I have had a couple of interesting collisions with the outside world these last couple of days. To begin with, the CBC, that much maligned (by the minority party in power) news agency, has changed its account registration rules. Used to be that one could register to be able to post comments and this would persist from day to day, so one only needed to re-log in fairly infrequently. The new policy, it seems, is to mandate a log in for every attempted comment. So if there is more than one article meriting response one has to sign in for every posting. But there is an alternative — one can signon using your Facebook or Gmail account. Interestingly, if you try this, one of the items you must agree to is to give the CBC access rights to your entire Gmail contact list. What does this have to do with identifying myself for the purpose of posting a comment? Is someone building a ‘fellow travellers database’? Shades of Senator Joe and the 1950s..
The other interesting collision has been with Paypal — I have had an account for years and use it infrequently for making donations and the occasional odd payment. It is linked to my credit card, verified of course, and has made a sensible extension to that instrument — since credit card charges are a real nightmare for the small business. Well, it seems Paypal has a new idea — it is no longer sufficient to pass my transactions through to the underlying credit account. Now they want access to my bank accounts as well — as a condition of continuing to pass credit card charges along. Not that there has ever been a problem. But since they do not (and never will) have access to my bank, I am now re-classified as an ‘unverified’ account with a lifetime maximum amount of business with Paypal. I tried to call Customer Abuse about this, but all I got was a snippy little babe who said if I didn’t give them access to my bank account I could not use Paypal — those are their rules now, so tough. Ok, so I will close my Paypal account and just use my credit card — when Paypal extended my financial reach it was a help. And I didn’t have to worry about some rogue stealing my credit card info and running up bogus charges. Oh, no — now I have to worry about some rogue stealing the bank access info from Paypal (we will assume for the moment that Paypal itself is above reproach) and draining my retirement funds.
Paypal may have delusions of transforming themselves into a bank, but to impose harsher rules than the banks on my doing business with them they have guaranteed one less customer. And one more person warning others about the dangers of excess and unjustified information requirements. Doesn’t seem like we are moving in a good direction.
What I found interesting after having this encounter was the number of people with similar or far worse experiences who told their stories on the web. And some You-tube clips where the customer abuse agent was recorded telling the poor unfortunate similar tales. With this going on its hard to understand why there has not been a news media expose — as we used to say in Chicago, the fix is in. And if one has a KIVA account, my wife tells me, the way to get money back from your microinvestments is to create a Paypal account — then hope, I guess, that the money ever gets back to you. Guess the marketing barrage to cover up the dark side is pretty typical — as is the difficulty of getting any non-automated attention, even for abuse. One wonders if we are all being viewed as potential candidates for the Island of Lost Boys — enthralled by the glitter and marching unknowingly into the abyss to become yet more jackasses to be sold and abused.