2008 – The year to scrap PayPal echeques

No primary category set

I detest echeques! There, I’ve said it. They’re the worst part of PayPal and it’s time they were scrapped, retired, banned and resigned to whatever dark and dusty corner they sent BillPoint to. I sincerely hope that we look back on 2008 as the year PayPal finally wised up to the fact that echeques are more hassle than they’re worth.

It’s not just the fact it takes 7-9 working days for them to clear that makes me hate them so much. It’s the fact that ever since I’ve started using PayPal they’ve consistently and abjectly failed to process them correctly.

I’m still getting emails stating a 4 working day clearance time – that’s how long it takes in the US, not the UK. I’m fed up with explaining to buyers that it’ll be around ten days before we find out if their payment cleared or not.

Now it’s gotten even worse though! My latest communication with a buyer has revealed PayPal aren’t even bothering to inform them they’ve paid with an echeque. Check out this email sent to a buyer:
echeque payment email
The email confirms the buyer has paid, they’re expecting to receive the goods. Nowhere on the email does it indicate to the buyer that they haven’t made an instant payment. There is no mention of clearance time. There is no mention of goods not being shipped until payment clears. No 7-9 working days.

As a seller it’s now left to me to explain that they’ve paid via an echeque and that PayPal tell sellers “If you are sending an item, please do not ship your item until the funds have cleared into your PayPal account”.

It simply isn’t good enough. PayPal need to ensure that their communications inform buyers that their payment is pending and that it’ll take anything up to a couple of weeks to clear. Telling a buyer that they’ve paid when they’ve simply initiated an echeque is just not good enough.

Better still PayPal, do me a favour – Make 2008 the year you scrapped the echeque.

34 Responses

  1. Did you know that :

    An echeque can be recalled after you have had the second ‘payment cleared’ email from Paypal

    No, well you do now πŸ™‚

    I got caught out with one a few months ago, it was from a US buyer, a week after the ‘cleared’ email, the echeque was recalled – nothing I could do about it!

  2. Strange Eddie, as the one and only benefit of an echeque is supposed to be that once it’s cleared it’s as good as cash and can’t bounce 😯

    It can be subject to a PayPal dispute and the funds taken back, but it can never be subject to an external to PayPal chargeback in the way a credit card can (or at least that’s the theory).

  3. Well Chris, according to Paypal the payment senders bank account was used ‘fraudulently’ – I was informed of the ‘reversal’ about a week after the ‘cleared’ email which was about a week after the initial ‘pending’ email.

  4. I stick by my solution Eddie, scrap the stupid things entirely because that’s not good news πŸ™

    I have to point out (because I’m so annoyed with PayPal of these darn things) that even the damn User Agreement is incorrect. It refers to “echecks” (Yeah we’re not in the US but they still can’t spell “cheque”) and the UA itself mis-states the clearance time specifying it as:

    “When you send money using eCheck it will usually be held pending for 3-4 Business Days. The amount of time that it is held pending will increase if the payment is sent from a bank account outside the jurisdiction you have registered with us.”

    Note that’s the UK UA where everyone knows clearance time is 7-9 working days minimum, and that’s for echeques sent UK to UK.

    So “echecks” instead of “echeques”, held pending for 3-4 business days instead of 7-9 days…. not a great job by whoever localised the user agreement πŸ™

  5. I hate them. Please, please start a petition, organise a rally, write to your MP, bombard ebay with emails, anything whatsoever you can think of to get rid of them.

    PS Γ’β‚¬β€œ I Really hate them. – Love the blog

  6. I must confess to accidentally paying with one in December: it was perilously easy. I thought I was paying from my balance, but it didn’t cover the total so they quietly sent an echeque. Grr.

  7. I have had customers who believed they were paying with a credit card, but had “exceeded their limit” (what limit??? why not the limit on the credit card!!) and Paypal had sent an echeque without even telling them… so then they had a long rigmarole trying to talk to Paypal to find out why the payment hadn’t gone through. Never did really understand it all, but I think it was to do with verifying their account…. πŸ™

  8. There’s also the one where they buyer hasn’t realised that their card has expired… that diverts instantly to an echeque as well πŸ™

    The only way for a buyer to be certain not to send the darn things is to check the small print on each and every payment at the time they’re about to click “send”. The payment source is there in a tiny font so as you miss it.

  9. Last month I had an eCheque appear as cleared funds in Paypal (after a 13 day wait) and the solid pound symbol appeared in my eBay to show that the money was in my Paypal account. The next day (after sending the goods) I spotted the item in my ‘awaiting payment’ list. Clicking on the payment details in Paypal showed that the eCheque had subsequently failed and the money had left my account again. Just great.

  10. For most of last year, I got into the habit of forwarding the eCheque notification email back to buyers with a note saying I would let them know when the payment had cleared and I was dispatching their purchase.

    As this email stated 3-4 days, I often got messages on day 5 asking if I had posted yet.

    Last month I learnt that eCheques could be blocked in the Payment Receiving Preferences in my Paypal profile. Occasionaly buyers get a message saying I can not accept their payment, so it now gives me a chance to explain about eCheques, and arrange a suitable alternative payment method.

  11. Last month I learnt that eCheques could be blocked in the Payment Receiving Preferences in my Paypal profile.
    That shouldn’t work for eBay sales in the UK, but where it does it also appears to have undesirable side effects such as buyers being sent a confusing message that the seller’s account information has been changed during the transaction. Blocking echeques causes more problems than it solves (unbelievable but true 😯 )

  12. There’s *also* the echeque that just appears because the payment is outside your “normal spending pattern” – like paying the deposit on a car with PayPal, while your husband is at the guy’s house in England trying to collect the thing. Boy, was *that* embarrassing πŸ™

    Fortunately the seller was a newbie who was bowled over by someone with 10k feedback buying off him, and it cleared fine, and everything worked out… but it was still a nightmare of *PayPal’s* making.

  13. Oh, and one more thing to add connected with Mairi’s comment: why do failed/cancelled/otherwise borked echeques not merit an email to the seller? That really is feeble programming.

  14. I don’t like them but I don’t think Paypal will get rid of them. Paypal like to push how easy it is to use and they want to get as many people as possible to use it. If they got rid of echeques I guess there would be 2 options – either make people (buyers) wait until cash was cleared into their account (which would not be popular with buyers) or reclaim the money from the seller if something went wrong – surely a worse option for the seller than echeques!

  15. I’m just sorry I’ve got here so late – everyone’s had their moan and bitch already so my adding anything now seems pretty feeble…
    Just to add that I also fell into the trap of paying with an echeque in Dec when my credit card on file had expired but there was no email from PayPal – I got the one above as per Chris’ message – the seller emailed saying ‘sorry, you’ve paid by echeque and you won’t have your prezzies till after Christmas.
    What was most annoying about this for me was that there was no way of cancelling the echeque and paying the seller by credit or debit card instantly.

  16. What was most annoying about this for me was that there was no way of cancelling the echeque and paying the seller by credit or debit card instantly.

    …and on that topic as a seller it’s always worth emailing your buyers and offering to cancel the echeque and allow them to repay via a more expedient method.

    Just remember to warn them the echeque payment may still clear their bank and end up in their PayPal account.

  17. Chris,

    Ref: accidentally paying by echeque and not realising.

    I paid (without realising) by echeque cos my card had expired and my balance didn’t cover the expense.

    I asked my seller to cancel the echeque so I could pay with a card. Hell, pay with anything but echeque…. beads, shells, tap-dancing, shiny shillings. But the powerseller in question was pretty much ignorant about what an echeque was. Despite my best efforts to explain what he could do, I was stuck. (btw: I reckon I do explaining patiently pretty well.)

    Not everyone is as wise as you, or as well-informed, as the good readers of Tamebay. ;o) More’s the pity.


  18. Sadly Dan, until PayPal at least get their emails corrected what chance has the average buyer or seller got of understanding what’s going on with echeques? πŸ™

  19. Hi all, I blocked echeques a week or two ago, because my 3 experiences with them were a huge pain in the ass. But I am concerned after reading Chris’ comments above about the hassles blocking can cause. Would you mind expanding on these problems at all?

  20. Blocking echeques with PayPal isn’t supposed to make any difference to buyers paying with echeques for PayPal payments. However when I did block them for a time buyers were reporting unusual errors when they attempted to pay me. These errors were apparently random until I realised they only came from the buyers attempting to pay via echeque. Turning the echeque payment block off resulted in no further buyers with unusual error messages hence the deduction that there’s a problem hitherto unidentified.

  21. I email buyers when they pay with an echeque to inform of the (up to) 10 days clearance time and to offer alternative payment methods if that’s too long. In the run up to Christmas 3 buyers decided to cancel their whole orders as the other methods were either unknown (Nochex), too complicated (using the send money tab as ebay often disable the facility to pay by paypal again via ebay platform) or too slow (cheque/postal order). So not only did I lose sales, Paypal and ebay lost the fees. A rather small amount, but over time will build up. Paypal and ebay shouldn’t be scaring customers away! One of the customers who cancelled even said she would never use paypal again as not one payment had ever gone right since she opened the account.

  22. Chris, do you mean
    Blocking echeques with PayPal isnÒ€ℒt supposed to make any difference to buyers paying with echeques for PayPal eBay payments.

    Also can we have more information re. Dan paying with tap-dancing? πŸ˜€

  23. On the 5th January 08 I received an email from Paypal telling me a buyer had paid by eCheque and that it would take up to 4 days to clear. On checking the transaction in my Paypal account I found it quoting 3 to 4 days clearance.
    I checked my Paypal account again this morning (4 working days having past) expecting the payment to have now cleared. I was shocked to find the transaction had now changed from ‘Pending’ to ‘Uncleared’ and it now quoting 7 to 9 days for clearance with an expect clearance date of the 15th January.
    Checking on the Paypal help pages about eCheques it states eCheques are like ordinary cheques only easier and quicker to clear…this is absolute nonsense.

    What are eCheques anyway and why and how do people paying through Paypal come to be paying by that method.
    I remember a couple of years back I paid for an Ebay item through Paypal in the usual manner only to find out from the seller that the transaction had gone through as an eCheque payment. I never made that choice nor was I given any choice of payment type when making the payment….So how do eCheques come about.


  24. If according to Paypal an eCheque is just like writing a cheque why does it take twice or even three times longer for funds to clear.
    My bank only take three days to clear a cheque.

  25. Because echeques go through the direct debit system, which takes a loooooong time to clear: everyone in that bit of the system sits on the money for a while to make themselves a little bit extra.

  26. πŸ‘Ώ I hate echeques, i understand that they are secure and safe but.. the waiting time in the UK is appaulling.. ‘7-9 working days’??? This is stupid, i too believe 2008 should be the year of change for paypal, where echeques should be stopped. Too many unhappy buyers, too much time… 😑

  27. Yep,
    I too had one forced on me and I too had no idea that the poor seller was waiting over a week for the funds. The receipt I got made no mention of this .
    What the **** is going on?

  28. Totally agree with the Echeque fiasco IT SUCKS!!! Ive not been selling long (Im on ebay uk) but i am really doing my upmost to build a good reputation & offer first rate customer service but the 4 or 5 payments ive had this way have been a real pain for both sides. Not yet had one clear in less than 7 days! Now as i promise & always do try to dispatch things quickly i Normally get emails from buyers after 5-6 days saying they havent recieved their item (even after sending a msg trying to explain the echeque clearance time). In Fact At this very moment i have an upset customer who paid using this method 9 days ago & it still hasnt cleared!!! so i havent yet dispatched (well paypal tell me not to). She is a new ebayer & has now left feedback on ebay saying she is disappointed. Thankfully for me it wasnt a dreaded red neg but i guess from her point of view it could have been? But ive obviously had my DSR dispatch rating effected by this & it is through no fault of my own. I feel as a new seller im in a very precarious position. ive only had around 25 transactions on ebay so far so i feel that all it would really take is a couple of negs by disgruntled echeque payers & i would be dead in the water as a seller, or to use another water based metaphor ‘Up the swanee without a paddle’ so to speak, Through no fault of my own!
    Yeah it stinks BIG TIME.

  29. Just because some numpties don’t pay attention to their Credit
    Card limits or expiry dates that’s no reason to get rid of Echeques.
    Some traders don’t like them, well who cares. I understand them and use the all the time.

  30. Actually the reason for the rising number of eCheques is that PayPal changed their transaction risk model and now converts instant payments to eCheques to slow the velocity of payments. It gives PayPal more time to prevent fraudulent payments and also increases their float time so they earn more overnight interest.


Amazon Disbursements held due to unmet UK business establishment requirements unfreeze disbursements says Minister

Enterprise minister tells Amazon unfreeze disbursements

Amazon Disbursements held due to unmet UK business establishment requirements unfreeze disbursements says Minister

Amazon Disbursements held due to unmet UK business establishment requirements

Ecommerce SNAFU - Swearing & Cancelled Deliveries

Ecommerce SNAFU – Swearing & Cancelled Deliveries

PayPal USD Stablecoin launched pegged to US$

PayPal USD Stablecoin launched pegged to US$

eBay.com available quantities glitch

eBay.com available quantities glitch

ChannelX Guide...

Featured in this article from the ChannelX Guide – companies that can help you grow and manage your business.


Take a look through a selection of the latest articles on ChannelX

Register for Newsletter

Receive 5 newsletters per week

Gain access to all research

Be notified of upcoming events and webinars