Capital letters: I took your advice but PayPal won't budge

When it comes to getting your money back, PayPal may not be quite as chummy as you'd like

You published my letter a few weeks ago when I had difficulties receiving a report on my potential entitlement to a council tax refund. The company I dealt with seemed to have stopped trading but you thought PayPal would be able to refund to me the advance fee of £19.95 I had paid. I have tried getting my money back from PayPal but it says it "cannot deal with refunds for virtual goods". AH, Newcastle

My advice was based on a conversation I had with a representative of eBay (which owns PayPal) at a recent trading standards conference in Brighton. Your problem has now made me look more deeply into PayPal which proudly claims it is "a safer, simpler way to send money online". I'm not so sure and I have waded through its lengthy terms and conditions.

Apparently, claims can only be made for "physical goods rather than services". There are time limits; claimants must file a dispute with PayPal within 45 days and follow its online dispute resolution process, escalating it if you can't come to an agreement with the seller within 20 days.

The seller, in your case, is no longer there, so how could you try to reach agreement? I spoke to PayPal and it said: "An advantage of PayPal is that it enables people to buy from a huge number of sellers that may not accept credit or debit cards." I really can't see the point of using PayPal in your case; it would have been no different than sending a cheque or postal order.

PayPal has offered you a refund, but I would also like to see it extend buyer protection to include services.

Answering your letters this week is Steve Playle, Trading Standards officer, and team leader at Surrey Trading Standards Service.

We welcome letters but regret we cannot answer individually. Email: Please include a daytime phone number


Steve Playle

The GuardianTramp

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