PayPal Makes PS3 Selling A Bitch

It seems those opportunists selling PS3s on Ebay really got the runaround when it came time to get their money from PayPal, which, we’ll remind you, is not a bank. Ebay had lots of special rules for would-be PS3 sellers; of particular interest to this story was that all transactions had to be made with PayPal. A reader calling himself “Plaid Rabbit”, writes in with a story of just how far PayPal made sellers go to get their money after selling a PS3. From his email:

” On 11/21, I received a note in my email that my account access had been limited due to someone saying they hadn’t received something I sold to them….I call, and they tell me they’ve had some fraud issues with PS3s and simply needed some additional information to make sure I was who I said I was…First, I have to provide my SSN and an addy for them to do a credit check…Secondly, they want tracking numbers for the stuff that’s shipped – I’ve already done this, so that’s fine.

Lastly, they want to make a phone call to my house. Alas, they only let you do a land-line, though – and I don’t have one of those. I’m one of those crazy internet kids who uses only a cell phone and a VOIP phone. That won’t work.

They then say I can fax a copy of my utility bill and that’ll work. I fax it that day. I fax a copy of my license just for good measure.”

Mr. Rabbit then receives a email letting him know they they’re still not going to give him his money because his name doesn’t match the one on the account. Not his last name. His first name…because his PayPal account is in his middle name.

“My PayPal account is in Middlename Lastname. My ID is FirstName M. Lastname. Apparently, this was too much for a person with the skills of a Rhesus monkey to deduce, so they told me I had to do a formal name change. So, I fax (again) my license, my utility bill, my bank statement AND my credit card statement.”

At this point, Plaid Rabbit decides to take Consumerist’s advice and request a supervisor.

“I called PayPal and just immediately requested a supervisor. I waited on hold, no shit, for an hour. However, after that, I got a lovely woman named Julie who listened as I politely and smoothly detailed my problems. I pointed out I’d received positive feedback on three of the four units. After placing me on a short hold to verify that feedback, Julie returned to the line to say she’d released my account and I could make transfers again.”

The moral of the story is to request a supervisor at the first sign of trouble. And hey, who knew PayPal could be a bigger pain in the ass than waiting 5 days in line to buy a toy? Karma. It’s a beautiful thing. —MEGHANN MARCO

Rabbit guy’s full email:

    Hey guys,

    First of all, I was one of those soulless jerks who sold a PS3 on
    eBay. I know, I’m a loser. Whatever, save your judgment. I did this
    to make some cash to pay for a flight home for christmas – I’m in law
    school and broke, so finding some investors and other broke
    individuals to make some sales was an appealing idea.

    Anyway, fast forward to two weeks ago. We sell the units, we ship the
    units. I attempt to pull the funds to my bank account. All appears
    fine, as it has on the other 145 transactions I’ve done with eBay/
    PayPal.

    And then, the shit hits the fan. On 11/21, I received a note in my
    email that my account access had been limited due to someone saying
    they hadn’t received something I sold to them. The next day, I get a
    message from PayPal saying my account has been limited. I am
    flabergasted. I’ve never had any problems with PayPal, or eBay, or
    anything else. I’m 100% feedback with almost 150 transactions, and
    I’ve been on this paypal account for 2+ years.

    Well, I call, and they tell me they’ve had some fraud issues with
    PS3s and simply needed some additional information to make sure I was
    who I said I was. Alright, that works. I’m helped by this system when
    I’m a buyer, so it makes sense I’d have to do some stuff as a seller.

    First, I have to provide my SSN and an addy for them to do a credit
    check. Whatever, banks do this stuff, and they’re pretty much a de
    facto bank. Secondly, they want tracking numbers for the stuff that’s
    shipped – I’ve already done this, so that’s fine.

    Lastly, they want to make a phone call to my house. Alas, they only
    let you do a land-line, though – and I don’t have one of those. I’m
    one of those crazy internet kids who uses only a cell phone and a
    VOIP phone. That won’t work.

    They then say I can fax a copy of my utility bill and that’ll work. I
    fax it that day. I fax a copy of my license just for good measure.

    I wait….and wait…and wait.

    And then, they send me an email saying they can’t do anything yet, as
    the packages haven’t shown up yet at the buyer’s house, and my name
    doesn’t match the one on the account.

    I go by my middle name. My PayPal account is in Middlename Lastname.
    My ID is FirstName M. Lastname. Apparently, this was too much for a
    person with the skills of a Rhesus monkey to deduce, so they told me
    I had to do a formal name change.

    So, I fax (again) my license, my utility bill, my bank statement AND
    my credit card statement. This was on Thursday.

    After no response today, I finally had it. I called PayPal and just
    immediately requested a supervisor. I waited on hold, no shit, for an
    hour.

    However, after that, I got a lovely woman named Julie who listened as
    I politely and smoothly detailed my problems. I pointed out I’d
    received positive feedback on three of the four units. After placing
    me on a short hold to verify that feedback, Julie returned to the
    line to say she’d released my account and I could make transfers again.

    After I hung up, and did a Google on “PS3 PayPal Account Freeze”, I
    found out I’m not alone:

    http://forums.slickdeals.net/showthread.php?p=4593761

    So, if anyone else is needing help with this – simply call and
    request a supervisor. They’re actually empowered to do something
    about your situation, and will if you’re on the level, it seems.

    BTW – please don’t use my real name. Just sign me

    Plaid Rabbit

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. joehowe64 says:

    “I pointed out I’d received positive feedback on three of the four units.”

    He was selling 4 PS3s?

    I’d be checking him out as well…..

  2. Plaid Rabbit says:

    I got some investors. I was okay with everything until they started making the hoops bigger, longer, and didn’t appear to be doing ANYTHING to get me the cash I had been legitimately paid.

  3. Magister says:

    So, how much did you sell them for?

  4. My recent experience selling a Wii online with Ebay has turned me forever against PayPal. They play pretend like they’re a bank, but then make all sorts of bizarre labyrinthine rules that seem to be designed to sucker as much cash out of you as they can. When will Google Checkout be ready for individual use?

  5. Plaid Rabbit says:

    Avg. was $1500 a pop. The agreement was simple – you got a share in the profits for investing and/or a share for waiting in line. So, if you had the investment capital and the time to wait in line, you got two parts of the profit – likewise, if you were broke and had time, or loaded and no time, you could get one part of the profit for helping out.

    For a group of law students, it worked out well – now that we got the funds.

  6. people like that are too cheap to run their own storefront.

  7. mechanismatic says:

    It’s nice to know you don’t have to graduate from law school or pass the bar to start gouging people already… Is that a required class or something?

  8. Ran Kailie says:

    Not sure why everyone is getting on Plaid Rabbit because he was smart enough to see a profit in the market and jumped on it. Because supply was limited and demand was high its no surprise people were willing to pay more the double the unit price.

    Its business, companies don’t stay in business by not charging over cost. Hell most items you buy in the store are marketed up 200% or more. Considering the time and effort put into procuring the item, the mark up from $600 to $1500 isn’t that much.

    That aside, I’ve had issues with paypal as well, and now I try to avoid using them a smuch as a I, it makes buying small stuff easier, but can be a real pain when selling to get funds out.

  9. Plaid Rabbit says:

    mechanismatic:

    Congradulations on winning the battle on baiting me enought to post a response. I thought I was above this.

    Secondly, WTF? What do you have against lawyers that you’d immediately lump us all together as gougers? I mean, whatever, gouging means you have to have something (gas, water, food) and you charge more just because you can. Not a single spoiled brat or well-off gamer would have died had I not sold this.

    People like diamonds even though they’re just coal that looks pretty and are rare. Nobody would accuse the guys who sell them of gouging, though, because the market will bear the costs and nobody dies or is even moderatly injured if they don’t get the service.

  10. medalian1 says:

    http://www.paypalsucks.com … they’re evil and I stopped using them a long time ago.

  11. Kangarara says:

    Um… they asked for your SSN? Isn’t that kinda dangerous to give out? And can’t you refuse? (In Canada, for most things, we’re not required to give our SIN, but I don’t know how it works down south)

  12. Forgive me if I lack sympathy for the plight of a playstation scalper.

    However, I do empathize with you regarding the difficulty in doing business with banks and other companies without having a landline. I first ran into this trouble in Japan (where cell phones have special numbers making them readily identifiable), and now face this with my own family as well as my parents after going wireless…

  13. acambras says:

    Yeah, crayon, I’ve seen people get turned down for store credit cards because they don’t have home landlines.

  14. masterhibb says:

    Anecdotally, I hear the only time you should ever need to give your SSN is when applying for a job or a loan/credit card (or, of course, actually drawing social security). In practice, however, many entities from the cable company to your school like to use it as a form of identification, and refusal to provide the number is generally met with obstinance. On the other hand, had he done so he likely would have found a manager much earlier in his ordeal.

  15. acambras says:

    How many legitimate businesses/entities demand that one provide one’s social security number and copies of one’s driver’s license, credit card statement, utility bill, AND bank statement?

    It reeks of identity theft to me. I would have demanded to talk with a supervisor immediately. Even if the CSR wasn’t going to misuse this information, what assurance do you have that your information won’t be stolen or lost (a la Choicepoint, the VA, the Pennsylvania DMV, etc.)?

  16. joehowe64 says:

    I wasn’t casting any sort of pall over your character: whatever the market can bear for a luxury item means nothing to me.

    We, my job not Paypal, have a system that looks for patterns that “red-flag” accounts.

    You have to admit that having multiple PS3s for sale, and then a no delivery claim looks fishy.

  17. Avg. was $1500 a pop

    Out of pure curiosity, what did the bidding start at? (Just wondering if people drove the price high or not.)

    Does anyone know what happened to that dude trying to sell it for 25 million?

  18. Plaid Rabbit says:

    joehowe: Totally. That was the cruddy thing – I totally understand. Unlike most of the people I encounter on the internet, I have a little faith in business (ducks flaming arrows) and understand what has to happen to keep everyone happy and still protect your ass. I’ve never once questioned their reasoning for doing this, or asking me for information (my SSN was out and around before this whole ID theft thing became such a media hotbutton issue, so I’ve been good and fucked on that front for a while). My biggest problem was that they seemed to be taking their sweet ass time about giving the cash back, and that is poor customer service at it’s basest form.

  19. gwai lo says:

    What happened with the person who said you didn’t ship them something? That’s what got Pay Pal suspicious in the first place, right?

    Also – R.P., I think Ebay took down his 25 million auction.

  20. Plaid Rabbit says:

    RP: Starting bit was $100. I was just as suprprised as most people, as I only thought we’d clear around $1200 or less on each unit.

    Gwai: That’s exactly the thing. *Nobody* actually filed a complaint – if I go and try and pull a report of the complaint, I get nothing. Basically, I did everything as I should have, and they did this audit as if someone had complained. I should have made that clearer in the email – I’m sure they didn’t have a classification option of “We want to make sure you’re not shipping bricks since we’ve been caught with our pants down on this whole fraud thing.” So, they must have just used the closest thing they could find, which was that someone reported they hadn’t recieved a unit.

  21. Antediluvian says:

    Only the government can require an SSN and only for SS-related benefits and tax purposes.

    However, any private entity may request one, and if you fail to provide it, deny you their services. This is most commonly seen on loans and credit card applications. You are under no obligation to provide your SSN, they are under no obligation to provide you with services (with some well-defined exceptions such as utilities and whatnot).

  22. Plaid Rabbit:

    “Secondly, WTF? What do you have against lawyers that you’d immediately lump us all together as gougers?”

    As a law student you are preparing to entire a lifetime of being hated for your profession and considered a jackass no matter how morally upright, kind, and fair you may be. You should shit diamonds or lay golden eggs and everyone will still hate you for bearing the appelation “lawyer.”

    Wait until you discover that some contractors won’t come back to your house once they find out you’re a lawyer.

    Starting working on a thick skin now. :D

  23. Despite the fact that many old SSN cards actually have the words, “Not to be used for Identification.” printed on them, the government never did actually pass a law that social security numbers can’t be used for identification purposes. My father makes a point of this every time someone asks him for his SSN.(though I may be wrong)
    source here

    Lawyers, like guns, are not evil in and of themselves. It’s how they are used which makes them asshats. There are a lot of good guy lawyers out there trying to help you and me fight for our rights against evil lawyers who work for the RIAA/MPAA, etc. All they ask for in return is exorbitant attorney’s fees and little bit of your soul. But if you think that’s bad, you should see what it costs to become a lawyer…(I’m not talking only about the monetary costs here *wink*)

  24. mechanismatic says:

  25. mechanismatic says:

    Plaid Rabbit,

    First of all, I wasn’t baiting you. That was a comment for the peanut gallery. I didn’t care if you resonded.

    Secondly, your description of gouging seems to apply exactly to the way a lawyer charges for his services. If you’re being sued, if you’re handling an estate, if you’re doing x, y, z, then you have to have a lawyer. If you’re being sued, you need a lawyer as much as you need clothing and shelter because you will lose your clothing and shelter and livelihood if you tread into that mess without a lawyer. And the lawyer will gouge you because he knows you need his services.

    If you plan to work pro bono or fight against corporate greed as a lawyer, then I applaud your intentions and rescind any suggestion that my comment applies to you. However, the act of purchasing four of the same items, thereby reducing the supply available to others, thereby increasing the demand and thus the amount of money you can get for selling them, with full knowledge that impatient, stupid people would pay exorbitant amounts for the items, then you are gouging. I have no sympathy for the impatient people who bought the systems, but the greed of the resellers doesn’t earn any points either.

    Your diamond analogy doesn’t apply to the game systems. The availablility of the game systems would have been greater had you (and other resellers) not purchased more of the systems than you planned to use. A diamond reseller provides access to diamonds that the customers wouldn’t have otherwise had access to. You removed access to the game systems by buying them up and then you resold them after you (and others) artificially decreased demand. The customers who purchased systems from you could potentially have purchased the systems from the store at a lower price if you (and others) hadn’t bought them up.

  26. mechanismatic says:

    Woops. In that last paragraph, I meant to say: “after you (and others) artificially decreased the supply.”

  27. 44 in a Row says:

    You removed access to the game systems by buying them up and then you resold them after you (and others) artificially decreased demand.

    I’m assuming that you mean “artificially decreased supply”, and in that case, I’d highly encourage you (and everyone) to read up on De Beers and the Central Selling Organization. Until the late 1980s, De Beers controlled upwards of 80% of the world diamond market, and they were notorious for buying every source of diamonds they could get their hands on and then stockpiling the diamonds in order to remove them from the market. The diamond market is pretty much the textbook definition of “artificial scarcity”, and it’s a pretty sleazy business even before you start to consider the whole “conflict diamonds” issue.

    What’s more, the whole idea of diamonds as the critical component of a wedding ring only dates from a De Beers marketing campaign that was started in the 1930s or so. We take it for granted that diamonds are a “traditional” gift, but that tradition isn’t even as old as the Model T. All in all, I’d say that the two situations are for more analogous that they seem at first glance.

    Going back to the original article (point? what point?), I think my biggest problem with PayPal in this situation is that they only start questioning things after payment has been made and they have your money. If PayPal really wanted to be careful, they simply wouldn’t let the seller accept the $1500 payment in the first place before going through all the verification steps. But this way, PayPal gets to hang on to your money for as long as they want, and you have no options because the transaction has already gone through.

  28. 44 in a Row says:

    However, the act of purchasing four of the same items, thereby reducing the supply available to others

    The other thing I’d argue, and this is obviously much more subjective, is that in this particular instance, the market for the PS3 was so massive, and the supply so small as compared to the population of buyers willing to pay for it, that I have a hard time assigning blame to resellers as a cause of the shortages. The fact of the matter is, with only 200k or so (depending on which analyst you believe) available for the entire North American market, most people wouldn’t be able to get one even if, hypothetically, reselling was prevented.

    Also, another thing to consider is the fact that, with game systems, they’ll eventually be available to everyone at the MSRP. Last year, if I wanted an XBox 360, my options were to camp out at a game store overnight, pay a $500 premium on eBay, or not get one at all. Now, I can walk in to any store, or go to any website, and buy one without a problem. I’d argue that, as opposed to scalping concert tickets (where the tickets available to a particular concert are the only ones that will ever exist), the eBay market for PS3s is a much more temporary phenomenon. The prices are high now, but they’ll absolutely go back down. To paraphrase the old business adage, you can get it fast (now), or you can get it cheap (for the MSRP), but you can’t do both.

  29. Plaid Rabbit says:

    Mech:
    Secondly, your description of gouging seems to apply exactly to the way a lawyer charges for his services. If you’re being sued, if you’re handling an estate, if you’re doing x, y, z, then you have to have a lawyer. If you’re being sued, you need a lawyer as much as you need clothing and shelter because you will lose your clothing and shelter and livelihood if you tread into that mess without a lawyer. And the lawyer will gouge you because he knows you need his services.

    Yea, I agree with you on this point – but you have to look at things from an attorney’s perspective. I’m taking three years to get a highly-sought after, very competitive degree, at a price of almost $150,000 – that’s a modest mortgage in most areas of the country. I’m taking on a 25-30 yr. loan so I can put my shingle up. So, while law schools are trying to make attorneys more accountable, and more amenable to doing pro bono work, we’re also put in a bind as we’ve got to make payments on the law degree and for everything else. On a certain level, we’ve got to charge a higher price for our services – it’s not gouging, it’s just covering the costs we’ve already incurred to get there. Doctors are often in this same situation, but people get health insurance (the lucky ones, anyway) so it’s not as big of an outcry. Most people don’t anticipate legal trouble like they anticipate inevitable sickness.

    lt’s a serious problem that more people are going to to court pro se (self-representing) because they can’t afford an attorney. And it’s a real serious issue that law schools and the law profession are pricing people out of being able to afford their services. But to call someone a gouger even though they’re chaging a nominal fee (once you consider all the factors), and submitting to being regulated (there are fee-regulation boards that are available for complaint via your local bar association), it’s just a little wrong.

    As for the diamond analogy, you missed the main point of that – it’s a market that can’t be used for gouging, as it’s not important or crucial for anyone to get a diamond, unlike food, gas, water, clothing, medical care, etc. Game systems are just that – games, and by their nature, entertainment that is not mandatory to live.

  30. crappypaypal says:

    Hi
    I used to work in PayPal earlier and they have all sorts of crazy problems with First Name, Middle Name, Last Name. To the best of my knowledge for personal and premier accounts, PayPal would not even accept middle name. Other funny issue is for some reasons the system would restrict your first name and last name being same. Is it really possible to change the name for the heck of using PayPal