When we decided to run UX New Zealand, we wanted to do everything we do to make sure it was dead easy to pay us, and it didn’t feel like you were paying an overseas country.
We wanted to create a local bank account for direct deposits and take credit card payments in $NZ. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?
Not so easy – we couldn’t create a local account and had enormous problems applying for a multi-currency merchant account (the bank wanted us to put up $80,000 as security) so we decided to run with PayPal, given they had an option that would allow you to pay in $NZ, by credit card, without a PayPal account. It sounded like a perfect solution – high fees, but we could live with that as long as it gave you a relatively seamless payment process.
So we implemented it, tested it and opened registration. Payments started coming through, but a couple of people were stuck – instead of the ‘Review and submit’ button we were seeing, they were only seeing an option to create a PayPal account. That seemed odd, as PayPal had assured us that people could pay without an account.
We sent off a message to PayPal to find out what was going on, and this is where things started to get ridiculous. Not only did it take them weeks to get back to us, these are the types of answers we were getting:
- “I checked your account and it shows that you are able to receive payments from non PayPal account holders. If your customer is being prompted to create a PayPal account before completing a payment, you may advise them to contact PayPal to have their account checked.” Ummm…the point is that they don’t have an account, so certainly can’t contact you to get it checked.
- “If a New Zealand buyer will make a payment on your website, they will be required to open an account to continue with their purchase.” This was also untrue – we’d been receiving payments from people who hadn’t used a PayPal account.
- “Only those who already have an existing PayPal account can send payments through Guest checkout. The system will can determine if the buyer has an existing PayPal account through the email address being used during payment checkout.” Also not true – people were being prompted to sign up well before they entered an email address.
I did some digging around on the internet, where many people had this same problem, and couldn’t find a solution. I wondered whether it was a cookie issue, cleared all my PayPal cookies and was all of a sudden prompted to create an account.
Here’s what I think is happening. If you’re a NZ resident, you DO need a PayPal account to pay by credit card (so the last email from them was partly correct). If you have logged into PayPal before, there will be a cookie that tells them you’re a customer, and you can pay with your credit card. If there’s no cookie, you get prompted to create an account.
This is completely mad. It seems their support team have no idea of how the products work, and there is no documentation around saying which countries can pay without an account. It’s the exact opposite of the solution we were aiming for.
We’ll now be exploring another solution, but it will no doubt take a few weeks to get set up, tested and implemented. In the meantime, if you would like to pay with your credit card, you can register for the conference, choose the ‘pay later’ option and we’ll let you know when we have a working solution.
We’re sorry about this mess. The last thing we wanted to do was make things hard for our customers. We do take pride in creating a good experience, and it hurts when you email us to tell us that our UX is awful.