Paypal has blocked the Belgian bookstore ‘t Vershil, specialising in books and DVDs for a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) readership, from using its payment system.
“They first blocked the account and then sent us a notice”, Johanna Pas, co-manager at ‘t Verschil, told The Bookseller.
The only explanation given by Paypal is an e-mail saying that the store carries adult DVDs and books, which, according to Paypal's Acceptable Use Policy, could be considered “obscene” or “sexually explicit”. However, Pas said, plenty of online stores use Paypal and sell sexually explicit material. Belgium's straight erotic store Erotischeverbeelding is one example. Since Paypal accounts are only customers over 18, selling legal adult material should not be a problem, Johanna Pas says.
Paypal has not replied to ‘t Verschils e-mails or phone calls, except for repeating the information from the first e-mail about Acceptable Use Policy. However, Paypal has responded to Bookseller by e-mail, saying that they are “urgently looking into the situation” and that they do “not discriminate (clients) (…) based on their sexual orientation”.
In order to regain access to their Paypal account, ‘t Verschil would have to remove the adult material, or split the shop in two, something that would be far too complicated and expensive, according to Pas. Sales through Paypal account for about 2% of the shop's turnover.