2021-03-26 07:00:00

Coinbase Users Say Crypto Start-Up Ignored Their Pleas for Help

“Coinbase, by going public and being subject to greater regulatory oversight, is moving more into the light where there is, or will be, greater visibility and comfort,” she said.

One of Coinbase’s most frustrating aspects, some users said, is that a real person does not appear to be reading their complaints.

“There’s nobody on the other side,” said Cheryl Hung, a marketing consultant in Los Angeles.

Ms. Hung said she and her fiancé, Paul Hwang, started investing in cryptocurrencies in 2019 and picked Coinbase because it was a “big, reputable company” with security. But in January, someone stole $26,000 of cryptocurrencies from their account. They said they did not have any idea of how that happened.

“We just lost all the money we could have been using to work on a house or move our life forward,” Mr. Hwang said.

The couple asked Coinbase for help, but they said they had received perfunctory email responses. Trying Coinbase’s phone line got an automated response. After The Times inquired about their case, Ms. Hung said, they got another email from the company with more information about their account.

Coinbase said real customer support agents responded to inquiries.

For most Coinbase users, legal recourse is also limited. Under the company’s terms of service, users agree to settle disputes through private arbitration or small claims court, rather than pursuing a class-action lawsuit.

That did not deter Mr. Pierre from suing. Mr. Pierre, who worked for Coinbase in 2017 and 2018, said he had initially found the decentralized format of digital currencies “exciting.” But after he lost his Coinbase savings, he said, he sees the value in traditional, regulated institutions like banks to fall back on “for times like this.”

“I’m less excited now,” he said.

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