May I just say, I kinda hate PayPal.
Until today, I did in fact hate them. With a fiery passionate all consuming burning-in-all-seven-circles-of-hell-simulataneously kind of hatred. So great was my rage that I was contemplating tracking down the director of PayPal Japan and walking through his house in the dead of night with filthy shoes.
It was that bad.
The bud of my irritation birthed with a tea towel. I wanted to send this particular drying item to my Dad in the UK because … well, who doesn't like tea towels? PayPal allowed me to make the purchase but insisted on the delivery address being either my home in Japan or --rather randomly-- an address I could specify in the USA. Neither choice really hit the mark; in fact they were off by thousands of miles. I contacted PayPal and confirmed this was a "feature" of their service, not an error and proceeded to resolve the matter with the online shop directly. (Who were lovely; go and buy a tea towel. Don't use PayPal).
A few weeks later, I was in the situation of two people owing me money and being entirely willing to pay. Normally, this would be classified as a GOOD SITUATION. Since neither of them lived in Japan, we agreed PayPal would be the easiest choice all around.
One of these people paid me successfully. Hooray! I'm off to buy a giant pikachu.
The second person tried and was told: "This recipient is currently unable to receive money."
I can assure you, this recipient was TOTALLY ABLE to receive money. PLENTY OF SPACE in that bank account.
It turned out I'd hit secret limit (and by 'secret' I mean probably in the terms and conditions I've never once read) that stops you using PayPal until you get 'verified'. This verification requires PayPal users to confirm their identity and home address.
It was a nuisance but according to the first PayPal representative I spoke to (are you getting a flavour of where this is going?), the process was very simple. As a foreigner living in Japan, all I had to do was scan and upload a copy of my alien registration card.
One week later I receive an email saying they could not complete the verification process since neither my name nor address agreed with those on my identity card.
Not the same…. yet, all transactions with my bank account have mysteriously always gone through.
I examined my PayPal account details and my identity card carefully. There were two differences:
(1) In the address field for PayPal, I'd included the name of my building. Since my registration card had been updated by hand, only the street name, apartment number and postal code had been included.
(2) My PayPal account did not include my middle name.
Now WHY does either of those cause ANY SENSIBLE PERSON to believe there is a REAL INCONSISTENCY? The middle name problem I had hit before; it is rare in Japan to have a middle name and there is frequently confusion surrounding how to deal with them on official paperwork. Nevertheless, PayPal is an INTERNATIONAL COMPANY. Seriously, how hard can this be?
I wrote a blunt email and then realised this was pointless. Instead, I went to the PayPal website and deleted my building name from the address field. Then I tried to update my name. To update your name with PayPal, you need to provide them with proof of identity. Naturally, there was no way of specifying you have previously provided identification, so I uploaded my registration card for the second time.
They updated my name.
And put my middle name in capitals.
Hello everyone. My name is Elizabeth JANE.
I emailed customer support and pointed this out. Nothing changed. Nor did my verification process status get updated. A week later, I emailed yet again. This time, I got a reply saying I needed to upload my identification to get verified.
It was an online version of Groundhog Day.
I emailed them yet again, detailing the dates of all our previous communications, the steps I had taken and how I had every intention of leaving PayPal.
This was an empty threat. I'd already trawled the web for different options but for international transactions, there isn't an alternative. If I quit astrophysics, I'm setting up an alternative.
I uploaded my registration card for the third time.
Finally, I get an email back saying my verification pin number is being mailed to me.
This would be to the address for which you didn't allow me to include my building name?!
Miraculously, Japan Post sorted it out and the slip of paper came through. My account is now verified. The sum of money I am owed from this second friend will be spent on analgesics.
PayPal, you and me have a lot of rebuilding to do.