Feeds

Paypal glitch hits merchants with 12-day headache

Software update gone bad

The next step in data security

PayPal customers are up in arms as a series of fresh glitches cost them time and money. Once again, eBay's inability to accurately say when the problem might be fixed is adding insult to injury.

The most serious malfunction affects what's known as the "handling_cart," a feature within the PayPal shopping cart that tacks on custom charges for handling, shipping and other services associated with a particular item. On May 15, it suddenly stopped working. The failure has caused many online merchants to lose money each time they use PayPal to sell items that used the feature. As of Tuesday - 12 days after the glitch began - PayPal's support team was still unable to say when it might be fixed.

This ongoing inability to estimate how long the outage will continue is what has ecommerce consultants who work with PayPal especially steamed. Register reader Alan Hatch says he's prepared to work around the problem by removing handling cart fees from a site he maintains, but that will require a God-awful amount of work.

"If PayPal said it would be weeks to fix, we'd do this," he said, in an email. "We'd hate to re-price all the shipping and put the coding changes in just before they fix it and have to change it all back, which is why an ETA to fix or some basic information regarding the action they are taking would be very useful."

As things stand now, his unnamed client is losing £3.95 on every order placed. Countless other merchants who rely on PayPal are also losing money and have taken to this forum to vent a spleen.

A PayPal spokesman said the glitch presents itself when merchants use PayPal's Website Payments Standard product and customers reside in another country. "We understand and recognize that for these merchants and their international customers, this is a serious issue," he said. "We apologize for the inconvenience that this is causing to their business. We are working to correct the problem and expect it will be fixed within the next few days."

This latest malfunction comes two weeks after a separate meltdown in PayPal's instant notification system made it impossible for many merchants to process international transactions. Making matters worse, the problem caused credit card holders to be billed even though they were unable to take delivery of the goods or services they had purchased. PayPal fixed the problem a few days after it began.

Both glitches are said to be caused by a software update PayPal made on May 15. Typically, large-scale upgrades can be rolled back when they're found to result in major glitches. PayPal's inability to do so "is not very confidence-inspiring," Hatch said.

In addition to the misbehaving handling cart, some PayPal customers are also reporting their inboxes are being hit by a deluge of confirmation messages. Reg reader Jamie Edwards counted 9,013 confirmations for a single transaction. The irony is that two weeks ago, PayPal was having difficulty sending confirmation emails at all. Now, it's sending thousands of them where one would work just fine.

A PayPal spokesman said he was investigating the reports. ®

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.