Saturday, April 15, 2006

What's your case? All comments are welcome.

We started 4Singes.ca in November 2003. One of the most important issues we had to resolve was how to process credit card payments. Paypal was one of the candidates, and as there were no startup and monthly fee we programmed our payment processing interface with Paypal. It took, by the way, like a couple of days.

It was good, but there were a lot of annoying JavaScript errors leading to unpredictable frame and page combinations after the payments processed, cancelled etc. I've got a lot of trouble with that, tried to contact with Paypal customer service for help, but all my attempts to get that help looked like that: I wait for an answer about 1-2 weeks, then get one of their standard pre-written messages the only meaning of which was "You are an idiot, don't write us any more". The same was with their telephone support: "You probably have too old browser" or "You probably have too new browser" with the same meaning: "You are an idiot, don't call us any more".

To be honest, during the last two years Paypal guys corrected the most annoying errors, but their customer service didn't become any better. Three months ago we called Paypal again to complain about a stupid JavaScript error on the main payment page, and their support "engineer" tried to convince me that I am an idiot, because he didn't see any error. It turned out that all Paypal support engineers have switched off script debugging in their browsers. I needed 1 minute to fix that error, but Paypal programmers did it 2.5 months. The funniest thing is that after every time you call their "customer service" they send you a survey request and ask you to return it completed. The survey takes about 30 minutes to fill, it's like two million questions. Does anybody know what do they do with them? But this story is not about that.

Well, I was sick of Paypal so-called customer service, and as there were no options (you stick with their payment pages, and have to use them with all errors and trouble included), we decided to change the payment processor. Worldpay was by our way, and we applied.

It was good for a couple of months, there were much more payments (you'll understand why a bit later), and we were happy. Then chargebacks started. I tried to send Worldpay guys our technical logs to prove the purchase, but they don't accept them because the only proof they can accept is the signed cheque. For online purchase, huh? Each chargeback costs you $20, and we got more and more of them. It turned out that about 50% of money we got through Worldpay were stolen and should be refunded.

Then they sent us a very strong and official message that as the percent of chargebacks is very high in our case (you know, I immediately felt guilty) they reserved some money at our account to be able to cover possible chargebacks in future. So, we were not even able to withdraw our cash.

What we were supposed to do? It's not surplus profit to cover all Worldpay's faults, and they definitely didn't think that they were their faults. See: somebody pays, we consider the payment as legal, provide service for this person for a couple of months, and then, when the owner of stolen credit card receives his statement, it turnes out that the transaction was fraudulent and the money should be refunded. But how can you "refund" 2 months database access? Why we should pay for Worldpay's fault? Oh, it's easy: just read the contract before you signed it. So, we decided to give up.

By the way, we never had chargeback problems with Paypal, and as Paypal doesn't charge setup fee, it took about half an hour to return back to them. They forgave us for our betrayal, we forgave them for the horrible customer service. Their customer service even doesn't bother me any more, I treat it like an anecdote to tell people and have fun. You just need some time to absorb it, and as you accepted it as it is (or isn't), you are happy.

Well, we sent to Worldpay the official note that we close the account and don't want to deal with them any more. The account has been closed with the credit balance about $430 which were frozen by Worldpay to cover all possible chargebacks. We forgot about them like a nightmare.

Do you think that's it? No, no. No! About a month ago we've got a threatening letter from Worldpay credit bureau (what the hell is that, by the way? Крыша?) that we still owe them $1600 and must pay before "any further action being taken". What do you think? Chargebacks, off course. Chargebacks happened after the account has been closed. I didn't think we had to pay them anything because as the account's closed, the agreement should be considered as terminated, but we paid, off course, to let them choke. But we decided to design this unpretentious site to protect small and startup business owners from these racketeers.

People, Paypal has horrible customer service for sure. I know, I've been there. But at least they don't fuck you, and that's why they are the best on the market now.

Paypal customer service and Netscape 8.0

I'm looking after the site http://www.4singles.ca. Normally I use Microsoft Internet Explorer, but as many people still use Netscape once I decided to check how the site looks under Netscape. I found the 8.0 installation, set it up, and now imagine how excited I was when discovered that when a customer goes with "Pay Now" button, instead of my payment page, Paypal loads its "Welcome Paypal" home!

Interesting that Netscape 8.1 doesn't have this problem, but this story is not about Netscape. Important thing is that I decided to inform Paypal customer service about this bug. Well, I knew it's loss of time but tried once more just for fun.

All they done to work with their customer service is specially designed to avoid any contact. You know, there is no email where you can send a message to, and you should fill the form at the site. You have to:

1. Answer like a thousand questions just to find this form. Paypal will feed you with tons of FAQs, no matter does you question related to them or not. At the last step when you see mocking "Still have trouble?" just go right there and find a small link to email form. It's not easy, but you should at least try once.

2. When the form is finally localized you must fill it in as fast as possible because timeout is like 62 seconds, and if you submit the form later Paypal requires to log in again and off course you lose all your job. You also have to find the form again, and it's very difficult, as we already saw at the step 1.

3. But you cannot lose too much because there are only 1000 characters in the form to describe all your trouble. Forget about attachments if you have something for Paypal engineers, first of all there is no possibility to attach or upload anything, and second of all, those guys don't open uploaded files anyway by "security reasons".

But I'm well-experienced with Paypal, so before submitting the form I always save it in the clipboard, then log in again, then climb from link to link very fast and push it up from the second attempt, so Paypal guys don't have many chances to disregard me so easy. This time I described my Netscape 8.0 problem in details even before logging in in the separate file (as much as it possible in the frame of 1000 characters), pasted it from the clipboard and started to wait for the answer.

After a couple of weeks I finally got a brilliant reply from Paypal so-called customer service. I quote it here in total, enjoy:

Thank you for contacting PayPal. We apologize for the delay in responding to your service request.

To view the Subscriptions and Recurring Payments Manual, follow the steps below:

1.Log in to your account at https://www.paypal.com/SELLMAN
2.Click the 'Merchant Tools' tab.
3.Click 'Subscriptions & Recurring Payments', one of the Key Features under PayPal Website Payments Standard'.
4.Click 'More Resources'.
5.Click 'Manuals'.
6.Click 'Subscriptions and Recurring Payments Manual'.

To view this guide, Adobe Acrobat Reader software is required. We recommend using the latest version available for your operating system. To download Adobe Acrobat Reader, click 'Adobe Acrobat'.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us again.

Sincerely,
Brian
PayPal Community Support
PayPal, an eBay Company

Brian, what pils do you take?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Worldpay's security sucks

30% of transactions (50% in $ value) authorised by Worldpay during half a year my client worked with them appeared to be fraudulent in 2-3 months and caused chargebacks. But at the moment when Worldpay takes your money back your service already rendered. Moreover, you pay 20 bucks per each chargeback! Worldpay undresses you twice: you serve scammers for free and then even pay for that! And just to compare, during the last year Paypal authorised hundreds of transactions for my client and none (!) of them were fraudulent. None! Let smart Worldpay guys explain how it's possible. Anybody who thinks can come with at least a couple of ideas. My private opinion is that it's a good case for feds.

Or look at the message we got from Ann Clarke, Customer Operations Director of WorldPay Limited:

We regret that access to our payment and administration systems is severely disrupted due to a planned and large scale Denial of Service (DDOS) attack by a third party. Our payment and administration systems are working, safe and secure, but the networks around them are being flooded with requests on a huge scale, causing 'service denials'. We are processing payments, but far slower and fewer than we normally would. We are executing our contingency plans to move to full restoration of the service but cannot at this point in time predict when all customers will have the service restored without further interruption. While attacks of this type can be anticipated, it does take time to identify and deal with the exact nature of a particular attack. We are doing everything that is possible to restore a full service as soon as is possible. PLEASE NOTE: although we are subject to a "denial-of-service" attack, the integrity and security of our systems and data is in no way compromised.

Here is the BBC news about that incident: Worldpay battling online attack

This warning looks very professional and thoughtful. But as a result, in October 2004 we got about 20 complains from out potential customers who just were not able to pay us. As a professional I can imagine that DDOS attack might cause some trouble. But there are well-known methods of protection including some combinations of hardware, software, and administrative solutions which, by the way, mostly can be done on preventive basis. For a company which pretends to be serious, the 3 weeks deny of service cannot be an excuse, it's totally a bullshit.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Worldpay's prices suck

Worldpay is ridiculously expensive. They devastate your pocket as much as they can. You pay:

  1. Setup fee.
  2. Monthly fee (you must pay it even if there is no any transaction)
  3. Comission for transaction.
  4. Comission again in case of complete or partial refund
  5. Full amount back in case of chargeback
  6. Doubled bank fine for each chargeback ($20)
  7. Currency conversion comission on each step (forth and back)

My client paid about $300 setup fee actually for a couple of emails with attached PDF manuals. It takes a lot of time to go through, and they definitely don't worth so much. By the way, Paypal has all technical manuals on the site and doesn't charge setup fee at all.

Monthly fee is very high if you want to be more or less protected from fraud. It was about $50 per month, without any serious anti-fraud check. If you want to check security code on the back of credit card, or cardholder's name, or cardholder's country, you have to pay $200 per month or more. It's not for startup onliners. By the way, Paypal doesn't charge monthly fee at all.

The most annoying is the second comission in case of refund. You know, sometimes you have to refund your customer's money. You get nothing in this case, but happy Worldpay charges you twice! By the way, Paypal rolls back all refunds as there were nothing, even the comission from the initial customer's transaction. You return back exactly to the balance you had at the moment of transaction.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Worldpay's accessibility sucks

Paypal accepts payments from limited number of countries. Worldpay accepts everything. The point is what do you need payments from, let's say Nigeria, for, if after two months all of them turn out to be fraud? There is a reason why Paypal does not accept payments from Russia, don't you think?

Have a look at this picture: Statistics of 4singles.ca payments by country and decide for yourself is it really important for you to have the ability to accept payments from all countries?