Paypal Charges $81 Billion To Fill Your Gas Tank… Demands Proof It Didn't Cost That Much

from the maybe-last-summer...-but-not-now... dept

Gas prices have gone down quite a bit since highs last summer, but it still shouldn’t take long for anyone to realize that charging someone $81.4 billion (with a b) to fill your gas tank is a mistake. Yet, that’s what happened to Juan Zamora when he put what he thought was $26 worth of gas into his car using a PayPal debit card. And then the best part: PayPal customer service people weren’t ready to believe him, arguing with him for at least 10 minutes, before realizing that, perhaps, there was a mistake on PayPal’s part.

Filed Under: ,
Companies: paypal

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Paypal Charges $81 Billion To Fill Your Gas Tank… Demands Proof It Didn't Cost That Much”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
55 Comments
ehrichweiss says:

Re: The kind of mistake

This reminds me of the story that the comedian Ron White told about going to one of the Keys in Florida. Somewhere there is a highway/bridge that the speed limit is like 5mph and he got pulled over(walked up to briskly?) at 11mph. The officer started chewing him out and threatening him to which Ron replied “Are you really going to arrest me for going 11mph?!?!? If so, I’ll let you because the comedy I’ll get from that will make me a million dollars.”

I look for those moments in life now and find that they’re everywhere.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re: The kind of mistake

As far as I know, when they make a mistake, they don’t give your credit rating a black mark for their mistake.
If they did, nobody would want to do business with them once they’ve been outed. And they are always outed sooner or later.
And yes, I still think it would be incredibly funny (partially because their error should never affect my credit rating).

Pitabred says:

Never use Paypal

I never use paypal with anything but my credit card. I will never allow them to have any actual value. I can contest charges from my credit card. Paypal acts like a bank, but does everything they can to not be treated like one, which means that if you have money in there, you can’t trust that you can access it. There’s no liability, no responsibility.

RD says:

Customer Service....

Customer Service doesnt exist any more at any company. They are only interested in extracting the most $$$ possible while blunting any and all legitimate concerns and errors. You are the customer, therefore you are wrong, lying, scamming, etc. Welcome to 21st century America, run by corportations, greed, and selfishness.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Customer Service....

But you know why they treat you that way? Most of the people that they deal with actually ARE wrong, lying or scamming. Sad but true.

Here’s a quick funny on the subject of “wrong”.

We get a call. This guy is claiming we’re(an ISP I worked for) blocking his favorite website. No such thing is happening but this guy keeps persisting that he’s typing it in correctly and that we’re to blame. We send out a field tech to observe what he’s doing since we can’t figure it out. Come to find out he was typing “www,nameofsite,com”…using commas. No “thank you”. No, “I’m sorry, I was wrong” instead we got “at least you fixed it”. Fucking idiot.

Or the grouchy old retired military dude who complained cause he couldn’t get email cause he didn’t READ the email we sent him that said we were imposing quotas and that mailboxes had to be cleaned out before a certain date. Asshole.

Or the woman who called saying it was “ridiculous” that she couldn’t get online and that she had to wait for us to call her back(which only took like 5 minutes) for us to discover her kids had installed Limewire and had picked up a virus that was killing her connection. Yeah, she got a “first strike” warning from me simply because she complained where other customers were simply told “be careful, if we get a complaint, you can get in trouble”.

Then there’s the people who for some reason think that they can buy something and that the job of customer service is to teach them ENTIRELY how to use it. Like Windows.

That is not the role of customer service but at some point in time our society became so fucking retarded that they assumed it was our job to spoonfeed them over the phone. Take a fucking class at the library, losers.

Then we treat the CSR’s like utter shit because WE are having a bad day. They have it worse because they deal with a ton of you assholes every day, have to listen to their managers bitch at them about time quotas, etc. so the fact that they’re not all stealing our private information so they can visit us late at night with duct tape and baseball bats is beyond me.

Being the customer doesn’t mean you’re always right or honest and many times means the exact opposite.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re: Customer Service....

Let me also emphasize that the people who want you to teach them Windows are calling you because “their interblagospheres aren’t working”. They call that the line of demarcation and tech CSRs are now taught where that line is and where their responsibility ends.

LegendsOfBatman (user link) says:

Re: Re: Customer Service....

@ ehrichweiss
And if you worked for me, you’d be fired.
Yes, it is sad but true that most people don’t know what the hell they’re doing. But, there is absolutely no justication for the attitude you displayed here. It is precisely that reason, that cistomer service has gone to hell.
Is it frustrating? Asbolutely.
Do customers grate your nerves? Yep.
I’ve dealt with them all; and some days you want to literally kill them.
But, they are why people have a job.

With an attitude like you have, it’s a wonder you are employed. But, in an economy like this, well, I wont expect too many more checks if I were you.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Customer Service....

“But you know why they treat you that way? Most of the people that they deal with actually ARE wrong, lying or scamming. Sad but true.

Here’s a quick funny on the subject of “wrong”.”

Here are some of my encounters with customer service from the users’ point of view;

1. I had a dialup ISP that outsourced its Usenet access to Supernews. In order to access the server, I had to use my ISP email address and password, which would then be sent to the ISP’s RADIUS servers for verification. One day I couldn’t logon to the server for over an hour. I called the ISP’s “tech” support to report the problem. I was asked what error I received. I attempted another logon, then read the error directly off the screen. As near as I recall, it was “Winsock Error 502: No valid RADIUS response received.” When I read this, I was informed “A Winsock error means that your network configuration is corrupt. You’re going to have to re-install Windows Dialup Networking and recofigure your connection from scratch.”

2. Several times I wasn’t able to logon to the ISP at all. When this happened, I’d call tech support and after explaining the problem, the first words out of the CSR’s mouth were “Ok, I need you to go into Dialup Networking…” At that point, I’d cut them off and ask them to try my name and password themselves. This invariably resulted in “Yeah, it’s not working for me either. I’ll let someone know and it should be fixed within the hour…”

3. When I joined the dialup ISP, they worked as well as could be expected for a dialup company. Downloads ran at about 6K per second according to my bandwidth meter, using a single connection or “thread”. Then, literally overnight, the speed went from a steady 6K/s to an average of about 2K/s. I called tech support and was told that there were no problems. They blamed line noise, even though my USR modem’s diagnostics confirmed that line noise wasn’t an issue. I even had the phone company come out and test the line and they told me that my phone line was as clean as a phone line can be. They then blamed the sites. I told them that my friend with broadband was able to download at over 100K/s from the same sources. Then they blamed my computer. I told them that I could use the free Juno internet service (which otherwise sucked like a vacuum) and get perfectly fine speeds to the same places. Then they blamed “general internet congestion”. A former employee of Supernews volunteered to help me. He connected to the same access numbers using his system and discovered that the ISP’s network was suffering major data loss. I tried to report this to the ISP, but was told that their network was working perfectly. When I collected all the previous evidence and presented it at once, I was told that 2K/s was “normal” for a dialup connection. When I asked why my speeds went from good one day to absolute crap the next, they stopped answering me.

4. I live in CT and get all of the network TV channels from New York. One day I noticed major problems with all the NY stations, such as bad interlacing and repeating frames. I tried to report this and the cable company said that was the first they’d heard of it and they couldn’t do anything until they sent a tech out to check my connections. They sent the tech, I showed him a tape of the problems and he said “That’s not here, there’s nothing I do about that.” Duh! He called his boss, and was told that they were working on it. He said to give it a week and if I still saw problems, I should call again. I did continue to see problems, every single hour on the NY stations. I called again, described the problem and was told that was the first they’d heard of it and that they’d need to send a tech out to check my connections. I explained that they already did that and that the tech department was supposedly working on it. She then cheerfully replied “Oh, well if they’re working on, I’m sure they’ll have it fixed soon! Why don’t you give it another week?” A week goes by and I repeat the whole thing all over again. I’m starting to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

After about two months of them denying that there’s a problem, some of the CSRs I talk to say they’ve seen it too, but there’s no official comment on it. One day, a friend confirms that he’s seeing the same problems on his (different) cable system. Ok, maybe the problem is with the stations, although that seems unlikely given that all the NY stations are affected. I contact one station and the head engineer says I should tell my cable company that they have a “head end” problem. I try, but it goes nowhere. I also contact a person in NY, who confirms that the problems I’m seeing don’t occur in NY. I think that maybe my friend’s cable company will be more receptive. He doesn’t want to deal with them, so I start emailing them proof. I asked them to tape one of the NY channels and the next day I’ll send them a list of the times the problems occurred so that they can check them themselves. After a couple days of this, someone from that cable company calls me, the main gist of which was “You are not one of our subscribers. We have no problems here so stop bothering us!”

One night, while trying to report the problem for at least the dozenth time, the CSR offered to connect me to the engineering department. The man I spoke too worked in a different department, but he gave me the direct phone number for the head end department. I called the next day and the person who answered the phone seemed surprised to be talking directly to a customer. I explained the problem and he agreed to look into it. The next day he said he’d seen the problem and that it was caused by a transfer link that relays the stations from NY to both cable companies. He said they switched feeds and that the alternate feed was causing the problems.

The problems went away. Then they came back almost exactly two months later. I called him again, he contacted the transfer station and the problems went away. Two month later they came back. Another call, the problems went away, two months later, back again. Finally, I wrote a letter to the head engineer and included a tape of the problems collected over the last several months. I explained that the other engineer was very helpful, but that he didn’t seem to have the authority to make a permanent fix. The problems disappeared permanently after that.

5. When that same cable company went to all-digital for the pay channels, there were some transition glitches, then everything smoothed out. A few months later, almost every single pay channel started experiencing glitches that went on for several minutes at a time. Choppy movement, wildly out of sync audio, etc. I reported this every few days, had techs sent out to my house to “check the connections”, swap out the boxes, etc. I discovered that I could manually ‘fix’ the glitches by temporarily switching channels. This fixed it on that box, but the glitches would continue on any other boxes tuned to the same channel, indicating that the problem was in the box. I called, I wrote letters and they still denied that there was anything wrong. It probably took at least six months before this problem disappeared.

LegendsOfBatman (user link) says:

Re: Customer Service....

I don’t buy that. I have found many companies that offer excellent customer service. Unfortunately, they are comic-based stores and companies that offer high end collectibles.

Unfortunately, you are correct, with most companies. And you know it’s sad when you have two expectations, and companies cant even reach that bar? Check this out. Only two:
1. Do what you say you will do.
2. If you make an error, fix it.

Sad, isn’t it?

Peter says:

PayPal

PayPal can and will freeze your account and all funds in it at the drop of a hat. Anything that violates the indecipherable TOSA will trip it.
I say this because the PayPal Debit Card is just a trap for that. If you went in to Wal-Mart and bought box of .22 ammunition using your PP Debit card – that’s it. They will not release your money for 6 months.

They’re not a bank – they have no rules to follow but their own.

donamel says:

Re: Customer Service

Surely you jest. Customer service is built into the money we pay for services. What’s happened is that we live in an apathetic era and greedy corporations know they can screw us. Why? Because they can. We let them. They know they don’t have to suffer the consequences. Maybe we can all wake up now and assert ourselves since it’s so obvious, in this poor economy, that corporations have been abusing consumers and stealing our money. However, that means that people have to get involved and do something constructive.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Customer Service

Oh no. You don’t understand customer service fully if you think that.

You see, *companies* don’t want to pay for customer service because there is a load of morons 400 miles long just waiting to complain because they don’t know how to plug their computer in or even if it’s on, or they really put a cheeseburger in their VCR but don’t want to admit it, etc. and those people want to be handled RIGHT NOW!! Those same people are the ones who will curse the CSR like a sailor and then complain when they finally goad them into responding emotionally, potentially getting them fired but definitely lowering morale and raising costs for the company even higher.

People simply don’t want to pay for customer service because in the past the most you had to pay for service was a long distance phone call(you remember those right?) but now, for instance, Dell wants $75/year so you can talk to “a representative from North America”(that is not a joke). Note, I simply use their online chat because there is no problem hearing through each other’s dialect in written text and they’re perfectly polite and knowledgeable but I digress.

However, I agree that we should all be going to smaller shops if for nothing else than to stimulate the economy on a local level. Just because we’re giving money to an American store doesn’t mean most of it is staying in your community and benefiting the people around you.

frank says:

Re: Re: Customer Service

The funny thing about this statement:
You see, *companies* don’t want to pay for customer service because there is a load of morons 400 miles long just waiting to complain because they don’t know how to plug their computer in or even if it’s on, or they really put a cheeseburger in their VCR but don’t want to admit it, etc. and those people want to be handled RIGHT NOW!!

is that even in those situations, the idiot on the other end of the telephone is not only NOT smart enough to tell you how to plug the computer in, but cannot even understand the question.

BTR1701 says:

Re: Re: Re: Customer Service

> is that even in those situations, the idiot
> on the other end of the telephone is not
> only NOT smart enough to tell you how to
> plug the computer in, but cannot even
> understand the question.

No kidding. I called my ISP a few years back when their nntp servers went down and I couldn’t access Usenet. When the CSR came on the line and asked what my problem was, I said, “My access to Usenet seems to be down.” The CSR responded with, “What exactly do you mean by Usenet? I don’t know what that means.”

At that point, I knew it was going to be a long night.

I mean, please. You work for an Internet Service Provider’s HELP DESK and you don’t even know what Usenet is?

jk says:

Typical Paypal

This is so typical of Paypal. They are terribly inconsiderate of people when they call on the phone on top of trying to say their system is faultless. They double-dinged me several times in my checking account and it took an act of you know who to get them to reimburse me the NSF fees.

What’s even more sad is they have no concrete process in place for dealing with giving people money back, from three conversations I had with their ‘advanced’ support I got three different processes for filing for a refund.

Anonymous Coward says:

Anyone dumb enough to hold a balance with Paypal and then use a Paypal card deserves to pay $81 billion for a tank of gas.

Anyone who says that Paypal is not full of flaws is either lying or lucky. Sooner or later everyone who uses Paypal gets screwed. Most glitches with Paypal can be resolved, but the time wasted is infuriating.

Like was stated, Paypal is not a bank …in the US, yet. They have their own rules and they will bend them as they see fit.

Cuba says:

Re: Re: Re:

People, people relax. Look, I’ve been using PayPal for about 2 years, and I haven’t had any problems with them. Yes, it is true that PayPal is not a bank and that they don’t have such responsabilities, but if you think about it, they cannot disobey their own rules, so just know these rules and be careful. Know what you can do and what you shouldn’t so you don’t get screwed, read, read, read and read what you’re doing. And by the way, I agree with enrichwiss, there are more stupid people out there than you think when related to costumer service, trust me, I used to work as a costumer representative for a few years and 95% of the time, the costumer was an idiot, acting like a jurk not knowing what he/she was saying.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That is total consumption of the U.S. for 4 months. It takes me 5 minutes to pump 10 gallons (my car sips) so we get a normal pump to output 120-200 gallons an hour. We need a million folks to pump 40,000 gallons each so they will all need to help out for 200 hours to pump it. If they put in 10 hour days, we need all the able-bodied adults from the audience at the inauguration to be reassigned for about a month. We could do it if we really tried.

Anonymous Coward says:

hehe….just last month at&t wanted me to pay a $5 late fee (+ $0.13 tax) for a bill that they should never have sent me…that is, the charges weren’t mine to begin with.

After a half hour, even the $5 fee + tax were rescinded, but I laughed out loud at the 3 customer service agents that I dealt with. The first two insisted that they were not allowed to take late fees off bills…I kept saying, “What bill?”

I’m still chuckling now over this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Mistake

Paypal has their side of the story that Zamora was confused about the email and it was the merchant ID number that was confused with the transaction amount.

Apparently, Zamora has documentation to the contrary. From the article: “When Zamora returned to the Conoco gas station, he said, the attendant would not believe him until he showed her the printout of the PayPal receipt.”

TW Burger (profile) says:

Third World User Support

Obviously the user support people did not understand the rate of exchange. Someone mentioned the support was probably in India and the person was thinking in Rupees (which are worth between 50 and 60 Rupees to the US dollar). This still would not explain the lack of understanding by the service person.

Maybe math skills should be added to the to the hiring criteria in addition to language skills and people skills.

David says:

Trouble at phone company

I had just moved into a new apartment and a few days later got a call at work from my brother saying he could not reach me at home because my phone had been disconnected. (Pre cell phone days)

I had only moved in a few weeks before and had not even got my first bill. I called the phone company and they said that my account was past due about 1/2 of my deposit. When I told him that could not be, since I had no bill, he looked it up and confirmed that the previous owner had not paid and they transferred the amount to me.

He cleared that up but then said that there would be a re-activation fee!!! Why??? Because my account was past due!!! Catch 22 here. After going up supervisor’s 2-3 times I finally got a very irate woman saying that she would wave the fee this time, but they were flagging my account (would it be on my permanent record too???) and if I ever let this happen again, I would owe the new reconnect, plus the current one.

I said I would be happy to pay for it in the future if she could tell me how I was supposed to keep them from making mistakes. She hung up on me.

Now that is service!

spaceman spiff says:

How to generate a profit

Gee. If the chargee could have just kept PP arguing a while longer (a couple of weeks, maybe) so they could keep this debt on their books, the $81B asset value would have pushed their (on paper) profits up to where their stock price would have ballooned and someone (he who was charged the $81B perhaps) could make a fortune by shorting the stock in anticipation of its eventual fall when the charges finally got reversed… 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

First off, the battleship New Jersey only has a 2 million gallon gas tank, so not sure exactly what you could put that much gas into.

Second, yeah, customers are a pain, but you are paid to take care of them. What, you all work for the government and don’t bother with customer service? The customer pays CSR salary. Maybe if more people remembered that, they would take a breath and always follow what Patrick Swazie taught.

Be nice. When it comes time to not be nice, I will tell you.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...