If your only PayPal account is a Business account, then read this.

I’ve had PayPal since they were their own company, unrelated to eBay. PayPal has always been a very convenient way for friends and family to send funds between one another, with relatively good security.

TL;DR If you only have one PayPal account and it is a Business account, then you should either create a new, personal PayPal account or ask PayPal to convert your Business account over to personal.   This way you’re able to receive Friends & Family payments when applicable, and not pay 3% in fees.

At one point, I was encouraged by PayPal to convert my account over to a Business account.   I went ahead with it, because there were no drawbacks to switching and a couple of added features.    After switching to the business account type, many payments began to default to the “Goods or Services” option when others would send money.    Also, by default, when using any website integration the payment is classified as “Goods or Services” with no ability to change it.    The same is true of any payments made via PayPal.me links, when the account is a business account.

I could still, however, receive payments from friends and family without fees when they selected the “Friends and Family” option when sending money from their account.

This may seem like a minor detail, but keep reading.   Hopefully you’re already aware of this, but what this meant back then was that any of the “non-F&F” payments received would count against the IRS Reporting threshold.   This threshold used to be a reasonable amount:  No reporting was done if you were under both 200 transactions and US$20,000 per calendar year.   Going over this would necessitate the reporting of all transactions beyond those limits as well as all prior transactions for the year (excluding F&F).

If you’d like to read the fine print on this, click here to view the PayPal User Agreement from 2017 (via WayBackMachine).  Search for “200” within that page and you’ll find the right section.  

Then, in contrast, click here to view the 2022 User Agreement.   (Search for 600 within this document)

Why 600?

Because, as part of the bills passed during COVID and within the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 they slipped a couple of bonuses in there for us to help everyone recover from the pandemic.

Among these bonus items, after they realized that some Americans were receiving exorbitant amounts of money from reselling clothes and household items on eBay, and accepting payments with Venmo at their garage sales, (*long, Office Space Lumbergh stretch*)… Yeah, we just went ahead and…. fixed that glitch.   Mmmm-kay? Great.     Now that I’ve got the Office Space dramatics out of my system, in regular English this means:

Reporting Requirements
Before 12/31/2021: 200 transactions or US$20,000, per year.
   After 12/31/2021:     1 transaction   or US$     600, per year

Now that you realize the minor adjustment they made to the reporting thresholds, the next point will come into better focus.

A few months ago, a family member sent me $10 or so to pay their part of a dinner tab.   I just happened to notice on my PayPal account that this came across as a payment for Goods & Services, so I promptly refunded the transaction and told them to send it with F&F.    I checked on my desktop, using the PayPal web site and indeed I was able to select F&F without issue.   

After a repeated incident with another family member, one who was adamant that there was no option to change to F&F, I inspected further.   It appeared that PayPal had changed the iOS app such that it didn’t prompt for the type of payment while sending money.  

(Bear in mind, that recipients are stored in your “Contacts” within PayPal and they have(had) an option for each one indicating what the default payment type would be–Goods/Services or F&F.)

I thought it was just a glitch within the iOS app so I directed them to use the full website, which worked at that time.

No longer does it work.    Apparently PayPal had been hinting at the removal of the F&F payment option within Business accounts for some time now.   But I don’t recall receiving any type of account notice from them about this.    

The next day, after I proceeded to send PayPal customer service a message after reading this Quora page along with a couple other similar pages.    See, I had set up a separate PayPal account some years ago which I use exclusively for business payments.   But, until now, there wasn’t much reason to pursue changing my account type on my non-business account.

This was about a month ago that I sent them the message, as of this writing, and I’ve not heard anything back from them on it.   I really don’t want to set up a brand new PayPal account for use as a personal account.   So, I waited patiently to let them do their thing as I was sure they were probably inundated with requests from others to do the exact same thing to their business accounts.

However, it having been over a month now, I decided to go ahead and call PayPal to make sure that it got done.

Been a long time since I needed to call PayPal for anything, and let me tell you:  PayPal customer service is nothing like it used to be.

They used to answer your call promptly, and have well-trained agents ready to tackle any problem you threw their way.    This time, the first agent I spoke with told me she needed my email address from the account I wanted to convert.    I gave her two of the registered email addresses from the account, but she couldn’t locate the account using either of them.   (Spelled slowly, one letter at a time)   I ended up giving my phone numbers (uniquely attached to this single account), among several other things.   Ultimately I had to provide a full transaction ID number for her to find the account.

Once she did, she said that my account had a limitation and I wouldn’t be able to send or receive any funds until it was resolved.   Because of this, she would have to transfer me to an account specialist.   I asked her how there had been a card approval on my PayPal debit card on the same day as this call, and she dodged the question.   I agreed to wait, thanked her for her help, and patiently waited.   She came back a couple minutes later, and said that she would be transferring me now.

Great, I thought.    This probably won’t take too long.     90 minutes later I decided to go ahead and place another call to PayPal using my landline while I had the 2 minute music loop going on my cell phone.    I spoke with someone within 5 minutes, and when I asked if the other line was just a perpetual hold she explained how busy they were. 

I didn’t think, “Oh, that makes sense”.   But I still just explained what I needed and she said she could try to convert the account for me.    She asked me to wait, which I did for about 5 minutes.

After the wait, she explained that she did try but was unsuccessful.   She said that the system had been having problems with converting accounts every so often, so I should try again in 48 hours.    I asked if she was submitting a ticket for this issue, and she claimed she was.    She also claimed I’d be receiving a follow-up email about this issue.   I’ll not be holding my breath and fully expect I’ll need to call again.

I disconnected that second call after the timer had hit about 20 minutes.   The first call that was still on hold was, still on hold.   I disconnected that call when it was about 1 hour 45 minutes.    After finding a prototype of the speed-dial console popular with customer service these days, I think I know where I got placed.   (See photo)   (Kidding…)

I’ll update this when (and IF) I’m able to get my account converted over to a personal account again.   In the meantime, my suggestion to you is that if you only have one PayPal account and it is a business account — then you’d better either create a secondary account for personal use, or contact PayPal to try to get yours converted.   If you wait until you need to make a transaction, and create the new account on-the-fly, you’re all but guaranteed to have your account be limited while they review it.

All of this sure does make Cryptocurrency all the more appealing at the end of the day — despite the volatility.

Let me know your thoughts on this subject, and any alternatives you’re using instead of PayPal if you switched.    

Thanks for reading, and I hope this didn’t come across as a long rant — I try to summarize my experiences so you can hopefully avoid the same frustrations.    


Visible Wireless tips

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve referred a good handful of my clients over to Visible since their inception and I’ve made many observations as things changed with them during this time period.

I’m going to share these observations in hopes that they may alleviate your frustrations or help you get a problem resolved if you’re having any issues.

Visible has always had some pretty lucrative offers associated with buying a new device, or even bringing your own device.   The nice part of this was that it was all automated based upon your meeting the criteria.   For the most part, anyway.   I did have one instance where it was painful to get the offer fulfilled, but otherwise it’s been pretty straightforward.    You would choose your carrier during the ordering process, enter your account number, PIN, and ZIP code as needed for the port process.    It worked pretty well, as when you went through activation your number transfer was initiated immediately.    Anytime there were problems, your service was just inactive while the issues were resolved.

I had the pleasure of placing an order for someone just as they removed the ability to port your number during the ordering process.   When I asked a customer service rep about this via chat, they told me, “Yes, that’s strange.  I’ve had a few other people mention this as well.   I would just go ahead with getting a new phone number, then get back with us when you receive the device and we can start the transfer for you.   Oh, and we’ll also need documentation from your previous carrier to submit for manual processing of your rebate claim.”

When reviewing the pros and cons of their having the number transfer option during the order process, it becomes clear that they have all of the advantage by doing so.

#1) You’re much less likely to get your rebate offers fulfilled by going through the manual processing steps required, gathering bills and submitting them, etc. after the fact.

#2) You’re left on the hook paying for service when you can’t use it, if they are busy or anything goes wrong during the port.   This has happened all three times that I’ve activated someone using this new process.   The first time, their support was so busy that they didn’t respond to me for 3 days.   I couldn’t even get into the queue for support via the website, so I had to use social media.

#3) If it turns out you can’t port your number for whatever reason, they’ll have gotten you for a month of service at least.  You might be able to return the phone and get a refund for the service if you wanted to.

#4) It’s frustrating as can be to have to communicate with them via chat when they are so busy.   Now they claim to have transfers set up in a “Do-it-yourself” fashion within the app.

Why the need for such shenanigans anyway?  Why not just have the information in-place ahead of time, like you originally did?   My guess is that they get to boost their carrier numbers by activating all of these numbers that only get used for a short period of time.    Whatever the reason, it surely isn’t to make things easier for the customer.

Another irritation I’ve found is that Visible’s website refuses the majority of payment methods without any reason.   American Express cards don’t work at all on their site, always an error.   Other cards very often don’t work unless you go through Venmo or PayPal.   But they have their PayPal connection set up such that American Express is excluded from the options within PayPal.   Oh, they’ll take AmEx with no issue for service payments.   But when it comes to paying for a device, that extra 0.5% is just too much for them so they make up a random error to keep people at bay.

So at the end of the day, Visible works pretty well most of the time.   But here are some of my recommendations to keep headaches away:

#1: Don’t bother trying to use American Express on their site

#2: If at all possible, link your credit/debit card to PayPal and pay using PayPal.   If you’ve set up a new account for this purpose, make sure you verify your email address.

#3: Be careful with your eSIM.  If you accidentally delete it, you’ll likely have to chat with support to ask them to send it to you again.

#4: Verify your email address with Visible.  You won’t be able to activate until you do this step.   Don’t open the Visible app on your new phone until you’ve done it.   If you did open it, uninstall and reinstall it.

#5: First, try chatting with Visible on their website using the chat icon in the bottom, right.     If you get into the queue and see that there are 30+ people waiting, then I’d suggest you send them a Direct Message on Twitter instead.   Make sure to message the correct account, @VisibleCare.   Or use the links I included below.


Here’s a few direct links to send them a Twitter DM, with a template for the information they need from you.   Click for either General Problems or Number Transfer


P.S. If you want to get $20.00 off your first month with Visible, you can enter this code within the Promo code box during checkout.   Make sure to use the same capitalization that I’ve used:


Visible’s roadmap and frustrations along the way

So, I’ve been a fan of Visible since they first started.   It worked exceptionally well for the price.   However, it seems that they have a very well planned roadmap that is still in progress.   

The first step, we now realize, is to get the “Party” join feature to go viral, to get tons of interest in the product and the “discount” from being in a party.

After getting plenty of people hooked, they announced they were all but doing away with the party feature and at the same time they announced a new “premium” network tier that you could pay additional for.   Strangely this coincided with my personally having all kinds of network issues, requiring regular network settings resets and phone restarts to fix the problems.   Mind you, this is on an iPhone 13 Pro that I purchased from Visible.

So now they want people to pay a higher price to basically get what was promised from the beginning.   5G Ultra-Wideband is not necessary by any means to have a “premium” network experience.  I’ve readily been able to demonstrate since having network issues, that by going through a VPN provider I would oftentimes get 10 times faster performance when downloading content.    This was repeatable at various locations around the USA.    My primary tests were done by downloading Audiobooks from the Audible app, and tested during peak times and off-peak times.    I was well aware they would be “deprioritizing” the prepaid customers, that’s a given… However, mangling the traffic based upon the content wasn’t expected and definitely wasn’t appreciated.   But, even when maintaining a VPN connection, I would lose service at regular intervals.

So, I finally decided to bite the bullet and upgrade to the “premium” network for the additional cost so I could evaluate it before deciding whether to move elsewhere.   Immediately after submitting payment, my service stopped working.    I luckily had a secondary eSIM active which allowed me to make calls and use data during this period, but in working with support, it took nearly 48 hours before my phone was operational again.    There was no explanation given for this, and no compensation for it either.    It’s the second time that my Visible service has been down for multiple days at a time.

I’m going to make another post about their “new customer” practices, particularly the number transfer aspect.   Because I still refer customers to Visible, as it does work relatively well for most people the majority of the time, I’ve seen their onboarding process evolve and made some definitive observations about it over time.

If you’re interested, keep an eye out as I’ll be making this second post pretty soon after this one.    If you have any experiences to share, please do make a comment as I’d like to hear it.


Credit Freeze for recently deceased loved one

I’m writing this because a close friend of someone that I know recently deceased, and I’m going to recommend to them that they may want to take these steps to prevent any unauthorized use of the decedent’s credit.

All three credit bureaus offer a service now called a “Credit Freeze”, which means what you probably think it does. It means that if someone tries to obtain credit using that file, the lender will quickly be made aware that no new credit should be extended to the named individual. This is often important to do because it can take years in some cases for news of someone’s passing to reach some creditors.

And, if there are existing credit lines it is very important that these lines of credit are not used for new purchases, as this can have legal repercussions. Obviously, automatic payments sourced from a credit card aren’t viewed as malicious, but if you go and buy a new TV with the card then it’s likely to be scrutinized at some point.

If you have the cardholder’s personal information, you can probably call the card issuers and ask them to cancel the card. But typically, if you tell the bank that you’re not the cardholder then they are going to want you to fax them a copy of the death certificate. Additionally, they will want a document that grants you power of attorney or legal rights to this individual’s estate. How they handle outstanding balances is a little outside of what I’m writing about here, but typically this is handled during probate or settlement of a trust, if applicable.

Things can get messy if preventative steps aren’t taken, and a family member gets ahold of the decedent’s credit card. Too often, abuse of this kind isn’t realized until it’s way too late and many times becomes criminal.

Here’s what you’ll need to place a freeze on the credit file, generally:
Social Security Number.
Date of birth.
Address at time of death

With this information, you can call or use the links to visit each of the three credit bureaus in order to apply the freeze to the file:

Equifax: 800-349-9960 or click here for the Equifax credit freeze page.

Experian: 888‑397‑3742 or click here to view the page online

TransUnion: 888-909-8872 or click here to do this online

It may also be prudent, prior to placing the freeze on the files, to obtain a free copy of all three credit bureau reports. With this information, you’ll be able to see what lines of credit are outstanding/open in the person’s name. Included also will be the most recent balance, credit line total, and other information. You are entitled to a free copy of all three bureau reports annually — available by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. Please know that you will not need a credit card for this service, and you must be very careful not to opt in to any “monitoring” services or other “add-ons”. They try very hard to get you to do this. Your best bet is to visit this website on a desktop or laptop so you can see the whole page more easily.

As a side note, the AnnualCreditReport service above does offer the reports mailed to you in Braille, large print or audio format. Here’s the information they provide for persons in that category:
For the Deaf or hard of hearing: Call 7-1-1, refer TDD Relay Operator to 1-800-821-7232
For the blind: Call 877-322-8228

This was intended to be a quick post including just the phone numbers for the credit bureaus, but I ended up typing a little more than I expected. Hopefully this is helpful to others! And if you have comments then send them my way!

Forcing users to use a specific Authenticator app?

How disappointing it is every time I see a web site that’s intended for use by otherwise intelligent adults, yet they want to force users to use a specific authenticator app.    The latest one I’ve encountered is Authy on BigCommerce.    I guess we aren’t intelligent enough to scan the QR code or copy the source.


Oh, and they offer the ability to enable this forceful authentication in your own store!   How thoughtful.

Google Workspace ACH Payment Nightmare

Sorry for yet another rant, but I feel obliged to share these kind of experiences so others out there don’t feel alone.

Another customer of mine that I set up long ago on the “Google Apps” free edition and they must be transitioned over to a paid account.   Single user, pretty straightforward — or so I thought.    I recommended they use the ACH payment option, as it would remove a potential point of failure where renewals go.  (As the banking details don’t expire)    I knew from experience that Google supported using the account details as a payment source.

So, I log in to this customer’s computer, and open up the appropriate page, using an Incognito instance of Chrome.  I go through the setup process, all of the accurate business information, etc. and then I come to the payment source.

When selecting ‘Bank account’ as a payment source, the sub-options presented are ‘Checking’, ‘Savings’, and ‘Business’.   I selected Business and filled in the account and routing numbers.     I was then presented with options to either provide Google with my bank login, or verify the account via test deposits.    This customer was particularly old-school, so I didn’t even ask if he wanted to give Google his bank’s login details.   (Yes, I know, it’s a secure third party and all that, but still…)

Selected the test deposit route, and that’s when I was presented with the message shown in the attached image.   I clicked to acknowledge this message, and then clicked to Finalize the order.    

Received an error message:

“An unexpected error has occurred.  Please try again later.  [OR-CAC-01]”.

My only option there is to dismiss the message.     Attempting to re-submit the order provides a different error message:

“You cannot add this bank account as it already exists in your account.  [OR-BSBBF-70]”

Clicking any additional times results in the most recent error message repeating itself.

So, I disconnect from the client’s computer and carry on from one of my own.    I initially attempted the steps again on my own isolated computer and had the same result.    Then I went the Google support route, thinking that surely they’ll have a dedicated, cheery team just for helping customers get payment details set up properly.

Nope.   I couldn’t make up some of the stuff I encountered during my chat sessions (yes, plural) over several days.  

The first representative insisted that I needed to wait for the deposits to appear.   He said that he thought I just needed to enter the amounts once I saw the deposits.    When I asked him where I would enter the amounts, he pasted some info from a support page that didn’t apply.    Ultimately he agreed with my joking that a magical box would appear as soon as the deposits are cleared.

A few days later, after there were indeed no deposits, I opened a new chat.   This guy was a real wizard.    After sending him a video of the whole process, including the deposit notification, errors, etc. (just like the first rep), the second one proceeded to ask me where the deposits were coming from.   (what?)

Then, he insisted I needed to verify that the account had sufficient funds to cover the deposit.   And also he was reaching for reasons to let me go, asking how long I had waited after the first attempt, etc.

Ultimately, when I put him on the spot and insisted, he transferred me to the Payments team, apparently an escalation department.    After all was said and done here, I performed a packet capture on my attempt and submitted it to Google.    I asked them from the beginning to have all case information sent to my email, because the account I was using to chat with them was an admin-only user account, with no access to email.    With 7 days remaining before suspension, I asked him to extend it so I wasn’t cutting it so close.   He said they were unable to do that, and that it would definitely be resolved before that timeframe was elapsed.

So, now there are 2 days remaining, and I’ve yet to receive a single email regarding the case.   Opened a new chat with Google, asking this rep to please update the case with my email address so I could receive updates.    I then proceeded to modify the email routes to modify the recipient when addressed to my account’s alias.   

It’s looking like I’ll be moving this customer over to Microsoft.  It’s just another stark reminder of how difficult it is to get ahold of the right people at a big company such as Google.  Ideally, I’d have dialed in to Google, pressed the option for the billing department.    Possibly I’d have needed a supervisor, but doubtful.    I’d have read the routing and account number over the phone, and they would either ask for an image of a canceled check or just bill the $5/month without it.

I have one last idea that might work, which is for me to get a prepaid credit card and use that for the initial billing setup.   Then, after that’s set up, I might be able to more easily add the bank account in order to use it for billing.     If that does work, I’ll update this post to let you know!

Hope that this might help someone, or save some frustration.   The best advice I have would be to insist on the chat being escalated to a Billing specialist.   At least you’ll be chatting with someone who doesn’t think you need to check your balance to make sure you have enough to receive a deposit.  🙂   –Josh

UPDATE:   I recorded a video and made one last attempt to set up billing with ACH as the source.   Still received the same error messages.    No word back from Google still either.    So, I set up billing by using a prepaid credit card I purchased, and immediately after doing that, I went to the Billing settings and chose to add a new payment source. Entered the bank details, and like magic, now it shows the account as pending and there is a button to click to “verify” the deposit amounts.    I have a feeling Google’s onboarding process is just broken, at least for some, so if you encounter this then your best bet is to grab a prepaid card for the initial payment.   Hope this saves someone some time, as I certainly wasted enough of it for a few dozen people. 

(P.S.  Using some new software to post this, so hopefully it’s not too out of whack!)