Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Customer service PayPal style

Bouchercon 2010 accepts "two types of payment—a check, or PayPal."

PayPal invites questions from prospective customers:

Don't have a PayPal account?
Of course you can still contact us.
(emphasis mine) Just click Continue to get to our Customer Service phone number.

Contact Us
PayPal
Customer Service:
1-402-935-2050 (a U.S. telephone number)
That phone number demands the last four digits of the credit or debit card or bank account "on your PayPal account. (emphasis mine) "

See you in San Francisco. Maybe.

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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15 Comments:

Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Once I flew Delta and there was a free double seat in front of me. I asked if I could move there and was told that that was fine but I couldnt move until the external door was closed. When the door closed I asked if it was OK to move and was told no because we were on the taxi way. Once we were in the air and the seatbelt sign was off I moved seats and was asked to move back because "once the aircraft was in the air 'security regulations' did not permit passengers to change seats".

February 18, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

That does sound wacky. And, what, no 800 number??? They sure don’t want nonmembers to contact them. Are you reluctant to open a PayPal account? I’ve found it especially useful for foreign transactions where Visa, M/C, and AmEx will charge a “foreign transaction fee,” even using a debit card that is supposedly the same kind of transaction as writing a personal check. I got sick and tired of paying a “foreign transaction fee” when buying books from US vendors via Abebooks.com—because Abebooks is a Canadian business. PayPal draws the money directly from your checking account, with no fee. The only problem I ever had with a transaction was resolved quickly by PayPal. (No, I am not a shill for them…)

February 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, the next time a member of any American airline staff tells the truth will be the first. My favorite instance was the time when, fifteen minutes before departure time and with the plane not yet at the gate, I asked how long my flight would be delayed.

"Oh, that flight is still scheduled to depart on time," the deak attendant said. I don't know if it's the intervening years playing tricks on me, but I think she said this in a perky manner.

February 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, I have two reasons for looking into PayPal, one of them to pay for Bouchercon which, for some reason, is accepting only PayPal and checks this year. My question was too complex for PayPal's automatic question-answering program, hence my having to resort to that phone number.

You're right. PayPal obviously has no interest in hearing from non-members and wants people to join up before asking any questions. I'm just disappointed that such a marvelous event as Bouchercon would affiliate itself with a company that provides such shoddy customer service. And no, PayPal's site gives no toll-free number, at least not where the site directs non-members.

February 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, I'm not reluctant to join PayPal, but I do have questions, and I sure as hell am not going to join until I get those questions answered.

February 18, 2010  
Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

Paypal and I have a rocky history. I have money in there I have never been able to access. You can never resolve any issues with paypal. I hate paypal.

February 18, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

It gets weirder. I pretended I was a PayPal wannabe and ended up at:

https://www1.paypal-virtualchat.com/

Where I got this message:

Sarah - PayPal :
Hello, I’m Sarah and I’m here to answer your questions about PayPal. Even though I’d like to be a real person, I’m not. I’m programmed to answer your questions. How can I help you?

I have a sneaky feeling that "Sarah" may not have all the answers to your questions. At least before Bouchercon is over...

Maybe Sarah is just having an off day. There sure have been times when "I’d like to be a real person" but wasn't.

I've never been afraid that my PayPal account would be "stolen" or compromised in any way. I sure can't say the same about some Internet transactions I've made.

February 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Patti, I have heard of customers having problems with PayPal. I suppose I might have raised the matter with PayPal if only they had given me a way to talk with a real person.

February 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, "Sarah" is the automatic question-answering program to which I referred earlier. It could not answer my question, which was no surprise because it was fairly complex. And, since PayPal will not let me talk to a real person, I won't be joining PayPal.

February 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Patti, I forgot to add that not all customers have had problems with PayPal. But their insulating themselves from potential customers gives me little confidence that it would be easy to get in touch them for any problems that would arise.

February 18, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

I suppose it's one of those services that is bound to have as many angry as satisfied users. When I had a problem, I got a person on the phone right away (native English speaker; I think their call center is in Nebraska). Problem resolved before I went back online.

I believe vendors have more complaints about PayPal than buyers with perhaps the exception of eBay'ers who pay via PayPal. I might not recommend a person-to-person sales transaction via PayPal; there are too many deadbeat vendors and buyers. But it has worked quickly and smoothly for me buying cosmetics from Hong Kong, books and magazines from Italy, books from amazon.com's European affiliates, etc.--foreign vendors that won't accept personal checks and I avoid that "foreign transaction fee" (one of "things that drives me nuts") -- as if any cash or coin was exchanging hands in these online transactions!

Patti's problem re not being able to access money in her account is, I believe, one of the biggest gripes about PayPal. They make _their_ dough through the interest on that money. The best way to access that money is just to make a purchase using PayPal, paying for it using some or all of the balance. They ain't ever gonna want to give it back to you in the form of cash!

Peter, you could join, ask your questions, give 'em hell, and then close your account if you don't like their responses. You don't have to have any money in an account to use it. I never keep extra money there; although some people apparently do, using it as a kind of auxiliary checking account.

February 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, I approached this with an open mind and some questions, among them a few about foreign currency. It concerns me that PayPal won't let customers at their money, quite apart from any criminal and moral liability on PayPal's part. One of my reasons for inquiring about PayPal was that I might be doing some work for overseas vendors. What good would it do for them to pay me through PayPal if I can't get my cash? (And what does it say about PayPal that I have to rely on customers for information that the company refuses to make accessible?)

Even if PayPal turned around, apologized, and rectified its shocking customer service in this matter, how do I know it won't similarly shut itself off from questions in the future? PayPal may be good for some people, say those who make lots of purchases and sales online. But it does not appear to be suitable for what I want. So, thanks to you and Patti, no thanks to PayPal.

February 18, 2010  
Anonymous John H said...

PayPal is an online thing entirely. They really don't have many people to answer questions and don't encourage them anyway. Kinda like ING Bank for lack of a better example. If you want cash you need to give them a bank account to transfer the money to. They don't issue checks so if you want the cash you are out of luck without a bank account. Otherwise the money will just sit in your PalPay account until you spend it online for something. You aren't a customer so you can't contact them by phone because those 4 digits won't mean anything to them even if you had called. PayPal is extremely cheap to use at the expense of a friendly person to help out. I've used them for years and have no complaints.

February 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, John. Having the money transferred to an account could work, if I weren't worried about giving out account information.

I thank you for the information just as I thanked Elisabeth. You both answered questions I'd have asked had I been able to use the number the PayPal site falsely claimed was available to nonmembers.

February 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I forgot to mention that shortly after I put up this post, I received an e-mail from PayPal offering me a ten-dollar discount on the next transaction with my PayPal account -- the non0existent account that I never opened because PayPal refused to give me a place to ask questions about opening a PayPal account.

February 28, 2012  

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