Payment without the Pal

At one time the use of PayPal for online transactions was not only convenient, it was the safest way to enter into transactions with unknown vendors here in America and abroad. As with many corporations in the US, PayPal has chosen to follow the path which accents profitability through the exploitation of victimized users of their service. Over the past few years I have listened to complaints about the PayPal services –frankly dismissing them as sour grapes over some dislike of PayPal policy that didn’t happen to favor the complainer. That was until I was totally victimized by a Chinese corporation that used PayPal as a buyer protected payment conduit.

I purchased an obstacle avoiding quadcopter. It’s obstacle detection made it a good candidate for indoor use, as it would “see and avoid” walls, ceilings and even stairways as it flew. Most of the quadcopters intended for indoor or extreme calm conditions outdoors in dim light conditions are only marginally stabilized and meet their demise through collisions. With the promise of this flyer, it appeared that I found a quadcopter with a lifespan greater than an hour or two, the usual average for many of todays Chinese built toys. I paid $107 US for this device; twice the cost of the average quadcopter of its size and utility. I paid the extra for the promised protection of obstacle avoidance.

Most items ordered online take about a week to arrive. Those coming from Asian areas can take two to three weeks. When I failed to receive my item by four weeks, I complained of non-delivery. The vendor ignored my request for information, not even sending tracking information. Further, al information sent in the sale confirmation was written in Chinese characters, hardly legible to the average American buyer. I had to resort to PayPal’s list of processed transactions in order to ferret out the vendor’s email address. A hastily sent package arrived by registered mail a week after I complained. Shipping information gave the impression it was sent the day I filed my PayPal complaint. I signed for the package and took possession of it. On arriving home, I opened up the shipping material to find not a brand new factory package, but an “open box” shipment with the factory seal broken. On removing the product, it was immediately obvious that the remote control transmitter had been removed from the package. Of course, without a transmitter, the aircraft was completely useless. The controller it employed was proprietary to the quadcopter and so another could not be substituted and used instead.

Something seems to be missing!

I filed a claim at that time with PayPal, explaining that I received a collection of unusable parts which failed to constitute the advertised product: a Ready To Fly aircraft with all necessary components for immediate flight. Even the batteries for the transmitter were supposedly included in the $100+ kit. PayPal accepted the complaint and commented that it would take up to 30 days of investigation to determine the outcome of the claim due to the extensiveness of their process. It took them less than seven hours to find in favor of the vendor, and would not even share with me the information which caused them to reach their backwards decision. Here I was, ripped off, and PayPal sided cavalierly with the perpetrator.

I began to better understand the depth of frustration felt by those who had shared their unhappy stories about how PayPal had changed, especially in terms of post sales support. They certainly do appear to take the side of the party who uses their services the most and –coincidentally– pays the greater amount of fees to use their services. I can tell you that such a flagrant disregard for a damaged customer has certainly changed my perspective on PayPal. I have already started to shift my online transactions over to Amazon Services and Google Wallet, among others. Eventually I will withdraw my account from PayPal and cease using their services. It is, or course, the mosquito versus the hippopotamus, they shan’t miss me and I shan’t miss them. But I have grown a lot more staunch about “voting with my wallet” when it comes to doing business. It’s no secret that I try my best to support American businesses, and this last was another case where Asian companies claimed to be a US business, when in fact they merely had an agent for the Chinese company operating in the US.

I won’t get into the concepts of trade balances –how the Chinese export to US vastly more products than they purchase from us, nor will I speak of the low quality of products that have subjected formerly healthy customers to suffer exposure to lead and mercury and other toxic chemicals used with impunity in Asian manufacturing methods. I won’t even complain that support for their products is rarely accompanied by legible and understandable instructions and how product support is virtually non-existent. I will simply point out that on way too many occasions the complaint against these marketers is their ability to refuse to deliver to US customers what those customers purchased in good faith. Mine is just another of the hundreds of thousands complaints wracked up by business practices without ethics.

Purchasing Chinese products doesn’t save us money. It costs us money. Until people realize this and temper their excitement about cheap prices and hold out in favor of quality, we are going to keep putting American workers out of jobs and American companies out of business. We all need to wake the hell up.