Neteller and my money: Bringing it all back home

by Lou on January 27, 2007

All of my posts about the arrests of Neteller founders and former directors Lawrence and Lefebvre has been more or less in the abstract. I’ve talked about their legal plights, the fact that people are leaving Neteller in droves, and about how tough it is to find other means of moving money into and out of online gaming sites.

Today it got personal. I tried to move some money from my Neteller account to my Neteller debit card but I was prevented from doing so. Funny thing is, this was not money from a gambling site, but money I earned from some overseas publications I wrote for.

An email to Neteller brought the following response:

Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide time estimates for withdrawal options at this time. We would not want to provide even a rough time estimate, because we are unable to do so with any accuracy. We apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced.

If you prefer, we may be able to cancel your withdrawal request. Please be aware that doing so, and withdrawing by check may take as long, or longer than the EFT withdrawal option.

Currently we are experiencing unprecedented volumes through our withdrawals department. Due to this volume we are experiencing difficulties with withdrawal requests. We are not able to process EFT withdrawals at this time. Please be assured that we are doing our best to restore our withdrawal options as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, any balance in your Neteller account is completely secure. We apologize for any inconvenience.

If you have any further questions, please visit http://updates.neteller.com.

I decided to call Neteller, got a very helpful customer service representative who told me that I can no longer withdraw funds from my Neteller account to my Neteller debit card (Neteller sometimes refers to this as a “Gold Card.”)

She did tell me that I could withdraw funds in my Neteller account via check, but the expected time for receipt of such a check would be six to eight weeks. I’m assuming this is because the high demand on Neteller swamped their ability to respond with available cash, so they have to wait for short term investments to mature to obtain the necessary cash to meet the “run on the bank.”

While I was waiting for my helpful customer service representative to find out some additional information for me, I requested a check for the balance in my Neteller account.

But there was money in my Neteller Gold Card account too, and the only way to get hold of that was to transfer it back into my Neteller account – it’s actually a movement from one pocket to another – and then either request another check or do a peer-to-peer transfer to someone in a country in which Neteller is still operating the way it did in the United States until sometime last week.

If I were to have my funds sent, for example, to someone in Canada, they would receive the funds immediately and could then write a check to me or move the money into my bank account via wire transfer. It’s a lot faster than six to eight weeks, but the juice on peer-to-peer transfers is not insignificant. It’s 1.9 percent, or $38 on a $2,000 transfer. While that doesn’t sound like much, if you were moving $50,000, the fee would amount to $950.

This is all the result of a perfect storm fueled by Bill Frist’s ego and presidential aspirations, the religions right and nanny-staters who believe it is their job to legislate morality regardless of how it may impinge on my freedom, and the incredible hubris of Lawrence and Lefebvre who knew they shouldn’t show their sorry asses in the United States. Although the Neteller Two have personal wealth sufficient to make the entire world their playground, they lacked the common sense to avoid turning up in a place where they ought to have figured they would be on the wanted list.

Their delusional thoughts about their own invulnerability aside, their actions cost hundreds of thousands the access to their funds in a timely manner and caused untold issues for poker players, online gaming sites, and others in this business.

Lawrence and Lefebvre were bold visionaries with an idea they turned into great personal wealth, but they lacked the common sense to avoid traveling to the United States, where they knew they would be in danger. Moreover, travel to the United States put them in a place where their arrests would endanger myriad people using the very service they created. The incredible hubris of the Neteller Two has created a situation where their customers – the people that made them wealthy – are themselves locked out of their own funds currently on deposit at Neteller.

How pathetically sad is that?

For a look at Neteller’s current FAQ’s regarding this stuff, go here: http://content.neteller.com/content/en/member_businessupdate.htm

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