|EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2731 - February 02, 2012 - ISSN 1539-5065 1 of 4|
PayPal caused a major disruption to sellers on eBay, Etsy and other venues when it changed the format of its payment-notification emails last week, but after an outpouring of complaints by sellers, the online payments service reversed the change this week.
On Thursday, EcommerceBytes wrote about the disruption. Normally when PayPal sends merchants a "Notification of payment received" email, the "From" field is populated by the buyer's email address. On January 24, PayPal switched the protocol by entering the static email address "firstname.lastname@example.org" in the "From" field rather than the buyer's email address.
Many sellers have designed their backend around the transaction email, and as one seller stated, "this tiny little change completely upsets the whole system."
A PayPal moderator wrote on a discussion 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."
However, reader are now reporting that PayPal has reverted back to the old way of formatting payment notification emails, with the "from" address line again showing the buyer's address. One reader said many sellers were happy about the reversal, writing, "The digital-delivery businesses were going insane!!!"
Another EcommerceBytes reader said some sellers could still be impacted because of a slight change in the notices. "There is a bit of inconsistency on the PayPal emails. While the sales emails today have the buyer email again, the body of the text is inconsistent with some lines having extra spaces at the end. This probably only bothers a few sellers systems. My order processing uses macros to strip the data out of the email and populate my shipping system so with some emails having extra spaces and some not is a problem. Again, this is only a problem for a few sellers."
A PayPal spokesperson said he was looking into the matter when first contacted on January 25 and again on Wednesday, but has not yet provided a response.
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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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