PayPal: an agony in five fits

Read this if you’re a Schadenfreudian.

So a couple of weeks ago I got an email from PayPal informing me of a charge to my account from iTunes. I have never used PayPal to buy anything from iTunes; I have not even authorized PayPal as a possible form of payment to iTunes. Moreover, when I checked my iTunes account I discovered that there was no charge corresponding to the amount PayPal had indicated. It seemed pretty clear to me that someone had gotten access to my PayPal account information, by means I cannot imagine. So I immediately filed a notification with PayPal, changed my password, and — this was a royal pain in the neck — de-authorized my debit card and ordered a new one with a new number. The “iTunes” charge wasn’t a large one, but obviously the person who had my financial information could use it to buy from anywhere that uses PayPal.

My first (unsigned) response from PayPal: We have completed our investigation of your claim and have determined that this is not an instance of unauthorized account activity. At this time, your claim has been denied. Through careful research, it has been determined that the correct course of action would be to cancel the Preapproved Payment Agreement from your Profile. The merchant will be notified of this change and will no longer be able to make charges to your account.

Ahem. I have no Preapproved Payment Agreements, as even the most cursory glance at my Profile would have shown. “Careful research” my ass. Plus there remained all the other inconsistencies noted above. I wrote back pointing these things out, and while waiting for an answer tried to cancel my account. This was not allowed. Then came

Response 2 (from “Rex”): I personally checked the account and understand the frustration regarding transactions that was unauthorized going to iTunes. PayPal previously placed a temporary hold on this transaction because we had received a notification that the funds might be fraudulent. While the transaction was in temporary hold, neither the seller nor the buyer could access the money. After further examination, PayPal has now completed the investigation of this transaction. We would like to inform you that the suspicion was confirmed and we have therefore reversed the transaction back to the buyer. Unfortunately, due to data protection we cannot disclose any further information in relation to the investigation.

Excellent. Someone has defrauded me but you won’t tell me how it happened. Good thing I canceled that debit card. But I still wanted to cancel my PayPal account, since the company is obviously incompetent and untrutstworthy, so I wrote again to say that I didn’t appreciate that option being blocked.

Response 3 (from “Sarifah”): I personally checked your PayPal account and showed no security flags or limitations that are in place. Given this, I am certain that the email notification you received was not sent by PayPal and is therefore fraudulent. Please go over the article I have included below to help you in verifying the authenticity of the email notifications you receive and ultimately protecting the security of your account information.

This was immediately followed by

Response 4 (from “Kathleen”): In researching your account I saw that there are outstanding payment authorizations. Please try again after the authorizations have been settled or voided.

Ah. In other words, you have discovered precisely the opposite of what your predecessor discovered. Presumably you disagree with Sarifah’s “certain” judgment that the previous PayPal employee emails, all of which came from precisely the same location (I checked the details), were themselves fraudulent. Even as I was replying to that effect, I received

Response 5 (from “Matthew”): I understand that you are trying to close your PayPal account and are receiving a message stating that there are pending transactions. We are aware of this issue and I sincerely regret the inconvenience it has caused you. Our technicians are working to resolve this matter. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

One week has passed since that reply. In the meantime my account has not been refunded the fraudulent charge, I still cannot cancel the account, and no one has answered any of my subsequent emails. They don’t have any functioning credit card numbers from me, so I don’t think they can do me any further harm, though I’m sure they would if they could.

I did get an email asking me to evaluate the help I received from Sarifah. Apparently no one cares about the help I received from Rex, Kathleen, or Matthew. I have not replied.