How One Streamer Got Stranded on the Other Side of the World, Plus Tips to Help Others Avoid the Same Fate
Twitch, the popular livestreaming platform used by millions of professional gamers, commentators, and other content creators, was in the news recently.
This happened after one streamer with a moderate following embarked on a one-in-a-lifetime trip to Japan, using funds that had been donated by fans, only for one big-money donor to file a chargeback on several hundred dollars of donations. This nightmare scenario temporarily left the streamer stranded thousands of miles from home.
This isn't the first time something like this has happened; we've even written about it before. So, what is going on here? And what, if anything, to address chargeback problems present on the platform?
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Let’s start at the beginning, and explain the RelicKris situation.
RelicKris is a Twitch streamer based in Sweden. His streams are primarily based around lifestyle content, allowing viewers to join him in his travels and other daily adventures.
Recently, RelicKris booked a trip to Japan for himself and his girlfriend, using funds donated by viewers for that purpose. The couple booked their tickets, planned their trip, and flew halfway across the world for what was planned to be an amazing trip… only to find that their PayPal account was suddenly hundreds of dollars in the red.
One viewer apparently disputed thousands of dollars in donations to the streamer. That is, the user filed chargebacks for the funds previously donated to RelicKris without word or notice. This left the streamer stranded in Japan, sans funds he thought he had in the bank.
RelicKris has since clarified that he has a return ticket home, and that he and his girlfriend are safe. They were, however broke and stranded in Japan for several days:
This story highlights a recurring problem on Twitch’s platform. While many streamers might believe that they have appropriately done their part to receive the donations they earn through Twitch, it seems not every user agrees with that logic.
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Not an Isolated Incident
As we’ve mentioned before, livestreaming is a global phenomenon. Platforms like Twitch.tv and others generated $125 billion in revenue in 2021 for themselves and for their creators.
It’s never been a better time to be an independent content creator. The meteoric rise of the livestream has a downside, though. Unfortunately, Twitch chargebacks are now a major concern for creators on the platform.
We’re not entirely clear why RelicKris’s chargeback happened as of this writing. However, if previous similar incidents are any indicator, it's likely a case of trolling. This has happened numerous times before, with viewers making large donations to streamers only to dispute the charges later in order to hurt the streamer:
Unfortunately, the internet is rife with stories about Twitch users gifting streamers with large donations and then disputing the charges later on as a prank. This might not seem like a lot, but some of these fake donations have run into the $50,000 range.
Funny joke, right?
To make matters worse, when a chargeback is initiated via PayPal, a $20 fee is levied on the streamer. It's worth noting that PayPal's imposition of these fees on Twitch streamers isn't a recent development. In fact, every merchant facing a chargeback incurs a $20 charge for each instance.
Is Anyone Doing Anything About This?
Thankfully, the Twitch troll who attempted the $50,000 switcheroo mentioned above didn’t get their money back.
According to GameTyrant, Twitch user iNexusNinja will not receive a refund for the $50,000 he donated to multiple Twitch streamers. The 18-year-old had initially intended to make substantial donations to streamers, only to later retract the transactions a month down the line, potentially leaving the streamers in a difficult position after having already allocated the funds. According to LivestreamFails, PayPal has chosen not to refund the money to the donor, instead supporting the streamers in this matter.
This development reflects positively on PayPal. It demonstrates its commitment to taking a stand against the common abuse directed at creators within the streaming community.
In 2021, in response to the growing number of complaints from streamers regarding the frequency of chargebacks, Twitch made revisions to its refund policy. As a result, viewers who misuse this policy now face potential bans from the platform. While this marks a notable improvement compared to previous years and acknowledges the issue's visibility, it still falls short in deterring individuals from pursuing bank disputes.
Moreover, some third-party services allow streamers to block donations from users with a history of Twitch chargebacks. However, this solution still has a few drawbacks, as it may inadvertently prevent well-intentioned users with a legitimate prior issue from making a genuine donation in the present.
No matter what any platform does, though, none of these actions are guaranteed to stamp out this trolling behavior. In response, Twitch streamers should take this opportunity to prepare themselves and their businesses, in case this same situation befalls them.
What Can Twitch Streamers Do?
So, how can you encourage tips and donations while minimizing the risk of chargebacks? A few things, actually.
Twitch, along with various other streaming platforms, advocates for the use of digital currencies that are comparatively resilient to chargebacks and disputes. However, many users still rely on PayPal or other third-party payment processors to handle these transactions, which lack foolproof seller protections.
The most dependable way to reliably mitigate this issue is to accept donations and tips only in the form of Twitch Bits. However, if donations and tips play a crucial role in your income, this approach may not be in your best interest.
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Your other alternatives involve waiting a couple of months to cash in on larger donations, minimizing fraud risks, and contesting unjustified Twitch chargebacks whenever feasible.
On that last note, here are 5 key tips:
#1 | Educate Viewers About Policies
Clearly communicate your donation and tipping policies to your viewers. Let them know that all donations are non-refundable and that chargebacks can result in penalties or banning from your channel. Regularly reminding your audience about these policies can deter potential chargebacks.
#2 | Use Twitch Bits
Encourage viewers to use Twitch's native currency, “Bits,” for donations. Twitch Bits are not subject to chargebacks, and they offer a secure way for viewers to support you. Highlight the benefits of using Bits, such as exclusive chat emotes and badges for supporters.
#3 | Be Judicious About Third-Party Services
If you use third-party services, opt for those that help identify and block users with a history of chargebacks or fraudulent behavior, like PayPal. These services can help filter out potentially problematic donations and reduce your risk. Just remember that this option is not always going to work out in your favor, and you will still need to keep an eye on your donations.
#4 | Verify Donations
Be cautious when receiving large or unexpected donations from new viewers or anonymous accounts. Take the time to verify the source of these donations, especially if they seem suspicious. Engaging with your community and building trust can help you distinguish genuine supporters from potential risks.
#5 | Monitor Your Transactions
Regularly review your transaction history and be vigilant for any unusual or high-risk donations. Keep an eye out for recurring patterns or unusually large contributions that may signal potential chargeback attempts. If you notice anything suspicious, take appropriate action, such as reporting or blocking the user responsible.
Yes, it's challenging to entirely eliminate the risk of chargebacks. That said, these strategies can help Twitch streamers reduce their exposure and maintain a more secure and reliable income from their streaming endeavors.