eBay Giveth and Paypal Taketh Away

Posted on February 12, 2011
As an 11 year eBay user, I’ve watched eBay grow into the juggernaut that has enabled Meg Whitman and team to amass a fortune.  However, this growth (and the acquisition of Paypal) has come at a cost — a disconnect between the two companies’ IT systems and customer support organizations.
Despite its global IT infrastructure, a simple mechanism like a gift certificate appears to be the latest in a list of customer transactions that eBay struggles to execute. Today was my lucky day to find out first-hand that when eBay members attempt a partial redemption of a gift certificate, Paypal suspends use of the redemption code and keeps the remaining funds unless the member/customer actually calls to request reactivation.  I believe it is a learning lesson for all marketers in that we need to be careful not to make promises we cannot deliver.
Here’s the actual transcript:

3:57:48 PM CST Customereuro-rs
Initial Question/Comment: Bidding/Buying
3:57:53 PM CST SystemSystem
Thank you for contacting eBay Live Help!
3:57:53 PM CST SystemSystem
Cicine M. has joined this session!
3:57:53 PM CST SystemSystem
Connected with Cicine M.
3:57:58 PM CST AgentCicine M.
Hello,Thank you for waiting and welcome to eBay Live Help! My name is Cicine M. May I please start by having you confirm your User ID and first name?
3:59:29 PM CST Customereuro-rs
I am trying to redeem an eBay Gift Certificate but Paypal is saying the certificate number cannot be processed at this time. I just contacted an eBay Customer Service rep who confirmed I’m following correct procedure and she didn’t know why this is happening. She referred me to the Gift Certificate number (866 914 8078), but it is an automated attendant asking for a 13-digit code, but my Certificate is a 16-digit code. Please help.
4:00:01 PM CST Customereuro-rs
My eBay ID is “euro-rs” and my name is Steve
4:01:03 PM CST AgentCicine M.
Hi Steve!
4:01:28 PM CST AgentCicine M.
I can feel that this must be a very frustrating situation for you but let me do the best I could.
4:01:33 PM CST Customereuro-rs
The really frustrating thing is that the Gift Certificate is for $100.00 and I used part of it to purchase a $67 item on eBay this morning, and now I am simply trying to use spend the remaining $33. The code worked just fine at 9am PST, but now it is not — this is strange.
4:02:18 PM CST AgentCicine M.
To make sure I got your concern right, you are trying to redeem a gift certificate but it shows an error that certificate number cannot be processed,correct?
4:02:54 PM CST Customereuro-rs
Paypal is not saying the code is incorrect — it is simply saying it cannot process it “at this time.”
4:05:19 PM CST AgentCicine M.
So it shows can’t be processed at this time?
4:05:25 PM CST Customereuro-rs
4:06:24 PM CST AgentCicine M.
Do you have other concerns aside from this?
4:06:53 PM CST Customereuro-rs
No – I just want to redeem the remaining $33 on the gift certificate.
4:08:24 PM CST AgentCicine M.
Give me a moment to check on to check on the problem.
4:08:37 PM CST Customereuro-rs
4:11:34 PM CST Customereuro-rs
the auction number of the item I am trying to pay for is: 230561374418
4:12:25 PM CST AgentCicine M.
4:16:40 PM CST AgentCicine M.
Is this a physical or online card?
4:19:10 PM CST Customereuro-rs
It is a paper gift certificate printed from eBay/Paypal that I received for Christmas. Why does this matter anyway — the redemption code is the same. We have now been on this chat for 15 minutes and I spent 10 minutes on the phone with eBay Customer Service prior to this — yet no resolution. How hard can it be to resolve? Can I give you the redemption code to enter into Paypal and net the $33 against the $65 purchase so I can get on with my Saturday afternoon?
4:20:08 PM CST Customereuro-rs
The issue date of the paper certificate is 12-28-10 and it includes redemption instructions from Paypal that I’ve already followed successfully earlier today.
4:23:05 PM CST AgentCicine M.
I now see the problem.
4:23:12 PM CST Customereuro-rs
Great – what is it?
4:23:40 PM CST AgentCicine M.
There is a current system bug about this,
4:23:53 PM CST AgentCicine M.
When some members use their gift certificate, they receive the error message below when they click Confirm Payment. Error message says their request cannot be processed at this time.
4:24:07 PM CST AgentCicine M.
When members only use a partial amount of their gift card, the remaining balance becomes “Unconfirmed” and this is why the member receives the error message. The member needs to contact PayPal Customer Support to have them reactivate the remaining balance.
4:24:27 PM CST AgentCicine M.
I submit a bug ticket about this to report the problem to our technical department.
4:24:55 PM CST AgentCicine M.
For now, so that the remaining balance can be processed, you need to contact Pay Pal.
4:25:21 PM CST Customereuro-rs
OK – so Paypal was happy to take the $100 from my mother-in-law in December and now that I want to redeem it, it is a system bug? So that means my $33 is being held hostage by Paypal — hmmm. What is the Paypal phone number?
4:26:01 PM CST AgentCicine M.
Let me check.
4:26:25 PM CST AgentCicine M.
You can contact PayPal by calling them at 1-888-221-1161.
4:26:36 PM CST AgentCicine M.
Here are the hours they’re available: Monday through Friday: 4:00 am – 10:00 pm Pacific Time Saturday and Sunday: 6:00 am – 8:00 pm Pacific Time
4:27:11 PM CST AgentCicine M.
I’m happy I was able to answer your question about why you can’t redeem the gift certificate.
4:27:28 PM CST AgentCicine M.
I’m looking forward to serve your future transactions with us!
4:27:41 PM CST AgentCicine M.
Thank you for contacting eBay! Have a great day!
4:29:36 PM CST SystemSystem
Cicine M. has left this session!
4:29:36 PM CST SystemSystem
The session has ended!

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