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eBay Overcharges Some Buyers in Apparent Checkout Glitch

PayPal is blaming eBay Checkout for a problem that causes it to overcharge buyers in certain situations. Buyers have reported that in cases where sellers have passed along discounts, PayPal is charging them for the higher, pre-discounted amount. Many sellers offer combined-shipping discounts when customers purchase multiple items from them. (See update below.)

An EcommerceBytes reader reported the apparent glitch on the Ecommerce EKG board on Wednesday.

“Just noticed that eBay checkout is ignoring any seller discounts when forwarding to PayPal for payment. Although the eBay invoice correctly lists the final total with the seller discount applied, when you go to pay via PayPal they try to bill you for the undiscounted amount. I called PayPal and they confirmed it appears to be a problem in the eBay invoicing and checkout system.”

He added, “Wonder how many unsuspecting people haven’t paid attention and just clicked the confirm button when making payment?” He told EcommerceBytes that the page prominently displays the discounted price, and he almost clicked the Confirm and Pay button.

“I called PayPal and they confirmed the problem is in the eBay invoicing,” he said. “They got an eBay rep on the line and they tried to look into it but couldn’t understand the problem. So no resolution and no idea if eBay is reporting the problem to anyone for followup. I was told to contact the seller and get him to send another invoice and see if we can resolve it between ourselves. Bottom line is some buyers may be paying the wrong amount on invoices!”

He also forwarded a thread on the eBay discussion boards where other buyers were discussing the problem. On Tuesday, a buyer said he purchased two items from the same seller for a total of $19.98 plus a shipping cost of $11.60, for a total of $31.58. The seller also provided the buyer with a $5 discount, but once the buyer reached the PayPal checkout page, the total price of $26.58 reverted back to $31.58, ignoring the $5 discount.

Another user said when he called about the problem, PayPal said the problem was at the eBay end of the transaction.

If you offer discounts to eBay buyers, please indicate whether you’re experiencing the problem on the Ecommerce EKG board.

Update 1/3/14: PayPal spokesperson Jennifer Hakes responded to this article: “As you reported, PayPal and eBay are aware of a problem where some eBay buyers are seeing an incorrect charge (the full amount of the item(s)) for some discounted items sold on eBay. We are working on a fix, but in the meantime please let your readers know that they are being charged the correct amount and it is reflected accurately in their account activity.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.