Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oh oDesk! Oh PayPal! Gawddamn it!

I suppose it's easy to trumpet a Web site's virtues before one has run and stumbled and crashed through the dung-carpeted gauntlet/process of actually getting paid for work completed via that Web site. This, unfortunately, is the place I find myself at this juncture with oDesk.com.

After previously reviewing oDesk.com, I made the move to obtain payment for my first writing assignment completed via there. My client came through quick as he promised, but when I attempted to withdraw the funds from oDesk, I ran into a snag. My long-standing PayPal account wouldn't suffice for some reason. I misread oDesk's instructions on the matter and wrongly believed I had to create an entirely new PayPal account using my oDesk e-mail address. This was erroneous on my part. Turns out, all one need do is add their oDesk e-mail address to their PayPal account.

Sounds easy.

It's not.

I had no trouble re-routing my oDesk e-mail address through my Gmail account. I live on Gmail and have routed several addresses there with no problems. When working for my client on my first oDesk job, he was able to contact me using my oDesk e-mail address with no trouble whatsoever.

So, when I added my oDesk e-mail address to my PayPal account, I didn't anticipate any problems when I clicked the final required button that prompted PayPal to send a confirmation message -- containing a verification code -- to my oDesk e-mail account. For some unfathomable reason, PayPal's confirmation e-mail will not reach my Gmail account via the oDesk address. I have contacted oDesk and PayPal about this. The princely sum hanging in the balance is $26, so you can imagine my artery-bursting urgency in getting this mess cleared up.

This has been going on for three weeks, partly due to my own tardiness. oDesk's Help Desk has been responsive, but not helpful. They are polite, but clueless. Their "engineering department" is now looking into my trouble, as though I'm stranded on a space shuttle that keeps bouncing off earth's atmosphere every time it attempts re-entry. I'm trying to receive payment of a lousy $26 on a PayPal account that has transacted thousands of dollars in the seven years I've had it.

And PayPal has been a shower of useless bastards, too. Their response to my e-mail on this matter merely sat in my PayPal account. They couldn't bother themselves to ping me via the e-mail address I use on the account. There went a week. And PayPal's solution for the present time is to lock my account until I provide them with a credit card number. Thing is, I signed up with PayPal to get away from using credit cards. (Hey, PayPal, you know that credit crunch that's got the entire planet in a Figure Four Leg Lock? And those predatory practices practiced by credit card companies? I don't want to be a part of that. OK?) Or, I can simply scan my driver's license and e-mail that to PayPal, or a pay stub, or any of a dozen other highly personal bits of information an identity thief would ruin his underwear to receive.

The point is, it's 2009 for the love Bo Schembechler!

oDesk, I've used my PayPal account on Helium and elsewhere to receive payment without any trouble whatsoever -- without having to add an address, or otherwise jump through hoops due to nebulous "security concerns." I use the Web all day long, every day of every week, etc. If I'm having trouble with this, what are less-tech-savvy users going through? Not this, I'll bet. They're not even using your site.

And PayPal, gimme a gawddamned break with this speaking-down-to-the-rabble-from-the-top-of-Mount-Olympus shit! Responding to my message to your "Resolution Center" -- you make it sound like it's staffed by wizards and vestal virgins -- with opaque forms and badly labeled pages (why does the page asking me to verify my mailing address set up to only accept my non-existent credit card details?) is not a resolution. It's inconvenience.

The Web is what we make of it. It's a great and useful place. I'm all about Web 2.0, but let's hope Web 3.0 or 2.1, or whatever the next iteration is called, puts a prime focus on getting its shit together! Wet-floor effects and glossy buttons are awesome, but they're not worth a NetZero dial-up connection if they're on sites that can't work a little more efficiently than an Estonian passport office.


Anonymous said...

Hi there,
This is Shannon, Director of Customer Support at oDesk. I am so sorry for this frustrating experience. I am going to look into your ticket and see what I can do. We also have a relationship with PayPal, so I might be able to help there as well. Worst case scenario, I will have a check cut to you today. The only thing I need is your oDesk user ID. Can you email me? sadkins@odesk.com.

Anonymous said...

I was able to find out your name from the Helium Article. I am looking into your ticket now.

kit said...

You may add your gmail address(which used to login odesk) to paypal acc. instead of a xxx@odesk.com mail address.