That Email from David Marcus? It’s Brilliant and Inspiring

Right. This made the rounds some time ago, so forgive me if you already heard about it, but it’s been sitting in my TODO list for a while and has now bubbled to the top, so…

First, The Screenshot (because in the Internet Age if you don’t have one of these, it didn’t happen).

Next, a bit of context, in brief. Essentially, there have been various stories over time of the draconian (to say the least) approach that PayPal has been using in dealing with its customers – and in particular with its sellers customers.
I think the stories have grown in frequency over the last 12/18 months, but I’m sure it would be easy to find a longer trace of such issues.
Anyways, some recent examples included Andy McMillan (@goodonpaper) and Elliot Jay Stock, whose PayPal funds were frozen putting them (and their businesses) in dire circumstances.
As these and other customers were sharing their kafkian experiences, and their intentions to move away from PayPal, something moved, and they seemed to receive due attention. Even more, as the screenshot above illustrates: Andy McMillan received a direct email from @davidmarcus, aka David Marcus. That would be the President of PayPal.

As you can see in the email, Mr. Marcus certainly did his best to try and apologize for PayPal’s behavior, and to try and retain the customer.
Now, I really don’t know how things turned out afterwards, but the email caught my eye. I think it was brilliant and inspiring.

Brilliant in its honesty and simplicity. It doesn’t try and manipulate the customer, doesn’t claim any reasoning according to ToS or legal terms, doesn’t try to blame the customer. Yeah, all things that all business owners used to know and practice up to.. maybe the late ’70s ? Brilliant also because, if such a message was ever to be leaked to the masses, it would be a great form of advertising, or at least a great way to communicate that there’s a new wind, a new approach at PayPal and all the good things you can read in that email. And, incidentally, this moves (having a top-level executive communicate directly with small customers) seem to follow in the steps of another legendary ((in)famous) business leader: Steve Jobs.

Inspiring because it shows that some businesses might realize they make mistakes, might be able to turn around. Some businesses, even if they are Tech-centric might, in fact, realize that business is all about the people in some form or another. Perhaps we can spend the next few years demonstrating to the world-wide market that tech companies are not necessarily the modern hyperbolic expression of Gordon Gecko’s wildest dreams.

Anyways, I don’t know if PayPal is changing its ways. I don’t even know if its ways were that bad (some stories sure sounded bad, but I won’t pretend to have numbers to clearly show trends one way or another). Regardless of all this, I hope PayPal can prove to its customers it can recognize its mistakes, learn from them and improve.

You can read more about this story here:

Images credit: Albert Einstein via Wikimedia Commons, and Albert Einstein via History Channel.

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About FR

Software Craftsman

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