Paypal Instant Payment Notification System Goes Down
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Have you bought anything using PayPal in the last week? Keep an eye open for delivery, as the merchant may be unable to promptly process the order due to a bug in PayPal’s Instant Payment Notification (IPN) system. The problem all began when PayPal made an update to the IPN system some time early Thursday morning Pacific Standard Time. Later that morning PayPal’s ecommerce customers began reporting problems.

Although this is at heart a communications glitch in the way that PayPal responds to the ecommerce sites, there is an impact on the end customer. From the end customer’s perspective it appears that they have ordered and paid for their item successfully, but because of the IPN problem, the ecommerce site doesn’t receive a correct notification of payment. What should be, and was, an automated transaction, needs the ecommerce site to resort to human intervention until PayPal can fix the problem. Hence, delays and possibly dropped orders.


Compounding the issue are complaints from users that PayPal issued no information about this glitch until Friday afternoon, 24 hours after users first started complaining.

PayPal is now reporting the problem as resolved, but we have to ask two questions. Firstly, how did such a serious issue escape through the test and qualification procedures in place at PayPal? These really need to be upgraded with some urgency in order to provide a more robust and resilient product. Secondly, once PayPal had confirmed what their ecommerce customers reported, that there was indeed a problem with the recently-installed IPN upgrade, why could they not back out the upgrade out and return to the IPN system they had running previously, while they fixed, re-tested and re-installed the upgrade?

Has this affected you, either as a merchant or customer? Let’s hear your stories.

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No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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2 thoughts on “Paypal Instant Payment Notification System Goes Down
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  1. I am getting the reverse, multiple email notifications for a single transaction, 761 total at the last count since the transaction went through on the 20th…

  2. If you call paypal support you won’t be told there is/was a problem. You will be told it is the store software and to contact them. I have alot of pending orders from customers that I have no idea what they ordered, but I know they bought something since the $ is in my paypal account.

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