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20 April 2008

Paypal's contender for most irritating and misleading information on the Internet

If you have a Paypal account linked to a bank account (i.e. so that you can withdraw money) then you are greeted with this abomination every time you attempt to pay by a credit card:

It's the default option to pay by bank account and you can't change it. However, I wonder if enough people wrote to and asked them to change this spurious policy they might change their mind. When I want to spend my money, I'd like the option of specifying which account is debited by default, especially if I ever pay by mobile phone the contortions you have to go to to change the payment method from the default are a major pain. As someone with a bit of e-commerce experience (E-commerce lead for Scotland's tourism portal and Project Manager for grocery) I'd like to think that the laughable reasons Paypal gives could do with a bit of comment.

Paypal's text:
Before deciding to fund your payment with a debit or credit card, consider the benefits of paying with your bank account.

Paying with your bank account is instant and your payment will be completed immediately, as easy as paying with cash

My response: Indeed, however since paying with cash isn't an online option this is rather a bogus comparison, no? Paying with a credit or debit card of course is also instant as paypal gets an authorisation code when I pay with a credit or debit card, therefore the vendor can dispatch the goods immediately. No different to paying with a debit or credit card in a shop, as opposed to handing over my banking details there. Furthermore, if I could pay with cash online it wouldn't be as easy because then I wouldn't benefit from any Paypal or credit card protection would I?

Paypal statement:

Paypal keeps your bank account information safe and secure through military-grade encryption and 100% coverage of any unauthorised use.

My response: I hope you're not implying that my other info, such as my card details, isn't held to the same exacting standards? Which military-grade encryption would that happen to be by the way, Ancient Roman Army encryption of letter transposition or 256 bit AES? 100% coverage of any unauthorised use eh, you mean just like all the credit cards I have?

Paypal statemet:

Easy - use the same bank account for making payments and withdrawals

My response: This isn't easy at all. I want to make withdrawals to my bank account so that I can spend the money. I want to make payments from a credit card so not only do I benefit from up to 7 weeks interest free credit and have a few weeks notice of any fraud hitting my actual bank account when the payment is due, I also don't want to use my business bank account for payments because being a business bank account it is charged per transaction fees whereas my credit card is not. So, using the same account for payments and withdrawals isn't easy at all, in fact you trying to make me use the same account for both is a major pain in the arse.

Let me now redo the screen to say what Paypal is probably wanting to write

Dear Customer, please pay using direct payment because it costs us less in fees.

Which does strike me as rather odd, especially since I can go onto numerous websites and legally download MP3s for as little as 79p. Clearly these sites not only have to cover the artists' licensing costs and their own profits but also any credit card processing charges which let's face it must be pretty minuscule. Indeed, companies such as Protx offer flat rate transactions of 10p for high volume users and the kind reader is referred to realbusiness or even an article I wrote for further info on credit card charges and the options available.

So come on Paypal, come clean with customers and give us some choice instead of bogus excuses please. After all, it's our money.


p.s. I wonder if Paypal presents the same bogus arguments when you try to pay with one of their own branded credit cards?

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