PayPal Links Account To Mysterious Email Address, Won't Unlink Or Explain Why

PayPal has locked Jessica’s account and won’t release her funds until she pays off the negative balance in her other account. That’s fine, except that she doesn’t have another account. Whatever they linked her to, it’s not hers. Of course, this being PayPal, they won’t give her any information about the other account. She can’t even access it to see what the balance is or who it belongs to.

At first, Jessica figured the problem stemmed from two recently disputed sales, both of which she resolved with the buyers on her own. But then, after getting stonewalled by PayPal’s robot army of content-free email messages, she tried calling. Here’s her story:

In mid-July, I sold a BlackBerry Pearl 8100 and a White MacBook with a fresh Leopard install on eBay. All was fine. Then in August, both buyers disputed in PayPal, for non-legitimate reasons. The phone guy disputed because he said it took too long to ship, but he had agreed to a longer ship time since he was from Indonesia and bought the phone even though I said US buyers only. The delay was because I had to go to the post office during the day to fill out the customs form, and I was busy studying for the NY bar and so it took me about a week to get to the post office. He dropped the claim when he received the phone and all was well. The girl who bought the MacBook disputed because of buyer’s remorse, and lied and said that it had Tiger installed instead of Leopard, which it didn’t. I mailed her a leopard disc and she dropped that dispute as well.

Lo and behold, PayPal decides to restrict my account because of “suspicious activity” so I can’t use it. Fine, I understand selling to Indonesia and two disputes in a week seems sketchy. So I complete the steps in the Resolution Center to remove the limitation. But it’s not lifted. I try calling, several times, and no one seems to be able to tell me why the system hasn’t lifted the restriction. I send tons of emails to customer support, all of which are responded to by telling me that to resolve a limitation, I should complete the steps listed in the resolution center. Awesome, I love robots. I wait a week, and try calling again, nothing. Finally, at the end of September, I launch an EECB to all the addresses listed here on Consumerist for PayPal. I hear nothing, not one response. I try that again a week later, rewriting the email in case there are some kind of filters to delete repeat email. Again, nothing.

I called again, and spoke with a young man who told me that PayPal has “linked” my account to some other account (with a completely different email that he won’t tell me what it is) that has a negative balance and until that balance is resolved, I can’t have my account back. I ask him how much the balance is, but he won’t tell me. He gave me absolutely no way of working out the problem so I can have my account back. He tells me he will send an email with details. I receive the email several hours later, but it of course has no actual details, and is a regurgitation of what the guy on the phone said.

So, here I am, with $24 in my account that I can’t access (doesn’t sound like much, but it is a week’s worth of groceries for a future attorney who doesn’t yet know whether she passed the bar and can begin her life’s work of human rights law – no jokes please! ;)), and a PayPal Buyer Credit account that I can’t use but of course can still make payments on, with no course of action or guidance whatsoever from PayPal. All I want is the restriction lifted, or at least something I can do to resolve this mess and close my account.

Does anyone have any other advice on what Jessica can do to get her money back?