PayPal’s Naughty End to 2015

Just for fun, we thought it would be good to let you know that PayPal has a sense of humour about shopping for Christmas in relation to the story of Santa Claus — in fact, maybe its November TV ad was too blithe on the topic. PayPal is facing a PR debacle for it.

Perhaps there is something less reverent about online shopping, something which leads the world’s biggest Web-banking tool to take a light attitude toward this idea that kids tend to believe religiously (that Santa brings them presents).

After all, if that idea is a motivator for some holiday commerce, then why would PayPal shoot its own foot? How? — By inadvertently sabotaging the parents who bought gifts using the service to satisfy their kids, by playing alone with the Christmas myth of Santa (which is told incessantly to children). Actually, apart from the quaintness of this little faux pas, the 223 parents who have complained in UK may have a pretty logical point by questioning PayPal’s commercial all the more because it aired at a time when kids and parents watch the tube together.

PayPal has apologised for any offence or inconvenience the ad may have caused — reminding the public that the spot did not refute Santa explicitly. It was just the implication. Although regulatory agencies in the UK have received complaints, there is no move to investigate PayPal or officially charge it. PayPal has stated that it has asked television stations to reschedule its advert for later at night.

The whole affair just underscores something about Web commerce in contrast to shopping the old, hard way, by foot, at brick-and-mortar shops: online consumers can make more noise when they feel abused or have disputes with a retailer. There is a well established set of feedback tools, and, the media and marketplace tend to pay attention to these sorts of minor dramas. It seems we all want to see a customer win against a massive corporation, for instance.

The other thing this account highlights, of course, is just how entrenched online shopping has become, as well as all manner of entertainment like sites that accept PayPal such as online casinos. A player can stay very safe making PayPal deposits to play at gaming sites, and, parents (perhaps also casino players!) can purchase gifts and even weekly household supplies from online retailers using the tool.

And these types of online activities are happening as a matter of course, by millions every day. So, although this news item about PayPal’s advertising may trouble some, by and large, the reason it possesses some human interest as a story may be the fact that the leading e-wallet has become a part of normal life. Otherwise, there would be little basis for the outcry, because PayPal would not affect people’s lives at such an intimate level — but it does.