Paypal has been terribly broken for 10 days and no one's talking about it.

Everyone's heard Paypal horror stories, but those are typically related to individual accounts, e.g. fraud, random holds on money, terrible customer service, etc. From over 6 years of both personal use, and professional use on Clicky, I've only had positive experiences, so I've stuck with them because of how easy it is to implement on any site.

But now, for the past 10 days, Paypal has had a MAJOR bug affecting ALL ACCOUNTS, and I can't find any major stories about it. Well, this story needs to be told, so here we are. We have already lost thousands of dollars already and we are NOT HAPPY.

So what is this horrible bug? New Paypal customers cannot pay another person or company through Paypal unless they are both located in the same country. This started on May 15 and is still not fixed. Being that 2/3 of our users and money comes from overseas, this is a serious problem. Paypal did not even acknowledge it until May 22, seven days after the issue started. Of course, that acknowledgement isn't on Paypal's actual web site, but just their developer site that probably 0.01% of their customers go to on a regular basis. Helpful!

The problem is a simple drop down box. When a customer enters their billing information into Paypal to pay someone else, the first thing they do is select their country from the drop down. But, the problem is that no matter what country they choose, the page will refresh and automatically switch back to the country of the merchant, which in our case would be "United States". As previously mentioned, a majority of our customers live outside the US, and a lot of them are signing up for a new Paypal account just to pay for Clicky. This happens for both subscription signups and invoices, which means we currently have NO WAY to directly bill any of our customers who don't already use Paypal.

As a web developer, I know how easy this problem is to fix. It's a drop down box. This problem could be fixed in a matter of minutes, so why has it taken them 10+ days? How many millions of dollars has this bug cost all of Paypal's customers? I would be so ashamed of myself if I was the one responsible for this bug, that I would quit immediately and go apply for a job flipping burgers, because that would be more my skill level.

It's absolutely unbelievable for a company of this size, that so many internet businesses rely on to collect money from their customers, has had a problem of this magnitude for 10 days and counting.

Un. Flipping. Believable.

Update

So happy this is getting some attention! I submitted it to a number of sites, and both Center Networks and TechCrunch decided it was newsworthy. Valleywag also responded and said they would be writing about it. Hopefully this will prioritize the bug at Paypal. Day 11 now. Unbelievable.

Update 2

A genius user over in the tech crunch comments has posted a workaround for this issue. What it boils down to is using a geolocation product (such as the one we use from maxmind.com) to look up the user's country before sending them to paypal. Then you include "&country=XX" on the end of the paypal URL, where XX is the 2 letter country code (US, DE, FR, ES, etc). Then when the customer goes to pay, the country you sent in will be the default country! Of course, there's no way to 100% guarantee that the country lookup is correct, but most geolocation products are over 99% accurate on the country level, and I'd wager that a 99% chance of selecting the right country is much higher than the chance of both you and your customer living in the same country (which would be ~33% probability for us).

Of course, I'm still EXTREMELY mad at Paypal over all this BS, and we will be dropping them the first chance we get.

Update 3

Day 12 and still no fix. The posted workaround above is working well for us, thankfully, we have successfully taken in money from quite a few overseas accounts now. Thanks, random TC commenter! I owe you a beer.

This has now made it to the front pages of news.ycombinator and reddit. Thanks to everyonw who has been submitting this around the web. I was never expecting this much attention.

Also seeing lots of comments on other sites about how I'm stupid because I don't know what it's like to work on a project as big as Paypal. It is true I have not worked on any projects as big as Paypal that have long deployment times, but that doesn't make this an acceptable excuse. Any company that has long deployment times also needs to have emergency rollout provisions. What if they made an update that brought down the ENTIRE Paypal payment system, for every type of payment, for ALL users. Suddenly ALL eBay users can't pay for their auctions. You're telling me that it would be perfectly fine and dandy for it to be on day 12 now without a fix, and oh they just have lots of servers and it takes a while to change stuff, so hey whats the big deal? Yeah. Ok. Sure thing guys.

Update 4

Thanks to Clicky being so awesome, at least I know people from eBay have been watching. Check out this screenshot of all the visitors to our blog today who are from the eBay IP pool. I assume Paypal is probably part of that, not sure if they share offices or not...

By the way, the problem is still not fixed. And over 25,000 people have read this article now over the past 2 days.

Update 5

Day 13 and still broken.

Update 6

Day 14, issue seems to be resolved now, I am able to choose a country when I pretend like I'm creating a new account.

Two weeks to fix this.
64 comments |   May 25 2008 1:29pm

New date selection options



A long time ago we had a calendar, but you could only view one day at a time. Then we brought in support for viewing more than one day at a time, but the calendar went away. If you knew what you were doing, you could edit the "date" variable in the URL to access any date or date range you wanted, but most people didn't know that and were stuck with the 10 or so preset options that we had created.

So, as you can see, now we have a new calendar, that includes the ability to select a custom date range. There has been lots of demand for this so I hope everyone likes it. You can access the calendar by clicking the last item in the date selection menu, labeled "Custom date range..."

:)
9 comments |   May 21 2008 3:35pm

Clicky discussion forums are live, get your chat on

I posted a message on the dashboard yesterday but thought I should post something on here too for all of our RSS readers who don't stop by too often.

We have just launched our discussion forums, which we hope provide a better sense of community, as well as create an established, searchable database of help and feature request topics for future generations to peruse when in need. So stop by and chat with other Clicky users if you'd like :)
0 comments |   May 17 2008 1:01pm

Clicky is hiring

Clicky Web Analytics is growing fast. We are seeking an additional programmer to help us grow even faster. We are offering $36K yearly salary with health benefits, performance based incentives and the possibilty of a small equity stake.

Please send resume as plain text in email body (no attachments) to jobs at roxr dot net.

Requirements:
* You live in the Portland, Oregon area
* You have at least 3 years experience with PHP/MySQL
* You have designed a relational database and are familiar with index optimization
* You know Javascript, in particular jQuery and "Ajax"
* You know CSS and HTML inside and out, and you prefer to write them by hand because the thought of using a program such as Dreamweaver gives you nightmares
* You have basic Linux skills

Things that would make you head and shoulders above your competition:
* You are a Linux expert
* You have web analytics experience, as an end user or programmer
* You have built "widgets" on top of a third party API
* You have built computers from parts
* You have experience with high-load applications
* The terms apache.conf, my.cnf, and php.ini mean something to you
* You are decent with Photoshop or equivalent
* You have used some form of source control - CVS, Subversion, etc
* You strongly believe Mario Kart SNES is the best game in the Mario Kart franchise
17 comments |   May 08 2008 3:41pm

New visualization tools!

The default dashboard now includes beautiful line graphing functionality, but if you've customized it at all, then you have to enable it manually. Go to your dashboard preferences (click the icon in your tab bar, then "dashboard" sub-tab) and check the box "For historical data, show line graphs instead of simple HTML bar graphs". Then you'll start seeing things like this:



Don't you just want to eat that because it looks so good?

(Please note: If this is not working on your computer, please email Sean a screenshot of what you see, along with the exact URL in your browser's location bar. I need to know what OS you are using and what browser (including the version), e.g. Windows IE 7, Mac Firefox 2, etc. Also please verify that you have Javascript enabled and at least Flash version 8 installed on your computer. Thanks!)

The date drop down menu lets you choose between last 30 days, 90 days, or 180 days, for whatever it is you are viewing. If you have a custom date range selected (globally speaking), then that option will be shown as well.

The "Compare..." menu is where things get a lot more interesting! Much like our visitor filtering feature allows you to compare two sub-sets of visitors side by side (example), this lets you compare two pieces of data as well. Except that they don't have to be directly related, although you might find that they are once you view the data. For example you could compare...

Searches for "Clicky" vs visitors from New York City
Hits to your homepage vs visitors using Internet Explorer
Visitors from social media sites vs bounce rate (Hint: strong correlation)

If you have the line graphs enabled, you can use them to view the historical data for ANY items on your dashboard, or any item in any of the other "popular data" pages, by clicking the trend percentage figure (the red or green percentage on the right hand side). I mention this because based on our own click tracking (with Clicky of course), not many people view the trend data for individual items, so I thought I'd mention it in case you didn't know how.

Full functionality of all of this is available to everyone through Sunday. After that time, the comparison feature will only be available to "Pro" members, just like the visitor comparison feature is. The date selection feature will only be available to premium members (any level), since free users don't have access to more than 30 days of data anyways. If you want to upgrade, the upgrade page is here.

Of all the requests we get, this has been in the top 5 for as long as I can remember. I'm so excited to have it in the product finally! I've always liked the simple HTML bar graphs we've had but I knew we needed something new. One of the problems is that I didn't really like any of the available options that I could find - either way too expensive, way too overused (fusioncharts), or just plain old crappy (but usually free). The other problem was that none of us at Clicky know Flash at all, so we were unable to develop our own solution. Then one day recently, someone sent in another email on this subject, but they included a reference to a product called Open Flash Chart. I checked it out and knew almost immediately that this was what we had been waiting for.

I'd like to conclude with some linky love to the developer of this software: Free flash graphs and charts! We're also considering paying him a large sum of money to make some customizations for us, because there's a few things I want to do that I just can't at the moment, one of them being there's no way to have different lines in the graph have unique tool tips. This problem is apparent when you select the "same item, previous period" option - the date shown for when you hover over the previous period line is the same as the current period, instead of 30, 60, or 180 days ago. I also think the tool tip shouldn't jump around quite as sporadically as it does when hovering over the values. But these are minor issues, so go enjoy the new features already!
33 comments |   May 08 2008 12:11am

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