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:
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.
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.
I am currently facing the exact same issues at this moment.
The nerve that us as small business owners spend so much time and money to build something on this Shopify platform that seems so great and advanced and helpful for an average person like myself who is looking to branch out, to than get hit with the same 'payments on hold' pop-up after doing so well on the first couple of days with no warning or notification as to why I am now being considered a 'high-risk business'. This is very unfortunate that I have to explain to all of my paying/future customers the current situation I am in because of this flawed system. The fact that there is only one line of communication to their Risk Department which is via email is terrible for the all Shopify business owners overall. I can no longer use Shopify Payments without any word or reasoning but I can continue to use Shopify's platform and pay $29/month and whatever other hidden fees are tied into this mess , what a waste of time and unfortunate way of handling people who are bringing you tons of money on a monthly/annual basis. Now I have to wait on Shopify's Risk Department to respond to me via email (probably with an automated reply) on why my $1.5K funds are on hold for the next 90 days and why I cannot use Shopify Payments without any real reasoning because I have not broken any type of rules or TOS regulations at all. Over 6.5K sales in the last week or two, over 280+ orders, and 0 charge backs. Please explain to me how that is considered a 'high-risk business'.
I would highly recommend if you are starting up a business, just go with PayPal link method and stick to WordPress because the way that Shopify treats their customers (who pay a lot of money to use their platform) is just ridiculous in every single way ! Save yourself from this huge disappointment.
This just happened to me, they are holding on to money for 90 days. Ruining my business operations of course. In my opinion I'm sure there is grounds for lawsuits for this if someone would be willing to take the effort. They state that Stripe/Shopify Payments can put your account at risk at anytime, and that's fine. It's their business, HOWEVER; this should not include any money that is to be paid out; that means Shopify is affecting my business but if I can't afford to purchase my customer's products and ship it to them, that affects the customer's money and products. That is in my opinion ILLEGAL. This money is not Shopify's, it is either mine as a store or the customers. I was unable to refund this money to the customer EITHER. This is insane, they do this with thousands of stores and MILLIONS of $ that Shopify holds for 6 Months+ that means that can use and invest in their business, as I'm sure no one regulates this money to be held in a safe account and not be used. This means unless customers chargeback, this money is held/ "kidinapped" for 6 months by Shopify.
Lastly, Shopify says you can use other payment providers who would take this risk: HOWEVER, Shopify collects fees for Stores using any other payment providers as well. So these FRAUDSTERS collect your annual/monthly store fee, tell you to use other providers (who collect their own fees as well) and collect fees ON TOP OF THAT, and collect your domain fees. Do not use these guys, no money you make is worth allowing them to make money off of you and control your Store like they own it.
PLUS They have the AUDACITY to tell you to sell your store when you try and close it, so they can make some sort of fee on that.
Oh my God this just happened to me. First, I put up some hand sanitizers, one being CBD infused hand sanitizer that I sold at the MSRP. The sent me an email saying that the products could not be sold at that price due to COVID-19 price gouging. So I sent them email from my manufacturer. I sent them the products on Amazon and showed them that I actually charged .99 more than a comparable product would on Amazon. I am not an oportunitst. So the products were taken off the store, as they are not my marquee product or even one that sells that good. I did not pull them off but they were not at all listed. Then I get an email back that my store had been locked and I can't get in and do anything. This is embarrassing as i spent a lot of time and a lot of money marketing the store and its product. I have adds running to a site that doesn't exist, I immediately removed the items and sent a series of emails. I Reviewed the TOS and got a better understanding and explained this in a series of emails, that I was sorry and to please unlock my store. No response. This has been hours and I hate that my traffic is going to nowhere. I called Shopify no one can help as the Risk Department has a phone number. At least put the store up, they deleted the whole store. I sell cosmetics and I quit my job to work on this full time. I didn't know that people held this type of power of you. But in my case I have a voice my IG following is over 75K and im verified along with strong followings on all social media platforms and my only recourse is to make people aware of these practices. This is wrong... just wrong.