Safe to use "Send Money to a Friend" Paypal option to pay a vendor?
August 1, 2019 7:47 PM   Subscribe

A non-US vendor is asking me to pay him through Paypal using the ‘Send Money to a Friend’ option. Is this safe?

Long story short I (US customer) tried to pay a UK vendor's invoice (in pounds) through Paypal (via a credit card). Unfortunately the funds were put "on hold" for what would apparently be a two week period on his end so he cancelled the order and refunded the money. He asked if I could try it again using a different email address (his store address), using the 'Send Money to a Friend' option so neither of us would have to pay fees. (He also deducted 25 pounds from the purchase price).

I was just wondering if this would be safe to do (i.e. would I be able to get my money back if the item never arrived or wasn't as described? Would I have to have used a credit card as my Paypal payment if I had to do a chargeback, or could I use either Paypal funds or a Paypal/credit card combination?)
posted by gtrwolf to Shopping (14 answers total)
I don’t know how reliable this person is, but going through “friends and family” is notoriously used by scammy sellers.
posted by MountainDaisy at 7:52 PM on August 1 [10 favorites]

i.e. would I be able to get my money back if the item never arrived or wasn't as described?

No. As far as PayPal is concerned, when you use the Friends and Family option you're basically giving someone money as a gift. I've also read that PayPal will respond poorly if you have your credit card issuer do a chargeback in such a case. If you don't know and trust this person, do not do it.
posted by jon1270 at 7:58 PM on August 1 [9 favorites]

PayPal’s buyer protection does not apply to “send money to a friend” transactions, so if something goes wrong with the transaction, you are pretty much at the mercy of the seller.
posted by skewed at 7:59 PM on August 1 [3 favorites]

Unfortunately the funds were put "on hold" for what would apparently be a two week period on his end

OK, so when you do a transaction with a stranger in a well-established way that should work, but you get the "see, what had happened we have to do this whole other thing" narrative instead, you should automatically conclude that shadiness is afoot. This is not a hard one.
posted by praemunire at 8:04 PM on August 1 [27 favorites]

Nooope. Look, I do "Friends and Family" for my dogsitter because I know he wants to save on the seller fees, but only because I'm paying after the services are rendered. Otherwise, buyer protections exist for a reason. Him offering such a big discount is also a red flag. It's not to "make up for the inconvenience" or whatever other apologetic noises he made: it's supposed to help push you over the edge of ignoring all the ways PayPal tries to tell you that this is a bad idea.
posted by teremala at 8:12 PM on August 1 [5 favorites]

Absolutely not. I provide a service and am paid through PayPal frequently. I would only allow this with a very trusted repeat customer or a family member or real-life friend because you're taking away literally all of your protections. And because you'd be violating PayPal's TOS they are definitely not going to help you. Do not do it.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:17 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

No - you aren't friends.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:21 PM on August 1

In general this does not pass the sniff test. If they don’t want to wait the two weeks, stuff ‘em.

In the specific you will have violated PayPal’s terms of service so even if there were normally a recourse open to you it would not be available.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:44 PM on August 1

Yeah, that's pretty much what I figured. Thought I might have some "wiggle room" if I used a credit card but apparently not, so...
posted by gtrwolf at 10:31 PM on August 1

Interesting ... I regularly send money to US vendors this way.

I think this boils down to how much you know about the vendor and the degree of confidence you have in them.
posted by GeeEmm at 11:54 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately the funds were put "on hold" for what would apparently be a two week period on his end

This probably is a sign of PayPal being crappy to them rather than their actually being untrustworthy, but unfortunately it's still their problem to fix, and you can't take the risk of helping them with it.
posted by ambrosen at 12:52 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]

As a counterpoint I recently spent some time travelling in South America and several hostels there requested I pay them through PayPal using the Friends and Family option (I presume to save on fees). Although I suppose the key differences are that this was after I had used their services and I was usually standing right next to the person I was paying in case of any issues.
posted by neilb449 at 1:23 AM on August 2

I mean, I might conduct this transaction, but it would depend completely on the value of the item, the shipping method being used, and more than anything the seller's rating on Ebay.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:49 AM on August 2

A caution: my PayPal account got flagged for doing after I paid a new vendor using Friends & Family as they had requested I do, PayPal threatened to shut my account down if I paid or was paid under this miscategorization again. I suspect it's because I have a business account with PayPal and one client was regularly paying me via that method, so I'm sure my account was under some internal watchlist to make sure they got as many fees out of me as possible. So doing it once may not matter, but doing it on the regular can cause extra scrutiny.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 11:17 AM on August 2

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