Categories
eCommerce & Shopping Online PayPal & Ecommerce

PayPal IPN payment_status

We use the payment_status value in PayPal IPN to determine the outcome of a transaction. There are 6 possible values according to the transaction logs of one of my websites, out of a total of 1132 occurences:

  • Completed – 884
  • Reversed – 100
  • Refunded – 67
  • Canceled_Reversal – 66
  • Pending – 13
  • Denied – 2

For those who are new to PayPal IPN:

  • Completed = You got the money and you can ship the goods.
  • Reversed = The payment was reversed by the other party (NOT you) and you lost the money! e.g. A chargeback.
  • Refunded = The money was refunded to the buyer (probably by you).
  • Canceled_Reversal = The money was again returned to you after it was reversed previously.
  • Pending = You haven’t got the money yet but you probably will after fraud review was done by PayPal or after the eCheck clears.
  • Denied = PayPal denies a payment because god knows why and you don’t get the money.
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Coupons and Promo Codes eCommerce & Shopping Online Kavoir & Whatever Magento Tips PayPal & Ecommerce

Avalanche Coupon Code (Magento Theme)

Avalanche Magento themeJake (fastdivision.com) was kind enough to offer me a coupon code so that my readers can enjoy the Avalanche Magento theme at 15% discount. In case you haven’t read my review of the Avalanche theme, it is the current sensation going on in the Magento-sphere. In the shortest words, I think it’s the best Magento theme because of 3 reasons:

  1. It is built by someone who’s insanely good at the website stuff (HTML, CSS, PHP, design, user experience, etc.). and who pursues perfection.
  2. It has unparalleled support – read my review and you will know. Better yet, join the club to experience yourself!
  3. The theme is very very good (best is a pretty strong word and I’ll leave it to you) in all aspects I can think of AND it’s being pushed to be better every day. Read Jake’s blog. He’s just finished working on and released a mobile version of Avalanche.

Coupon Code for Avalanche

OK here’s the coupon part. If you have made up your mind to purchase Avalanche, use this coupon code when checking out:

KAVOIR
Click To Open/Copy

Just enter it in the “Enter coupon code” text box at the end of the checkout page:

Avalanche coupon code for 15% off

And you will have the 15% discount off the normal pricing of $199 and $399 which would then be $169.15 and $339.15 respectively. Always nice to save a few bucks.

Enjoy!

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eCommerce & Shopping Online Magento Tips My Personal Reviews PayPal & Ecommerce

Premium Magento Theme – Avalanche (Review)

Avalanche 15% Off Promo: Click here to get 15% discount off, then enter code KAVOIR in the box to claim the 15% discount off the Avalanche theme.

avalanche - premium magento themeAfter digging into Magento for a few months and trying to start my own tangible business (I only deal with digital goods as of now), I failed in finding the perfect theme for my store. What I had in mind was a Magento theme much like Thesis for WordPress, the sort of theme that’s simplistic yet powerful, finely crafted and omnipotent (not just for a specific niche). Seemed most of the themes I could find were a bit too frivolous for me, until I found Jake and his Avalanche, premium Magento theme.

Jake was one of a few Magento experts who are true masters of the eCommerce platform. I first discovered Avalanche with awe and thought, that was it – that was exactly what I wanted. With a few improvements it’d be the perfect theme for my store. I contacted Jake immediately with some of my ideas and he got back to me and greatly appreciated my feedback. He adopted and implemented my suggestions the next day. Those were some great ideas such as a mega / exploded menu option for the top navigation. It used to be 3 options, now there are 4 – it’s all yours to choose from in the Avalanche configuration panel.

I bought the Developer License for $399 that night. It was a remarkable experience. We exchanged quite some emails about how to make the theme better. Not every vendor takes customer suggestions so seriously, let alone a customer-yet-to-be; and it’s not every day you find a developer who so vigorously and wholeheartedly keeps refining his product.

The installation was a breeze. Had some minor problems as I was not quite experienced with Magento yet and emailed Jake for help and he got back to me within 1 hour. Every time. That’s the kind of support lacking in the official Magento Go team.

The Avalanche theme has lots of backend options that you can tweak to customize the look and general texts of your store. Cloud Zoom in place. Breadcrumbs are enhanced. Colors, typography, banners, featured products, AJAX quick views, cutting edge CSS3 features and many more.

As of now, I’m very much impressed in all regards, though I’d say it’s more of a theme for digital niches such as technology and electric products. The black and white theme may not suit every customer base (may not yield the best conversion rates in some niches). You need to tweak them a bit, unless Jake can come up with an overall color themes switcher in future updates. For now, we are stuck with color switchers just for borders, links, and action buttons – they are actually pretty nice with gradients, you should try it!

There could be more improvements and I’m sure Jake’s already started working on the next version. By far, I think he’s making the best premium Magento themes.

My 4.9/5 for Avalanche Magento theme.

Avalanche 15% Off Promo: Click here to get 15% discount off, then enter code KAVOIR in the box to claim the 15% discount off the Avalanche theme.

Categories
eCommerce & Shopping Online My Personal Reviews PayPal & Ecommerce

Shopify Review

shopify - create your own online storeWhen I was trying to find an eCommerce solution for my wedding dresses store, I tried Shopify for 30 days and then been a paid customer for 10 days before I canceled my plan (NOT in a negative manner). Have something to say about them so I come up with this brief review, which, hopefully can be helpful to those who are in search of a fine way to build online stores.

What I like about Shopify

  1. Beautiful. Anyone who has used Shopify would agree that it’s the a beautiful and graceful eCommerce solution. People behind it are working their heart out. The free themes available for you to choose from for your store are eye-candies, simplistic and highly brandable. They SHOULD make more of them, though. Currently there are only about 10 free themes. If you want more, you’d have to pay. Commercial themes at their theme store cost about $100 – $300.
  2. Proactive and personal support. I got emails offering to help from their support team every once a few days ever since my trial sign-up. Friendly, helpful and very personal. Of all the companies that I dealt with, Shopify is the only one that proactively asked me if I needed any help, REGULARLY. WiredTree comes second by asking for my feedback every 3 months. Magento Go comes last by offering unparalleled ridiculous support.
  3. Very easy to use. It only took me a few minutes to set up the whole store with an attractive look and add the first product. The control panel was intuitive and texts (tab names, section titles, field names, etc.) were straightforward. I didn’t have to think to do something. It’s simply there when you need it.
  4. Unlimited bandwidth. I specifically asked about this offer in one of the emails I exchanged with Chris, my client representative at Shopify, and he assured me that this was as TRUE as it’s promised. I never had the chance to have an online store that got hit by 100,000 unique IPs per day so I don’t know. But I sure like it. Who wouldn’t.
  5. Premium yet affordable. While it may seem that a month-to-month SaaS eCommerce solution would cost more than buying a permanent license that could be hosted on your own server, it may not seem so when you scale up. When you hit the mark of 20,000 unique IPs per day and got over 20,000 products in your store, Shopify’s offer of $179 / month for unlimited bandwidth, storage and SKUs is simply irresistible. With licensed shopping cart software that’s hosted on your own server, you would worry about security and upgrade (it can be painful, believe me) which take time and money. However with Shopify, you don’t have to worry about them at all because underneath details are all taken care of. You get a store that’s silently self-evolving without your custody.
  6. They refund. This is the single most valuable thing in any business. I was charged for the first month before I realized that I would be charged after the end of the trial period (30 days). After corresponding with my support staff Chris, I was able to get my money back without a hassle.

What I don’t like about Shopify

  1. First off, they didn’t make it clear that I would be automatically signed up with paid membership and be charged for a month after my trial period ends. After talking with Chris, it seemed that the terms were in there, in fine print, and I needed to click to open the complete, tedious terms and conditions to find it. Well, I believe it would definitely be much more customer-friendly to get the text in the sign-up page in large print, like what Microsoft did with Office 365 so I know I have to cancel my trial contract to stop them from billing me when it ends.
  2. Shopify doesn’t have effective product filtering. Or they probably have it but it takes quite some work to have it up for my store. For instance, the left side “Narrow Your Choices” product filtering at Zappos Women’s Clothing. I asked Chris about this and he said they had it and could give me an example store that had it. He never did.
  3. Custom made products that are made to order are not well supported by Shopify. For example, a store that sells custom tailored wedding dresses where customers can freely select any of all the possible combinations of options: “Color”, “Size” and “Belt Color”. With 15 possible colors, 15 sizes and 15 belt colors, there would be a total of 15 x 15 x 15 = 3375 distinct combinations of product options (“Color”, “Size”, “Belt Color”) for each wedding dress. The problem with Shopify is, they treat every product as in the inventory rather than custom made, therefore I have to add all 3375 distinct combinations of product options one by one for each of the products. It’s simply an unrealistic job.

All after all, Shopify is among the top 3 most usable and beautiful online store solutions out there after I tried many of them. I would definitely recommend it to people I know and would very probably use it for some of my future ecommerce projects.

4.5/5.

Categories
My Personal Reviews PayPal & Ecommerce Web Applications & Online Software

Magento Go Review – Sucking Support & $99 Ripoff for SSL Setup

Magento goI officially signed up with Magento Go‘s Going Places plan for $25 / month and paid $99 for my SSL to be installed. It’s been 3 days and I wish I had better things to say about them.

And this is my review.

Uptime: 4.7 / 5

It’s too early to tell because I’m only with them for 10 days (in trial for 7 days). Sometimes it’s a bit slow. Magento is known to be resource-intensive. But as of now, Magento Go has been constantly up and responsive for me.

Price: 2.5 / 5

I would have given them 5 / 5 if I don’t have to pay $99 for my SSL to be installed – yes, that’s JUST for the installation service, not the SSL. You have to provide your own SSL certificate purchased from a CA to them. And this didn’t turn out to be very pleasant. I’ll come to that later.

The $1 million stimulus package that they promised to discount the monthly subscription fee by $15 for a year hasn’t been activated for me – and I contacted them about this twice – got NO responses of any kind. Waited nearly 24 hours and still no emails. So I logged back in to see the tickets. You know what I found? The tickets are all DELETED, like it’s never happened before.

What kind of support does that?

So the $1 million stimulus program is pretty much false advertising. Chances are, you won’t get it. Or you will. We are totally at their mercy.

Features: 4.1 / 5

If you are ever building an online store, once in your life time, you should use Magento Go. It simply makes sense.

After trying a few more online store builders, I think I’ll unsay the above saying.

Everything seems good, if not great. There are some parts that can be improved, such as the theming system, backup system, etc.

Their top plan for $125 / month offers a tingling of just 32GB monthly bandwidth. Anyone with decent SEO skills would easily hit that mark in half a year, especially if you’ve got lots of large images for the products. And extra bandwidth are charged $10 / GB. Pretty expensive. AND they don’t even have a bandwidth meter where you can see how much you’ve gone so far. So good luck…My tip is to use external website for hosting the product images.

Otherwise, Magento Go is simply NOT an magento go: not for growth. Be prepared to pay premium when you are locked in with them.

Support: 0.8 / 5

Appalling. If you are ready to pay $xxx per month for the top plan, you would probably be treated much better. But that’s just a theory.

I opened a total of 9 tickets, they DELETED 3 of them and responded to 3 of them.

They sent a very important message to *my* email. I didn’t receive it. Because that’s NOT my email, not even close. How hilarious is that!

Ticketing system is very hard to use. You would view the message and then click “Back” to return to the previous page to reply to it – if you have to quote something, you click “Forward” to view the message sent to you and then click “Back” again to continue writing. Very user-UNFRIENDLY ticketing system.

I posted a “Problem” message to the collaboration site (a collaboration support community to help dilute the workload of the REAL support team) about how my SSL hasn’t been installed after paying $99 and why my tickets got DELETED in the ticketing system. You know what they did? They changed the “Problem” status to “Question“. You know, it doesn’t look pretty in red.

Quick Facts about Go’s Support

People love interesting facts. Here are them.

  • A total of 3 tickets that got NO responses and simply got DELETED:
    1) A request for installing my SSL attached with my certificate files from GeoTrust
    2) A request to be enrolled in the $1 million stimulus package they promised – $15 monthly discount for next 12 billing cycles
    3) A question why my store home page doesn’t display the newest products after I added them in the backend – tried 2 different approaches but none of them worked.
  • After I complained about the SSL installation, they claimed to have sent an email to me at yanghit (@@@@@) gmail dot com. Apparently I didn’t receive it. Because that’s NOT my email, nor anything close.
  • For me, their support turnaround is about 12 hours, sometimes as long as 3 days, IF they respond at all. (I just recalculated the actual turnaround based on tickets’ and questions’ time stamps)

12 Hours Support Turnaround

Any support turnaround that’s 12 hours or longer is just unacceptable for mission critical sites such as eCommerce stores. Ordinary content sites have an eCPM of about $5 – $50 per thousand visits, however, online stores generally averages $200 – $2000 per thousand visits. Every hour of problem or down time causes substantial loss; the greater the traffic & conversion rate, the greater the damage.

People who choose Go are generally not technically oriented and would require a lot of help along the way. It would be a very painful experience for them should something get haywire yet they can’t get anything done in 12 hours.

Magento Go has got to seriously work on that.

Busted?

They got a final score of 60.5 / 100. Merely passed.

I will keep you updated on my experience with Magento Go. Even though their support isn’t the best in the world, I’d still recommend them to you. Hopefully they can see this review and give their support department a revamp.

I would love to see Magento Go becomes the go-to brand for online eCommerce solution. However, as of now, you would be better off with CE and do your own hosting, if you’ve got some technical nerves. In this case, I would like to recommend the Avalanche Magento theme.

What other folks are saying…

Seems I’m not alone on the bad experiences with Magento Go:

  1. http://www.shoppingcartsforwebsites.com/general/magento-go-review/
  2. http://www.commercestyle.com/e-commerce/magneto-sucks
  3. http://www.magentogoreview.com/list-of-magento-go-reviews~123

 

Update: I submitted a ticket and a *problem* at the collaboration site asking for a refund of the $99 SSL setup fee and they finally got back to me, addressing a question I asked 23 hours ago. After a few more tickets (each taking 2 – 3 hours for them to respond), my SSL is finally up and working.

 

Categories
PayPal & Ecommerce

Way to go PayPal! – Fraudulent Chargeback Successfully Resolved in Merchant’s Favor

I made a sale months ago when someone purchased a few website scripts for over $1,500. A few days after the transaction he fired a chargeback dispute. I thought, well ok, I’m puked. I almost gave in. But then I thought I couldn’t let him win this easily.

So I provided everything I can with regards to the dispute case in the PayPal resolution center, including transaction logs, email communications and several screenshots of proof that he had received the digital goods. A few days later, the funds are transferred away anyway. I lost.

This morning, however, PayPal sent me an email, over 100 days later:

Hello Kavoir,

We are pleased to inform you that we have successfully disputed chargeback
case #PP-xxx-xxx-xxx-xxx.  The buyer’s card issuer has decided in your
favor and within seven days you will receive reimbursement for $xxxx.xx USD.

This is truly a surprise and a good one. You can imagine the look I had when I read the message. To make sure, I logged into my PayPal account and saw the funds right reimbursed.

How awesome is that.

Categories
PayPal & Ecommerce

This payment cannot be completed and your account has not been charged. Please contact your merchant for more information.

Very rarely you may encounter this error after you have clicked the “Pay Now” button on PayPal to send payment to someone / merchant in purchase of something:

This payment cannot be completed and your account has not been charged.  Please contact your merchant for more information.

paypal error: This payment cannot be completed and your account has not been charged.  Please contact your merchant for more information.

At first, I blamed my website payment integration on Convert Hub and thought that something about my merchant account (business account) at PayPal might have gone wrong.

However, I later found out that it’s actually because of my personal account which I used to pay to my merchant account. My personal account of PayPal was somehow limited at that time and could not send money by any means.

After providing necessary documents to verify my legal ownership of the account, its full access was restored and I tried a test payment via the “Buy Now” button at here. There was never any errors any more and the payment was successful.

Categories
PayPal & Ecommerce

PayPal Account Access Limitation after Closing Browser Window and Opening It Again

paypal If you were like me who accidentally closed the browser window of his PayPal account AND immediately tried to reopen it by typing in www.paypal.com in the browser address bar, chances are your PayPal account is instantly limited.

It was really weird at first but soon it makes sense. This is to prevent session hijacking that PayPal believe happens when a strange request (my reopening attempt, with unfamiliar session ID) with logged-in cookies is made.

I had to resolve the limitation by changing my password and security questions and wait 48 hours for the limitation review staff to manually grant me full access again. Before my account is recovered of full access, I’d not be able to send or request money or transfer my funds away. Next time when you inadvertently close your PayPal account page, wait till the session expires (a few minutes, 10 minutes to be safe) and log in again or you will be limited for sure.

Categories
PayPal & Ecommerce

PayPal Policy Update, 2009/01

PayPal is by far the most popular international merchant service. The newest update of their policies is carried out through the end of last year, 2008, and a lot of provisions are effective ever since. Some of the key points include:

  1. You may not use PayPal service for prohibited activities involving gambling, gaming and/or any other activity with an entry fee and a prize such as casino games, sports betting, horse or greyhound racing, lottery tickets. You get the idea. However, there might be some who can use PayPal service in such activities because they have the prior approval by PayPal.
  2. More countries including Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Portugal, Poland, Finland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Singapore, Hong Kong and Mexico are listed so that users from these countries now can add funds to their PayPal account via bank transfer, with the same name of the bank account as that of the PayPal account. (Topping Up)
  3. With those who use PayPal on eBay listings as a checkout are obligated to: 1) unconditionally accept PayPal payments if the customer chooses to pay via PayPal, 2) accept all payments methods customers choose that PayPal can handle, 3) must have a premier account or business account, 4) must not charge the seller additional fees for paying via PayPal.

Above are just my personal interpretation of this update and doesn’t constitute any formal advice. For precise update description and official texts please log into your paypal account and click to the statements via What’s new.