PayPal is great.

I’m starting to see why some people end up hating PayPal.

Somehow on Monday the 14th, while I finished adding a new email address to our account, I got dumped onto a “complete your Business Account” page with most of the steps completed except a credit card verification. I didn’t remember seeing this before, but it must be important if PayPal is going to toss it at me while doing something else. So I went back to our account, deleted the old expired card, wondered why PayPal hadn’t asked about that before, entered fresh credit card info and filled in some other blanks like our federal EIN number. A couple of days later, a $1.95 charge appeared on that credit card with a 4-digit code which I confirmed on our PayPal account. Done deal. Same as ever. Our account has been working fine since we opened it in 2002 and has always been PayPal “verified.”

Then yesterday, Friday the 18th, they sent out an email asking us questions which were irrelevant to our business. But there was something else, too:

Thank you for your recent application submission for PayPal Payments Pro or Virtual Terminal.

In order to complete your application, we are requesting additional information and documentation from you to verify your business to proceed with the Payments Pro / VT Application Review Process. All requested information needs to be submitted within 7 days to continue the review process.

Please provide the following information:

1. Please include a list of the activities you will engage in during the normal course of your business and how PayPal will be used as your payment provider.

2. If you are processing the payments for the goods/services on behalf of a vendor, who is the merchant of record, you or the vendor?

3. Will you be managing the disputes which may arise regarding the delivery of the product/service or the quality of product/service?

4. Will you be paying a per purchase royalty for the product/service?

Please provide the requested information via email to [email protected]. You may also fax the information to 1-303-395-2862 ATTN: Compliance – Due Diligence. Please remember to include your email address as registered on your PayPal account on any correspondence or faxed items. Once we have received and reviewed the aforementioned material, we reserve the right to ask additional questions on your policies and procedures. Failure to provide the information may result in the closing of your account.

Send any questions to [email protected].

Your assistance and expediency in this matter is appreciated.

PayPal Compliance Department
PayPal, an eBay Company

Woah. My application for what? The closing of my account? What?

I figured I’d take my time putting proper answers together. This was obviously some level of function we had never needed, so I was happy to just let it slide.

That was until I tried to log into our account today to pay some iTunes royalties. They have “limited” our account until I provide them with “requested information” to further verify us. These limitations include accepting money, sending money and not canceling the account. In other words, go away. (And our online store is down.)

So I reply to the email with four quick answers, also noting that I don’t want any upgrade to this account so it shouldn’t really matter anyway. This was apparently a mistake of some kind. And I wait. No response whatsoever. Guess what? Now it’s Saturday. I’m talking to crickets––special Saturday crickets who don’t answer email or reactivate PayPal accounts. I log into the account again, and go to the page noted in the big warning, trying to upload our business info. And I get multiple errors that my 83KB JPEG is too big, even though the attachment limit is 5MB.

I use their contact form in order to tell someone about this problem, and I get this reply:

Thank you for inquiring as to how to restore access to your account.

To return your account to regular standing, please complete the checklist items indicated when you login to your account and click on the link provided on the “Account Overview” page.

The link will appear as: “Your account access is limited: Click here for Details.”

Once you complete all of the checklist items, our Account Review team will review your case and send you an email with the outcome of the review. Cases are reviewed in the order they are received.

We regret any inconvenience, and we would like to restore your access as soon as possible.

Please do not respond to this email, as responses to this message will not be answered.


PayPal Account Review Team

An obvious chunk of automated boilerplate. Regular screening I can understand. We can’t have a bunch of scammers scamming people via PayPal.

But disabling a six year old account entirely and then asking questions?

I have been to the page suggested (hard to avoid, since you can’t do anything else on a limited account) and found nothing more than some vague request for more information. When I click on the link to provide more information, I can either Fax or upload files. The files page has a simple pop-up with choices like Name Verification, Address Verification, Proof of Business Registration, etc. Easy enough, though this wasn’t mentioned in the email at all.

This is typical of PayPal when you run into any sort of problem. When I recently had an eBay buyer’s bank reject a $4 PayPal payment to me for ridiculously insufficient funds, and I was directed to provide “more information” for the fraud protection (even though that person and his bank should have had the burden), I got sent to a PayPal page with no way to send anything of any kind. PayPal does broken well.

The 83KB I mentioned above was our partnership authority with the county. It finally went through when I kicked the JPEG quality down to 10% to achieve a 54KB file. Yes! Yet the account is still “waiting for my response.” I don’t know if it has been accepted, gone through, or basically anything at all.

In the mean time our six-year-old PayPal business account, which has never once had a single complaint, is offline and we are losing online sales. And I can’t believe this is happening.

What to do?

1. Wait until Monday, apparently, when “Tim” from PayPal comes back to his “job.”
2. Check back into Google Checkout to see if it’s still too complicated for anyone to grok unless it’s their full-time job.
3. Check into Amazon’s upcoming payments system.

Update: Finally.

Dear Planet Hype,

Our review is complete and we have restored your account.

We appreciate your patience and thank you for your help in making PayPal the safest and most trusted online payment solution.


Please do not reply to this email. This mailbox is not monitored and you will not receive a response. For assistance, log in to your PayPal account and click the Help link in the top right corner of any PayPal page.

In other words, “We meant to do that. Go away.”

I did have a look at Amazon Payments. It’s not bad. It looks like there are more features and flexibility than PayPal offers. I don’t doubt it probably works better and is more reliable, since PayPal has this habit of not sandboxing anything but just letting new stuff loose on their users with no notification. Their rates are the same when accepting credit cards, and even lower when taking other forms of payment. Special lower rates for payments under $10, too. No recurring fees.

They don’t have PayPal’s integration with USPS and UPS which I use a lot for our store back end, for shipping labels, etc. And I’ve already spent time on all of our code integration with PayPal that I’d rather spend making music now. But I did sign up with Amazon and I’ll be ready to hop over if this happens again.

PayPal is no longer shiny.

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