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Provide an Honest Service? Beware Selling it With Paypal!

I’ve been scammed a couple times on eBay.  Ultimately, I cancelled my eBay sellers account and haven’t sold anything there in years.  I continued to use Paypal for its convenience, despite the heavy fees.  I wrongly assumed this paid for their service in the event of a dispute.  I was very, very wrong.  Paypal’s own community clearly demonstrates the thousands of scams, many seemingly perpetrated with Paypal’s defacto support.

If you provide any service to a buyer, be wary of using Paypal to accept payments, especially using automatic renewals with their pre-approved payments system.   This system is nothing more than a way for buyers to use your services for free.  As I discovered recently, Paypal doesn’t even adhere to its own User Agreement for disputes of this type.  A dishonest buyer can claim any or all of their previous subscription payments were “unauthorized”.  They simply say the seller took the funds from their account without their knowledge (which isn’t even possible in general), or someone hacked their account, or whatever.

The worst part is that Paypal doesn’t let the seller provide any proof to the contrary or investigate at all.  I had proof in my recent case.  Their Resolution Center says it gives you an option to upload files and comments when you Respond to the case, but in my case, it only gave me options to refund or ship.  They refuse to accept such information by email or phone support.  Their email support is dismal, anyway.  The representatives apparently cannot read or understand English, and can only respond to you with generic pre-made responses.

In my case, the dispute was for a transaction that didn’t qualify for a dispute according to Paypal’s own terms.  I was finally able to call and get a fax number where I sent my response, twice.  They ignored it.  At the end of the response period, they sent me an email claiming I had failed to respond in the given time.  One minute later, they sent another email saying they had completed their “investigation” and deducted the funds from my account.

Fortunately, it was a trivial amount.  In fact, I had already refunded one of the two disputed preapproved payments as a one-time exception to the clearly stated no-refund policy.  I was going to refund the other one too, just for goodwill.   Perhaps the buyer didn’t notice that they had chosen the automatically renewing option.  Maybe they didn’t see the renewal email notices or forgot to cancel it.  Maybe they were just a basic thief and wanted to use a paid service for free.  It doesn’t really matter when you are the seller and have honestly provided your service for a fee.

But Paypal’s involvement (or lack thereof) was a good lesson in all of this.  Even for transactions over 6 months old, they will freeze your funds and not allow you to provide evidence.  If you are accepting a large sum for a service, BE VERY WARY OF PAYPAL.  There are plenty of other reputable payment systems today.  Based on my experience, if it’s not a tangible item, Paypal will apparently automatically refund your fairly earned money, even if it means ignoring their own User Agreement.

I will no longer pay the big Paypal fees on larger sums.  I am curtailing my use of Paypal to avoid any sales on non-tangible items like services, if at all possible.  I suppose it’s pretty safe to use Paypal as a buyer if you are cautious, especially on items that qualify for buyer protection.  That is my opinion based on recent experience, anyway.  Let the seller beware!

Placing Blame

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.41.56 PMMy somewhat extreme fear of death is one of the main reasons I got involved in child passenger safety many years ago. Perhaps your reasoning is similar. It’s impossible to discuss why we do this without expressing a desire to prevent injury and, of course, death. 

I spend a lot of time discussing car seats on social media (Facebook and message boards like car-seat.org), and quite often, someone will post a story about a child who was critically hurt or killed in a car crash. That leads to the inevitable discussion about how the child was restrained. Sometimes we know the answer and sometimes we speculate, but the sense I get from these posts is that people are always quietly shaking their heads and thinking the parents could have or should have done better. 

Sometimes that’s true. There are cases of gross neglect, where a drunk parent drives around with a completely unrestrained kid, and bad things happen. Other times, a caring parent makes the same inadvertent mistakes we technicians see every day: a seat was installed too loosely, perhaps, or the harness wasn’t buckled properly. Maybe a parent turned a child forward-facing “too soon” (which I put in quotes since the legal requirements are different than the suggested requirements, and it’s hard to fault a parent for doing something within their rights).

Given the rate of misuse—which varies from 75% to 90% depending on what stats you look at—it is likely that almost every child involved in a crash could have been restrained better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the misuse caused the injuries. It’s also sometimes impossible to determine misuse after the fact. In a severe (or even moderate) crash, seatbelts and LATCH straps can stretch and seats can shift. Although possibly somewhat irrational, one of my worst fears is getting in a crash with my kids, and an uneducated officer making a statement about how my children were improperly restrained simply because they see something they’ve never seen before. A rear-tethered Britax? A Coccoro with European belt routing? A rear-facing 3-year-old? Those could easily be seen as misuse by someone unfamiliar with certain seats or best practice.

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.42.14 PMI find threads about serious crashes interesting but largely uncomfortable due to the implied (and sometimes overt) contempt that is shown for many of the parents involved. Yes, perhaps the child would still be alive or uninjured if things had been done differently, but acting sanctimonious about how much better “we” do things doesn’t win anyone over. We wind up being Monday-morning quarterbacks to someone else’s tragedy, and that feels wrong.

At the same time, I understand why it happens. We’re all terrified of losing our kids, and as long as we do things differently, our kids will be ok. Except that there are no guarantees. Yes, properly restraining a child reduces the likelihood of injury or death, but nothing can eliminate it. It’s hard facing the reality that there are some things we just can’t control, which leads us to grasp so tightly to the things we can.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t discuss tragic collisions. It helps us learn, it helps us educate, and sometimes it helps us cope. But we need to make sure we don’t jump to conclusions or place unnecessary blame. When we discuss crashes, we should think and speak with compassion, not contempt. Saying “I told you so” won’t bring back a child and won’t save our own.

CarseatBlog Chopped: Putting Faud to the Test

Darren has posted about his family’s faud recipe a few times now (you can read about it here and here). If you’re anything like me, you’ve watched those videos and thought, “Ehhh…” I mean, there’s noting like thick, pale, gluey gruel to get the mouth watering, right?

Well, last December I went over to Darren’s to try this elusive faud for myself. I’ll admit I was apprehensive, but as long as a dish doesn’t contain fish eyes, mushrooms, or anything still living, I’m generally game.

Here’s what happened when I tried it:

In case anyone’s wondering, those cookies were absolutely delicious! Not overly sweet, so you could eat a bunch without feeling too guilty. At least that’s what I told myself.

Holiday Cooking with CarseatBlog

You may remember our previous edition of Cooking with CarseatBlog.  That was certainly a tough recipe to follow, but this year we’ve outdone ourselves!  He ate them up, and one of mine, too.  Enjoy.

 

 

Editors note: Don’t buy this cheap imitation cookie “iron“.  It’s not even an Iron, it’s an Aluminum.  Seriously!