Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Problem with PayPal? Four Steps To Sorting It Out

I set up a website for a client who didn't pay me, then forgot to remove the email address info@elitebusinesstobusiness from the PayPal account I set up for him so he can use it to receive money. When I phoned them to get this sorted out they refused to do anything about it, saying it's a matter between him and me.

The background

I set up Elite Business to Business as a networking website. That's why it has a forum. The idea was that there would be a two-tier membership system with members being rewarded for saving each other money, thereby guaranteeing that none of them would ever go bankrupt. The design and development went swimmingly until I started pushing for payment. When money failed to materialise, I started running checks on him to find out more about him, then discovered that he's basically a con man. I can't take him to court because each of the five home addresses he has given to the people I contacted is probably fake. The one he gave me is of a roofing supplier, and he's nothing to do with them.

He actually tried to defraud the Kirsty Club to the tune of £5000 by getting them to pay for the charity ball he intended to hold at the Midland Hotel in October last year.

I discovered this too late to do anything more than retain control of the website, make sure my contact details are on the domain registration, and refuse to let him have any say on what goes on it until I have been paid in full. Memo to me: take a deposit first.

The complication

He realised I'd left info@elitebusinesstobusiness.com on his PayPal account earlier this month and changed the password in case I went in and removed the other email address. I found this out when the email alert came up in my inbox: info@elitebusinesstobusiness.com diverts to my personal email account. So I phoned PayPal and they offered to put a limitation on the account to force him to remove info@elitebusinesstobusiness.com or lose the use of his account.

I was satisfied with that until, a few weeks later, I received another email alert that he'd gone and changed the password again. I phoned up PayPal again and was blown off with an assertion that this was a privacy issue and the matter was best dealt with through the courts. Here's the problem: if he commits a crime using that email address, it's registered to me, so I'm screwed. I could go to prison for his fraud.

Okay, there I was, up the proverbial creek without a propellent. What could I do about it?

The procedure

I discovered how to do this properly after casting about looking for solutions online. Please note, the consumer websites aren't always helpful, particularly where this stuff is concerned. Here's what you should actually do instead of wasting your time phoning up:

1. Go to their general contact page and post your complaint in there. Resolutions is for buyer/seller issues so don't use that, they'll ask for a transaction number and there's not one for a complaint of this nature. You should receive a response in a few minutes' time. That's to let you know they received your complaint. They'll actually deal with it in a day or two. Give them three.

2. If their response is unsatisfactory, you have to wait EIGHT WEEKS before you can escalate the complaint. I know it's frustrating but there aren't any shortcuts that I know of apart from bothering this chap on Linked In. This might not be effective as he no doubt gets a ton of these a day, courtesy of Mukau Media's blog post about PayPal and how to resolve disputes with them. He might even complain about you to Linked In, particularly if you're rude to him, so if you really can't wait, and you do decide to contact him, be polite.

3. If you've waited for two weeks and got no joy, contact them again and announce that you are going to make a formal complaint to their regulator, CSSF, the FSA, and the FOS. I've linked to the English version of the complaint page on the CSSF website but if for any reason you end up on a page that's in French, click on the UK flag at the top of the page. It's written in French because CSSF is in Luxembourg, where PayPal is registered as a bank.

4. If none of that works, complain on their social media accounts, @PayPalUK, PayPal UK (Facebook), and their Linked In group. You can also have a moan on consumer forums and whinge websites, and see if that works.

If you do have a complaint about PayPal and tried to resolve it, let me know. I like to hear from my readers.


Here is their response:

Dear Wendy Cockcroft,

Thank you for contacting PayPal.

I apologize but we cannot remove any information from another members account.

Thank you for choosing PayPal.

Yours sincerely,



Copyright © 1999-2012 PayPal. All rights reserved.

PayPal (Europe) S.à r.l. et Cie, S.C.A.

Société en Commandite par Actions

Registered Office: 22-24 Boulevard Royal L-2449, Luxembourg

RCS Luxembourg B 118 349

I'd jumped the gun by complaining to CSSF straight away and they included the complaint in their email as a forwarded message. Okay, I don't do waiting, so I've got on to their Facebook page and Twitter account to make my complaint there. Now I'm complaining about their refusal to deal with identity theft. See it here and please retweet it to help me out.

Update: it's resolved.

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