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PayPal Double Payments

Double Payment Problem

We have had some recent issues with a small number of members getting double billed for their renewal through PayPal. So far it all appears to be “pilot error”. In one case a member appears to have just paid twice about five minutes apart and in the other cases members have paid manually when they have a recurring subscription. Note this is a new problem. We have had no issues in 3 1/2 years of the new site software but now have suddenly had issues (small, less than 5 members) over the last six week.
Double Payment

In the double payment case you have to pay via PayPal then come back to the payments page and pay a 2nd time. There are mechanisms in PayPal that the site uses to avoid a double payment from a simple resend or refresh. Basically each time you come into the payments page there is a unique, random transaction ID created. That transaction can never be repeated. So if you go through and pay, hit the back button or refresh, you cannot double pay. If you complete your payment and come back around and come to the payments page with a fresh, new “click” (aka visit) then you get a new transaction code and can pay again.

We think that the double payment case come when members come back to the site and don’t see an updated renewal. The challenge is that with the new banking rules PayPal is more conservative in posting the payment to the site. Even when you come back to the site from PayPal that does not confirm payment. PayPal posts a seperate confirmation based on their own processing. If you are active on PayPal or fund the transaction directly with a credit card or PayPal balance then the confirmation will usually be immediate. But with some bank account funded payments the confirmation can be delayed by several hours in many cases and up to 2-3 business days. This has been covered before in the “How to Join” article. If you need immediate access please contact us – we’re happy to extend the membership for a week early if we see there is payment in progress (or even if you just tell us the check is in the mail).

Redundant Payment with SubscriptionWe believe the onset of the problem is a combination of two issues. A bit over a year ago we resolved a technical issue and were able to start offering “auto-pay” options for membership (due to technical limitations and PayPal rules subscriptions from the old site software could not carry over). This last winter at member requests we moved the reminder emails out to start at 30 days instead of two weeks.

The PayPal subscriptions automatically charge and post to the site approximately two weeks before the expiration. We believe (and have confirmation in a one case) that members are confused by the renewal email and/or forget they have a recurring subscription that will go automatically. Unfortunately the site software is a bit dumb about this right now, so regardless of auto-renewal and/or one-shot payment you get your renewal email at 30 days (and a couple of more at two weeks and expiration).

On the short term – the only way to tell if you have an auto-renewal subscription is to check on your PayPal account. Login to PayPal, then go to the “My Account” link and do as follows:

On that page as noted click update, you will see a list of recurring subscriptions and other auto-payments. Look for Beech Aero Club as noted below:

If you see us and “Active” you have auto-renewal. If not, you don’t.

What if I have a double payment?You have two choices, get your extra money back or just be paid up for the extra year. In all cases the site software properly credits both years of payments. If you look you’ll see your expiration is two years out. If you want your money back we ask that you contact us – we will happily refund the extra payment and we are happy to refund via PayPal or send you check as you prefer. You can use the web site to contact us for refund or the contact the vendor link in your PayPal payment history.

We do ask that you do contact us directly and not use the PayPal dispute or request a “chargeback” from your credit card unless you feel we are not responsive. That costs the club extra money in penalities and if we get too many it can impact our ability to use PayPal. The effective reality is that without PayPal we cannot take payment online and without online payments the club would have a tough time maintaing a sustainable member base.

What are we doing to fix this ?

We are going to work on making a few small changes that should help this. It is just that it is a bit tricky – PayPal tells us that the payment is a subscription or a single payment – but the site software doesn’t currently keep this information. That being said we will make a few changes:


  • We will change the payments page to warn you if you have more than six months left on your subscription.
  • We will add a status to indicate if your current membership is on auto-renewal.
  • If you are on auto-renewal we will not send a reminder until 10 days out – that gives time for the normal auto-renew to post.

    Item #1 will get done fairly quickly – items 2-3 will take a bit more work.

    Thank you for your support and patience.

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