Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 42 - The Secret to Getting Paid

This is the winner.
Ok, so I was going to buy my website template (getting item number 1 from my last blog entry), but apparently that’s not going to happen today. Here’s why: THEY MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO BUY FROM THEM.

As a sales veteran of almost a quarter century now, I am going to give you a little tip that I got from one of the richest men I ever met, a guy who made his fortune in clothing retail. Here’s what he said, and it is as true today as it was back then: “Make it easy for people to buy.”

I know, you were expecting something else, something deep or profound. But that’s what he taught me. He wanted me to understand that just having something good that people actually like is not enough to ensure success. It’s huge, but it’s not enough. The main reason is that people want stuff NOW. Something that looks good today might not have the same appeal tomorrow (this is why they make people wait 10 days to buy a gun… just in case the would-be buyer is making an, uhh, emotional purchase if you know what I mean—they make it hard to buy on purpose). People make buying decisions emotionally. It could be based on mood, it could be the lighting in the showroom hit their inner magpie reflex, it could be any number of things. Things that can go away. Things that pass. So the best way to ensure lots of sales is to make sure that WHEN someone is in the mood to buy your product, they can. Right then. Easily.

Think about it. You went to all the trouble to get them interested in it: you built it, paid the costs, put in the time, then you put it out there, advertised it, spent the energy on it. You did all that stuff.  So, now that it’s ready for sale, make sure you aren’t standing in the way of their ability to say, “Yes, I’ll take that.”

It’s not enough to just have the product on the shelf or visible on a website somewhere if, once a would-be customer finds it, they discover you only take credit cards. Congratulations: you just ruled out everyone who doesn’t have a credit card. Maybe you don’t like people who don’t have credit cards. But for me, I don’t care what you buy stuff with. I just want you to buy my crap.

Here’s an example from the other extreme: my shoe repair guy. This guy is like 8,000 years old. He’s a master craftsman, but he’s behind the times. He only takes cash and checks. No credit cards. No debit cards. Just cash and checks. Well, the last time I was in there, I watched him lose a customer who thought that was stupid, and I watched another customer have to ask a total stranger for three dollars because she’d had no idea it was cash only when she dropped her stuff off. Heck, he even had to wait two days for me to do business with him because I had to remember to bring cash and forgot the first time I went to pick up a pair from him.

So, here’s why I’m telling you all this. Today I was TRYING to buy that website template and it turns out they have made it excruciatingly hard for me to give them my money. I have literally spent the last TWO HOURS trying to find ways to take my money and put it in their hands, and I literally cannot give them my money. What’s even more annoying is that this is the second time in two weeks I’ve had the same problem.

Here’s the deal: the website themes site ( only takes two forms of payment. It looks like they take more because when you click to pay, you see options that say, “Buy with Prepaid Credit” and “Buy Now (via PayPal).”  Below the Buy Now option, you see the following: PayPal, Visa, Amex, Master Card. Below the Prepaid Credit one you see that you have 0 balance with an option to “Make a deposit" (its the green letters; you can't read it very well in this image).

Well the problem starts with the “(via PayPal)” part of the “Buy Now” thing. All those credit card types don’t really mean crap, because you are going to have to use PayPal. Which is fine. I have a PayPal account. So I tried to use it. It’s not working. It works on my credit card, I tested it, balances are going back and forth as of last week (which has to do with the second time in two weeks I mentioned above and will explain shortly), but it wasn’t working here, with these guys today. I even logged onto the credit card account and checked it. No holds. Everything’s dandy.

So fine, maybe there’s some weird glitch with my credit card company approval mechanism or something. No big deal. PayPal can work directly from my checking account too. Except it’s not. I even tried transferring the money directly into PayPal. That’s going to take three days. And, based on the failures of the other payment options, may not work anyway.

So the problem is probably PayPal having a glitch. Maybe there’s some glitch on my credit card that is only glitching at PayPal and nowhere else. Whatever. Who cares? There’s lots of ways to pay… if you give me options. I have other credit cards. Lots of them. They are all just as good as the one I’m using. But since any credit card I use has to go through PayPal, if they have a problem, Themeforest isn’t going to get my money… which they aren’t right now.
So I tried the other option. The direct deposit thing is really another company, sort of like PayPal, called Moneybookers. They appear to have been around for a while, and for the most part are probably okay (but have a look at how long the terms of service document is... I shrunk it down just to fit it all on here, but that is actually a full screen list of 22 different section).

But if you sign up with them, you better stay on your toes.
I was going to sign up for that service, but I made the mistake of reading the fine print. What a bunch of a-holes. It turns out that if you sign up for Moneybookers to make a one-time purchase like the one I wanted to make, you must first open an account (which takes time and does not fit in well with the idea of “making it easy for your customer to buy the website theme you sell”). Upon opening that account, you agree to pay all the extra charges that get added to your purchase price for convenience (not mine) AND—this is the good part—you also agree that if you don’t use the service at least once every 18 months, they can charge your credit card a buck a month forever.

Wow. Really?

I want that deal. I would like to know if any of you reading this right now would like to open an account with my new payment processing company I’m starting right now. I’m going to call it the Financial Undertaking Company, or F. U. Company for short. You don’t even have to use my services, just sign up. And as soon as you aren’t paying attention, I’m going to charge you every month for NOTHING. It’s just a fee you can pay for the joy of knowing me. In fact, I think I will also use your personal information now that I have it to come find your house and kick your dog. I simply love this idea.

Just wow.

Sure I can delete the account after everything processes I guess (they hold your records for 18 months… says so in the fine print), or I can make a point of using the service every 18 months even though their per-purchase fees are high and I have no need for them outside of this ONE item I’m trying to buy. But why should I have to go through all that? Why should I have to add that to my schedule? Come on. I’m just trying to buy a freaking template for my goddamn website.

Needless to say, I did not sign up for that insanity. Which means, I have NOT bought the website theme from Themeforest. I will, but only because I’m not buying on impulse. If it were a book, a CD, or a work of art, I would be over it by now. Kind of like the book I didn’t buy last week because the author only takes PayPal too.

Here’s a little piece of data for you: less than 10% of online purchases are made through PayPal (source). Yes, this number is gradually rising, and yes lots of people have PayPal accounts. Like me. But it’s not a great option if you’re only going to have one or two payment methods. It’s expensive and, not always reliable (either on their side or on the user side). So spend the time and effort to set up a real credit card account. Or have an Ebay option. Or Hell, have a P.0. Box and take checks and money orders. Just make it easy for people to buy.

The End

Oh, but if you care, here's what you get if you go to that link in that long contract I pointed out...


  1. LOL yep. Ugh is right. However, while we can't change much of it, we can at least know how the game is played and position ourselves to win, or, at the very least, score some decent points.

  2. Moneybookers seems to be used primarily by people who are not eligible or have been booted from PayPal. Mb can get away with just about anything as they are the only viable Paypal alternative.

    At least thats my experience with them, I often see comments like "paypal take me account awy no reason, will u take Moneybookers" in online forums.

  3. Yeah, I got a pretty offshore feel from them. I searched for complaints and fraud and didn't find anything that seemed outside the scope of what you'd expect. But given that I only planned on using it once, and I know I won't think to turn it off or whatever, I can see myself with a mystery $1 charge on my credit card for the rest of my life with no way to turn it off having lost the password and everything else two years prior.