Help me get past L1 support at Paypal. Please?
May 17, 2007 9:12 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone help me with escalating past first-level support on Paypal? It's an old old story with Paypal, apparently, but I'm almost at the end of my rope.

Here's a (long, sorry) synopsis:

I've been using the form on the site for support, as that appears to be the only option other than phone, and I'm not keen about sitting on hold from Korea waiting for phone support.

The problem is a technical one on their end, very clear-cut, and I want to suggest the solution to someone who can actually do something about it rather than deal with more cut and paste stock answers that do not address the issue, from people pretending to be named 'Jason' or 'Michelle' rather than Sandeep or whatever.

Here's the problem: Paypal (no doubt at the behest of the Korean government) recently started requiring a Korean national ID number to make withdrawals to a Korean bank. This is a recent change.

Problem is (and is the same with many sites in Korea, which often require the ID# to register) that the verification algorithm they use (which was no doubt also supplied by the Korean gov't) does not recognize the format of the ID# of non-Korean residents' (like me), which is a little different. Yay.

So my first support request was about that.

The suggested solution from support: use my wife's ID number.

I entered her ID#, which verified OK, but when I got to the final withdrawal confirmation step, Paypal warned in BIG LETTERS that the transaction would fail if the account identifiers at the bank and at Paypal did not match exactly. Right. I stopped the transaction before confirmation.

Next support request outlined the problem. Their next response made no sense whatsoever and didn't address the issue. Par for the course, apparently.

So I figured OK, why not make a new Paypal account for my wife, transfer funds to that one, then she could withdraw to one of her accounts, yay all done and no problems because all the names and IDs would match up fine with the bank.

Problem: once a Korean national ID number is in Paypal's database, anywhere, for any user, even if you delete an account and make a new one, you can never use it again. Even if, as I say, it's not being used by a live account. Other problem: there's no way to edit, delete or otherwise see or alter a Korean National ID# that is registered against an account once it's been used (even without final confirmation being clicked) against a withdrawal transaction.

So now I've got my wife's ID number against my account (and there is no interface to change or delete it) and can't use it. I can't add my own ID, even if it worked (which it doesn't, which started all this), because there's no interface to do so.

I can't add my wife's correct ID to her account either, because the system says it's being used by someone else (me), even if I delete my account and register another brand new one (that is, it's perpetually in the database).

So: I can't get any kind of acknowledgement or comprehension of the issue out of first line support, it seems, and the solution is dead simple. Some UI is needed for editing of Korean National ID numbers, or failing that, I just want the IDs they've irrevocably registered (without anywhere saying that's how it works) against my and my wife's accounts deleted, so I can enter the correct ones.

TL/DR version: Anybody got any ideas how I can get past the L1 support to someone who can help? I just want to explain all this, and it's gotten to the point where I can't in their 1000-character-limit textbox, and their frontline support doesn't seem to be able to understand the issue or provide any kind of solution anyway.

(And yes, I know PAYPAL SCUKS!!1! and all that, but it was my only option in this situation, and I just want to get my funds out of there until they improve the situation for users (and particularly non-Korean users) in Korea.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken to Work & Money (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Could you set up an account in another country and send the money there? Like a PayPal account for Canada or the US or any country where you have a bank account? Could you use PayPal to pay a bill somewhere (if this is one time)?

For the record, I think you actually are dealing with Jason and Michelle. My understanding is that PayPal's tech/customer support call centre is here in Vancouver. Unless they have more.
posted by acoutu at 9:27 PM on May 17, 2007


Call them via Skype or Gizmo or any other voip provider that will only charge you $0.02USD to call an American phone number, and immediately ask to be transferred to a supervisor. That's really the only way around L1 support, especially with a company as horrible as PayPal.
posted by cmonkey at 9:34 PM on May 17, 2007


Response by poster: Could you set up an account in another country and send the money there? Like a PayPal account for Canada or the US or any country where you have a bank account?

Good idea, but unfortunately I have no accounts anywhere but Korea. My fallback on this is to impose on a friend in Canada, Paypal the cash to him and have him wire-transfer to my bank here, but I'd rather get this resolved for future stuff, if I can.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:37 PM on May 17, 2007


What if you used your account to buy travellers cheques or Amex gift certificates or something like that?
posted by acoutu at 9:52 PM on May 17, 2007


Best answer: When dealing with credit card and payment companies in today's world situation, for obvious reasons there are topics which seem to get escalated more readily than others. Security breach is one which appears more heavily weighted than problems withdrawing monies from an account.

I do not suggest you lie, but are you certain that the reason your wife's ID number is failing is because you used it elsewhere? You can't really know that. It may be that a security fault has locked you out of proper control your rightful funds and, just maybe, another party potentially has illegal access to or control over your account. This is a concern that you can raise in less than 1000 characters and, given the complexities of PayPal, international finance, and professional hacking teams, a completely legitimate worry. At a minimum, it cannot be disputed that there is a security fault somewhere in the system, even if it does not put your money at risk.

Failing that, there are other strategies. A second one is brutal honesty. You might try an e-mail response along the lines of "I'm sorry, but your last 'n' technical communications didn't help me out and the problem becomes more severe with passing of time. Can you have your supervisor contact me about [pithy and slightly vague description of horrible problem]?". Stay polite regardless of provocation, including extreme cluelessness. Rudeness is an automatic excuse for harried tech support to blow you off or bury you deep in the queue.

Both of these approaches have gotten me past first-line technical support with companies in the past. Of course, in the first case I did have a security issue, and in the second the front-line support was not answering my questions correctly. I don't think either interpretation is too much of a stretch here.

A third strategy which can work is to simply post back to support once a day briefly restating the issues, acknowledging past commmunications, and saying the problems remain unresolved. Do not post too often to be harrassment, but by staying polite and persistent you may yet break through. I once got an ISP to notify a virus-spammer to knock off their e-mails to me by politely following up once a day to their postmaster box until they paid attention.

Then too, simply by posting here on a moderately high-profile blog, there is a longshot bet that someone affiliated with PayPal that is further up the food chain than a phone support monkey is sufficiently motived by friends, relatives, or web-surfing Higher PayPal Power to look into the matter.
posted by mdevore at 10:11 PM on May 17, 2007


Response by poster: Good ideas, mdevore, thanks. I've never actually used company support for any kind of software or hardware or web service, ever, I realized recently, until now. My first experience has been frustrating.

Then too, simply by posting here on a moderately high-profile blog, there is a longshot bet that someone affiliated with PayPal that is further up the food chain than a phone support monkey is sufficiently motived by friends, relatives, or web-surfing Higher PayPal Power to look into the matter.

I admit, that was one of the things that crossed my mind when I decided to ask for help here... the Reach and Power of Ask Metafilter.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:30 PM on May 17, 2007


Unfortunately, you have picked one of the most infamous companies for technical support problems for your first experience. I can't offer a guarantee, or even strong confidence, that my suggestions will work. But you've got a shot.

You might note that my own experience with PayPal support is that they can take up to four days to respond to an inquiry, which can really slow progress down to infuriating levels and make the whole politeness thing more than a casual exercise.

I suppose in their defense PayPal must manage communications with tens of thousands of angry and/or stupid users who should be dealt with at the lowest technical support level, but I join with the teeming throngs hollering that PayPal needs to considerably revamp their processing of technical support inquiries. It is simply terrible.
posted by mdevore at 10:46 PM on May 17, 2007


I have no idea about PayPal specifically, but if you're willing to try the phone again, I've found that a lot of places will put you through quicker if you just pound on the * key incessantly instead of going through the menus. I don't know if this'll get you past L1, but it should reduce the hold time, at least.
posted by equalpants at 12:48 AM on May 18, 2007


Create a blog about your issue, document it with copies of all correspondence and screenshots, then write to The Consumerist. Then send a letter (make sure to mention your blog/consumerist) addressed to a Vice President of something at PayPal. Emphasize that you've tried incredibly hard to work with the regular support options but that your problem has no solution in sight without help from above the first support level. There is also a business case for PayPal: surely they want Koreans to be able to use PayPal. This probably still won't work, because eBay/PayPal design their business around making it hard for customers to communicate with the company.

Find direct (non 1-800) phone numbers to PayPal (perhaps a fax number?) and then change the last four digits slightly until you reach a human. This almost worked for me when I reached some Desk Lady at the eBay offices in Draper, Utah but I was too stupefied to come up with a response after she told me that the people who handled my problem don't have phones. Yeah, right. Maybe insted of trying to convince her that I was legitimately calling the forbidden department, I should have instead leveled with her and begged for her help. Maybe you could try both (but do it with phone numbers that aren't directly adjacent or you may talk with cubicle neighbors who figure you out).
posted by colgate at 2:52 AM on May 18, 2007


For whatever it's worth, this page tells you how to get through quicker to a human being (though not how to avoid eterna-hold). And as long as you're taking out your frustrations, you could submit to this is broken.
posted by adamrice at 6:53 AM on May 18, 2007


I hoped that Consumerist might've mentioned a "Paypal Executive Service" contact (as it has for other providers); no such luck.
posted by WCityMike at 8:48 AM on May 18, 2007


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