PayPal Changes to Email Notices Disrupts eBay and Etsy Sellers
By Ina Steiner
PayPal made what at first glance appears to be a minor change in the way it sends payment notice emails to sellers, but it's having a huge impact on some sellers' operations, and merchants discussed the issue on various online discussion boards throughout the day on Wednesday.
Normally when PayPal sends merchants a "Notification of payment received" email, the "From" field is populated by the buyer's email address. As of late Tuesday evening, PayPal switched the protocol to enter the static email address "email@example.com" in the "From" field rather than the buyer's email address.
A seller explained the impact of the change on their business, writing on a discussion board, "There are many sellers not just on Etsy who have whole backends that run off the transaction email, and this tiny little change completely upsets the whole system. For me personally it throws a big, fat monkey wrench into my fulfillment process and I'm struggling to find a way to properly deal with it."
Another wrote, "Please tell the Powers That Be that this really hurts some of us. It's more than just a minor inconvience. I've built an entire fulfillment system around the transaction email, and now it's completely broken. Please, please, PLEASE pass that on."
An administrator named Olivia wrote on the PayPal board that the change was made to repair a problem. "Some receiving mailservers will not handle emails that are sent by one domain on behalf of another. While many of you have been able to successfully receive emails that were sent in this manner, many more people cannot reliably receive these messages."
Olivia followed up to sellers' questions stating, "The change is one that was applied at the server level, and cannot be applied on an account-by-account basis at this time. We definitely appreciate the feedback, however. We're happy to consider the feasibility of these requests for possibility of future implementation."
An EcommerceBytes reader wrote, "Real convenient for all the people with auto responders huh? Classic way for Ebay/Paypal to force us away from direct communication with our buyers."
And on the eBay boards, one seller explained the change would make it nearly impossible for them to refund extra postage, another said they like to send shipment confirmation email to buyers at the email address they have on file with PayPal.
Etsy sellers were also unhappy with the change. "People are used to using that email to communicate with their customers - address confirms, notification of shipment, etc.," wrote one seller.
Another wrote, "I noticed this morning that all new notifications of payments received from Paypal are now coming from firstname.lastname@example.org instead of the buyers email address. This will be a problem for those of us who have auto-responders set up to send an email to the buyer with an order confirmation when an order is placed."
What compounds the problem with the change is that PayPal uses the email address "email@example.com" to send other types of communications to sellers. "So now we receive updates, payments, receipts, logs, and notices from service at paypal.com.......?" wrote a seller. "Shouldn't you atleast change where we get payments from? So it isn't mixed with all the other stuff?"
A PayPal spokesperson responded to an inquiry and is looking into the issue.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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