What Happens When PayPal Breaks

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I went to login at Paypal.com around 1:30PM ET yesterday and the submission of my email address and password resulted in a "500 Internal Server Error".

This was with Firefox 3.51, so then I tried Internet Explorer 7 and purposely supplied the wrong password. Same thing. Then I tried the wrong email address to see if the problem was just my account -- it wasn't.

After a few more tries, the Internal Server Error was replaced with the announcement below that they are "sprucing things up" and the site will be down for roughly the next 14 hours.

Curious about the details, I clicked on the link to the PayPal Announcement Board. There weren't many details, as the screen shot below indicates.

Nothings perfect, that's to be expected. PayPal's website has been very reliable in the time I've used it. But, it's how a company deals with problems that shows what they are made of. Here's hoping they offer details...

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Update 2:18PM ET The Announcement Board now says

****Login/Payment Issues****
We are aware that you currently may be unable to log into your PayPal account or to complete a payment. We apologize for any inconvenience this may be causing. Please note that we are working to resolve these issues as soon as possible and will provide further updates as they become available.

A screen shot is below

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Update 3:38PM ET I was able to login to my Paypal account. The announcements page hasn't been updated.

According to Techcrunch Paypal is providing more information on the problem to their developers.

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Update 7PM ET The warning about login problems was removed from the Paypal Announcement Board.

I have logged into Paypal.com a few times today and there was no announcement there are about the problems.

I don't think anyone expects perfection, certainly no one familiar with computers. But, customers are owed an explanation when things go wrong.

This story, "What Happens When PayPal Breaks" was originally published by Computerworld.

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