This represents the start of my endeavor to present an issue to the public relating to money handling by PeoplePerHour, which is the result of several days of correspondence. I think it is incredibly important that potential customers are made aware of what is going on at PeoplePerHour, and i will therefore avoid any conjecture, or emotive language, which might suggest that this is merely sour grapes over a dispute.
These are the basic facts which are probably self explanatory, and i will be happy to further discuss my interpretations or provide evidence from correspondence if required.
1. In early 2013 I sought a developer to undertake a small software contract, via PeoplePerHour and accordingly paid the agreed cost to PeoplePerHour, to be held in escrow.
2. The developer did not in the end undertake the job, did not claim his money and the money i had paid into escrow was refunded into something they call a "PPH Wallet"
3. It was fortunately a relatively small amount of money, as I decided to leave it where it was on the basis that at some point I would probably want help with another small project. As it happens that did not transpire until this week, some 10 months later.
4. I duly logged in to my PeoplePerHour account to discover that that over 95% of the money was gone. I assumed that there was a reasonable admin explanation for this and queried it with PeoplePerHour.
This is where it starts to get interesting and in some respects difficult to believe but, as i say, I have detailed correspondence.
5. They wrote and admitted they they had taken it. Apparently they have been helping themselves to the equivalent of $5.25 plus tax every month for quite some time.
6. I asked where, in the notification that the money was going into this "wallet", did it state that they would help themselves to my money?
7. I asked where and when was I notified on each occasion that they helped themselves to my money?
8. They wrote and told me that it is apparently in the small print of their T&C's which i had clicked on to agree when i first ever registered with them.
9. I responded by stating a: that I had no reason to have expected that I would end up with a plus balance in my account, and b: why would i go and check the small print of the T&C's at the time of the"refund" unless i suspected that they might start to help themselves to my money.
10. I'll cut through the various correspondence until they started to tell me that it was my fault because I could have withdrawn the money from my wallet before this mysterious 6 month period expired.
Then it gets even more interesting - keep that last paragraph 10 in mind.
11. On closer investigation I discovered the existence of a message sitting on my account from PPH, from the time that the money was refunded into the "wallet" stating categorically that "the credit CANNOT be withdrawn and can only be used against future business through PPH and, more importantly, that it does NOT expire!". Furthermore, there is a warning placed against the remaining money on the account stating explicitly that "it is NOT available for withdrawal"
12. Further correspondence has taken place in which PPH have refused to accept any responsibility, despite having lied to me about the ability to withdraw the money, and they are even now presumably lining up to help themselves to the last remaining funds in my account.
PPH never took any steps to warn me that they would begin taking money from my account. They never informed me when they actually did so. They never advised me to withdraw the money from the "wallet" - in fact they expressly noted on my account that I could NOT withdraw it. They have then, incredibly, lied about it in the hope that i would drop the issue and go away.
My concern for other potential users of PPH, is not so much that they might fall foul of poor quality or inept customer service. It is very much that users should understand that there is a fundamental policy within PPH to grant themselves the right to help themselves to money which is left with them on trust, to which the user has no right or facility to withdraw the money themselves.
I am happy to discuss the detail and implications of this case, but please please be aware that, as unbelievable as it may sound, removing money from users accounts is very real and exactly what this company PeoplePerHour are up to.
I have only lost £40GBP, but business is transacted through these people at much higher levels. It is my goal to try and spread the word so that as many potential customers as possible can understand the risk that they will be taking.
Be aware and be safe.