Paypal is broken

Posted: July 31, 2007 in Uncategorized

Remember how great WinAmp was before AOL bought it? Remember how everyone stopped using WinAmp after AOL developers released their newer versions? That’s the feeling I get now that eBay owns Paypal…it used to be great, now I can’t use it at all.

I seldom use Paypal, maybe seven times total over the last six years, and most recently 9 months ago. This morning I won an auction on eBay, and went to Paypal to submit my payment. Upon signing in to my account, I saw this screen:

Wow, what a horrible user experience design: we expect our account page, not a page that basically screams, “No Paypal for you!” Strike ONE on paypal’s design team. OK, so my account access has been limited, and I need to accept the new User Agreement. Fine, I will do that. But as you can see from the screenshot, there is NO LINK available on this page to review and accept the agreement. Strike TWO on paypal’s design team. There are also no instructions on this page for where to go, or how to accept, the user agreement. Strike THREE on paypal’s design team.



We begin our quest to remove the account limitation by clicking the My Account tab. At the top of the account overview is a yellow infobar with a red bang, again informing me my account access is limited…this time it includes a link to learn how to remove the limitation. YaY! <click>



As you can see in the screenshot above, there are two steps listed for “Limited Account Information”. The first step is a hyperlink to find out why my account is limited…and it opens the Strike ONE page again. Gee, thanks guys, already saw that page, I’m already aware I need to accept the agreement, that’s why I’m on this page, ya know.  As annoying and useless as this is, it doesn’t really qualify as a strike. The second step is to follow the “Steps to Remove Limitation”. This is the information I need! But it’s not hyperlinked to a page with the steps to follow, and as you can plainly see on the screenshot, the steps aren’t listed in the page. Now THIS qualifies as a Strike FOUR on paypal’s design team. Other than telling me all the things I can’t do with my paypal account, this page is completely useless. At least they provided a hyperlink to a useless page…


Obviously I must blindly continue my quest on my own to accept the user agreement and remove the limitation on my account so that I may send my payment. Let’s go back to My Account page…hmm…there is a link to Policy Updates at the bottom of My Account page, that must be it! <click>


Yup, this page contains the policy updates. Lot’s of ‘em. No links at the top for accepting.  So I start scrolling down, looking for an acceptance button. And I scroll. And I scroll. And I scroll. I finally let go of the mouse and use the Page Down key. At the bottom is a link to view archived policy updates older than 2003, but no button to accept the policy, and no link to take me to an acceptance page. Strike FIVE on paypal’s design team.


Jumping from tab to tab reveals no info on limited accounts. So when all else fails, click Help. Surprisingly, help topics concerning limited accounts is NOT listed in the Top 5 articles, and I would assume that if this has happened to one occasional Paypal account, it’s certainly happened to a couple-hundred thousand other people who also only occasionally use Paypal…yes, this qualifies as a Strike SIX on paypal’s design team. Clicking dozens of times on different links in the Help Center results in…you guessed it…no topic for accounts that have been limited by Paypal. Strike SEVEN on paypal’s design team. Using the help topic search, and searching specifically for “limited account” results in no returns related to the search query. This explains why clicking thru Help returned nothing, but it still counts as a Strike EIGHT on paypal’s design team, since their customers are going to do both clicking and searching to get the desired information (because, of course, search sucks for everything not labeled “google”).


So let’s search Help with “accept user agreement”, shall we?


Hmmm…it sez I have to agree to the Developer Central User Agreement in order to access Developer Central. What the hell is “developer central”…? Of the dozens of different pages I’ve gone to so far, “developer central” has never been mentioned. And why isn’t there a link here to read and accept the agreement? Clicking the “related articles” are of no help. Screw it…Strikes NINE and TEN on paypal’s design team.


When signing up for a website forum, you have to give a valid email address for which the website will send you an email containing a specially crafted URL: when you click the URL, it auto-authenticates your account into the website, and auto-approves your new account with the forum so that you can begin using it. Naturally, Paypal sent me an email notifying me I need to read and accept the new user agreement…and lo and behold, I still have that email! But like the low-tech days of 1995, the link they provide only takes you to the Strike ONE page again…no specially-crafted link that does anything you need it to do. Strike ELEVEN on paypal’s design team.


Well, time to contact these guys and find out what I need to do.  OK, a “Contact Us” link is at the bottom of every page <click>. Crap, no contact info, just a “contact customer service” link <click>. WHAT? Wait a second, I have to sign in again? I’ve been clicking thru pages at least one per minute, how did my browser session time out and kick me out? Strike TWELVE on paypal’s design team. OK, start over, sign in, click, click, click…wow, the first topic to choose is “Limited account access”. Gee, of the 16 topics to choose from, why is this listed first? No matter…enter a topic question, and it needs to be short and then Continue <click>. Now write about the problems listed above in detail to show how much effort I have spent for 45 minutes of my life. It takes about five minutes to get it all typed in, then click the Continue button, and…my browser seesion has timed out again, requiring me to sign in, and everything I just typed is LOST. Strike THIRTEEN for paypal’s design team. OK, do this all a third time, but just give them a link to this blog post…


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