A Case Study in Corporate Hypocrisy over Covid-19
On March 25th I had a lovely e-mail from Dan Schulman, President of PayPal assuring me that: “as we all continue to navigate through these unique and evolving challenges, we want you to know that PayPal is here for you.”
I felt relieved as I had a PayPal nightmare on my hands. I had engaged in three interactions over the PayPal message system to try and resolve a problem directly related to Covid-19 and had actually received no empathy, sympathy or support to handle the problem so his words felt particularly reassuring.
Since September 2018 I had been organizing a conference in Italy scheduled for April 2020. I had collected most of the payments on PayPal for which I had willingly paid them a fee of about 5%. Now I had to refund the money however PayPal deactivate the refund button after 180 days and most of my deposits had been before that date. I had been told in no uncertain terms that they could not simplify my life by activation of the refund button, nor would they refund any of the fees. In fact they suggested that my only recourse was to refund the money as though I was sending it to friends and actually pay them an additional fee.
So imagine how relieved I was to get Mr. Schulman’s nice message that “he was there for me.” I found his company email address and forwarded a note to let him know that his organization was not living up to his promise. I wasn’t rude but perhaps a little pointed.
“After four fruitless attempts to get help about a specific problem that Covid 19 has caused, to receive these platitudes was to say the least distressing and completely undermined the essence of your communication. YOU CERTAINLY HAVE CERTAINLY NOT BEEN THERE FOR ME!”
I went on to explain my plight and sat back waiting confidently for an understanding response. After a month I had received no reply at all – nada, nothing, not a peep. So I wrote again wondering if my missive may have got lost and I would appreciate a reply.
This time success! In only a couple of days I saw an impressive looking e-mail in my inbox from “Joshua with PayPal’s Office of Executive Escalations“. This was more like it, I had got their attention and surely they would now live up to Mr. Schulman’s promise to me and all his customers.
Unfortunately not! As I read Joshua’s long eight-paragraph reply I realized all he had actually done was repeat what I had told him then confirmed that they were prepared to do absolutely nothing to help me. I wondered if I had misread and sent him a query, “Dear Joshua, thank you for your reply (I think). Could you please clarify that you spent eight paragraphs telling me that PayPal are absolutely unwilling to provide any support to me as a result of the losses I will incur from Covid-19 or did I miss something?” Not surprisingly no response
How does a corporation justify this hypocritical behaviour? I guess I’ll never know. They had about sixty thousand dollars of my money for approaching two years and I am sure they made a profit on it. In addition the share price has increased 25% about $40 a share since the Covid-19 crisis started so Mr. Schulman’s executive compensation is likely benefitted enormously and I suspect their corporate coffers are bulging.
Yet they will do nothing to make life easier for the poor sap who has lost money due to the virus but is now is forced to contribute even more to their corporate coffers.
Shame on you Mr. Schulman for your pretence at helping through this crisis while really representing the epitome of corporate greed and avarice. I think your company’s response is a disgrace and so are you. Of course I am powerless in our relationship, however I hope to extricate myself from your claws as soon as this is over.
NB I am pleased to say there is at least one company I know of – AirBnb who have placed the needs of their customers ahead of their own corporate financial gain. Kudos to them for truly caring and helping in a time of need.