PainPal - a running nightmare

As some regs will know, I'm a bit of a valve-amp nut. So is my mate in California. I'm always bidding for obscure valve amp bargains and, even more often, the Mullard, Brimar, Telefunken valves/tubes that used to go in them before they all disappeared and were replaced by (not as good) Russian, Chinese etc makes. I send quite a few of them onto my mate in CA, and he pays me back for the money I spent via Paypal. Now, read my horror story...

A few months back, I started getting emails from Painpal that, as part of their anti-money laundering procedure (no, seriously), I need to check in with them. PArt of this procedure is to click on a button so that Paypal can ring my home 'phone to confirm I'm a real person. I tried this several times but always got an error message. Then I started getting emails from them saying they would restrict my account. So I tried that "phone home" button again, but with the same error.

The only restriction was that I couldn't close my account; I could still make payments and draw money back into my bank so I wasn't too fussed; just carried on periodically clicking the button and getting an error message. Then, my Impact 60 was sold to a guy in Texas who paid by Painpal and a world of shi'ite poured on me. They locked my account solid (I just managed to arrange the amp's shipment in time) and still I was getting the error message.

I 'phoned Cust Servs (itself a nightmare to wade through) and got some bloke who told me that there was no error and my home 'phone was verified (haha, more later). Now I needed to set up a direct debit mandate for my bank account and have my cards re-verified. But I don't want to pay Paypal by direct debit. Well, you can always cancel it later but we need to check all your details. How long will this take? About a week. Meantime, all my winning bids start coming in and I'm having to ask these sellers if they'll take a cheque (one guy in Ireland I had to send Euro notes in cash to) and generally looking like either a non-paying timewaster or shady drug dealer.

A week later, the DD mandate came through but for my Instant Saver; an account that doesn't handle direct debits. So I set up another one for my current account (another week). The re-authorisation for my card wasn't done for my debit card (online viewing) but for my credit card (monthly statement) so I had to 'phone Mastercard up to get the verification code (they get a lot of these calls from Painpal sufferers, they told me). So, after about a fortnight of frozen account, everything's done. Except I've still got to have an automated 'phone call from Paypal. The one that keeps giving me the error messages. The one that Cust Serv told me I should ignore because it's working.

So, I 'phoned Cust Servs again (a very nice, Irish girl called Marie. I wish I'd got a bloke I could shout and be rude at). Nope, I definitely need that 'phone call to confirm I exist and I live here. Well, it's not working and I'm talking to Paypal Cust Servs so, I reason, can't you click a button to say I exist and let me get at my money? No.

The only thing they can do is send me a letter in the next NINE WORKING DAYS which will have a re-activation code. And I'd won an amp, thinking my frozen nightmare was over. The seller is a very reasonable chap but he doesn't want a cheque, he doesn't want some mate of mine paying on my behalf, he just wants me to pay him through PayPal. And I don't blame him, but I can't until this letter arrives.

Oh, and ebay (who own Paypal) have sent me a bill for the auction on the Impact 60 I sold to the Texan just before they froze me. I'd love to pay ebay (actually, that's a lie), but I can't until they unfreeze my account.

:roll: Sorry to bore you with my rant but that's off my chest now. Moral of the tale is that if you get any message from Painpal saying they need to recheck your details, screw their lousy website and ring Cust Servs straight away. Make them do the flaming work. And expect it to foul up anyway. Right, I'm off to gargle some hemlock now. If Fleeb/PayPal didn't have such a hegemony, I'd have kicked the rotten bunch out into touch several weeks ago.

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Just like brick and mortar banks, PayPal enjoy taking your money, but when it comes to getting the money back -- or god forbid customer service -- they treat you like shit on a stick.

You should have rang them when you were getting the error originally (heh it's okay for me to say that now after they have alredy f'ed you around :)) It's a right pain in the ass that you shouldn't have to deal with, but maybe they could have got their asses into gear and sorted you out.

Lessons learned I guess. Anytime I encounter these sorts of probs I'm usually on the phone with them (not PayPal, other companies). I know they work slow, so if i get in straight away, I might not have to wait 65 business days.

You have to admit though, Ebay and Paypal, when its working, is a wonderful thing, i dread having to send or recieve cheques, the thing i don't like about paypal is, you pay to receive the money, then if you dont take out enough, you pay to take it out. Then of course you pay for postage, and you pay ebay fees to sell, and you pay the import tax, the VAT, you pay customs handling charge, did i miss anyone out??

Oh I agree, it is wonderful thing. You only have to see half the crap lying around to know eBay has been great to me.

Mustard mitt, I clicked this stupid button and couldn't be arsed when it wasn't working. So what if I'm prevented from closing my account? It was when they froze me that life became hard. The point is, though; if their autobot doesn't work, why can't the custard override it and confirm I'm a real person? Nice Marie said her lot were having a "team meeting" soon and she'll raise my point. I blimmin' hope so.

The Fleeb/paypal merger was (from their POV) one of the most perfect business decisions ever. Having to do cheques every time I win an auction is an absolute PITA. As a seller, though, it does irk a bit that Fleeb takes about 3% and PP takes about 4%. Quite a chunk on a nice, £500 amp for instance.

Gotta be the second most lucrative-do-nothing business after Ticketek.

But seriously your right, they should have better methods of verifying their customers.

Also... i know the ebay fees seem extortionate but, if you carted your goods to your local auction house, how much is the fee for a sale? 15%? and then you only get 2 men and a dog bidding, and the auctioneer won't put it in the sale if he thinks you are over valuing it.
The Big problem with ebay is they have the monopoly and until we get a real online auction contender, we will always get bad customer service.

For a seriously good piece, like a '59 LP or something, I'd go for a "proper" auction. Even though, as you rightly say, a house will take a cut that dwarfs Fleepal. I can never understand why sellers nor bidders entrust a $100,000+ item to such a hairy setup.

Update: still no sign of my letter that frees up my account. Bah.

one month and one week on; still frozen. No sign of the letter (eighteen days after supposedly posting from the USA). If the letter's lost, I'm back to square one. At least my seller has agreed to a cheque and doesn't blame me, but I still can't get at the money I made from a sale. Getting ever so slightly PO'd now :evil:

Just wanted to make sure you were aware of this site 1B

I use it to buy things but this has scared me away from selling thru them
or more to your side of the pond

Today I sent the cheque to the seller. Of course, my Painpal unlocking code arrived later today in the post. I'm happy the seller is legit so I've done the PP and asked him to tear up the cheque. Nightmare. I was vaguely aware of that site, myfoot, but I had a read through from your link. Getting frozen up seems to be a regular occurence for people by the looks.

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