back to article Defrauded punter says 'catflaps' to PayPal marketing stunt

A PayPal marketing gimmick has sparked the ire of an online merchant, who reports he was left out of pocket as a result of fraud involving the online payment service. Ian Ferguson's firm was one of 2,000 UK recipients of a doormat bearing a jolly print of 'Unwelcome'. The mats were sent to would-be business clients as part of …


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  1. Stu


    PayPal and eBay are scum of the earth. Sadly there aren't (m)any free payment gateways knocking about, so if you run a website/e-business with low turnover and low profit margins, you've not got much of a choice.

    It seems like they've both got monopolies on their relevant market sectors, which is a big shame. As my wife says, eBay is only good for cheap stuff - buying/selling 2nd hand baby clothes, for example. They just don't have the security levels (nor do they care) to prevent fraud on higher value transactions.

  2. Nigel Wright


    Not my Pal. I was defrauded via PayPal too and left out of pocket. PayPal weren't interested.

    Once a prolific user of eBay and PayPal I no longer bother. As eBay also owns Skype and Skype has been up to no good wrt the China story in el Reg this week I shall also be dumping Skype. The whole corporation is beginning to smell unpleasant as far as I am concerned.

  3. Martin Lyne


    Is a remarkably lovely cat.

    Commentably lovely?

  4. Tom Wood


    I can sympathise with the guy who was defrauded using Paypal. I recently suffered the same fate with a £200 camera lens I sold on eBay. Paypal were completely disinterested and said simply that I shouldn't have sent the item to an "unverified" address - but if I hadn't sent the item, no doubt I'd have a black mark against my name from eBay...

    The best they could do was tell me to talk to the police, who are currently investigating, but I'm not really expecting much joy.

    To make matters worse, a change in Paypal's T&Cs from 30 September means that while my transaction wasn't covered by Paypal's "seller protection" policy, if I'd "sold" the item just two weeks later I'd have been able to get the money back from Paypal... maybe this is a step in the right direction but it's not much help from those of us who have been defrauded by people using Paypal as a tool in the past...

  5. Matthew Banwell

    Good Customer Service!

    If the seller doesn't use Recorded Delivery (and even if they have Proof of Postage), you can make a claim to PayPal that you never received the item and PayPal will take your money from the seller and credit it back to you. So, you get a refund *and* get to keep the item. What a deal - seems like good customer service to me...!

    (Disclaimer - had this happen to me, though have never done it myself)

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Join paypal and be treated like a doormat.

    Mines the one with the pockets stuffed with credit cards.

  7. Francis Fish

    I am building an e-commerce site and was thinking of Paypal

    ... mainly because all the documentation is there.

    Think I will need to go digging. If anyone can post an alternative here, preferably that integrates with Rails, please do.

    Let's turn this into a reference for decent alternatives, as well as the usual Paypal slag-fest.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    PayPal is Unwelcome


    That has to be the worst marketing campaign since Ratners 'Buy my jewellery - its crap' tagline.

    Paris because she knows how to market herself...

  9. Ash


    A gent in the pub said something very poignant last night;

    When they stop shipping bottles of water from around the world to a country where it comes out of a tap, THEN i'll start thinking about MY emissions.

  10. Feef Lovecraft


    Paypal has shockingly bad customer services, I'm really amazed it's not been put into the legal wrangler long before now.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Funny thing happened to me too

    Just last month, someone used my credit card number to make a purchase via Paypal for 250€.

    Now I don't have a Paypal account because I have never trusted them within a mile of my pocket, and I don't go out giving away my credit card number either - it was most probably found via a generator.

    The only good thing is that my bank (a good and proper one) actually contacted me about the transaction, and I was easily able to explain that I cannot make purchases via Paypal since I do not have an account with them. I also stated that I never will and I asked them to block Paypal purchases permanently.

    Unfortunately, it would appear that my bank cannot do that (yet) - but I did get my money back (and my credit card has been replaced).

    Now I am left wondering what poor soul got screwed out of 250€ thinking he made a sale, sent the goods and got a chargeback in return.

    Paypal really is the pits.

  13. Eddie Edwards
    IT Angle

    Ian Ferguson

    Is that the same Ian Ferguson who posts here?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Use Amazon instead

    For selling higher value items I've switched to Amazon. Downside is you can't increase the postage cost, they've allowed £4.50 for me to post a laptop which will cost £20.70 to actually post.

  15. Kenny Millar

    About time

    It's about time eBay and PayPal were forced to take a much more pro-active and re-active stance against fraud.

    By not chasing the cash trail of fraudsters they are passively participating in the fraud and therefore are involved in the fraud.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: sympathy

    > I recently suffered the same fate with a £200 camera lens

    > I sold on eBay. Paypal were completely disinterested and

    > said simply that I shouldn't have sent the item to an

    > "unverified" address - but if I hadn't sent the item, no

    > doubt I'd have a black mark against my name from eBay...

    Yup, and to top it off, they now FORCE you to accept PayPal as a payment option!

    You can't insist on Cash On Delivery/Postal Orders etc (Or whatever you deem a more trustworthy payment method than PayPal).

    So, you have to accept PayPal.. You choose NOT to deliver to an Unverified address.. Buyer leaves you negative, and you can't leave a negative in return!

    They're a hoot!

  17. Mart


    Wouldn't it be ironically funny if 2,000 'UNWELCOME' doormats turn up on ebay over the next few days.....

  18. Anonymous Coward

    PayPal (Europe) is a BANK

    ... but unfortunatly is registered in Europe (specifically Luxemborg). As such, they are regulated by the Luxemborg equivalent of the FSA, the "Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF)". It may be worth investigating whether there is any scope in complaining to them, but I suspect that even though they are in the EU, national barriers may get in the way. Even then, the costs may be prohibitive.

    Maybe we should all write to our MEP to raise the issue in the European Parliment.

    I feel very surprised that PayPal are so unresponsive, but you did sign up to their usage agreement, and it does not seem like anything in that agreement is illegal. Nor does it seem like they broke any of their clauses in that agreement, so I suspect that refraining from using PayPal and campaigning against them are the only real options.

  19. Ian Ferguson

    Follow up...

    Funnily enough, within hours of me posting that blog, Google indexed it, the marketing team found it, and the I received an email from PayPal asking if someone from their Customer Experience Team could phone me. I've just spoken to them and will write a little follow up blog in a minute. Naturally, they were as nice as pie and couldn't do more to help...!

    Martin Lyne: She's called Shiva, and she's a lovely, lovely little fluffy ball of terror.

    Greg: You're welcome to buy the doormat off me, but don't expect to pay me by PayPal...

  20. Phil the Geek

    PayPal alternative

    We considered PayPal for our new ecommerce website but rejected them in favour of protx's £20/month flat rate deal and an Internet Merchant Account at our current bank. It was the most cost-effective for our transaction volume and mix - your mileage may vary. The protections were (IMHO) at least as good as PayPal's - but with the advantage that the reporting of transaction risk is very clear and unambiguous.

    I haven't personally suffered at PayPal's hands despite hundreds of transactions through them, but I do think eBay are a bunch of useless greedy grasping tossers who wouldn't last five minutes without their monopoly position.

  21. Uncle Slacky Silver badge


    Any bets that it'll turn up on Ebay soon?


  22. rd232


    Well if you're doing a site, there's Google Checkout, which seems pretty good (though I've not used it long enough to say how they might deal with fraud). For ebay, cash on collection can be an option, if the item isn't very rare. I've used online bank transfer too. And always recorded delivery (it's only 68p more)!

  23. Jon Kinsey

    £300 for phone on ebay?

    I guess it's possible that a very new phone might get that sort of money on ebay. For me though the first obvious sign of a scam is unrealistic bids. I wonder if greed played a part in not noticing how dodgy the buyer looked?

  24. Richard Thomas

    Re: I want that doormat!

    With 2,000 UK recipients, I'm sure a few of them will be available on eBay...

  25. Matt Bradley

    @Francis Fish

    Hi, Hope this helps. Try:


    Google Checkout



  26. Ian Ferguson

    Re: £300 for phone on ebay?

    It was a Walkman W300i, when they first came out. The price in the shop (without contract) was nearer £400. I was selling it for less than it was worth.

    I have now updated my blog after getting a couple of very apologetic, slightly panicky calls from PayPal:

  27. Ian Ferguson
    IT Angle

    Re: Ian Ferguson By Eddie Edwards


    On another note, can anyone explain to me why it is that I was 'the victim of fraud' but at the same time was 'defrauded'? 'Defrauded' sounds like the negative of 'fraud', ie. somebody ran up to me and stuffed my pockets with cash.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never Used Paypal, Never will

    From a buyer's standpoint on eBay, they recently stopped accepting Money Orders. We buy hell of antiques, rack effects, guitars, and electronics, and have put up with scrolling to the bottom of each page to see if each listing is Paypal or not.

    If it's paypal only, we close that listing.

    Well that's it for us, last straw, both Paypal and eBAy can go flush their unfriendly ways down the financial toilet.

    We now hear eBay plans to do away with auctions next.

    This leaves a big hole for sellers if you ask me. We know of music stores in the UK that only sell guitars via check or money order, that has got to have ruined them.

    Paypal, what a dirty nasty joke, it would be funny if it wasn't so painful and annoying.

  29. James
    Paris Hilton


    I don't think I can find much sympathy for the guy apparently shipping a £300 phone to an unverified address without using recorded delivery! The one time I got scammed, it was as a customer; Paypal weren't particularly helpful, but I did get a full refund via my credit card company. What exactly did this guy expect - Paypal should just eat the loss for him, even though he hadn't taken the basic precautions they tell you to? Why should they be left out of pocket for his business mistake?

    Paris, because I bet she could figure out the bit about verified addresses.

  30. Solomon Grundy


    You haven't ever sold things in the real world have you? You are one of the whining people that have successfully destroyed eBay - Congratulations!

  31. Steven Hunter

    Real credit cards not any better

    When there is a charge-back on any credit card, the merchant *always* ends up paying back the money. Yeah, it sucks that he's out £300 *and* the phone, but that's hardly PayPal's fault.

    Nice to know that even El Reg has "cat blog Fridays" though.

  32. Ian Ferguson

    Re: Painpal

    Er, yes, I did use recorded delivery. It didn't make the slightest iota of difference. It would if it happened again, as PayPal have changed their policy and take proof of delivery as evidence, but a couple of years ago it was hard cheese. The whole point is that I *did* take the basic precautions.

    And you *would* get a full refund if you were scammed as a customer - it's as a seller that you'd be screwed.

  33. RW

    @ Phil the Geek re: Protx

    Protx isn't bad; I pay through it when I buy nipple rings from Wildcat. However, there are elements to its design that fall short of "fully baked."

    In particular, it depends on cookies but nowhere does it say so, and if you have cookies disabled by default like a sensible person, you don't get an error of any sort. Or maybe the error is a pop-up blocked by Firefox because it uses spam/scam popup techniques.

    Moreover, Protx sets cookies not only for itself, but for a domain named something like "". (I don't have the cookies on file any more, and don't remember the exact domain name.)

    I'd say the problems with Protx, while not serious, are due to a lack of transparency. All they have to do is lard their pages with "here's what we're doing and why and how you can adjust your browser settings to make it all work."

    To the Protx people reading: try it out on Firefox 3 with cookies disabled by default, popups blocked, and AdBlockPlus operating. You'll see what I mean.

    In a way, it's a textbook case of what happens when you assume everyone is an idiot using IE with unaltered defaults.

  34. Gareth Lowe

    Normal practice

    While i have no doubt that PayPal's customer support was poor the simple fact remains:

    If someone uses a credit card fraudulently it's the merchant who takes the loss. This is the same with all credit card handlers, it's something merchants have to take into account when they choose to enhance their business by accepting credit cards.

    It seems that a lot of small internet retailers seem to assume that they get the same credit card protection as a seller as they do as a buyer.

  35. J
    Thumb Up


    "She's called Shiva, and she's a lovely, lovely little fluffy ball of terror."

    Appropriate name indeed, then.

    Really nice looking cat, congrats.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    never use payprobe

    Because they asked for WAY too much information when I started looking into what I needed to give them to sign up for an account. Then I started hearing the nightmare stories about holds on credit cards and all that and decided I had made the right choice. I still look at the "pay options" at the bottom of a sale and if they don't allow money orders (I have rarely used a personal check) then too bad for them. I have only been ripped off one time for a small amount of money (purchase never delivered...I fried them on review) and had a problem with one other seller (trying to sell me a dirty camera and lenses with bad (oily) diaphrams), but he was persuaded to take it all back and return my money....

    If they go to all payhoser then i won't ever be buying there again. there was a long rant a month or so ago in reply to a article that pretty well laid out where eButt is going and what's coming out of it.

  37. RW

    That pretty cat

    Yeah, she's a beauty.


    Has she sharpened her claws on the mat yet?

  38. b166er


    Do Paypal or eBay have a customer services telephone number?

    Can anyone think of a company (indeed bank) of similar size that doesn't?

    Never gonna use either, unless they have a customer services telephone number.

  39. RW

    Ebay has become hopeless

    I have a search string I've been using for a couple of years to find auctions of some clothing I like. It specified brand name, size, style and for about 18 months worked well. Then earlier this year it started returning all sorts of other crap: it was all clothing, mostly of the right kind and size, but not the right brand nor the right style. ("Style" meaning the manufacturer's name for the particular line.)

    It rapidly got to the point that the what-I-don't-want-to-see was swamping what I do want to see.

    Ebay's had the same search string semantics for a good 10 years, and now they've gone and changed them. Did it ever occur to the idiots there that the longer and more complex the search string, the less likelihood the customer is interested in stuff that doesn't match exactly?

    No, I'm not interested in that other crap and no I'm not going to buy it. I know what I want.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I the only one...

    ...who's never had a bad experience on eBay? I've been using them since... what, 1997? Way the hell back, and nary an issue.

    Anyway, I want an Unwelcome mat, too! That's awesome!

    (Right now, my welcome mat is upside down, so people get welcomed into the world when they leave my house, rather than getting welcomed into the house...)

  41. Anonymous Coward


    While this sort of thing is unfortunate, Paypal is just doing the same thing the Banks and CC companies already do.

    Whenever a merchant accepts a fraudulent transaction, someone has to lose out... the CC companies give guarantees that their customers won't lose out if their cards are misused online (this started as a way to ensure some other methods didn't overtake credit cards online).

    The CC companies and the Banks providing the credit do not accept the risk and liability of fraudulent transactions, they shift all the risk and liability onto the merchant.

    Any merchants agreement with a bank has the merchant accepting all the risk and liability for fraudulent transactions and it is up to the merchant to get the Police to investigate the fraud (and unless the fraudster is really stupid they will never be caught).

    Because the CC Companies, Banks and Paypal don't accept any liability, there is never any incentive for them to prevent CC fraud (in fact unreported cc fraud increases their revenue)

    Pirate flag because the CC companies, Banks, and Paypal are all pirates.

  42. Ian Ferguson

    Merchant view

    Several people have pointed out that fraud is a cost that merchants have to bear, and thus it is expected and Paypal cannot be expected to bear the cost.

    I kind of agree, when it comes to what I think of as a 'merchant' - a business or person that sells on eBay/Paypal to make a profit, and is therefore subject to tax on the goods they sell.

    However, I don't think of myself as a 'merchant', just somebody who wants to sell the occasional bit of tat. It's semantics, I suppose - but if as soon as I sell an item on eBay I become a merchant, and should expect a certain level of loss, I feel it's only fair that eBay/Paypal should warn me of this, rather than bragging about a safe and secure way of selling goods.

    To be honest, eBay seems to be increasingly focusing on bulk merchants rather than individuals - it's actually quite hard to find an item on there which is just being sold as nobody wants it any more, rather than being sold by somebody making a living. It's no longer a bring-and-buy sale, and it's becoming more like the duff end of a flea market every day. In other words, poorer quality goods, nothing unique any more, inflated prices, and no real bargains.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google Checkout

    Have a read of those posts and decide whether checkout is worth it. Seems just like paypal to me, in fact their terms of service are worse (regarding acceptable use of the system on your systems)

    so what if their charges are lower (tiny) compared to paypal - if they act like they appear to have been, they can keep it.

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