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I Almost Lost My Domain

Last weeks have been a bit unpleasant. I had enough things to keep track of and manage in real life, but there was something else that was a lot more stressful. The idea that I could lose the very well established domain of this blog. No, I am not broke or something, I am solvent. There was a different problem and some really bad coincidences. I had to renew my domain, and I thought that it wouldn’t be a big issue since I had money on my PayPal account to do so. And here is where the drama started. Whenever I tried to hit the purchase button on WordPress, I would get redirected to a PayPal page where the payment usually takes place, except that PayPal didn’t want me to make the payment. They wanted me to add a bank account or credit card even if I had enough balance on my PayPal account. And even if there is already a bank account connected to my PayPal account.

So, I got pretty uneasy because the domain is very important to me. I contacted WordPress to help me out, but they couldn’t find out why that would be the case. But I agreed with them that it is more likely an issue on the PayPal end, because at the point you see the payment page, you’re already making use of the PayPal web service. As someone who knows how easily things can go wrong with browsers, I tested some typical things like disabling all browser expansions, cleaning cookies and cache or trying different browsers like Chrome and Firefox, but no matter what I tried, the page didn’t let me make the payment with my balance. Instead I got into an infinite loop of getting asked to add a bank account or credit card. And this with a very old and legit personal PayPal account that I heavily used in the past. In fact I used it over 8 years and also made my domain purchases with that account, so it worked in the past. But it stopped working now.

Apart from that my account was basically verified all the time because my German bank account was connected with it. You always had two options, either connect a standard bank account to it or a credit card. Or maybe even both. But here in Germany most people just have a bank account and people barely use credit cards. Didn’t matter anyway, because we didn’t even need that to verify a PayPal account. Everything was fine, until now. But with the recent issue and the page that asked me to add the details again… Why not, if it solves the issue, I gonna type my bank account into the form and be fine, I thought. Damn, I was wrong. I wasn’t sure if I had to laugh or cry when I saw the message “This bank account is already added”. That’s where I realized it’s an infinite loop and completely buggy.

So, while I was still discussing the issue with WordPress, I was also under the impression that it’s more likely to be a PayPal problem. But I thought it would be fine to drive on two tracks, because no matter where the issue came from, I wanted it to be solved as soon as possible. So, I also contacted PayPal. First via online support ticket, that was a week ago and until today I still didn’t receive an answer if you don’t count the auto-response in. I can be a very patient person, unless time is running out. So, I called them by phone and explained the issue. Didn’t really help because the first person made the impression that he had no clue about PayPal at all. The second person seemed to be a pseudo-expert and after the third call I got a person who made the impression to be able to talk about fintech related stuff, like understanding what the payment page is about and so on.

While the first two guys should look for a different job, the last seemed to have knowledge about their system and he tried to help me. But that doesn’t mean that he could solve or find the cause of the issue. He was friendly and gave me some tips I could try in the account, but that didn’t help either and then he was very clueless as well. I gave up when I found out via Google that European Steam or Flickr users had the same issues with PayPal payments. It also made clear that something on the PayPal end was really messed up, maybe with their security system, new EU regulations or just because they didn’t communicate with their customers that you now really need to add credit card info on top of the bank account details to your PayPal account. It didn’t matter anymore to me, I was done with them. That’s how you lose customers.

But then I did my research and found the WordPress page about their payment methods. It was kinda strange to see in this post that they’re offering Giropay for German customers. How could it be that I don’t see this payment method? I contacted WordPress and got help quickly. It was due to the fact that they billed me in USD in the past, which was always fine to me. But they changed it to EUR and now I could see the Giropay option. I was excited, at least until I had to type in the BIC number to find my bank in the form. My bank wasn’t listed, and a quick research made me realize that every bank in Germany boils their own soup when it’s about quick online payments. Some allow Giropay, others allow Klarna Sofort Überweisung and so on. So, while IBAN bank transactions are pretty standardized in Europe, these third-party services aren’t accepted by all bank institutes. Since WordPress doesn’t take IBAN transactions, the biggest standard in Europe, I was out of help. But since WordPress does take credit card payments, I got an idea.

I don’t need an expensive credit card, nor do I need a card that can give me a credit. I realized there are things like prepaid credit cards, which is funny, because then the term credit card doesn’t really fit anymore. But who cares if a term fits or not, these things are basically credit cards except that you have to pre-load them with money, like you do with PayPal. This was my last option. I looked for different providers and found one where you don’t even need a plastic card (which I wouldn’t ever use anyway, because we Germans love cash money). So, what I basically got was a virtual credit card account for less than €10 (fee per year), and I got access to the account within 24 hours. How handy was that? But the 24 hours of waiting time were still stressful because I didn’t know yet if WordPress would allow these prepaid cards. After 24 hours my account got approved and they already booked my first transaction that I did send via IBAN after the account creation process.

So, today in the morning I booted my system up and saw the mail that I can start using my credit card. I got sweaty hands, opened the domain section of WordPress and filled out the credit card form and pressed the pay button. A progress bar appeared and within 30 seconds or less my domain was renewed for another year until 2020. Yes, baby, I didn’t drop you. Even if credit cards are not very well adopted in Germany, because we have our own systems in place, they definitely are in the international room and I always knew that. I never really needed one but now I did. That brings me to a big question. As wide-spread as credit cards are adopted internationally, why would PayPal think that I want to add a credit card to their system if I can easily make payments with a credit card without them? Who came up with this idiotic idea? I wouldn’t wonder if this rather has something to do with some new EU regulations they have to follow, because I don’t think any CEO would come up with such a stupid idea, but who knows.

One thing is sure, that was a true battle. But at least I am now prepared for future international payments. I am honest with you, I was also fully prepared to stop blogging. I always said or thought that you need to bear with my words for some more years because I didn’t have the impression that I was tired of it yet. But without the domain I absolutely would have stopped to create content for this site. Because the truth is, if a very well established domain like mine would expire, it would have been like taking the engine out of a car. I wouldn’t have been able to continue to drive the car. If you put so much energy into something and it breaks, the motivation to start from scratch definitely would not be there anymore. Because a domain, especially after so many years, is where all the energy is stored. But I am glad I was able to solve the issue. Now it will be less problematic to renew my domain in the future. You will hear more of my stories. 🙂

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42 Comments »

  1. I have gone across the PayPal problem once (I had to allow my account to be debuted if there weren’t enough funds), it was regarding recurring payments that you don’t actively have to make. So anything that’s a subscription with tacit renewal will ask you to authorise your account to be debited even if you have enough funds… (I didn’t subscribe for the thing ont he end…)

    • The irony is that this was already set on my account. I added bank details many years ago and PayPal always took the difference from my bank account, if a couple of Euros were missing on my PayPal balance. That’s how I used PayPal, which is why it’s funny that I got into the “Add bank account” loop now after so many years. There is a bank account attached to it. And even if I would fill out the form again, it just told me I do already have the same account attached lol. Absolutely broken.

      So, it basically wanted me to add my bank details, but if I did so… it told me I have this bank account already added. Which of course makes sense, because it is. It’s absolutely broken.

      Definitely done with PayPal. Now I have a prepaid credit card… works basically like PayPal, except without PayPal lol. Funny.

  2. Wow! What a rigarmarole to do something that should have been quite simple. Also you have reminded me that I received an email from WordPress earlier this week saying that as from next year the cost of my domain will not be included in the fee I pay and that if I renew now I can keep it for another year. I have not done anything about this yet but will need to take action soon.
    I am glad that we won’t be losing you from the blogosphere just yet.

    • Absolutely. And since I had some other side-issues or things to manage in real life…. it was kinda difficult to make my head free for the PayPal issue. But it was important to renew the domain, which means I somehow had to deal with the whole issue. Pure stress these weeks 😀

      But often when you solve an issue, afterwards you realize that the whole drama was pretty good. Why? Well, I learned about something. I never was a big fan of real credit cards or debit cards that can charge my bank account… but thanks to PayPal I now discovered the world of prepaid credit cards. Pretty nifty stuff… completely independent from my bank account, only functional if pre-loaded with money… which makes it super secure because you only send money to it if you currently need money for an online purchase…. What a great discovery! Afterwards I really should thank PayPal. This credit card will prove to be very useful in the future with international online purchases. 🙂

    • Do I understand you right that they will now charge people for the plan fee + domain cost separately?

      I have no idea about these plans because I just got a domain back then without any plan. That’s how it was back then.

        • Minutes ago, Marilyn told me in the comment too. It’s just wow. Combine that with the fact that they do now exploit the email lists of people like me who just have a domain but now plan, by annoying my email followers with ads in the mails to earn more revenue…. https://diaryofdennis.com/2018/11/16/now-wordpress-com-users-have-to-bear-with-ads-in-subscription-emails/

          It’s like they can’t get the mouth full enough. Greed is so prevalent these days, everywhere… it’s sad. I mean, we all get that these services cost money, and that they can take money if they offer something… but to me, there is definitely a border when crossed, I argue they selling their souls. What I mean is profit maximization to the last dime until the product/service starts to suffer. It’s nuts these days. There is no limit anymore, these corporations never get enough.

        • They haven’t OFFERED us anything. They are simply charging us more for the same stuff by parceling it separately. There’s no trade here. It’s a 25% rise in cost for nothing additional. I paid in advance and will deal with the price rise next year. I’m not feeling optimistic.

        • I think this is what they know. We establish our sites and afterwards they change conditiions because they know how problematic it would be to find an alternative or hosting our own sites. Pretty aggressive business they are doing right now in my opinion.

    • Wait… I checked the plan page out…. Now they say “Free Domain for One Year” which is what you are talking about. Wasn’t it so that they previously offered the domain as long as you pay for the plan? I mean, I remember it wasn’t excluded after a year? Or am I wrong?

    • Yeah. For a long time I had a very good experience with PayPal. More than a decade. But this is a no-go. Credit card will do it for overseas payments now. The whole payment process was pretty easy with credit card. For Europe or Germany I will use SEPA/IBAN anyways. But given how many Europeans complained about the same PayPal issue in all kind of forums (Flickr, Steam and and and) with hundreds of posts… they will probably lose a ton of customers on that way here in Europe.

  3. And next year, WordPress is NOT including the domain in their “Premier” version, so instead of $99, it’s going to be $125 unless you re-up NOW. I did because it’s less than a month until I’d have to do it anyway, but if they keep raising prices, I’m going to give up. I can’t afford this and since they are going all out for making this about nothing but money, maybe I have to reconsider my options. I hate the idea, but … What other choices do I have? There aren’t a lot of blogging platforms around anymore and I’m feeling pretty cynical about the internet in general. ideas? Thoughts?

    • They sadly have the monopoly now (quality-wise) and they know it. We probably arrived in the upper stage of their business model, they now start to milk the cow. There is competition but I don’t take them serious. Blogger is a hell, and a pretty ugly experience. Tumblr is a complete joke and the community is the worst you could expect in the internet (Lots of porn, strange stuff and pretty toxic and so on). Medium is a riddle to me, because I still can’t grasp why people would want to write content for the platform owner instead of hosting it on their own sites/domains. There are some other options but they all are nothing compared to what we get here. Which is indeed a sad state, because we all experience that it’s going downhill here too. So, if things continue to gradually go downhill here, we can choose between cholera and pest in the future. Because ompared to the alternatives, WordPress.com is currently still just a flu.

      To get independent from Automattic, you probably need to host your WordPress installation on your own. It comes with a bit more independence, but depending on your traffic, that can get pricey too. I would for example never host on a shared server, because even if it’s cheap, they can kick you out of the contract if you take the bandwidth of the whole server, because that would slow down everyone else on the server. Happened to me in the past with another project. So, it would need to be something like a scaled VPS, and that’s where it can get pricey too. I mention this because I know you are like me, a blogger with endurance, and with endurance comes traffic.

      I could take it if one service I use would get worse. But the really sad truth is that this type of greed is prevalent EVERYWHERE nowadays. These companies can’t get their mouth full enough anymore. It’s not limited to blogging platforms like WordPress… it’s everywhere in almost all industries. Not sure what’s going wrong, but utter greed completely took over.

        • Sadly yes. :/ But I see self-hosting as an future option. Because also I do have a border that they shouldn’t cross.. because if they do, I gonna move my site to my own host.

        • It definitely has a much bigger learning curve. But you find a lot of informations online. A couple of things you definitely need to know if you ever want to do it:

          – How to navigate the account of your hosting provider
          – How to use web hosting control panels (like cPanel)
          – You need to learn everything about domains, including domain mapping and how it works together with your host
          – Learning about FTP access (And how to use FileZilla to upload things to your server)
          – How to upload the WordPress files via FTP client
          – How to create a MySQL database
          – How to configure files like wp-config.php
          – You also need to know about different files like the “.htaccess” file as an example

          That’s knowledge you need to gather for the installation. After that there is a lot more you should know. HTML, CSS. SEO knowledge like onPage SEO. How to keep your WP installation secure and updated, how to install plugins or change files via FTP and so on. How Google crawler/spiders work and how to block or allow them. Also getting an overview of the complete folder structure on your host. It’s a lot more complex, but with that comes also the greatest flexibility because you can customize everything and you won’t be as limited as here on WordPress.

          I have a lot of experience with this because I hosted different projects on my own in the past. But to be honest, I always thought it’s over the top for a private blog. For a business site I would always go self-hosting. WordPress.com is of course very practical, especially since we don’t have to care about security updates and what not. That’s why I have my private blog here. But if things get worse, I will most likely make the step back to self-hosting at some point. It wouldn’t be a big issue for me, and at some point it might be the logical step if things get worse here.

          FYI… there are also hosting providers that offer 1-click-installations of WordPress. Which is great. But the issue is that you still should know many of mentioned skills since you most likely will have to get FTP access at some point. There are way too much things that can come up, and most things I mentioned here are basically requirement to solve issues or customize a website that you host on your own.

          So, yeah… without diving deep into it, that will be impossible to manage.

        • I don’t think I have it in me. There was a time when I would have dove it, but I’m RETIRED. My diving into the deeps of tech are finished — unless someone’s going to send me a check!

        • I’m just about ready to totally dump Facebook. If my husband’s whole group of colleagues were on it, I would … but it’s the only way we communicate with them. It’s really AWFUL since the last update. I can’t turn anything off. I don’t even open it most of the time. It makes no sense, either.

  4. oh, what a mess that was. I was reading that and feeling my own blood pressure go up–how lucky you were–and clever–to have worked all that out. One of the reasons I don’t have a PayPal account unless it’s mandatory. No one should have to go through all that, for any reason.

    • In the past I had good experience with them. Super easy online shopping… but things sadly change at some point. This experience now was definitely enough. They lost me as a user. It was pure stress and I don’t want to experience that again.

      • The reason I am an abject failure at WP, is just this: they keep changing the rules (usually in tiny print on the 14th page) or assume you spend your days reading and rereading all the information. I’ve started three different accounts over there, and each time it has been almost impossible for me to get beyond the splash page.

        I realize that Blogger is less than ideal, but I can find my way around it, no fuss, no charge, no surprise bill in the mail because I didn’t read the fine print.. I’ve been on message boards, bulletin boards, poetry boards, and finally privately owned places, as things like FB and Twitter and then blogs began to appear. Each type has its own ‘shelf life’, and then people begin moving to other venues. I can see FB beginning to fade, and I suspect blogs of this sort will, too, in a few years.
        After that, who knows?

        • I think you are right and I also think that WP will also fail as a result. They are not going to make a bit fortune doing something else. They were doing well as a blogging platform, but greed will bring them down. Unfortunately, they will bring US down too.

        • The time of social media is definitely over (Speaking about FB, Twitter, G+ and so). I see this on my private accounts… People don’t look into FB anymore nor do they still post things. That was a lot different back then. But well, I am the same. The last 3 years I logged maybe 10 times into my FB account. It doesn’t even have images on it anymore nor do I have a profile picture lol. The account is completely stripped down by myself due to privacy reasons… and the loss of trust in FB. If I log into it, then just to contact far away friends and drop them a message.

          With the younger people there is probably still a bit of social media trend, but in a very different way. They just want to post quick photos, which is why Instragram became that big. But I am pretty sure people will get tired of it too at some point.

          If blogging goes downhill, it would be kinda sad. Because generally, the posts of longtime bloggers have more substance than a FB post. That has always been the case. Blog articles make you think, they inspire you, they remind you of things or make you question yourself and change your life because you found motivation. Or you learn somethig or you get entertained. Blogs always had more depth than insta-posts on those social media channels. On social media you get way too much noise and privacy issues.

          I personally don’t think that blogging will die. But some blog platforms might. The market will probably change over time and it could very well happen that another provider comes up and that WP might not be the number one anymore in a decade. They’re on a pretty fast lane to attract competion that might be baked by investors. Wouldn’t be the first time that a company gets relegated by big money and a better product. Blogging can’t die, because websites and domains won’t die. And search engine algorythms value content on a website, which actually forced companies to write content like we private bloggers do.

          But the truth is, content creators and I don’t mean people that quickly want to unload images on Instragram, are not to be found in mass as those instragram kids. That’s actually the fallacy of Matt Mullenweg’s strategy here on WordPress. Dumping the platform down and increasing the costs, that might attract some blogger day-flies. But it will probably take no more than 3 months until their blogs are abandoned. If you want to get an impression… go through the blogs you subscribed to here on WP… I did it. I didn’t do the math nor did I write it down, but I’d say 80% of the blogs I followed had their last post published 12 months ago or longer.

          I actually saw some of Matt’s interviews on YouTube. Boy would I have liked to be the interviewer. I think they do now look for quick money, while it would be a lot healthier strategy bet on us loyal users. People with a decade activity are actually the backbone of the whole platform, but they don’t get it. It’s greed paired with lunacy (if anyone is seriously thinking that he can convert Instagrammers long-term to bloggers, he’s a lunatic). But I don’t question that money can be made with these day-flies.

          So, yep, WP is on a good way to fail, I agree Marilyn. The growth they are talking about doesn’t consist of long-term bloggers, it’s just that the pond of people who want to try blogging for three months is not depleted yet. It’s a pretty strange strategy to bet on those that eventually will go back to Instragram-style platforms. I think we all agree, we have no issue to pay money for a service, but we long-term bloggers want to be taken serious (no beep beep boop, Gutenberg or any other non-sense that so far didn’t make our life easier).

  5. And a lot of the “newer” bloggers aren’t writing anything of substance. They are playing riddle game, question and answer games. Only those of us who have been writing for a long time are even bothering to created real content. The new kids don’t seem to understand there’s a difference between blogging and commenting. I find less and less that’s worth reading at all. It’s so terribly TRIVIAL.

    • I like a mixture of it. My photography posts usually just have the photo plus a one- or two-paragraph text to explain what inspired me, why I edited it on this way or if I can anything else related to the photo. So, these photo posts are in a way a bit more trivial compared to turials for example. The gaming/tech articles are therefore usually longer guides, naturally.

      But I think I know what you mean. I’ve seen bloggers that use one photo and don’t write any words at all. Or even more amazing… those that have their comments disabled. Why put stuff out there if you don’t want to interact, I am thinking in these cases and never come back to this blog. Equally bad are those that have comment section enabled but never ever reply to any comment. If I am subscribed, that’s a sure-fire way to make me unsubscribe.

      • I’m feeling pretty discouraged. I signed up for one more year. But that may well be the end of it for me. Ironically, as I’ve opted out of the new “question-and-answer” puzzle solving gaming going on, my stats have shot way up. Obviously, there IS room for writers … but it is depressing to see how trivial most writing has become.

        Photography is a whole different category. I don’t mind only posted pictures if they are good. But I appreciate that the artist(?) knows the difference between good and bad work and most don’t seem to get it at all.

        As for not answering comments. I understand it can be hard to answer ALL comments if you post a lot, but never is definitely too little.

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