A couple of days ago I noticed a charge in my checking account from Pay Pal. While I don’t currently have an account with them I know a lot of businesses use them to collect online payments, so it is certainly possible that I would encounter them while purchasing from a small business online. Unfortunately I have no record of this Pay Pal charge. I searched my gmail for Pay Pal, for the electronic check company they use and for the amount charged. I looked back at an old vitamin order that shipped in parts to see if that company was were charging me for the second shipment. But nope. Nothing.
I called Citibank to see how to get an investigation into this. Now, it may be an entirely legitimate purchase; it happened the first couple of weeks in August, when I was running around trying to get everything in place for my move. But the only way for me to find out is to have information on who put through the request through Pay Pal.
George (the Citibank representative) was, I think, trying to be helpful. However, I’ve not experience such condescension from someone allegedly trying to help me since the police officer who took my statement after my bag was stolen my second year of college. George had the same tone that implied he felt he was trying to explain to a five year old that the Earth is round.
He had his list of questions, all of which were yes or no. Unfortunately, my situation didn’t lend itself to yes or no answers. It got so frustrating that at one point I asked if my call was annoying him because the condesenscion reached amazing levels. That seemed to upset him, possibly since the calls are recorded. Anyway, the conclusion George came to (via Citibank’s crack Q & A) is that since made at least one purchase via Pay Pal at some point in the distant past, this current charge is probably correct, and Citibank can provide no further assistance without stopping payment (which causes both a fee to be charged to me AND cannot be guaranteed).
After telling me to contact the vendor (difficult, since the whole point is that I don’t know on whose behalf Pay Pal was charing me) George gave me a trace number and I hung up before I said anything inappropriate, although I wasn’t as friendly as I could have been. I know it’s not George’s fault that his bank’s procedure isn’t helpful to me in this instance. I’m sure hearing from someone like me – who can’t be certain that the charge is fraudulent – makes his evening a little more difficult. I just wish George didn’t present himself in such a condescending manner.
I’ve e-mailed Pay Pal and will call them in the morning to try to get some more information. There’s no option from their pre-selected menu for “you charged me and I don’t know what for,” so I’m sure my e-mail will get routed and re-routed among many departments. As I’ve said, this may very well be a legitimate charge that perhaps was delayed a couple of months, but I can’t know until I know who put through the charge.
With that in mind, here is my thought about how this type of situation should be avoided. What if we require that companies who process payments on behalf of others put the actual business / account name on the note as well? If Pay Pal is charging on behalf of Sunshine Cleaning, it should show up on my bank statement as Pay Pal / Sunshine Cleaning. If I’ve never heard of Sunshine Cleaning, I would then know that the charge was likely an error or fraud.
Just another thing to add to my to do list for when I’m queen . . .