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Brief Outage Strikes PayPal Ahead of Cyber Monday

Online shoppers were unable to pay for items on eBay and other ecommerce sites early Sunday morning due to an outage at PayPal. Attempts to pay or login to the PayPal website resulted in error messages, with many users reporting receiving an “internal server error” message.

“Can’t buy stuff on eBay,” wrote one user on Down Detector. “I can’t log in either. Grrr! Trying to pay for a much wanted item as well,” wrote another. And some shoppers worried they may have inadvertently paid multiple times thanks to the technical issues, such as the person who wrote, “PayPal won’t let me pay for bought items on eBay. Annoying because I’ve tried it so many times I’m worried that I’ve now paid multiple times!”

One user pointed to the issue as a reason for eBay to allow additional payment methods on its marketplace – “eBay has to have a different company to make payments,” the user wrote.

The outage lasted an hour or two, and reports came in from users across the globe. There was no response to shoppers via PayPal’s Twitter account, nor did the company respond to our inquiry. The only acknowledgement came on the Merchant Notifications board, which read, “Major Impact to PayPal APIs and PayPal Website.”

Sunday’s outage comes during the busiest shopping period of the year and a day before Cyber Monday. It also comes 8 weeks after a 3-hour outage on October 4th (a Sunday afternoon) when it was down for about 3 hours. In that instance, eBay’s site was also impacted by technical issues. PayPal and eBay blamed a power outage at a data center the two companies share.

eBay has also experienced additional outages including one last week on the day before Thanksgiving.

Readers notified EcommerceBytes of Sunday’s PayPal outage by reporting it on Ecommerce EKG. In investigating the outage, we discovered that PayPal users have been having ongoing problems withdrawing PayPal funds to their cards. It’s unclear if the issues are related and whether that problem has been cleared up or not. Here’s just one of the threads we found on the PayPal forum about that particular problem.

Update 11/30/15: PayPal experienced another outage on Monday morning (Cyber Monday). A spokesperson for the company did not address our questions about Sunday morning’s outage but said of today’s problem: “Earlier today, PayPal experienced a brief, intermittent interruption in our service. We have resolved the issue and customers can pay with PayPal on Cyber Monday.”

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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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.