PayPal and the demise of customer service

August 1, 2012

I have always loved, loved, loved PayPal. In my compulsive eBay spending days, I used it without fail. When we were planning our high school reunion, we collected payment via PayPal (except for Glen B. who sent a personal check because he hated PayPal). When I cleaned out my house and sold stuff on eBay, my profits came through PayPal. When I was using a small vendor I didn’t know, I used PayPal to make the purchase. And last year’s BlogHer roommie paid me for her share of the room through… PayPal.

So imagine my chagrin when I returned home from vacation and found on my checking account a Friday, the 13th, $743 transfer to PayPal. I wracked my brain trying to remember any big purchases, but the only one had been the timing belt on the Honda, and I used American Express for that. When I logged into PayPal, I saw that some 10 days later PayPal had reversed the charge. Still, I was disturbed and wrote an email asking what had happened and how PayPal was going to insure that it didn’t happen again.

Surprisingly, PayPal did not answer.

A few days later, the reversed charges still were not showing up in the ol’ checking account.

Beans need their money, especially this Bean. I fortified myself with a glass of wine and resorted to drastic measures… phone tree hell. When I finally got a CSR on the phone, he was blasé about my predicament. Someone had obviously hacked into my account, PayPal had detected it, and now I needed to transfer the money from my PayPal account back into my checking account.

There were no apologies, consoling tones or courtesies extended. These things just happen. And if the vendor continues this sort of behavior, PayPal will eventually suspend his/her/its privileges.

I hung up wondering if I shouldn’t just cancel my PayPal account, but then I thought I would just be cutting off my nose to spite convenient spending. I decided to give them another chance, and I waited for the money to be transferred back to my account.

Several days later—yesterday—I checked, and NO MONEY. Then I logged back into PayPal. The $743 was still sitting in the PayPal account…. I’m not sure what happened. Maybe I didn’t check the little box that says I agree to terms, maybe I didn’t click okay, maybe I dreamed that I transferred the money, maybe there was a cyber-glitch….

I transferred the money back into my account for the SECOND time and then braced myself for phone tree hell again. I got the Philippines. At least I think it was the Philippines. I couldn’t understand her. She couldn’t understand me. She was obviously wearing a headset and I was getting the ECHO.  (I loathe the echo.) I asked for a supervisor and the call was disconnected.

I called again.  I got the Philippines again.  She didn’t understand me.  I didn’t understand her.  I asked for a supervisor and she put me on hold.  FOR AN HOUR.

I put PayPal on speaker phone and commenced to editing some manuscripts, and for an hour, I listened to the PayPal party line, and then, gentle reader, I was unceremoniously disconnected.

I’d like to tell you that Sarah, the virtual agent, who is not a real person, was helpful, but, alas, Sarah didn’t know how to answer my questions.  I’d like to tell you that my $743 has been returned, but it has not.  And I’d like to tell you that PayPal has called, profusely apologizing for their boorish behavior and the inconvenience and offered me and the little Beans a complimentary trip to Europe, but, [sigh], no, they have not.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Melinda August 1, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Oh what a nightmare, makes me think twice about keeping my paypal account open!

Heather August 1, 2012 at 12:35 pm

This all sounds terrible!!! I am thinking twice about my paypal account. I run everything through it for my small business. I do hope this gets fixed.

portia August 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Hope it gets fixed quick! Poor customer service seems to be the norm rather than the exception these days. I am having problems with Verizon. Not to mention the utter travel-hell I recently experienced ala Delta.

papa August 1, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Live customer service is DEAD.

I had an issue with Comcast or Infinity or whoever the hell they are these days. You know your in trouble when dealing with a company who can’t make up their mind what to call themselves.

The only person you can understand at Comcast/Infinity is the recorded voice that lists all the options you don’t need or want. I learned that if you keep pressing “3″ for an hour someone who you can’t understand will finally answer. I also learned that if you keep saying over and over, “I want speak boss” that after 2-5 calls you’ll get someone who can fix your problem in about 30 seconds.

One thing not to do is make another drink every time you get put on hold since by the time you get someone who speaks English they won’t be able to understand you.

Papa

Ally August 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I’m now scared. I should go check my PayPal account. And I’ll heed Papa’s advice about the drinks…

Kristy K. James August 1, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Did you try going through their website complaint option? They helped me resolve something pretty quickly earlier this year. It’s disappointing that they treated you so badly. And it makes me think twice about confirming my new account with them.

I tend to be pretty paranoid about money when it comes to the internet. I took the time (and it was a LOT of time) to type out the alphabet, and the numbers 0-9…and copied and pasted every letter and number for all of my emails, log-ins, and passwords. Now I just copy and paste them instead of typing them. That should keep my computer safe from keystroke viruses.

Another thing is that I keep a separate bank account for internet transactions. That way there’s never any household money at risk.

Just some things to consider. Hope you get your money back soon!

Jenn August 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Wow! Those are good ideas, Kristy! Sadly, I don’t know what a keystroke virus is, but I’m about to Google it. Great idea about the separate bank account.

I copied @PayPal and @AskPayPal on a Tweet. @AskPayPal is looking into it for me.

Jenn August 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm

So I just Googled “keystroke virus” and found some good info:

http://mediag.com/news/servertechnical/keystroke-virus-affects-your-online-banking/

Irene August 1, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Ugh, this shit is so stressful! And even more when PayPal is involved! They must get thousands of these calls a day! I haven’t had a problem with PayPal..yet (knock on wood). But I’ve heard some nightmares. I try not to keep any significant amount in it. Changing the password occasionally helps I guess.
I SO hope you get this mess straightened out! It’s a nice convenience having PayPal but when stuff like this happens it sort of leaves a stale taste in your mouth when you need to use it. What if you made a new PayPal account and then cancelled that one? Ashame you might have to resort to this. I can’t tell you how many credit cards I’ve been through until I figured out which website was housing someone camping out on it and stealing CC numbers. I feel your pain! Deep breaths my friend!

Irene August 1, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Oh, how’s Papa?? Hope the little Beans are having a good summer!

LILLIANNA August 1, 2012 at 8:56 pm

OK.. I WOULD BE MORE than HAPPY to comment on this (your) “incident” with PayPal. They are NOT your “PALS” and I have had several run in’s with them in recent months, when trying to sell items..or SELLING Items on eBay..then having them HOLD MY MONEY!

Your situation is MUCH worse..and like you I phoned them (I think I got India)..I asked for a USA CSR..First off..I was disconnected. I e-mailed PayPal..and they did call me back..then in LILLY fashion, I gave them a BIG PIECE of my mind. I told them to look up my records and my perfect 100% satisfaction rating, and how much business I had done with them over the years (Especially when I had money and a Full time Corporate job..not necessary to elaborate on THAT!) I told them I would NEVER use PayPal again! They (She) told me that it wasn’t their fault that they were OWNED by eBay! And eBay was responsible..love the buck passing..but REALLY? give me my damn money! I like the Bean family am living day to day financially and 700+ dollars is a LOT of money! I had to wait 27 days to get my money. I surely hope you don’t! I would complain, complain and complain..and BY LAW..they MUST connect you to a U.S. Service rep! I am so sorry to hear this Bean..it’s one reason I have resorted to “Crazy” Cheap ass Craig’s list..to AVOID the insanity of dealing with these A-holes at eBay and PayPal! If you OWE THEM money they suck it right up!..REALLY? They have stolen from you! DISGUSTING!!! Lill

Sandra August 2, 2012 at 1:57 am

OK, so this suck royally! Now what? We all trust Paypal, even though they don’t really care that $743 is missing from your account? This is unacceptable!…I’m just relieved that I’m so poor there never is any money in my account, but still that IS NOT THE POINT HERE! I demand justice.
Signed,
your very concerned BBFF hoping you get your money and a free trip!
Sandra

Irene August 2, 2012 at 8:15 am

Oh, I see Papa’s comment above!! SO true with companies changing their stinkin’ names all the time! There’s always some other comglomerate buying up the smaller businesses and changing it’s name. Banks in my area are good for this! When I first got married 30 years ago, my bank was Morris County Savings Bank, then First Bank of Morris, then it went to First Fidelity, then Wachovia, now it’s Wells Fargo (Wells Farto). And each time the service gets worse.
Verizon is my Achilles Heel. CS goes straight to India. “‘Ello, dis is Peggy”, know what I mean?

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