Friday, 24 August 2012

eBay and Paypal change their terms to require users' consent to unlimited robocalls and text-message spam

Back in 2009, I reported that credit-card issuers led by American Express had begun requiring their customers’ consent to receive unlimited robocalls and text messages at any telephone number those customers had ever used, including cellphone numbers. That posed a risk of harassment for all customers, a risk of extra expenses for customers who might have to pay extra to receive calls or text messages while roaming abroad (what if you had called AmEx from a satellite phone?) , and a special security risk for travellers who might have called AmEx or other card issuers from borrowed phones, public phones, or phones at hostels, hotels, etc.

AmEx didn’t back down in the face of negative publicity, even when my story got picked up by the New York Times. AmEx closed my account, and other card issuers including the issuer of a Paypal-affiliated card began imposing similar terms on their customers.

Now Paypal itself and its parent eBay are following suit with new terms of service effective this month.

Paypal’s terms of service were updated 2 August 2012, and now include the following:

1.10 Calls to You; Mobile Telephone Numbers. By providing PayPal a telephone number (including a mobile telephone number), you consent to receiving autodialed and prerecorded message calls from PayPal at that number. If we determine that a telephone number you have provided to us is a mobile telephone number, we may categorize it as such in our systems and in your Account Profile, and you consent to receive text messages from us about your use of the PayPal Services at that number.

eBay’s terms of service were updated 21 August 2012 to add the following:

Authorization to Contact You; Recording Calls

You authorize eBay, its affiliates, agents, and independent contractors to contact you at any telephone number (including telephone numbers associated with mobile, cellular, wireless, or similar devices) you provide to us or from which you place a call to us, or any telephone number at which we reasonably believe we may reach you, using any means of communication, including, but not limited to, calls or text messages using an automatic telephone dialing system and/or prerecorded messages, even if you incur charges for receiving such communications.

You understand and agree that eBay may, without further notice or warning and in its discretion, monitor or record telephone conversations you or anyone acting on your behalf has with eBay or its agents for quality control and training purposes or for its own protection. You acknowledge and understand that … your communications with eBay may be overheard, monitored, or recorded without further notice or warning….

At the same time, eBay is adding a mandatory arbitration clause to its terms of service. Current eBay customers are being allowed to opt out of arbitration (if they do so now, by snail-mail), although they will have to give up the right to sue eBay in their own local small claims court, and agree to file any lawsuit against eBay in Salt Lake City. But eBay isn’t (yet) offering its customers any choice about calls to other people’s phone numbers, robocalls, or SMS spam.

[Follow-up: FCC finally takes note of robocall/SMS terms of service — 6 years late ]

Link | Posted by Edward on Friday, 24 August 2012, 12:38 (12:38 PM)

Geez. Thank you for posting this info. I just cancelled my (seldom used) paypal account. And thanks generally for this blog. Although I don't travel outside the States any more, I still find much useful info here.

Posted by: Therese, 24 August 2012, 19:09 ( 7:09 PM)

PayPal Draws Consumer Ire Over Robo-Texting Rights
(by Bob Sullivan,, 2 June 2015):

"...While the PayPal corporate structure is new -- this summer, it will be permanently separated from eBay, which acquired the payments giant in 2002 -- the robocalling language is not really new. It is derived from eBay"s terms of service, which back in 2012 added the right to contact consumers "at any telephone number ... you provide to us or from which you place a call to us, or any telephone number at which we reasonably believe we may reach you," according to Practical Nomad blogger Edward Hasbrouck....

Hasbrouck had created a stir about the fine-print robocalling issue even earlier, in 2009, when he noticed it in his American Express terms of service...."

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 8 June 2015, 17:03 ( 5:03 PM)
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