Paypal vs Google Checkout
November 17, 2011 9:24 AM   Subscribe

Trying to decide between using PayPal & Google Checkout. Would love thoughts/advice from people who have been on the merchant side as well as you on the buyer side: which are you more comfortable with?

I'm launching a little webshop selling a single item using a "buy now" button. Initially, I was going with Paypal since I've had an account with them forever but lots of people say that they "hate paypal" from a buyer perspective. I've had a lot of trouble figuring out how to get Paypal to display shipping costs on the checkout page. You'd think this fundamental aspect of online selling would be more obvious but I've yet to find an answer.

So, I thought I'd turn to the mighty google. Google checkout seems a little simpler to me (I'm an old-school html type who is rusty but I know a few things) but, again, the shipping totals are elusive. If anyone has knowledge of how to make sure shipping gets included in the checkout total, would love to hear it.

However, since I seem to be getting hung up at this basic level, I'm wondering if one or the other is better for sales. I think their fees are the same so I'm left with clarity and shipping smoothness on my side as well as customer support -- who is better? And wondering on the buyer side if one or the other is more trusted. Paypal seems to have more market recognition but people trust the Google, don't they?
posted by amanda to Technology (28 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
There's not reason you can't have both.

Personally I prefer paypal but I've only used google checkout once and only because it was the only option offered.

Have you set up shipping rates in your paypal account profile? (it might help if you told us what you've already tried)
posted by missmagenta at 9:28 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I prefer Paypal because I haven't used Google checkout. Paypal is easy because all I have to do is log on -- I don't have to set up a new account or grab a card.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:31 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, I've set up shipping rates. I'm going to try to start fresh on that and go through all the steps again because I seem to be missing something.

Interesting idea to offer both. I wonder about the headaches of managing inventory on the backend. Might be a bit too much at least for the initial launch.
posted by amanda at 9:39 AM on November 17, 2011

For me, I am much more likely to buy with Paypal as all I have to do is enter my login info. If something requires me to get my credit card or sign up for a new service, I usually don't bother. When it takes work I think I'll get it later but most of the time I don't come back.
posted by saradarlin at 9:45 AM on November 17, 2011

As a buyer I strongly prefer Paypal. It works much more seamlessly & intuitively to me -- but I've also had my account since they were beta. The few times I've used Google checkout it feels awkward and can be confusing to navigate, get totals, shipping fees, etc. - I've even had problems logging in with it. It's like the system was released before it was fully developed, it "isn't quite done cooking yet." I have had a couple of times, when shopping at small online merchants, that if all they offered was google checkout I would stop using their site and shop elsewhere. Just my $.02.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 9:50 AM on November 17, 2011

I dislike PayPal because of their crappy customer service and the fact that they arbitrarily freeze peoples accounts sometimes. The only reason I have a PayPal account at all is because a lot of smaller merchants have PayPal as the only funding option. If given the option I would pick Google Checkout, although if there is an option to just directly give credit card information I will usually just do that.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:52 AM on November 17, 2011 [5 favorites]

I think it can go both ways. We get a MUCH better rate w/ Google Checkout so we only offer that - and we just stress to people YOU DO NOT NEED A GOOGLE EMAIL TO USE THIS because that seems to be a common misconception.

That said, if there is no real reason to use one over the other for you (monetarily) then offering both is fine. I'd just keep my eyes on PayPal. Transfer money out as often as possible - like every week or whatever makes sense for you. Do not keep a big balance with them, no matter what they offer you. PayPal is not a bank. You are only sort of covered by Reg E, and totally covered by the Patriot Act, so they have a great platform set up where you as a consumer have nearly no cover and they can do anything they want.

Google has done like, one really arbitrary thing that annoyed the hell out of me. I can't remember what it was at this point, so I think that means it wasn't a big deal. GC transfers your money out on the regular and so you don't have to worry about the same issues as PayPal in that regard.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:54 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would find it easier to use paypal because I already set it up. However, I'd jump at the chance and do the extra work to use google since I hate paypal (and don't yet hate google . . .)
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:02 AM on November 17, 2011

Agreeing with Medieval Maven on transferring money out of Paypal quickly if you do use it. I had a client (IAAL, but IANYL) who had nearly $20,000 "frozen" in his account by Paypal and after a year of trying to get it, finally hired me to get it out of his account. After some research, I found that this was not uncommon. You can Google it. I also found that Paypal had entered into a settlement agreement with the Attorney Generals of many states for this and other unscrupulous business activities.

It seemed really shady that it only required some thinly-veiled threats in a letter from me, a lawyer, for them to voluntarily release it. My client had tried mightily before hiring me and got absolutely nowhere. But a simple letter from a lawyer and they quickly released the money???? I have never had such an easy case in my career. But I thought it odd that all of Paypal's alleged reasons for the freeze vanished upon a simple letter from a lawyer.**

**And while I pride myself on being a good lawyer, the letter was nothing special or otherwise spectacular.
posted by murrey at 10:16 AM on November 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

Single data point: I will never use PayPal. If a site uses that as their only purchasing option, I shop elsewhere.

I've heard enough horror stories about frozen funds and unresponsive support that I wouldn't trust using them as a merchant, either.
posted by ook at 10:19 AM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have used both PayPal and Google Checkout as a buyer without problems, however given the choice I prefer Google Checkout. I've had none of the problems that cuddles.mcsnuggy described above. Just to check, I just bought something from using the Google Checkout. All I had to do was put in my google account password and confirm. I've used it before so I did not need to input any billing/shipping or form of payment info.

I don't really get how it could be difficult to navigate because there was nothing to navigate. Once I entered my password I was taken to a page to review my order and all I needed to do was click on the "place my order now" button at the bottom of the page. It was just as easy and intuitive as PayPal with a cleaner site design. I wouldn't necessarily not use a site because it only offered PayPal, but to iterate what I said above, given a choice I prefer Google Checkout.
posted by kaybdc at 10:41 AM on November 17, 2011

Another single data point: I used to use PayPal. They froze my account due to an error that was theirs. Their approach is that all customers are guilty until proven innocent. I will never use them again.

I sell two items. I now use a real shopping cart (E-junkie; $5/month), Authorize.Net, and a merchant services provider. It was a little painful to set up but works far more smoothly than PayPal did, payments are automatically deposited daily into my REAL bank account, and the buying process looks way more professional to my buyers.
posted by ceiba at 10:49 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have Paypal and I like it because I don't need to enter my credit card details.

I've never used Google Checkout, but if that's the only option you had, it wouldn't stop me from buying from your website.

I really like it when a website has multiple payment choices, if that's feasible from a fees perspective.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:54 AM on November 17, 2011

Google announced today that Checkout is being disconnected and rolled into Google Wallet. So you need to investigate what is different about Wallet.
posted by COD at 10:58 AM on November 17, 2011

I strongly detest PayPal and their monopolizing, defrauding, deceiving, stealing, opaque practices. That they have continued to be dominant is some kind of modern maurading miracle.

After a decade of nearly weekly online purchases, they are probably the only online merchant I've EVER had a problem with, both as a buyer and as a merchant.

The only time I will begrudgingly use PayPal is when it is the only option, and even then, I question whether I want complete the purchase enough to give PayPal a cut of the transaction.
posted by barnone at 10:59 AM on November 17, 2011

For what it's worth, the times that I've used Google checkout were in 2010. And it was definitely buggy - I have a google account but it wouldn't let me log in, the text wouldn't all fit on the screen, buttons didn't appear where they should have, etc. -- it was really a mess and not just with one retailer. I can't speak to their current system because I've been avoiding them this last year after that. I would imagine it's likely they've improved since then, though; so of course YMMV.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 11:08 AM on November 17, 2011

I really don't like PayPal for the reasons already mentioned and abstain from purchases or donations when it is the only possible payment option. Google Checkout didn't give any problems so far.
posted by Triton at 11:15 AM on November 17, 2011

If you only offer Google checkout, I cannot* buy your product, as it's not possible to open an account without a creditcard. (PayPal can be authorized to withdraw money from a bank account directly)

* I exaggerate; it would just be extremely inconvenient and costly to do so.
posted by HFSH at 11:20 AM on November 17, 2011

I work at a fairly large ecommerce company, and we switched from google checkout to paypal recently because no one was using google checkout. Paypal has been a hit, especially for our mobile customers. Even as a bigger company, they were some what of a PITA to work with in the negotiating stage. I didn't deal with them at that point but I heard about it from those that did.

I personally feel the same way about paypal. Its so convenient that I use it, even though as a customer I've gotten screwed by a company that kept telling me something was delayed but on the way up until the 45 days to file a dispute had passed. So if its a shady looking company I'll use my credit card directly. If it's a bigger company or one I've done business with before, I'll use paypal because its so easy.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 12:00 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, the times that I've used Google checkout were in 2010..

I don't know, I've been using it since at least 2008 (I double checked my Gmail and that's the first recorded receipt that I have from them saved in my inbox) and don't remember having any of the problems described. I'm not discounting that c.s had issues, I just wonder if the problems were browser related --which not performing equally well on all browsers is in and of itself a valid "issue" or if it was just bad luck.

I think that the one problem with Google Checkout is that it just isn't as widely used as paypal on most websites (or at least as far as I have found). I can see some people, especially those that haven't been burned by paypal, not wanting to have more than one of that type of account and just sticking with paypal because they've had the account for awhile and they can use it on more websites.
posted by kaybdc at 12:26 PM on November 17, 2011

lots of people say that they "hate paypal" from a buyer perspective

This is a vocal minority, for better or for worse. If you talk to other merchants you'll find that PayPal absolutely dominates the online payment market; not having it will definitely cost you sales, and more sales than not having Google Checkout etc.

Generally, the more payment methods you can offer the better.
posted by smoke at 1:25 PM on November 17, 2011

I am happy with paypal. I would add another option as well, but it would require a site rebuild that I don't want to do. Their customer service has been extraordinarily good in my 12 years of using them. I also like that they generate my reports for me, so I save on accounting time.

I mostly use them as my 'merchant provider', as a customer can do a straight credit card checkout without logging in to paypal. And, for the size of my business, the fees are less than if I went with a regular bank as my provider.

I do transfer all my money immediately into my own accounts, as I wouldn't want anyone holding on to my money that wasn't me.

for what it is worth, I have heard good things about google as well, but don't have personal experience with them.

I'm very happy with them.
posted by Vaike at 2:19 PM on November 17, 2011

I dislike PayPal because of their crappy customer service and the fact that they arbitrarily freeze peoples accounts sometimes.

For the record Google Checkout actually has WORSE customer service (only a forum, and a barely answered email that refers you to the forum) than PayPal who actually has a phone number that real people answer.

Google Checkout also arbitrarily freezes people's accounts, I currently have one friend who has been trying to get close to $1,000 back from them for over a year and another who just had her account frozen with about $60 in it. You just don't really hear about this happening because so few people use Google Checkout.

For the record, I'm not saying PayPal is better than Google, just that Google isn't actually better than PayPal.

For the OP, more people use paypal than google checkout so that would be my advice and for pretty much only that reason. Have you looked into Amazon Payments? When given the choice my customers choose that about 50% of the time (paypal the other 50%, I think I've only had one person ever choose google checkout).
posted by magnetsphere at 2:23 PM on November 17, 2011

If given the choice between PayPal and Amazon Payments/any other system that lets me input CC numbers, I always choose the latter. PayPal has frozen my account two times for stupid reasons and routinely rejects my CC info when I don't log in to my account so I avoid using it unless absolutely necessary. I never had any trouble with Amazon Payments so far.
posted by Bangaioh at 3:00 PM on November 17, 2011

As a seller/buyer, I'm fine with Paypal. I've had issues with it on both ends, but nothing dramatic, and when I was selling quite heavily all of my customers preferred Paypal to Google checkout so I never offered it. I've personally never used Google checkout, but I wouldn't necessarily run away from someone only offering that. I don't know how useful it is to offer both.
posted by sm1tten at 3:58 PM on November 17, 2011

I'm one of the vocal minority who hate Paypal for the above-mentioned shady business practices. I will go out of my way (to a moderate degree of inconvenience) to avoid it, and have at times chosen not to buy from a merchant when Paypal was the only payment method they offered.
posted by Lexica at 7:13 PM on November 17, 2011

As a buyer -- I don't know if you're only planning on accepting credit cards through whichever system you would choose, but as a semi-frequent online buyer, I only feel comfortable doing business with merchants who accept echecks or direct funds through Paypal (although, I'm willing to mail checks or money orders through the post, which is rarely an option anymore). I've already set up my Paypal account, and I recall it was a huge pain to do so. I don't use a credit card, so I have had a few disappointments realizing that I can't purchase from select stores. You're probably not going to please everyone, but I just wanted to point out the greater flexibility of Paypal vs. Google payments from a potential buyer's point of view.

[and I AM wary of Paypal's practices, but I already have it set up and monitor it closely.]
posted by Mael Oui at 8:48 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

If the above comment is correct and your cost is significantly less through Google, offer both but Google at a discounted price.

I've not gotten bitten by PayPal but I have absolutely read the horror stories. I use them for online purchases, I have used them for ebay stuff also, but I've not sold anything there in a long while.

I've used Google payment system a number of times, no problems, simple, or so it seems to me.

And now I'm sortof interested in Amazon payments, after reading what I've read in this thread...
posted by dancestoblue at 1:25 AM on November 18, 2011

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