Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Total PayPal Fail

I've used Paypal for years. I really like the browser plugin - even though it slows down parsing of large pages. I use the service for allot of recurring charges - like those to my web hosting service and domain registrar etc.

Recently for no apparent reason charges to my Paypal account started to fail. Vendors reported that charges were being "declined" but logging in to my account not only did not show declined charges - it didn't show any activity at all. I was mystified.

Then as I was online and purchasing some crap I totally did not need - I decided to use Paypal and see what would happen. Standard web vendor that redirects you to Paypal so you can log in and authorize the payment. I did and was presented immediately with a form to update the expiration date on my registered credit card.

Aha! Here was the issue. Misery solved! My bank had issued me a new card some months back in an effort to combat fraud. I had forgotten to update my account with the new info. Makes total sense - except:
  1. I have never used the credit card as a source of funding for paypal purchases. It's only in the account because they require it for some features. Why should this stop recurring charges?
  2. I was never notified in any way by Paypal that I needed to update the info. Never an email and there was never a notice or even a recorded declined charge in my account when I logged in trying to investigate.
  3. The form that Paypal presents when you attempt a charge will only allow you to update the card's expiration date and ccv number. Not edit or change the account. I had to cancel the transaction and log into Paypal separately to complete that.
Why am I blogging this? Because there is only one way to discover the problem and even though I have used this service for years - I almost stopped because of it. I'm sure others have fallen into this and stopped using Paypal because of it. Also because when I attempted to send feedback to Paypal about the problem - they have NO FEEDBACK mechanism on their site. I eventually resorted to sending in a "question" to their help system. It made me classify the problem and did it's best to send me back to their FAQ. I persisted and discovered that I had a limited number of characters to describe the issue. I wrote a terse and hopefully understandible description and sent it off to the powers that be.

I haven't heard back yet. If the response (assuming one is forthcoming) is useful, or humorous or otherwise interesting I'll add it here... Hope this sheds some light in this dark hole for someone else.

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