How PayPal is scamming us all
I have had (U.S.-based) eBay and PayPal accounts since like forever. I had the PayPal account for the sole purpose of buying on eBay and the PayPal account was linked to my bank account. They could just take the money directly from my bank account. Big mistake. Never give anyone access to your bank account, much less PayPal.
Once in a long while I would buy something on eBay and pay using PayPal. No problems.
So a couple months ago, one afternoon I went on an eBay buying spree and bought eight items totaling about $100 and paid using PayPal.
So PayPal takes the money from my bank account and then freezes my PayPal account refusing to pay the sellers or to return the money to my bank account.
They say I need to provide proof of ID and proof of residence at the registered address. Because, you know, such a buying spree and such huge amounts of money are clearly suspicious. Specially from an account that is only like 13 years old.
I sent several emails which got canned responses which had nothing to do with the subject. Time went by and sellers started to complain and probably thought I was making shit up to excuse my not paying.
On eBay the status of the payments showed as “cancelled” so it looked like *I* had cancelled the payment, not PayPal.
I opened a thread in the eBay forums explaining the case and I got a few sympathetic responses but after a few days the thread was disappeared without trace or explanation. At least it was there long enough for the sellers to see it and realize I was not making it all up.
I asked a friend to open an eBay account and pay for the items while I sorted out the case with PayPal. Which she did.
Six items were paid and received with the sellers being helpful and understanding. The sellers of two items say they never received the payment even though PayPal shows them as paid. These two transactions are still being disputed by my friend. What a mess and what a waste of time.
I called my bank and told them I considered PayPal’s charges as fraudulent because they have my permission to charge my account in order to make payments on my behalf but not to just take money and keep it. The bank said so sorry, if you don’t absolutely trust them then don’t give them permission to access your account because once they have taken the money it’s gone forever. (Moral of the story: never give PayPal direct access to your bank account, even if you think they are honest.)
So I call PayPal on the phone to see how to solve the issue. They need a utility bill to verify the address. Except that it is an address in America where I do not now live. At the time I opened the account it was good but I am now in Europe and now it is my girlfriend’s address. Apparently there is no way to resolve the issue because I cannot change the address to a foreign address and I cannot change the name on the account to my girlfriend’s name. It’s catch-22 and they get to keep the money! How convenient for them!
After almost two hours on the phone being transferred from one department to another what they are telling me is that I cannot get my money back unless I show them a utility bill I cannot provide because it is my girlfriend who lives there and utilities are in her name. So they just imposed a new rule without warning. A new rule which effectively blocks my money in their possession.
They explain this is not their choice but that the Federal Government requires this as a counter-terrorism measure. It requires this to give me back my money but they had no problem taking it from my bank account. No warning, nothing. They took my money and then blocked it. They could have blocked the PayPal account before taking the money but no. How convenient for them.
I said, look, I bought a bunch of trinkets on eBay worth about $12 average to be shipped from sellers in the USA to an address in the USA and paid from money in a USA bank account to bank accounts in the USA. Could you explain exactly how this could be used to finance terrorism?
They don’t know and they don’t care, they just follow Federal rules (which, apparently, allow them to take my money under false pretenses, no problem there).
In any case, I was finally able to retrieve my money back into my bank account. Of course, the hours I spent trying to resolve this and the problems cause with the sellers and the aggravation are worth much more than the money I recovered.
Needless to say I immediately closed the PayPal account and warned my bank not to accept any further charges from PayPal.
Posted: August 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm