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Category: Net: General

Google Checkout: Same fees as Paypal, what advantages?

Well, within a few weeks I was going to update a new e-commerce site hoping to utilise Google Checkout and the benefits it offered (the previously discussed lower fees than Paypal and those fees could be reduced to zero by advertising on Google). But no more!

Like many others, I’ve just received the email (below) from Google (yes, I’ve authenticated it: it came to a specific Google Checkout email address I’ve got setup, through Google’s servers and checked with SPF: it’s even on the Google Checkout blog) which basically state “We’re hiking up fees and cancelling the advertising discount”. What rate are they hiking up to? Well, their website shows the following fees and I’ve included Paypal’s Fees for comparison:

Sales volume per month Google Checkout Paypal
Less than £1,500 3.4% and 20p 3.4% and 20p
Between £1,500 and £5,999.99 2.9% and 20p 2.9% and 20p
Between £6,000 and £14,999.99 2.4% and 20p 2.4% and 20p
Between £15,000 and £54,999.99 1.9% and 20p 1.9% and 20p
Over £55,000 1.4% and 20p 1.4% and 20p

<sarcasm> Wow – so much difference. </sarcasm>

Yes, they are identically (ok, Paypal’s limits are “between £1,500.01 and £6,000″/”between £6,000.01 and £15,000″/”between £15,000.01 and £55,000” so there is a penny difference in 5 exact cases!). (cough)Price fixing?(/cough)

But surely Google Checkout will be cheaper than Paypal for “cross-border” transactions (i.e. where the buyer and seller are in different countries):

Sales volume per month Google Checkout Paypal
Less than £1,500 4.4% and 20p 3.9% and 20p
Between £1,500 and £5,999.99 3.9% and 20p 2.4% and 20p
Between £6,000 and £14,999.99 3.4% and 20p 2.9% and 20p
Between £15,000 and £54,999.99 2.9% and 20p 2.4% and 20p
Over £55,000 1.4% and 20p 1.9% and 20p

So Google Checkout is actually more expensive then Paypal: and Google Checkout hasn’t got the market penetration than Paypal, hasn’t got the ease of integration of Paypal, hasn’t got the wide range of integration options than Paypal, hasn’t got the facilities of Paypal…

I’d just like to know why I should bother with Google Checkout instead of Paypal (baring in mind, the more payment methods offered the lower the theshold for discounts I’ll reach on any one of them and the more transaction fees I’ll pay). To me, it looks like Google Checkout is checking out and won’t be here this time next year…

11/Mar/09 21:46 GMT: Marketing Pilgrim isn’t sure if this is a sign of Google Checkout’s Success or Struggle (one of the commenters, James Wilton, there actually said what I first thought: “Perhaps Google is trying to kill Checkout by attrition? They certainly haven’t been investing resources into it.”
11/Mar/09 22:11 GMT: Just to confirm, it isn’t just the United Kingdom prices going up – it looks like a world-wide increase!
11/Mar/09 22:13 GMT: Explode On Twitter has already dropped Google Checkout for Paypal (as Paypal is simpler for all concerned). Has Google really sounded the death bell for Checkout?
11/Mar/09 22:22 GMT: There is a Google Support Forum Thread about this and it appears from a quick scan people are going to be dropping Checkout for Paypal after this fee increase (some are even talking about ditching Adwords!).
11/Mar/09 22:28 GMT: @jessicamerritt says she’s going to stick with Checkout because of their chargeback policy (in particular the fair treatment section on their fraud/chargeback page). I’ve not handled a chargeback through Checkout so I don’t know how good it is, but I’ve found Paypal a lot more “friendly” and accommodating than dealing with Lloyds TSB Cardnet chargebacks. Yes, Paypal (and others) do “freeze the funds”, but you do get the money back after the dispute (and from their point of view, it stops bad merchants “doing a runner” with the funds).
11/Mar/09 22:43 GMT: For comparison, here is the Paypal UK Discount Fee structure and the US one is here.
11/Mar/09 22:59 GMT: KingJ is no longer recommending Google Checkout as he(?) handles a large number of cross-border transactions and hence the transaction fee increase will cost him more than Paypal. Stanstech is also saying Goodbye to Google Checkout. I’ve also just checked and Paypal’s Chargeback fee of £7 is identical to Google’s new fee for chargebacks.. Hmm…
12/Mar/09 00:20 GMT: There is now also (as there always is) a Facebook group against the price rises. I’m personally not against the price rises on their own, I’m just against them it takes away the only benefits of using Google Checkout there was and the fact the prices match Paypal’s point for point: do they really both have identical operating costs?
12/Mar/09 11:59 GMT: ValleyWag chimes in asking whether this is the start of Google introducing higher fees for all their services.
12/Mar/09 12:01 GMT: EdSF nicely sums up the advantages Paypal has and the poor customer service he’s had from Google.
12/Mar/09 15:56 GMT:The Register now has an article of the Google Checkout fee increases. It’s getting wide publicity, but will Google realise how much they’ve annoyed merchants and that there are now no advantages to accepting Checkout?


Tech: Google Cookie Opt-Out Plugin or Customising The Cookie

It appears that Google offers an Advertising Cookie Opt-Out Plugin which not only sets the DoubleClick opt-out cookie (DoubleClick is now owned by Google don’tcha know?), but also ensures this cookie is set to persist even if you empty your browser cookies (Internet Explorer and Firefox only). However, not only can you get this cookie set (along with setting opt-out cookies for all the other major advertising networks), you can also set your own advertising interests so Google can serve more appropriate adverts to you (so no more, or certain less, “weight loss/improve your manhood” adverts).

Net: Is my mediciation safe or is Wikipedia not safe?

Ok, after reading one inflammatory article today (Kate Craig-Wood’s Register edited “UK IT should ‘fire men first'” article), it’s time for my own – which I’m entitling “Is my mediciation safe or is Wikipedia not safe?” “Wikipedia: Is it safe?”

This blog entry has been inspired by the Wikipedia entry for some medication I am currently taking. It’s been prescribed to me by a UK registered GP (General Practice Doctor) on an NHS (National Health Service) prescription and was dispensed by Superdrug (the 2nd largest health and beauty and pharmacy chain in the UK – 2nd only to Boots) to treat a bacterial otitis externa (ear canal infection). As you can guess then, the medicine is widely stocked, approved by the UK’s health board and is known by general doctors.

However, the Wikipedia article for the drug Ciprofloxacin states:

…[it is an] agent used to treat severe and life threatening bacterial infections….The licensed uses for ciprofloxacin in the United States are quite limited as ciprofloxacin is to be considered a drug of last resort when all other antibiotics have failed.

(Emphasis mine)

And that’s just from the summary!

Wow: what a dangerous drug my Doctor has prescribed me: I must be at death’s door (which explains why he told me not to go into work for a week: I may keel over and die at my desk!).

Japan Bike Storage

As you may be aware, I quite like things from Japan and it’ll come as no great suprise then that I follow Danny Choo (@dannychoo) and Neil Duckett (@Neil_Duckett) quite a bit (as they are major Gaijin bloggers in Japan) and it was therefore with fun I found Danny’s post about Bike Storage In Japan.

It’s quite fasincating to watch the machine accept the bike, store it and then spit it out afterwards: and with the Mayor Of London (@MayorOfLondon) looking at introducing hire bikes around London, then this could be the perfect idea. Have one of these Japanese Bike Parks near every major London tube/train station (maybe between Euston and Kings Cross St Pancras, Victoria, London Bridge, Liverpool Street, Paddington and Waterloo) with each unit having around 20-40 bikes available for hire (the rest of the bike park can be used for “public use”). Swipe an Oyster card (or other “token”) at the machine to hire a bike, and return it (bikes are RFID’d tagged for extra security) at any bike park to finish hiring it.

Of course, there is the slight problem with the “oh noes, terrorists could use it in x/y/z manner” doom-sayers, but determined terrorists will always find a way so in the words of a certain organisation “so don’t worry and just enjoy your life.”.


Net: Shortest Valid Domain Names

For the system I’m building, I’m putting in a check for valid domain names (technically URI/URLs) and one of the checks is for the length of the domain name. So what is the shortest domain name around?

Well, I suspect in the uk it’s the British library at [5 characters] and in the .com range I suspect it’s Paypal’s [6 characters], but an article on Valleywag has just altered me to the fact that Google has one of the shortest Chinese domain names [4 characters] and Ulster Television has, but even those are beaten by both the Western Samoa top level domain name has a website making ws [2 characters] and the Vatican’s va [2 characters] – making them the shortest domain name I’m aware of.

Why have some of them got full stops at the end of the links ( such as http://ws. and http://va. ): it’s to stop your browser trying to “fix the links” and change them to and which are different sites.

The answer to the question of “how short can a domain name be” is currently 2 characters (unless a top level domain is started with less than 2). A full web based URI/URL has a minimum length of 9 (4 for the protocol ‘http’, 3 for the protocol separation ‘://’ and then 2 for the domain/host name). Of course, you could also use the FTP protocol which brings it down to 8 or be pedantic and insist the shortest web orientated URL is http://va.:80/ at 14 characters.

See also top level domains with websites.