|EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 867 - October 12, 2004 - ISSN 1539-5065 1 of 3|
eBay's online-payment service PayPal has been experiencing major intermittent outages since Friday. Some users speculated the problems stemmed from PayPal's rollout of a new home page. But PayPal spokesperson Amanda Pires said in addition to the new home page, PayPal "added some features on the backend" on Friday that were the cause of the problem.
Pires said, "Everyone is working fast and furiously to get it all fixed." The problems are intermittent, she said, but declined to describe their nature or reveal the features that were added on Friday. eBay sellers often complain about the timing of the changes made to eBay and PayPal during the holiday shopping season, because a technical glitch or outage adversely impacts their sales.
Upgrades and rollouts of new features frequently cause glitches on the online-auction site. In fact, eBay had another glitch on its site over the weekend. Some users who use tools to help them sell on eBay experienced errors when attempting to list items for sale. eBay reported the problem on Saturday and pronounced them "resolved" the same day. eBay does maintenance to its site every Friday.
When eBay rolled out a new secure sign-in technology in late September, the company went back to the old sign-in procedure after some members could not login to eBay. The problems were related to Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser. After the new system was rolled out permanently, eBay reported some AOL users had problems signing in. Some users continue to report the only way they can sign-in is to disable their firewalls, and a small number seem unable to sign in at all.
PayPal's current problems are hitting eBay sellers and online merchants directly in the pocketbook. Buyers who can't purchase goods with PayPal may move on to other merchants that accept credit cards. Sellers are unable to ship goods if they can't verify that a user has paid for them with PayPal. And an inability to access the site also means funds can not be withdrawn.
PayPal debit cards are also affected by the outage, the company confirmed. One Powerseller said his PayPal card was rejected at the post office, so he was unable to mail his shipment of eBay orders.
Another eBay seller posted on the eBay forums that he was arrested at a restaurant and charged with attempted petty theft after his PayPal debit card was declined. The seller could not be contacted for confirmation by press time.
Even when PayPal goes back online, it is likely buyers and sellers will have a tough time reconciling their records and verifying whether payments have been made.
Users have turned to the courts in the past over eBay and PayPal problems. In July, eBay users sued eBay over billing glitches, which are still not resolved according to users.
Users filed a class-action lawsuit against PayPal in 2002 over poor customer service issues and the closing of accounts without notice. The parties reached a settlement this July, requiring PayPal to pay out $9.25 million into a settlement fund that must also pay for administrative costs and plaintiffs' lawyer fees.
The only service on par with PayPal was c2it, but CitiGroup closed the service a year ago. CheckFree and BidPay are alternative payment methods also popular with eBay users, but have nowhere near the market share of PayPal.
PayPal is expanding internationally in Europe, and the Wall Street Journal recently referenced a report from Chinese media that PayPal will launch in China by the end of this year.
As usual, eBay and PayPal users should be on the lookout for spoof emails that try to trick users into giving out passwords or other personal information. Such "phishing" emails often warn users that due to a glitch, users must login in to their accounts and update their information.
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to email@example.com.
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1 of 3
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