I'm running CiviCRM on the latest version of Wordpress and since the beginning of December, when I upgraded CivicCRM to 4.7.14 (although it is possible that it started when I upgraded to 4.7.13, I don't have the exact dates I did the upgrade), I've had an issue with PayPal standard contributions being listed as "Pending (Incomplete Transaction)". As a result, membership renewals are not being renewed and receipts are not being sent to our members.

After digging around, I was able to confirm that the Paypal IPN appears to be working. I'm able to see the IPN message logged in the civicrm_system_log table after every transaction. I've put an example of one such message from the system log below, with personally identifying information blocked out:

{"page":"CiviCRM","q":"civicrm/payment/ipn/1","noheader":"1","transaction_subject":"","payment_date":"04:19:32 Dec 22, 2016 PST","txn_type":"web_accept","last_name":"doe","residence_country":"US","item_name":"416-497-Membership Renew","payment_gross":"50.00","mc_currency":"USD","business":"[email protected]","payment_type":"instant","protection_eligibility":"Ineligible","verify_sign":"AqNs9DpWzUAQyDfgFPwuR482uwS5AjALjQykxLxxxxxxxxxx.xxxxxxxx","payer_status":"unverified","payer_email":"[email protected]","txn_id":"89J243361xxxxxxxx","quantity":"1","receiver_email":"[email protected]","first_name":"john","invoice":"54e25fc0c32d4d259e6f0a1aaxxxxxxxx","payer_id":"T72CDJGxxxxxx","receiver_id":"ZHZCAVNxxxxxx","item_number":"","payment_status":"Completed","payment_fee":"1.40","mc_fee":"1.40","mc_gross":"50.00","custom":"{\"module\":\"contribute\",\"contactID\":\"416\",\"contributionID\":497,\"membershipID\":\"380\",\"contributionRecurID\":86,\"contributionPageID\":\"1\"}","charset":"windows-1252","notify_version":"3.8","ipn_track_id":"f0958f92xxxx","IDS_request_uri":"/membership/?page=CiviCRM&q=civicrm/payment/ipn/1&","IDS_user_agent":"PayPal IPN ( https://www.paypal.com/ipn )"}

However, CiviContribute never seems to update the status of the contribution. I did notice that the content of the IPN messages in the system_log prior to December looked entirely different than the new IPN messages look.

Also, for what it is worth, I've also noticed that all contribution transactions are being marked in CiviCRM as being set to auto-renew. I was able to confirm that it is doing it without the end-user requesting it when I duplicated it in a PayPal sandbox session. After filling out a contribution form, I went and looked in CiviCRM and my test transaction was also set to auto-renew. I don't know if this is a related issue, or a separate problem entirely.

Any help or insight is greatly appreciated, as this bug has returned our membership management to an almost entirely manual operation once again!

2 Answers 2


See this thread - I have to overwrite ipn.php with an old version after every upgrade, to get payments working again Paypal payments - Pending (Incomplete Transaction)


I used to fight this issue...

1) PayPal standard is sub-par, you donors can't do recurring donations without a paypal account. Overall, the process is clunky.

2) It seems this is a recurring issue. I'd suggest adopting a processor like authorize.net which I have not had these issues with.

  • I guess that counts as answering "Any help or insight is greatly appreciated" ;-)
    – petednz - fuzion
    Dec 20, 2017 at 2:26
  • yeap, "stay away from it" is usually a not too bad answer when talking paypal ;)
    – Xavier
    Dec 20, 2017 at 6:44

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