Ash Nallawalla's blog

Was Skype abused as a child?

Ash Nallawalla

5 April 2008

Other

When you try to pay for a Skype service, you will soon discover it is paranoid beyond belief, suggesting some deep-seated childhood trauma. Perhaps it was bullied in the school playground?

Click to enlargeMy SkypeIn service expires in a month, so I thought I should extend it. I am attracted by some other offerings, such as SkypeOut and SkypePro, so I try to upgrade and proceed to PayPal. This is where the fun begins. You will discover the following gems, which defy business logic:

  • You cannot pay for two Skype accounts with one credit card. Imagine walking into a department store and being told, “Sorry, sir, your card was used to buy one pair of jeans in 1986. You will need to use a different credit card to buy one more pair of jeans from our store and you will need a new credit card for every additional item.” Well, it is true if the department store is called Skype. At their forum an ex-Skype customer posted the contents of the explanation:

    === Why was my payment cancelled? ===
    To protect both ourselves and you from fraud, restrictions apply when using your debit or credit card to purchase Skype products. In this instance your payment failed because we don’t allow you to purchase Skype products with a credit or debit card that is already used by another Skype account.

    === What can I do? ===
    Try again with another card or one of our other payment methods such as Moneybookers, regular bank transfer or retail vouchers. View the different ways to pay for Skype products at http://www.skype.com/go/waystopay .

    Or why not ask one of your friends on Skype to buy a Gift Certificate for you? Find out more about Gift Certificates at https://secure.skype.com/store/buy/giftcertificates.html

  • You cannot pay with Paypal credit, even if you had a zillion $ in your account. Skype’s knowledgebase has these gems:

    Your Skype account is not linked to a PayPal account.

    A Skype account will become linked to a PayPal account if it has successfully received money from a Skype contact. (Ash: Skype means, “Unless you can get your family and friends to pay you money via PayPal, we don’t trust you.” Does the average Joe receive money via PayPal?)

    I have a PayPal account but I cannot use Send Money, why is this the case?

    Send Money is not currently available in all PayPal supported countries. Please continue to check the PayPal website for updates.

    Alternatively, you can Send Money directly from PayPal. (Ash: What do you mean “alternatively”? You just said it isn’t available in all PayPal supported countries… Click that link. There is a picture of “Send Money” on the Australian site.)

    To send money using your PayPal account, follow these steps:

    1. Log in to your PayPal account on www.paypal.com.

    2. Click the Send Money tab.

    3. Fill out the form.

    4. Click Continue.

    5. Review the details of the payment.

    6. Click Send Money to send the payment.

Click to enlargeSkype was definitely traumatised as a child. Or perhaps it was a an incident involving a hoodlum from Eastern Europe.

Paypal has an office in Australia, which is very much a “supported” country and currency (AU$). My PayPal account has plenty of funds in it. It has received PayPal payments from another Skype user for years (this is another of Skype’s crazy security requirements). Yet I cannot pay from my existing credit. PayPal is telling me to add a second credit card. What is wrong with the existing one? It has a zero balance (It has funds). Yet, if I try to pay some other website with PayPal, it is happy to take my PayPal balance.

Click to enlargeWhile it doesn’t apply to me, I couldn’t buy a Skype account for my family members unless I had four credit cards – and I don’t. Help me out here – does buying a new account with an existing card linked to a Skype account imply that it is stolen or somehow fraudulent? Wouldn’t a stolen card be cancelled by its owner?

I get it – someone steals my wallet and before I have a chance to cancel all my cards, the thief rushes to an Internet cafe and opens a Skype account with it! Perhaps this is the MO of terrorists who are about to discuss their next plot over Skype using a stolen card. Yeah, right.

PayPal payments to Skype are a hot topic in the Sype forum. Clearly, Skype’s management prefers to annoy its customers than risk some fraud (and I’d love to know what type of fraud occurs in this case). How do other companies survive in the e-commerce world? Comments?

Ash Nallawalla

Search strategist experienced in large, complex websites. Ash's Google+ profile

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1 Comment

  • a1gjv on 5 April 2008

    I could not agree more with the comments made in this blog that is why I will not even attempt to any Skype service.
    I tried to purchase credit with my Spanish debit card which any other company in the world will accept except Skype so as far as Skype is concerned they can keep there services I will just us it and an IM and Skype to Skype service.
    I think this poor preson plight is the bottom of the pit as far as his treatment by Skype is concerned
    and it is still not fixed yet.

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