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Why the PayPal robocall agreement has consumers up in arms

Anyone who’s ever received an automated PPI spam phone call will now that receiving pre-recorded messages, often which have no relevance to you whatsoever, can be very annoying. In fact, unwanted telemarketing of any kind can be a real turn-off for consumers, which is why many people are disappointed by recent changes to PayPal’s terms of service.

The company website lists the new agreement clearly and suggests that customers could soon be receiving a lot more unsolicited calls and texts from not only PayPal, but its affiliated businesses too.

Read more: If you’re a PayPal user, you’re opted in for robocalls

“You consent to receive autodialed or pre-recorded calls and text messages from PayPal at any telephone number that you have provided us or that we have otherwise obtained,” the website explains. “[PayPal] may share your phone numbers with our Affiliates or with our service providers, such as billing or collections companies, who we have contracted with to assist us in pursuing our rights.”

Major news outlets have been quick to pick up on the changes, focusing on the terms which suggest that the company can effectively pester its customers for any reason it likes. The agreement states that PayPal can contact individuals with information regarding their account, dispute resolution, debt collection, opinion polls or to share “offers and promotions.”

The latter two reasons are certainly vague enough to give PayPal the option of contacting customers with what could be classified as “spam” messages and phone calls. Perhaps more worrying for existing customers is that they don’t have much of a choice. They can either accept the new terms, or if you choose to decline, you have 30 days in which to close down your account.

While the world’s media may be blowing the story somewhat out of proportion – it remains to be seen exactly how PayPal will implement the changes – customers are understandably concerned.

People’s personal data has become increasingly commoditised since the growth of the Internet and smartphones, with many companies trading this information for huge sums of money. Unfortunately, as is the case with the new PayPal agreement, customers have little say in what happens to their own data, particularly when the choice is: agree to our terms or get out.

Perhaps even more sickening to consumers is the fact that companies selling user information to “affiliate” companies, as PayPal has stated it will, are viewed as greedy, treating their customers as nothing more than cash cows. Does a company that posted revenue in excess of $2 billion in the first quarter of 2015 need to use consumer data in this way? Or perhaps more pertinently is it wise to do so?

The reaction to the news has been overwhelmingly negative, but will customers put their money where their mouth is and leave the service?

Read more: PayPal in hot water with the US Government

Whether or not PayPal comes to regret its new terms ultimately depends on how the firm chooses to implement them. Spam customers with too much telemarketing and it’s likely they’ll switch allegiances to a rival service, particularly with the number of e-commerce options steadily rising. Apple Pay, Google Wallet and WePay are just some of the payment services out there waiting to de-throne PayPal and the company’s new service agreement may have just given them all the ammunition they need.