When PayPal first got started most people were leery about sending money back and forth electronically.
Mind you, this was back in 2000 when a good portion of folks still trekked to their local branch for theirÂ banking needs, and if you checked your balance by printing out an ATM receipt, it didn't make you seem ancient or completely out of the technological loop.
Today both businesses and consumers shuffle finances through PayPal with a great amount of confidence. No longer do users wonder if their money will end up in the land of digital nowhere or in the pocket of some Internet robber using PayPal as his mask.
Truthfully, using the online money exchange service is as common as using sites like Twitter and Facebook, and the level of trust and comfort users have equals both social sites.
And for that very reason PayPal is trying to compete with giant retailers in the area of price matching -- which is when a store pays you the price difference if you happen to find one of its sale items cheaper someplace else.
The company plans to roll out the digital programÂ this holiday season.
Many retailers-both online and brick and mortar-are eager to secure shopping dollars thisÂ holiday season, and mega stores like Target and Best Buy have already used price matching to help pull that off.
Whether consumers will associate PayPal with holiday shopping remains to be seen, because sometimes it takes a little while for people to change their view of a company once it takes onÂ other roles and different functions.
Here's how the price matching program works: If you buy certain products exclusively with your PayPal account, you have 30 days to see if another store has it for less. Easy enough, right?
But consumers will have to locate a printed version of the other store's advertisement and the ad needs to have details like the sales price, the name of the store or dealer, and the dates of that store'sÂ sale.
Also, the item must be identical to the one you initially purchased, and it can't be offered on any auction sites. However items that are bought new on eBay can be part of the price matching program, but they have to be sold by one of the sites' top rated sellers.
PayPal also limits paymentsÂ for each item up to $250, and each customer won't be paid more than $1,000 while the program exists. Also, once you see the advertisement for the cheaper item, you have 10 days to file aÂ request if you want to be paid the difference.
Although the price buying program is a good step for the online company, many consumers would prefer if PayPal would first make improvements in the area ofÂ money exchange.
Just ask Carlos of Azusa, Calif.-one of our readers who experienced some stressful dealings with the company.
"My wife opened a new PayPal account to transfer money to our bank account in Mexico and they blocked her account," he wrote in his ConsumerAffairs posting.
Â "Then she calls and asks why. They said that she needs to provide some information and a phone number, but my mom doesn't have a phone number in Mexico. Then she tried to send the money back to me as a refund and they limited the account. Now, they limited my account and they are asking us for IDs and proof that we are who we are or they will hold the money for 180 days," Carlos explained.
And he isn't the only one who experienced trouble with the company, as many readers have complained about PayPal holding their money for seemingly no just cause. Apparently, it doesn't take much for the company to keep your finances.
"I have sold an item for several hundred dollars last weekend," wrote Tom from Oregon.
"I was paid the day after the auction ended. PayPal put the funds on hold for 21 days. They may release them earlier if positive feedback was left by the buyer. They may release the funds three days after they have confirmed delivery of the item. I am a casual seller. I am not a business.
"I have a 100 percent positive feedback rating. This is my money and PayPal has no right to put the funds on hold. This company appears to be totally out of control. If this practice isn't illegal, then it definitely should be," Tom wrote in the comments section.
A PayPal spokesperson responded on Nov.9 to the sellers' complaints, providing this statement:
"We recognize that the holds process is frustrating for anyone affectedÂ who is selling via PayPal, and we are making some significant changes inÂ how this policy is implemented and how we communicate what's happeningÂ to our customers. Â Holds are put in place to protect the entireÂ ecosystem of online payments - for both buyer and seller. Unfortunately,Â when you provide a service that enables millions of people to send andÂ receive payments around the world, there is a high potential for fraud.
"We take this very seriously and have in place some of the best anti-fraud and automated risk technology in the business. Â A very smallÂ percentage of the six million transactions we process every day areÂ affected, but we apologize if anyone is subject to a hold who should notÂ have been affected ."
The company's price matching program also includes airline tickets. If you purchase an eligible ticket using your PayPal account within the U.S., you'll be paid the difference if you see the same flight on a printed ad or on another airlines' website.Â You haveÂ seven days from the initial purchase to request payment.
Â The price limit is $1,000 per person during the program for the tickets and PayPal will pay each person up to $250.
In addition, the ad showing the cheaper flight must include the sales price, the flight number, the date the lower price was listed, and the departure date. You also have ten days from when you see the otherÂ ad to file a payment request.