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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1618 - September 11, 2007 - ISSN 1539-5065    2 of 6

PayPal Glitch Sends eBay Packages to Wrong Buyers

By Ina Steiner
September 11, 2007

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A spokesperson has confirmed that a "PayPal database issue" has caused a problem in a small percentage of eBay transactions that mixes up ship-to addresses. A few reports began surfacing late last week that eBay sellers were sending packages to the wrong users due to an apparent glitch. PowerSeller Evan Prytherch said he bought a toner cartridge from another eBay seller using Buy It Now and using eBay's PayPal payment service. He said he was surprised to receive a call from a person he had formerly sold something to who had received his package in error. "It's a potentially very, very serious PayPal issue with a lot of very nasty ramifications," Prytherch said, adding that he wouldn't have believed if it had not just happened to him.

PayPal spokesperson Sara Gorman said the shipping team has been working on the problem over the last day or so. She said there would be no announcement made to the eBay System Announcement board because it affected such a small percentage of sellers. "We are going to work with the affected users individually." Gorman was referring to users who contacted PayPal or posted on the PayPal board. She could not say whether PayPal would actually send an email to every user affected by the problem.

One buyer affected was Ann Farmer, who had filed a class-action lawsuit against eBay in April (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y07/m05/i04/s02). She told AuctionBytes late last week that her daughter had received packages at her home in another town that were supposed to go to Farmer. And when she subsequently tried to pay for several additional eBay purchases, her daughter's address showed as the ship-to address, and she was unable to change it.

On September 3rd, a user posting on eBay's PayPal discussion board under the User ID mad_monkey_inc wrote, "Was going through my recent payment transactions and noticed that the last 4 had a ship to address that was not mine. The weirdest part is that the new address is confirmed. I have talked to Paypal service center and they are currently working on the problem, but they claimed the new address was being forwarded to them by ebay." Another user responded to the thread citing the same problem (http://forums.ebay.com/db2/thread.jspa?threadID=1000553683).

When asked if there was a pattern to the glitch, Gorman said she did not know. PayPal is focused on getting the issue fixed, she said.

Asked whether sellers who might take a hit in their Feedback ratings could get resulting neutrals and negatives removed, Gorman said PayPal would work with eBay on that and "do whatever we can to work with users individually."

Update 9/11/07: See an update on eBay's Chatter blog.

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 ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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