When I lost access to Facebook with an ad campaign running
How Facebook uses their terms of service to charge your credit cards even when you tell them to stop.
What happens when you lose access to your personal account on Facebook with an ongoing ad campaign running? Here’s my story in hopes that you take measures to protect yourself from large companies like Facebook—companies with very little oversight and almost no customer service. Even if you don’t have an ad campaign running, you might find my story helpful if you’re considering using any of Facebook’s or Instagram’s free products like their online shops.
I run a small online business called ShanaLogic.com, which sells artist-made gifts and jewelry. I have a Facebook business page that I’ve had for over a decade where I post new products and chat with my shoppers. Last year I decided to run a few ad campaigns to spread the word about my brand. Everything was “fine” for a while until it wasn’t.
In December I noticed that I could no longer access my personal or business Facebook accounts using my phone. I could not log into the apps. The 2-factor authentication I was using (the one Facebook makes you use) failed. I could put in my username and password, but I couldn’t do the last part: enter the proper code to unlock my account.
I mostly considered this an inconvenience. I only use Facebook for my business, and to be honest, I really hate them as a company. Because I could continue to log in on my desktop, I just stopped using their phone app. Problem solved, right? NOPE.
In March I decided to try and fix this issue by turning 2-factor authentication off. Because I was logged into my business account, chat was still available to me, so I tried asking for help. I wanted to turn off 2-factor authentication and gain access to the Facebook apps. The chat person would give me advice that did not work. She told me to switch it to my phone number instead of an authenticator, but the page would ask me for the authentication code to make changes (funny, right?). The same thing happened when, per their advice, I tried to toggle off 2-factor authentication. They told me the issue was the third-party authenticator’s fault. After about an hour in chat, the customer service person told me “I have sent you all of the relevant information and can no longer help you.” Chat ended. For real! When I contacted the third-party authenticator (Google), they blamed Facebook.
Random sales guy to the rescue! (not really):
After that, I spoke to my only human connection to Facebook: My “Facebook Marketing Expert” Michael F. We had been talking about how to optimize my ad, so I did have his email address. He listened to my issues and submitted a support request for me. Without him I could not have gotten a support ticket. You can only get a support ticket or chat if you are logged in as a business manager and I was not.
Facebook support was a maze of back-and-forth support in which they pointedly told me that for “privacy reasons” they could not turn off my ad. Only I could turn off my ad. But I could not do that because I could not get access! I went through their entire account restore process, including uploading my ID and using their workarounds so that I did not need an authenticator, and have heard nothing back.
I get billed $900 a month without fail, split into two charges. I told Facebook support repeatedly (every time I was charged) that I had no access and needed the ad to stop, and no one ever helped me with that. I was promised I’d be contacted by the Facebook review department and never was. Once I was contacted by Facebook Billing, so I thought I might finally get a resolution, but they never responded to me when I submitted the charges I wanted to fight.
I have stopped payments, filed fraud claims against all of the charges, and canceled my cards, but Facebook is using their terms of service to get ahold of my private new banking information! They charged a debit card I had just gotten the day before and told no one about. Even my bank was confused. To be clear: I told Facebook I was going to do these things, AND after I did them, I let them know. No one in support ever responded to those parts of the emails (it was as if they just didn’t see those sentences).
In the end I closed my entire small business bank account and have no idea if they’ll be able to legally gain access to my new bank account information. (I’ll know on the 23rd when they charge me!)
When I realized that I might lose access to my business page, I created a second Facebook account and added that as an admin. The minute I did that, my original account was permanently locked out of Facebook. At least I had access to my page, right? Yes, BUT I did not have access to the $30-a-day ad campaign I was running. Apparently that was a separate system that also needed an admin listed. I had no way to alter it or turn it off.
Things I learned that I want you to know:
- If you have a 2-factor authentication in place (they make you do this if you have a business page) and that 2-factor method stops working, you might lose access to all of your pages AND your ads manager. Your ads manager is a separate entity from your pages (which I did not know).
- If you have a customer service issue that is not solved with the most basic of Facebook help (chat, email tickets, support articles), Facebook will not help you further. (I literally had a chat person say “I have helped you all I can” and closed the chat.
- If you do not list another person you trust as an admin on your page AND separately as an ads manager admin, you will have no way to get back in.
- Facebook is using their terms and conditions to get ahold of your bank account information, even if you tell them to stop.
- Facebook is the only company I can think of that can charge people recurring fees without any phone customer service or a workaround that doesn’t involve tech. They have no support phone number you can call to talk to a human.
- If Facebook offers you free services, please try not to use them. You are not their customer—you are the product! So if you have any issues with these services, you will not get the help you need.
- I’m actually pretty tech savvy and I did a lot of research on how to fix my authenticator and what to do in this circumstance, and I realized one major thing: there are a lot of people like me, who lost access to their accounts and never got it back. People who couldn’t get past the Facebook tech or found the system errored in different ways, and are just permanently locked out. Some of them were lucky enough to just lose their account and not access to their ads but it’s a definite issue.
Where I’m at today as of 4/20
- I am still being billed $30 a day for an ad I do not want running.
- I have not been contacted by the reviews department about my ID.
- I am able to use my second Facebook account to post content to my Shana Logic page but lost access to my 8 other pages and the business ads manager.
- I have no debit card for my business currently. I am afraid to activate it in case Facebook has the ability to start using it
- Because Facebook is able to gain access to any card I get issued, I canceled my entire Shana Logic LLC business bank account and reopened a completely new one last week. I will know in a week if Facebook can get access to this somehow.