Google Wallet – even worse than PayPal


I’ve seen a ton of bad news stories about PayPal over the last few years – here are just the top three from my payments tag on I’ve even run afoul of their over sensitive fraud detection myself in the last couple of months (whilst trying to buy Club Penguin subscriptions for my kids whilst travelling[1]). Today’s experience with Google Wallet is much worse than anything I’ve personally seen with PayPal.

NOFORN. Google don’t want me to buy one of these. NOFORN

I want to buy a new Nexus 7 LTE (as my original Samsung Galaxy Tab 3G is feeling very old and creaky these days, and the 2013 Nexus 7 has received rave reviews). I want the LTE version as I know from using 3G on my existing tab that I need data on the go. Having just been launched, the LTE version isn’t yet available for me at home in the UK. No problem, I’m over in the US at the end of the month, and I can get it shipped to one of my friends that I’ll be seeing. No problem perhaps with almost any retailer except Google Play. I should have known better from my last dreadful experience trying to buy Nexus 7s from the Play store.

The trouble started with ‘no supported payment method’ showing when I went to check out. Google Wallet doesn’t straight out tell you that you need a US billing address to order in the US, but it doesn’t take much searching to find that’s the case. Time for the supplementary card dodge (I’ve used this one before)… I register another card with a US address (of the company I work for) and now I can place my order.

Payment is declined, as the hair trigger of Amex’s fraud detection has been set off. This is sadly pretty much the norm, so I called up Amex, jumped through their security hoops and resubmitted the payment through Google Wallet. All looked good.

And then Google suspended my Google Wallet account and cancelled the order for my Nexus 7.

I’ve submitted scans of government issued ID and credit card statements (in a process not dissimilar to the one PayPal made me go through), and I’ll now wait the 3-5 business days for the issue to be resolved. Hopefully it will be at the early end of that scale as I need my account back in good standing for a domain renewal that’s due next Tuesday (4 business days away).

So how’s this worse than PayPal? Let’s count the ways:

  1. When I buy stuff on PayPal I don’t have to pretend to have a billing address in a different country. They’re quite happy for me to use my UK issued card for payments to US suppliers.
  2. I don’t recall ever having a PayPal transaction cause an issue with Amex.
  3. The PayPal resolution process only required me to submit one form of ID.
  4. The PayPal resolution process completed same day.
  5. I’m not dependent on PayPal for Google services (like renewing Google Apps domains).

Looks like I should just ask my friend to order my new tablet and pay him good old cash.


1. I suspect that PayPal use IP address geolocation as part of their fraud countermeasures, and that I mess things up by using a mix of US and UK IPs. It’s worth noting here that Google seem to treat Amazon EC2 IPs as being outside the US, so you can’t even try to buy things from the US Play store by using EC2 as a web proxy (but they’re fine with Google Compute Engine IPs – so they get my 2¢).

2 Responses to “Google Wallet – even worse than PayPal”

  1. 1 Correy Voo

    Having had similar experiences I’ve gone off pure online payment systems like PayPal and Google Wallet and moved back to good old fashioned bricks and mortar based credit card companies. At least now I have better guarantee that I will be speaking to a living person in the much rarer event that I have issues. And I know where they are located so in the absolute worst case I can visit them to get things resolved (and stalk them into submission if needed)

  1. 1 Google Wallet – even worse than PayPal pt. 2 | Chris Swan's Weblog

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