07 July 2006

Learning how the customer feels

Phil came around yesterday to help me with some technical problems that I needed to discuss. It turned into a long session and we eventually got most things sorted out although a sale made us re-think our eCommerce sites.

We use PayPal on our eCommerce sites - it has a great reputation and so it immediately puts people's minds at rest. Someone living outside the European tax zone had left a message at the office that she wanted to buy some towels - she couldn't use the site directly because we hadn't put in a tax-free option on the site. Simple we thought, we would put up a page - just for us - which would allow us to key in orders offline. That was the easy part. Then we tried to place the order using the new page.

We keyed in all the customers' details and the credit card that she wanted to use for the transaction whereupon Paypal noticed that this was a card which was linked to the customer's email, address and credit card and wanted to put the sale through as a PayPal transaction rather than a simple charge to the card. It annoyed us and I'm sure that it would annoy many other potential customers, too. We may have lost business because of it and we might never have known had we not encountered the problem for ourselves. I eventually went back to the customer and asked her for a card which wasn't linked to a PayPal account. We just don't understand why PayPal is forcing the transaction to go through the PayPal route if this is not the customer's choice.

We are now looking at alternatives. Maybe Linkie Winkie has the answer.


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