So you need a Magento extension and you think you’ve found the right one, should you buy it?

The answer is unfortunately a big flat NO, let us explain why and how you should approach this purchase.

Because Magento is open source (that’s a great thing!) that also means that any beginner developer can write and publish extensions but the quality of that code is more likely to cause headaches than it is to provide the intended functionality.

I’ll give you a simple example, Magento CE doesn’t come with store credit like Magento EE does, but you want to be able to dish out store credit to your customers and there are plenty of extensions out there, let me show you what 2 of them do:

Extension 1

After you installed this extension, you log in to your Magento admin and you select the customer for whom you want to give store credit, and you give him a $25 credit.
This extension will do a few things in the background that you will never know – all you’ll know is that the next time this customer checked out, he applied that $25 credit to his total.
It will create a Shopping Cart Rule (coupon) and set it to be used without a coupon code and specifically for this customer.

You might say, great! why not? Here’s why, because this means that for every single customer that’s checking out, your site is now checking if there’s a coupon out for this customer, how fast is your checkout page going to be now?

Extension 2

This extension will create a new checkout method, very similar to Magento’s native “Check / Money Order” where the customer doesn’t need to enter an actual purchase method, it just lets him checkout for free if he has store credit.

Besides for the aforementioned speed issues this causes since Magento needs to check if this payment method is available for every single customer, this extension will skew your data, since as far as Magento is concerned you received $25 for this order when you never did, your controller will spend 3 days trying to locate the discrepancy till you figure it out.

What I just demonstrated is that for any functionality you want to add to your site, there are different ways of to implement this functionality, and if you just purchase the first extension you find you might be getting yourself into a whole lot more trouble than you bargained for.

So what should you do?

  1. Try to see if the extension has demo, so that you can play around with the extension before you buy it and have a good feel for what it does and how it works.
  2. Try submitting a contact form a support request on the site so you can see who you dealing with and what type of response you can expect if you run into trouble.
  3. Are there any reviews for this extension?
  4. Find out from other people if the company that’s selling the extension is “legit”.
  5. Do they have a refund policy?
  6. Is their code encrypted? Many extension don’t want others to copy their code so they “encrypt” all their code and that makes it very difficult to extend.
  7. Does this extension need a licence? extensions that require a licence to operate often cause issues.

You can almost never cross all these T’s and dot all these I’s when buying 3rd party extensions, but the more you’re aware of what the pitfalls are, the better prepared you will be to deal with any adverse results that this extension that this extension might cause.