EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2989 - January 29, 2013     2 of 5

PayPal Glitch Causes Havoc for eBay Buyers and Sellers

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eBay buyers reported yesterday that when they attempted to pay sellers for their eBay purchases, PayPal charged their accounts multiple times. The glitch also affected the PayPal IPN (Instant Payment Notifications) on merchants' own websites.

The glitch started on January 27th and was described by buyers and sellers on eBay using PayPal. "I'm trying to pay for a couple of auctions and keep getting the dreaded could not complete payment. I've attempted several times, thinking it would be back up in a few minutes, but after logging into my PayPal account, the money is taken out each time, leaving no record and 2 sellers (and myself) without the money. Will this money come back into my account just as magicly as it went away? Or is it lost somewhere in cyberspace? I must have attemped to pay at least 6 times probably more like 10. That's a LOT of money to just go POOF!"

The technical issue appeared to be resolved later in the day on January 28, but buyers and sellers continue to deal with the fallout thanks to the duplicate payments and attempts to refund them. In some cases, it appears that sellers refunded buyers for the duplicate payments caused by the glitch, but then PayPal refunded buyers also, leaving sellers out the money.

There's been no word from eBay on whether it will forgive any negative feedback left for sellers by buyers frustrated by the glitch. Here are some of the comments left on the PayPal boards in the U.S. and UK.

Comments from Buyers
"Hi, wondered if anyone can help me, I've purchased an item today but noticed I've been charged 5 times for the same item, I've tried contacting PayPal to see if they can help and the phone number on the help section is invalided. And still no reply from email, has anyone else had this experience in the past, will I get my money back etc."

"yes I tried to pay as I normally do through my bank account but pay pay said this was not an option I could pay by credit card so I chose this option, but pay pal said my transaction could not be completed so I tried again, same thing happened so I tried echeque and this was ok but when I checked my pay pal account it showed all transactions had been completed. I am worried because seller is not replying. Has anybody any suggestions thanks."

"Hi, had the same thing happen to me yesterday morning. Tried to pay for something on Ebay via Paypal but said there was an error. Tried 3 times with no luck. Checked my online banking to find all 3 payments of 360 pounds each were waiting to go out. Contacted Paypal and found that they are having system issues and there was literally nothing they could do for me. I emailed and got quite a fast reply from soemone who said the duplicate payments had been reversed. Ebay seller has emailed me to say he has received 1 payment and that 2 payments have been reversed. However, the 2 reversals are not showing up on my online banking yet so as far as I can see they are still waiting to go out???"

Comments from Sellers
"Yesterday I received a lot of duplicate and multiple payments for items on ebay and I am being requested to refund these. If I refund these I assume I will be charged by paypal even though it is Paypals fault and not mine. Is this correct and if so can you claim back costs?"

"Paypal has made a right mess of my account following duplication of payments. According to some forums it was reported last night that Paypal were not going to make any refunds so I went ahead and refunded all the duplicate payments I had received. This morning I see that Paypal has reversed the payments so I don't know where I am. There is no reference to this major problem on the Paypal Announcements board, so we are getting no guidance. Paypal, if you read this please check my account and adjust it to reflect correct transactions. Your communications with accont holders leaves a lot to be desired and I suggest you refer to what is being said on the Web about your service and do something about it. After all you are trading as a bank and in the UK we expect something better than this."

In a rare instance, PayPal posted the problem on the eBay Systems Announcement board in the US and in the UK, but it simply stated there was a problem and later that it was resolved, and did not warn buyers about the possibility of duplicate payments.

Comment on the EcommerceBytes 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

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