Wednesday 21 June 2017

Pick up the phone!

Today, after a period of research via the Internet we decided to purchase a couple of pieces of equipment for the company. These were premium quality items, built to last, and as such should represent a reasonable profit to the suppliers. We made a short list of suppliers who we'd contact to discuss placing an order. They were outside of our normal portfolio of suppliers. The equipment is heavy and we'll need to organise additional manpower to receive and install the units.

We started to make the supplier phone calls at 9:30 am this morning. We'd already sent an enquiry, three working days ago, to a well publicised supplier via email because they don't publish a contact phone number!  This supplier (importer) is fronted by a national celebrity whose name is part of the branding. We'd received no response, so they were struck off the list. As their's was the most pricey item we'd be saving money anyway, so this was no major blow.

We then started to work down the list of suppliers. The first three suppliers didn't answer their phones and the calls rolled over to voice mail. We didn't bother leaving a message. The fourth supplier had an answerphone message asking us to call a mobile phone, when we called the mobile number, we were advised the owner was not available and to call again later. All of these suppliers have established web sites with the expensive equipment advertised on their pages.

The fifth company we called answered the phone promptly. The person on the other end was knowledgeable and friendly.  He had to check some information with the supplier and asked if he could call us back, rather than us waiting on the phone. He called back 10 minutes later with the required information. We placed the order over the phone, Their profit margin should certainly pay that gentleman's wages for the week.

We just wonder why, during normal business hours, companies cannot have someone available to answer their phones. There are lots of methods of doing this cheaply yet efficiently. The first four companies lost the opportunity to receive an order, and subsequent follow up business. 

Thursday 11 May 2017

Paypal - problems with account limitation and the alternatives

We're trying to set up a separate PayPal Account to isolate transactions relating to our holiday cottage. We want them separate from the main Trading Floor Business.  However PayPal are proving to be a real pain!  To such an extent, that we'd hesitate to recommend them to our clients and friends. In fact we'd recommend them only to our worst enemies. PayPal is demonstrating appalling communication skills in this case and their Customer Support and Complaints Team seem largely ineffective.

We have a primary address in a town called Belper in the middle of the English countryside.  We want to operate a side business in a nearby town called Wirksworth (8 miles away) at our holiday home. This is all above board; the local authorities know and the national tax bodies know about this set up. Our bank account is based on our Belper address. We own both properties outright with no mortgage.

We've provided Paypal with copies of identity documents and also address proof documentation. Yet they have chosen to limit the associated PayPal account effectively rendering it useless. They appear to ignore the proof of Id/address even though we have provided it five times with explanatory notes. Yet, other than a Case Id: PP-005-824-712-983, they have given us no explanation for the non-acceptance of Id/Address proof. They don't provide us with an appropriate contact email address or contact phone number to talk to the people validating our identity. We've repeatedly asked them to call us and explain the problem. Radio silence from Paypal.

We've spoken with their customer services - they couldn't help. We've submitted a complaint through their official complaints procedure. The response was: we handle cases in order of receipt and it will probably take several weeks to get to that point. We've even approached them by Facebook and had the case referred to the "right people". It's hopeless and smacks of Internal Politics. There's still no meaningful contact from their validation people, just a dumb "something's wrong..." message at a sign-on screen.

We have purchased one of their PayPal Here card readers, but with a "limited" account it is about as useful as a £75 chocolate oven glove.   Not to mention the abysmally poor battery life on the PayPal card reader, but that's another story.

This is no way to do business and is very much against the PayPal Strategy outlined by the PayPal CEO Dan Schulman (14th Feb 2017 - Goldman Sachs)!! Their behaviour has taken us from being an organisation who, for several years, used to recommend PayPal to clients, to an organisation who would advise against using Paypal.

We've given up and signed on to  It was up and working within a day. Their card reader will arrive in a couple of days. Square's software is much better than the PayPal offering.

Edit: 16 th May 2017
In fact PayPal are so unhelpful and uncommunicative, after using PayPal for almost 15 years as a business, we've decided to sever all ties with them. Any employee/associate expense form using PayPal payment will be rejected. Any supplier insisting on Paypal Payment will be dropped. Their domain name will be blacklisted on our firewall and any email from them treated as Spam.

17th May 2017
We just redirected the pre-agreed payments which had been via PayPal on the main business account. Alternative payment routes now set up. We've reviewed all Paypal purchases over the past few years by our business and associates and are about to mailshot the suppliers warning them to have alternative supply purchase funding arrangements. Change of policy note has been issued to all associates warning not to charge business related expenses via their personal PayPal accounts. The testing is going well and their mobile terminal is being well received. We anticipate it will be live soon.

The online shop facility will be set up using and shop rather than PayPal buttons as we'd planned.  This route is a bit more expensive per month, but at least the receipt of cash will be more reliable and not exposed to the obscure quirks of PayPal support. Once we've moved away from PayPal services we are unlikely to return.

18th May 2017
We've tested payments live on the new web site using the  Square payment system. After some more website development we'll soon be live. The process of connecting payments was pretty straight forward, has been approved by and didn't require an affidavit sworn in front of a judge, with passports, bank manager and character witnesses which we assume in the absence of communication from PayPal is what we'd need for the other approach.

19th May 2017
Money taken from our cards during testing with reached our bank account today, so no substantial problems there. Unlike small business hostile PayPal, have checked our Id, undertaken credit checks with credit reference agencies all within the time scale they publish. Invoice payments and refunds all work just fine. One of our clients, who'd been thinking about payment solutions, saw what we'd done and have signed up to Square. 

Paypal apps/accounts have been deleted from all our mobile devices within our organisations.

21st May 2017
Now the only action planned by us is to close the PayPal account and to walk away from them. We'll leave it a few weeks to see if anything comes of our official complaint, but we're not holding our breath. We fully expect PayPal to act like a typical dumb large American corporation and not the business friendly corporation their adverts claim to be.

24th May 2017
We've removed banking authorisation and credit card details from Paypal for our business.

25th May 2017
We'd had a software problem between the Square/Weebly interface. We reported it to both suppliers customer services. In each case they were helpful and had good communication with us. in particular were very proactive in keeping us informed as what was happening. The problem is now fixed.  I've been working in computing and telecoms since 1970; I know things can go wrong with software. What is so important is how you respond to the customers. Both Square and Weebly passed with flying colours. In comparison working with PayPal is like kicking a dead dinosaur along the beach.

Late evening, same day:  Ohhh! Are we seeing some progress? Not: ... PayPal have assigned a new case Id: PP-005-842-910-593. There's still no other attempt at contact, other than a same sign-on message requesting Id data. People, you had a scan of my driver's licence on Day 1, perhaps you need a DNA swab? 

We wonder how many other people have been treated to these inflexible arbitrary procedures. It is now amusing, but of no commercial interest to us. Perhaps we should run one of those Youtube video clips "What happens when you blend a PayPal card reader?" We do have an unwanted device.

27 May 2017
We finally had some direct email contact from PayPal, their executive escalation team. It is much more communicative. Apparently the problems have been caused by a technical issue. The technical issues have now been fixed and our account released from limitation. Well not quite!!  After a couple of iterations of the limit/release cycle our account is still limited and their people are now away until Tuesday (weekend and public holiday). We'll maybe provide an update on 30th May; but you have to say it doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the PayPal systems.

30th May 2017
No further direct contact from PayPal. Just a repeat login notice requesting information already supplied and yet another Paypal Case Id: PP-005-856-518-845. They really are hopeless at communication. So far this past 30 days they've lost the commission on £1678 which would have been normally directed through their system by our organisations. If they have lost the information already supplied by us, they are technically in breach of Data Protection law. Also there's been no response to the official complaint from us which was submitted 29th April.

7th June 2017
We've been assured by the Paypal Executive Interventions Office that our account is not restricted, yet when we sign-on to their system we still get the message that PayPal needs to validate our identity. We think this is due to the "technical fault" which is under investigation, but to be honest we are uncertain. We're not sufficiently reassured that the PayPal account is in a sufficiently stable state to direct any business through it. The last thing we want is to have money locked into the account or worse, having to tell customers that PayPal has restricted the account.

16th June 2017

There still no sign of PayPal fixing their problem with client validation. No response from them on the formal complaint.

2nd July 2017
The Paypal dinosaur has totally forgotten this problem. It remains unresolved. Meanwhile is working just fine.