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Other Merchants Besides PayPal?

 
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nhallman



Joined: 06 Oct 2007
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 1:22 pm    Post subject: Other Merchants Besides PayPal? Reply with quote

We're looking seriously at taking the plunge into online payment next year. Are there any plans to permit the use of merchants other than PayPal?

There are many PayPal competitors that offer better rates (Google Checkout, for example), and of course we have also considered going the route of a full-blown merchant account such as FirstData, that could process on-site credit cards as well.

Is this a possibility?

Thanks!

Nick
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Nick Hallman
Autocross Director
South Carolina Region SCCA
http://www.scsportscar.com
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MyAutoEvents
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Joined: 06 Mar 2003
Posts: 249

PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Nick -

At this point there are no plans to utilize payment processing options other than PayPal.

The last time I looked at Google Checkout (admittedly over a year ago) the integration capabilities and pricing weren't anything to get excited about. Sounds like it is time for me to take another look.

As for specific merchant account gateways - it has always been something I've intended to implement, but the customer volume/demand/incentive/inertia to pursue one of these options simply never materialized. Anything is "possible" but a one-off solution to support the processing needs of a single organization might be difficult to justify from a cost perspective (translation: I certainly wouldn't do it for free Wink ).

Not sure how you plan to implement credit card processing at the event, but PayPal offers a Virtual Terminal capability that could be leveraged if internet access is available at your site (and if you have cell phone coverage, most likely you can get an internet connection).
https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_vt_hub-outside

I'm curious if your aversion to PayPal as a payment processor is related to anything other than cost?
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nhallman



Joined: 06 Oct 2007
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cost is the major issue, for certain. 0.9% and $0.10 per transaction (the difference between PayPal and Google) adds up over time, especially when you're dealing with many small transactions such as entry fees.

We currently use PayPal to handle our club race entries but some of their business practices scare me. Granted, the things that places like paypalsucks.com are screaming about can happen with any merchant. However, we're handling very large volumes of money through PP - more than we probably should.

It's probably high time for us to process cards through a direct merchant account instead of PP or even Google for that matter, since with a direct merchant we are more protected from any shenanigans happening with our funds. It's more expensive up front but probably cheaper in the long run.
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Nick Hallman
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South Carolina Region SCCA
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That question was pretty open-ended for a reason. Wink

The cost thing I can't argue with and given the difference you mention, I'm going to look further into Google Checkout myself. But the numbers aren't really that huge on an individual club basis.

Hypothetical Math:
Season of autocross events - 8 events, $25 entry fee, 100 entries/event
Google Checkout would save $260. That's the equivalent of 10 entries over the course of the entire season or 1.25 entries per event - which should be insignificant in terms of overall budgeting/finance (at least I would hope that to be the case... if your club can't absorb a 1 entry variation per event over the course of a season you got some problems!).

Realize that even that math is heavily skewed to a worst case scenario. Historically when given the option of paying online or at the event, 75-80% of entrants will pay at the event - dropping that $260 savings down to ~$65. Not exactly earth-shattering.

As for all the horror-stories associated with PayPal, you are correct that most of those situations could occur with any merchant account. PayPal gets a lot of bad press that I personally don't feel is deserved and they've done a lot to address many of the concerns (including the purchase of Verisign's payment gateway system so PayPal now provides "real" merchant account service too.)

I'm personally a member of the PayPal merchant advisory committee and the PayPal developer's network (non-paid, volunteer - no bias other than to ensure I get the best possible service and support) - so maybe I have better lines of communication available to me than the average PayPal user. But if you use PayPal and MyAutoEvents you have access to that channel too (through me!),

Here's some real data:
MyAutoEvents.com processes approximately 10,000 payment transactions per year through PayPal. In the last 6 years there have been 8 (EIGHT) transactions that I would classify as "problems" - all but one of which I was able to work with PayPal to get remedied in MAE's favor. I'd say that's a pretty favorable percentage!

There's a HUGE difference in processing registration/entries vs. selling a product online... you physically see ALL of your customers face-to-face at the event. Part of the whole motivation of internet fraud is that the crime is anonymous. Doesn't work when the person actually shows up to your event, does it? This low problem rate is something that can be expected and counted on - a lot of the fraud concerns most online merchants need to deal with simply don't apply to us.

Wow, I really sound like a PayPal fan-boy. That wasn't my intention, but my experience with PayPal has only been positive and am getting tired of the anti-PayPal banter that simply isn't true, doesn't apply, or can't be cost-justified with real numbers.
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nhallman



Joined: 06 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You don't sound too much like a fanboy. Wink

It's good to hear from someone who has an in-depth relationship with PayPal. We've never had any problems with club races, though I certainly was a little afraid that the first time we did, we'd be in for a disastrous time. It's good to know that you've been able to positively resolve issues with PP, and that you have an "inside track" with them as well.

As for price... we average 130-150 cars per event, so it is a little worse for us, and unfortunately, money is tight - $260 is a significant amount. We have tried to keep costs as low as possible for our members - entry fees for our events are still $20 for SCCA members - so anything that cuts a piece of that $20 out (SCCA gets $9.75 of it) is considered significant. Autocross is a truly non-profit, non-revenue exercise for us. We believe we owe that to our members, who are paying pretty large fees when you consider that they only get 2-3 min. of seat time.

Next year, if we go to online payment, we will probably charge a penalty for on-site registration, which will hopefully cover the costs of the transaction fees for those who do pay online. BUT since this potentially hurts the novice/newbie who decided to walk up that morning and give this weird autocross thing a try... we want to keep that penalty as low as possible.

Thanks for looking into Google... that is a better option cost-wise, though I now need to go do my homework and see how well they handle issues with their merchants.
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