Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Payment issues for 2013 applicants

**UPDATE - 11:00 (UK time) 28 September** All applications which were affected by the system problems detailed below have now been amended to show that they've been paid for. We will shortly be emailing all affected applicants with further instructions regarding submitting their applications. 

If you're currently locked out from making a payment, then call us and an adviser can quickly unlock it for you. 

If you had more than one payment debited from your bank account, we're currently in the middle of processing refunds. We envisage that all refunds will be completed by tomorrow. Again, we will email confirmation when this has been done to affected applicants. Remember, the refund may take 3-4 days to show in your bank account.


Over the last 24-36 hours there have been some reported technical issues with making card payments for 2013 applications. As the issue isn't affecting everyone and because 'technical issues' can be quite a vague term at the best of times, I thought it might help to clarify what's happening and give you some tips on what to do if you've been affected.

You - UCAS - Third party payment processing company - Our bank
That's basically the journey your application fee takes when you hit pay/send on your application form for a debit/credit card payment.

When you hit pay/send, our internal systems will take your payment. These funds then need to be processed and transferred to our bank account by a third-party company who provide those processing systems and transfer the funds to our bank. Alternatively, as a very crude illustration, imagine you're at a shop paying for your goods: we're the shop and the third-party company are the card machine you're using to pay for those goods.

Late on Monday/early Tuesday, the processing company had some system problems which affected people trying to pay for applications. These continued for most of the day on Tuesday but they've now been resolved. However, we still seem to have some residual issues which might be related to our own systems. This is causing a delay in our systems communicating with their systems. Again, these aren't affecting everyone but we're looking into it as a matter of urgency.

What's happening and what should we do?
The problem seems to be this. If you've clicked pay/send and entered your card details in the 'Verified by Visa' or 'Mastercard Securecode' pop-up box, the screen then freezes but eventually goes through to an error page which will look something like this (click on the image to enlarge):

















This is basically what you see as a result of the communication problems between UCAS and the other company. If this has happened to you then call your bank and check whether the payment has been debited. If it has been taken then you don't need to do anything else. Just wait and the application will eventually refresh to show that the payment has been taken.

If your bank says that no payment has been debited, then you should call us so an adviser can look into it further for you. It is strongly advised that you don't keep trying to pay if the error page comes up on the first attempt.

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