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Amid backlash, PayPal backs off spam plan

PayPal: Where "X" almost marked the start of unwanted calls and text messages this month.

PayPal: Where "X" almost marked the start of unwanted calls and text messages this month.

Last month word got out that PayPal was hatching a telephone spam attack on its users. The juggernaut payment service rolled out a new policy requiring users to agree to irritating robo-calls and texts. Resistance to PayPal's robot annoyers seemed futile, as the company issued a tacit ultimatum tucked into its user agreement: Submit to our unwanted calls and messages or find a new way to pay for stuff online.

The new policy was slated to take effect Wednesday. But following a wellspring of backlash from the public and the shrewd dudes at the Federal Communications Commission, PayPal is calling off the widespread phone invasions.

On Monday, PayPal announced that in light of its public haterade bath the company is tweaking its user agreement. In the new version, PayPal solemnly swears not to bombard users with marketing messages and will allow them to opt out at any time while continuing to use the service. It now clarifies that automated calls and texts will be used for account notifications, debt collection, and fraud protection purposes.

In a generic corporate screed, PayPal higher up Louise Pentland said it was all a misunderstanding and that the company is sorry “we did not live up to our standards” for communicating clearly with the customers it loves like newborn angel babies (we're paraphrasing, of course).

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken was among those crying “WTF?” when PayPal's robo-plan emerged. After the FCC took notice, the Democrat and three of his peers wrote to the company asking its boss man to reconsider the policy.

PayPal's shift goes to show that with enough bitching and moaning, we truly can change the world. Or at least keep phone spammers temporarily at bay.

Send news tips to Michael Rietmulder.