Worst Company In America Round One: PayPal Vs. Capital One

At the end of this bout, one of these competitors will have paid the price in blood. And lord help them if they try to dispute that payment with either company’s customer service departments.

Capital One continues to have a reputation for making mistakes on customers’ accounts that are both obvious and, at least according to Capital One CSRs, irreparable.

They also haven’t given up on their practice of flooding consumers’ mailboxes with credit card applications. This is especially true for people with less than stellar credit who probably could do without another card — and 5-year-olds.

But what really locked Capital One into its WCIA slot for this tournament is the recent purchase of online bank ING Direct. In addition to ING customers who are terrified of what is going to happen to their favorite bank, several readers expressed concern about Capital One’s rapid growth — and the government’s rather rapid approval of the merger — at a time when the economy is still reeling from the failure of a handful of mega-banks.

And then there’s good ol’ PayPal. If you want to sell things online, it’s all but a given that you’ll need to deal PayPal, especially considering its incestuous relationship with parent company eBay.

Yet for all the people who use PayPal for selling and buying, the company seems to have about three customer service reps, none of whom can help but all of whom apparently have the ability to summarily freeze a transactionor an entire account. Heck, they can even tell customers to go ahead and destroy a purchase simply because the buyer claims the item isn’t authentic.

Luckily, getting resolution on PayPal complaint only requires numerous calls, e-mails and mass, concerted shaming from the entire Internet.

This is now the part of the story when everyone votes:

(Voting for this poll will close at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 16)

This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2012 series. The companies competing for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. See the entire WCIA 2012 bracket and schedule of match-ups HERE.


Edit Your Comment

  1. PHRoG says:

    Paypal…burn in hell!!!

  2. a354174 says:

    Come on PayPal, you got this.

    Heck you were even on consumerist today.

  3. Zelgadis says:

    I use PayPal, mostly because I have to for a lot of the transactions I do, but I can’t ignore a lot of the idiotic problems they’ve gotten themselves into.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    Tough decision. Both are financial behemoths. PayPal sticks it to you with fees, is impossible to contact when you have problems, holds your money for no reason and that it acts like a bank, but it isn’t regulated like one and offers none of the protection that real banks offer.

    The problems with Capital One… aww hell, I just don’t have the time to list them all.

    • usa_gatekeeper says:

      Interesting – if PayPal isn’t regulated, can illegal money be laundered or transferred internationally through PayPal?

      • Blueskylaw says:

        I doubt that PayPal would be in the money laundering business
        when they make enough money fleecing their own customers.

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Afetr this morning’s article, no contest.

  6. mrvw says:

    I can’t get past the line ‘especially considering its incestuous relationship with parent company eBay’
    That is awesome.

    • Cat says:

      Who’s your daddy?

      • Flik says:

        PayPal is actually the tail that’s wagging the eBay dog. When I worked there, you don’t know how many times we heard “Well, PayPal had an EXCELLENT quarter, but alas — eBay did not, so no bonuses for you.” PayPal is the only reason eBay didn’t go Chapt 11 a long time ago.

  7. Cat says:

    Never actually had a problem w/ Capital One. Lucky, maybe?

    PayPal, OTOH…


  8. scoosdad says:

    I voted for PayPal, but I’m anxiously watching my ING Direct account for signs that new owner Capital One is screwing with it.

    • Invader Zim says:

      I love your optimism

    • MikeVx says:

      The same here. I have no doubts whatever about the Evil that is PayPal. While I am also watching my ING accounts, I file Crapital None under “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” A universe of stupidity would not account for PayPal.

  9. eezy-peezy says:

    oh no…… (head in hands)…..my favorite online bank got bought out by my least fav. CC company?…..bad day…

  10. PunditGuy says:

    Capital One is well regulated. You can report them. Capital One has policies. You can appeal decisions. Worse comes to worse, you can show your displeasure by banking at one of dozens of other entities.

    PayPal? They’re just making this all up as they go along. Look up “caveat emptor” and you’ll find PayPal’s logo next to it.

  11. phira says:

    I am so anxious about what will happen to my ING accounts that I can’t vote for PayPal on this one …

  12. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    paypal got my nomination and my vote for deciding that the appropriate way to notify me of suspicious activity/unauthorized attempted access on my account was to wait until i made a purchase, then flag the transaction as fraudulent with the retailer, which resulted in the retailer having security concerns over the account i have with the retailer.
    because apparently a letter or a phone call is too difficult.
    and it turned out the “unauthorized attempted access” was mint.com logging in as me with my approval and passwords.
    also for the violin, smashwords and regretsy incidents

  13. dulcinea47 says:

    This is a tough one. It’s like comparing Bad Apples and Bad Oranges.

  14. thiazzi says:

    Paypal, because I can sell something on ebay for $250 and only see about $180 of it.

  15. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I am dreading the fact that Capital One has purchased HSBC’s US credit card division, and changeover is supposed to happen this summer. I like my HSBC Visa – I get 2% cash back on all purchases, and I’ve never had an issue with them. I’m not holding out any hope that Capital One will keep the same terms as I have now.

    And I voted for Capital One just because I saw a commercial this morning with Alec Baldwin. He was talking to the Vikings about something and waving his smart phone around, and at the end, one of the Vikings asked him if he could play games on it. Alec said, not on airplanes, and made a face. Jackass.

    • PHRoG says:

      I didn’t see it, but if he was able to get that plug in again AA, I’d say total win on his part. :D Plus, sounds funny as hell…off to youTube!

      • PHRoG says:


      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        I generally get a kick out of the vikings, I’m not that grumpy, but Alec Baldwin just rubs me the wrong way. I know the whole thing was blown out of proportion with the airline and the smart phone, but I think it was just his whole attitutude about it…like I’m better than everyone and I can do what I want…that rubbed me the wrong way.

  16. Invader Zim says:

    The company I love to hate.

  17. InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

    Go, Paypal! You can win this one and make it to the next round, I know you can!

  18. Pete the Geek says:

    I voted for PayPal due to their complete lack of customer service and their willingness to shut down the accounts of businesses without recourse. I do almost all of my shopping online and a group of small shops that I order from on a weekly basis were recently shut down by a complaint from a large competitor. It would be poetic justice if the leaders of PayPal suddenly found their bank and credit cards accounts frozen and the bank would not answer calls or emails.

  19. humphrmi says:

    I like Cap One because they don’t charge any fees for international transactions. Gotta keep a regular stream of English Breakfast Tea coming in from Wales. PayPal, on the other hand… I can’t think of anything nice to say about them. I guess they aren’t developing a nuclear weapon, there.

  20. framitz says:

    Capital One is on a different level of evil than Paypal, which is evil, but Capital One does more harm.

  21. no says:

    Um, where’s the poll? I disabled both noscript and AdBlock and I still don’t see one in here.

  22. personwholives says:

    Speaking of that violin, has there been any update on that matter? I haven’t heard since paypal’s repeated “blah blah blah we did it so tough luck” statements earlier.

  23. Robofish says:

    As a Capital one card holder I was going to say Capital one. Mainly because I discovered they assess late fees the day BEFORE the bill is overdue. In fact about 6 hours before. To get it removed you get to go through their super fun customer service department.

  24. dreamking says:

    There’s really no reason for PayPal to be ‘winning’ over Capital One. I’m sure Paypal horror stories are more prominent and have been miserable for those experiencing them. That said, this is apple and oranges. I reiterate my problem with Consumerist putting head to head business not using the same business model.

    On Paypal’s worst day, they’ve ruined far fewer people’s lives than Capital One manages on its best day.

  25. Flik says:

    Wow – that was the easiest vote so far! Die, PayPal! Die!

  26. TonyK says:

    PayPal answers to no one and try getting anything resolved with PayPal. At least CapitolOne has to follow state and federal laws and regulations and there is resource to them.

  27. Sad Sam says:

    Ugh, Capital One, but it was hard in that they both screwed me on a charge back issue. But Capital One screwed me over several months and kept giving me the wrong information so I was unable to protect my interests.

  28. gman863 says:

    PayPal essentially has a monopoly on the collection of payments for eBay sellers.

    Unless you are a high-volume seller and can afford to use an alternate on-line credit and debit payment system, they have you by the balls.

  29. HogwartsProfessor says:


  30. sljepi says:

    Can I vote twice for PayPal?

    • Blueskylaw says:

      If you try to vote twice, you get an error message
      and get re-routed to the Amazon.com website.

  31. dotkat says:

    PayPal, definitely PayPal! They lock your account and ask you for documents that date back to when your organization was founded. You submit the requested documents immediately and they unlock your account whenever they feel like it. You lose revenue in the process. Also, they always ask for the exact same documents that you’ve submitted several times before. Perhaps they should consider storing these docs “in the cloud” so that they don’t lose them. I really, really hope PayPal wins this round.

  32. JLyles says:

    Few must know of the Credit Card insurance problems that Capitol One mishandles.

  33. FLConsumer says:

    Paypal… At least CapOne admits it’s a bank and is willing to play by banking regulations.

  34. PhilipCohen says:

    And, just for a laugh, a critique of ‚ÄúThe New Way To Pay In-Store‚Äù via eBay’s clunky PreyPal.


    eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

  35. IceCat says:

    I’ve had a couple of friends get screwed by PayPal, so they got my vote, can’t say much about CapialOne, I don’t use them and the only contact I have with them are those stupid ads the run.

  36. loueloui says:

    I have no love for Paypal, but I don’t know how on Earth they won over those evil fuckers at Capital One. Really the company that invented Bi-daily compounding vs. losing some Ebay proceeds? Methinks there is some ballot stuffing going around.

  37. edrebber says:

    Paypal’s fees are high, but even after the fees, I can sell my stuff for much more than a yard sale or Craig’s list. Even getting ripped off by buyers a few times, I think I’m still way ahead using Paypal.