Making eCheques user friendly

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eCheques on eBay are possibly the worst way for a buyer to pay. Sellers hate them simply because they’re a nuisance to process and buyers are always disappointed that they take about ten days to clear. It’s sad really because sellers should love eCheques, (unlike credit card funded payments) once they’ve cleared there is absolutely no possibility of a charge back except through an official PayPal claim.

Yet again I had a buyer pay with eCheque again this week, this is how the conversation went

Many thanks for your payment. This should clear in about 10 days at which time we’ll ship your purchase

10 days for a paypal payment?

Yes – you paid with an e-cheque and although PayPal say they normally clear in 3-4 working days in the UK 10 is the norm. If you like I can refund your pending payment and you can select a different funding source such as a credit card to pay? If you’d like more information you can contact PayPal by telephone on 08707307191

Hmmm, I think unfortunately I just clicked through and assumed it was a normal PayPal set-up rather than defaulting to an e-cheque. I’ll let it run through rather than complicate it as it’s a company paypal account and I cba to have to explain it all to our Finance dept

So that’s another not particularly happy customer then ๐Ÿ™ Let look at the issues and how could they be solved:-

1) Clearance time

Sending an email promising clearance in three to four working days sets false expectations for the buyer. Sellers immediately have to email their buyers to keep them informed resetting expectations to ten days. Even worse on the odd occasion an eCheque fails to clear having already waited ten days is incredibly frustrating for the buyer and seller alike. Bearing in mind that bank transfers are processed in much less than ten working days and that PayPal work with HSBC in the UK, there really is no excuse for a shorter clearing time. Buyers buy online because of the convenience and speed. Having paid, to then be delayed for ten days by PayPal’s archaic banking system just isn’t good enough.

2) Notifications

PayPal seem to make life as hard as possible for sellers to manage their transactions. Email is known to be unreliable, if an email is delayed in transit or simply doesn’t ever arrive there is no mechanism for the sender to retransmit or the recipient to be made aware they have a lost email. In a users PayPal account the only place sellers are notified of a cleared eCheque is in the “History” tab. Just how hard would it be for PayPal to display cleared items in the “Recent Activity” tab under “Overview”? If a seller is going to check for new transactions (and file them once picked and packed) “Recent Activity” is the perfect place to look, history is just what it says… past transactions that you don’t need to worry about today!

eCheques are a great idea for buyers that may not possess a credit card but currently they’re bad for buyers and worse for sellers. A couple of small changes and both would benefit. Come on PayPal, help us out here!

4 Responses

  1. In support of Paypal echeques, they can never be subject to a CC initiated chargeback!

    Clearance times : it was explained to me, that the ‘delay’ was because Paypals bank is USA based and the funds have to travel across the pond twice.

    email notification : I wonder if the message has changed or is dependant on which Paypal local site the echeque is initiated form as I have two message formats :

    a) This eCheque payment will remain ‘Uncleared’ until the funds clear from the sender’s account, which usually takes 6-8 working days. If you are dispatching an item, please do not send your item …………..the sender was in Canada

    b) This eCheque payment will remain ‘Uncleared’ until the funds clear from the sender’s account, which usually takes 2-3 working days. If you are dispatching an item, please do not send your item ………..the sender was in Australia !

  2. Paypals bank is USA based and the funds have to travel across the pond twice
    One would have thought that by now, they might have opened a UK bank account :^O

  3. Paypal have a UK bank account all right. They’re regulated by the FSA.

    eCheques are a mystery but appear to be linked to whether Paypal think a transaction will succeed. If Paypal think a payment will go through, it’s immediate. For example a credit or debit card payment can be instantly authorised. However if a payment comes through a direct debit/credit (and not through a card) then Paypal have no way of knowing whether the bank will honour the payment until the money actually turns up. That’s an average of 4 working days in the UK (or 7 if it’s a building society account).

    It also seems that Paypal issue eCheques instead of immediate payments if there’s some sort of unusual pattern to the payments. I’ve certainly had people pay me for different items in quick succession and some have been instant; others eCheques.

  4. I think Kevin’s right about the “unusual pattern -> echeques” thing. I once bought a car with Paypal, which was rather a lot more than my average purchase amount, and that wouldn’t go through as anything other than an echeque, despite me having a debit card on the account. Fortunately for me, 1) the seller didn’t know what an echeque was, and 2) it cleared fine.


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