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Euro am Sonntag gives advice: Digital payments with PayPal: These clicks can cost – where traps lurk | message


by Simone Gröneweg, Euro am Sonntag

D.he Germans now like to consume from the sofa at home. Online trading is booming. When going to the virtual cash register, customers show clear preferences. You prefer to pay by invoice or use PayPal. This is not surprising, because the service offers advantages: With one click you can settle the bill online – almost in real time. The bank details are not sent directly to the merchant. Those who browse in foreign shops and find what they are looking for can pay in different currencies.

But it is precisely this service that has its pitfalls. Many customers do not even notice that the payment service is charging a fee, for example to convert a price from euros to US dollars, warns Jennifer Kaiser of the Rhineland-Palatinate consumer center. The information on this is in the general terms and conditions. But they are so extensive that probably few consumers read them carefully, says Kaiser. “Otherwise they would discover that the exchange rate fee is often four percent.”

Currency conversion costs

These costs can be reduced under certain circumstances. Instead of 148 euros, the purchase cost only 144 euros, says a PayPal user in an online discussion forum, for example. He had his credit card provider convert the currency. The option is only available to customers whose PayPal payments are covered by a credit card. Background: For a PayPal account you need a bank account or credit card as a source of payment. If a bank account is used for this, there is no possibility of savings. If, on the other hand, the transactions are covered by a credit card, customers can decide who converts for individual payments at the time of purchase. The advantage: As a rule, the charge of the credit card provider is a maximum of two percent, says Kaiser. Those who like to buy a lot abroad can save a lot of money in the long run with this measure.

If someone is short of cash, the payment service offers the option of purchase in installments. This applies to purchases of between € 99 and € 5,000, and it even looks practical at first glance. Before you graduate, however, you should definitely take a closer look at the conditions. The term is twelve months, the annual percentage rate is 9.99 percent, according to the PayPal website. Compared to other installment loans, this is not particularly cheap. There are certainly one-year loans that cost around three percent.

Many PayPal users appreciate one option in particular: the Friends & Family function. It is intended for private use. For example, if you share a bill in a restaurant, you can transfer money to each other free of charge. Then only one person has to pay the main item. Unfortunately, some fraudsters have now discovered the payment option for themselves.

There have been a number of cases in which salespeople specifically asked customers to use this function to pay for goods purchased on the Internet. Your argument: That saves costs. Anyone who reads through the conditions will notice that the seller or dealer will save the costs first. In return, an important service is lost. “There is no buyer protection for this function,” emphasizes David Riechmann from the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer center.

For example, the police in Bavaria are expressly warning against using the Friends & Family function for people who are not personally known due to fraud. The perpetrators only set up the PayPal account for a short time, the money received is immediately forwarded to third parties and the account is deleted again. In order to appear more believable, the fraudsters send a picture of their alleged personal document to confirm their identity. However, these documents have also been scammed. The bitter end for the consumers concerned: The ordered goods never arrive and the transferred money is gone.

It looks different when you pay for products via goods & services. Then the buyer protection takes effect. It helps buyers in two cases: If the purchased item does not arrive or if it deviates significantly from the description, e.g. if it is damaged. This is an additional contractual agreement between the payment service provider. “Customers can apply to PayPal to be reimbursed for the purchase price including shipping costs in such cases,” explains consumer advocate Riechmann.

Buyer must return goods

However, customers who pay for products with PayPal via Goods & Services should also take a look at the small print. “In order for customers to be entitled to buyer protection, they must adhere to our buyer protection guidelines,” explains a spokeswoman for the payment service. This also includes the fact that an item that deviates significantly from the description must be returned to the seller. Only then does the buyer protection apply. “If the buyer files a buyer protection claim but keeps the item, the claim cannot be approved,” she says.

Customers can at least request the reimbursement of the return costs from PayPal. However, the payment service provider pays a maximum of 25 euros per return, and only up to twelve times a year. Customers may therefore only be reimbursed part of their shipping costs. PayPal itself advises customers to check the merchant’s return options and terms and conditions before ordering online.

Who is converting?

When buying in a foreign currency: A bank account or credit card is required as a source of payment for a PayPal account. If payments are covered by a credit card, the customer can have the exchange rate converted by the credit card provider when shopping in a foreign currency. This is usually cheaper. When concluding the purchase, the user specifically decides for the respective payment whether the payment service PayPal or the credit card provider converts. € uro am Sonntag has asked PayPal at which point in the payment process this is possible. “At the point at which the amount to be paid and possible fees are displayed,” PayPal replied without giving any further details. It is important, however, that if a bank account is used as a source of payment for PayPal, there is no option to convert.


Image Sources: Twin Design /, Sean Gallup / Getty Images

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