Magento orphan transactions – the complete guide

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If you or your clients are running a Magento store that accepts card payments in the UK, chances are high that Sagepay is being used as the payment gateway, and if so, chances are higher still that the (excellent) free Ebizmarts module is being used to manage integration between Sagepay and Magento.

If that’s the case, then the warning notice above may well be familiar from the Magento admin panel. A large percentage of sites we visit will show this banner on logging in, and most of the time, the Orphan Transactions List will be a long list of historical transactions that store managers can see, but don’t really know what it is, what to do with it, whether it’s safe to delete it, or how to make the notice go away. They definitely won’t know that it’s a potentially lucrative source of revenue.

The orphaned transaction comes about because of the way in which the order and payment processes work. With Sagepay a transaction is created in Magento when the customer clicks the “place order” button – when the payment process finishes (when they’ve put in their 3D secure code, for example) then the order is created, and the transaction is married up to it. Orphan transactions, as their name implies, are transactions which haven’t been married up to a corresponding order.

They can exist for a number of reasons, and not all are indicative of a problem at your end. If the customer’s card is declined as being invalid, or not authorised by their bank, then the Orphan Transactions list will show a status of “ERROR : INVALID” or “NOTAUTHED” accordingly – that’s not a fault with the store itself.

Sometimes, however, it can be because of a hiccup either on the store’s end, or in the transition between the store and the payment gateway – customers can occasionally report being left with a blank screen when they would normally expect payment information or 3D secure boxes to pop up.

Whether or not the problem is at your end or the customer’s, the presence of the Orphan Transaction gives you a chance to rescue the situation and make the sale. It includes the customer’s contact information, and the logs (if enabled) will include full details of the attempted transaction, including what they were looking to buy, their billing and delivery details – everything you need, apart from payment, to make the sale.

With a single phone call the store owner will often find that the customer still wants to proceed with the transaction, and will be grateful for them for getting in touch, even though it’s possible that the hiccup was down to the store owner’s website in the first place!

Of course, this approach only works if you strike whilst the iron is hot – if store owners never clear out their orphan transactions list (which they can do for old transactions with impunity) then they’ll never know when a new one is created, and will never be able to act accordingly.

But if they take care of the orphan transactions, review them when they’re created, act on them (if action is appropriate) and delete them when they’ve been dealt with, then they’re sure to find themselves rewarded.

Note : an edited version of this post was originally published in our sporadic newsletter, Pure Nectar – sign up here to be included on the next one.

We’ll be happy to advise further on how to retrieve the full order information – just get in touch.


  • Rob

    Subject it quiet old, but seems they (eBizmarts) never found the solution for this issue.
    From time to time getting orphaned transactions with “Successfully authorised transaction.” messages with no order created in Magento and while trying to “Recover” getting error “The requested Payment Method is not available.”
    I would be very appreciated if anyone know what to do with it and will share?

  • Erik the Reader

    I think the creators of the sagepay ebizmarts payment module shoot themselves in the leg by not choosing to save the orders. For an invalid order they could have set it as pending. It is the single module which behaves this way. For UK use something like Paypoint or Secpay. For me it sounds more natural to save order then after successful pay update its status. I have checked even their take on the issue which could not help me for successful orphans.

    • Giles (author)


      Thanks for your comment. I think there’s an element of “six of one” – the downside to payment methods like Paypal (which create the order when the customer goes to pay, then associates the payment to it) is that if the customer doesn’t proceed with the payment, they return to an empty basket. So if payment fails, for some reason, they have to go through the whole process again if they wish to continue – I think Ebizmarts’ method avoids that.

      Kind regards,


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