PayPal are Jerks

It’s no secret that PayPal is a favorite target of hatred among web-centric companies, for many reasons, but basically boiling down to customer-unfriendly policies, poor customer service, and abuse of a more-or-less monopoly. PayPal has competitors these days — Google and Amazon most notably. But because PayPal is owned by eBay, and eBay has a commanding marketshare in the online auction market, they can be dicks with almost complete impunity.

Everyone hates PayPal for something. Everyone. Except maybe the founder, the CEO, and the CEO’s mom. So I am not anything special in hating them and using them only grudgingly, and when I absolutely have to.

Over the life of my use of their service, I’ve been the buyer approximately 90% of the time. It’s relatively simple to send money to another PayPal user using PayPal. Bravo. Congratulations to them for figuring that out.

I understand the headaches are even worse when you’re the seller receiving funds at your PayPal account — or more to the point, extracting funds so you can put them into a real bank account. I’ve done a little selling on eBay, and for the most part the process has gotten better over the years, but it’s still almost too much work to list things when you consider the payoff that you get when you actually sell.

Since I recently started selling again, I basically had to connect a bank account to my PayPal account, so I could transfer funds back to myself and get my money. At this point, using my PayPal account to make payments has turned into an unpleasant experience.

Previously, when I’d used PayPal primarily to make payments, I used my credit card to provide the funding source. It was the only account connected to my PayPal account, and it was actually beneficial since using the PayPal account as a proxy for my credit card keeps the credit card number from being exposed to anyone but PayPal. So as a buyer, I kindof liked PayPal for that.

But now, with a bank account connected, PayPal’s strong preference is that I fund my PayPal purchases with funds from my bank account, because doing so avoids giving business to the credit card companies who they regard as competitors, and having to pay merchant fees to the credit card companies, so they basically force me to use my bank account to be the default payment method. Meanwhile, I vastly prefer to use the credit card, because I can never overdraw my credit card, and also because my credit card gives me reward points for spending money through my credit card.

So PayPal and I am at loggerheads. I want one thing, and they want another. And I’m not really a believer in “The customer is always right.” but I am a believer in “You should make your customers happy.” They… are not making me happy.

So… I can override their default setting, but only per transaction, not by setting my default account to the one I prefer. And it turns out, even when I’m really angry and determined to make sure that I always change the funding source, I still somehow manage to fail to do so very frequently. And even when I succeed, it’s several extra steps, which is an inconvenience and reinforces my tendency to feel angry about the whole thing. Try as I might, I couldn’t seem to order the payment source priority to my preferred order.

So I wrote to their help, asking them to help me arrange things thus. I got a response fairly quickly, in about an hour, which is pretty impressive, but it wasn’t a helpful answer. Basically they told me that I couldn’t do it, and that if I didn’t want the bank account to be my default payment source, I would have to remove the account. In other words, they don’t care what I want, it works the way they want it to work, and if I don’t like it I don’t have to do business with them. Or I can, but I can just not connect a bank account with my PayPal account, which makes it a one-way proposition and not very useful if I’m trying to receive money.

Well, that sucks.

So, what to do?

Well it occurs to me that I could solve the problem pretty effectively by holding TWO PayPal accounts.

One account, I’d use ONLY for spending money and receiving payments. That account would have my credit card attached to it, so that when I need to make a payment, the credit card comes into play, I get reward points, my credit card number is protected so that only PayPal sees it, and I’m happy.

The other account, I’d connect to my bank account, and use ONLY for receiving transfers from the first account, and then transferring again to my bank account.

I haven’t read the Terms of Service yet, but I expect somewhere in there I’ll find some clause that prevents me from doing this, such as a rule allowing only one account per person, or something, but I expect that there’s still some way around it, such as setting up one account for a business, and another for me, or another business I create. Either way, it’s a lot of extra work, but if I really want to do it, I can.

So, that being the case, then, PayPal, why don’t you stop being jerks and allow me to fund my payments through your service as I prefer?

Updated: 2014-Aug-12 — 10:09 pm


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  1. Can we add this to this rant: No PayPal, I don’t ever want to use bill me later ever, please don’t ask again.


    1. Sure, we can add that. :)

      I actually did use Bill Me Later once, when I needed to fund my current laptop purchase. I paid the whole thing off before interest started accruing, and then closed the account, so it worked out OK. But there are definitely better deals out there as far as long-term credit payment.


  2. Epilogue: Well, it looks like they allow multiple PayPal accounts to be held by a single person. I mean, I didn’t read through their ToS to find out if they did or didn’t say anything about it. But I just signed up for a second account, and used my same name, address, etc. and it took all that info without complaint. So, looks like I can set this up and work around their bad policy. Good. Stupid, but good.


  3. Chris,

    I agree, I try as hard as possible to not use paypal for anything. After being burnt as a seller a couple times by them I went on a search for an alternative form of receiving payments. From full blown merchant accounts to other processors. What I have found to work the best is 2 check out. Their fees are the same as paypal and the best part of it is they accept paypal along with all the major credit cards and debit cards as form of payment. That way you can use your paypal account to make payments and the 2 check out to receive payments without the hassle.


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