Gas station without pumps

2018 October 2

PayPal has terrible customer service

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:27
Tags: ,

I had to contact PayPal’s customer service for the first time today, and I was appalled at how bad it was.

The task was a simple one: I wanted to remove the Wells Fargo account I had just closed from the PayPal account.  PayPal provides a simple web service for doing this (go to your wallet, click on the bank listing, then click on delete).

Unfortunately, the web interface didn’t work, claiming that I could not delete the bank, because of a pending transaction.  But I had no pending transactions.  I tried a few times, but always got the same error message.

One of their help systems is a FAQ system, which pointed me to the procedure I had already used and that had already failed. I tried it again anyway, making sure I followed the instructions exactly.

The next system I tried was their live chat interface.  I reported the problem there, and “Derrick” confirmed that I had no pending transactions, but he did not have the ability to remove the bank from my account and directed me to their phone system: “I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused however if you give us a call at 888-221-1161 a phone agent can have the bank removed for you since the website is giving you a hard time.”

So I called the phone system, which has a very sophisticated voice-response system designed to prevent you from talking to a human being.  After several minutes of it reading to me the instructions for using the web interface that had already failed for me, I finally managed to get back to the main menu and ask for a customer representative.

I was put on a loud hold, then offered the opportunity of getting a callback without losing my place in line.  The estimated time for the callback was 2.5 to 3.5 hours, and I certainly wasn’t going to wait on obnoxious hold for that long, so I accepted the callback offer.

As it turned out, the callback was 4 hours later, well past their estimate.  When they called me back, they immediately put me on a loud hold again (not a very polite thing to do on a callback!).  The hold was only a couple of minutes, but this gave me plenty of time to login to PayPal again and confirm that deleting the bank account was still not possible with their web interface.

When the customer service representative finally came on the line and understood what I wanted, she needed to confirm my identity (a reasonable precaution).  Unfortunately, the only method she knew was to send me a text, and I had to explain three times that I did not have a cellphone and so could not receive text messages.

I know, it is very hard for a young person to believe that there are people without cellphones, when 95% of Americans have cellphones and 77% have smart phones.  For people with my characteristics (gender, age, education, income) the fraction is more like 98% with cell phones. [http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/]  I’m not exactly a Luddite, but I am a late adopter of many forms of technology.  (I was an early adopter of pocket calculators and personal computers, but most other electronic gadgets have not attracted me.)

Since the customer service representative had never dealt with someone who had no cellphone, she had to talk with her manager—at least this time the hold was mercifully silent.  When she came back on the line, she asked me the same sort of security questions that the website usually uses.

After confirming my identity, she had no trouble deleting the Wells Fargo account from my PayPal account, though there is still no explanation why the delete button kept giving me the bogus “pending transaction” error.

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2013 July 10

Don’t buy clocks from CafePress

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:51
Tags: , , ,
The clock we selected.

The clock we selected. Image copied from CafePress web page for the clock.

My wife wanted a new analog clock for the kitchen—one with a metal rim and a glass face, not plastic. After some on-line shopping I found one that met all her criteria and that she liked the looks of, so I ordered it for her birthday.

When it came, it looked fine, and really did have a metal rim and a glass face (though the metal was a little thin and is likely to dent easily). Unfortunately, the clock did not run—neither with the provided AA battery nor with any of the AA batteries we had around the house.

I sent a message to CafePress customer service, and within a day I got the very polite reply:

Thank you for contacting CafePress! I am more than happy to help.  I am sorry to hear your clock didn’t work. I went ahead and sent you a replacement at no additional charge to you. Please don’t worry about sending the other clock back, I don’t want you to incur extra shipping charges so just throw it away. Your new order number is ******** and your estimated arrival date is July 15th.

If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know.

That struck me as good customer service, and I looked forward to getting a replacement clock.  Nine days later, the new clock arrived.  I put the provided battery in it, and it ran—for half an hour.

This time, I went out and bought brand new AA Alkaline batteries, so I could be sure that the problem was not just dead batteries.  I put in a new AA battery and the clock ran—for an hour.

So now I have two very pretty, but completely useless clocks from CafePress.

I tried diassembling one of the clocks and replacing the clock motor with one from the old kitchen clock (which, though ugly, as worked well for years).  Unfortunately, clock motors are not quite standardized, and the shafts on the old clock motor are a tiny bit smaller than on the CafePress clocks, so the hands of the new clock won’t fit—they just droop down to the 6 o’clock position.

I’ll contact CafePress again, to let them know that the second clock also failed.  I don’t want them to keep sending me broken clocks every 2 weeks, though.  I just want them to know that the ultra cheap clock motors that they bought were  really bad deal, and they should immediately discontinue working with that vendor and find some clock motors that work.  They may have to eat a lot of inventory, but that would be better than having bloggers with more audience than me telling everyone not to buy their non-functional products.

If they would just send me a new clock motor (that has been tested and verified to run for more than an hour, not yet another broken one), I’d be glad to fix the clock.  If they have an estimate of the failure rate (which is looking like higher than 50% from my small sample), they could send me a dozen, or however many it takes to get a good one, and I could test them to find one that is good.

I’ll update this post in a couple of weeks, after the next go-round with CafePress customer service.

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