Jorge Espinoza, the founder of PreRace, a Web site where bicyclists and runners can register for races, was on a roll in March. In three days his site took in over $1 million in registrations for a major bike race, much more than usual.
Then PayPal, the online payment service that his site was using to process credit card transactions, froze the company’s account. To PayPal, the flurry of activity raised suspicions about fraud, so it told Mr. Espinoza that it was holding the money.
“They created such a massive headache,” Mr. Espinoza said. If he had not been able to take out a $500,000 loan to pay the race’s organizers, he said, PayPal could easily have put PreRace out of business. While PayPal says that only a small percentage of its customers run into such issues, there have been enough horror stories like this in recent years to make some companies think twice about using PayPal, the most popular electronic payments service in the world.