Those that read my previous post Computer Minus Power Equals Doorstop know that I recently had to purchase a battery charger off eBay for my notebook computer. I got a great deal and the new charger works just fine. Unfortunately, a couple of days after I received it I got a nasty shock in the mail.

My bank sent me a letter informing me that my account was overdrawn and that I had been charged an NSF fee of $40. Later I found that in between the time they sent the letter and the time I received it, they had also charged me an additional ongoing overdraft fee of $18. The frustrating thing is, I haven’t used that account in months.

A quick check revealed that PayPal was indeed the culprit. They made an unauthorized charge against my bank account.

When I purchased my battery charger, I went to eBay, found what I wanted and clicked on “Buy It Now”. I have a PayPal account that I have used for years and planned to use it to handle the transaction. However, I hadn’t used my PayPal account in over a year. During that time the only credit card I had on file with them expired. I didn’t update the card info with them when the new card came in so, months ago, they sent me an email stating that my credit card had been removed from my account.

No problem. There were a number of payment options available. I could choose to pay using my PayPal account (which I didn’t think would work because PayPal didn’t have my current credit card info on file) or I could pay through PayPal using a different card. Wonderful. That is exactly what I wanted to do. I clicked that option, entered my alternate credit card information, verified that everything was correct and clicked ok. Later, I received an email invoice stating that the transaction had processed followed by an email from the seller that he had received payment and that my order was being processed.

Here is where PayPal screwed up. Instead of billing the credit card I had entered, they billed my bank account directly. I wasn’t even aware they could do that. In the past every transaction through PayPal has been billed to my credit card as expected. The option I selected clearly stated that it would allow the user to pay with an alternate credit card. I know I selected the option I intended as it asked for the credit card information. They just didn’t bother to bill to that credit card as they were instructed. Instead they billed directly to my bank account which created fees totaling $58 to process a $36 purchase.

Fortunately, my bank was very understanding and reversed the fees. I’ve since removed my banking information from my PayPal account.