Hack 9 Get Help from PayPal

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When things go wrong, don't run screaming for the hills. Use PayPal's various forms and phone numbers to get help fast.

Even if you aren't much of a fan of online help systems, it's probably the best place to start if you run into a problem with your account. PayPal Help is especially useful when it comes to PayPal's vast assortment of policies and procedures.

You'll find a link to Help in the upper-right corner of every page of the PayPal site. There are two main ways to use PayPal Help:

  • Browse by category (e.g., Making Payments, Seller Tools, etc.)

  • Search using natural language questions (e.g., "how do I earn interest?")

As with most search engines, you don't have to type a whole question to get good results. "add email" works just as well as "Can I add another email address?"

If the answer you find is particularly good or bad, you can do your good deed for the PayPal community by pressing the "Was the answer helpful?" buttons. We're told that PayPal actually does modify the Help system based on this feedback. In fact, PayPal performed a large-scale redesign of the Help system in early 2004.

Unfortunately PayPal's Help URLs do not remain constant, so don't try to bookmark specific pages for future reference. If you need to refer a friend or customer to a PayPal Help page, it's best to indicate a search term that brings up the article in question.

1.10.1 Email Support

Like many companies, PayPal doesn't let you send a regular email directly to Customer Service. You must navigate through some web forms and give the web site the chance to answer your question. But eventually, you can write an open-ended question to PayPal. PayPal has a large support staff in Omaha, Nebraska, as well as in Omaha's unofficial sister city, Dublin, Ireland, to answer your questions and process your requests.

If you have a PayPal account (and are able to log in), you should always log in before sending your message. Doing so makes it much easier for PayPal to locate and reference your account.

As with any email inquiry, it's crucial that you provide as specific and clear information about your situation as you can. Instead of paraphrasing error messages or web page text, copy and paste the exact passage. PayPal gives you up to 1,000 characters with which to write your question, which should cover most situations.

You should never type your password or complete credit card number in a web form or email, even when sending it to PayPal.

1.10.2 Telephone Support

Let's be honest; some situations require talking to an actual person on the phone:

  • If you're in the U.S., call PayPal toll-free at 888-221-1161.

  • If you are outside the U.S. or for any reason need to use a non-toll-free number, call 402-935-2050. European customers can call 0870-730-7191.

PayPal Customer Service representatives can talk only to the primary contact listed on the account. To verify this, they will likely ask you for your telephone number, email address, or last four digits from your credit card or bank account number, so make sure to have these on hand when you call.

If you don't have access to a live Internet connection while calling, try to prepare for the call ahead of time by collecting all the specific information about your inquiry. This information might include such details as the PayPal transaction ID, payment date and amount, payment recipient, eBay auction number and username, online store web site address, and so on.

1.10.3 Support Forums

There are several online support forums that can also be good places to ask questions and get answers. PayPal has two official forums:

  • The PayPal forum at the eBay Discussion Boards (http://forums.ebay.com/db2/forum.jsp?forum=97)

  • The PayPal Developer Forums (http://developer.paypal.com)

Good independent forums include:

Fatwallet (http://www.fatwallet.com)

For general information about a variety of online commerce topics.

Vendio Community (http://www.vendio.com/mesg/)

For discussions about online auctions. See the eBay boards, as well as the PayPal board under Vendio Partner Services.

PayPalDev.org (http://www.paypaldev.org)

An independently operated board for PayPal programmers.

1.10.4 eBay University

Finally, eBay offers hands-on courses in which you can learn a lot about trading on eBay from expert instructors. While eBay University is heavily focused on eBay, PayPal is becoming an increasingly popular topic. Furthermore, instructors usually stick around after the course to answer any PayPal questions you might have. To find out when eBay University will be in your area, check the eBay site (http://www.ebay.com/university/).

?Patrick Breitenbach