When the COVID lockdowns hit, Raleigh-based wedding and portrait photographer Rebecca Faulk was able to keep generating some income by selling prints and rescheduling her photo shoots. That is, until her credit card processor decided to hold on to her funds…
The CC processor in question is a company called PayJunction—a major competitor to familiar names like Square and Stripe—and Faulk is far from the only disgruntled user whose funds are being held hostage. According to VICE, PayJunction recently decided to start holding on to “large security deposits” from many of its users, protecting itself in case of mass cancellations and refund requests caused by COVID-19.
In Faulk’s case, that security deposit was $1,500; for other larger businesses, the deposits being withheld allegedly run into the tens of thousands. And all of this, says the photographer, was implemented without any explicit warning.
“When this hit and many of my weddings and large events were cancelling or postponed, I ran a print and product special to try and replace that lost income. Initially all my labs were still open,” Faulk tells PetaPixel. “Many have since had to halt production due to the stay at home order but clients were still being understanding about products arriving when they were able to resume operation. One client even ordered but didn’t want the special price; wanted me to keep that money.”
All good so far. Not only had several clients agreed to pay and reschedule their wedding or portrait shoots to later, she was generating new income by selling prints, which would ship once the print labs re-opened. But after three weeks of dipping into her own pocket to pay the photo labs, she finally reached out to PayJunction to find out why she wasn’t receiving the payments from her clients.
“They said they had been fielding calls for 3 weeks with unhappy business owners wondering where their money was by the time I called them,” explains Faulk. “I was more than patient knowing that many businesses were ending up in a tight spot; that is why I waited 3 weeks to call. They were undeterred despite spending weeks at that point with endless calls of business owners yelling at them.”
Small business owners like Faulk are obviously livid with PayJunction, who seems to have made a unilateral decision to hold on to a large chunk of their users’ money just in case these businesses go under and clients as for refunds. And not all of the money being held was for postponed events or photo shoots either.
“Some of the amounts were for future events and sessions, but some was also for products,” a frustrated Faulk told PetaPixel. “They were only going to pay out over the security deposit level they determined, and further, they didn’t tell us until we called.”
Unfortunately, it seems PayJunction is sticking to its guns on this, despite the backlash. In a statement provided to VICE, they explained that the decision was made because the company didn’t want to be on the hook if hundreds of customers all asked for refunds at the same time—refunds that PayJunction would be forced to pay if the small businesses couldn’t foot the bill.
Of course, the other side of this coin is that, by withholding this money, PayJunction is making it more likely that businesses like Faulk’s will go under while waiting for payments to be released.
Fortunately for Faulk, she was able to get her ‘security deposit’ released, but only after spending a whole day on the phone with the company trying to figure out what the heck was going on. She obviously doesn’t intend to work with PayJunction ever again, especially given that competitors like Square and Stripe have not implemented similar policies.
“I’m shocked that this company decided to do this during such a trying time,” Faulk told PetaPixel. “They’re in it for themselves and the protection of only their company when I’ve have given them business for over seven years.”
Image credits: Header photo by Ales Nesetril, CC0