Thursday, July 31, 2008

Amazon Payments and Simple Pay - will be big (and a bug)

PayPal, about a hundred years late, has established a signed email infrastructure. I don't see PayPal/eBay phishing scams on Gmail any more, because anything unsigned is instantly deleted.

So they're trying to clean up a bit. Too late for me. They played a dirty game too long - I want 'em gone.

I thought Google Checkout would do the trick. Much as I like Checkout though, Google hasn't done that much with it. (Given a choice, I usually choose a Google Checkout vendor.) In particular Checkout never went person-to-person, and it never went international.

Maybe Amazon will do better with Simple Pay and Amazon Payments.

Simple Pay is very much like Google Checkout (confusingly, Amazon Checkout is more like a store front service). It's business oriented, but I went through part of the signup and it's trivial -- any individual proprietor could easily use Simple Pay.

Simple Pay is also available for non-profit donations (so is Google Checkout, but we couldn't get that to work for MN Special Hockey). Here's their cut:

For Transactions >= $10:

  • 2.9% + $0.30 for all transactions

For Transactions < $10:

  • 5.0% + $0.05 for all transactions
Amazon payments is even more interesting. It allows phone-to-phone cash transfers and online cash transfers to any person.

I signed up. I can now send money to "anyone's" (I suspect they really mean "anyone in the US") email or phone, it goes against my regular credit card.

Update: You might want to wait a bit before using Amazon Payments. I, of course, found a bug. Amazon Payment has assigned me the name of a corporate admin who's card was a available for my use in my Amazon account. That card was never my primary payment card, and it's not been used for ages, but it was there. Extremely annoying. I've deleted it and remove the name from my address book, but the identity assignment remains. I'll update this note with Amazon's response.

Update 8/8/08: Yeah, it's a bug -- though Amazon thinks it's only a cosmetic problem.

It took me quite a few emails until Amazon stopped sending me automated, useless, support responses. Sadly, I had to resort to one of those upper case, exclamation point, adjective infested "YOU HAVE A BUG!!!!" emails. Modern email decision support systems treat these the same way voice recognition systems treat obscenities -- they route to a human.

That's so sad.

This is what Amazon finally responded with:
I have reviewed our previous correspondence with you, and I offer my sincere apologies for any misunderstanding thus far.

I'm sorry to hear about the difficulty you experienced with the name on your Amazon Payments account.

At this time, I do see that the name listed for your account is John G Faughnan, and your Flexible payments account may be showing as xxxxx.

We are aware that the Payments website may greet you by the name associated with a credit card rather than the name on your account. I have passed this feedback along to our developers. We are always happy to get this type of feedback from our members.

We will update the display name for your Amazon Payments account for you. This change should be completed within 1-2 weeks.

Please be assured that in the meantime your Payments account will operate correctly in spite of the name difference...
The problem arose because one of the credit cards on my Amazon account belonged to a corporate admin, that happened to be the name Payments randomly picked for a "greeting name".

Update 8/19/08: Amazon has some support issues. Either that, or their outsourced support organization is suffering from very high levels of turnover.

Today's episode:
I reviewed your Payments account and saw that the name associated with credit card on the account is "xxxxxxxxxxxxx" and the one associated with Amazon Payment is "yyyyyyyyyyyyyy". Please advise which one needs to be changed/updated on the account.

As always, please feel free to contact us should you have future questions or comments. If you need to contact us back, you can do so by using the secure form at the following specialized link to assure we receive your message:
Of course all my prior correspondence was clear on which was the correct name, and, as noted above, there's no way to respond to the message.

I tried the "specialized link". The saga continues.

11/1/08: The bug remains. Clearly, they can't fix it.

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