I usually try to keep this blog upbeat and focused on my jewelry, but I had a really bad experience with PayPal a few weeks ago and feel the need to share it.
PayPal basically acts as a "piggy bank" for funds; customers pay you through the site and you can then transfer your funds to the bank. However, you can also use it as a monetary source. For instance, when I took those glass classes last year, Brooklyn Glass only accepted PayPal, so I simply sent the funds from my reserve.
For the most part, I hadn't had any difficulties with PP, but trouble began a couple of months ago. I received several "invoices" from a stranger requesting that I send him money. The requests were ignored and deleted. I called PayPal and they simply advised me to change my password and security settings, which I had already done.
Next, someone hacked into my page and used my PP for $3 worth of online games. I am not a gamer, so this was definitely not me. I again changed my password and security, and called PP. They said they'd "look into it," but their "investigation" concluded that I was the one responsible for purchasing the games (I wasn't, I swear!). I kind of laughed it off -- I mean, it was $3 -- but their refusal to truly investigate annoyed me.
Well, in October, on our way up to Maine, where we were seeing family, I received an email saying that my PP funds had successfully been transferred to my bank account. Um... what? I hadn't transferred anything. Not yet, anyway.
Turns out, someone again hacked into my PayPal and listed a new bank account under MY name -- and took all of my remaining PP money. The bank used is legit, but it's a chain that my husband and I had never heard of, and is located in Alabama. Remember, we live in NY.
I called PayPal, hoping to straighten this out, but was on the phone for about an hour -- mostly on hold -- as I was shuffled from one department to another. Finally, I was put in contact with a representative from their fraud department. I explained the situation, but her conclusion was that because my name was on the account, it meant I'd made the transfer.
I kept trying to explain how we'd never heard of this bank, how the criminal obviously had the foresight to create an account with my name on it (and used his or her real name at the actual bank), how she should examine the IP address, call the bank, etc... but she refused to cooperate. Then she became angry with me when I got upset. She kept saying, "This is how we do it at PayPal, it's our policy." Shouldn't your policy be protecting your customers?
Frustrated, I hung up on her and called the bank to see if they could help me out. They confirmed that neither I or my husband have an account with them... but because I'm not a client, wouldn't send me a written letter stating that I'm not a member of the bank.
I'm not sure what actions I can take from here. In the end, it wasn't that much money. It was enough so that it stung, but I'm not going to go hungry or miss bill payments, or anything like that. I'm just disappointed in PayPal for not doing more to work with and protect their customers. One of their biggest boasts is that they're a "secure" site and obviously, they're not. Unfortunately, PayPal basically has a monopoly on online commerce. I know there are other programs out there like Google Wallet, etc., but Etsy uses PayPal as an option and many of my customers -- on and off Etsy -- prefer making their purchases through the site.
Part of this is my fault. I've learned that expensive lesson that money is definitely NOT secure sitting in a PP account and from now on, any sales that come through that site will immediately be sent to my bank. I should have done this from the beginning. Stupid me! Still, I wish PP would treat their customers with some more respect and really try to work with us on our problems rather than automatically assume we're in the wrong.
So if you use PayPal, let me be an example to you of what can go wrong. Do NOT keep funds in your account. Transfer them to your bank ASAP. Don't make the same mistake I did.