Today we were notified that PayPal no longer wishes to do business with AGM, and that our PayPal account is terminated.  They are quite clear - the decision is not up for discussion or appeal, and is irreversible.  We are "banned for life."  As of about noon today, the account was locked down.  


What does this mean for you?  

Simple - If you still owe on a previous invoice, and plan to pay in the next few days (which we will sincerely appreciate), you will need to do it the old fashioned way, by sending a check.  Make your check payable to Jeff Shrader, and send to this address:

Jeff Shrader

270 State Hwy HH

Burfordville, MO 63739

IMPORTANT NOTE:

The credit card processing system on advanceguardmilitaria.com is also run by PayPal and (hopefully) no longer works.  Please do not attempt to use it.  Our technical support / website folks happen to be moving to a larger office this week and will not be able to work on the site for a few days; as soon as they are back up and running themselves, we will have them shut down the payments page on the site until we can rebuild it using a different service.

Why did this happen?
Buried deep in PayPal's voluminous Terms of Service is some fine but unambiguous print about selling weapons.  We have always sold antique weapons (knives, swords, daggers, etc.) as well as other military antiques that are officially frowned on by PayPal due to their corporate social policies.  They had been kind enough to overlook it in the past, and in fact one of their customer service reps that helped us with technical things in the past enthusiastically declared the site "COOL!" and became a customer himself (he liked swords), but with the candid admonishment "don't ever ask a higher-level manager look over your site."  Because the PayPal logo or text is not on the home page, or on any item page, and you have to go through a few steps to actually get into a catalog and look at the inventory, and through the good graces of a few of their people who recognized our business as historical and not 'dangerous', we happily flew under the radar for a long time.  However we are now listed by BATF as a properly licensed Federal Firearms dealer, and that list is a matter of public record.  Though there are but a few military firearms currently available on the site, that is (I suspect) the thing that did us in.

Ambushed!
No, not really.  I knew this might happen at some point.  Other friends who run military antiques businesses have had this same experience with PayPal and shared their cautionary tales.  I just feel a bit stupid for knowing this was possible, but yet I left $$$ sitting in our PayPal account for purchases and to use with their debit card for upcoming trips.  There is close to $8,000 in there that is impounded, and will be held for a minimum of 180 days.  (Yes, you read that correctly.)  This is also not open to discussion, and irreversible.  Thank goodness this didn't happen right after an AGM catalog opening!

Plan B is also toast; hooray for Plan C!
Knowing this was possible, we had an alternative payment system up and running, just waiting in the background should it ever be needed for this very purpose.  Unfortunately, I have learned that the little local bank that services our Plan B system has recently adopted policies hostile to businesses who deal in anything firearms related, antique or otherwise.  To them a musket is every bit as offensive as a guided missile.. so I will not be making them our primary payments processor after all.  Fortunately, the other bank in town holds the exact opposite view, and is quite enthusiastic about setting up the service on our site.  We just need a few days to get it all hooked up and tested.

Those DIRTY BASTARDS!!

As far as PayPal goes - honestly, though I am thoroughly annoyed, I must also be true to my Libertarian ideals.  They are a private company.  Though I completely disagree with their politically-inspired policies, as a private company it is absolutely their right to do business, or in this case NOT to do business with clients as they see fit.  Ideals are worthless if you abandon them when they are personally inconvenient.  Sure, I fantasized about how much fun it would be to spray paint a big phallus on the sign outside their company HQ, wherever that might be.. but dismissed the idea because A) I would probably get caught, and B) that sort of vandalism is something that I reserve for the vehicles of dear friends.

Truth be told, if you or I had access to the kind of power that PayPal has, choosing who can and who cannot do online business.. you know it would only be a matter of time before we caved in to temptation and tried to use this power to create a better world according to our personal definition of that ideal.  For me, step #1 would be to lower the hammer of doom on businesses that put slaw, pickles or onions on an otherwise perfectly good BBQ sandwich.  Freakin’ savages.  Fortunately for people afflicted by twisted taste buds, I do NOT have that power.  Unfortunately for people who are in the antique militaria business, PayPal DOES.

So now you know - please pay your invoice by check if you still owe.. and by the time Catalog 115 rolls around*, there will be a brand-new credit card interface on the AGM website.  We will no longer be able to take PayPal payments, though - ever.  That much has been made –abundantly- clear.

(*As fears of the boogyman virus, warranted or otherwise, have caused cancellations or postponement of a few upcoming shows, we will actually have some unexpected bonus office time to continue work on Catalog #115.  Watch our Facebook page or stay tuned to the site for news updates on when that might be launching.  It was scheduled for June - might be much earlier.)

Jeff Shrader

 

Wait. You're really still reading this?  Here is some more that you may or may not have already known:

Operation Choke Point

'Trigger warning' – this might be perceived by some as a bit political.

From the perspective of a social activist, when you cannot actually outlaw thought, activities, hobbies, or merchandise that you disagree with, another angle is to attack those things by making it impossible (or at least very, very difficult) for those you oppose to operate.  Extremists on both edges of the political spectrum engage in this activity, trying to silence individuals and groups on the opposite side.  As it relates to antique militaria, activists have pressured convention centers to eliminate collector shows.  When it comes to firearms, their approach is to make it difficult for licensed dealers to accept online payments, and even to get insurance for their business.  This really picked up after 2012 when the Obama administration's 'Operation Choke Point' saw the Department of Justice and FDIC working together to pressure banks to decline banking services to merchants involved in various activities they labeled "high risk", which was primarily legitimate firearms dealers.  While this policy has been reversed under the Trump administration, the legacy is long-lasting, and many banks with no official opinion on the issue one way or another still have policies in place that they feel will protect them from being harmed by a future administration that might feel differently.  I'll post a few links below for more information if you are just really bored and want to read all about it.

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/17/trump-reverses-obama-operation-chokepoint-241767

https://www.americanbanker.com/opinion/theres-no-downplaying-the-impact-of-operation-choke-point

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/obamas-operation-choke-point-finally-unmasked

https://www.consumerfinancemonitor.com/2019/05/23/fdic-settles-operation-choke-point-lawsuit/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/05/24/operation-choke-point/