Today I embarked on removing myself from various now irrelevant mailing lists, electronic and postal, and updating my details with websites I intend to continue to use. Two of these were Ebay and Paypal. Ebay was a breeze. I changed my address from the UK to the US and they automatically switched all of my details to Ebay.com so I have been able to transfer my buying and selling ratings across the Atlantic. However, given that I had changed my details with Ebay, I was then prompted to change my details with Paypal. That’s when the hijinks started.
Paypal is doing its level best to remind me that I am a non-person. Unlike with Ebay, I cannot simply transfer my account across the Atlantic. It’s financial and the movement of money across borders is strictly controlled so it is logical and I accepted that. A lot of searching the help section enabled me to uncover the jiggery-pokery required to do what I needed to do: I had to close my UK account and then open a new US account. Simple. Except I have a not insubstantial balance on my UK Paypal account since I was paid for various personal possessions we sold in the UK using Paypal. If I closed my account prior to opening the US one then all that virtual money would disappear. I, therefore, contacted Paypal to learn specifically what someone in my circumstances should do. They permitted me to briefly have two accounts in my name so long as they were linked to different email addresses so that I could transfer the balance. So I changed the email address of the UK account and registered a new US account. Which is when the whole plan ran aground.
As per my blog entry of a few days ago, I have no independent access to our joint finances courtesy of my present status as an SSNless immigrant. Yes, I do repeat myself when I’m in soap box rant mode. So, of course, Paypal required me to enter a linked credit or debit card to the account. I have neither. Actually I do have a debit card for my joint bank account but I have not been able to register it because I do not, as yet, have an SSN. So I could not link a debit card to the account – at least not one with a US billing address since I do still have a UK bank account at present. Nor could I add a credit card because my lack of SSN (and, let’s face it, non-existent credit score for the US despite a stonking credit score in the UK) means I am not eligible to apply for one. So the process stalled.
Of course, my incomplete new Paypal account can still accept balance transfers so I duly shifted the balance from the old to the new accounts … whereupon it disappeared into the electronic ether. I now have zero balance on either account, though it is very possible I am just being impatient and it will appear. Meanwhile every time I log on to check said balance transfer, Paypal prompts me to add not just a credit or debit card but also my social security number. Keep on rubbing the salt in, Paypal. E-commerce a la Kafka.
Some friends have advised me that it is possible for me to obtain a pre-paid credit card. In effect I shove some money on to a swipe card which I can then use as if it was a regular debit card. I think I am going to take the plunge and get one in the hope that I can add it to my Paypal and other online retail sites and it might just make my life that bit easier and time-efficient too. I will still be a non-person but at least I will be a functioning non-person.