Skype: Making It Difficult For People To Give Them Money

I’ve been critical of eBay’s acquisition of Skype (like a lot of people, I think they overpaid by a lot). But now that I have a client in the UK, I am using Skype at least once a week.

Today on a lark I tried to make a call to a U.S. based land line using Skype, just to see what the experience would be like. To make calls from Skype to a land line, you have to pay Skype. They’ve given this the challenging monicker "SkypeOut".

What an incredible pain this was:

  • They send you to a web page to set up payment. This page took about fifteen seconds to load on my machine.
  • You can link your Skype account to your PayPal account, which seems like it would be good, although they inexplicably ask you to fill out a form providing your name/address/etc. which is dumb for a PayPal flow (if you have a PayPal account, they already have all this information or can get it from PayPal).
  • At this point, you figure, my Skype account is linked to my PayPal account, tremendous, I can start making calls. But once you go to make a call, Skype says, sorry, can’t do that, you may think you’re done, but you first have to buy credit.
  • Okay, swell, you think. I’ll buy some credit. Here’s what the form that lets you buy credit looks like:

Skype_credit

Hey, wait a minute. I have to pay you ten bucks and the credit expires in six months? I thought Skype was supposed to be cheaper. Compared to my cel phone, that’s highway robbery. I’m trying to make a call that should cost me less than a dollar here, and you insist on charging me $10 in hopes that you can enjoy the float on my funds and I’ll forget about it within six months? This is bordering on scam-like behavior here.

When you link a Skype account to a PayPal account, why can’t it just debit funds from your PayPal account as you use the service, just like every other PayPal payee in the world, including eBay, does? I mean, if it’s somehow possible to pay iTunes for a $0.99 download using PayPal, it should be possible to pay Skype for a 15-minute toll call in the same way.

This is too much work. I’m reverting back to my cel phone and I’ll only use the free mode of Skype with other Skype users.