Online Retailer/PayPal Warning


Warning! This is a rant related to items not in inventory. It has been edited for strong language and inappropriate graphics.

Twice I’ve been caught off-guard by an issue between PayPal and merchants that tied up my credit for an unacceptably long period of time. No need for you to go through what I have so here’s what happened.

In both situations I used my credit card through PayPal to purchase merchandise from online retailers. The first retailer did not have the inventory that was offered on his website but still debited my account for the unavailable item. It took in excess of two weeks to get a credit.

Merchant claimed PayPal and the credit card issuer were slow. The merchant has/had outdated software and the item should not have been loaded into my shopping cart without a back-order warning. I missed buying the item at a comparable discount while the parties involved controlled the available credit on my credit card. Eventually the credit showed up in my PayPal account but not on my credit card. Hrumph!

The second incident happened with a much larger retailer. One item was clearly listed as back-ordered in my shopping cart with the expected shipping date. No problem for me and I liked the upfront information as well as the opportunity to cancel at any time. Unfortunately, the retailer requested full payment from PayPal despite the website stating that would not happen until the item shipped. The “so what” response from the retailer to my query about the charge did nothing to handle the situation and soured our budding relationship. All I can do now is cancel the item and hope that someday my account will show a credit.

The issue seems to originate at the merchant level when the merchant requests full payment despite having no inventory on hand. They can blame PayPal and claim it is slow to issue credit. But the truth is full payment should never have been requested by the merchant. I have had it take up to a week to get a refund from my card issuer with a direct purchase. Add the intermediate step of getting the refund through PayPal and you can see where this is going.

Through PayPal I have paid for hundreds of satisfactory eBay purchases. The problems have only happened with retail purchases when merchants put through transactions for items not in inventory. That’s a shabby way to do business under any circumstances. Paying through PayPal just complicated the situation.

Both retailers thought it was my bad luck to have ordered something that was not in inventory. Again, hrumph!

My friends, you have been warned.


  1. So please name the miscreants?


    • My intention was not to target the retailers, but rather to make the pitfalls known. The retailers were duly informed of my disappointment and that’s good enough for me.🙂


  2. This is one of many reasons why I won’t use PayPal.


  3. I recently had a similar thing happen to me this month and about two years ago by the same merchant no less!! They advertise items that they know they don’t have in inventory. Pisses me off and I’m not buying anything from them.


    • Terea, there are plenty of ethical retailers doing their best for customers so no one should ever have to accept shoddy treatment. In the pen world, Pendemonium was my first online fling and remains my gold standard for customer service. I have ordered multiple times without problems from Pen Chalet, Writer’s Bloc, Jet Pens and I Sell Pens. There are other good retailers, but I lack enough transactions to include them on my short list. Maybe one of them will be able to meet your needs at least when it comes to pens, ink and paper.


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