If you don’t listen to customers, you can’t help them, understand them, provide what they need and you most definitely cannot resolve any problems they have with your product or service. It defies belief that I even have to write this post but it seems that the fundamental Customer Service skill of actually listening to what customers are saying rather than just hearing them is clearly sadly lacking in some companies. Take PayPal for example.


It began with a simple sign up to a PayPal credit agreement. What could possibly go wrong? Well, seemingly quite a lot. When the direct debit mandate came through, it had been produced with the wrong name. For whatever reason, PayPal’s systems had picked up a business name, which had been associated with the account several years ago instead of the individual’s name, which is attached to the PayPal account. Bank account details on the mandate were therefore incorrect as even though the account number and sort code were accurate, the name on the mandate wasn’t. No matter, this should be easy enough to remedy. Just a quick email to PayPal to have the issue rectified and then all would be well. Sadly not! An unbelievable 40 back and forth messages later, 24 Twitter DMs and 3 wasted phone calls, the wrong name remains on the direct debit mandate. Aaagggghhh!



It’s worth mentioning at this point that the name on the mandate is not the same as the name on the PayPal account and it’s not the one associated with the bank account on the mandate so how the error has occurred is a mystery. I don’t even think it’s legal never mind bad practice but regardless, it’s an issue that PayPal are not only unable to fix but they just do not understand. There are a number of reasons for the inability to rectify the problem:

  1. Message Centre enquiries are responded to in a crib sheet fashion with standard responses
  2. Message Centre responses are received on average 24 hours later
  3. Message Centre Responses are dealt with by a different customer services assistant every time
  4. Despite each and every customer service assistant being ‘happy to help’ not one of them has actually done so.
  5. The issue has not been understood despite the same information being given again and again.
  6. Repeated insistence of PayPal that only way to rectify issue was to remove bank account and re- add. This couldn’t be done as is attached to a current direct debit mandate.
  7. The credit team is a different department from the online Twitter team and Message Centre and can only be contacted by telephone and when finally contacted, the representatives were unable to effectively deal with the issue.
  8. Assured after speaking to credit team and uploading bank statement to prove account holder details that a confirmation email with updated information would be sent out, only to receive the same repeated message from Message Centre advising that only way to rectify issue would be to remove bank account and then re-add!?
  9. Spouse able to speak on behalf of account holder after verbal authorisation given during a telephone call but when requested in writing, was refused.
  10. Inability of PayPal to be flexible in terms of its operating procedures and policies.



In summary, this was a simple issue for which no explanation has been given for the error, no sincere apology offered (no doubt mainly as PayPal have failed at every opportunity to understand the issue in question), no ownership of the problem taken and too much time spent being happy ‘to assist’ and not enough at listening to the customer that they have dismally failed at doing so.



As to what happens next, who knows? The case has seemingly been escalated and a letter of deadlock requested as PayPal have been unable to rectify the issue and their handling of the case has been so poor. Through ‘hearing’ rather than ‘listening,’ PayPal have only served to make this issue more stressful, frustrating and disappointing for the customer. If they think that this is in any way acceptable and that they still find it a ‘pleasure to assist’ then they are very much mistaken as not one action they have taken so far has been a jot of help.

Do you use PayPal for your transactions? How do you find the Customer Service?


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