PayPal – the easiest way to be ripped off online

Logo of PayPal.
Bunch of bastards

Recently, I had some issues with my PayPal account (click here for more information). Briefly, I had money move out of my account to pay for something I didn’t buy, and two people sent me a total of ten payments for approximately $30 each.

I contacted the “buyers” who started asking for refunds, which I duly actioned as it wasn’t my money. They hadn’t tried to pay me and didn’t know why they’d “sent” me the cash. I also put a halt on the other payment which was eventually refunded.

At one random point, PayPal decided to take £40+ from my bank account. I eventually found it was because I’d issued to may “payments” (actually the refunds!), they had opted to avoid risk by funding them directly from my bank.

So, even though the money was in my PayPal account and was being refunded to the people it came from, PayPal took money from my external bank account to fund them. And just to put it out there, if you check out here, you’d know that there are many methods through which you can convert your Paypal money to other modes of Payment. And I’m not sure what provoked me to choose Paypal over them.

As a result of this, I ended up a few quid out of pocket as the payments had been made and refunded in dollars. Due to conversion rates changing, the money left in my PayPal account didn’t cover the amount taken without my consent from my bank.

To find out why all this had happened, and was happening, I emailed PayPal. They told me to ring them on their lovely 0870 premium rate number. I asked if there was another number to call them on as that was charged as 10p/minute. I was told “no”, that was the only number they had and they couldn’t resolve the issue by email.

I called. I was on for an hour. Things, after 2 weeks, finally became resolved and my PayPal balance contained the amount taken – without my consent – from my bank. A transaction, incidentally, that put me perilously close to going overdrawn.

I demanded the cost of the telephone call back and was told that this wasn’t policy and that their terms and conditions state that I am liable for all ISP and telephone fees generated as a result of using PayPal.

Hang on.

They can’t do their job over email. They insist I call otherwise I would remain out of pocket. They push me to the redline on my bank account. They tell me that ringing is the only way to resolve the issue…

And then they profit from the phone call?

What a fucking rip-off. This isn’t a business, it’s a scheme to fleece people any which way they can.

Oh, and if you want to lodge a complaint in writing then the address is in Luxembourg, despite them having a physical UK presence.

PayPal – fuck you. I’ll find another way of paying for things online. You’re untrustworthy, sneaky, dodgy, conniving, dishonest and very dubious.

And don’t you dare send me another form email starting “On a personal note…”. The second one of those mails I received – from a different employee – made it obvious there’s nothing personal about you. The third just turned it into a joke.

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Legal action against my blog

[UPDATE – some kind soul has also archived the post on the facebook page “You Don’t Have To Pay Parking Tickets – Spread The Word!” Thank you to them…]

For those unaware (i.e. those who don’t follow me on Twitter or Facebook), my host (that would be One&One) received a “take down” notice the other day. It relates to this post on the blog, was issued by M Law solicitors and is on behalf of [company I can’t mention].

As of midday Monday 25th October, that post has to be removed or my blog will be taken down wholesale.

So, I’ve taken the precaution of backing everything up. And posting the entire text of the post here and here. The former is MoneySavingExpert.com, a well known consumer action group with an actual legal team who would happily tell M Law to go check their rulebook as there’s no grounds for removing the post. The latter is the lovely Shelli’s blog and is hosted in the US where they still seem to have laws that protect freedom of expression.

Do note that the original postings from which my blog post was put together are still available (at the moment) on PePiPoo.com – although I gather they’ve also received a take-down notice. For a large portion of their site. PePiPoo are a consumer action website featuring complaints relating to vehicles, parking and so on. As such there is a lot of potential defamation up there… if you regard “criticism” as “defamation”.

I should be grateful that One&One didn’t just hoik my blog out from under me, as I have heard has happened to other people with other hosts. However, after repeated requests they have so far failed to furnish me with the exact text of the demands from M Law – to whit, what precisely is allegedly “defamatory” about the post. I think I am legally entitled to this information. I’m not an allegedly dodgy parking company (as alleged by pretty much every website you’ll find by Googling their name, including BBC’s Watchdog) with the money to spend on lawyers so I can’t be 100% sure.

One&One, however, are taking the easy route and assuming guilt without giving me a chance to prove innocence. At least, that’s the way I see it. I don’t wish to appear defamatory, and part of me can see it from their point of view. It’s easier to get me to do something than to fight my battle for me, regardless of whether said battle is right or wrong.

In the meantime, the blog post – which, on Tuesday had been read maybe 30-40 times since it was posted, has now gone past the 400 views mark. That is not including viewings of the post on PePiPoo, MSE (another 130) or Shelli’s blog. That makes a more than ten-fold increase in readers simply due to their actions to try to stop people reading it.

[company I can’t mention] – if you wanted to avoid bad publicity then you went very much the wrong way about it!

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Don’t pay “Parking Charges”

The post originally located here has been removed due to a threat of legal action from lawyers acting on behalf of the “people” mentioned in it. More details, in a moment, but in the meantime I heartily recommend you visit one of the four mirrors listed below to view the document as it was published. These sites either have their own legal teams or their hosts (unlike mine) deemed the take-down order to be complete nonsense and ignored it:

OK, the whys and wherefores.

The issue I had was with [company name removed so I don’t risk allegedly defaming them]. Their lawyers are M Law. I am hosted on a One&One server.

According to M Law I defamed [company name removed so I don’t risk allegedly defaming them] in the post. They complained to One&One who, due to the fact that “as an ISP Provider, we have legal obligations in accordance with the Godfrey v Demon Internet Limited 1999 case law to ensure that all the defamatory posts have been removed, or litigation will be pursued against us not yourself.”

Do note that the major point here is “defamatory posts”. The post was not defamatory. At most it was allegedly defamatory. No judge had looked at the case, someone had simply complained that I had not put [company name removed so I don’t risk allegedly defaming them] in a good light.

I will not make further comment about [company name removed so I don’t risk allegedly defaming them]. I will not make any statement about them. What I will say is that whatever I do say would be in the public interest as they are a company who many members of the public deal with regularly. The public is allowed to complain about poor service, or quality of goods. If they didn’t then every single reviewing website or publication would be impossible to publish. BBC‘s Watchdog and Which? magazine could not function.

This is what I believe would be the result had the alleged defamation claim been taken to court. Instead, both organisations seem to have jumped the gun and proclaimed me guilty without a trial.

However, it seems that One&One don’t grasp this and neither do M Law.

Further, I don’t want to lose my entire blog which was the threat laid against me if I didn’t remove the post by midday on 25th October 2010.

All of the above is stated fact, at least as far as I have been able to ascertain from the limited information supplied to me by both the solicitors involved and my web host, despite several requests for more detailed information.

I have not defamed anyone with any of the above text. I leave it to the reader to make their own judgement, research as they require and – for instance – do a Google for the relevant companies. I’m sure the evidence will be enough for you to make your own judgements.

It has been suggested by more than one quarter that, in fact, by making a claim that I was (without due process) guilty of defamation, I myself have been libelled. This is something I am investigating. After all, if a newspaper reports someone as a thief, for instance, before the case has gone to trial and a verdict found then the alleged offender can sue.

Incidentally, prior to the takedown order my blog post had been read approximately 40 times.

As of the post being replaced with this explanation, it had 427 hits. Plus the MSE mirror was over 280. And Shelli’s blog hits had trebled.

Several statements spring to mind, but the two choicest are:

OWN GOAL

and

SHOOTING YOURSELF IN THE FOOT.

So that’s why I can’t mention Parking Eye on here any more.

Whoops.

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National Express – thank you

A Scania K124 EB Irizar of National Express si...
A good response from NE

To follow on from my earlier post, I spoke to my mum last night and a letter/cheque arrived from National Express with a full refund. I was about to get all shirt with them as they never replied to my emails!

I can’t complain, I suppose. Again, they were acting within their terms and conditions but as an act of good faith to a whinging old fart they’ve done well.

So – thank you National Express.

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Insurance Saga

On January 29th, I had a very minor car accident with a motorcycle, luckily we found a good lawyer specialized for this at the blase inzina injury attorneys. Due to a fresh fall of snow and ungritted roads, my little Clio decided that despite my turning the wheel to the right it would keep going in a straight line. I bashed into a high kerb onto some grass where I finally gained some traction, but in the process damaged the wheel and steering. In addition the driver’s seat airbag went off (check resources like StephenBabcock.com for the expert review of the case).

No other vehicles, no damage to anything or anyone and a simple job to quote for. Easy-peasy.

Unfortunately I was driving a car insured by Saga Insurance (my folks are in the age bracket where they can use this bunch of incompetent buffoons) so instead of being a simple claim, this turned into a marathon. At a certain point, I even wanted to sell my car as a scrap vehicle (find out more at SCRAPMYCAROTTAWA.COM if you need to get rid of unwanted car).

In brief, the car went at first to my cousin’s garage where they looked at it, diagnosed the mechanical trouble and told me it would be around £300 to fix it (no labour charge for family). However, he couldn’t repair the seats, seatbelt tensioners and airbag. For that it would have to go to the coachworks next door.

That quote came to over £2000 so it went from a quick fix to an insurance issue. An thus the fun began. Saga were contacted with the details on Monday February 1st and given the details of the problem. Remember, this is as simple as it gets. They had a quote ready for them and no third parties to worry about. It was a simple case of “is the car worth repairing or is it a write-off?”

After two weeks we started to nudge them again. Yes. TWO WEEKS. Apparently they were, and I quote “busy”. As if that’s our problem. Where I stay, the public transport sucks more than Dyson’s finest and the lack of a car was taking its toll on both my personal life and my educational one. A 30 minute drive to college equates to 2 1/2 hours using buses and trains.

After a further week or so we received a request for copies of all the drivers’ licenses. No reason why, or why it had taken three weeks for this request to come through. As far as we could figure it was another excuse for them to drag the claim out more to avoid coughing up.

At the end of the month my dad rang them and pretty much said if they didn’t get their thumbs out of their collective arses and make a decision one way or the other, he’d be taking his insurance elsewhere. My folks don’t just have their car insurance (two cars) with them, they also have the house, possessions and so forth. All of their insurance policies, basically.

By some amazing coincidence, the garage were contacted the next day and told to go ahead with repairs. Time since accident: almost 5 weeks.

Thankfully the garage were swift, and swifter still as a favour to my cousin especially when they heard about the death of my gran. Only a shame I couldn’t have had the car back much sooner so that I could have perhaps seen her a little more often just before she died.

And on to today, March 13th.

My dad got home late this afternoon to a letter from the insurance company dated March 5th. Note that this is after Saga told us to get the car fixed.

The letter states that they will contact us soon after they have made their decision as to whether the car is economically repairable or not. Erm. OK.

Further, as I seem to be the main user of the vehicle and I’m not meant to be (I’m a named driver) they have decided that they no longer wish to insure the car. Therefore as of 14 days from the date on the letter, which would be next Friday, the policy will become null and void and we have to go elsewhere.

Which is strange. If they wanted to null the policy on the basis I shouldn’t have been driving the car then surely they could have used that as an excuse to refuse a payout four weeks earlier. At which point I could have arranged to have the car repaired privately and had the damn thing on the road within a fortnight.

Essentially it looks like a case of left hand/right hand/no idea.

What worries me most is that this is a company that aims its product at the higher end of the age scale, and therefore one of the more vulnerable markets. A lot of over 60’s will freak if they get badgered by insurance people and may well give up or avoid claims as a result. Thankfully my dad’s not one of them, but I hate to think how many other policyholders would put up with this crap.

Needless to say, we’re shifting my car insurance ASAP… along with all the other policies. Saga have just lost as much business as one person can possibly give them. But look at it from my parents’ point of view – if the company can make this much of a mess from the simplest of vehicular claims, would they really want them handling a house fire or flood damage? You’d better consult Singleton Law Firm and give them a call after a fire.

Hell, no.

It’s all well and good looking for the cheapest quote. But if that quote will get you abysmal service when what you need is help then it’s not worth the saving. And I’ve not even gone into the time spent on hold, the non-returned calls, the insistence on details being faxed rather than emailed and so forth.

Saga Insurance. Avoid. They are, in every respect as far as our experience is concerned, complete and utter shit.

Click on the following to find out if Can you get a car loan with bad credit?

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