Paypal & Customer Service Catch-22s


Paypal is sort of like Bank of America – it’s this big, dumb corporation that holds power through coercion, not because it’s sensible and everyone likes it. Trying to resolve anything through Customer Service is very telling of this fact.

the setup:
It’s not exactly unusual for me to be at the office in the neighborhood of 12-16 hours a day. So I thought it may be more wise to have Paypal purchases sent to the office, rather than having items potentially sit on my doorstep all day. I tried to go through the steps to “confirm an alternate address,” as one electronics retailer I planned on buying from only sends to Paypal-confirmed addresses. Quickly I ran into a roadblock, as I am “ineligible” for alternate address confirmation due to having a Buyer Reputation Number of zero. The Reputation Number is supposed to reflect the number of transactions a user has successfully completed with unique Paypal members. Based on that, I should have a Reputation Number of probably 50-75. It turns out, however, that the Reputation Number system was discontinued, ohhh, probably three years ago or so.

the attempt at resolution:
After discovering this catch-22 of having a “zero” Reputation Number and obviously not being able to do anything to increase the number, I wrote Customer Service. I waited a week, heard nothing, then wrote again. This time I waited a couple weeks. I still heard nothing, so today I called. Customer Service told me to navigate to the same “Alternate Address Confirmation” page I have previously visited numerous times. The result on the next page was the same: “You do not currently qualify for Alternative Address Confirmation.” The best solution Customer Service could offer? “I would recommend you buy from a seller who doesn’t ship to confirmed addresses only.” Thanks a bunch.

Considering the disclosure that the call may be monitored, I tried to get this Customer Service fellow in India, or wherever, to blatantly admit that the website contains information that’s completely wrong and outdated. Suddenly, a language barrier made it’s way into the conversation: “I don’t understand what you mean…. sorry, I don’t know what you mean.” And, like a broken record, “the only thing I can recommend is to buyer from a seller…” No resolution at all. And just having someone answer a call doesn’t qualify as “Customer Service.”

Paypal’s revenue in Q4 of 2011 was $1.2 billion. Something feels very, very odd about a company that makes over a billion dollars in three months but yet has a website that has been outdated for three years.


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