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Warning: Avoid Selling a Website at BIN with Paypal Payment on Flippa

04 February on Online Business   Tags: , , ,

I haven't been active for more than 2 years in website flipping, and my comeback is giving me a mixed feeling.

I love online business and make money online as a business. I love the opportunities and I love the buying and selling website activities, even though I was just starting out again.

But it's somewhat annoying knowing that my comeback would bring a bit of an issue for me.

Flippa BIN with Paypal woes

I was selling a website on Flippa. I know that they are the best in buying and selling websites on the web today, and I can't see any competitors on sight. They have nearly $100 million in sales overall, and nearly half of the website listed was ended up getting sold - that's a living proof that Flippa helps website owners and flippers in getting things done - kudos for that, Flippa!

However, I have a little incident when selling one of my websites. It was a relist, as the first listing was not successful - no worries, this is completely normal. However, things are getting "interesting" on the relisting of the same website.

For the first listing, I set no BIN (Buy-It-Now) price - the sky's the limit. But as I learn that people are not that interested in this particular website, I set a BIN, along with a Paypal payment option. So, when you BIN the listing, you need to pay immediately via Paypal to close the deal.

I thought that the above will help me and the buyers to close the deal faster. I was wrong.

As the auction is halfway there, I was excited getting a payment notification via my email, as I receive fund from Paypal. As promised, I pay the "success fee" or commission to Flippa for this - also automatically charged by the system.

But then, I get a message from the buyer that the auction is NOT automatically ended, as intended! So, the auction is still running as if there's nothing wrong with it. This confuses me AND my buyer. I have contacted Flippa for support and get a reply that this issue will be forwarded to the development team. I can wait...

But things are getting "interesting" a moment later: 2 days after the error - still unresolved - my listing was getting another BIN WITH Paypal payment from a different buyer. And this time, the auction was closed automatically and the latest buyer was declared an auction winner.

Wow - confusion, confusion!

Things get complicated. I messaged the latest buyer that the listing has actually had a winner, although technically not shown in the listing. He said he is willing to wait.

But the first buyer is getting impatient - for an obvious reason: He has paid but he hasn't received the "goods." I totally understand this, so I decided to go for the first buyer and message the second buyer that I have refunded his money.

But felling wronged, the second buyer was dissatisfied - again, for an obvious reason. I try to reason, explaining to him that the first buyer is the original auction winner, and finally he understood.

All of that happens, with Flippa support seems to stay away from this issue. I've send more support messages - FIVE of them, actually, detailing the progress of the issue - with no response.

I expect Flippa to "mediate" this - they are the marketplace anyway, and this "dispute" is not actually worth-disputing as there's no scam involved - it's their system glitch. But as the system declares someone else as a winner, this issue was becoming bigger.

I can understand system mishaps - I am involved in IT and although I am not considering myself as a proper programmer, I do understand a thing or two about programming, especially PHP/MYSQL.

I also understand that Paypal integration can go awry, as it involves a third party service. But I don't know that not giving explanation is included in the package.

All a buyer or seller needs is just an explanation that they have taken a good care of this issue and will resolve this in timely manner. That's all.

Lessons learned

You know what, this is the first time I use BIN with Paypal payment on Flippa. I should've done what I'd normally do: With caution. It's my mistake, and lessons well learned.

Lessons learned: If you are going to sell a website on Flippa with BIN option, DON'T attach it with direct Paypal payment. Without a direct Paypal payment, you will have the option to accept or reject BIN offer. So, when something is wrong, system-wise, you can always reject future bids until the issue is finally resolved or the auction ends.

Furthermore, you need to be aware of the potential issues when you are dealing with a service which integrates with another third-party service, especially when it involves payments.

Paypal has just experiencing a world-wide issue, and I assume it has been resolved; it seems that it isn't. But things happen.

With regard to Flippa, I will always be a big fan. Bitter? Nah. Disappointed? A little. I was just hoping Flippa mediates dispute better and step up and give buyers and sellers a better peace of mind.

To avoid, I'd just stay away from using Paypal direct payment via Flippa. The intended-convenience wasn't worth the trouble when things go wrong.

In the end, I have achieved my goal of selling my site. I was kinda hoping the auction went smoothly; the transaction itself went smoothly (a great buyer!), but auction-wise, it could be better.

Update Feb 04, 2013 11:27 UTC - I've received a reply on my support ticket; the Flippa auction has been updated, now declaring the first buyer as the winner. An error still present in the feedback section, but it's a great progress. I'm still awaiting for the actual success fee refund (due to double charge), although it's been stated in the support ticket that it has been refunded.

Many thanks, guys, for taking care of this!

Photo credit: Milkwooders via photopin cc

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Ivan Widjaya is a web publisher and online business owner working from home (or anywhere I want)

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