January 27, 2013

PayPal Or PayPain?

Many Internet users have experienced it. You want to purchase something, donate money to a charity or fundraiser, register for a conference, or simply transfer your PayPal funds to your bank account, and PayPal is the method you choose. Why not? You have money in there. And then you receive the dreaded notice; your PayPal account has been frozen in order to prevent fraud.

Fraud? You think to yourself you are not fraudulent, so a simple call will resolve the issue. Nope. PayPal has a notoriously convoluted process for unfreezing an account, whether you are trying to pay or trying to transfer money, although the latter is certainly more stringent and trying. PayPal account users have complained for years privately to PayPal and very publically on the Internet through blogs and forum. Well, apparently 2013 is the year that PayPal is going to do something about this frustrating and upsetting situation.

How does PayPal’s current policy work? According to an article on CNN, if a company poses an alleged fraud risk, PayPal routinely freezes funds for 21 days and can extend that to 180 days. Beyond that, account holders must provide documentation and other proof to unfreeze their accounts. Oh, and the online company demands these already frustrated customers mail the documents.

The effort is meant to prevent fraudulent transfers of funds by money laundering, racketeering, and other ill-gotten means. However, the outcome has actually affected charities, businesses, fundraisers, and payers more than protected them. And users do not like it.

The eBay-owned company is rolling out quite a change in policy concerning its financial system’s fraud protection. As the CNN article notes, Anuj Nayar, PayPal’s senior director of communications states, “This [changes in policy] is a fundamental shift in our business operations.” The company plans to really focus on transparency with its customers who run into the frozen funds situation. It wants to make sure that account holders know exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.

Nayar did not go into specifics about the overhaul because he could not just yet, but he did say that in addition to transparency, the company needs to improve how it helps people, as well as getting better at explaining why certain actions are being taken. Most consumers just want to understand what is happening and why it is happening. Communication is key in all relationships, whether personal, professional, or business. If PayPal does improve its communication and help, then that is one step closer to a stronger company.

The article outlined several instances where the current policy seriously affected a company, charity, or fundraiser. In the name of fraud protection, PayPal hurt some of its good and honest account holders. Brook Drumm, who started an online store to sell 3D printers, struggled for months to receive his profits because PayPal froze his account due to Drumm’s success. He ended up receiving all of the money from his account; however, several months, headaches, and stress compounded the frustration that Drumm felt.

Jay Lake, a published sci-fi writer, started a fundraiser to raise money for an experimental genome-sequencing process in order to fight his advanced colon cancer. Can you guess what happened? Yep, PayPal froze his funds. Through Lake’s efforts and fame, he was able to get his account restored that same day, but what about the rest of account users?

Based on just these examples alone, PayPal’s revision and rethinking is long overdue. Of course, we do not know what the policy changes are as of yet, but some change must be better than what they have now. A company that considers its customers is a company worth sticking with. Whether it is the competition from WePay, Square, Stripe, and Google Wallet, or the continual complaints from customers that inspired PayPal’s 2013 overhaul, all customers should look forward to the changes.

Image Credit: Bruce Rolff / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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