I am having the worst week EVER. That might sound dramatic but bear with me and let me tell you all about how Facebook is causing me misery.
Three weeks ago I headed to the UK for a whirlwind trip to visit my ailing Grandmother. As any small business owner will know, going on holiday doesn’t mean you can just put in a leave request form and go on your merry way. There is no off button so if you go on holiday, your business comes with you and luckily, my business can go anywhere. Or so I thought.
About five days before the end of my trip, Facebook blocked access to my account. I had to verify who I was to regain access. And then it happened again. And again. Each time I verified who I was to prove that it was legitimately me using my account.
But then at the same time, Facebook disabled two of my clients’ advertising accounts due to ‘suspicious activity’. One of these accounts has been running for almost 4 years and is spending thousands every month. The other is a new client fast gaining traction. All adverts were immediately stopped. I contacted Facebook, explained that I was in the UK and I think this is why they suspected suspicious activity. I also provided a picture of my Driver’s Licence as ID and then I waited. And waited. And waited. I’d heard nothing and it was time to return home to New Zealand where I was confident that I would get the issue sorted. Finally, upon landing I found I had a response from Facebook:
Our records indicate that your payments account was disabled because it violates Facebook's terms of service. In the interest of protecting our users, we cannot confidently re-enable your payments account at this time.
Thanks for your understanding,
Risk Support Specialist
WHAT!? Is that it? I furiously typed a reply. I explained that this was my livelihood, paying my mortgage depended on my business, if accounts were disabled like this with no clear explanation then my business would implode and I’d be left with nothing. I had to get those accounts re-enabled.
Again, I might sound dramatic but this is serious. I have a kid to support, this is my life.
Then I got really angry. How dare the vastness of faceless Facebook have such little respect for small business owners whose whole businesses rely on their platform? It’s utterly wrong. Also, I know exactly how I violated the Terms of Service – the region I was in didn’t match the region listed on the advertising accounts’ credit cards. That’s because I was in the UK for a measly two weeks visiting my unwell Grandmother. A cold fear also washed over me as I realised that if this happens every time I go away then I am basically trapped in New Zealand. One of the awesome things about my business should be how mobile it is and I feel like this has been taken away from me.
So I responded to Facebook and I explained yet again that I had been overseas and I also asked what I could do in future to inform Facebook that I was travelling and prevent this from happening again. Then I waited. And waited. Three days later I got a response. This time it was much more comprehensive but said that they were concerned about why the region I was in did not match the billing addresses on the credit cards. No response to my question of how to inform them of my whereabouts in the future. So I replied and explained yet again the reason for the discrepancy. I also filled in the original form again for luck. And fired off a quick reminder that they were ruining my life.
Thanks for contacting Facebook.
It looks like you've contacted us several times about the problem you're having. To make sure that we're able to help you out, please don't respond to this email. Instead, wait until you've received a response to the previous issue you've reported. When you receive this message, you can continue the conversation there.
Screw you Facebook.
I also emailed my old Facebook account manager who was assigned to me for a three month period that ended about 2 weeks before this happened. 'My hands are tied' he said. 'We are not a support office.'
I wish this story had a happy ending but so far, it doesn’t. 12 days later and I am still no closer to getting my accounts re-enabled and Facebook’s Terms of Service state that I cannot create another advertising account to replace the disabled one. At this point in time I seriously don’t want to mess with their Terms of Service. My client’s credit cards have been blacklisted anyway so I’m completely hamstrung. I’m losing sleep, letting my clients down and I cannot get real support for love nor money. I’ll admit that I’ve cried.
My only friend has been Google which has made it abundantly clear that I am not the only person to have gone through this hell. It’s cold comfort.
So now my entrepreneurial mind is whirring because Facebook, you can no longer be my long-term solution. I love what I do and I know Facebook ads like the back of my hand but right now I feel like this is not a platform I can rely on so completely for my earnings.
I'll update if and when I get any kind of solution. I'm tempted to say I'm not holding my breath, but I really am.
Have you had your advertising accounts disabled? Did you feel as completely shell shocked and exhausted by the process as I do?