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The time Venmo stole $15 from me

My friend owed me $15 for a ticket to an L.A. Salami concert. She didn't have any cash. She asked if she could Venmo me. I said no. I don't have Venmo. I don't believe in Venmo. She said that if I had a PayPal account it would still work. Reluctantly, I agreed to accept payment via the Venmo-PayPal spur.


I received a text with a link to claim my money. This is already more work than I want to be doing. In case you need a refresher, here's how cash works:




Fine, whatever, I'll sing for my supper. I click the link. It takes me to PayPal and I'm greeted with a message that my payment has been received.



Unfortunately, this is a lie. I check my account balance and there is no $15.


No big deal. I check account activity to see if the transaction is pending or processing, but nada. It's probably just loading.

A week later I check again. Still no $15. Still no record of the transaction. I look everywhere and can't find it. I don't even know how I got to this message, but Paypal itself seems to agree it doesn't have my money:

At least they're polite

Now it's been a week already. I check with my friend and she is showing a deficit of $15, but I don't have a that $15 so we're now both $15 poorer. Venmo actually created negative money.
 
I go through the process again, thinking maybe it didn't register for some stupid internet reason the first time. The same thing happens. A screen showing I got the money. An account that shows I don't have the money. I wait a few days and try again and the result is the same.

At this point I've spent an hour trying to get my money. Say I had a job that paid $15 an hour, even if I get that money I've lost it in the time that it took me to get it. And I know that time is fucking valuable, and Silicon Valley thinks time is valuable, otherwise they wouldn't be throttling the economy to churn out two-day shipping, and cars that pick you up on-demand, and meals that come in booster packs ready to heat and eat. Time is so valuable you can't waste it on a digital goose chase.



I give up. I'm not going to waste any more time on this. You win Peter Thiel. I don't know why you needed my $15 in addition to your many billions, but I lack the will and the inclination to fight you.

Months later I receive a notification that my friend cancelled her payment. She informs me it happened automatically; she didn't do a thing. Now maybe you're thinking that since she got her money back it isn't theft. But if I take your car for three months without asking and then give it back—that's theft.

I'm sure there's no small contingent of you saying, get on board, ya dummy. Just get Venmo, future train is leaving the station. But why would I ever get Venmo if it already sent my $15 on months-long walkabout? Not a great experience.

One more time, for comparison: