Hitting hunting in the financials

by Ben O’Rourke

In May 2021, I was buying some takeaway Thai food at a restaurant in York. When it arrived, I went over to the cashier to pay. On the table by the till was a white box with Sumup printed on it. I’d seen one of them before and had no problem tapping my card on it. But this time, I hesitated.

Days earlier, we ran a story on Fieldsports News about Sumup giving  former Olympic medallist Richard Faulds 30 minutes’ notice that it was cutting ties with his shooting range. According to Richard’s Facebook post, the company ‘no longer supports our business model’.

You can interpret that as Sumup is anti-gun, anti-shooting, anti-fieldsports of all kinds.

I emailed Sumup asking for an explanation, but it refused to explain because it would be ‘inappropriate’ to comment on an account owned by a third party. Fair enough, I replied, then asked why does Sumup shut down accounts related to shooting. I did not get a response.

It’s not the only company that has an axe to grind when it comes to guns.

In 2019, PayPal dumped Dave Bamlett, owner of DAB Shooting Supplies in Darlington. An email arrived one night saying the California-based company had placed a ‘permanent limitation’  on his account. ‘Limitation’ was an understatement. What the company really meant was his account would not work any more.

“I opened a second email address and PayPal and carried on,” says Dave. “That got shut down within two days along with my personal account, [my fiancée] Rachel’s personal account and anything that was logged onto our Wi-Fi at home at the time was also shut down if it had anything to do with PayPal.”

Clearly busted by their shared IP address, Dave’s fiancée Rachel opened another PayPal account on her phone. This lasted four months until she forgot to turn off the Wi-Fi after visiting a relative and it automatically connected when she got home. PaypPal closed her account a couple of days later.

Dave Bamlett: no friend of PayPal

It’s not clear how long finance companies are allowed to store personal information such as IP addresses of current, and in this case, former customers, nor whether they can use geo-locationary tools to close down accounts without listing this explicitly in their terms and conditions. 

Of course, there are alternatives to PayPal but, since it is the most popular online payment system, it’s handy to have.

The question is, when faced with irrational corporate policies that discriminate against fieldsports businesses, should the fieldsports community fight back, with boycotts perhaps? It’s a tactic used all too often by antis and is usually successful, with golf courses scrapping fox control, auction websites cutting ties with legal hunts and the list goes on – even though it is not clear that the antis are members of the golf clubs or use the auction websites. 

“I think it would be unlikely in the fieldsports community to get much traction,” says edtech investor Richard Taylor. “As people who oppose us know, we’re too fragmented, we don’t speak with one voice and therefore it’s easy to just pick people off and ignore them so, I think consumer choice is your best solution here. It’s just that swapping financial organisations… is a pain in the arse.”

Dave disagrees. “I personally tell everyone not to use PayPal,” he says. 

Back at the Thai shop, the aroma of garlic, fried chicken and fluffy rice was too much for me. With no cash in my pocket I had no choice but to tap the white Sumup lump. Next time, things will be different.

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