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Paypal not sending data to my ecommerce DB

Have contact customer to ask "what did you buy?"



3:28 am on Mar 19, 2004 (gmt 0)


I’m new to this ecommerce section of webmasterworld. I recently launched my first ecommerce site. I am not a programmer so I hired someone to build it for me using the open source application, OsCommerce. (http://www.oscommerce.com/)

OsCommerce comes with many terrific out-of-the-box features; one of them is paypal integration.

In a different thread THUMPCYC mentioned he had a paypal problem where he received an email notification re: paypal payment but his shopping cart database did not record the order and he had to contact the buyer to ask “what did you purchase?” [Nobody responded to his/her post]

I have had four (4) such problems out of fifty (50) sales. Here’s what I have been able to ascertain …(PayPalDave – feel free correct/add/etc…)

When "Paypal Account Optional" is turned ON, and the customer does not choose to sign up for paypal AND they do not choose to return to the merchant site (in this case, my site!) and instead they just close their browser or go somewhere else, the order does NOT get logged into my OsCommerce database. (And the same may be true for THUMPCYC's Miva Merchant.)

Evidently, paypal sends back a piece of data to the ecommerce database to finish up the transaction.

My web developer called paypal to discuss the problem and said paypal’s position was one of non-acknowledgement of a problem.

THIS IS A PROBLEM! It would be very helpful if paypal had a third option: 1) open paypal account, 2) return to merchant and 3) finished with this transaction.

The 3rd option could bring the customer to their browser’s default start page or paypal’s home page or whatever. The main point here is that when the customer clicked the 3rd option, the necessary data would be returned to the ecommerce database to enable the order to be logged and processed.

This same problem has also happened to me once (1) to a customer who was an existing paypal member. My web developer guesses that if the server is busy or heavy network congestion that paypal does not resend the data to the ecommerce database.

In this case it would be very helpful if paypal had some kind of acknowledgement protocol that would ensure the ecommerce database received the data.

I’m not a programmer or a techie – I’m a marketer, so if I’ve said something incorrectly I apologize.

If PayPalDave or anyone else can shed some light on this serious issue, I would be most grateful.

Thank you,


7:54 pm on Mar 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Have a look through your weblogs to see if you're getting the IPN from PayPal. It could be the problem is with oscommerce / your techie.

IPN works 100% of the time for me.. Don't have optional turned on, however.


10:25 pm on Mar 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

> Don't have optional turned on

That's the problem. When you do turn ON "paypal account optional" and the customer doesn't signup up to paypal AND doesn't "return to merchant," their order doesn't get posted to the commerce database.

You receive payment but don't know what they purchased. I get 30% more sales by leaving it turned ON. Of those, 60% don't sign up or return. So, I'm working for my money...having to contact them and explain the situation and ask what they purchased.


11:07 pm on Mar 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Try looking into IPN - paypal will make a connection to alert you that someone has paid. Doesn't require the user to visit a URL.


12:27 am on Mar 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Mine just saves the data before the customer checks out. Then I validate that the order number is the same as provided by Paypal.

Try using Freeblisket TM from [weblisket.com...]

[edited by: TallTroll at 11:44 am (utc) on April 7, 2004]


1:14 am on Mar 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

Before I bust the chops of my web developer about his implementaion on IPN, can anyone confirm that they themselves have went throught their own shopping cart checkout, then on to paypal, chose NOT to open an account and did NOT click on "return to merchant" and after having done all this they looked at their ecommerce admin panel and saw their order had been placed?

I ask because I did this test and the order did not log to my ecommerce database. I waited...nothing. The moment I clicked "return to merchant" boom! the order appeared in my database.

Please reply if you have done this test.

Thank you!


1:16 am on Mar 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

How about a compromise, you simply ask your tech person nicely to look into IPN?


1:42 am on Mar 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

He has spent quite some time looking into IPN.

Before I call his coding skills into question (he's done a lot of good work for me) I'd like to have some proof that the problem I described above is not a paypal problem.


8:12 am on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I use oscommerce and this used to happen to us a lot.

It happens because at the end of the checkout process, when the customer hits the payment button they don't press the "Continue" button whilst still on the Paypal server. If they did press Continue this would transfer them and their basket contents back to your oscommerce site.

Since Paypal IPN was introduced on the latest oscommerce build we've already stopped using Paypal (for a different reason) but it's supposedly there to prevent non-orders from coming through.

Good luck!


10:36 am on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We have this problem too with our oscommerce site. We added this code:

$xx = '';
for ($i=0; $i<sizeof($order->products); $i++) {
$xx .= $order->products[$i]['qty'] . '-' . ($order->products[$i]['name']) . '**';

to modules/payment/paypal.php around line 85 on a clean file after:

$my_currency = 'USD';

and before

$process_button_string = tep_draw_hidden_field('cmd', '_xclick') .

This adds details of the products to the Item Title field on the Paypal transaction detail.

It is not a perfect solution, as there are a limited number of characters allowed in this field. We get about 4 products in there, but it depends on the length of your descriptions. You could modify the code to capture the model number which would be fewer characters if you have a large number of items per order.

For us it is better than nothing:-)

I saw it as a contrib or tip, but can't find it now to give kudos to the original author.


1:53 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Isn't IPN supposed to automatically bump users back to your specified reciever URL (checkout_process.php)? I thought that was the difference between the "paypal payment" and "paypal ipn" osC modules. Perhaps you should consider a PSP that does throw users back automatically.


10:10 am on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Good News!
The Paypal "problem" has been solved. I *think* my web developer initially implemented IPN incorrectly. Now it works beautifully! When customers select my credit card payment option and click "Place Your Order" they are brought to a paypal page that has several fields that are pre-filled-in with account data from my ecommerce store.
Through my admin panel I can see that the time from "place order" to "order success" has decreased by half. I seem to be getting fewer abandonments and I'm getting about 30% more orders from "non-paypal members."
I used to mention on my website that I "accepted credits via paypal." Now, I say that I "accept credit cards, bank debit cards and paypal."
If anyone out there has an Oscommerce shop and has had this problem and turned OFF "paypal account optional" to avoid the problem, feel free to contact me and I'll put you in touch with my web developer.



5:44 pm on Mar 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We're working with the osCommerce developers right now to improve the PayPal integration in the core distribution (so that it uses IPN). Hopefully it will be in the next milestone release of osCommerce.

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