Wednesday, 1 October 2008

PayPal: We want to walk over your customers

This is a slight deviation for this blog from motorcycle trips, but hey.

At work today I got this through the post:

Unwelcome doormat from PayPalUnwelcome mat from PayPal

Working in marketing, it's not unusual that I get the odd gimmick through the post, unique, clever ideas to grab my attention to a supplier of some kind. Last time it was a baby Christmas tree.

This gimmicky mailing is somewhat different, though; it's a doormat. from PayPal. Apparently they have sent them out to 2,000 UK businesses as part of their (slightly negative, in my opinion) 'Unwelcome' campaign. It was sent to my boss, and passed to me as I'm responsible for our ecommerce strategy. And they've missed the target somewhat; in the interests of full disclosure, I will now admit that I f**king hate PayPal.

Why? Because they represent to me exactly what this 'Unwelcome' doormat is meant to represent; appalling customer service, insecurity, and fraud.

And because they have the sheer tenacity to suggest to me that I let them walk over my customers like they have me, I'm having this little rant; and if I know marketing people, they'll find this in Google in a few days and find out exactly what I feel. If there is any justice in this world, other people will link to this page, and it will make others think twice about adopting PayPal for a respectable business.

Unwelcome mat from PayPalUnwelcome mat from PayPal

(Note on the photo on the right: The leaflet is 50% recycled. How thoughtful of them! How environmental! Never mind the bloody great doormat that they've shipped to me for a one-line joke)

It is a little ironic that the doormat came to me, when I am personally banned from PayPal. I cannot use my email address, postal address or bank details there. Why, did I commit fraud? No, quite the opposite; I was the victim of fraud on PayPal.

I sold a mobile phone on eBay, PayPal's domineering adoptive father, for £300. The buyer paid using PayPal; I had no reason for suspicion. I happily packed off the phone* and withdrew the money to my bank account. But a few days later, PayPal told me out of the blue that I had a negative balance of £300. It seems the buyer had used stolen credit card details, and the rightful owner had instructed the bank to make a chargeback. Fair enough for whoever was victim of identity theft, but PayPal saw fit to charge me for this, and let the buyer get off scot free.

*Addendum: Someone told me it was my fault for not using recorded delivery. I did, actually - even got a copy of the signature from Royal Mail - fat lot of good it did.

Maybe there was more I could have done to recognise the fraud; if I was familiar with PayPal terminology I would have known that an 'unconfirmed address' is a bad sign, but a 'verified account' means sod all.

Regardless of that, though, the lack of customer support I then received from PayPal was frankly astonishing. Repeated phone calls and increasingly pleading emails fell on deaf, computerised ears - it took me a week before I got a response from an actual human. And that was no help - all they said was that I owed them £300, full stop. And when I refused to pay, they banned my account and referred the debt to a collection agency.

I tried my best to refer the case to the police, but PayPal were not interested in helping; they didn't even stop the buyer from defrauding several other people, despite my warnings.

Unwelcome mat from PayPal - not even the cat likes it

So what could I do? I paid them £300 of my own money, which at the time I could really not afford (I had sold the phone to raise living funds), and vowed that due to the complete lack of support (or even sympathy) from PayPal customer service, I would do my best to give them negative advertising. Ever since, I have warned my friends off PayPal.

Unwelcome mat from PayPal, outside my back door

I was going to take a Stanley knife to it and cut off the 'UN' to make a conventional Welcome mat for my doorstep. But no; I've left it be, and put it outside my back door. And whenever I walk over it, I will remind myself that PayPal is unwelcome at any business or website that I manage.


Anonymous said...

Paypal are a law unto themselves, and frankly, their "security" is laughable. B*stards indeed. I had a chargeback once from someone claiming they'd never received the ebay item I'd sold to them. And despite the fact the customer had left feedback on ebay saying that they'd received it Paypal still took my money and charged me £14 for the privilege. C0cks.

Anonymous said...

I was defrauded via PayPal in a similar manner. I received no support or interest from them.

I used to be a prolific user of eBay and PayPal, but not any longer. Their "customer service" is derisory. As long as they get their cut then they don't care. Bunch of shysters and I warn my friends and colleagues off from using them.

Prodge said...

"Sorry, our offices are closed now ... you can try ringing us on ... Sundays from 9am to 5pm"

That's the recorded message I heard on the PayPal Customer Service last Sunday, at, er, 10am.

They truly are a bunch of insufferable inept shysters.

designbitch said...

I find eBay / Paypal to be a complete waste of time. I've been trying to sell a laptop for the past few weeks. First time of asking someone hijacked an account and tried to defraud me, the second time I've not received any response from the winner. Both times I've had nothing but standard emails from eBay / Paypal. I've given up on them and gone to Amazon, sure they take more in fees but I've had far less difficulty with them. I just wish there was a viable alternative auction site.

Crossgateswmc said...

I sold a camera lens on eBay, the bloke never read my auction properly [that is was for a 35mm camera and not digital] lo and behold it didn't work with his camera body. He asked for a refund but from my point of view it was hard cheese, the nature of auctions is sold as seen, it was him who didn't read the description. Anyway, he filed a dispute with paypal claiming the lens was 'significantly not as described' Paypal due withdrew the funds from my account and ruled is his favor. The thing that makes me sick is there was never any justification as to why I was in the wrong. To top it all off I can no longer leave negative feedback as a seller. I too hate paypal.

Crossgateswmc said...

My apologies for the errors. I was becoming enraged.

Simon Anderson said...

Nice one mate for taking a stand against the wasters. Paypal are just leeches.

Anywau, grats on making in onto the Register.

Steve_Sandy said...

cheers for the article, was thinking of using ebay to save a few pounds over Amazon and remembered why not use ebay any more :)

Johnhson said...

I agree PayPal can be awful and their customer service.. well I think the emailers are smoking something. And it's the good stuff!
It's a great cheap way of handling low-value transactions. My bank wanted a fortune to accept credit cards online and their charges would have exceeded my profit.
Is there any real competition to PayPal? And that's a serious question.

filbyglade said...

The Register have a great link to your blog "cat flaps to PayPal" to paraphrase.
I had NO IDEA I would be held liable for the money if I accepted a stolen credit card. Stupid rules and sh*tty service will get them in the end. We need a few more little guys blogging like this!

filbyglade said...

I meant little guys like me, not short people or diminutive characters...just regular people like me who appear small in the grand scheme of things

Santaiseverywhere said...

For the record I agree with everyone here, PayPal or ScamPal as I prefer to call it, has no regard for truth or validity of requests. I suggest we all buy things online, 100's of items each and then we contact ScamPal and complain that it was not what was described, presto we get all the stuff and our money back. If they don't we go to court citing prescedent and bingo they lose again.

Mr Angry said...

The fact is that the fraud occurred between the buyer and PayPal. You are absolutely nothing to do with it. PayPal undertook the transaction in terms of the credit card. They can beg for their money back all they like, but they have NO LEGAL RIGHT to demand it.

I was in the exact same situation a few years back, and I told their collection agency to go screw themselves. Sent them an extremely snotty letter, copied it to the CAB, FSA and my solicitor. The fact that I never heard a peep from them after that simply confirms my suspicion that they didn't have a leg to stand on and were simply employing scare tactics in an attempt to extort money from innocent parties to cover their losses.

Like you said... FUCK PAYPAL.

chiron613 said...

I recently had a similar problem. Someone made an unauthorized charge to my PayPal account. When I contested it, they did nothing. It was a small amount of money, not worth fighting for, but it leads me to wonder how I would have fared had it been much higher.

Anonymous said...

PayPal's Buyer Protection on eligible transactions purchased on has increased from $3,000 AU to $20,000 AU. To know if your item is covered, simply look for the 'buy safely' section when viewing your item on

Moz said...

A little tip I learnt from dealing with Paypal's "customer service": Last year some little scrote diddled me out of £100, and it was Paypal's fault. I got really hacked off from getting nowhere on the phone and no reply to emails, so I opened twenty tabs on IE, logged into my email on each tab, cut and paste my email into each tab and then bombarded the f***ers with emails - I did this continuously for four hours (I didn't think it'd get anywhere really - it was just to cheer me up). Later that afternoon I got a supercilious little reply telling me that my money had been refunded, and asking if I could please not send repeat emails as it blocks up their system. He he. The ironic bit was they said "repeat emails makes it slower for us to deal with your request" yet my repeat emails gained me a refund in a few hours - I'd been playing nice for nearly a month before that. Since then I wouldn't touch 'em with yours.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

My crime against PayPal was moving from Thailand to Vietnam. Once I committed this grave offense, every time I used the account, it sent up a flag, reversed my transaction, and fined me. Meanwhile, whenever a customer sent me money, that worked fine. Money I couldn't get at. I hate PayPal!