PayPal reliability problems

paypalPayPal appear to be having major reliability issues over the last few weeks. When someone buys my software through PayPal I should get a PayPal notification email and PayPal should send an IPN to e-junkie. The IPN to e-junkie causes a temporary licence key to be emailed to the customer immediately and the full details of the transaction to be emailed to me (I then send a permanent licence key at my leisure). But sometimes the IPN is sent 30+ minutes after purchase. The leads to very unhappy customers. They have paid for their licence and they want the key. Now. Other times the PayPal notification email never arrives. This is less of a problem, but it doesn’t inspire confidence.

It is not just me having these problems. I have seen complaints on quite a few blogs and forums. The problems seem to be particularly acute for subscription payments. This is causing huge problems for some companies. It is rather worrying that:

a) PayPal broke something so fundamental as subscription payments. Don’t they have proper testing before they roll out changes?

b) It still wasn’t fixed 12 days later.

c) PayPal seem completely unresponsive to requests for information from developers when problems occur.

I have also noticed the PayPal sometimes includes the referral data I read from cookies in customer notification emails. There is no reason why customers should see custom data I pass through to PayPal for tracking purposes. I’m not trying to hide the fact I use cookies. But I don’t want to shove it in their face either. Whether they include this custom data in notifications emails seems quite random. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

Reliability is my top requirements for a payment processor. PayPal can’t really afford to drop the ball on something as basic as this with GoogleCheckout and Amazon payments breathing down their necks. If I was running PayPal head would be rolling. I hope they sort all these issues out soon. A bit more transparency wouldn’t hurt either.

9 thoughts on “PayPal reliability problems

  1. Pingback: Vincent Gable » Blog Archive » PayPal reliability problems

  2. Peter

    Unfortunately, Google Checkout is limited to US and UK vendors (Hello? There’s world outside of US!) and Amazon Payments are still in *limited* beta — i.e. not available to everyone. No word about whether it will be available for non-US developers yet. But I’m skeptical — not even Marketplace is available worldwide to this day!

  3. Andy Brice Post author

    Google and Amazon are both very ambitious. I expect them to keep expanding the countries their services to cover more potential vendors and buyers.

  4. Jim Kring

    Ah, that’s good info. I had a customer email me the other day asking if they were ever going to get the software they had purchased from us. We never received the Payment Notification email from PayPal!

  5. Chris Bruno

    I have had problems with paypal in the past. Sometimes the IPN just does not get sent. Luckily, I would notice this and quickly generate a key manually and send the user an email. Im glad more and more sales are coming from google checkout.


    No matter how you slice it, you’re better off having your own payment gateway and merchant account if possible.

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  8. Lenore Waring

    I am a very small fish with a service website. I now hope to sell my book on it and have had a PayPal account for some time so naturally thought of them first. Is PayPal more responsive now?

  9. Marvin McConoughey

    In a word, NO. PayPal remains an unreformed global example of bad management and contempt for customers that has made it so notorious. I am on my second hour of trying to make my PayPal account work. PayPal continues to insist that my credit card number belongs to another account. Its advice is to use another credit card. I don’t have another credit card. I surmise that the problem stems to my months-ago change to a new Internet Service Provider (ISP), but that is only a guess.

    Repeated calls to PayPay brought forth only an automated answering service that advised me that an email was being sent to tell me what to do, and to provide a link to click on, and then to input new data. No such email has arrived, despite two efforts on my part. I suspect that PayPal knows only my old email address, but I cannot talk to anyone to resolve the issue.

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