PayPal + Sears.com = Headaches

Reader Cheryl tried to use PayPal to buy some polo shirts from Sears — and, well, we’ll let her explain it.

Cheryl says:

My husband wears polo shirts to work, but his job means that he also ruins polo shirts. Last night he mentioned he was running low, again. After looking around on the web I decided to get him some from Sears.com (having had good luck in the past with Lands End). I selected 10 different polo shirts and put them in my cart.

Upon check out, I was offered the ability to pay with PayPal. Since my credit card was on the other side of the house, I went ahead and paid with PayPal.

PayPal won’t let you set up a credit card as your default payment. Each time you pay, you have to reselect that you want it to go that card (which, as a good Consumerist, I use a card that is paid off each month).

This would have all been fine, except that Sears.com shares a backend with Kmart.com. It turned out that $20 in shirts was being sent from Kmart. Ok, fine, my husband can destroy K-mart shirts as easily as he has destroyed Target, Landsend, Wal-mart, Amazon and Dillards shirts.

Except that Sears.com split the bill AFTER I checked out on PayPal into two charges… one to Sears, one to Kmart.

And since I didn’t check out on PayPal twice, PayPal chose to select “default” (which you can’t change) payment methods…. sucking $20 out of my checking account.

Now, I hooked paypal up to our ATM/Debit account (no overdraft, only a little bit of cash in it), so the mortgage isn’t going to bounce, and I’ve filed a complaint (hah) with PayPal.

But this is scary stuff. What if I purchased deck furniture from “Sears” and they shipped a $5 grill brush from my selected payment method, then socked my bank account with the $800 in chairs from “Kmart”?

Consumerist users should know to be careful that a)merchants can split your bill unknown to you on PayPal and b)if they do, it’s going to default to your Bank Account and your cash will be gone!

Oh, how aggravating! Thanks for the heads up. We’re sure this warning will save some poor soul from accidentally emptying their checking account.