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Ask HN: Is this Paypal experience customary?

Here is a succinct timeline of the events.

  • I received a Paypal notification that 600 USD were deposited on my account.
  • I was not expecting any money, so I logged in to see what this is about.
  • Apparently someone paid me for an item they bought on Ebay.
  • The information contained on my Paypal account about the transaction, did NOT contain any information on what this is about.
  • I am NOT an Ebay seller, so I have nothing else to follow this up.
  • My first thought (apart from quickly spending the money) was that some poor soul after thinking that they have paid for an item they would wait for ever for an item they thought they purchased, only to never receive it.
  • So I spent some considerable amount of time trying to locate the seller from their name only (did not have an email) by googling around, to clarify the issue
  • As it was getting late, I left the issue to continue the next day.
  • The next day, I logged in to Paypal to lookup for any additional details to help me locate the person, only to see that the Payment had been refunded.
  • But I had not received ANY notification from Paypal that a refund was issued from my account.
  • I'm kind of sensitive of "secret" transactions taking place, especially when by balance is being decreased WITHOUT me being notified.
  • So I opened an issue with Paypal, requesting why I was not notified about the refund taking place.
  • After waiting for some days, I got a reply from Payal that mentioned verbatim: "After reviewing carefully your account again, I am afraid to confirm to you that you accessed to the account and actioned the refund to your buyer."
  • That got me going, since I did NO such thing, and I considered it very rude that they will insinuate that I performed the refund. And the authority by which the insisted I performed the action was really infuriating.
  • They also closed my issue NOT allowing me to reply.
  • I opened another issue explaining that this is NOT the case and to further investigate what happened.
  • After another maount of days I received a call on my phone trying to resolve the issue.
  • The lady refused to discuss what kind of information they had online about ME performing the refund, but insisted that the refund was rightfully did so, since this was an erroneous deposit by the buyer.
  • I tried very politely to explaing the issue was NOT regarding the refund itself but rather on the lack of notification from Paypal that a refund HAD taken place.
  • I was simply unable to explain this concept to the lady, that she danced around the issue and putting the whole blame on Ebay that THEY should have been the ones to notify me, since Paypal was not aware of any refunds taking place on my account!!!
  • After trying countless (and admittedly getting really frustrated from the stubborness of the Paypal representative to speak in straight terms) times to explain that I am expecting from Paypal to notify me every time my balance is modified (something that they do when you receive money, but not when money is removed, as in my case) she refused to accept the fact that the responsibility falls within Paypal and she put the responsibility on the third party Paypal partners that initiated the refund, as, once again, "Paypal is not aware of these refund transactions"
  • After telling her, that I was not satisfied with the resolution of the issue, we ended the phone call with her suggestion to take the issue to another organization "outside" Paypal as Paypal had not considered this to be a real issue.
  • I requested to receive an official reply from Paypal stating all the things we discused about (I was hearing her type while we were discussing) and I recieved an email immediately after, that JUST mentioned: "I am sorry for this inconvenience; however, PayPal did not proceed the refund. Please contact eBay directly about this matter. All complaints against PayPal can be further referred for independent arbitration to the following bodies:" listing some consumer protection organizations
  • Apart from the mispelled "proceed" that I guess means, "process" the issue was once again locked, without ability to reply in order to clarify it.
  • To top it of, the next day, and after almost two weeks since the refund to place (but only one day after the long phone discussion) my account was blocked as "suspicious" activity and in order to unblock it I will have to provide original product receipts of the product I was "selling", something that I do not have as I do not even know what I was selling!
  • At this point I give up trying to put a resolution to this issue and more likely I will be closing my Paypal acount (it's not like Paypal will miss me, I know, I would just feel too "dirty" to keep it open after all that happened)

Is treatment like this something common in Paypal...?

I am so happy that I do NOT really use or depend on Paypal for anyting important, apart from an occasional purchase (I must have done like 4-5 in the last 20 years I have the account)

I feel so offended being treated as a criminal, when I am obviously in open communication with them since day one, and I was always cooperating to resolve the issue, without actually making any actual demands from them, apart from asking for proper communication on their part to know when and where my money are going while in their system.

It seems this is the least amount of work they are willing to do, starting with sloppy investigation that I was the one performing the refund, to the fact that they go after their own customers (easy to find, they have all the required info), and actually customers that actively participate in discussion with them. I guess it's easier to pretend they fight crime when they just target the easier target they can find.

For whoever read that far, thanks for letting me vent this out!


I got a reply from Paypal why they treat me like I'm the criminal.

It reads (a very polite):

Dear MyName,

Thank you for your contacting us. We understand your frustration however, for us to be able to fully restore your PayPal account we need you to complete the below step. Please follow the instructions below:

  • You need to verify your identity by providing us with a copy of a government-issued photo ID, such as a passport or driver's licence (the plastic card, not the official letter).

It must show your date of birth, as well as the issue date and expiry date. The full document needs to be visible. We cannot accept partial documents.

To upload:

 1. Log in to your PayPal account at
 2. Click 'Tools' at the top of the page and select 'Resolution Centre' from the drop-down menu.
 3. Under 'Steps to Remove Limitation', click 'Resolve'.

Yours sincerely,


PayPal Account Review Department

I've had that account since 1997, 1998ish...? I am also Greek, and our IDs do NOT have expiration dates. I do not want to even consider the case of explaining this to them.

I went the polite way and told them to go fondle themselves (didn't want to be labeled vulgar, too) and I closed the account. I deeply regret for being proud having a Paypal account for that long!

[EDIT #2]:

After the "fondle yourselves" reply I tried to close my account, but apparently I'm not allowed to do that as I get a:

Before you close your account

It seems that there's a problem. Please try again later.
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drbytes commented Jul 5, 2019

@bxio : I tried to close my account, and yes, it doesn't work! It says I have pending transactions but I have no subscriptions on Paypal and the last transaction was mid january.
Even that doesn't work as it should, it's like the song, you can check in but never leave.
Can't close account -- look at our huge customer base!! :/

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I've lost my PayPal account when I've tried to change phone number due to move to another country and they just couldn't do it :|

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fffdsf-cyber commented Jul 5, 2019

Why did you not immediately refund this unexpected payment?
Were you hoping to take advantage of someone else's error and keep their money?

That would seem like playing into a typical Nigerian check scam. Mystery money seems to have arrived, and you refund some portion of it. Then the mystery money disappears again, and you've sent your own money now and will never get it back.

Only if you manually send a payment instead of clicking the refund button on the transaction like you're supposed to. Refunding the transaction cancels it and shields you from any chargebacks.

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typoman commented Jul 5, 2019

I got a similar experience where I had to provide my identity for receiving a sum of money from a client. I had to show ID and so on to be able to retrieve the money. I can see that Paypal could be used for illegal activities, so they're being very cautious and it causes people like us to get stressed. Criminals ruined it for everyone! Paypal wanted feedback about my experience and asked how much I trust/like Paypal after this, you can guess what was my feedback!

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kjsingh commented Jul 5, 2019

So long story short, eBay can anytime take money out of our Pay Pal accounts silently?

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Try to make use of GDPR... although you will probably need to provide valid identification

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drbytes commented Jul 5, 2019

Yes, they took out the ebay charge even before my sale was available as balance. So I reckon if the buyer filed a complaint and they refunded I would have lost the item sold, the sale and be on the hook for the ebay charge.
Never again.

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bwanaaa commented Jul 6, 2019

I guess someone inside PayPal is using random people’s accounts to launder money. Deposit dirty money into innocent account- let it sit for awhile then take fresh clean credits out. In Greece? My guess is that it’s an arms dealer

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d668 commented Jul 6, 2019

I am surprised in 2019 we are still hearing about shitty PayPal who charges 20% commission if you count all hidden costs

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i had a similar experience.

i never used paypal, but one day i did a quick side job and the customer wanted to pay me using paypal. so i signed up and soon the money was on my account. as i had never used paypal before, i first withdrew a small amount. like 10 euros or something and it worked.

when i wanted to withdraw the rest, suddenly my account got freezed for no apparent reason.

paypal wanted to confirm my identity and asked for my credit card bills. they wanted me to send a photo of the bills.

but i did not have any bills, because i just created this virtual credit card (no plastic, only number: in my bank. it took about a week to convince them virtual cards do exist.

then paypal wanted me to take a picture of my passport. but i didn't have a passport neither. i have a ID card which allows me to travel freely in europe and in many other countries. as long as i do not need a visa. so this took also a week to explain that there are official ID cards.

then paypal wanted me to send them some pictures of my utility bills... as you can guess i do not get any bills on paper as we do not do paper in estonia anymore. another week!

and when i finally got my money they freezed my account again. i never user this service again.

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