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Friday, November 14, 2008

Trouble With Paypal

I'm normally a fan of the online payment system Paypal, but recently they've taxed my patience quite a bit.

I should say first of all that I have a Paypal Premier account, which I use to receive payments from overseas publishers and some affiliate programs. I've had my account since 2003, but recently I've had a number of problems with them.

The latest episode took place this week, when I found out that, without any authorization from me, they had tried to debit a subscription payment of 10 UK pounds from my bank account and, when this failed, taken the money from my credit card instead. This is despite the fact that there was enough cash in my Paypal account to cover the subscription many times over. I assume I will also be charged a cash withdrawal fee by my credit card company now.

It doesn't end there, either. They then proceeded to remove the link to my bank account, which was there solely so that I could withdraw money to it (I have no need to fund my Paypal account in this way). And, for good measure, they closed two ongoing subscriptions, again without any instructions from me, so I now have to set these arrangements up again, possibly at a higher price as I 'unsubscribed'.

I phoned up Paypal's customer support line - an incredibly frustrating process in itself - and eventually got through to a young woman in a call centre in (I assume) India. After about half an hour, she finally informed me that they had debited my credit card because there was not enough money in my Sterling balance to pay for the amount in question - even though I had more than enough in my US dollar balance, and they have always transferred money automatically from the dollar balance in the past when required.

By this point I was losing the will to live, so I didn't bother asking why they had also cancelled two of my subscriptions and deleted the link to my bank account. I'm normally pretty even-tempered, but I'm afraid I made a rather sharp comment about Paypal being the Bank of Mickey Mouse, and hung up. Apologies to the young woman concerned, as I don't suppose it was her fault.

I still have my Paypal account, as I can't operate as an online writer without it. I've removed the link to my credit card, however, and in future will use the account to the minimum extent possible.

Anyway, I thought I'd share this sorry tale with you. I'm not saying don't use Paypal, but I do advise employing great caution with them. This is not the first time they have made changes to my account without my authorization, and getting redress from them - or even a simple explanation - seems almost impossible.




Blogger John of Celtic Ways said...

Very unforunate as I have been with PayPal since their origins in the 90s when the USA banks tried to get them closed down. The banks did not like someone cutting into their turf and doing a better job. My only problems with PayPal have been their cautiousness with some transactions which have been held for investigation. As that is their security policy that's acceptable, so I am surprised to hear of your your experiencies which cross the line of privacy.

Regarding customer support I had a hard time with this in the USA as the staff there read from script and anything away from that did not seem to exist for them. Here in Ireland I have always been passed through to an Irish support person very quickly who is always extremely personal and helpful.

From my own personal experiences I am still a huge fan of PayPal.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks, John. Maybe I should move to Ireland!

I think Paypal is great when everything is working well, but my experience is that they are far too quick to take liberties with your account. As mentioned in my post, it's not the first time they have done something like this to me. When it happened to me the first time, I thought my account had been hacked in to. But then it occurred to me to wonder why anyone would bother to do this and then just cancel all my subscriptions. That time, Paypal denied all knowledge.

I'm basically stuck with Paypal, but these incidents do leave me feeling nervous about operating an account with them.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Maria Midkiff said...

I have heard bad comments from others too about paypal. I found them (the bad comments) when researching a way to sell on my site. I went with them anyway since Paymentech also got bad reviews.....but paypal is cheaper. I figured I'd rather be treated badly for less! So far no bad experiences, but I am a new customer. Thanks for sharing your story.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks for your comment, Maria.

In my experience, Paypal is great when it works, but a nightmare when anything goes wrong. In particular, they will make merry with your account, cancelling subscriptions, debiting credit cards when they don't need to, and so on.

If a proper bank did this they would be hauled in front of the regulators in short order, but there appears to be little regulation of Paypal and its activities. So my advice would be to proceed with great caution: don't leave large amounts in your account, and NEVER give them your credit card number.

Good luck!

3:48 PM  
Blogger Christian-Mark Cawley said...

I recently lost a lot of money via a paypal payment to me that was reclaimed by the purchaser of the service I provided.

Despite clear instructions and a fulfillment of the described service from me, the buyer - who had agreed to make the purchase and had gone well beyond the agreed period for a refund - made a complaint to Paypal which left me considerably out of pocket, and with the buyer in possession of the service I provided (fully functional) for free.

Paypal had no interest in what amounted to theft, and gave no consideration to my own complaint.

This is worth bearing in mind.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thanks for your comment, CM. Sorry to hear about your bad experience. It does reinforce my point that Paypal seems to be a law to itself, and when things go wrong there is little opportunity to seek redress.

6:53 PM  
Blogger CaroleMcDonnell said...

Paypal is pretty good but I've had my problems with them. In both cases, I had subscribed to online zines and cancelled the ezines. Although I cancelled them, Paypal seemed to have had them on some kind of automatic scheduler and tried to take money from my paypal account. Unfortunately, I didn't have that much money in my pay pal account. I had $25 I think and one mag was $39 (The other time the cost of the prescription was $10.) In both cases, paypal decided to take the money from my bank account. But unfortunately, I didn't have enough money to cover the account in my checking account either. So I ended getting two $35 fines from Chase Bank. That caused a chain reaction of bouncing and more fines. I think I ended up with about $150 in fines when it was all over with. All because paypal hadn't completely removed the zines i had unsubscribed from. Very annoying.

10:57 PM  

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