PayPal Loves Cats, Hates People

Jonathan Bernstein crisis communications, crisis management, crisis public relations, Crisis Response, public relations, reputation management, social media Leave a Comment

Weak crisis response leads to reputation damage

Early last week, PayPal found itself on the receiving end of a Facebook beat down when it suddenly put a halt to the “Secret Santa” charity drive being run by (careful, content is NSFW at times) because they had used the wrong button to collect donations.

Regretsy’s staff had quite a go around with several PayPal staffers, and posted quotes from the conversations on their site, including this gem:

PAYPAL: Only a nonprofit can use the Donate button.
ME: That’s false. It says right in the PDF of instructions for the Donate button that it can be used for “worthy causes.”
PAYPAL: I haven’t seen that PDF. And what you’re doing is not a worthy cause, it’s charity.
ME: What’s the difference?
PAYPAL: You can use the donate button to raise money for a sick cat, but not poor people.

Angry users flocked to PayPal’s Facebook page, flooding it with images and comments for over 12 hours before the company woke up and started deleting posts like no tomorrow, looking all the more guilty for it.

So much for social media monitoring and strategy, eh?

PayPal finally calmed the fire with its first smart crisis management move of the entire situation, a blog post that gave a very generic explanation, but did well in discussing PayPal’s support of charity, commitment to customer safety, and not only admitted error, but also explained what would be done to fix it.

Overall, a weak crisis response from PayPal that’s already cost them in reputation damage, lost customers, and lost fees, all of which could have been avoided with some quality customer service and a bit of flexibility.

The BCM Blogging Team

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