Posts from September 16th, 2011.

What is Yours is Mine Says PayPal

An article “Did Your PayPal-Funded eBay Purchase Disappear Into Thin Air?” and a Letter to the Editor at EcommerceBytes (formerly Auctionbytes) today, plus accompanying reader comments and advice tell me it is time to write about users legal rights when dealing with PayPal. Not just sellers, buyers have rights too!

The article details a known issue with PayPal eBay checkout, transactions vanish. eBay knows about it and has posted the issue to their developers board but does not consider it to be an issue buyers or sellers need to know about. I have made a screenshot, these things tend to disappear on eBay. Click image to enlarge.

The letter, from a seller, describes the normal customer service runaround when PayPal has a glitch. The overseas buyer had been refunded an amount unrelated to the transaction, by PayPal. PayPal’s solution was that the seller should

“[I was] told that #1 to contact the shipping service I used to have them track and stop the package and #2 to contact the buyer and ask here (sic) to pay back the money.”

Telephone complaints do not preserve your legal rights!Apart from the impossibility of recalling an international package from the US Mail there is nothing incredible (def.# 2) about the PayPal representative’s ’solution’. These customer service representatives are often very low paid workers in the Philippine Islands, Costa Rica or India who work from a script. Go off script at your own risk.

Some points to ponder:

  • When you as a seller refund a transaction it is not instant.
  • PayPal can take up to ten days to release the funds to a buyer
  • the money is sitting in their PayPal account, with a hold.
  • the buyer has to request the money be transferred back to their bank.


  • Telephone complaints do not preserve your legal rights!
  • Every single PayPal user gets large volumes of phishing email purporting to be from PayPal every day
  • Most of us ignore them

The squeaky wheel gets the grease

A step by step guide to making a complaint and preserving your legal rights. Links will open in a new tab or window.

  1. Download the relevant eBay invoices, put them on a CD so they are safe. You can print hard copy to enclose with your written complaints as needed.
  2. Go through the eBay or PayPal email complaint process. Print hard copy of every communication you send or receive. Keep it in a file, you will need it. You will find it helpful to make a dated index for your file, it is going to get full.
  3. If you decide to use the telephone ask the rep for identification, their name, location, employee number if they will give it to you. Note the number you called, date and time, takes notes of the conversation. Put it in your file.
  4. Complain in writing to eBay. You will need to send the complaint by certified mail to eBay Inc. 2145 Hamilton Ave., San Jose, CA 95125, with a return receipt. Keep your correspondence short, polite and to the point. Enclose copies of everything you have done so far. Make a copy of your letter for your file.
  5. Send a copy of your complaint to Complaint Assistance Unit, Division of Consumer Services,  California Department of Consumer Affairs, 400 R Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. They have a toll free telephone number (800) 952-5210.
  6. If you are really on a roll go to the California Attorney General’s website and fill out their complaint form.
  7. Notify the National Fraud Information Center
  8. On eBay check to see exactly how PayPal is licensed in your state, if your state even requires licensing. Print a copy. Next, send a copy of your complaint to the department in your State which regulates Money Transmitters. Here is a handy list of links by State, and another one from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network a Government institution which may or may not be of assistance.
  9. I would send a copy to your State Attorney General and the Consumer Protection department or Ombudsman if you have one. Give them PayPal’s license number.
  10. Finally, and this is important, the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints. The FTC collects complaints about companies and business practices. The FTC enters all complaints it receives into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database that is used by thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement authorities worldwide. These collected complaints can help detect patterns of wrong-doing, and lead to investigations and prosecutions.

You can do the Better Business Bureau complaint process if you really want. It is pretty much useless although it does get the complaint on record and eBay has to respond. Quite often the response is completely different from what you received through your initial email complaints. Expect this process to take a month or longer. Add copies of your complaint and responses to your file.

If you have followed all ten steps you will have poked a very large stick into an anthill. You may or may not get satisfaction on your complaint but you should get some satisfaction from knowing you have roiled (def.# 2,3) up a lot of ants.

Y’all come back!