I’ve had a Paypal account in good standing for 6 years selling primarily websites and graphic design services, with an occasional ebook (but rarely).
Lately I’ve been working 3 ecommerce sites selling physical products rather than digital products. They are all still new and being worked on and two of them have around 1,000 products in them. Since they are built on Woo Commerce, I’ve purchased a lot of the extensions available for Woo Commerce. While I was browsing the extensions, I noticed a Paypal Advanced extension and did some research into Paypal Advanced. It allows you to accept both Paypal and credit cards on your website and is a actual merchant solution.
I decided to apply for Paypal Advanced for one of the sites in the survival gear niche. The site sells survival food, gear, tools (such as knives), first aid kits, etc. What happened next was a real mess.
Paypal acceptable use dept. reviewed the knives on the site and didn’t like 6 of them and asked me to remove them. I removed them immediately and then started reviewing the knives myself (I had imported a csv file of the wholesalers entire inventory, so didn’t really review the knives myself). I ended up removing another 200 knives from the site that weren’t a good fit for the survival niche, although they were completely legal knives. Only certain knives are against Paypal’s acceptable use policy, but they don’t define which types are or aren’t.
After I removed all those knives, I get a notice that Paypal has limited my account pending acceptable use review and they declined my application for Paypal Advanced. Two days go by and I call them both days and get nothing on what I need to do to remove the limitation to my account.
Then last night I get an email saying that my account is closed. All this simply because of Paypal activity initiated by me applying for Paypal Advanced.
During this limitation, I decided to scrap the idea of Paypal Advanced and applied for some merchant accounts. Figured I would see who accepted my application and go from there. Well, all three accepted my application but what happened next is the real kicker.
I decided to write a post on my blog about the Paypal experience. I then looked up the name of the Paypal President and noted that the most accessible contact info for him was his Twitter account.
This is the fairly new President of Paypal, David Marcus. There have been numerous stories on the net about David Marcus and his intention to change some policies and corporate culture at Paypal and do things differently. You can read one of those stories here: PayPal president makes house-call (or email) to smooth over customer dispute | VentureBeat and here: Paypal President Marcus Vows Change at Payments Giant – Tricia Duryee – Commerce – AllThingsD
Sounds good right? Well, it’s not just talk. After making my post, I tweeted the url to David Marcus, President of Paypal this morning. What happened next was almost immediate and stunning.
Emails started rolling in from all kinds of Paypal people … limitation removed, account restored, knives all fine now, Paypal Advanced now approved. I received 3 phone calls from high ranking Paypal executives apologizing for the mess and doing everything they could to get me up and running on Paypal Advanced smoothly and quickly.
The second caller disclosed that my blog post “went straight to the top” to the President.
This is an amazing story, at least IMO, of a man at the top of an enormous company who actually listens and monitors customer satisfaction and vowing to make culture changes in the company, actually does exactly that.
I’m not saying that this would work for everyone who has closed accounts or limitations. There are accounts that are unrecoverable and business models that they don’t support and will not support, but when they make a mistake, it’s not as difficult to be heard and are not as inflexible as they appeared to be. This change in Paypal is coming from the top down, and I was very impressed after a couple of frustrating days to have the problem conclude this way.