PayPal echeques’ confusing messages

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PayPal needs to learn to countIt’s one of those emails sellers dread, maybe even more than the “where’s my item?” one. The one that says, your buyer paid you, but there’s no money yet: a PayPal echeque notification. And then you have to mail the buyer and explain… or decide to take the risk and wonder, for the next two weeks, if you’ve just sent the goods out for free or not.

TameBay chum Whirly had just such an email this morning. He duly mailed his buyer to say that the echeque wasn’t due to clear until 10th to 12th February. But, came back the reply from the buyer, PayPal have told me it’ll clear on the 9th, and I need my item for the 12th.

But the messaging gets worse: PayPal’s website states that echeques can take 6-9 working days to clear – meaning that Whirly’s customer’s echeque wouldn’t clear until somewhere between the 12th and the 17th. How’s anyone supposed to make an informed decision when the information is so inconsistent? Someone needs to learn to count.

We’ve been here before. PayPal are supposed to have cleaned up the messaging around echeques, making sure that buyers understand exactly what they’re doing, and that they should really update the card they have on file before payment, so that echeques don’t happen.


However much PayPal try to “improve communications”, the simple fact is that buyers don’t understand what an echeque is. Why should they? Who wants to learn the ins and outs of the British banking system just to make one simple payment? It’s time something radical was done.

This shouldn’t be down to sellers. We’re not party to what cards the buyer has on file with PayPal. We can’t see electronic transfers between buyers’ banks and PayPal. We’re guessing, in the dark, and it makes us look terrible. It’s time PayPal stopped making us do this. If it wishes to continue to offer echeques to buyers as a payment method, then *it* should fund the risk. Take the echeque – give the seller the money. And if, in the “rare” instance, it bounces, PayPal should be chasing the buyer for payment. Think how much that would improve the buyer experience. Think how much it would improve the *seller* experience.

And if PayPal isn’t willing to do that, then it’s admitting that echeques are dodgy, and it shouldn’t be asking sellers to deal with them.

Photo credit: © Grzegorz Kula |



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