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Paypal - Biting the hand that feeds it!

Posted by Phil Scott on

To set the scene; it's a normal Thursday morning, We've received confirmation that our container has left from overseas, we've taken the preliminary steps to begin selling into more Marketplaces and have also decided to prioritise our social media channels. All in all, as Thursdays go, there's a lot to feel positive about. 

I open up the eBay account and am met with the message:
"Hi, Could you please let me know how to pay, as it says you accept Paypal, but when I have tried to pay it would not let me". 

Now, given we are a Top Rated Seller with over 3000 feedback, 100% positive (OK, I'll stop blowing our trumpet there), it's odd that this would be the case. My next step is to log in to Paypal, only to be met with a warning to suggest that our account has been limited.
For non-Paypal users, this effectively means the account is useless until you can get the limitation removed. A few more clicks down the line and I soon find that this limitation cannot be appealed. What this means in the simplest terms, is that our Paypal account is no more, and our eBay account (the most prominent factor in our growth to date) will be worthless in a few months time.

As you can imagine panic set in, and of course rage. And what is the first thing that we all want to do when this happens?
That's right, get on the phone and vent, which is precisely what I did. At this point my anger levels are around 80%. This wasn't like the time when my 3 year old decided to prove how grown up he was by dropping his pants in the garden, squatting and 'going toilet' on the grass. No, there was not one iota of humour that could have lightened my mood on this occasion.

So to briefly summarise the phone call:-

Me: Hi, I've notice that you have limited our account, and that this cannot be appealed.
Paypal rep: Yes Mr Scott, That's correct
Me: Could you advise why?
Paypal rep: I can't I'm afraid. If we tell you it may allow you to circumvent our policies in future.
Me: Could you at least give me an inkling as we are a Top Rated Seller with over 3000 feedback, 100% positive? It just seems a little odd
Paypal rep: Again Mr Scott, I cannot advise. All I can say is that the account is limited and can't be appealed.
Me: And the funds that are currently held in the account? When can I withdraw these? (£2672.00 to be precise)
Paypal rep: Funds will be retained for a period of 180 days.
Me: So basically, you are limiting my account for a reason you will or cannot provide. You will not allow me to appeal this in any way and you are keeping over £2500 of our money on completed transactions for up to six months?
Paypal rep: (some jibberish answer which amounted to Yes)
Me: Can you please put me through to someone of higher authority who has the option to overturn this?
Paypal rep: I am the highest point of contact for this call

So you have the gist of one of the conversations I had. On another they actually hung up due to my persistent request for answers.
Needless to say, through phone support I was getting nowhere. I felt we had been unfairly limited and it seemed like there was no future for one of our biggest selling marketplaces in eBay. Contingency plans were put into action and my biggest concern now was the fact that Paypal would be retaining money from transactions that had been honourably fulfilled in accordance with our usual high level customer service. My thoughts were that this couldn't be legal, so after a bit of research and numerous opinions from hundreds of disgruntled ex-customers of Paypal, I finally found a letter template which I thought I'd send on the off-chance we'd receive our funds sooner.

Click here to view to letter 

Within the space of a few hours the following message was received. 

We have completed our review, and as you have completed all the required steps, we have restored your account.
We would also like to thank you for your patience and cooperation during this process.

Yours sincerely,

PayPal 

Whether the letter had any affect I don't know. Perhaps they just saw us as an inconvenience that just wouldn't go away. Maybe they thought the cost of small claims court was far too high for the balance of ours that they were holding. Either away, the account was restored and normality resumed.

So why the need to tell of our experience?
Well firstly, the stress incurred last week was almost unbearable. I'd imagine if it had been our sole selling channel, that things would have been exacerbated somewhat. If this helps just one person to re-instate their account then its worth it. Secondly, We have only ever acted responsibly whether using Paypal on eBay or our website, and always strived (in some cases breaking our back) to deliver exceptional customer service. To be penalised without reason for six years hard work is so demoralising and frustrating that it seems imperative to get the story off your chest. And finally, perhaps the biggest point. We pursued something we believed in. The odds weren't stacked in our favour. We kept pursuing it despite being told that there wasn't a chance the outcome we wanted would occur. We got a result.

The week won't live fondly in the memory, but has probably played a bigger part in building character and propinquity than any team building exercise could ever do.

Have you had similar experiences, with the company that keeps biting the hands that feed it?


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