Collection or Paying Agent – PayPal : FAQ

PayPal is an organisation that facilitates financial transactions between people who do not know each other by acting as an intermediary between them. PayPal acts as the Paying Agent for the person who needs to make the payment and as the Collection Agent for the person who seeks to receive the payment. Through using PayPal, Payers keep their payment details secret from the Receivers and Receivers obtain comfort that payments have actually been received from the Payers. See below for more on this.


Please note that this page is for general questions about PayPal. If you are having a problem when trying to use PayPal to complete a payment to us using our normal subscription system, have a look at our Troubleshooting page and/or Using PayPal to transfer funds to Stirnet.

A collection agent is just an organisation or person (in this case: PayPal) who is appointed by someone (in our case: Stirnet Limited) to collect their fees for them and hold those fees safely until instructed to pay/transfer them somewhere.
A paying agent is just an organisation or person (in this case: PayPal) who is appointed by someone (for subscriptions to Stirnet, that is you) to deduct funds from their account with PayPal (or from some other source such as a credit card or bank account, provided that they have been authorised to do so) and pay/transfer those funds to someone else. Should you instruct PayPal to pay us a subscription fee then you are using PayPal as your paying agent.
We use a collection agent to collect Members’ subscriptions because, as Stirnet is only a small ‘family company’, it would otherwise be difficult for us to provide by ourselves the level of security (for card details, etc.) that we think our subscribers should be provided. At the moment we have just one collection agent, PayPal, but we hope to offer an alternative in due course. PayPal provide secure facilities to pay by either credit card, debit card, or through an account with them.
PayPal is the world’s largest supporter of e-commerce (Internet payment systems) for small and medium-sized businesses. It was bought by eBay for USD1.5 billion in 2002 but in July 2015 it became an independent company again after being spun-out by eBay at a valuation of around USD45 billion (figure to be confirmed). In January 2014 PayPal’s site reported that it had “137 million active registered accounts and is available in 193 markets” and “supports payments in 26 currencies”. For more on PayPal, see the final question below.

No – unless you subscribe for a Recurring subscription, in which case they will need you to have an account with them to enable them to retain your payment details so that they may process the renewal. Note that, if you have an account with PayPal, you are in effect using them as your paying agent. [For more information on Recurring subscriptions, see Membership FAQ.]


PayPal enables you to pay by credit/debit card in the normal online way albeit using PayPal as the interface. They may in effect set up a temporary account for you whilst processing your card payment and then offer to save that as a permanent account (in order to retain your payment details to make it easier for you to pay through them in the future) but you can tell them not to save your details. See here for a page in PayPal’s site which confirms this. [Please tell us if that link no longer works.] If you do open an account with them, you may never use the account again or you may be pleased to use the account for other purposes, that is up to you.

Yes, although you will have to have (or create) your own account with PayPal to do so. See here for a page on how to do this and why this may be relevant to you.

We have an account with PayPal. If you tell them to pay us then, as long as they have a means of settling with you, PayPal will charge you and transfer the funds (less their fee) to our account. For more information on this, see the next question below.


To our knowledge, PayPal do not provide credit facilities. To enable them to settle your transactions, you have to provide them either with funds in advance or with a means of recovering funds from you.

– If you have sufficient funds in your account with them then they will charge your account and tell us that they have cleared the payment.

– If you have given them debit or credit card details then they will charge your card account and tell us that they have cleared the payment.

– If you have given them just your bank details (and a mandate to approach that bank) then it gets a little more complicated because that will require them to approach your bank and apply for funds as if you had given them a cheque. PayPal use the word ‘eCheque’ to describe this situation. They will advise us that you have paid them by eCheque and that they will not credit funds to our account until that eCheque has cleared, which normally takes about 7 days.

Your account with us is separate and very different from any account you may have with PayPal. Think of us as a Library where you pay a fee to enable you to view our files. We have a standard merchant’s account with PayPal to collect fees, and you pay us through a debit/card card or account which is processed by PayPal, but that does not mean that your account with us has anything to do with your debit/credit card or PayPal account.


After you have input your subscription choice into our site, our site sends you to PayPal’s site and our system automatically sends a pre-formatted message to PayPal’s system which identifies who we are and tells them to open a page in their site which enables you to pay for the selected subscription. When you have completed payment, their system sends our system a code (which advises us that you have completed payment) and then returns you to our site. [You pay them and they credit that amount (less their collection fee) to our account with them and tell us that they have done so, confirming who you are and what you have paid but not giving us any details about your credit/debit card or account.] There is nothing ‘special’ about our account with PayPal at all so you should see no difference in treatment between payments of our fees and any other payments you make in Pounds Sterling via PayPal. Once you have completed your subscription payment, as far as Stirnet is concerned there is no reason for you to approach PayPal again until the time comes for you to renew your subscription. You may, of course, have your own account with PayPal or otherwise process other business with or through them. That has nothing to do with us.


PayPal will never tell us any of your payment details. Please remember that, if you have instructed PayPal to set up a Recurring subscription for you, they will be acting as your Paying Agent so that, when you want to cancel the renewal, you must amend the payment instructions within your PayPal Account. We understand that that is easy to do.


PayPal changes its site from time to time so we do not always know exactly how it processes payments at any particular time. After completing a payment, PayPal’s site may automatically redirect the buyer (in this case, you) back to the merchant’s site (in our case, this site) after a few seconds but give you the option of clicking on a link to return without waiting. In the past we found that, if you clicked to return too quickly, you could interrupt PayPal’s processing of the payment so that our system was not advised that you had paid. [We could still update our records manually to treat you as having paid but there would inevitably have been a delay before that could be done.] We have not experienced that problem recently but, if PayPal offers you the option to wait or click to complete the payment process, we suggest that you wait for at least a few seconds to make sure that that problem does not arise. This suggestion applies to all your uses of PayPal, not just when using this site.


If you make a payment to us through PayPal that takes time to be processed, such as through use of an eCheque, PayPal will tells us that and our system will treat your subscription as ‘Pending’ and so will not see you as a paid-up Member until PayPal have advised us that your payment has cleared. Should PayPal advise us that your payment has failed to clear then we will suspend your account until payment has been received.

We cannot give any guarantees about PayPal’s performance and, given that it is a multi-billion-dollar company whereas Stirnet is just a small family company, it would be presumptuous for us to do so. Nevertheless, it seems reasonable to say that PayPal offers as secure an online payment system as virtually any organisation you could think of, including some of the biggest banks. If you regularly carry out monetary transactions over the Internet then it is likely that, even if you have not come across PayPal before, you will do so again in the near future and will do so increasingly in the foreseeable future.


One problem that PayPal does have is that, because it has become so widely used, it has attracted fraudsters. Some of these fraudsters have even produced web sites that look just like PayPal and send people e-mails pretending to be from PayPal, providing links to those web sites, trying to obtain information about you or your credit cards or your PayPal account, or just setting you up for more spam. Should you receive an unexpected e-mail that appears to come from PayPal, check carefully the address from which it came and the URLs of any links offered by the e-mail, looking not only at what the links say they are but also at what they really are. Never click on any links that are offered by e-mails that look as though they come from PayPal unless you are really sure that they do actually come from PayPal. If you have an account with PayPal and receive an e-mail which might but might not be from them and are not sure what to do, go direct to the real PayPal site at, enter your account there, and see if there is any message there for you or action asked of you. If you do not have an account with PayPal then just ignore any e-mail that purports to come from PayPal – except, of course, for any e-mail that is specifically to do with any transaction you have just processed through them. To be fair to PayPal, this same problem has been experienced by most of the big banks.

Information about PayPal is widely available on the Internet. We suggest you look at:
– their own account at

– the article on PayPal at