A protester against Robnhood and its CEO holds signs in San Francisco.
Magnifying Glass Mejia | CNBC
Some Robinhood dealers who are unable to contact customer service try a different tactic: show up at the front door.
A handful of Robinhood’s clients drove to the startup’s California headquarters to speak to a representative and, in some cases, demolish property, according to police reports.
A total of ten reports from January 28 to February 9 that CNBC received are frustrated with the start of trading. Some customers tried to explain account issues to security guards outside the single-story, nondescript building in the suburb of Bay Area and were given a paper form to fill out. Before that date, there were no police reports related to Robinhood this year, the department said.
A Menlo Park police spokesman said the incidents included up to 15 people protesting outside the office and a male suspect throwing a t-shirt at a security guard. Another suspect was sawing a sculpture on Robinhood’s property. A third man threw animal feces on the front door, according to police.
Robinhood has come under fire from users and lawmakers for restricting the buy side of some stores in late January. Some accused Robinhood of protecting hedge funds that cut stocks like GameStop. Robinhood said it did not make these decisions based on the interests of market makers or hedge funds and must limit trading to increased capital requirements.
Robinhood declined to comment on police reports and customer service complaints.
2,400 miles to Robinhood
Rayz, 43, said he had used the free trade app for seven years and recommended Robinhood to friends before the end of January. The professional poker player told CNBC that he lost $ 50,000 trading Nokia – one of several stocks that were limited due to the volatility on the platform.
After unsuccessful attempts to contact Robinhood Customer Service, he decided to drive more than 2,400 miles from his home in Sellersburg, Indiana to Robinhood headquarters last Thursday to close his account.
“I have money in my Robinhood account that I need to cover my living expenses,” said Rayl, who has three children, in an interview outside of Robinhood headquarters. “My money is currently held hostage by Robinhood, I can’t get it out.”
Rayl said he was locked out for more than 10 days. After his interview and a request from CNBC for comment on Robinhood, he was contacted by customer service and was able to access his account.
CNBC saw another Robinhood customer come and knock on Robinhood’s door, claiming the start-up had “$ 2 million of my money on hold” and asked to “write down my bank account number”. The man declined to discuss his complaint.
In the past few weeks, more than two dozen lawsuits have been filed against Robinhood by customers seeking damages. Another lawsuit against the trading app earlier this week comes from the family of Alex Kearns – a 20-year-old who committed suicide last year after mistakenly believing he was worth more than $ 730,000 after trading options owe.
However, the Menlo Park incidents only represent a handful of Robinhood’s 13 million customers. Despite the backlash online and on Capitol Hill, the startup appeared to be adding record accounts in the last week of January. JMP Securities estimates Robinhood had 600,000 mobile downloads in the week of GameStop trading.
Robinhood’s User Policy describes potential losses and trading restrictions. Users agree that “Robinhood may, in its sole discretion, prohibit or restrict the trading of securities or the substitution of securities in any of my accounts.”
Rayl said he knew the risk of losing money when he signed up for Robinhood and lost up to $ 20,000 in a single day playing poker. For Rayl, his inability to buy certain stocks contrasted with other losses. He said robinhood, restricting customers’ business, is pulling the rug out from under customers.
Right now, Rayz is taking a break from the stock market.
“I don’t trust Wall Street right now – I’ll move all the money into cash and take a break,” said Rayz. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to day-to-day business after that.”