31 August 2006

Customer non-Service

We seem to be having continuing problems with PayPal. Part of this arises from the way PayPal is configured. US account holders can choose whether or not to pay by credit card, in Europe - as I understand it - PayPal forces its account holders to make their purchase through PayPal.

As security it makes some sense, since PayPal holds records about account holders which it can use to test whether a purchase is likely to be fraudulent. As a commercial policy it obviously makes good business sense, since it tends to increase the free cash float which can be swept into money market accounts. As customer service it is seriously defective. Part of the problem is that people don't remember their PayPal account details and often they have multiple accounts, created over a long period.

I have just taken a few days' holiday and Phil has taken our current problems on the nose. It seems that well over half of the people who wanted to buy from us during the third week of August has had some form of PayPal problem. We are still looking for a good alternative which isn't hideously expensive. The likelihood is that we will continue to offer PayPal as one of the checkout options but that we will have to develop a range of alternatives so that all types of visitor have a good chance of making an automated purchase. The big issue is that these cases are the ones that we know about, and the truth is that they are likely to be the tip of an iceberg. If that assumption is true then PayPal has certainly cost us sales.

As a result I have been doing quite a bit of background reading about PayPal and it seems that we are not alone. PayPal's approach to customer service seems to be antediluvian. There are numbers of sites which complain about PP's customer service experience. The common feature is that PayPal isn't quick to follow up on complaints and tries its best to provide hurdles in its Customer Service process so that the unassertive or those lacking persistence give up.

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