Questions Of Cash: 'PayPal blocked my business account upgrade due to mystery buyer dispute'


Q. I have a PayPal account for eBay sales, which is attached to one of my email addresses. I want to upgrade my account to a business service. But PayPal has emailed me advising that my account has been limited for an undisclosed reason. I have made numerous calls and cannot find out what I have done wrong. I was told to log on to my PayPal account, open a complaint against PayPal and I would get a response.

I received an email asking me to forward invoices and ID. I tried to do this, but found that I don't have the option to upload any documents online. So I reverted to the call centre and yet again that was a dead end with an irate agent telling me in the most abrupt manor that the account is limited. I sent another email and received an automated response stating that my account balances can be moved. But when I log on to PayPal my account is still limited. If I have breached any rules this has not been done intentionally. I want PayPal to reinstate my account. JW, Staffordshire.

A. The restriction on your account relates to a past online trading dispute, of which it seems you may be unaware. A PayPal spokeswoman says: "PayPal has an obligation to both buyers and sellers to ensure the safety of the online community and as such uses rigorous checks to monitor for suspicious or potentially risky activity. On occasion an account may be placed under limited access and the account holder required to provide additional documentation relating to their business model. In order to protect other users, further accounts cannot be opened until previous issues have been resolved. In this case, [the reader] had a total of three PayPal accounts, which were flagged as potentially risky due to an outstanding buyer dispute which had not been resolved. We have contacted [the reader] to help her remove the limitation which will be done once the relevant documents are provided."

Q. British Gas has sent me a quarterly bill based on an actual reading of 4584. This is lower than the estimated reading on the previous quarter's bill, which I have paid, which was 4591. British Gas has now revised the previous estimate and split energy use into different months, reallocating more of the energy use into higher tariff bands. As a result I have been asked to pay an extra £22.55 for gas already paid for last quarter. AC, Sussex.

A. British Gas agrees with your explanation of what has happened, but says its actions were technically correct. As you used less gas over a longer period, this pushed your consumption into the more expensive charging band. A spokeswoman says: "We've apologised to [the reader] for the confusion over her bills and, as a gesture of goodwill, decided to amend the account and assume that the original bill reflects her usage of 4584 units. This puts her account in credit of £13.23."

Q. I read in Questions of Cash (23 July) of a reader whose Homebase vouchers had expired: he was unaware of this, but Homebase refused to accept them. You intervened and arranged to have them replaced with currently valid Homebase gift vouchers. I am in the same situation. GM, by email.

A. Homebase wrote to you saying that "as our scheme ended three years ago there are no longer any accounts to access and the vouchers can no longer redeemed". This is a similar situation to our reader MG of London, who we assisted in July. We raised your concern with Homebase, which has agreed to help you. A spokeswoman for Homebase says: "It is not our policy to refund expired Spend and Save vouchers. In May 2009 a notification was sent out to all voucher holders to alert them to the upcoming expiration date. Unfortunately it seems [the reader] did not receive this information. To apologise for any inconvenience caused, we are issuing [the reader] with a £30 Homebase voucher on this occasion as a goodwill gesture."

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we'll do our best to help. Please email us at:

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