Thursday, May 15, 2014

PayPal Debit Card - Anatomy of a Bad Offer

Sending unsolicited credit or debit cards in the mail is bad.   If you get one, cut it up and throw it away.

I recently received an unsolicited debit card in the mail from PayPal.  In the olden days (25 years ago) credit card companies used to do this all the time.   They would send out a credit card with the letter saying, "Congratulations!  You are pre-approved for a new Master-Charge!" or some such nonsense.   

They don't do that anymore, so much.  Maybe laws were changed.  Maybe the incidence of fraud was just too much.   Maybe people got pissed off that they were getting unsolicited credit cards in the mail, which, if stolen, would cost them a lot of time and energy to straighten out.

So it was unusual for PayPal to be doing this, in this day and age.   I never requested such a card, they just sent it.

But then again, PayPal has always been a bit sleazy and shady.  And they certainly do charge enormous fees for their services.

I looked at the card and thought about it for a few minutes, read the  materials, and then promptly cut it up and put it in the trash.


I don't need it, for starters - it is just one more freaking thing to deal with in my life, and the more complicated you make your personal finances, well, the worse off you are.  If I added this card to my wallet, even for "emergencies" and my wallet gets stolen, it is just one more thing to deal with, quite frankly.

And it is no screaming deal.  Every time you use it at an ATM it is going to cost you a buck-fifty - plus a 1% currency conversion fee for overseas transactions.   This is not counting any fees the bank running the ATM might charge as well.  If a signature is required for the withdrawal, the fee jumps to three bucks!

Here's the deal:  I don't pay money to get access to my money.   Never did, never will, and only a fool would go along with such a scheme.

There are a lot of fools in the world, to be sure.

I find I am using PayPal less and less as time goes on.  I have some overseas clients who like to use it to pay me (or for me to pay them).   But even those clients are unhappy with the transaction fees.   One of my Chinese clients prefers a personal check drawn on a U.S. Bank.  It may take them a month to get their money, but there are no fees involved.

But the main reason I cut it up into little pieces and threw it away was this:   I never requested this card, and I feel offended that they would send me something like this in the mail, unsolicited.   It is sleazy marketing tactics, and if someone acts sleazy up-front, you know where the relationship is going from there.
"Whenever you enter into a business relationship with someone, predicated on a lie, no matter how trivial that lie is, the relationship will go downhill from there."
The lie here is a trivial one, perhaps.  And perhaps not a lie, per se.   But it is, well, rude, to say the least to just send out credit cards or debit cards on the premise that we would like to have one.   Sending these things through the mail is dangerous, as they can be lost or stolen, and cause the recipient a lot of headaches.   I don't mind taking that risk when I requested the card.   To send them out willy-nilly is like mailing out loaded handguns.

The whole thing leaves me with a bad feeling about PayPal.   PayPal is not on my side but looking out for their own interests, at all times.

Back in the early days, PayPal was horrifically bad.   When they were bought by eBay, I thought they were going to get better - and they did, for a while.   But lately, whenever I log onto the site, I can't even get to my account without having to go through at least two screens trying to sell me services.

That's bad enough.  Worse is that to try to avoid these come-ons is hard to do, as the "No thanks, take me to my account" link is usually hidden at the bottom of the screen, hard to see, highlighted, and sometimes truncated by the monitor.

They are using the casino mentality to entrap users into signing up for services they may or may not want.  And increasingly PayPal wants to be my bank, as well as a means of buying junk on eBay.

Sorry, PayPal, but you are coming across as too desperate - like that needy friend who says, "How come you never call?"   It just makes me want to hang up.

Maybe this leads to a new "Quotable Quote" here:

"Whenever someone "pre-approves" you for a loan, credit card, debit card, or other financial arrangement - without your asking first, chances are, it is a pretty raw deal."

Maybe this sums it up more succinctly:  Unsolicited financial offers are usually the worst sort of deals.

NOTE:  The mailing claims you can "opt out" of this nonsense by going to and entering your e-mail address.  Note that if you put "www" in front, it bombs out.  Even when it worked, this link looked pretty cheesy and had a broken link to the PayPal logo.  Pretty pathetic!