Sunday, 21 April 2019
eBay/PayPal - Glitch Department - Be Very Afraid...
A few days ago I completed a routine purchase on eBay - large, reputable seller I've dealt with before. Paid via my PayPal account, and received all the usual confirmations and "order completed" mails from eBay. As ever, I filed them away in the "eBay" folder - just in case - you know how it is. As ever, I didn't really look at them. After I'd filed the order details, I suddenly realised that there had been something odd about some of the information on the last document. So retrieved it and - sure enough - the delivery address was someone in London who is not me. I've never heard of this person, or had any dealings with them. I checked my PayPal account, found the payment entry, clicked on the details, and there it was again - everything was correct except the delivery address.
I mailed the seller, who is a decent, helpful chap, and explained the situation - he has agreed to send the package to my correct address, so no further worries there. The wider implications are a bit scary, though.
It seems that, as part of a routine PayPal settlement for an eBay purchase - a situation which must occur zillions - possibly even brazilians - of times every day, PayPal has correctly made payment to the seller, but has supplied him with an incorrect delivery address. From someone else's account, it seems.
* what if I hadn't spotted it? - the parcel would have gone to a complete stranger, though the seller would have no cause to suspect that anything has gone wrong. As far as I am concerned, the parcel would simply never have reached me. Another mystery of the sea.
* more worryingly, if this is a glitch in the PayPal security system, what else could go wrong? How much does this shake my confidence in PayPal? How likely am I to use it again, for anything?
I've now changed my passwords for eBay and PayPal, as one does, and I've emailed PayPal to report the incident. It isn't a catastrophe, I've caught the problem before any damage was done, the amount of money involved was not large anyway - no need to dramatise. The big problem is that I really do not wish PayPal to have frailties, or make mistakes. I use PayPal because it is convenient, provides a level of confidentiality between me and the seller, and because it is not one of the Bastard Credit Card Companies. If my faith is compromised, I shall change my habits - that's for sure.
Of course, PayPal have not yet replied, and they may send me a perfectly reasonable explanation and appropriate reassurance, but at the moment I am hard pressed to think what they could possibly say that would make me feel comfortable.
Just saying. If you use PayPal to pay for an eBay purchase - or anything else for that matter - recommend that you check very carefully all the documentation that you receive, including details of where your package will be sent.
If anything further develops, I'll stick a little post up here.
***** Late Edit *****
OK - I received an email message from PayPal explaining how I may amend my postal address if it is incorrect. No help - not what I was looking for. On Tuesday, once the Easter weekend was over, I emailed them again and explained that they had missed the point of my previous message, or had possibly not looked for any point in it, and that I had serious concerns over security.
Very quick email reply from them asked me to phone them - the number was a free UK 0800 number, but I was speaking to people in the US. Heavy going - they were going to reverse the eBay transaction and do all sorts. We sorted that out - they understood that I had sorted out shipping details with the seller, and that primarily I was worried about how the PayPal address for someone else had been supplied to the seller for my purchase.
PayPal staff said they were confident that a default shipping address had been supplied from somewhere else, and it had suppressed the request for the address from my PayPal account, but that this must be due to a fault in eBay's completion software, or in some website application used within the seller's online shop. As we say in Scotland, it wusnae them, whatever. They also said they will raise it as a potential security issue, so that the software people may include it in future reviews.
They assured me that it won't happen again, but I can promise I will be checking very carefully the details of any PayPal transactions I take part in for a while. Really not very happy about all this.
Anyway - move on - let's find something else to worry about; however, the more they tell us that nothing can go wrong, the more disturbing it is when something does.