This website is a collection of horror stories, news reports and other information addressing problems with Paypal, Inc..

Never Again PayPal

Writer Wishes To Remain Anonymous

I had used PayPal for almost 4 years with no problems.  In February 2004 I saw a DVD I wanted to purchase.  It was a new seller, but in the seller box there was a thing called Purchase Protection with a shield symbol in front. When I clicked on it, I went to a PayPal website that talked about Buyer Protection, and when I clicked on Learn More, it said the two ways you had protection:

PayPal transactions can be covered by either PayPal Buyer Protection or the Buyer Complaint Process depending on certain requirements. Make sure a listing is covered before you make your purchase. To find out, look for the PayPal Buyer Protection icon in the Seller Information box – [from text of PayPal webpage]

(Let me add here that the symbol in front of PayPal Buyer Protection was almost identical to the one in front of the Purchase Protection in the seller box of the auction.)

I consider myself a careful consumer; I feel I was misled into thinking I had Buyer Protection.

I won the auction, and when I went to check out, I saw I could purchase Money Back Guarantee.  Since I had read PayPal transactions were covered under either Buyer Protection or Buyer Complaint Process, I assumed the Money Back Guarantee was part of the Buyer Protection, so I purchased it.

Less than a week later, I received the DVD.  I discovered it was bootleg.  I emailed the seller thinking they did not know it was a copy.  Much to my surprise he admitted it was a copy.  I did not want to try to get my money back from him for many reasons:

How could I be sure they would actually refund my money since they were (and still are) dealing in stolen goods (counterfeit DVDs)? I knew I would be turning them in and didnt know if they would be still in business to give me a refund. But the most important reason.  I was not going to send back a copy for them to resell.  that would be involving myself in their illegal activities.

So, I wrote to PayPal, telling them this was a counterfeit DVD and asking them what to do. They wrote me back to ship it to their address in Omaha, NE.  I should have known this was not going to be easy, because their email said to send it UPS or FEDEX to a PO Box., which even I know can’t be done. When I pointed this out, then they wanted me to send it USPS with a tracking #.  The only way USPS has tracking #s is by express mail, which would have cost me $18, so I sent it insured instead. (I was naove enough to think that when they received the DVD, they would immediately refund my money and report this seller to the authorities, since then they could see what he was selling.)

A few days later, I received an email from PayPal, which stated:

This reimbursement request has been voided by the PayPal Guarantee Department. The following item you purchased is not covered under the Money Back Guarantee: Media: DVDs, CDs, video games, and other software We can send the item back to you at your request via FedEx. However, you are responsible for any shipping charges. – [excerpt from email from PayPal date 3/5/2004]

I tried to email several times and even called once to ask the following questions:

1.Why did eBay (and PayPal) have a link under seller information that makes it look like the seller is providing Purchase Protection for that auction?

2.Why does the symbol for Purchase Protection look almost identical to the PayPal Buyer Protection symbol? [note-within 2 days of my phone call complaining about this, the Purchase Protection & its symbol were removed from all the seller's auctions and as far as I can tell from all eBay auctions maybe many others were also confused.]

3.Why doesn’t the information in the PayPal Buyer Protection section list ALL buyer protections rather than just 2?

4.How on earth can PayPal allow you to purchase insurance (Money Back Guarantee) for something that ISN’T EVEN COVERED UNDER THE INSURANCE?  The item WAS listed as a DVD and even had DVD in its title.

5.When I contacted PayPal, even though I said it was a bootleg DVD, they TOLD me to ship it to them, which I did.  If they had the information the item was a DVD, why did they have me send it to them?

6.How can they now ask me to pay to have it sent back?

The emails I received in response were, of course, form letters, and the one time I called, the rep could not answer my question, put me on hold to ask someone else, then promptly disconnected me.

That’s when I went online to see if others had had problems with PayPal & found this website and others.  I learned quickly that contacting PayPal was a waste of time and energy. So I wrote a complaint (with copies of the appropriate WebPages and emails) to the BBB in San Jose, CA and  Omaha, NE; the Nebraska and California State Attorney General’s offices and the FTC.

After reading much on this and other forums, I immediately closed my PayPal account.

I know for sure the BBB in San Jose, CA and  the Nebraska State Attorney General’s office were involved in the resolution of my complaint.

I got a letter from the BBB with a letter from PayPal in which they stated, As an oversight on PayPal’s part you were offered protection under the Money Back Guarantee Program we have made a one-time exception for the aforementioned transaction and awarded a refund to you for the product price plus the Money Back Guarantee fee.  They also offered an apology.

What have I learned?  From my own experience, I can say much of what people complain about PayPal is probably true.  In 38 years of dealing with businesses, I can say PayPal has THE worst customer service I have ever encountered.  I think for PayPal customer service is in the form of formal complaints or lawsuits.  I now know PayPal is unregulated.  I learned that even after I closed my account, PayPal could keep my financial information on file:

“If you close your PayPal account, we will mark your account in our database as “Closed,” but will keep your account information in our database. This is necessary in order to deter fraud, by ensuring that persons who try to commit fraud will not be able to avoid detection simply by closing their account and opening a new account. However, if you close your account, your
personally identifiable information will not be used by us for any further purposes, nor sold or shared with third parties, except as necessary to prevent fraud and assist law enforcement, or as required by law (for example, to send former Money Market Fund investors a report of dividends paid during the calendar year for tax reporting purposes).” – [excerpt from email from PayPal date 4/7/2004]

I have also learned that reporting bootleg (or in my case actual counterfeit) activities to eBay and PayPal is useless.  Even though the seller is violating PayPal’s User Agreement -  You may not use PayPal to sell unauthorized copies (pirated, duplicated, backup, bootleg and so forth) of software programs, video games, music albums, movies, television programs, or photographs. – [excerpt from User Agreement on PayPal website] he is still using PayPal AND now has Buyer Protection listed in the sellers box.  He is also in violation of eBay’s bootleg recordings policy Listings offering bootleg CDs and video may be ended early by eBay. Multiple violations of eBay’s bootleg recording policy could result in the suspension of your account. – [excerpt from eBay Bootleg Recordings Policy from eBay website]  yet eBay has never ended any of these auctions early, nor suspended him.

I would under no circumstances ever open another PayPal account.  Two of my friends have also closed their accounts after learning of what I have been through.  I am not sure if I will keep my eBay account.

Posted: May 8, 2012 at 1:22 pm

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