Not long ago, I had an editorial project in which the client pretty much needed to pay by credit card. Mostly because I figured it was something I’d have to make possible from a business standpoint sooner or later, I made a commitment to signing up with Paypal to accept credit cards.
Before I’d ever billed anyone through Paypal, I came to dislike them. I had some concerns about the information they required and the steps they took to set up the account, and after a couple of dismissive phone conversations with representatives, I already doubted this relationship was going to work. However, it was a way to accept credit cards, and I had agreed to do that, so I had to hold my nose and prepare for it. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad; maybe I was through the annoying part.
Months passed, I did the work, great client relationship. Coachable author, great story, happy times. When I completed the edit, the time came to get paid. I created the invoice in the approved fashion, and my client paid promptly. The resulting fee, deducted from my proceeds, came to $50. While I had known it would be about that, I mention it to make the point: at this juncture, they are a paid service provider, and I’m paying the bill, and the question here is: what value do I get for my $50?
Paypal advised me that I could not have the money yet, but that the ‘approval’ should take 24 hours or less. It took so near to 24 hours that one suspects there was no actual process, just hanging onto the money for a day’s float. All right, fine; then I checked in, and found that I had to affirm that I’d provided the services. Oh, brother…but I did. (If I had not, does one suppose there would be a client payment waiting?) And now I am told that my funds will be available in twenty-one days.
This is what my $50 bought. It also bought a rather unhappy client, which I cannot afford. I didn’t ask about all the details, but the client said: “The thing made us practically sign away our firstborn to make that payment.” That’s not the way I treat my clients, nor am I at all happy that it was done by an agency I paid $50 to act on my behalf. I just hired service my client did not appreciate, and it reflects on me, and while I may not have dictated the behavior, the responsibility is still mine. I chose and paid the service provider.
So if you’re thinking of signing up to take Paypal, it looks like what you can expect is for your client to get a runaround, and if all goes perfectly, you can have your money twenty-two days from date of actual payment. While Paypal gets to hold onto your money for all that time, you pay them not quite 3% of your proceeds for all this great service. Just because that’s pretty much the standard Visa fee does not make this a good deal. It’s only a good deal if everyone gets great service.
To me, this wasn’t worth $50. This is the last time I am doing this, because neither I nor my client is happy.
Why don’t I just tack on a fee and keep taking Paypal? Now that would be even worse client service. “Hi. My payment provider is going to annoy you. And just to make your day even brighter, you have to pay the fee they charge.” That is exactly the screw-the-customer mentality I’ve been cursing for years in corporate America, and where the matter is left up to me to decide, I refuse to perpetuate it.
Therefore, once I get this money safely away from Paypal, I will close that account. While it would add convenience for some clients for me to accept credit card payments, the associated aggravation–including where I either choose to screw the client or get screwed myself–is not worth it for any of us.
The stock response from the is “if you don’t like their policy, don’t use the service.” Not to worry. And no, when I cancel it, I am not going to tell them why. At least, not for free.
If they want to know why, the fee is $60. And they may have their answer in twenty-one days. And I will not accept payment via Paypal.
PS: the saga continues. To their somewhat credit, I got a notice that my money would be released sooner. When I got home, I attempted it and discovered that, unless I also give them my SSN and link the account to a credit card, I can only withdraw $500 per month.
Cold day in hell before I give them one more bit of sensitive information. This is hostage-taking.
I should have all my money by March. Isn’t this just marvelous?
PPS: called to see if closing the account outright would get me paid in full. The rep seemed able to lift the $500 limit at that point. Imagine that. Suddenly I am able to ask to have all the money in my account. I have minimal faith that I will actually see it there.