Editor's Note: This piece has been updated on Jan. 29, 2021 to include comments from LosPollosTV.
A streamer refused to refund a $350 donation that the donor claimed was an accident, sparking a debate around the moral ambiguity behind stream donations.
LosPollosTV received a startling $350 donation from a viewer and went into a rant when the viewer requested his money back. The viewer claimed that they actually intended to donate $3.50. Furthermore, the viewer also claimed that if they didn’t get the $350 back, they wouldn’t be able to pay their bills.
“Get the f*** out of here, bro!” LosPollosTV yelled on his stream. “Get the f*** out of here! You wanna pay for the fees? Give me the fee money and I’ll pay your f****** s*** back.”
“It literally says all donations are non-refundable,” Los continued. “What’s up? Like, are you trying to sue?”
Stream donations occupy a murky ethical territory. Viewers can give money to streamers on a completely voluntary basis — after all, the vast majority of streamers do so for free. However, many of those viewers are also children or impressionable fans who can sometimes donate an irresponsible amount.
Up-and-coming streamers also rely upon donations to keep going, whereas established streamers can easily rely on sponsorship deals to live comfortably. For example, Jeremy “Disguised Toast” Wang has disabled all donations on his stream and encouraged his followers to donate to smaller streamers instead.
"Viewers will make a splashy donation, grab their shout out then immediately contest the charge," Los told In The Know in an email. "I’m obviously lucky to have a community that supports me, and 99.9% of the chat are genuinely encouraging me, but the bad actors really do frustrate me."
Los’ rant sparked a lively debate on Reddit about streaming and donations. One popular sentiment was the ever-present meme, “imagine donating to a millionaire,” referring to fans who donate money to streamers like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who is worth over $20 million.
“Jesus people keep your money to yourself, these people don’t give a f*** about you,” A Reddit user advised. “Look after your bag.”
Others were more sympathetic to Los, pointing out that returning donations is often a difficult and expensive process. A streamer who chooses to issue a donation refund must pay a transaction fee. For this reason, malicious viewers will “accidentally” donate large amounts to a streamer and then initiate a chargeback if the streamer refuses.
“He did act like an a******, but the guy who donated the 350 accidentally should pay the mandatory 20 dollars for the refund,” Another Reddit user explained.
"Not only is it an obvious loss, but each claim comes with a fee," Los told In The Know. "It’s insane creators can’t keep the terms they set for their brand and business."
After his rant, Los said he would give away $50 to seven subscribers which adds up to the $350 he received in donation.
Los also told In The Know that he did end up refunding the donation and paying for the transaction fee himself. However, he still remains skeptical that the $350 donation was an accident.
"This isn’t just mistakes and simple accidents," Los said. "This is a new form of trolling and until creators have more control over their transactions, this is just going to keep getting worse."
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If you liked this story, check out our piece on Pokimane, one of Twitch’s biggest streamers who capped all her donations at $5.
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