I’ve rarely entered writing contests but in the first week of November (2014) I decided to take part in a competition through what I believed was a bona fide online organisation, offering not only competitions, but proofreading and editing services. It wasn’t bona fide and here’s how I got my money back.
I paid via PayPal my £5 entry fee and an additional £3 for feedback on my work (whether I won or not). Stupidly, I didn’t bother doing any research into the organisation and only after entering did I check out winners of past competitions. If I had, I’d not have entered, as the quality of the work of the winners was disappointing and contained spelling and grammar errors; as indeed, did the entire site and its blog. I’d never have hired them for proofreading or editing services.
Without going into a long story, in the end, I raised a complaint through PayPal. PayPal investigated, found in my favour and I got back my £8. PayPal also directed me to a page on their site which advises on how to avoid being defrauded.
I had had a long conversation by phone with one of PayPal’s representatives who said that it had been a good idea to raise a complaint and it was regrettable that when it was a small amount of money involved, many people just let it drop. Persistent and numerous complaints enabled PayPal to build up a file on a company which might very well lead to a suspension of their account.
During the course of PayPal’s investigation, I did some research online and found to my dismay that this organisation had been listed as far back as 2008 in Writers Weekly’s Whispers and Warnings.
I had also read, during my research into the organisation, again with dismay, a comment by one writer who’d been cheated, that at least it had given them some writing practice.
I contend that you don’t need to pay people money to practice your writing and urge that you always pay entry fees via PayPal, or some other similar financial organisation, so that you can claim it back. And I urge you to do that, even if you’ve only handed over $1, or £1.Me, I hate being cheated and never let it drop! I also hate to see others being cheated and for cheaters to grow rich on the backs of other people’s creativity.
I was stupid, but I don’t mind being stupid if it helps others. Don’t be stupid, like me, but if you do get cheated, please don’t let it drop. Flushing out the scoundrels will make the World Wide Web a better and safer place for us honest arty types.
Have you had a similar experience? How did you deal with it?