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Old 01-13-2009, 02:27 PM   #1
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Payment methods for WHSmith.co.uk

You probably all know this already, but - for some stupefyingly idiotic reason - it appears that the WHSmith.co.uk ebook website (supplied by Overdrive) only accepts Visa and Mastercard as payment methods.

Given that I live in the UK, have just paid off and cancelled my credit cards, and don't want any more, the fact that they don't offer debit card payment options (e.g. Switch/Maestro) is incredibly annoying.

Moreover, it's idiotic from a business point of view, too, because Waterstones (surely Smiths' biggest potential High Street rival for ebook sales) allow both credit card and debit card payments for their selection of ebooks.

The upshot of this is that I actually want to buy 3 of my favourite books (in Ebook form) from WH Smith, but can't.

The gift certificates for buying ebooks can only be bought with a Visa or Mastercard, too, so there's no workaround.

Consider yourselves warned! I wasted almost an hour downloading Reader, installing it, authenticating it and wrestling with the WH Smith website before realising I couldn't actually pay for my selections!
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Old 01-13-2009, 09:07 PM   #2
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Hardly something worth warning about as this is the standard for most ebook stores around the world.
However, you have 2 options that i can think of if you have a Paypal account.
1. Someone with a WH Smiths account can buy a gift certificate and you pay them back via Paypal.
2. Buy your books from BooksOnBoard as they accept Paypal as a payment method.
Or use the rather hopeless Waterstones store
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Old 01-14-2009, 03:47 AM   #3
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Hardly something worth warning about as this is the standard for most ebook stores around the world.
However, you have 2 options that i can think of if you have a Paypal account.
1. Someone with a WH Smiths account can buy a gift certificate and you pay them back via Paypal.
2. Buy your books from BooksOnBoard as they accept Paypal as a payment method.
Or use the rather hopeless Waterstones store
A couple of points - I actually do think that this is worth warning about, as in the UK market you can go and buy ebooks using a debit card (at Waterstones, for example). This is more the norm (albeit in an admittedly new market). Moreover, WH Smith are a huge high street retailer in the UK that accept debit card payments for pretty much everything else that they sell. Given that a good percentage of users here are from the UK, and that the Smiths ebooks website says nothing about only accepting Mastercard and Visa until you reach the payment stage, I do think this is handy information to have.

Oh, the Smiths site doesn't seem to work with Firefox, either, as it keeps reporting that MS Reader isn't activated, when it actually is. Try it with internet explorer, you get no such problems, which is disappointing in this day and age - not least because you can use Firefox to buy from Waterstones without any issue whatsoever.

Moreover, I don't find Waterstones to be a "rather hopeless" store. You may not like it, as is your wont. However, as it accepts all the usual methods of payment that any other UK store would (including debit cards), I find it a hell of a lot less hopeless than Smiths at the moment. I've bought two ebooks from Waterstones already, and had no problems. I can't even spend my money with Smiths at the moment.

Anyway, thanks for the other info/suggestions you provided, but try not to shoot the messenger in future, eh?
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Old 01-14-2009, 07:19 AM   #4
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Ouch thats a Disappointment, especially as the main WH Smith site accepts them. In fact I used a Maestro card to buy a Cybook from them.

Still, have you tried emailing or phoning them to ask them why they don't accept Debit cards ? if enough people write in, they may consider adding support.
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Old 01-14-2009, 08:05 AM   #5
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Still, have you tried emailing or phoning them to ask them why they don't accept Debit cards ? if enough people write in, they may consider adding support.
In Sweden I have a VISA and a MasterCard debit card (the money is drawn directly from the account). Do you not have that variant in the UK?
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:34 AM   #6
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In Sweden I have a VISA and a MasterCard debit card (the money is drawn directly from the account). Do you not have that variant in the UK?
Some banks do offer Visa Electron cards, but retailers who don't accept debit cards, don't accept them.

Having said that, I've not really looked, as I've found that nowadays most retail stores accept all debit cards, and most UK based online stores do as well.

For those that don't I have a Credit Card I pay off every month, and use Paypal or Google checkout.
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:53 AM   #7
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In Sweden I have a VISA and a MasterCard debit card (the money is drawn directly from the account). Do you not have that variant in the UK?
Perhaps not; I don't think that variant exists in the Netherlands either.

But my MasterCard (issued through my bank) debits my account once a month, and has no real 'credit' of its own. Unless I would specifically ask for it to have it, which I haven't, as I need nor want it.

So it's not a straight debit card, but it's pretty close to one.
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:55 AM   #8
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Ouch thats a Disappointment, especially as the main WH Smith site accepts them. In fact I used a Maestro card to buy a Cybook from them.

Still, have you tried emailing or phoning them to ask them why they don't accept Debit cards ? if enough people write in, they may consider adding support.
Well, that was the other reason I posted this here - I haven't emailed them yet, but fully intend to. I hoped by posting the information that other Mobileread users would email them, too.

Tompe - bbusybookworm is right. Those Mastercard/Visa variants (e.g. Visa Electron - commonly used by Lloyds TSB) that debit your bank account do exist in the UK, but they are generally not accepted in place of a credit card. The UK retail attitude seems to be either to accept both credit and debit cards, or accept only credit cards. There's no middle ground to speak of.

All that said, perhaps a UK user with a Visa Electron card (or similar) could try the Smiths website and see how they get on? That way, at least some people with debit cards may be able to use it.

It looks like I'm going to have to use Paypal and get the books from Books on Board, but that's incredibly frustrating for 2 reasons - 2 of the 3 books I want are more expensive at Books on Board, and one of them isn't stocked by them. Disappointing.
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:59 AM   #9
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it keeps reporting that MS Reader isn't activated, when it actually is. Try it with internet explorer, you get no such problems, which is disappointing in this day and age - not least because you can use Firefox to buy from Waterstones without any issue whatsoever.
At all sites, you must use Internet Explorer to download Secure LIT ebooks. However, at most sites you can buy them using Firefox.
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:38 AM   #10
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At all sites, you must use Internet Explorer to download Secure LIT ebooks. However, at most sites you can buy them using Firefox.
Ah, that makes sense.

However, for clarity's sake, the WH Smith ebook site will not let you buy the book in Firefox - you can add it to your basket, but that's all. If you try to proceed to checkout in Firefox with a .lit book in your basket, it refuses to play ball.

Hope that's clear!
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:48 AM   #11
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I don't know how much help it is as I have not tried WHSmith's site yet, but my debit card is a Visa card (not Electron or any other variant, just straight Visa) so that would probably work. I am about to go look for a few books now, so if WHSmith has the best option I will try and report back how I get on.

Thanks for the heads up
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:56 AM   #12
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I know you can generate a one time use "credit card" number on your pay pal account. But, I don't know if you actually need a credit card tied to your account to do this. You may not. See if you can generate one of these CC numbers from PayPal without having a CC attached to your account.

If so, you should be able to use that at the store. The CC number can actually be used "more than once" as long as it is always used at the same vendor.

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Old 01-14-2009, 11:53 AM   #13
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When they had there 50% sale I bought quite a few ebooks and I used my Barclay's Visa Debit card with no problems
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Old 01-14-2009, 01:16 PM   #14
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I don't know how much help it is as I have not tried WHSmith's site yet, but my debit card is a Visa card (not Electron or any other variant, just straight Visa) so that would probably work. I am about to go look for a few books now, so if WHSmith has the best option I will try and report back how I get on.

Thanks for the heads up
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When they had there 50% sale I bought quite a few ebooks and I used my Barclay's Visa Debit card with no problems
Interesting. as I bank with Natwest, they don't as far as I know offer Visa or Mastercard Debit cards, only Solo or Switch/Maestro.

Is the Visa card you are using a replacement for the Visa Electron cards they used to issue, or completely separate ?
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Old 01-14-2009, 01:20 PM   #15
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Is the Visa card you are using a replacement for the Visa Electron cards they used to issue, or completely separate ?
My bank provides me a Visa and/or Mastercard branded debit card too. I just use it like a credit card but it is accepted as a Visa. Also, when I use it as a credit card I don't have to pay debit card fees.

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