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Policy, schmolicy.

Paypal loves me

One of the things that comes with living in a rural place is that mail is not delivered to street addresses in many locations.

That includes a business address on the same street as the post office, where my office was for a number of years.

But I’m OK with that.

Since coming to Montana in 1999, I’ve always preferred to use a PO Box because no matter what I do, how (or where) I do business and how complicated my business gets…it’ll all be in one place.

I’m on the road a good bit, though less so now than in the past. With a PO Box, I can move houses, business locations (or have multiple locations) and *NEVER* worry about my mail not showing up in the right place.

It’ll always be warm, dry and securely locked in that little PO Box, no matter what I’m up to.

Doesn’t matter if my office is at home, on Main Street or (effectively) on my laptop on a train to Chicago. I sleep well knowing no one is going to mess with my mail.

My PO Box is insecure?

So I get this email the other day noting that Paypal can’t send me a replacement debit card (above).

I’ve been down this road with a few vendors in the past. I suppose that because .0001% of PO Box users are scammers or because .000001% of Post Office employees steal mail/packages, they developed this policy.

It wouldn’t surprise me if it was related to various national security / banking law changes.

At any rate, it seems the assumption is that a mailbox on a dirt road in Montana that is unattended all day is way more secure than a locked metal box inside a USPS postal facility – where it’s practically a felony to raise your voice (or something like that).

I email Paypal and tell them that it’s ludicrous to think that street delivery is more secure and that street delivery isn’t an option for me anyhow.

Their reply is classic: essentially it tells me to put the PO Box in the address with the street name – just don’t say “PO Box” – and it’ll pass muster with their internal fraud detection. I feel more secure already.

Reply instructions telling me to fake it

Local USPS employees have told me in the past to use my street address and “PB box-number” when this happens and they’ll catch it and put it in my box. That works fine for the occasional company website that won’t accept PO Boxes for whatever random reason their management has come up with – especially those businesses that will never truly need my physical address.

In this case, it fails because the PayPal address change page requires that the address you enter is a valid billing address for one of my PayPal-registered credit cards.

My cards all use the PO Box as a billing address. Checkmate.

So what’s the big deal with Paypal?

Paypal functions for business finance just like the PO Box does for mail.

That debit card number doesn’t ever have to change (unless I want it to), no matter what bank I use, no matter where I live, no matter where my business is.

Paypal shields all that stuff from the outside world. I can attach it to 1 or 20 business accounts if I wish (1 is really enough) and if my bank changes for some reason, I don’t have to change the billing info on 30 different vendors.

And yet, I can disable it in a heartbeat via the website.

Simple.

Except when this stupid PO Box thing comes about every couple of years.

The point?

The point of all this is that you might be putting your customers through similar idiocy. Daily, weekly, monthly. Whatever.

Just like this policy has me on the cusp of having me cancel the debit card and switch all merchant processing off of Paypal, your inane policy that hasn’t been studied for a while might be doing the exact same thing for your customers – running them off for no good reason.

In a decade of using Paypal, this is the only problem I’ve ever had with them.

What policies do you have in place that serve no effective purpose other than to inflict pain on your customers?

Update: Another email from PayPal has advised me to just put BOX #### as the address and let it run its course. Hopefully that will match the billing address sufficiently. In the old days, matching the numbers was sufficient. Today, who knows. PayPal also noted that it was “recent card association requirements” that required the change to avoid the use of PO Boxes.

6 replies on “Policy, schmolicy.”

It’s sad really…so many companies these days take that type of approach. Stupid policies that are written in stone end up alienating customers.

The response is always the same: “oh, that’s just our policy” which is another way of saying “I don’t care and here’s my really lame excuse.”

PayPal may be a giant, but this sort of ignorance to their customers will cost them in the long run. Eventually, almost every company gets to a point where they think they can do whatever they want and everyone will just stick around.

It would be interesting to know the origin of this rule. As bureaucratic as PayPal may be, the credit card companies whose rules they have to comply with are far worse. I would be a little surprised if this rule came directly from PayPal and was not one forced on them by one of the credit card companies.

@Shane, it wouldnt surprise me one bit if it was card merchants causing this. Given Paypal’s subsequent reply re: “just dont use PO in the address”, it seems even more so. False security is better than no security at all, I guess…

Ouch – trying to get business like PayPal to understand PO’s here in our little corner of the world……..and after reading this and now realizing that with our move back home to our POB we get to look forward to another ridiculous phone call to get PayPal to change our “billing” address. And no, after 17 years here, the USPS has only caught about 3 items with only our “home” address and gotten them into our POB. And with things as they are today our little old roadside mailbox IS NOT SAFE!!

They catch stuff pretty regularly for us that is somehow addressed to the home address – even the OLD one. Most of that is probably because its addressed to the biz, I suspect.

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