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Ask HN: 5 months and counting waiting for Coinbase customer support. Advice?
475 points by benbreen on Jan 29, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 182 comments
So Coinbase's disastrous customer service has come up on HN before [1]. But my issue is rather more extreme than a wire transfer that takes a few weeks to go through - I've been waiting for over five months for Coinbase to unlock my account and allow me to access my funds. Since August 20 of 2017 to be exact.

I've never experienced or even heard of such a long wait time for action to be taken on an open customer support ticket and I honestly have no idea how to proceed. Should I start contacting the CFPB or BBB, writing registered letters, etc?

To be clear, I have had contact with various Coinbase customer service reps since August. I also have tried emailing and tweeting at the CEO and Coinbase executives. The refrain is always the same: "We're expanding fast and adding to our customer service team. Your case has been escalated for further review. Please bear with us." I've been patient for months now and am thinking that maybe I'm not following the right strategy - any advice?

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16106793

Ok, an update, since I can't edit the original anymore. "Kyle" at Coinbase reached out to me via email: "I’m so sorry for the delay in our response. We were able to clear your account."

I can't imagine that it had anything to do with bad publicity from being on the front page of Hacker News... anyway, I'm glad it was finally resolved. Thanks HN.

Sorry you had to go through this.

It's pathetic that nowadays the only way to get the attention of a company is to shame them in a public forum. While I'm not a big social media fan myself, I'm glad it's there when we need it to call out people and companies like this.

This is the only reason that "Kyle" reached out to you, not because they care about you as a customer. It's a shame really.

Social media has partially democratized access to public shaming, in the US at least, as you no longer need to know someone at a media outlet. But luck remains an important factor. If OP had posted an hour earlier or later, it could have never broken out of 1 or 2 upvotes on HN, and his issue would not have been solved.

I think the fact that (as someone pointed out) Coinbase is a YC had some help as well. No one likes it when the fight starts coming into their own backyeard.

I think they may have lost that battle too. I mean, I’ve read a story like this every week since December on various Cryptocurrency subreddits. Maybe it’s just me, but I know I won’t be using Coinbase ever again, and with Robin Hood going into crypto, the criminal behavior at Coinbase is probably going to cost them.

It's a bit like an overloaded dev department. They can't meet their obligations, so which JIRA ticket are you working on? Which customer is 'shouting' the loudest?

Since most HNers will see through the whole - popular HN rant -> resolved and see it a cynical they should perhaps not also solve the issue but make a statement about how they plan to solve other people who have been waiting this long.

Otherwise the message is clear: If you aren't happy, shame us publicly, then you are #1 in the caller queue.

You could see it as a positive. Until a few years ago, people with influence got preferential treatment. Now anyone with a twitter account can.

Social media shaming, unfortunately, seems to be the fast lane to escalated customer support. Good to know for other Coinbase customers.

Social media shaming as a service seems like it could be a big and profitable business to be very honest.

There were a few internal projects/hackweeks at Twitter that were effectively this (of course billed as a way for companies to serve their customer better, not a public shaming device) but none of them ever made it into production.

Pitch that at YC this Summer!

Twitter and HN already serve this purpose. I have used both to do the same exact thing as the author has done here. I actually think that it is part of HN's purpose.

HN is not the masses. The whole point is there's potential to scale the very sort of company shaming that works really well for a niche group of tech workers on HN to everyone.

> Social media shaming, unfortunately, seems to be the fast lane to escalated customer support.

More and more it’s the only lane.

> Good to know for other Coinbase customers.

Public shaming on a tech forum or social media should never be a viable channel for consumer support. It’s a symptom of the breakdown of all other channels.

I support it in this extreme case. But as someone who does tons of all-hands support at companies with _really_ good support, please start with normal channels. Starting out publicly paints you as really aggressive and hard to work with. To diagnose anything complex, and for your own privacy, you'll need to move to email anyway. You'll get good support either way because we're professionals, but there's no need to start any interaction with a middle finger.

The best way to do it is to come across as totally unhinged. They know you can’t be reasoned with or ignored so they actually have to solve your problem.

I’ve done this a handful of times when I’ve gotten the runaround after being polite and following the rules.

you don't even have to shame Microsoft Azure. Tweeting @azure is legitimately more useful than a Premier Support agreement.

Wow. After five months of brush-off, two hours on HN resolved the issue. That's insane. I guess that Coinbase folk must read HN.

Coinbase is a YC company and HN is a YC site, so it really isn't surprising.

YC funding should really come with strings attached, like getting back to tickets in less than 5 months...

Ah, makes sense.

But damn, one would think that there's a ticket-age view somewhere in the triage process. I wonder whether five months isn't that unusual.

I suspect their metric is probably time taken to answer, so coming back to someone with a non answer that deals with them for another few days probably makes the metric look okay.

Yepp. The troubling time is ahead of us, as many times I already see moderators are deleting very interesting technology-related articles and news and most of the time, God only knows why.

Its sooner or later posts like OP will be instantaneously deleted not to create too much shaming.

It's disappointing when a company that's as well funded and big as Coinbase leaves customers hanging. I'm a co-founder at a customer conversations management and helpdesk platform - Re:amaze, and we answer _every_ single customer question and conversation on email, social and on our site that come our way. Every single one. Any that we can't answer right away we let them know we're working on it and set a reminder to get back to them once their issue has been investigated and resolved on our end. Every single employee at our company is responsible for making that happen, and we also help other businesses with the goal of a zero-inbox as well.

Just plain inexcusable that it takes one HN article to get things resolved.

BTW, you're not the only one with these issues. There are a number of complaints from people in the same boat as you on Reddit as well

I know, I started looking at the Coinbase subreddit for the first time last week and was just shocked. On "new" right now there are people who have waited for 4 months with no response, people with well over 10k locked up for over a month, people suffering from anxiety as a result of this company. Almost all of them have no responses beyond the automated message from a bot.

I sometimes stick up for giant tech companies when people I know (usually academics) talk about how they're inhumane or evil. I tend to think that people on the whole mean well, and that, since these companies are, after all, composed of people who generally mean well, we should give them the benefit of the doubt. The principle of charity and all that.

But Coinbase really does seem to be the rotten apple in the barrel. They are hands down the most inhumane company I've ever interacted with. I came away from this whole thing feeling scared about a future in which this type of behavior by corporations is the norm - I keep thinking about Snowcrash or that scene in Elysium where Matt Damon is getting shocked by the police robot!

It is wierd that companies are like this.

I love everything else about Gitlab yet I am having a less than stellar time with Gitlab support.

Is it because for most companies the perception is that if someone needs support they are already more likely to be a bad / lost customer anyway so don't put too much effort into it?

I see Drew from our team already responded but I want to also chime in.

> Is it because for most companies the perception is that if someone needs support they are already more likely to be a bad / lost customer anyway so don't put too much effort into it?

This is definitely not the case. Support is an opportunity to win a customer for life because it's a make or break moment during the customer experience.

At GitLab I realized that we need to build specialized support groups with specific focuses: On-prem and Services.

I'm currently on-boarding a Services Support Manager this week who's focus will be improving the Services support experience. Your comments here echo that it was the right choice to continue investing in our support as it's not where it needs to be.

To loop this back to Coinbase the thing to realize is traditionally companies treat support as a cost of doing business not a revenue generating asset.

In the tech support industry rule of thumb is 18 months until burnout. 18 months until someone leaves your support team on average. I'm sure coinbases turnover is somewhere around that or less with a 5 month backlog.

At GitLab we are trying to buck that industry trend, but we are still in the early stages. Time will tell.

Thanks for sharing your experience with GitLab support. I'm happy to follow up on your issue if you reference your ticket number.

We absolutely want to help every customer have a good experience. When we fail at that we want to do everything possible to turn it around. I look forward to helping you.

With all due respect, the scale of support enquiries you handle is probably orders of magnitude below what Coinbase has to deal with. Scaling any kind of support well is hard, scaling tech support for something as complicated and user-hostile as cryptocurrencies is harder.

Don’t take on the customers then.

It took me 7 months to finally get my issue resolved which got me access again to my account. I tried public shaming on HN, Twitter, their support boards etc - and with no luck. I get that they are expanding, and perhaps behind on support requests - but anything hitting more than two months is already embarrassing - what would it take for them to hire appropriately for the level of demand they are getting -- these are obviously not one off cases.

> I can't imagine that it had anything to do with bad publicity from being on the front page of Hacker News

It has everything to do with this. Glad your issue was resolved, cos I was going to suggest you post on r/cryptocurrency and r/coinbase on etc reddit.com

That's the place to post your issues on. All the major exchanges like Kraken, Bitstamp, GDAX (Coinbase) magically respond and sort the issue out once the post hits the main page.

I think you missed the sarcasm :)

Hello, can i please DM you. I am in a similar but worse boat. I want to reach out to Kyle or someone else myself.

Sad how that's what it takes. I had a similar experience getting Aetna to pay for my wife's home birth... they gave a gap exception and promised to pay for it months in advance. Afterwards, when I actually tried getting them to, they ignored me for weeks and stonewalled me on the phone.

Eventually someone suggested to write an angry tweet about them... it seemed stupid but I was out of ideas. I did it and they immediately reached out and paid for it in full. I often wonder how many people never think to complain in public and get screwed.

After waiting to hear Coinbase since May / June and missing the Ethereum run up 4x i'll just go to Robinhood now.

As many will. Which might mean that Robinhood might end up having a worse customer support than Coinbase :(

Why do people keep saying "bad customer support" as a euphemism for wire fraud?

This. If I had "misplaced" someone's money for 5 months I would be in prison.

This is the pattern I'm seeing over at virtually all crypto exchange subreddits. There are so many frantic threads to withdraw money but the ones that make it to top of the list or has significant money involved seems to get solved relatively quicker.

Allegedly now that many banks/credit card companies have cut off crypto exchanges that the only way to cash out is to match your SELL order with somebody buying in....

And now we have this whole USDT fiasco...Tether has actually overtaken the "how to buy bitcoin" google searches...


> Allegedly now that many banks/credit card companies have cut off crypto exchanges that the only way to cash out is to match your SELL order with somebody buying in....

I don't know that this is fully accurate. Most exchanges support some amount of self-service withdrawal without KYC verification into private crypto wallets.

Where you do need someone to match your sell order is when you convert back out to fiat currency. But if you're on one of the "trusted" providers here like Coinbase (I recognize the irony of saying this in this thread, but they're still an American company that can't commit blatant fraud a la BitConnect or BitGrail) or Gemini, you should be able to send them cyrptocoins out of your "sketchy" exchange and eventually get fiat.

Threatening to contact the CFPB and FTC works too (speaking from experience)

The current President is closing down CFPB projects, to protect the free market.

This is a tale as old as Coinbase. No response until the customer calls them out publicly.

makes me ashamed to be a kyle!

It's been over a month for me. My case hasn't been touched, except for one automated "read the FAQ" update. Lost my ETH transaction.

Thousands are having the same issue (lack of support), based on Twitter alone.

Tweeting at the CEO is useless, unless you're someone famous.

The really sad part - with the amount of money they are making ($1B/yr), they should be able to handle support. It's only several categories (account verification, transfer delays, lost transactions) that can be easily parsed/routed, and even answered to, programmatically in 80% of cases.

I actually founded a company that does ML-based customer service alongside humans. https://www.abotlabs.com

If anybody at Coinbase wants to reach out, I can probably automate 20-50% of your queries with integrations into your backend systems. Email is in my profile.

Awesome, I'd love it if you could help Coinbase resolve poor OPs problem swiftly and economically with the warm friendly response of a robotic rejection.

My initial comment wasn't clear. My point was - there are tens of thousands of open, unanswered cases there. But it's only a handful of distinct categories. Meaning cases can be programmatically categorized, and handled by Support employees in batches. I've done tech support before, and you can make a small team very effective with some organization and good automation.

Also, don't underestimate an importance of a ticket update (any update). If you observe a few open cases on Reddit or Twitter, you will see that the worst thing you can do is say nothing - no ETA, not even an acknowledgement... it's the complete silence that makes people freak out and open multiple cases, spam multiple channels, only aggravating the problem.

Yeah, I'm sure that "instant replies" are exactly what CoinBase customers are longing for. /s

They already have a chat with instant replies...that point you to a website with the answer they should have just linked you to when you went searching for the answer. I had to go through this rigamarole to reset my 2FA because my phone had to be reset and I didn't have backups of my Google Authenticator keys. The process went something like this:

1. Search docs for how to deal with lost 2FA device. Find entry about it.

2. Docs say, "contact support to blah blah blah" with a link to a realtime chat thing for support.

3. Ask question in chat thing.

4. Receive a link to a web page with a description of what to do from the chat bot

5. Follow those instructions, which involve logging in with a different browser (or incognito) and clicking "lost my device".

6. Verify identity, etc. etc. which finally gets the ball rolling on fixing the problem, which takes a couple of days, as I think it actually involves a human at this point, though I never actually talked to one.

It wasn't super painful, but it made me think, "What idiot came up with this? Why would I want to talk to chat bot only to have it take me to the web page that it should have directed me to in the first place when I was looking at the documentation?"

> I actually do ML-based customer service.

An alternative business model: An ML-based recommender for Coinbase's customers for how best to obtain satisfaction.

The revenue model would be a little harder to design, but you might help more deserving people.

So far, the most effective way for a CB customer to obtain satisfaction has been calling out a CB employee on Reddit by name (who also happen to be active Reddit users) with a case number, at which point said employee personally looks at the issue and provides an update.

With what did you integrate yet? I'm looking for a solution like ecommerce in different languages

We integrate into most of the major eCommerce platforms and automate common tasks out-of-the-box: returns, exchanges, order tracking, etc. We support multiple languages.

Shoot me an email and I'll see if we can help.

I'm in the same situation. I'd even be willing to pay a much higher transaction fee for them to resolve it, but they don't seem to care. I switched to Gemini and have been much happier with them.

I lost my eth transaction when I wanted to buy at around $180...still waiting to hear back from them about my purchase that went through but then mysteriously didn't.

They're in the process of ramping up pretty seriously I think. http://fortune.com/2018/01/22/coinbase-tina-bhatnager-twitte...

"Ramping up" explains many days of delays. It does not explain many MONTHS of delays.

Hah. They've been "ramping up" for over a year now.

That message has been pushed all through 2017.

Bot support sucks. Revolut is a case study in this #fail. Make things clear and idiot proof is a better path to avoiding time answering simple questions. I missed the days of some human on the end of a mechanical turk task copy and pasting some loosely related canned answer when with dealing with bots.

Totally agree. Bot support is one of the worst things you can do for your customers. Especially in Coinbase's case where there's $ involved, auto bot responses piss off customers wanting their $ in time.

AI is a long way from being at the forefront of customer support. At best AI works well as a complementary tool for customer support agents to help their customers, but not be the customer support agent itself.

What Coinbase needs to do is shore up their support team.

With Revolut at least you can just pay for better support; with most services you cannot.

get a linkedin premium for trial and inmail one of the top level executives.

Public humiliation trumps private escalation.

There's really no excuse for a 5 month old customer facing ticket with real notable amounts of money involved. I'd be sorely embarrassed, and it appears they are.

At the very least they need a sensible way to separate issues involving real money to be in a different priority bucket with actual escalation.

Just give a shit about all inquiries, or pack it in.

My time should now be deprioritized?

Google seems to have been successful at separating which customers get actual support and which don't. I get your viewpoint, but not many tech companies seem to support it.

This has been tried, to no avail.

I ended up speaking with one of their board members.

Does anyone still read inmails, really?

$1B? That’s insane. I know I know the transaction fee... but wow. So many startups like Dropbox can’t even make $1B for a long time until recently.

Sounds like a lot but if we are in a bubble like I and lots of other people think we are, then that could come crashing down at any time.

Money laundering ain't no joke!

They are going to lose their reign if this keeps up. Seems like it's time for them to shift focus.

I am in the same boat and have had my personal health deteriorate because of this.

Don't gamble with your personal health. Please try to find professional support.

They seem like a chronic bad actor. I believe small claims court, BBB, CFPB are all valid recourses.

Better still - if you can make this a class action by eliciting similar victims to come forward, you may actually get them to change their ways. Right now it seems like they can simply fuck with you without consequence.

And then there's the irony of coinbase being a middlemen in a market that aimed to remove the middlemen

It really does seem like they don't care about the consequences. I was listening to Reid Hoffman's "Masters of Scale" podcast where he talked about LinkedIn simply unplugging their customer service line when they were in the midst of a particularly fast period of expansion.

That's maybe acceptable if you run a social network, but I fear that Coinbase has taken that lesson to heart and applied it to a business where real money is at stake. I'm increasingly concerned that Coinbase will either get sued or regulated out of business before they can give me my funds back - which at this point should be around 2.5k, so not a fortune, but also not inconsiderable either.

I guess I'll look into a lawyer but it bums me out that it has to come that...

Wasn't he talking about PayPal? (Also money service)

Assuming you're in a different state/country than their nexus(es), the Interstate Commerce Commission might also be interested in a large number of defrauded [0] customers.

[0] PayPal also seems to freeze (for long periods) and in some cases confiscate customer's funds for no reason. I'm purposely using the word fraud because that's not the reasonable expectation of those originally transmitting or depositing funds with the service.

>>> Better still - if you can make this a class action by eliciting similar victims to come forward, you may actually get them to change their ways. Right now it seems like they can simply fuck with you without consequence.

That's what exchanges do, screw their customers.

In fact, the biggest issue is the owner running away with the money, that's why exchanges are regulated.

Huh, how are they a middleman? You mean between individuals trading (GDAX) or between cryptocurrency and fiat currency (the main Coinbase.com product)? Neither of those services are what I would call a “middleman,” and neither of them are “supposed” to not exist in the cryptocurrency market (with the exception of some proposals to create fully decentralized exchanges).

I had to go here before I received any response from the company: https://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/

Thanks, I've seen this said a couple times online, will go ahead and fill out a complaint.

I'm in the same boat. At this point, "growing pains" is not a legitimate excuse for this level of incompetence. I (wrongly) assumed that since Coinbase is based in SF and funded by YC, that they would not be able to get away with this level of negligence. This reflects very poorly on YC and specifically YC leadership.

Serious question for YC insiders: has YC leadership made any effort to advise Brian on this, and how poorly this negligence reflects on YC as a whole, or does no one care because they're getting such a high return on their investment?

YC is a VC firm. Why would they care about anything but ROI?

Coinbase really needs to suspend their new account creation. AFAIK almost all of the other "reputable" exchanges have gone through periods of not allowing new users so that their support network can catch up.


What, and turn down the money faucet?

Sure, that'll happen. Coinbase just sends out a quarterly tweet that "hey, we're ramping up support!" and calls it good.

After complaining to support that my bank account would not verify after I made a SEPA transfer, I suddenly had my coinbase account locked. A few days later, I got an email from support telling me my account had been locked for security reasons. I wasn't home so I couldn't do anything. The fun part is that, when back at home, I realized that my coinbase firefox tab was still open (after 2 weeks) (I had only 100$ on it, so I wasn't really careful). I was still logged in, and I was able to transfer those 100$ to uphold.

I wired in a large amount of money to coinbase on the 12th of January and have yet to see my account credited. I have opened several support requests and call twice only to get the runaround. Anyone else have a similar issue? Did you eventually get credited? Everything was done correctly , confirmed with my bank as well as coinbase's bank

That was the sane thing I had happen. I had to file a complaint with the consumer finance bureau. Then my money was returned to the original account with no note as to why the wire transfer was rejected.

I faced this too, my coins were locked by Coinbase for more than 3 months (due to mismatch in name and my ID) and I could not reach out to anyone in support, although I submitted requests and placed calls. Their ID verification is fubar, I really don't know how it was deployed.

Their phone lines were always busy and the person on the phone was unhelpful and actually gave me false information that my account would be enabled. It took another couple weeks after the call, for it to be enabled. I will not do business with them again, and urge everyone I know to do the same.

When there are threads about finding their HQ in meatspace [https://www.reddit.com/r/CoinBase/comments/7majpn/this_is_co...] to confront them, you know you're dealing with a really shitty business. IIRC their correct address is 13+ Floor, 1 Front St, SF for folks in the Bay Area.

I recently had an issue where I'm fairly certain someone in Coinbase's verification process stole my credit card info and started charging it fraudulantly. I was able to cancel the card before any damage was done. I contacted support, got a "we're looking into it" email, then nothing for over a month. Good to know I'm not alone, at least.

With that and these other complaints in mind, what is a HN preferred alternative? I'd still like to buy some ETH/BTC/etc with USD, but am gun-shy on these now.

Boy you'll find my story hilarious...

I uploaded a photo of my driver's license for identity verification, and they either use humans or ML to read my name. Suffice it to say, they got the wrong name on my account and I've been unable to change it for months!

Check out this email I got from them! https://steemit.com/coinbase/@subcosmos/coinbase-incorrectly...

Lol...they parsed your first name as "Cunt"? That's worth teasing here...you'll get more interest in clicking through to your blog post.

My real name is Clinton, so they sorta got it....

Still trying to figure out if its an OCR process, or some human did it. Thought for a while I might have an enemy working there ;)

And its really rather hilarious. All of this ID verification stuff is needed for DHS regulations to prevent money laundering and terrorism.

a) probably a human b) probably someone that hates HRC.

Someone is definitely having a laugh at Clinton’s expense. Funny except it isn’t.

Story of my life! :p

its actually for anti-fraud

Hi Cunt!

Why hello!

No one seemed to like the redundant joke :>

Here's an interesting metric which I think is behind all the support troubles at Coinbase:

Take a look at Coinbase's Alexa ranking: https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/coinbase.com

220 - up from around 3000 12 months ago! That is simply incredible. A site like that would get buried in support tickets fast, especially after such growth.

Another interesting metric, they are beating Citibank:https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/citi.com

I suggest making a popular post on HN.

Hi there, just personal feedback here. I contacted Coinbase on September 14, 2017 because I was locked out because of 2FA and a cell phone I had no access to anymore. I couldn't upload or get any document verified, but a human being at Coinbase helped me and after a few uncertain emails, I was able to gain access back to my 4 years+ old account on September 20, 2017.

I'd say hang in there. With the recent bubble their statement make sense, so try to be patient.

Five months is more enough to be continued in a limbo state....

Is there a reason your account was locked? Something personally incriminating? For instance sending funds directly to a darknet market, or online casino.

If not, perhaps hire a lawyer.

It was locked for a quasi-legitimate reason, but one that should be easily resolvable. I accidentally opened the app while on vacation in Iran and got an automated message from Coinbase about Iranian nationals not being allowed to use their service, etc.

Fair enough. The email simply asked me to prove that I was a US resident by sending in my driver's license and proof of residence (like a utility bill). Which I promptly did. Then nothing.

For the record, I also opened my Bank of America app in Iran and BofA didn't seem to care at all. It's not like I was trying to trade, buy or sell - I literally just opened the app.

I had a similar issue with Venmo—a friend tried to pay me back for a Cuban sandwich, and the transaction was held up because he just wrote "Cubans" as the description. Only in Venmo's case, the issue was resolved mere hours after he sent an email explaining the situation.

I opened a Coinbase account back in college ~6 years ago when they were giving $10 in Bitcoin to anyone who signed up with a .edu email address. I forgot about it until last summer, when I realized that amount was now worth around $160.

I didn't have access to my college email anymore, so having to provide proof of identity was reasonable; having the entire process take a month wasn't. They also do this particularly insidious thing where if they don't respond to your request for two weeks or so, they automatically close it as unresolved. They do automatically reopen it if you send another email, but that you have to do that in the first place is dumb.

Woah. Venmo parses and makes decisions on the description field before performing the transaction? That's wild. I would have thought that to just be a convenience field for the customers. So Venmo decides what you can spend money on and what you can't? Yikes, I'm happy to not use it regularly.

Every payment service provider is required to filter transactions if they offer payment services to consumers. (Part of AML, anti-money-laundering legislation) In essence, there's a set of things that money can't be spent on, and it's their responsibility to take measures ensuring that their customers don't spend (in significant amounts) money on that, and show that these measures are reasonably effective (i.e. that they're not just for show - if they assist their customers to circumvent their filters, that's a crime) or not offer payment services at all. For some of the wider restrictions (e.g. payments to cuban nationals) it may result in quite wide-catching automatic filters; and it's the choice of the company whether just to block the payment or spend time and $ to have a human look at the payment and make a decision on whether you can spend money on that or not.

If you want to use services that ignore what you can spend money on and what you can't, you literally have to use illegal services - no legitimate company in the western world is allowed to offer that.

> If you want to use services that ignore what you can spend money on and what you can't, you literally have to use illegal services

Cash between friends is not illegal. Venmo, for lots of people including me, just replaces cash for paying your friends back. That's even their #1 example they have on their website for why you might use Venmo.

There is no agency or anyone in charge of asking what I'm spending the money on when I give my friend a $5 for lunch. If Venmo wants to replace that experience, they can't refuse the payment because they think I'm suspicious and expect to keep my business.

I understand the pressure they are under as a payment processor. But the alternative to Venmo to keep payment privacy intact is not illegal, it's just plain old cash.

Well yes, that's kind of the point - replicating this part of the experience of paying someone directly in cash is illegal. No matter what Venmo wants it can't replace that (part of the) experience and, more importantly, neither can any of their competitors. So you either keep using cash or (no matter if you pick Venmo or someone else) get a different experience.

Also, don't forget that above certain amounts cash between friends also needs to obey a bunch of reporting rules and can not be entirely private. Simply taking a briefcase of cash from your buddy and leaving it at that is illegal.

Except it's not cash, even if it seems to be used like cash. It's an online transaction, which eventually becomes a bank transaction if you ever want to cash out, so not surprising the same rules apply.

In case it wasn't immediately obvious from my original comment, the issue was that "Cubans" is ambiguous and could be related to commerce that might be covered by sanctions against Cuba.

I Tried to Venmo $12.66 for 'ISIS' and the Government Was Pissed. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/5gqyzd/i-tried-to-venmo-1...

As the subtitle points out, neither Venmo or the Treasury Department shares the author’s sense of humour.

Thanks for sharing. I’ll have to remember to curb my dark sense of humor next time I find myself having to use their app.

More than likely (in fact I would put it at like, 99% chance):

It's an OFAC thing. If they allow money transactions from Cuban nationals they run the risk of pissing off the Treasury dept.

Many companies do it in a very ham-fisted way (flag anything with "Cuba" in the title, etc.).

That's why for every single transaction that I do on venmo, I put "payment" as the descriptor.

Which is crazy because I've only used it once or twice but each time I've noticed many people use tongue in cheek descriptions like "for drugs" or "strippers" when they are just splitting a bar tab.

You will get called for this - I had a friends whose summer job at venmo was to call people and ask them to change the description from ‘sex’ or ‘drugs’ to something more innocuous - or to please stop buying drugs through Venmo.

In that case file a Consumer Finance complaint, and/or bring them to court.

Hi Benbreen i would really appreciate it if you could contact me some way.

Oh so you literally trigger the highest alert absolutely possible for them doing business with you and you’re surprised they never wanted to speak with you again?!

Minor fucking missing detail...

Since they are ignoring your online requests, have you considered simply visiting them in person? I understand that's not an option for many people but your profile indicates you're geographically close. Bring a lawyer for good measure.

I thought about this but decided it could be construed as creepy, or even harassment. I have to imagine that there are some crazy people out there who are mad at Coinbase and it could be taken the wrong way.

I have tried to be as polite and understanding as possible and not get mad throughout this whole process - even when the customer service rep I waited two hours to talk to told me that the mere act of replying to an open ticket causes a new ticket to be created, and then demotes the old ticket to the bottom of the priority list! (That was absolutely Kafkaesque).

But honestly, I have been so disappointed by the utter lack of concern or sympathy among Coinbase's employees. I can follow them on Twitter and watch them gloating about the enormous profits they and their company are making. Meanwhile hundreds, probably even thousands of people are waiting for weeks and months for basic help. It has been a source of significant anxiety and stress for me to be honest.

You're being taken for a ride. This company's entire business model is predicated upon holding your money as long as physically possible. They have zero incentive to help you, and there is pretty much zero legal recourse beyond small claims court. I would be standing in their stupid shiny SOMA lobby harassing every single employee I could find until someone got off their ass and made the two keystrokes it takes to fix your problem. This dystopic world of casting humans off as liabilities to be queued in a chatbot ticketing system once you've received their money is really getting old.

I mean, I kind of agree with you, but honestly, would you really want to be the crazy guy yelling in a lobby? Or the employee getting yelled at for something you didn't do? I'm not a confrontational or angry person and would far prefer someone who reads this and works for Coinbase to just reach out to me and make it right.

Then again, if another month goes by with no action, I really might end up being the guy marching around with a sign in lobby, who knows...

Take a lawyer with you. Mutter "intentional infliction of emotional distress" and a few other phrases s/he may give you.

To me, it sounds like you're treating Coinbase as a friend who's hit a tough patch, rather than as a business.

Requiring them to perform as a business does not make you "the crazy guy yelling in a lobby". It makes you a customer.

>Requiring them to perform as a business does not make you "the crazy guy yelling in a lobby". It makes you a customer.

Precisely. The inculcation of the former attitude among the masses has been a huge victory for this wave of monopolistic industries. Companies like Google have effectively trained humans to act like software bugs.

Huh, food for thought. I may end up writing a blog post about this whole ordeal, and I think that's an interesting takeaway from it. "Training humans to act like software bugs" in particular is an interesting turn of phrase. Thanks.

Anyway, to be honest -- and this reflects not so much my unfamiliarity with the law but my quasi-familiarity with it, having worked as a legal assistant -- I was actually afraid of bringing lawyers into the mix. At some level, I feared that this newly monopolistic, venture-backed company would be more than willing to see me in court and would somehow manage to win, leaving me with crazy lawyer fees.

It's sad that this was my train of thought, but in retrospect, it's why I took such a weirdly friendly, almost abject tone with them throughout the whole process. I have known and worked for enough lawyers to know that once you open that Pandora's box with a well-funded adversary, things can get unpredictable.

Oh hey me too!

First I bought a bunch of ETH. It went up and I went to sell them in November. Coinbase wanted Identity verification. No problem, filled out the form. Forgot a required field during the process and when it refreshed, it knocked my birthday up 10 years! Now they think I'm 16.

On the other hand, it might be a feature because of how much ETH has gone up while my (apparently teenage) self can't do anything about it!

Did you mean it has knocked down your age?

A 6-year old can't buy ETH? Crypto truly is mainstream.

Of course not? Try register an account with a 2012 birthday on Coinbase? Did you even read? I bet not?

I tried opening a business account more than six months ago and it's still not verified. I've uploaded files, my driver's license, everything they've asked for... still nothing.

Coinbase is a U.S. company. Perhaps a small claims suit (if applicable) or a lawsuit will get their attention.

From my personal experience, you have another month to wait… I waited 6 months for a withdrawal to be handled. To be fair, I withdrew to the wrong account number (to Simple, to the old account number with Bancorp), but the bank bounced the transfer and the funds were returned within the week. After that, Coinbase drug their feet for 6 months before I finally got the money right around Christmas time (i.e. I initially withdrew in June).

What bothers me even more than horrible communication is the fact that I converted BTC to USD and withdrew the money because I need the cash at the time (baby + move) and never saw it until much later. Had I kept it BTC–which I would've had I not needed it–that same BTC would've been worth about 8x what I got.

I don't want to scream "foul play" but it REALLY seems that way. There's NO WAY it takes 6 months, including a lot of pointless repeated "Have you checked with your bank? We're so sorry it's taking so long."

So yeah… good luck with Coinbase support. FWIW, Coinbase is the reason I'm done with crypto for good (as currency/investment). It's a minefield of bad actors and greed, incredibly susceptible to foul play and literal criminal activity. I willingly paid more fees with Coinbase because I thought they were a legit business… Nope!

I would normally end this with "…but mileage may vary." Not here. Good luck and godspeed, my friend. o/

Whenever you have a real customer service problem, send a written letter, registered mail, demanding a specific action or written explanation why the action cannot be taken, sent to you within 30 days. If it doesn't clear itself up, consider small claims court or regular court. You can claim attorneys fees when you win, but beware of you lose (or if there are actually enforcible arbitration agreements in place.)

I had the same experience. I couldn't get them to change my country, I provided ID, but somehow they thought it was not real.

It was over 1 year and I would have bought bitcoins from them if they didn't make this too much of a pain in the ass. Finally, I bought bitcoins from my friends. Lately, I need to sell them and say fuck it, I will create a new account. It worked!

I've been waiting 3 months for them to find my $20,000 I wired to Coinbase, Inc in October 27th. During the 1st month I thought it was ok, 2nd month I thought I was crazy but now is unacceptable. It seems that they stole my money.

I'm not crying over some losses, I'm crying over money I wire to buy cryptos but It got lost. Nobody fucking care. They should put their shit together.

I filled a complain with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Coinbase, Inc replied that "they are working in my case" ... hope it help me. BUT Seriously people, stop working with them, you would say ... its ok for me BUT until is not.

There's a lot of people here frustrated with Coinbase and a lot of talk about BBB.

I think if you're going to punch, punch hard: If you're in CA, file a small-claims case. If a Coinbase rep/lawyer fails to show, you're likely to win your case.

Then, contact the SF County Sheriff and have the entrance to their office locked until you receive your money back in full. Details here:


This is pretty terrible support management. In our company, if a case is opened for more than 5 days, the entire team is notified.

If then nobody does anything, the entire department is notified. That never had to happen.

My coinbase issues is now going on 4 weeks, they debited a tranasction twice and credited once, leaving a negative balance, where a significant number of >5 BTC just vanished into thin air.

Damn, I just opened a coinbase account, thinking they were the only reputable exchange around. Luckily I don't have that much invested. Does anyone have suggestions for competitors?

It works fine 99.9% of the time. I know many people who have used Coinbase / GDAX for years without any issues.

You can also try Kraken (they just upgraded but had a lot of site reliability issues before) or Robinhood once it launches next month.


I always thought it was weird that when you sign up for coinbase they make it clear they will take a % of your transactions... like a bank! So where is the magic?

It's a convenient place for a lot of people who don't want to sign up for more "complicated" exchanges or are less familiar with the whole crypto currency ecosystem to buy into the hype.

Also you can transfer your balance to GDAX for free (it's part of Coinbase and trade there with lower fees)

Give Square Cash a shot? Bitcoin support is being rolled out [1]. Full disclosure: I work at Square.


Man 5 months? I'm on two right now. Still getting idiotic automated responses from their customer support. I ping the ticket every couple of days, and nothing. Been thinking of going the Twitter route.

No way to get in and retrieve the % of a coin that I bought a couple years ago. Quite a bit of a scam to accept money for storage, lock a user out, and then provide no support for getting back in while still taking on new customers.

My account at coinbase has been in a stuck status forever and I've contacted support. I never get any responses.

Not sure how they operate with horrid support.

I've mentioned this in other threads but I had a very significant holding in ETH (more than enough to buy a car) stuck in limbo for about a week until I emailed them every day about it.

I would say call and be on hold for about a hour (no joke, it was around 70 minutes when I called about a month ago) and talk to them to escalate your case to priority 1. It'll then be resolved in about two weeks.

get a linkedin premium for trial and inmail one of the top level executives.

I really wish YC had some conditions for helping startups, one of the conditions being "you must offer stellar customer service."

Out of the many startups out there, GitHub support is so far the best. Tickets in, within a day (usually 1-3 hours) someone will respond. My questions are usually very general so getting a response in an hour or so is ridiculous for me. Sometimes in just 30 mins. Response is friendly and professiobal. No BS.

> out of the many

How many are you talking about, assuming personally tried? Which are these?

I had a similar problem where I was stuck in automated response hell for several months. I finally decided to threaten legal action in the support ticket and surprisingly enough, I was put in touch with a human within a few days.

Five months is way too long. Email them again, preferably using the email that is linked to your coinbase account. They got back to me within ~3 weeks although a 24 hours turnover would be FANTASTIC IF YOU ARE READING, COINBASE

Is this my Kyle? The one that wrote me two months ago and hasn't responded since - If you're out there Kyle - please attend to my customer support request!! What are we to do with coinbase's atrocious support???

If you find yourself in a situation like this hire a lawyer and file complaints already, if they're keeping you waiting for 5 months it means they don't care about your issue.

IF Coinbase support is reading this - It's been 3 months since my ID validation issue has been submitted. Please respond with a human: Case #3462400

Coin base if you're reading this I'm waiting for you to reply here unless you want me to go to another exchange. I'm going to be buying some stuff soon.

I've been having similar issue. But mine has been locked for about a month now. Coinbase people. If you're reading. Please help!

If you have cash in your account rather than just various coin, you may be able to file a complaint with the FDIC.

Maybe I'm just lucky or something, but I've been with Coinbase for a few months now and I've yet to have any issues with them. The biggest issue I have is that their fees are kinda high to transfer anything, I would love a super slow / low-cost transfer option.

how many hours are needed to solve outstanding issues? 1,000,000? if each hour costs $20 / worker, that's what, $20 million? Haven't they raised over a billion?

get a linkedin premium for trial and inmail one of the top level executives.

I've been ignored trying to setup a COinbase business account

this has been my experience as well!

This!! Coinbase support is so bad.

At one point in the next few hours coinbase employees will enter this discussion. They will probably elevate your issue and make sure you are responded to within hours.

This is of course just a measure they take to keep the crowd silent. And it will not help other people with the same/other problems.

Please report them to BBB and other authorities within your reach. Companies should receive no love for this kind of behaviour.

If you can't scale your customer service with demand stop the signups, like binance did. Coinbase seems to be constantly unable to satisfy spikes in demand, such a company should not be trusted with money.

This should be a top level comment. Racketeers like the BBB absolutely must not be confused for legit public institutions.

I just filed a complaint with the CFPB on the recommendation of another HN user below; it was super easy and I now realize I should have done so much earlier. I honestly just kept expecting this would be resolved, and was trying my best to be patient and not complain. In retrospect, bad strategy! I should have complained a lot more publicly, earlier.

I do hope that someone who works for Coinbase sees this, and I'll be sure to update when/if they resolve it. I don't think that this company is a new Mt. Gox run by scammers like some people on r/coinbase seem to, but I am kind of shocked that I have spent ~6 hours on their customer service line, sent ~10 emails and tweets, and ~10 messages on their online help desk (and now this thread) and I still am just sitting here with an "escalated case" from last year with no updates.

>I don't think that this company is a new Mt. Gox run by scammers like some people on r/coinbase seem t

That's even worse-- If it's malice the people in charge can plausibly decide to make it better; if it's incompetence they may not be able to make it better at all.

They seem to follow the modern model, where support is fully separated from development. People writing the software only learn of customer voes through annual recaps, sanitized for content of course, and the occasional HN post that makes front page.

This is a very, very successful model, as demonstrated by many of the biggest companies around.

make your own coinbase.

Could you please not post unsubstantive comments to HN?

I have been going over a month with no response on my escalated case with them. I'm locked out of my account and they can't seem to provide any way forward.

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