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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2017 June 15

Venmo and Paypal don’t mix

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:10
Tags: ,

I read stuff on Paypal’s web pages that implied that having a Paypal account was enough to be able to accept Venmo payments (perhaps this page?). It turns out that is not true—I misunderstood their claims.

I allowed one of my students to pay for his t-shirt by Venmo, but when I tried to accept the payment (after he had left with the shirt), Venmo set up a new account for me, but insisted on having a phone number. It then wanted to verify the account by texting to that phone number, but I don’t have a phone with text message capability (I use a landline only, no cellphone). Unfortunately, there was no way to undo the partial acceptance of the transaction—I could not login to my Venmo account without the code that they text-messaged to my landline.

I contacted the Venmo support by email, and they were not very helpful. All they could offer was giving the money back to the student and cancelling my account. And they told me that there is no way to transfer money from my Venmo account to my Paypal account anyway.

Sorry, but the “easy-to-use” Venmo system turns out to be unusable by me, and I won’t touch it again. In future, I’ll accept cash, check, or Paypal for transactions, but never Venmo.

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