Why

Sucks

PayPal is a brilliantly simple idea. Unfortunately, only half of that statement applies to PayPal Customer Service, who are without a doubt, the biggest bunch of useless tossers - not a word I use often, but in this case, even I can't find a better one - on the Internet.

This started when I tried to open a personal account - we've got one here, for the Trash City jewellery business, but I wanted a separate one of my own. If I was buying Chris a birthday present, the last thing I wanted was for its purchase to turn up on our account! Already being a business member, this should be a piece of cake.

Or so I thought. And the first part was, indeed, plain sailing. But when I typed in the credit card details, it was rejected because, so they claimed, they could not verify the billing address. A call to PayPal Customer Services (or, to be more exact, an unanswered email, on February 8th, and a follow-up call - it's nice to see PayPal supporting care in the community by employing the mentally retarded) revealed that I had to type it in exactly as it is on my credit card statement. This I did. Still no dice.

A further flurry of attempting to communicate with the dead followed. Here's PayPal's next letter to me, dated March 8th - a month down the line:

"I apologize for the inconvenience in not being able to add/use the credit card ending 1134 in the PayPal system. Since we are a non face-to-face transaction provider, our process for accepting cards is more stringent and complicated. This process helps prevent the use of stolen and unauthorized cards for making PayPal payments. Because this process is very complex, it does occasionally impact valid cards. The denial of this credit card is not reflective of your credit worthiness. In these instances where a good card fails these checks, we suggest you try another card in the system."

To which I replied, that same day:

Unfortunately, trying "another card" is not possible. The credit card you rejected is my sole one, which I have held for over a decade - without, I might add, having ever exceeded my credit limit or abused it in any way.

While I accept that you need to be stringent about accepting cards, you are the first company to refuse to acknowledge it; other "non face-to-face transaction providers" (for example, Amazon) have been quite happy to accept it for on-line purchases. It would thus seem that the problem is with your system, rather than my card.

But even if an automated system refused to accept it, a single phone-call would surely be sufficient to confirm that the details I provided were accurate, and that the card is neither "stolen" nor "unauthorised". But I want to work with you to solve the problem - although you have yet to explain what that actually *is*! If, as my original attempt suggested, it is an inability to verify my billing address, I am willing to supply copies (or even originals) of my statements, or whatever other evidence you require to verify the card.

My fiancee and I have been business members of PayPal in good standing for a significant length of time, with tens of thousands of dollars having been processed through us. Yet when I try to set up a simple personal PayPal account, you are unable to assist. This is unacceptable: it gives the impression of a company indifferent to customer satisfaction, and that goes totally against our own standards of practice. If we do not receive a satisfactory explanation, we will certainly have to reconsider our association with you - I am writing from the account associated with my business, to stress the seriousness of this matter.

Paypal's response?

Your card was denied due to a difference in the address where you receive your monthly billing statements for this credit card and the billing address indicated on your PayPal account. Please check your credit card statement to make sure that the address where you receive your monthly billing statements for this credit card is exactly the same as the address on your account. This includes abbreviations, CAPs, punctuation, etc. Please also note that his declination of your card is not reflective of your credit or credit worthiness.

Can you spell F-O-R-M-L-E-T-T-E-R? Ironically, at the bottom of this response was a footnote: "We at PayPal would like to know how well this response accommodated your request...If this email did not meet your expectations: mailto:didnotmeetexpectations@paypal.com". Needless to say, my next letter was copied to that address as well...

This is rapidly becoming a complete fiasco. Your email tells me nothing I did not learn the very FIRST TIME I emailed customer services... The email which I sent...follows AGAIN, because your reply above is obviously a stock response, sent without actually bothering to look at my email in any detail, and completely fails to address any of the issues I raised. Please *read* it this time!

You might also want to look and see how many people my fiancee and I have referred to PayPal through the business account detail above; I think that, given this, we deserve better customer service than a standard email when we try to open a personal account. Once again, I look forward to hearing from you shortly - this time with a proper resolution of the problem.

Okay, so that last paragraph smacks of desperation a little bit. :-) But after the usual automated acknowledgement thanking me for my interest, and only three days later:

Thank you for contacting PayPal. We apologize for the delay in responding to your service request. We apologize for not meeting your expectations and for the difficulty you have had in trying to add this credit card.

Unfortunately, because of our security procedures, the website is not accepting the address that you are entering for your credit card. If you have checked your credit card billing statement and you are entering your address exactly the way it is seen on your billing statement and we still are not accepting it, you will need to obtain another card to add to this account. We do apologize for the frustration and inconvenience this is causing you. However, if the system will not accept it, there is nothing we can do.

So, they were suggesting that I should go to all the trouble of applying for and obtaining another credit card, purely to accomodate the deficiencies of their system! How nice of them! I even tried applying from an entirely separate email address - still, no luck. As for their "there is nothing we can do" comment, here are the suggestions I came up with for them:

  • 1) Explain why your system is rejecting a valid credit card. I am quite prepared to PROVE that I am supplying the correct address.

  • 2) Fix your system so that it works properly.
  • 3) Verify the credit card details manually.
  • 4) Activate the account manually? I will then transfer in money from the business account and charge my credit card with the amount. Oddly, OUR system - along with Amazon and, it seems, everyone else on the Internet apart from PayPal - is quite willing to accept my card as valid.

  • If you're trying to
    contact Customer Service,
    you'd better...

    To which they replied: "I would suggest you contact your credit card company and see what the correct mailing address would be, to use for a verification." No: fuck you - I amn't going to waste any more time trying to work around the inadequacies of your system. So there, for the moment, the matter rests: option 4 is exactly what I did anyway. They keep very quiet about it, but you don't need a credit card or a bank account to use PayPal, just get someone who does to transfer money across. It thus doesn't matter whether or not I hear again from PayPal Customer Service (a true oxymoron), but if I do, I'll post it here.

    If anyone else is having PayPal problems, I'd like to here from you. We are rapidly discovering that it has all the bureaucracy of a bank, with none of the safeguards. On the business side, we have noticed a steady increase in the numbers of people using Billpoint rather than PayPal - if I were you, I would certainly consider keeping as small a balance in there as you can...

    It's not just me who has an appalling opinion of their Customer Service.

    Neil from Canada writes: "So I recently had a dealing with a fraudulent seller (purchased a software application that was bogus) on paypal, and when I contacted paypal regarding this they said “Yes, we are aware that you’ve gotten ripped off, but there’s nothing we can do, since the product you purchased is an intangible item. You are going to have to contact your credit card company.”

    So I contacted my credit card company and the fraud investigations department investigated and found it a clear case of fraud and charged back the amount. What does Paypal do? They put a whole bunch of limitations on my account (limited my purchase amount to $100, from $1500) and dispute the verdict from the fraud department of my cc. I didn’t really want to be a buyer on Paypal anymore after this anyway but just for shits and giggles I emailed them asking why my account was limited. This was their response:

    “Thank you for contacting PayPal with your concern. If a buyer goes outside of PayPal to dispute, we reserve the right to limit the account. This is dependent upon many factors.”

    So basically “if a buyer” tries to resolve a dispute through the very means that PayPal in fact suggested since they weren’t going to do anything to help me, they will basically punish me by making sure I can’t buy anything of value anymore."

    See the following links for


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