Wednesday, 18 July 2012

(The Paypal Review:How Good Is PayPal's Service, Really? (Or How Bad Is PayPal's Service, Really)?


The Introduction

I thought it's time for a review here on Blogged On Service, about the electronic payment company PayPal. And also a warning, if your thinking of using the site. You see in theory the idea and service PayPal offers is great. But that would be the theory. The theory is one thing, the practise is another. Their are many valid reasons you might want to use PayPal. Anyone who is a regular user of the Internet is likely to come across this company at some point. But their are some things about the way the brand operates with their users accounts, that if you knew before signing up to them, you might well choose not to use them at all. Theirs various examples of why PayPal's service isn't as good as they make out. Like why your money in PayPal might not be available to use when you want it. Like why their customer service can be, and often is, of a very poor standard, making it difficult to sort issues out with them, regarding your account.
Their is a lot to say about PayPal, unfortunately a lot of it not positive. As well as mentioning the problems many users around the world have had with PaPal, I can speak from experience on this one too: I currently have an on going case with them which I’ll get to later. And please, feel free to share your views and experiences on their service, not only will that help to raise awareness of how PayPal operates, but also it can help others to read them. Which is why over the coming posts I'll be reviewing PayPal, looking to also highlight problems with their service such as the way they treat customers  their often awful customer service, the problems with using an eBay account linked with PayPal, and more. I'll look at what you can do if you find these problems affecting you, to help you try and solve this issues.
Now, I'm sure some people have had good experiences with PayPal. Many people have used this service and not had a single problem with them, and maybe they never will. But, too many have had bad experiences. I'm not talking about the odd bit of bad service, either. It's a frequent stream of bad service, which PayPal very often don't admit to, often saying what they did was right. And it’s bad service which can mean you are unable to access your money when you need it, and bad service that doesn't cover you financially as much as PayPal tries to usure you.
This blog will also take a look at what some people may call PayPal's partner in crime, eBay, the company who own PayPal, and the problems using a PayPal account connected to an eBay account. Please remember though, that when I'm talking about eBay in this post, I mean the company itself, and not any of the buyers or sellers who use eBay (overall I find your service has been so much better, you could show these two companies a thing or to). And before I go on, I'd like to note that I didn't just wake up one day and decide for no reason I hate PayPal (but I do wake up and remember I hate PayPal), and I would start a vendetta against them just for the fun of it. No. Their are valued reasons for this articles highlighting PayPal’s problems. I'm not completely against their service in every single way, the same for the running of eBay. Some departments, such as say PayPal’s cashback one, seems to run pretty smoothly, just a real shame about the other departments that certainly don’t. And as for eBay, it’s one of the websites I have brought from the most, and I am grateful for the website's existence, but as I have said before, I firmly believe it's the good buyers and sellers that make eBay great, the running of the eBay company to it’s sellers and buyers is often not always as good as it could be. Though, personally, I don’t have nearly as many problems with the way the people behind eBay run their service as PayPal, and they have done some good work with the brand, but their are still some issues I think are worth noting, that they really should sort out. And I added eBay to this article on the problems with PayPal, because when those to are linked problems can arise. I wanted to raise awareness, as it were, of these issues.
So PayPal is an online service that, when it works as it's meant to, it is absolutely great. Such a handy website, which allow you to send and receive money over the internet, it can be a brilliantly quick form of payment. Further enhancements have been made over the years, such as the recent PayPal mobile app. Being able to send money from a mobile phone is truly a good idea, so it's even more disappointing about PayPal's low service standards. They offer other services too, such as a cashback part of their website. It's a massive company, and is indeed used all around the world. With loads of users, PayPal has become a fast moving and expanding brand. By how many people use the service, it's a popular choice.
OK, so what do PayPal offer, that has earned them so many users? First of all, the reason for PayPal's rise in becoming this massive company they are today, is not all down to award winning customer service. Nor is it because they offer a better service then other online electronic payment websites, in any single way. No, the reason why so many people use PayPal, I suspect, and choose it over it's market rivals, is more then likely down to the fact that, out of all the available electronic payment methods, PayPal is by far the most accepted at retail merchants across the internet. And over recent years, the number of websites has been increasing, more and more, and not just on retail websites, but on other websites that require online payments. Another reason for their  increased user amounts, is the fact that some websites such as eBay require you to use PayPal. For example If you live in Australia or the UK it has been required that sellers give PayPal as an option for payment to sellers. So that would mean you can’t avoid some dealings with them if you are a seller in any of those two places on eBay. PayPal was an early starter in the e-money market, when it launched in 2002, giving it a good head start over it’s rivals too.
Now with PayPal's rise in users, their rise of complaints has also increased.
For all of PayPal‘s achievements, like how good the idea behind the service is, the expanding of the brand, the thing is PayPal have got up to some pretty dubious stuff. Just because PayPal is a registered company officially, that does not mean, and in their case certainly isn't, a grounds to say PayPal are always in the right with what they do. Because over the years, theirs been plenty of ground for customers to rightly take legal action against them. So you may well wonder, how they manage to retain the high position they currently do. You see, a thing with PayPal is their not a bank. Not technically in how their officially listed in the eyes of the financial serves law, anyway. But if they were a bank, I’ve got a strong feeling they would not of got away with a lot of their bad service for as long as they have, or certainly more awareness of it would exist and perhaps they would be much better regulated. This is one of the things I things I campaign for, a better regulated PayPal.
For many online transactions, PayPal are the form of payment that is most convenient for people, it might be the only one that can be used for some, out of the choices on the website their using. What I would like to see, is the less well known, but much better managed and quality customer service rivals of PayPal to be accepted, at more and more websites. Then people will have much better choice in how they can pay online, and not have the problems many PayPal users face and are fed up with.
We have had PayPal under review for a while now, and during this time, and taking into account the many problems users have had with them, we can tell you they have shown some less then reassuring ways of 'looking after your money'.
In these articles, I'll try to help weigh up the pros and cons of using PayPal. See if you think the pros outweigh the cons or not. OK, so on we go.


What PayPal Say About Their Service

OK, firstly what do PayPal say about their service and why we should choose to use it:
(Taken from's homepage)
'It's safer, faster and everywhere. Use PayPal to shop at thousands of websites, knowing your financial details are never shared'.
'It's safer' is the first part of that statement, and the very important part. After all, if your allowing this company to store your money in their system, essentially ‘have hold of it’, you want it to be safe, right? You want to know you can get to your money when you need it, right? So how safe is money in your PayPal account? And how easy can you get to it, when you need it? It is sometimes said that storing your money in a system like PayPal is one of the safest places you could ever store your money. And in many ways I can see where this statement is coming from. While no financial system can guarantee 100% against every factor that could effect the safety of your money, PayPal do offer a number of technological features and service guarantees that help to keep your money in a truly safe position. They have a record of many safe transactions, and a good record of money been stored safely in their system without anyone outside your PayPal account managing to fraudulently take your money, through hacking accounts or in other ways. Their is good protection inside your account from those outside trying to wrongly access  your money. In many ways a good record of money safety from the company. But do you know who I don't think PayPal money is safe from being tampered with? PayPal. Yes, PayPal themselves. Their are different ways which PayPal has been known to tamper with people’s money, but let’s start with one way they commonly do. You see, I find it hard to trust money to a company that can choose to prevent you from accessing that money, for the various reasons they come up with, without any warning, either. Various reasons which, I believe most to be, a load of complete rubbish. 

PayPal's Freezing Accounts

What I'm talking about is one of the big problems with using PayPal. You can login to your account one day, only to find they have kindly frozen your account, meaning you are unable to use your funds until PayPal's requirements (or diva demands as I like to think of it) are met, despite you not doing anything  wrong with your account. Or not doing anything wrong with an account linked to it, like say with your eBay account. If your account is frozen you'll notice their will be a mention of how much money is in your primary balance and your pending balance. You should see something like this:
paymentpending pp
So the PayPal balance area tells you the overall amount of money in your account. The Available balance tells you the amount PayPal are allowing you to use of your money. The Pending Balance let’s you know the portion of your money PayPal is keeping from you, refusing to allow you access too. So remember PayPal regularly do this to people’s accounts from time to time, with no warning before it happens. PayPal still seeming attractive?
You'll also notice, PayPal will have put on your account, in a red box, a message (just above the payment balance area), stating the reason for your account being suspended, and if your like me, you might find the given reason does not really wash as been fair. At all. The red box and text inside it will look like this:
These requirements to take your account out of frozen status that PayPal require, can vary, but their are some regular ones they like to use. These include PayPal telling you that a certain amount of good feedback on your eBay's seller account, will be needed to have your account unfrozen, yes that’s right PayPal is getting involved with your eBay account usage, despite you could be wanting to use your PayPal money in a way not connected to eBay. . Now this is a  flawed practise because some people only (as is completely their right) sell items on eBay occasionally. So say they have sold the odd two items on their eBay sellers account. Well one of the amounts of good feedback PayPal have wanted, before taking the hold off the account is eighty. Well now that would mean to have their account unfrozen, they will have to sell 78 things, when they didn't want to! It's completely ridiculous of PayPal, and indeed eBay for allowing this practise.
Anyone who is experiencing a frozen account, I know exactly how annoying it is, as the same thing is currently going on with my account! When they first froze the account, while it was very annoying, not only as their was money in their I wanted to use but also because of all the problems a frozen account causes, I had a couple of pounds in the account and the rest of my money was elsewhere, meaning I still had other funds I could use, so in that way I was glad of that. But, what about if someone had most, or even all of their funds in their account and it was frozen? A real problem, as it really isn’t easy ‘unfreezing’ a frozen account, where PayPal are concerned. And you see, since that time when my account was first frozen, more money has been making it’s way to my account, and yet I have been unable to use most of it, as it’s gone straight into pending status, that includes my pay from my work online and other business ventures, so effectively PayPal is keeping my wages! Now, you may begin to see more why I hate this company! And that is why if you are in a work position where you are paid through PayPal (for example those who freelance on the internet are often paid this way) you might want to ask for an alternative method of payment wherever possible (I wonder if PayPal staff are paid through PayPal? Nah, they probably reward their staff by not doing that-a perk for working with them!)

Well I think most people are going to be annoyed if they find that their unable to access their money in PayPal after an account freeze, but if say someone needs to seriously get to that money urgently, their likely to be even more annoyed. This is another of the reasons I'd seriously reconsider PayPal. It’s by no means a guaranteed way of access to your money, stored electronically. Say you needed to urgently send money to a friend or family member, but PayPal decided to put a block on your account preventing you from being able to do this. Also, what if late fees occur on a service you would normally use PayPal to pay with, but you were now unable to, thanks to a block on you using your funds.
So PayPal tell us they freeze accounts for safety. Now how about we rephrase that sentence, translating what is actually meant by freezing an account: So PayPal tell us they prevent us from accessing our money for safety. See where I'm going with this?
So I don’t understand PayPal, how does preventing us access to our money, help keep PayPal a safer place for anyone at all?  Do you know what PayPal? It doesn't. And I'd like to know why PayPal insist on this. What I think PayPal aren't getting, or are choosing to not get, is that what their being trusted to do, by all those who use them and allow them to hold money on an account, is for them to look after it. This money of ours they hold in a PayPal account is still our money, it hasn't become their money. So really, PayPal shouldn't be allowed to decide to stop you from getting your money, certainly not for the unfair reasons they have been coming out with. And this is one of the things that really annoy me about PayPal. I believe this is a bad practise of PayPal, whatever they I say.

Contacting PayPal And Some Strange Going Ons……

If you have found PayPal have decided to put onto your account a block preventing you from accessing your money, well we have found it's unlikely PayPal are going to have a change of heart (ie.see sense) and allow you access to your money, so the next step you may want to take is to contact PayPal and ask them to remove the block.
The quickest way to speak to a human at PayPal (although after sampling some of their customer service, you might prefer a robot) is through using their telephone number (which PayPal spent years seemingly hiding). So to call them ( lines are actually open to 10pm weekdays, if they were a helpful phone service that would of been a great plus for  customer service)-dial and then you will be asked to input a unique code that was given to you, if you pressed the contact PayPal link whilst you were signed in to your account. You don't have to put this code in, but it means when you ring PayPal they will already have your account details, though they might still ask you for them anyway.
You need to get passed the recorded messages (can't skip them by pressing random buttons) that ask you to state what your question is and wait for question examples to be given, such as 'How can I reset my password?' 'What do I do if I expect fraud?' And 'What Can I do to stop PayPal preventing me from accessing my money and messing up my account all the freaking time?' I may of made one of those up. Tip: if you can't get your replies to the automated system to work, just say nothing for a minute or so and eventually you'll be put through to an actual human. Now this is where you may find yourself getting even more annoyed. PayPal seem to be trained like such great customer service examples such as the Job Centre Plus staff, to offer some of the worst phone service heard to man (or women). If you are lucky you might get one of the better staff members , some I've found to be better then others, some can be OK, but some are just  terrible, repeating the same set phrases, even after you have explained something to them that would make that phrase no longer applicable, often talking over you with the same point when you haven’t even had the chance to get your point across. Once your connected to a staff member, after they have checked your account details for security reasons, you can then try and explain to them, that you would like your account to be unfrozen. What will sound like a perfectly reasonable request to you, will seem to be taken differently by PayPal. It's likely that the staff members will continue to deny they were in the wrong by freezing your account, and insist that you can not have your account unfrozen until their say so, saying it’s until you have a certain amount of feedback, saying it happens to all members of PayPal, and it can get very frustrating. But despite some very bad shows of customer service, with staff that can act in such an annoying and unfair manner, if you are able to, it's worth persisting on the phone with this company. Because, remember it’s our right to the money PayPal is holding. You may still get no joy, by continually ringing them, and you may want to then look at other methods of sorting the issue.
After I kept ringing PayPal multiple times in a row (partly because I kept getting the same member of staff who I was just going round in circles with, a sometimes another member, do they only have two members of staff on the phones?), I began to notice the variations in what staff were telling me, the inconsistencies. Not only that, some staff began to comment that they could see I had continually rang through out the day (I averaged around three, but sometimes five calls a day), and I though that perhaps they were starting to take the hint-I wanted access back to my money and my frozen status lifted. I finally got a member of staff to allow me around half my money out of my pending balance. Which hilariously, she said she was doing as a curtsey gesture! She spoke as if it was generally a nice gestured favour. How kind she's allowing me some of my own money back, which previously was been held to ransom by PayPal. When I thanked her, for at least doing better then the previous PayPal people I had spoken to had managed (eventually), by allowing me back some of my money, and asked could I please have the rest, she informed me that she understood that I needed the money to pay people I had brought items off, so she allowed me some, but that it was a once in a lifetime thing never to be repeated, and so no I could not have the rest of my money. Like with any other call to PayPal staff I have ever had, we then proceeded to go round in circles.
If you don't get where you need with one staff member, ring up again and try another staff member. As I say, none I have ever found to be brilliant, but some are a little better. People have found this to work, and I can say it has got some results for me. Only some, mind. As my account is still frozen, any money I get goes straight into pending, and this has been going on for ages. I have been calling them almost every available day, trying to let them see how unfair what their doing is-I mean among the mentioned reasons it has made me unable to pay money I owe to people through PayPal! Thankfully, all have been understanding, and they have been aware that PayPal do these things to people (and have often experienced it themselves so know very well what their like).  Even though it's not funny when your account has been frozen and your trying to desperately get the use of your money back, I found it funny some of the things PayPal came out with. With all this having to contact PayPal to sort out their issues, we should be entitled to ask PayPal to pay our phone bills, though really. In fact we are, so feel free to send your phone bill to PayPal. I’m sending mine, I reckon it will be at least £100. They don’t even offer to ring you back to save your bill.
One staff member failed to identify if PayPal had a manager, she seemed to suggest PayPal didn't. I asked if I could talk to the manager, but was refused their name, or the chance to be put in contact with them, or even their contact details. I knew for a fact that their is a manager who's contact details do exist, which is why I asked for him. Ringing again a few days later, I was then told I would be put through to the manager (after staff kept insisting, as they had always done to me, that they were the highest point of escalation and the manager could not be reached on the phone). Well this member of staff said she would put me through to the manager, and this is where things begin to get surreal. After talking to the manager, who had a similar unfair (and not very professional for a manager) attitude like other PayPal staff, I then proceeded to go round in circles with her, as she would not budge in helping me sort out my issues with PayPal. I did not get anywhere better with the manager after a while had passed. She went on to explain how it did state in PayPal’s  terms and conditions that an account could be frozen, and like every other PayPal staff member I’ve known, seemed to miss the point, that whatever the terms and conditions, it’s not right of them to do it. She offered to show me where the terms and conditions stated this, and take me through it on their website, over the phone. I said OK, as even though I was aware of the terms and conditions, I thought maybe I could get my point across with them after she has read them through. She told me to stay on the line why she goes and access them (but if she had a computer in front of her, would they not already be accessible?). I waited for her to return. And waited some more. It must of been ten minutes, and she still hadn’t returned. I thought that maybe she got cut of the line or something. So I called up again and (once again got the same member of staff, just before I had been passed over to the manager) and so I asked to speak back with the manager. Though no matter how much I expressed that I wanted to carry on speaking with the manager, to carry on our conversation, the staff member would not put me through to the manager, and began to repeat about the manager not been available on the phone, that they don’t have a manager that talks to customers over the phone. Also she kept on repeating how she was the highest form of escalation.  I kept trying to protest that I had spoken with the manager, but she denied it, saying that I only spoke with her before and never the manager. She said it wasn’t on record that I had ever spoken with the manager. It wasn’t until I began typing this article up, though that something dawned on me. The manager, the person who I spoke to believing to be the manager, and the one that when I asked if they were the manager said yes, was a she. Who sounded a little like the previous member of staff , who said she would put me through with the manager. In fact when I was talking to the manager or ‘manager’ as it’s looking increasingly like, well you know sometimes when you have a thought that keeps going into your mind based on a feeling, well I kept getting one about how the staff named as  manager, sounded a lot like the lady who spoke to me before her, just with a slightly different tone in her voice. Hmmm. Now, I don’t know for sure exactly what went on their, but theirs something not quite right with the whole manager thing, and I’ll be looking further into this one.

A part on this blog will be set up to include details of contacts you may want regarding PayPal, including contacts for complaint procedures and reviews of them. Their will be lots more on the perils of using PayPal on it’s way, including more on eBay too. Plus you can join us on twitter with our brand new page on The Truths Of PayPal:

You can tweet Truths Of PayPal at: @TruthsOfPayPal 

The page that will be tweeting all about PayPal, and aims to challange the bad practices of the company, raise awareness too. Not only that, tweet us any problems your having with PayPal and we will do our best to try and help with suggestions to combat your issues.


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