21 March 2007

How Annoying Can PayPal Be?

I have used paypal for years for the occasional internet transaction where using a credit card was not possible or practical.
Things like paying for server upkeep to my brother when he was in charge of hise.org. It was a decent service, and as long as you never click on a paypal link in and email (because they are always phishing attempts) and be careful about clicking on paypal links in web sites (many are legit, others are also phishing), it seems to be pretty secure.

Since I rarely used it for things like ebay auctions or similar things, I have never run into the most common complaint I heard: they don't do anything to protect the customer if there are scam ebayers.

Well, recently I got a legit email from paypal. The important part said:

As part of our security measures, we regularly screen activity in the PayPal system. ...

We have reason to believe that your account was accessed by a third party. Because protecting the security of your account is our primary concern, we have limited access to sensitive PayPal account features. We understand that this may be an inconvenience but please understand that this temporary limitation is for your protection.

So I tried to "unlimit" my account, and jumped through the reasonable security hoops they have in place for the first two steps.

The last step of the "unlimitation" process is to confirm my location. OK, great. Their method of confirming location is by entering credit card information. But I was stopped cold on this step, because it won't let me use a credit card with a foreign billing address.

At this point, the line We have reason to believe that your account was accessed by a third party. is setting off the BS detector. They don't care about me and my account security, they know that no "third party" has accessed my account. All they care about making sure I have a credit card on file. Why tell me one thing when you really mean something else, paypal?

OK, so I checked their FAQs and tried to figure out how to wrangle the system into letting me use a foreign address. As it turns out, one must cancel a paypal account in the original country and open a new one in the foreign paypal site. OK, great, let's cancel this account then.

Oh wait, I can't cancel my account, because it is limited! A limited account can't be canceled. That is limiting!

So I fire off an email to customer service inquiring about the Catch-22 I am in:
I can't cancel the account because I am limited and I can't "unlimit" the account because I need to have a US address, which I don't have.

Their response:

If you want to close down a PayPal account but have forgotten your password, no longer have the email address registered to your account,

Did you read my friggin question. The password is not the problem. Why mention it? Neither is the email address.

and do not live at the residence registered on the account

That was an AND right. Logically, all conditions of the AND must be true for the outcome to be true. They weren't, so why should I bother reading on. After all, you didn't even read my email. But I'm a big boy. I'll keep slogging on.

you will need to fax the following:

FAX? OK. From Germany? That is gonna be spendy... I will not spend money to close this account. Bastards. But it gets better.

A copy of your current valid Driver's License. The license must list your current address.

OK. But wait, German driver's licenses don't have addresses on them!

A copy of a proof of address such as a utility bill, financial account statement or check stub that lists your previous address.

How do they know that I received utility bills in my name at my previous address? And my wife has a different last name. Hell, so does my mom. There are tons of ways that I can live someplace and not have a utility bill with my name and address on it. But I probably have something. It will take a boatload of digging, but I can probably find something acceptable. Like my mortgage papers. That might be good enough for them. Not sure really what that proves, however.

The email address registered on both PayPal accounts, if funds are to be transferred.

What the heck does that even mean. I am not trying to transfer funds. Oh wait! You didn't even read my inquiry! I hate customer service people that don't even try. What a joke.

So I fired off a response to customer "service" and basically told them that their response didn't help. I wasn't that nice, but not exactly mean, either. I inquired about why faxing was required and what we should do about the fact that German licenses don't have addresses. I expected a very long delay, but to their credit, they managed a response in about 24 hours.

Of course the response was totally unhelpful:

I am sorry, due to virus concerns we are unable to open file attachments.

Hint to Paypal: Ditch windows. Get a Linux system or OS X or something. Hell, I would send you a TIFF, I think you could even grab a SGI Indy at Goodwill in Colorado Springs. That will open a TIFF. Or just be smart about handling that attachment. What a BS excuse.

Kim then proceeded to tell me again where to fax the information or, if I wanted, where to mail the info.

OK great. They still want me to pay to close an account. Bzzzt. Not. Gonna. Happen.

Kim also didn't respond to the more important point: what to do about the fact that my license doesn't have my address on it. What will they accept? Nobody can tell me. I especially won't fax or mail something, and then have them tell me it isn't good enough.

I am sure we'll go around several times. Eventually I'll just say forget it and let the account rot, and filter all paypal emails to my junk bin.

Why is it that customer service people, and not just paypal's, can't ever answer the question asked in email enquiries? Is it really that hard?

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At Wednesday, 21 March, 2007 , Anonymous Tom Hise said...

And people wonder why I don't have a Paypal account? Too much red tape in every way and crappy security on top of that.

At Wednesday, 04 April, 2007 , Anonymous naomi said...

That was an AND right. Logically, all conditions of the AND must be true for the outcome to be true.

hahaha! It seems like almost all customer servic-y type notes like that contain logical paradoxes...it always drives me CRAZY...

I'm the person at my job who gets to contact Red Hat Support for various things, and the stuff they send back is always totally ridiculous, and would be laughable, if we weren't paying for "support" that doesn't exist. *sigh*


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