How not to decline a transaction – ebay and paypal 2013

I was amazed today trying to checkout on ebay that ebay and Paypal still haven’t figured out how the transaction flow is supposed to work. If a paypal transaction declines when checking out on ebay, rather than giving an error like reason would suggest, they just dump you on a login page. Yes folks, a login page. I’m more or less laughing at this instead of being upset because it’s so absurd that I can hardly believe it myself. I repeated the process 3 times just to rule out user error and took some screen shots for entertainment. The ebay checkout page: The payment page: The decline page: I was only able to figure out this was a decline when I logged in again, and then finally there was a cryptic message about the card being declined

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How not to decline a transaction – ebay and paypal 2013

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Love your customer and stick it to the repeat buyers, thanks hotels.com

Something that I came across today, that for lack of a better description, just flat out pissed me off. I was booking a hotel room on hotels.com, and found some interesting pricing disparaty when I logged into my hotels.com account on another computer. Initially I had searched for available hotels, and found one for $145. I logged into my account in a separate browser, and low and behold, the price went up to $220. Tried from another computer and same result. I could add the hotel to my cart and then login and the price would remain the same. So basically Hotels.com sticks it to their repeat customers and deliberately delivers them a higher price than someone that just happens to browse their site.

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Love your customer and stick it to the repeat buyers, thanks hotels.com

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The un-usability of online video

Just about every news website and blog uses online video as a means of communicating with their audience. Online video started gaining popularity several years ago with the creation of youtube and other video sharing services. Youtube gained immediate and nearly unprecedented popularity. Media companies looked at this inspiring boost in traffic and had to figure out a way to monetize online video. Putting history aside, online video is often used improperly. Companies are hanging on some antiquated TV theory that people want everything delivered in video and not in text. I’ve gotten to the point where I won’t even watch a video article online. The biggest problem people make, is using an unextraordinary video as a destination rather than additional media or commentary that accompanies an article or other piece of information

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The un-usability of online video

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The importance of hardware consistency

If you look at any of the posts I’ve done regarding server or computer setups, you’ll find some similarities in the way I set things up. After enough testing myself and reviewing other people’s experience I like to stick with certain brands and specific models of hardware when setting things up. For example, I almost always use Tyan or Supermicro motherboards for servers, Dell Optiplex computers for desktops and workstations, CentOS for server operating systems, Areca hard drive controllers, the same brand and model hard drives when possible, etc.. A few months ago we had a major server crash, and the importance of using the same hardware came blatantly apparent.

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The importance of hardware consistency

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Call your congress-person, oppose the American Firewall

In case you haven’t been paying attention to the US political landscape, there is currently a bill in progress dubbed the great American firewall . It is a thoughtless overreaching nightmare’ish bill that claims to be for preventing copyright infringement. Please read up and understand the implications of what this bill will do. There has never been a more 1984esque bill to be taken up by both houses of congress. It is absolutely ridiculous that our country would go this far just to help the massive media corporations under the veil that they are doing it for the good of the people. While supportable in concept, this is one of those “the road to hell was paved with good intentions” bills in what it will actually do. Please contact your congress person and oppose this bill.

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Call your congress-person, oppose the American Firewall

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Who are you sharing your customer data with?

I see new products and services from large retailers and large online companies all the time. Sometimes these services can be extremely helpful to the ecommerce website owners. Services such as product reviews, facebook or social media widgets, customer feedback, additional payment methods, etc., can help small websites look more authoritative and help build visitor trust. It’s trust that gets your customers to purchase from you, just as much as the prices you sell your products at, right? The internet and the companies that we routinely see operating on it have become such common names that most of us hardly stop to consider how these companies that we trust make money, and what they do with the information that we give them. When we’re talking about information on a personal level, the potential loses are fairly low if some company decides to use or share our data with others. Facebook, Google, MySpace, Linkedin, Twitter, Amazon, Walmart, Target, and just about any other major player on the internet uses your personal information in some manner. Most of the time, the worst thing that could come from misuse of your information is increased spam email or targeted advertising directed to get you to buy some product. When we look at the same information privacy scenario from a business perspective, the repercussions of sharing your information can be severe.

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Who are you sharing your customer data with?

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SEO for small businesses on a budget

Taking a break from usability and operations that I normally address. Seobook.com published an outstanding guideline on setting up and marketing a business online on a budget . The guide is straight to the point and offers a ton of good information about how to jump into SEO, analytics, hosting, and online marketing. What I like most about the article is that they give specific resources and products to make it happen, rather than the blanket, “you need to do this, find a company to do that, buy something like…” that we all suggest, all too often. Additionally, they pretty much break the costs down to about the cheapest a business can possibly get them for. Anyway, I highly recommend this article for those new site owners or site owners on a budget that need to just get started with SEO and online marketing… I will say that the article does not cover anything related to usability, design, or the actual setup of a website, which are extremely important. This article is applicable to businesses that have a website but if you are planning on setting up a website for your business, this article will give you a good direction and options of marketing, seo, and analytics, once you actually get your site up and running

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SEO for small businesses on a budget

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Payment method and credit card logo API

I just finished a simple credit card logo API which is outlined on my other blog . This offers an easy method of adding credit card logos to an ecommerce website. We designed some very clean icons for each logo. The API supports 2 sizes currently, fully dynamic sizing and margins are planned for the next update. It also supports specifying background colors. Here’s a few examples of logos generated using the API. Using: https://www.merchantequip.com/image/?bgcolor=000&logos=p|g|bml&height=75 Using: https://www.merchantequip.com/image/?bgcolor=fff&logos=v|m|a|d|jcb|dc&height=75 Using: https://www.merchantequip.com/image/?bgcolor=fff&logos=v|m|a|d|jcb|dc&height=35 The order and the exact logos can be specified through the image url string

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Payment method and credit card logo API

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What is a trust seal actually worth?

I was asked the question this week of what trust seals I would recommend a website use? Trust seals would include services like Mcafee, Truste, the BBB, Verisign SSL, etc. Putting aside any potential real benefits in security, I think that these seals can help a business increase their conversion rate. However, I think the statistics touted by the seal providers themselves are greatly exaggerated, even to the point of them being statistically impossible. I’ve seen statistics like “ over 70% increase in conversions”. While this may be theoretically possible, it’s just not plausible that the site seal somehow convinced double or more the amount of visitors to make a purchase, unless there were serious problems with the site before the seal was installed, or there wasn’t enough data for statistical significance. So, the real question is, what makes these seals justifiable

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What is a trust seal actually worth?

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What is a trust seal actually worth?

I was asked the question this week of what trust seals I would recommend a website use? Trust seals would include services like Mcafee, Truste, the BBB, Verisign SSL, etc. Putting aside any potential real benefits in security, I think that these seals can help a business increase their conversion rate.

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What is a trust seal actually worth?

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