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merchant alternatives to Paypal

Started by Matt Wilson, October 12, 2004, 08:51:44 AM

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Matt Wilson

Ever since I started selling Primetime Adventures I've had problems with Paypal. Over the last few days I've been unable to even access my account. As far as I can tell the entire site is shut down today.

Does anyone here have any positive experience with an alternate merchant account? Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I'm ready to jump ship already. I'd just like to know if there's anyplace practical to jump. Paypal seems like they have the market cornered.

M Jason Parent

The problem is that paypal effectively DOES have the market cornered. eBay is still the world's most successful e-business, and they own paypal, which was the most successful payment system before they bought it, and which has expanded continuously since then.

I've also been frustrated with paypal for the past few days as the servers have been down (feels like a DOS attack to me).

The site is back up but very sluggish this morning (graphics still don't load) and the following message is what I got:

Site Update  
A technical problem has caused intermittent availability for members attempting to use the site. Activities such as accessing account information, paying for ended eBay listings, and using PayPal shipping functionality have been intermittently available. PayPal is continuing to work to resolve these issues. We understand the inconvenience this issue has caused for some members, and we appreciate your patience.

If you can find something as conveninet as paypal and nearly as accepted, I'd be interested in it also.
M Jason Parent
(not really an Indie publisher, but I like to pretend)

Junk Dreams Design Journal (an archive of old Junk Dreams posts)


In the three years I've used Paypal weekly for Ramshead and the several years before that that I used them for ebay purchases this is the first time I've experienced an outage lasting more than 24 hours.  That's a pretty good track record, and likely far better than any alternative would have.  

There used to be some others that I used back in the pay, I think one was called, and another I can't remember.  Not sure if they're still around or not.

M Jason Parent

I, on the other hand, have had horror stories about PayPal, however, all were prior to eBay taking over (closed accounts with large sums of money in them, etc).

Bidpay still exists and is used primarily for "mature audiences" auctions which eBay still does, but for which PayPal can't be used.
M Jason Parent
(not really an Indie publisher, but I like to pretend)

Junk Dreams Design Journal (an archive of old Junk Dreams posts)


For what it's worth, I've been paying $40 a month for a traditional merchant account through CardService, and their internet gateway is LESS reliable than PayPal.  (In fact, I started using PayPal because so many people had problems - one of my clients did the same thing).

So I have nothing but good things to say about PayPal.  A little down time is kind of irritating, but it's less than the competition... and cheaper, and more flexible, and more user-friendly, with better customer service.
Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis


I've heard all of the Paypal horror stories too, so I went and did some digging before using them for Ramshead.  Ultimately the horror stories are typically 2 parts urban legend, 3 part exaggerated rant, 4 parts user error, 3 parts irrational expectation, 2 parts ordinary customer service issues that every business deals with, and 1 part actual problems that came from chronic understaffing (something Ebay has largely rectified).

Most of the large frozen account stories were either completely ficticious (I knew a guy who knew a guy type stuff) or perfectly valid for legal reasons.  I can't remember all the details but there was one paypal account making regular $9000 transfers between bank accounts which ran afoul of standard every day pre 9-11 banking laws (all deposits over $10,000 get reported and its illegal to deposit less than $10,000 specifically to try to avoid the reporting).  One account was making regular payments to various foreign locations that were on government "red flag" lists and so got frozen pending an investigation.  All stuff that goes on every day in the regular banking world.  One was a guy who had his paypal linked to his bank account and then changed banks without changing paypal and wound up with all sorts of problems that ultimately came down to his screwing up to begin with.  

People who do multi-million dollar wire transfers run into these issues all the time but because the dollar amounts are so big the organizations they deal with are all well staffed and compete based on high levels of service.

Paypal and similar entities are bringing the world of rapid money transfer to the masses and that means 1) trying to do it on a budget where the margin is very thin, while 2) dealing with a new breed of customer who generally has no idea on the level of regulations and red tape involved in moving money around.

So really, I found most of the paypal-horror stories out there to be not worth paying much attention to.

Matt Snyder

What Ralph said.

I have used PayPal, and found it to be extremely useful and reliable. I ask in earnest, can people explain why they have reservations about PayPal, and what specifically the problem is. Is it the recent outtage? That I can understand, but I will not be changing accounts.

Were there prior, repeat problems? How frequent? I've used it for a couple years, and I've had no problems. I've heard people say money disappears. I've had at least a couple hundred bucks in there for at least two years, no problems. So far, it's been reliable for me.
Matt Snyder

"The future ain't what it used to be."
--Yogi Berra


"back in the day" when it first started up, Paypal really was a horror to use from outside the US.  As they grew, and especially after eBay picked them up, the problems dried up.  I have some residual dislike (first impressions and all) but have to admit Paypal delivers better than anyone else who does the same service.

I write games. My games don't have much in common with each other, except that I wrote them.

M Jason Parent

Quote from: ValamirSo really, I found most of the paypal-horror stories out there to be not worth paying much attention to.

My account got frozen because someone tried to hack it.

To get it reoppened, I had to receive a letter from paypal at my registered address.

But, even though my account was registered as Canadian, my registered credit card was Canadian, and my linked bank account was Canadian, they insisted that the letter had to go to my address... IN CALIFORNIA.


My business partner's account got frozen with several thousand dollars in it, and then when customers complained to paypal that they wanted to remove the charge because the money was not going to my partner, but was being added to a locked account, paypal accepted their cancellations and listed them as being because my partner hadn't fulfilled his end of the deal with the clients...


So the paypal horror stories didn't just happen to friends of friends, but to other small businesses that we know.


Fortunately, I have had NO isses or problems since the eBay takeover, and have been quite happy with the service since then.
M Jason Parent
(not really an Indie publisher, but I like to pretend)

Junk Dreams Design Journal (an archive of old Junk Dreams posts)


Make sure you take advantage of Instant Payment Notification.  If you don't, you'll find that you don't receive notification of purchases.  I have experienced this myself and several of my customers have as well.  Since I don't have an IPN processor set up yet, what we've been doing instead is checking the account once a week and taking care of any fulfilment issues that way.
Clay Dowling - Online Campaign Planning and Management


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