Paypal Needs to Update Complaint Response Forms for Intangible Goods

One of the downsides to how I set up my Paypal billing is that most of my sites are under one corporate umbrella, Top Notch Domains, LLC. Since my sites aren’t all pet-related, I can’t just have one billing name like “DogWalker” or something else that would ring a bell. I know there are ways around this, but that’s been discussed in another post.

As a result, on very rare occasions, someone will see the Top Notch Domains billing notice and file a complaint with Paypal saying that they had an unauthorized charge. I’ve had 3 total complaints so far, and two of them were resolved right away when I reminded the people why they were billed. However, I am dealing with a third complaint right now and the person couldn’t figure out how to cancel it, so I am defending the case.

Unfortunately, it does not seem like Paypal has a great way for merchants of intangible goods to respond to complaints. When I tried to resolve the complaint, I was given three options:

1) Provide the shipping information, which includes the shipper, tracking code, address, and other physical shipping information.

2) I already gave a refund

3) I plan to give a refund

There isn’t an option to tell Paypal that the payment was for a directory listing on one of my websites, was authorized by the person to re-bill last June, and the person still has an active listing. There is a field under the first option to provide more information, but it seems more geared towards the shipping details.

I can see this being a problem for service providers who aren’t necessarily web operators. People who do things like painting, babysitting, dog walking, or other intangible services could be put at risk if they can’t adequately respond. Even if Paypal looks at the field under the shipping information, it’s not very clear that this is where to respond.

When I called Paypal, they gave me an email address I could use to respond to the complaint: I did this, and I received a confirmation of receipt. However, a couple of days later, I received another notice from Paypal that told me I still needed to respond to the complaint online, so there’s something funky about Paypal’s complaint response system that needs to be reconciled.

I hope Paypal addresses this issue.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Paypal is an awesome service however always keep a zero balance in your account when it comes to disputes.

    Or your account can be frozen indefinitely for a seemingly harmless event

  2. Aslong you do not have to deal with their support then paypal works fine.. When you need to deal with their support forget it. It’s like the helpdesk is located in some far galaxy populated by aliens and the universal translator ran outta batteries…

    I still got an unresolved issue dragging on for months now and no solution but every month i get an email to rate their support and give them feedback… I moved on got another account.

  3. I’m guessing you probably should meet their requirements for a Paypal Advantage member?

    You get dedicated, senior dispute reps, your own 800 number, etc, etc, etc.

    I don’t know exactly where the bar is set for them to offer you Advantage membership- I think it’s $5K or $10K a year- but it’s not that much and totally worth it if paypal is a meaningful component of your processing services.

  4. I’ve never gone through this, so maybe I’m being simplistic here but can’t you or Paypal just tell the customer to look at their original charge (last june?) to compare?

    If they see they were originally charged by “Top Notch Domains, LLC” last year, they may understand why they are being re-billed.

  5. @ AB

    That worked the first couple times, but the second time the person wants to cancel, and she figured it would be just as easy to let Paypal decide. I told her that if she cancels the complaint I would very gladly refund her immediately but if I had to spend my time sorting this out, I won’t refund her.

    The likelihood is that I will win but still refund her anyway, and Shane covered the reason why that’s a good idea:

  6. Excellent post Elliot. I have spoken to them about intangible goods and the person at Paypal said. “Its not us, its the banks” They say the bank will not accept something like a push on a domain as proof of receipt. They need to improve their policy.

  7. I don’t know if this is true but I have heard that afterone lost dispute your account gets locked out and frozen forever with no recourse. Don’t know if it is true but as per some of my experiences with them it wouldn’t shock me. The story comes from my friend who sold a car radio (brand new in box) on eBay.
    Turns out the buyer paid with a stolen Credit card, so of course the charge was reversed. Next my friend’s paypal acct got frozen forever with no recourse.

    I’m just saying so you can plan ahead now in case some bs like that happens.

  8. @ Jp

    I can’t imagine that would be true unless perhaps you have very few transactions. I have been a Paypal account holder for 7+ years and do ALOT of business (with $10k+ in recurring billings scheduled for the year), so I am not too concerned that one complaint would lead to a closed account. I don’t want to make a habit of this, but it’s an issue that many businesses face.

    This is also a reason why it’s so important for merchants to be able to dispute these cases where there aren’t physical goods.

  9. Even if you did get locked out you can make a good stick on your blog as leverage and it may work so that is good.

    I got locked out before my paypal acct aged at least the same as your for logging in when abroad. To resolve it I had to send a copy of my ID and various other things, along with a waiting period. It took about 2 weeks to resolve. When I got fixed I called and asked if I could before traveling have them alert the system that I would be logging in abroad and I was told no for the following reason, and I quote, “All security is automated, does not involve any human decisioning, and can not be altered or updated. It is that way for my safety”. So now whenever I am logging in abroad I do so by remoting to a US computer first.

    It’s ridiculous because with everything else similar you call, say “I’m going to be in Bali, so please don’t lock me out if you see a charge or login from Bali” and that usually works.

  10. @ Elliot

    “I can’t imagine that would be true unless perhaps you have very few transactions. I have been a Paypal account holder for 7+ years and do ALOT of business (with $10k+ in recurring billings scheduled for the year), so I am not too concerned that one complaint would lead to a closed account.”

    PayPal has a very bad rep for this kind of thing. Don’t fool yourself into thinking because you have been with them for a while that that makes a difference. I have been with them since 02 I think and have had my problems. Check out for some real horror stories.

  11. My business has moved well over $250k through paypal in the last 3 years and they’ve never once offered us a decent account manager or enhanced service type setup. I agree that paypal is awesome until you have to deal with their ‘customer service’ and then it doesnt take long before most rational business starts to look for alternatives (of which there are many)
    Luckily we’ve had no problems beyond the initial nightmares of verification and further enhanced disclosure hurdles so its no big deal. We mainly sell ‘solid stuff’ that gets shipped with tracking numbers rather than intangibles so thats probably significant in our lack of issues I think.
    Paypal *should* sort out their intangibles dispute policy, but since they dont actually have to they probably wont.

    -Elliot My usual fixed IP 217.35….. seems to be blocked on your blog, getting 403 Forbidden error? Did you get spam from there or something, if so Id sure like to know!

  12. “My business has moved well over $250k through paypal in the last 3 years and they’ve never once offered us a decent account manager or enhanced service type setup. ”

    Enrollment should be automatic.
    I just checked my own advantage setup and Elliot is right- the threshold is only $5K, so you really just need moderately robust transaction activity to qualify.

    IIRC, there are only four dedicated senior reps who handle nothing but Advantage members, whereas everyone else is cast down into the nightmarish circle of ‘$9 an hour’ hell that is the dreaded Paypal Call Center.

    Here are some C&P’s from the advantage member page.


    Dedicated Support Agents
    Your calls to PayPal customer service are routed to our most senior agents.

    On-Your-Side Dispute Resolution
    Our most experienced agents are on your side to help guide you through the dispute resolution process.

    PayPal Advantage Live
    As an Advantage member, you’ll be invited to exclusive events held throughout the year. Come meet key members of the PayPal team, mingle with fellow Advantage members, and hear about our future plans.
    Stay tuned for upcoming locations and dates

    Members-Only Community
    NEW! Get the latest news from the Advantage team, give us feedback on the Advantage program, and connect with other highly active PayPal users.

    Be The First to Know
    PayPal invites you to be part of an exclusive group of customers who see and test new PayPal features before everyone else.

    Monthly Rewards
    Each month you’ll find a new reward to get you excited – exclusively for Advantage members.

    Special Offers & Previews
    From time to time, just for being a PayPal Advantage member, you’ll receive exclusive offers, early access to promotions, and rewards like cash back or merchant discounts.

  13. PayPal is the worst online payment method out there for sellers. They always back the buyers. There are other solutions that are geared toward sellers that are way better than PayPal.

  14. I purchased some cowboy boots from e-bay and they are completely too small. My guess is, these boots are for little kids or someone very small. I am a young man and I cannot fit them.


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