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Okay, just warn you all, this may be long, tedious and gripey.

On the Sending Cash for Zines thread, the issue of using Pay Pal came up. I wrote that I didn't have it and that I was hesitant to try it. Well, today I went ahead and signed up for it. Here's the story.

A few weeks ago I made a donation to Wikipedia. As is often the case, it pushed Pay Pal as the "Quickest, Easiest and Safest" option, but I ignored that and went ahead and payed by my ATM/debit card.

A short time later there was a "Thank You" message in my inbox saying, "Thank you for your Pay Pal donation!" What? Had I inadvertantly signed up for Pay Pal at the same time I payed via my card? If so, I think that's a little sneaky, but since I'd been considering getting PayPal for a while, I thought, oh, well, I'll let it go. I wasn't even sure if I was understanding it right anyway. Maybe I wasn't signed up. I know that Internese and English aren't quite the same language.

Today, I had an on-line order to make at a nutrition company, and I decided I'd see what happened if I tried buying with PayPal.

I put in my e-mail and the password I usually use, and it came up that one or the other was invalid. So I clicked "Forgot My Password". They said I'd have to set up a new one. I did, and then they said I had to answer a bunch of questions---who was your best friend, who was your first boss, what's your favorite restaurant, etc., etc. I drew blanks. I thought the questions were stupid and invasive. (What ever happened to mother's maiden name, pet's names, etc.?) So, tired and frustrated, I gave up and decided to put off getting PayPal at all, and didn't even bother to finish my order. I x'd out and shut down the computer.

I came back about an hour later and in my inbox was "Congrulations, you have successfully opened a PayPal account!" What? I thought you said my "information was incorrect", everytime I tried entering something, which was about half a dozen times? I didn't even finish the process!

Anyway, the e-mail said all I had to do was click "Activate" which I did. Then I had to go through the similar rigmarole with getting a password---this time, for reasons I'm not sure of, there were no silly quesitons. I tried to think of something with 8 or more characters, finally did and typed it in. Just as I hit "Enter" I noticed in the corner that it said it had to contain one number or symbol. I grimaced. But I needn't have, because IT TOOK THE ALL-LETTERS password I entered, and brought me to my "account page". (Now will I run into trouble when I put in an "incorrect" password?)

So it seems I do (or may not) have PayPal. I'm too busy right now to try it, but'll let you all know if I do that successfully. I hope it'll be quicker and easier to USE than it was to sign up for (assuming that I actually that).

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In the UK they deposit two sums like £0.02 and £0.08 in your bank account, and you have to tell them how much they deposited to prove the bank account exists and is yours.
Okay, here's my update on my PayPal.

I did pay for an on-line order with PayPal, and it seemed to go through okay. In fact, I got a couple e-mail verifications when I first paid and when the transaction actually went through.

PayPal is A FEW fewer steps that credit card payments, but not many. It doesn't seem THAT much quicker.

I didn't see anything about having to deposit a small amount of money in my bank account. (I'm not sure how that'd be done through PayPal though, unless you withdraw from your account electronically and deposit it back the same way?)

Is it more secure? From the below, I'm not so sure. It seems to raise new questions and have it's own complexities.

Below is the most recent PayPal e-mail I got:
*******************************************************
Dear James Dawson,

We noticed that you haven't confirmed your email address for the PayPal account you recently signed up for.

It only takes a minute to confirm your email and get access to all the great features PayPal offers, including:
Proven payment network - PayPal has over 35 million members in 38 countries worldwide

Instant and secure payments - Send money to anyone with an email address

Auction and merchant tools - It's never been easier to sell online
Why wait? To confirm that this is your email address, click here and enter your password.

You can also confirm your email address by logging into your PayPal account at https://www.paypal.com/us/. Click on the "Confirm email" link in the Activate Account box and then enter this confirmation number: 08237405936755419182

After your email address is confirmed, the uses for your PayPal account are limitless. To get started, look for auctions on eBay or browse the thousands of merchant websites that accept PayPal payments.

Thank you for using PayPal!
The PayPal Team
******************************************************************************************

Now, what I don't understand is that if I've already successfully made a PayPal payment, and got 2 e-mail confirmations from the company that it went through, and the company I order from WITH PayPal confirmed the transaction was okay...why do I need to "confirm" my e-mail address AFTER THE FACT?

Is the above e-mail REALLY from PayPal. I know I was fooled by bogus "E-Bay" e-mails in the past (a savvier person clued me in, these e-mails are near perfect replicas).

IF that's the case, I wonder if getting PayPal's just complicated things for me. I could be wrong, maybe it'll work out okay.

But now you know one reason I just like simple old straightforward dollars & stamps.

JND




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A "confirmed" address with PayPal just means they've matched the address you gave them to your billing address for a credit card. I'm not 100% sure of the purpose but it's not a necessity to do it.
I have a headache from just reading this. I wouldn't have paypal at all if it wasn't for that fact it allows me to buy zines and records from people/labels that cant afford to set up a full blown internet shop. It has it's uses but as with everything over the computer there is very little rhym or reason when it decided is doesn't want to work.
I should amend my post above. As I said, it's not necessary to link a credit card to your PayPal account -- however, if you're already buying online with credit cards then I do recommend it. The reason is this: when you pay for something via PayPal you can choose from however many funding sources are available to you (your PayPal account, your credit card, your bank account, etc.). If you use your credit card then you always have the option of a chargeback in the event that you have a problem with a seller (non-delivery, for example) and PayPal doesn't or can't take care of it.
A lot of the security/id check stuff is more for taking credit card payments and transferring money INTO your bank account I guess to check you're not money laundering or something. If you're only going to use it for the odd payment you don't need to bother to do half that stuff.
I can explain most of the weirdness here though it probably won't make it much less annoying. Logic is a strong point for me and understanding the stupid nuances of things like Paypal is a constant battle for me as well.

You can make paypal payments for things without registering for an account. That was a major breakthrough for them since most people were so reluctant to open "paypal accounts" with them in the beginning. Paypal lost a major lawsuit that basically said they couldn't function like a bank (holding people's money in accounts and paying them interest) and had to restructure it slightly, though they still offer the same function, now legally.

Part of their response was to eventually relent and offer a service that a vendor could take payments from people without a paypal account through their credit card (though this may have a higher service fee or something strange). It sounds like this is what happened in James' first example.

When you tried to login at Paypal, it did not work because you did not have a paypal account.

But then you did, as all paypal really needs is your email address, name, and eventually a way to draw funds from you. Activating your account is just verifying that it is you at that email. You likely should have a functioning Paypal account now. Granted, this is fairly meaningless until you verify either a bank account or credit card in the manner that people described (two very small deposits).

These things all sound very annoying and that sucks. Unfortunately, they are somewhat par for the course. Paypal's brand is built on this identity of "fast, easy" when in reality almost any other service is both faster and easier (how about NOT involving a third party in payment transactions). Paypal is also far more expensive than virtually any other online payment option!

I feel compelled to tell you that Paypal has much greater evils, like freezing your funds and holding your money periodically if even the tiniest details aren't updated in your account (you move to a new apartment in the same building). Sometimes, seemingly through a fluke, it can also draw funds from the wrong source, which can be devastating if it's a bank account or debit card with insufficient funds and it causes you to continue to debit from an account without funds. Sometimes we never receive payments that people send through Paypal and then Paypal has gone as far as to say that the customer is LYING even after we've seen screenshots that prove the payment! So the funds will be debited from someone's account and then not deposited into ours! In paypal limbo!
"Unfortunately, they are somewhat par for the course. Paypal's brand is built on this identity of "fast, easy" when in reality almost any other service is both faster and easier (how about NOT involving a third party in payment transactions). Paypal is also far more expensive than virtually any other online payment option!"

Problem is that while they may not be the fastest or the easiest or the best they are the biggest and sometimes that's all that matters.

So what would you reccomend we use? What other online payment options are there?
I think Microcosm (Joe?) is talking about expenses on the selling end (fees for accepting PayPal payments). Google Checkout is a bit cheaper but they (of course) have their own Draconian rules to live by. Merchant accounts can be cheaper but I think it often depends on the volume of transactions...

Of course, there are lots of other options that are less popular.
I don't even think that Paypal is the biggest. They simply market to Joe Public on the internet rather than marketing like most companies of this sort who shoot for the largest corporations.

Rich is right though, fees vary widely based on volume. A google search could figure out who is offering the best low-end package at present! Google Checkout is a good option for small end use, but is going to offer worse terms than most because they are also marketing toward the general public end user and don't need to be competitive with anyone but paypal.
I don't even think that Paypal is the biggest. They simply market to Joe Public on the internet rather than marketing like most companies of this sort who shoot for the largest corporations.

Yeah, that's absolutely right. A lot of eBay users think PayPal's the biggest (it's what eBay pushes) but the truth is what most consumers know is simply that they use their credit card to pay (the actual backend processing is invisible to them).
Thanks everybody for the input. You've probably explained it as simply and clearly as you could, but it's still a little confusing to me. But that doesn't matter. Whether I actually have a PayPal account or not---which at this point is still unclear to me---it's turning into to too much of a confusing, time-consuming, boring, distracting, never-ending rigmarole and I think I'll just keep on using my debit card, which seemed just as slow/fast as my recent PayPal transactions, maybe faster. Whatever shortcomings that may have compared to PayPal or any other supposedly better payment service, it's "the devil I know" and being "psychically" less stressful, my best option for the forseeable future.

I hate getting e-mails from people/cyber-entities that tell me "not to reply". I've visited endless "Help Sites" with their typically long lists of generic trouble shooting options that never seem to quite fit my problem, and endless labyrinths of click here, click there, go forward, move ahead, confirm, you information is not correct....My rapidly diminishing life/time is too precious to waste on such things.

In the e-mail below, following my most recent PayPal payment, it wanted me to "verify" my account for various benefits I didn't clearly understand. I thought, okay, I'll try it, and hope you won't bug me anymore. After too much clicking and being led by the nose, it asked for my "routing number". Remembering and hunting down your "routing number" is NEITHER quick NOR easy, so at that point I just decided to give up on the whole thing. I really tried. It's ATM/check cards and good old cash in envelopes for me as long I can possibly do that. Then, when those choices dry up, maybe it'll be going off and living in a cave.

I hope this doesn't sound bitter. I guess I'm just trying to "document" yet another good-faith effort to give another "internet option" a chance, and try to explain why I so much prefer the beautiful simplicity of paper pages in "meatspace" p.o. boxes, paper dollars & stamps in envelopes, etc., etc. It doesn't strain my brain, confuse the hell out me, and leave me hanging...

Here's this morning's smarmy condescending e-mail from PayPal:

Dear James Dawson,

You've experienced how easy it is to send money with PayPal. Now take the next step and get Verified! PayPal sets initial limits on the amount of money that members can send until they get Verified.

Verifying your PayPal account lifts these limits and helps increase confidence between buyers and sellers. To check your limits, log in to PayPal and click View Limits on the Account Overview page.

You can get Verified and lift limits by adding and confirming a bank account or by being approved for the PayPal Plus Credit Card. Your financial information is secure with PayPal, and you are 100% protected against unauthorized payments sent from your PayPal account.

Get Verified

Sincerely,
PayPal


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