On Tuesday I bought a copy of Max Payne on Ebay. Grand total with shipping included? $16.11.

Perfect. Then, I tried to go pay. The seller accepted Paypal or money orders. He wrote that he preferred Paypal. I thought this would be ideal too, since it would be done all online and I wouldn’t have to go to the bank and mail/wire off a money order.

I checkout using Paypal, and since I haven’t used Paypal before, I discover this hoop-jumping exercise they have for new members. They charge $1.50 to your credit card and when that item shows up on your credit card statement, it also reveals what your Paypal membership number is. It’s only when you get this number that you can actually start paying people for their items. And here’s the kicker, Paypal says you should wait for your credit card statement to come in the mail or for the item to show up in on-line banking. They then warn you that the item could take as much as five days to show up, even if you’re checking your statement on-line. Unfortunately, most sellers on Ebay require that payment be made usually 3-5 days after the auction has ended, so you’re screwed.

To make matters worse, Paypal actually warns you not to call up your credit card company to check on your statement. They say if they get any complaints from credit card companies, they’ll terminate your Paypal account at their discretion. Hello! People just want to pay for their stuff in due time.

I’ve been waiting a day now for my membership number to come through and it still hasn’t. Meanwhile, I had to e-mail the seller and tell him what’s going on. He was really nice about it and told me to keep him posted.

Paypal really needs to re-think how they start new accounts. The main reason people use Paypal is because it’s supposed to be fast, but waiting five days or more belies such a belief.

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