Entheology.com interviewed the owner of one of the oldest online botanical shops to write us a quick article regarding his personal experience with an incredible abuse of power by MasterCard last year:
He said “2013 was an absolute disaster for both me, my business, and my employees. In April of 2013, Chase bank accused us of selling Salvia divinorum (something we can easily prove we weren’t doing; Salvia divinorum became illegal in Illinois in 2008), called up Bank of America and asked them for an enormous fine that exceeded our balance for “tarnishing” the good MasterCard name that freely allows weapons and pornography through its credit card system.
If that wasn’t enough, Bank of America then opened our corporate bank account further to MasterCard, and handed them tens of thousands of dollars more (we already had a large negative balance, so there was no actual money to hand over), just in case our stellar charge-back record of an incredibly low 0.1% over a decade of processing credit cards suddenly shot up to 30% or more.
We, of course, didn’t have enough money in the account to cover the money that Bank of America handed over to Chase Bank and MasterCard, so I had to shut down on the spot, or try to fight back. I chose to pull money from everywhere I could, taking out a loan against my house, maxing out my credit cards, and cashing in the little bit of money I had invested in mutual funds, just to try to get back to a zero balance at Bank of America.
Once the shock of that was settling in, I was alerted to an almost harsher reality: I had also been “TMF’d” by MasterCard, which means I was unilaterally blacklisted by MasterCard, and given a “Terminated Merchant File” status. That means I was basically convicted of credit card fraud, without a trial, without a hearing, and literally, by an accountant who, one day, decided we were guilty of something we are not only completely innocent of, but can easily prove our innocence in regards to as well.
As of this writing, despite repeated attempts by the attorney I had to hire, MasterCard refuses to give us that chance, but promise to get back to us as soon as they can. In the meantime, damages against my company and employees continue to stack up in the tens of thousands in dollars alone.
For me; over a decade of often-painstaking work that I believed deeply in was destroyed. My 22 employees suddenly had to be alerted that I had prepared unemployment documentation for them and their families, as I had massive negative balance in my bank account to pay them with. My business life was destroyed in an instant, the livelihood of 15 of my employees arbitrarily destroyed as well. And they were literally destroyed over an arbitrary decision by a single person at MasterCard, who’s identity is actually being shielded from me, preventing me from mounting a proper investigation into what appears to me as an egregious abuse of power.
If it’s not obvious enough already, one entity should not be able to wield that much power.
Even more frustrating, is that Bank of America and other banks have recently jumped at the chance to enter the illegal drug business: Yes, more than one bank is leaping at the chance to get into medical and recreational marijuana industry. Regardless of state laws, marijuana is still a “Schedule I” substance on a Federal level and as George Bush said; “If you support illegal drugs, you’re supporting terrorism.”
So, the President of the United States has, by default, branded my bank, Chase Bank, and MasterCard as terrorists because they’re supporting an Federally illegal drug trade. Yet they’re still able to decide the fate of entire businesses by a click of a button. And, I’m the real-life person who’s still suffering the consequences of their, according to my attorney; illegal acts. For over a decade, I and my team of dedicated, loyal employees worked overtime to ensure that we were following the letter of the law in relation to the botanicals, incenses, and dietary supplements.
All of that was literally taken away in an instant last year and I’m still struggling to get back on my feet. I am now unable to accept credit cards for my business for a period of 7 years, effectively preventing my from doing business. I never dreamed a system could be so broken. I had no idea that in he United States, a single entity, shielded from any consequence, can destroy individual’s lives, and businesses that work hard to stay on the right side of the law.
Why should you care about any of this? I’m not exactly sure. I was asked to tell my story as briefly as possible, so here it is. If you know anyone who can fight these kinds of legal battles, please feel free to contact admin at entheology dot com and they will pass this on to the business owner on your behalf. Or, if you had a similar experience, please feel free to comment below.