Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Firepay Continues to Act in Bad Faith, Announces Plan to Cut Off U.S. Gamblers

I do not like Firepay. Not at all. While I've had previous first-person experience with this company's predatory tactics, I'll reserve some of those bits for the follow-up at the bottom of the post. For now, let's start with the word that Firepay will be discontinuing service to U.S.-based online gamblers. Brian May over at the MattahFattu poker blog posts the following, from an e-mail he received today [boldface mine]:

SUBJECT: New FirePay policy for US account holders

On September 30, 2006, the United States Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

Once President Bush approves the Act. FirePay (www.firepay.com) will no longer allow US consumer payments for online gambling merchants.

Beginning the day President Bush signs the Act, FirePay will decline any purchase transactions from US FirePay account holders at any gambling merchant site. Ten days after President Bush signs the Act, FirePay will decline any transfer attempt made by any online gambling merchant to a US FirePay account.

All US FirePay accounts holders will continue to be able to make purchases and receive payments from non-gambling, online merchants, as well as “Deposit From” and “Withdraw To” their US bank account.

** Please note:
This new policy will not affect FirePay account holders from outside of the United States

For any questions regarding these deadlines or policy, please email info@firepay.com



Thanks to Brian for posting this. Now the rant. First, Firepay has always been the sleaziest of the online wallet services, once I learned enough to be able to discern the difference. One thing I wrote about on my own blog, but did not post here, was the episode that caused my departure from the Firepay ranks some time back. In that instance, Firepay arbitrarily attached a $10.00 fee to one of my withdrawals. When I questioned why, they said it was because I hadn't made "frequent enough" deposits, and when I asked them to tell meexactly how frequent "frequent" was --- as in the specific period allowed before the clause referred to woukd go into effect.

Amazingly, Firepay responded to me with this:

"The specific definition of frequently will not be supplied to you."

I was appalled. They charged me a fee, and they would not tell me the basis upon which the fee was applied. Then, as I escalated this up within the noxious Firepay management structure, I received an e-mail inquiring as to (1) all the other online services I was using, and (2) was I actively involved in money laundering. And mind you, we're talking about very small amounts here --- I'm best described as a low-to-mid limit player.

I invited them to perform something physiologically impossible. Needless to say, Firepay and I ceased doing business with each other, though they did take their pound of flesh --- one last $10 fee --- as a way of letting me know what they thought.

So it was with a bit of bemusement that I read about Firepay's initial changes to their service agreement with U.S. customers. Oh, it's not the e-mail posted above, but rather a change made a week or so earlier, which Brian also posted about on that MattahFattu blog. Seems that that $10 fee is something that Firepay considers an appropriate tithe for their U.S. customers, since they attached it a week ago to all U.S. withdrawals... but I'm not aware of any similar e-mail announcement about the fee change.

It was clearly a set-up in advance of the announcement made today in that e-mail. Firepay quietly put the fee into place some days ago, then announced their change in U.S.-facing services, effectively locking in a $10 gouge from each and every one of their U.S. customers.

Scum. Dishonest scum. And this small voice in the wilderness adds, "I told you so, long ago."

Ah, well, good riddance to bad rubbish. Fortunately, there are lots of choices out there, from Neteller to Click2Pay to Citadel, to... well... anyone but Firepay.

There's no doubt about who the most honest group of people is, when you compare gamblers to bankers... or politicians. Then, within each group, one finds it has its own spectrum of goodness, or lack thereof. Firepay is on the sleazy end of a suspect group.

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