Selling eProducts Through PayPal and Common Courtesy

Okay, this is kind of a rant on a couple of issues.

To start, I sell e-products on my website via PayPal. While this is a convenient and normally great selling method, once in a while there’s a problem.

The Cause of the Problem

PayPal, for whatever reason they deem necessary, makes it very unclear as to how to download your purchase once you’ve bought it.

This in no way is the consumer's fault. PayPal just uses a confusing way to provide the ‘instant’ downloadable link to the product you bought.

Once you pay for the product, you’re brought to a PayPal page that shows this:

“[Name of buyer], you just completed your payment.”
It gives the transaction number and notes that they’ll send you a receipt via email.
Under this you’re given three links:
  • Return to [the seller’s email address]
  • Go to PayPal account overview
  • Add funds from your bank

NO WHERE does it say: Click Here to Get Your Product, or other clear call-to-action.

The buyer must automatically know that one of these three links is the product download button.

Just so you know, it’s the first link – the link to “Return to [the seller’s email address].

How is anyone to know that’s the link to get the purchased product?

Because of this confusing process, I’ve had a couple of people who have filed a dispute against me with PayPal over the years. While they have been quickly resolved, it’s annoying and time consuming for me, the seller, and for the buyer.

Fortunately, I was able to get online and check my email to find the problems. BUT, when super storm Sandy hit, I was without electricity for almost two weeks. And, I couldn't drive anywhere for internet access.

What happens then? What happens if you have a problem with your internet service or electricity? Or, if your computer crashes.

PayPal needs to develop an easier method for buyers to be able to quickly find the download button.

People get upset when they can’t immediately get their purchases!

This leads me to the second rant.

When Purchasing Online, Please Use Common Courtesy

My most recent mishap with a PayPal purchase just happened. I promoted a product related to the content in my newsletter, The Writing World. Happily, subscribers found the product to be helpful and I got a number of purchases.

This is GREAT and I appreciate every sale, but . . .

One buyer, after NOT 'being a mind-reader’ and realizing she needed to click on my email address to get the ebook, filed a dispute with PayPal.

Now, I can understand the frustration in buying a product, even at $7, and wanting it immediately. However, I buy e-products online also and my first course of action if there’s a problem with the download is to contact the seller, not file a dispute or complaint.

To add to this, the people buying were buying from a promo in my newsletter. These are people I send useful writing and marketing information emails to regularly and offer free webinars to.

This is where common courtesy comes into play. The buyer who couldn’t get the product not only filed a dispute with PayPal, but also sent me this email:

 Hello Karen,

As you can see by the receipt below, I paid the $7 for the eBook "Editing Books Like A Pro" , however, I have NOT YET received the instantaneous download as promised. Please send immediately!

Thank you,


I, of course, immediately sent an email apologizing for the inconvenience and attached the ebook.

Then I had to go to my PayPal account and let them know I took care of the matter.

Then, annoyed over the matter, I created a test .49 cent product, uploaded it to PayPal, put it on my site, and bought it through my husband’s account, just to test the buying process.

I have to say it’s sorely lacking.

After that, I wrote this post.

What's to Come

I'm sure I'm not the only PayPal merchant this occasionally happens to. PayPal is making enough money from its merchants; they should make the buying process much easier and clear.

Aside from this MAJOR problem, I'll still use PayPal, at least for the time being


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Karen Cioffi
Award-winning author, freelance/ghostwriter
Author/Writer Online Platform Instructor


Magdalena Ball said...

Karen, you can create a custom download page and then have Paypal automatically go to that page after purchase. But I hear you - it would be nice if you could just incorporate a link into the purchasing process.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

How frustrating. The custom download page sounds like a solution.

Karen Cioffi said...

Maggie, I hear you. I wanted to avoid that, but I'm going to have to bite-the-bullet. :)

Mary Jo, Yeah, that's what I'll have to do.

Debbie A Byrne said...

I'm saving this one. I find alot of online stuff is confusing. I have had to ask whomever I'm doing business with for help on more than one occasion. Just think of the time wasting and frustration that would be avoided if PayPal and other companies would make things simple and clear.

Karen Cioffi said...

Debbie, I did waste a lot of time dealing with the PayPal mishap. I'm glad if this can help you avoid some problems.

Linda Wilson said...

As always, Karen, your advice is priceless. You bring to our attention important matters that may seem small to some, but loom large when they take up our valuable time. Thanks!

Anne Duguid Knol said...

Hi Karen,

Took me a while to sort out that Paypal link for buying. I initially went to the product provider's support page and they instantly attached the book and sent to me direct.

You're so right--these PP links are more confusing than helpful. Thanks for highlighting the problem and providing the solution. Must say I'm happiest when sellers follow Maggie's suggestion. Makes it easy.

Glad you managed to sort everything out even for the most annoyed and annoying purchasers lol

Karen Cioffi said...

Linda, glad I can be helpful. It did take so much time to sort it out. It's the buyer who has to go back into PayPal and close the dispute.

Karen Cioffi said...

Annie, it's terrible that PP is so confusing for purchases. I went back into my account and I do have it set up for the buyer to go immediately to the PDF page to download. For some reason it doesn't bring them there. They still have to do it the hard way. I'll have to contact PP to find out why.

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