Tuesday, December 28, 2010

PayPal, Part 3

This morning (why is it always first thing in the morning, before my first infusion of French Roast courage?!), I had an email from PayPal, saying my account had been "limited," and that I needed to change my password and security questions.

Well, okay.  I figured this had followed from the previous week's misadventures in electronic funds transfer.  During that crisis, I had changed my security settings with no prompting from the company.  They, in fact, seemed rather surprised that I had done this on my own, without them having to tell me to do it (or how to do it).

But it had been roughly a week, and since they were coming back to me with this little heads-up, I decided to cooperate and change the password and questions again.  Having recently learned some valuable techniques for creating really hard-to-crack passwords, I figured this would be sort of fun.

I was still hoping to hear something about the origin of last week's inconveniences.

I went onto the site, the safe way of course, and was immediately taken to the "Reset Password" page.  I cooked up a really obscure, exotic, yet easy to remember password, and some equally convoluted security questions and answers.

Hit the "submit changes" button.

Only to be told that the "link" (what link, I went straight into the site by typing the URL?) had "expired" because I had spent too much time on there.  I needed to (please) login and try again.

Well, okay.  What the hell.  Just to be safe, I wrote down the password and questions (all slightly altered from the ones I'd put in a minute before -- just in case) then went back in and, typing very quickly, keyed the new information.  My average typing speed is about 70wpm, so there was no hunting, pecking, or dawdling.

What did I get for my speedy compliance?  You guessed it.  The same rejection on the basis of a "timed-out link."

And of course it was time to get off the computer and into the shower and off to work.

So I spent my half-hour lunch on the cell phone, dealing with their lovely "customer service" division.

I'm suspecting that Meg Whitman siphoned off as much money from PayPal as possible to fund her recent political campaign, explaining why their operations are so maddeningly chintzy.

They have built a system that appears fiendishly designed to maximize frustration and annoyance.  It combines the following sure-to-win ingredients:

  1. Speech-recognition.  Oh, great.   At least they give an option to key in sensitive information so you don't have to yell out your bank account number while your co-workers are trying to converse with their customers.  But beyond that, you're listening to their wretchedly inadequate menu, knowing the "talk to a representative" option is the last possible thing they'll offer.  And then THEY have to agree to it.  
  2. A "front line" in the form of  very young untrained individuals who talk like they're auditioning for Alvin & the Chipmunks.  You are forced to tell them your entire problem, and all you get for your pains is "Oh -- you have a security issue?  Then you need to speak to a special agent."
  3. Long hold times with no updates.  I mean none.  Even the auto club interrupts the cheesy music now and then to apologize and assure you (with all insincerity) that your call is very important to them.  Not this bunch.  As described earlier, they tell you it will be more than 15 minutes, and they fill that time with patronizing pre-recorded blurbs about how their website is really all you need to solve any possible problem that life or hackers can throw at you.
  4. Horrible distortion and static in between these useless messages.
This is the same routine I had to go through last time.  Unfortunately, last time it was 4:45 in the afternoon, with no one else around, and plenty of busy-work to do.  This time, I had to scarf down my lunch, fully anticipating that the "special agent" would come on the line as I was trying to swallow and unable to talk, and that s/he would assume I'd given up, and disconnect the call.  

Fortunately (or not, as the case may be), this never came about, because my lunch time was up and I really had to get back to the important year-end work that all of us in the trenches are weeping and moaning and gnashing our teeth over.  

I thought I might get a chance to pick up the phone and talk to PayPal again in the afternoon or evening.

But as the hours wore on, I began seriously questioning whether it was really worth the trouble.

I have more than one bank account, and can easily set up a separate PayPal account if need be.  I can close this one and walk away -- there's no money in there at present, so it wouldn't affect me one way or the other.

PayPal doesn't deserve me or my new, high-concept passwords.



Al Penwasser said...

I really, really don't trust PayPal and, given your experience, I feel that my distrust is merited. Ditto with EBay. I almost sent a Playstation away after being told I was paid. When I checked with my bank, they had no knowledge of any payment. Luckily, I was able to get to FedEx before my package was picked up for the afternoon and shipped to-you guessed it!-an address in Nigeria! Even though I felt like an idiot for falling for that ruse, at least I didn't lose my equipment. So, basically (insert "old guy" accent here), them new-fangled electronic financial gizmos can go scratch, b'gum (NOTE: does ANYone ever say "b'gum" anymore?) .

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I suspect that "customer service" of this ilk is responsible for the increased prevalence of head-desking episodes. How frustrating!

Kay Dennison said...

This nags at me because I've had such a good experience with PayPal. Thanks for the heads up!!!