Monthly Archives: March 2013

PayPal, worth the risk?

Think about PayPal for a moment.  This is an online entity that process payments between two people, usually a buyer and a seller.  What is the level of information that you give PayPal.  Outside of our first-born child, you give PayPal with cherished data, namely our bank account and/or credit card information.  What then do you get out of this level of sharing?  What is the reciprocity of this relationship?  Is there value in giving up sensitive information to engage in simplified online purchasing?  The answer is no.


Have you ever had an issue where a fraudulent claim was hit against your PayPal account?  If not, count yourself lucky because to reverse that claim the user of PayPal must jump through a number of hoops.  First you must be made aware of the fraudulent claim.  The onus is placed upon the user to notice the fraudulent claim and then start action to reclaim the funds.  The action to reverse the claim is initiated online; if you actually want to talk to a human being then you must jump through another hoop.  You have to call PayPal and be placed on hold.  Upon talking to an account rep with very limited access to view any action on your account you are then transferred to the fraud department, this is where the customer experience of PayPal fails.  The transfer places you on hold with a repeating, “Your call is very important to us.”  Then after waiting for 30+ minutes you hang up out of frustration or just a desire to move on with your other daily tasks, having never talked to an real live person.  You decide to call back when PayPal is less busy.  You call again later in the day, another 20 minutes on hold with no actual fraud representative picking up.  You call again, same result.  You call for at least a couple of days and then finally get through.  Now you are certain that talking to an actual human will get your fraudulently withdrawn funds returned.


You are again mistaken.  Because PayPal only handles the transfer of funds between two entities, legal or fraudulent, they must go through their dispute resolution process before returning your funds.  The fraud representative tells you to be patient and wait ten days.  Then at the end of that time, PayPal will make a determination if fraud was indeed involved and if your funds should be returned.  You are in essence, guilty until proven innocent.  PayPal is worried that perhaps you are the one trying to be fraudulent and is protecting the fake seller.


Contrast that experience with a traditional credit card company.  Over the years, the credit card company may have proactively called you when they noticed suspicious activity.  The credit card company assumes your innocence.  They let know you will not be held responsible for the charges and they will remove the charges from your statement.  In essence the credit card company treats you as a valued client.  Quite the contrast to how PayPal treats their customers.


The World Wide Web as used by the casual consumer is still in its adolescence.  Web services such as PayPal make slight variations to their product offerings and levels of service on a manic pace.  PayPal focus increasingly on online customer experience, even recently rolling out an updated user interface.  Unfortunately, they still have not extended their customer experience beyond the online interactions and fail to iterate customer friendly business processes.


In short, don’t expect professional levels of service from the pubescent online financial services such as PayPal.  Protect yourself and use the adults of the financial world, credit card companies.