Chris McKerracher

This week's piece: Paypal is no Pal o`Mine

After an online lifetime of distrust regarding internet shopping, recently I deemed it necessary to break my cardinal rule. Now I’m not quite a “newbie”. I’ve somewhat figured out how to use iTunes; that ongoing yoke of Apple oppression familiar to all iProduct users, although it took me over a year to do it. I’m also familiar with navigating online sites, a skill that has become almost as essential in our modern world as using a debit machine.  
Still, I have never visited Kijiji, eBay or any of the craigslist of sites you can browse to see stuff for sale, but I really wanted an eBook experience on my ten pound iPad 1.0. This made it necessary to break my vow of “sell-abacy”.
I found the site and the book easily enough. Mayan Calendar Girls does stand out, after all. I put it in my online “cart”. As luck would have it I got the one with the wobbly online wheel.
“How will you be paying?” the website wanted to know.
After long, careful consideration, I selected the “Paypal” option. I’d set up an account a month ago before deciding against the transaction and figured I’d rather have my credit card data on one company’s hard drive than two. This may have been a mistake.
Clicking the “Paypal” option, suddenly it’s popup quiz time and the window on my monitor is demanding to know the password I made up a month ago and never used. I ran through a litany of different old favourites to no avail. Finally, in resignation, I clicked the “If you’re an idiot and forgot your password, click here” button.
A pop up window advised further instructions awaiting me in my email inbox. True to their word, the next step on the treasure hunt was revealed. I had to click another link whisking me to the “forgetful dummies go here” screen for changing passwords.  After having passwords rejected for being too short, too long or not pleasing to The Internet Security Gods, I finally found one to satisfy the machine.
I went back to buy the book again; my zest for online reading slightly diminished. I consoled myself it was just a learning curve I’d get past.
Once more I found the book, once more I went to the electronic till (the same cart I had last time) and once more I selected “Paypal” as my preferred payment choice. Keying in my new password, I was aghast at the machine’s reaction.
We weren't able to confirm that you're the account holder,” sneered one window.
“The link we provided has expired,” explained another.
It gave me two options. I could try again using the same information or reset my password once more.
Resetting it yet again, I went through the laborious purchasing process and once more I was cruelly rejected.
“Please make sure you enter your email address and password correctly. If you still can't log in, please see the Troubleshooting Tips below,” said the helpful window.  “Make sure it’s your correct email address, (it was) and that you r password and email match (it did) and if you have any problems, click HERE.”
I clicked HERE.
“The link we provided has expired,” explained another. “I thought I told you that last time you tried this.”
Okay, so maybe it didn’t say those exact words, but that’s how I read them.
Although, as Einstein said, doing the same actions over and over and hoping for a different result is a sign of insanity, still I persevered. I hoped it would be like one of those USB cords. The little rectangular metal connector won’t go in the hole so you flip it over and it still won’t go in the hole so you flip it over again and it goes in the hole.
Suddenly, my heart leapt with joy; a new window! Not that the new one was any more helpful than its army of disappointing predecessors, but at least it was different. Actually, the tone of the page was decidedly icy.
“We emailed you again,” it read tersely. It had the voice of an impatient wife. “
We sent another email to Click the link in the email to create a new password.”
“But we’ve been through this over and over!” I screamed at the computer monitor with predictable results; namely, sweet tweet.
Then I noticed underneath the smarmy windows another, more conciliatory message.
“Still didn’t get our email?” It wondered. “We can confirm your account ownership by phone. Click HERE.
I decided I didn’t want to click HERE, or HERE or even THERE. Eventually, I didn’t want to click any place Paypal wanted me to click. Paypal, I decided, was no pal o’ mine; more like a Pay-foul-stench-besotted-enemy.
One more time I labored through the book shopping process. I would not be thwarted by my new nemesis, I resolved. This time, however, I clicked on “credit card purchase”, although it was compromising some long held beliefs and ideals. I didn’t care. I’ll show the head of Paypal. “PP Head”, I called him in my imaginings.
The transaction proceeded fairly painlessly from there and in no time, I was paging through my new acquisition.
I will try not to let my frustration at purchasing my new “ebook” influence how I feel about whether I prefer a tablet to hard copy book reading.  The fact that the “cover” features a rather buxom Mayan wench makes me hopeful the technology may have possibilities.

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