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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Paypal...a true story

Consider this blog post a cautionary tale...
a public service, if you will

If you accept Paypal, take note

Now, we've had our fair share of hiccups with Paypal over the course
of the 13 years we've used it

But this latest fiasco was the last straw for us...
Adios, Paypal

Let me tell you what happened to us
(and could happen to you)

We sold some nightstands on Etsy
They were available for custom paint
but the buyer wanted them "as-is"

Of course, we have the entire conversation documented
 in our Etsy email convo
(not that I thought I'd need it for evidence...geez!)

Since she didn't want them painted, we paid for the shipping
($120 plus time and packing supplies)

Custom orders typically ship in 4-6 weeks
but because these were going "as-is", they were ready to ship immediately

We shipped the items within two days
(hooray, the client will be so surprised!)

We send client notification that items have shipped,
and she replies with "I want to cancel my order, I found some I like better"
and follows up with a nasty email saying we shipped them early on purpose 
before she could change her mind

We don't accept returns, especially on items that have already shipped
We try to be fair...if the items haven't shipped, or custom work hasn't started
we'll make exceptions

She tries to file a dispute with Etsy, who tells her she agreed to our shop policies
when she made her purchase
To Etsy's credit, they pretty much let you run your own business
(what a concept!)
so long as your policies are stated 
and they don't violate Etsy's own policies

The buyer then files a Paypal claim for non-receipt, 
even though she knows they are on their way

Paypal allows a dispute for non-receipt within two days of purchase? 

No worries, right?  All we have to do is provide Paypal with the tracking info
 to show proof of shipment and delivery
We shipped via UPS with tracking

Per tracking the items arrived
Case closed, right?
Now she files a dispute saying the items are not as described
claiming she wanted them green and we told her we don't paint things green...
(I'm not joking.  I wish I was. She seriously said this in her dispute claim.)

Again, no worries because I have the conversation from Etsy where she specifically said
she wanted them just as they were.
One of the emails said
 "I don't want them painted, just send them as they are"
I take a screen shot of the entire convo and send it to Paypal.
Guess what?
Screen shots and emails ARE NOT ADMISSIBLE AS EVIDENCE

Paypal emails the buyer and tells her that we have AGREED to refund her
if she returns the items
No one even contacted us about it
I hardly call that agreement!

You know Paypal pulls that money RIGHT out of your account 
until a dispute is settled, right?
So all this time, we are out the items AND the money

Fine, we think. At least she has to return the items.  
We're out the shipping costs,
but we can resell the items
Not ideal, but it's better than nothing
and really, what can we do at this point?

Paypal stipulates that the items must be shipped back to us by 10/27
with proof via tracking info

On 10/26, I get an email saying the items have been shipped
and a tracking # is provided

Paypal says they will "officially" refund her once the items are delivered
and we have confirmed they are in the same condition they left us in

I check the tracking # on Monday, 
because she's in-state and in-state delivery with UPS is next day

Guess what?  The tracking # is no good...

So I email Paypal and they confirm that yes, indeed, the  tracking # she provided is not valid
(don't they bother to check these things?)

My next email from Paypal SHOULD be a proper tracking #, right? 
Or perhaps an email saying the case was closed because the buyer failed to 
fulfill her end of the deal? 

It's a notice that they have SIDED WITH THE BUYER
and refunded her in full

Evidently, you can buy something,
claim it wasn't what you expected,
promise to return it,
get a full refund,
and keep the items
All you have to do is pay with Paypal
 file a claim
and make up a tracking number

So, now we have NO items returned to us
NO payment for the items
NO tracking info to prove they were even sent
because Paypal does as they please with YOUR money

I know.  I'm sort of in shock.
How can this be?
If I was reading this, written by someone else,
I'd assume they were exaggerating
or there was more to the story

I'm not, and there isn't. 

This is what you agree to when you agree to accept Paypal

It doesn't matter if you do everything right...
timely shipping, tracking...
you can still get scammed, and Paypal lets it happen
in fact, they facilitate it happening

Oh, and to add insult to injury?
When I tried to cancel the transaction on Etsy to recoup the fees we paid on that sale,
they DENIED us because the buyer was still in possession of the items
even though she was refunded in full.
Um, seriously?
I pointed this out, and to be fair,
I haven't heard back yet.
Perhaps it was an error.
I certainly hope so, because that just ain't right!

I was researching this situation, and I stumbled upon case after case
just like happens all the time
Appalling, but true

The moral of this story? 

Paypal sucks. 


  1. This is awful and you are right! Paypal is terrible to sellers. This same sort of thing happened to my daughter and even my postmaster. My (as a paralegal in real life) advise: file a complaint against Paypal with the Federal Trade Commission. I think this will get just the attention you need. Good luck!!! ~ Stephanie

    1. thanks Stephanie, I'm doing that right now!

  2. That is horrible! I'm thinking of opening an Etsy store myself but now I think I need to research this a bit more. How do you get around using PayPal?

    1. Etsy offers direct checkout, where the buyer enters their credit card or bank info. The seller doesn't see the info, and it's all secure. The funds are transferred to your bank account, and you have them in about two days. Etsy is great about upholding your shop policies.

  3. I am so sorry that this happened to you! I stopped using paypal when a few customers put in the wrong email address, and were unable to be refunded, so someone was paid, but it was not me and I still had to ship items due to "payment being fulfilled" . In my cases the buyer stated to paypal (as well,as I did) that it was user error, but paypal says they are not liable for user errors and offer no refunds for "such things"

    1. oh my gosh, that's CRAZY! No good, no good at all!

  4. I agree, file a complaint! That is asinine!!!

    1. I know, isn't it crazy? How can this be? I just can't wrap my head around defies logic!

  5. Dear Michele and Kenny, I am so sorry for not only the rotten customer but that PayPal did not support you. Your shop made me sign up with PayPal! I hope you don't mind but I just logged into PayPal and filed a complaint with their customer support on your behalf and gave them a link to this blog. I'm hoping this will make them sit up and realize how improperly they behaved with your company and apparently many more. Shame on them! ~ Heidi

    1. You're awesome, Heidi! Unfortunately, Paypal is huge, and we're just little fish. We have a choice whether to use them or not, and up until now, we chose to do so. Now, we choose not to. They'll just move on to the next case and do the same.

  6. Hello!

    I see the word 'custom' in your story, so I wanted to share my opinion/experience on this as I've had a few run in's with PayPal myself (some bad, but now it's all good). I'm just speaking on my personal/business experience with PayPal so please don't take anything I say the wrong way! If these items was custom or handmade, then PayPal does not cover custom made items -- point, blank, period.

    I have had buyers from both eBay and Etsy buy my replicas/props that are handmade/custom made, and up until the last year.. I had no idea that PayPal's main policy is that they do not cover custom made items! Screwed me over big time not knowing that, but now I do -- so now all of my items are uncovered by PayPal, no matter if the customer likes them or not! I wasn't aware of this until someone opened a PayPal dispute against me for one of my item's being 'not as described' -- which was false, they was. However, when I called PayPal and argued for 20 minutes about how they was just as described and I even had a picture of the person WEARING it from their Facebook (which I couldn't use/submit).. I finally said the word 'custom made for the buyer' and they automatically apologized and ruled in my favor. I didn't have to say anything else, and in less than 2 minutes the fund's had been placed back in my account and the dispute was closed.

    I've also had them side with a buyer once and the dispute was closed, but only because they wasn't aware that the items was custom made. However, after they sided with the buyer I called and mentioned that they was custom made -- and PayPal ate the cost ($1,391) and placed the money back into my account. Please note: every time I had to tell them it was custom made was by phone, and not via the dispute center or online. An official from the main corporation of PayPal told me flat out, that if an employee either hear's or see's that an item purchased through PayPal is custom or handmade, that they are to immediately side with the seller. The reason why? Because the seller is never guaranteed to be able to resell a custom or handmade item to another person(s).

    I wish you the best of luck, but honestly, I would call PayPal and inform them that they was custom made items and that PayPal was in the wrong here; and more than likely, they would eat the cost for you! They've done it for me several, several, several times for me. Also, I'm sorry you had a horrible buyer. Some buyers are so cold-hearted and will do whatever it takes to screw a seller over.


  7. You have her address. Let's go for a ride and knock on her door!

  8. Hahaha, I just read Denise's comment. But in all seriousness I might give the police her address and see if you can get her for stolen merchandise or something. Not sure if that would work but maybe?

  9. I had a buyer claim she didn't get my shipment. Paypal refunded the money right away with no contact to me. Buyer would not communicate with me. She has the same track record with other Etsy sellers. I believe it is theft.

  10. Happened to me too! Paypal gave her the money back, put my account in the negative, and then told me I had as long as I needed to sell something else to bring it current. Then proceeded to call an harass me for the money. Etsy stood behind my policies also but, allowed a complete lie to be published on my feedback and has caused me numerous forwarded videos (to prove the items condition) and almost shut my shop down due to the fact that she also had a layaway, which gave her 2 feedback's for the same item! In fact it was such a ridiculous thing that happened, I had already given her great feedback prior to her receiving the item, not knowing she had planned all along to refuse the shipment because her hubby didn't want her to make the purchase and she did it anyway. I would have had to gotten a lawyer to have the feedback removed but, decided to let my shop speak for itself. It's taken all summer to get back to normal but, was definitely a horrible experience! First time in 15 yrs. that ANYONE has had a problem with my work (or lied to their husband) or "acted" like they did! Sorry it happened to you too:(

  11. Happened to me too! I'm so grateful that you published your story! VERY useful content in the responses that are here. I may get my money back just yet:) Good luck to you and you case!