I woke up to a disconcerting letter from Paypal today. After being a customer for years without incident, suddenly I am classified as a high risk account, and they will hold all payment for put to 21 days. The only incident I ever had resulted from a buyer giving me the wrong address, and then opening a claim with no communication when his item did not arrive. It was resolved when the Post Office delivered the package back to me, and I sent it to him again, at my cost. 100% the fault of the other party, and I resolved it to the buyer’s satisfaction. That was years ago.
Now, I get this email. No explanation, just notice:
“Hello Scott Link,
We’re writing to let you know about a change to your PayPal account.
Starting 12/2/2011, money from payments you receive will be placed in a pending balance for up to 21 days. By doing this, we’re making sure that there’s enough money in your account to cover potential refunds or claims.
Why are my payments being held?
We reviewed your account and determined that there’s a relatively higher than average risk of future transaction issues (such as claims, or chargebacks, or payment reversals). We understand that it may be inconvenient to have your payments temporarily held but please know that we didn’t make this decision lightly.
Before deciding to hold payments, we consider many factors. These factors include account and transaction activity, the rate of customer disputes, the type of business a seller runs, average delivery timeframes, customer satisfaction, performance and history.”
So, I dug through the Paypal website and found an email address. I sent a message:
Hello, after years of loyalty, with only one incident years ago which ultimately was resolved in my favor, I got an email today saying my account has been changed so that all future payments I receive will be placed in pending balance for up to 21 days.
Why does my account have a higher than average risk of future issues, when there have been no issues on my part in the past? You said you didn’t “make this decision lightly’ in the email, I’d like a detailed explanation as to why you did make this decision.
I know that modern western civilization doesn’t value honesty and integrity very much anymore, but I do. And I take offense at your actions. It is just shy of calling my a thief, with absolutely no reason. In fact, my history shows that I have been nothing but above board.
I’ve been a loyal customer for years. I deserve to know why this has happened.
I received an immediate form letter:
“Dear Scott Link,
Thank you for your email. Customers who contact us using this form tend
to have questions around money being held from an eBay sale. In order
to provide you with assistance as quickly as possible, I have included
some basic information that may help you.”
The form letter goes on to describe multiple situation where this could happen, none of which apply to me.
I went and checked my seller rating with eBay. My performance is Standard. My policy compliance is High. My ratings range from 4.8 to 5.0. I have 100% positive feedback. And have had it since 1997.
Paypal is one of the few online businesses that has a fairly easily located phone number. So I called them. The first person I talked to confirmed that confirmed that this really isn’t about high risk accounts, but is about the number of transactions I execute. I asked to speak to his supervisor, who also said the only reason I am labelled “high risk” is because I do not sell a lot of stuff.
I asked her to pass on my feedback. I take my integrity seriously. I do not like being classified as higher risk when my actual account history shows I am very low risk. I suggested they reword their nasty-gram email to reflect the real reason they have decided to hold my payments: I don’t do enough transactions that generate enough fees for them to take any risk at all. I understand their business decision. I don’t like it but I can understand it.
But Paypal really needs to do better PR. Both the email and the form letter response left me feeling like a person of suspicion. I’m no theif, and Paypal has no reason to think I am. They really shouldn’t imply it in their emails.
Update: I got an email reply from a real person, who basically said what the other customer reps on the phone did. I replied to him with the same thing I told them. Then I got a survey from Paypal about the whole matter. I took the time to share my honest opinion with them.