Financial Advice

My Gift Card Was Frozen. Is My Money Gone Forever?

Question: I am writing to you with the hope of recovering my eBay gift card balance for $135, which is linked to my frozen PayPal account.

I bought a $500 eBay gift card from a Safeway store and used $365 of it for a purchase through PayPal. The PayPal account was frozen.

Now I can’t use this gift card balance because it is linked to my limited PayPal account. PayPal is not willing to give me refund of $135 nor issue me a different gift card of $135 value or even de-link this gift card so that I can gift it to someone else. Paypal is saying I will forfeit the $135.

I bought the gift card from a store and paid the full purchase price, so they can’t keep it. I spoke with few folks at PayPal and eBay and they seem to point me to each other for help without anyone helping me.

I believe it’s absolutely wrong to take away my eBay gift card balance. Your help as mediator is highly appreciated.

Murtuza Cutleriwala, Santa Clara, Calif.

Answer: PayPal isn’t entitled to the $135 remaining on the card, no matter what you did with your account.

I’ve reviewed your correspondence with PayPal regarding your permanently suspended account. You can get suspended for violating the PayPal user agreement. I’m not sure why you didn’t fight the suspension. You’re either very busy or guilty.

But that doesn’t matter. PayPal still can’t help itself to the rest of your money. It’s just not right.

Looks like you were stuck in what I call a form-letter vortex. Each response resulted in the generation of another form letter, resulting in a seemingly endless vortex of pre-written emails. That’s not good customer service.

We’ve run into this problem before and apparently companies feel as if they can just keep your money when there’s a terms-of-service violation. I don’t like that precedent, so I decided to get involved.

I contacted eBay on your behalf. You also sent an email to, appealing your sentence to the form-letter vortex. One of the two — we’re not entirely sure which one — worked. You received a call from someone in the PayPal “executive” office. The company is releasing your $135.

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This article by Christopher Elliott was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.