying to figure out what to do with it. Looking at our account, I could see that our payments had been frozen. Figuring this had to be some kind of mistake I responded asking for clarification as to what products were in violation..... and waited.... and waited.... and waited


Monday I sent 3 follow-up emails asking for clarification, with absolutely no response. When I got into work on I did some research and found these 3 items that looked like this... 



Now if you look, or are familiar with Alex & Ani, you will know that they are jewelry items, the SKU matches the SKU from Alex & Ani if you do a Google search, the UPC matches, the price matches, and the description match; and provided them a link to all 3 items if they wanted to look themselves.


Discovering this I emailed them (again) with all this information; including that the "CBD" stand for Charity By Design, and this was entered as it appeared as the description on our invoice from them. This was entered by our processing / receiving department. I even gave them a link to the Alex and Ani page where you can sign up for a charity by design that is literally called their "CBD FORM." And again I waited... and waited... and waited....


This was followed by multiple emails asking for any updates, and again, I had not even received any clarification that I had asked for as to which items had been identified. In the interim the amount of money on hold was growing (as of this morning it is over $36,000)



Wednesday I began working the phones trying to get an answer. I will mention that all the gurus I worked with tried to help, and seemed as frustrated with the risk team as I did. Finally Wednesday at noon i get the one and only follow-up email I have received from the risk team to date which stated:



Apologies for the delay in response. We are referring to these products:


(3 items listed but ommitted)

(Same as the ones I had sent them explanations about 2 days prior)


XXXX (name witheld)
Risk Analyst | Shopify


I was assured by the Guru that this was being looked at and I would have a resolution on Thursday morning. Again I waited... and waited.... and waited....


Thursday I was on the phone for over hours 3 trying to get someone who could get me at least as status or timeline, however there is no way to actually talk to someone on the risk team, and I was told "they don't have phone numbers."

I am responsible for making sure that our 30 employees are taken care of paycheck wise, and am currently unable to do so. 


Shopify has created a system where this team is essentially not accountable to anyone, and no one has any way of disputing anything a computer flags. I admit we were in violation initially without knowing after being fed a line by a rep for a CBD company, but removed those products within minutes of initially being informed, and continued to be in compliance with Shopify Payment TOS through today. Now, I am in a position where I can't get a response from an opaque process that currently has almost $40,000 of our hard earned money. I mean if you have any questions as to what type of business we are, there are literally 3-4 promo store walk throughs on our Facebook page from the last month: https://www.facebook.com/MySecretGardenBayCity


I have no idea who to turn to at this point. I had been an advocate for Shopify and the ecosystem to many of our business friends up until this point, but this has really soured me. I think we may need to look to migrate already, and not because of the fact this happened (I understand issues arise, and they are trying to protect themselves), but how it is dealt with after the fact is what it concerning. You have a situation where they are witholding almost $40,000, and I can't get a clarification email for 3 days; that is simply unacceptable after I send over 20 emails, and 6 phones calls after almost an entire business week. I now, after dealing with this team fear reprisal in the form of them just shutting down our store; my only hope is that someone who actually has the power to do something about this sees this.



New Member
3 0 0



Finally 30 minutes after posting this, the issue has been resolved and we are cleared to continue accepting payments. If you are an existing business that is anywhere off the ground, use extreme caution and consideration if you are thinking about moving to Shopify. I handle top level customer service issues for our business, and if I or any of our employees treated a customer as I have been treated through this I would be ashamed, and probably looking at termination.



New Member
2 0 0
I am currently in the same boat. I had my payouts paused for what seems like a whole week now. I have about $10,000 in holding and 100’s of orders that need to be fulfilled and invoices that need to be paid. I have been floating on reserves and I’m just about out. I have been emailing and the gurus can’t help me besides telling that there’s a process and I have to wait...

The email they sent me was that I either have to remove these certain prohibited products or switch to another third part provider and they will release the funds.
I don’t believe these products they are referring to are violating any rules and asked for a second review. I was asked to send in invoices and any documentation to support my case and I did. Now I haven’t heard anything since. First, I recently paid off a capital loan and had to wait 3 days after I paid it off for it to clear just so I can switch providers. Second, after I switched, I emailed the risk team for the release and never heard back from them. It is ridiculous that there is no direct contact point to reach them. Shopify support tried really hard to help me out but they always ended up saying the same thing which runs along the line of “we can’t do anything, wait for the risk team to contact you.”

I was at a point where sales were increasing fast and business was spiking. I felt like it was paying off, then Shopify slaps me in the face. They hold my funds, give me the silent treatment, and tell me to make it work.

I don’t think I have any plans on going back to Shopify Payments and I urge anyone who is reading this to stay away. I feel like they forced me on a dry pool slide and I’m trying to hold on but they’re about to dump a bucket of water and it’s just a slippery slope from there.