PayPal recently responded to the widespread backlash and criticism of its new user agreement. The company claims members can actually opt out of receiving the automated phone calls, but those who have tried beg to differ, and the link specifically provided by the company merely takes users to their PayPal account.
PayPal came under fire last week for its new user agreement, slated to go into effect July 1. The agreement apparently forced members to opt in to a policy that allows the company to contact them via phone, not only through the number they provide but also through any number the company can manage to dig up through data-matching research.
The user agreement reads, in part, as follows: "You consent to receive autodialed or prerecorded calls and text messages from PayPal at any telephone number that you have provided us or that we have otherwise obtained. We may place such calls or texts to (i) notify you regarding your account; (ii) troubleshoot problems with your account (iii) resolve a dispute; (iv) collect a debt; (v) poll your opinions through surveys or questionnaires, (vii) contact you with offers and promotions; or (viii) as otherwise necessary to service your account or enforce this User Agreement, our policies, applicable law, or any other agreement we may have with you."
This aroused the ire of users and quickly turned into a media nightmare for the company, which was roundly criticized for apparently giving no opt-out option to the calling policy other than for users to cancel their account. The company seemingly reversed gears in response by posting a clarification on its blog, written by general counsel Louise Petland and entitled, "An Update on How We Contact You," which cited "confusion and concern in the media" and assured users that the company has "no intention of harassing you" and that the calls are "intended to benefit our relationship." She assured that members may opt out of receiving the calls by clicking on a link to customer support.
The link, however, merely takes one to the PayPal home page, where they must sign in before being routed only to the generic "contact us" page. There are no forms or specific instructions on how to opt out. Clearly, even if one is technically able to reject the calling provision, PayPal sure isn't making it easy for them to do so. In fact, many customers are reporting that, when contacting customer service, they are still being told they cannot opt out.
Now, the New York Attorney General has gotten into the mix, sending PayPal a letter of inquiry on the matter and stating through a spokeswoman that "Consumer choice and privacy preferences are protected by state and federal laws — including laws that specifically aim to stop companies from using invasive robocalls to promote products to consumers who do not wish to receive them."
PayPal has confirmed that it has received the letter and intends to respond, reiterating its position that customers can in fact choose not to receive the robocalls.