Politics and opinions

Watch out for the financial black hole

I decided the other day to clear up my finances, get rid of the mess and make a cull in all those dodgy direct debits I had in my bank account.

I challenge you to have a look at your finances and see how many companies have a wide-open back door to your money.


I have been a avid user of Paypal for years and always tried to use it to pay for on-line purchases if at all possible. However recently I had a problem with a company that I had a subscription with through Paypal, more precisely with the Paypal recurring payments. Unbeknown to me at the time they hide the fact that you had a recurring payment (a subscription) deep down in the History section of your account. If you do not look really really carefully you might be led to believe that the recurring payment is not active any more and you could forget about it. This was not the case as I regretfully found out.

I would expect Paypal to have a clear list of ALL your recurring payments (they are basically subscriptions with a different name) on the Profile section, not hidden so deep that even as a long-standing customer could not find them without getting help from internet forums.

The problems is that being human you forget what you are subscribed to by the time you should have noticed it and perhaps acted on it – like cancel the subscription. You might not even know where the subscription was set-up and how you are supposed to cancel it. The company I had the subscription with was also very sneaky and deeply concealed instructions on how to cancel the subscription and made the procedure complicated.

When I decided to start clearing the debit card and bank account connections in Paypal I started getting e-mails that  some of those connections could not be cancelled as there were outstanding payments. That turned out to be not the case. One of the warnings I had was completely false and I had to remove the associated card with the help of the customer support. The other warning was about some old recurring payment I set-up with my website hosting provider. Doesn’t instil confidence in the reliability of the Paypal service.

When I was finally able to cancel my account I received two e-mails about additional TWO subscriptions that got closed when the account was closed. Where did the y come from and how come I didn’t know about them.

That motivated me to go to my online bank and cull all direct debits that either were not supposed to be there, like my O2 mobile phone membership that I cancelled last year, and my Privilege car insurance that I also cancelled last year. Do you know these guys keep the direct debit going on for at least a year after you cancel the account – just in case they need to rip you off a little more. Because that is just what I want really – an open door to my bank account. If they do take the money then I wish you good luck on proving you did not authorize the payment and even more luck to get a refund.