Delete (not block) patrons

Hi all! My team has been investigating this exact pain point, and we’re considering automatically removing patrons who have declined after some amount of time.

I’d love to hear from you all on how that might impact you (negative or positive), and what timeframe you’d be most comfortable with. I’ve pulled data about this, but your thoughts/feelings are definitely wanted before we make any sort of decision.

Best,
Erin

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Love this!

Some sort of combo of months declined along with a zero or very low % open rate on emails about the declined pledge. Maybe over a four to six month time frame depending how long they have been a patron.

How about some magically crafted algorithm? This would insure everyone wins! Without magic you might have to resort to data and math.

As long as they get a warning email setting expectations and a timeframe…is there another business model we could steal ideas from???

That would make sense and solve the strange “block people to remove them” conundrum, but please a) notify us and b) keep removed patrons’ data somewhere we can consult it. I’m guessing you will get different answers regarding the timeframe. For me, as a small creator with little to lose if someone hangs on without paying for a while, I would say 3 months.

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I’d imagined having the power to quietly delete long-time declining patrons myself, but actually, if Patreon did this automatically, it might be better. Patreon is in a better position to play hard ball without creating offence.

For instance, I’ve had a friend as a patron for some years now. His payment method started declining quite some time ago. I’ve sent out a personal messages, cloaked in a ‘this is how this all works’ overview, and then later on sent out general all-patron messages reminding patrons to keep their payment methods up to date (where the only decliner was him!) - but all to no avail. Now, if it were up to me, I would have quietly deleted him some months ago. However, if Patreon took on that responsibility, then I would have liked it done as soon as possible - why pussy-foot around? They’ve already had a month’s free access/rewards (assuming payment after the fact, not upfront). So, personally, I would say after their payment declines for the 3rd time - which is a few days, right? How frequently does Patreon attempt to recharge declined payments?

I would also block access to the patron-only feed, and replace all email notifications with a reminder that their payment has declined, and they won’t get access until it’s fixed, and that their patronage will be deleted in X days if not. If they’re a genuine patron, then they’ll quickly notice that something is wrong, and remedy it. I know this is hardball, but Patreon can do this, whereas creators can’t (without damaging the relationship).

By the way, @Erin, can you clarify: do declined patrons currently retain access to the patron-only feed? I know at some point they aren’t counted in the public statistics of current patrons - when is this point?

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Hi @erin,

As @gareth.southwell suggests, it would be great if Patreon played bad cop in this scenario – takes a lot of responsibility off Creators’ shoulders if it’s simply the mechanics of Patreon rather than a decision by the Creator.

And I agree with @joumana that 3 months would seem to be a good amount of time.

Like Gareth, I’ve tried emailing and messaging a non-paying Patron but to no avail after five months.

I’ll look forward to seeing what you come up with.

— Jack

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3 months would not be ‘hard ball’, to me. If you didn’t pay your electricity bill or rent, then you would start getting reminders a lot sooner than that! If 3 months were the case, then I would prefer the option to delete my own decliners sooner.

I’ve only a few patrons so far, so this hasn’t been a big issue here, but in my other life as a freelance illustrator, it causes a lot of stress to be chasing non-payers. There, the professional standard is 30 days from date of invoice. Everyone knows that’s the standard, and so even when it goes beyond that, it’s not generally by much. If Patreon is to represent a genuine income stream, then I think it needs to be closer to established practices so that patrons realise that livelihoods are at stake.

I think the process should be something like the following:

  • Patron signs up, gets up to a month of content (assuming no payment up front arrangement)

  • Patron’s card is charged (however many times is standard), then Patreon messages them to say that, unless the problem is remedied in 7 days, then access to content will be suspended.

  • After 7 further days, patron is informed that their patronage will be deleted no later than 30 days from their first declined payment.

So, a month, max, and blocked content after a week.

Or am I being too harsh? :slight_smile:

G.

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I absolutely wouldn’t want Patreon playing the “bad cop” and be in control of deleting or banning patrons. This is my business and Patreon is the platform I run it on, I want as few decisions as possible taken by Patreon as possible. Let me run the business, I just need Patreon to supply the tools to do so.

A simple button to delete but not block patrons is all that’s needed. Let creators decide how lenient or harsh they want to be with their patrons. Maybe have an option of having Patreon run that side for you but I would like the option of overseeing as much as possible myself.

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I think @Elfy has a fair point. If there is going to be disagreement over how long to wait, then maybe put the tools in the hands of the creators. Some guidelines or limitations as to when this could be done would be good (e.g. no deleting before a certain minimum time has elapsed), but then leave it open for those who want to be more generous. The option for patreon to do it for you would also be good - simple option (‘delete declined patrons according to standard policy’ or ‘manage declines manually’).

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Thanks for taking the time to think through this! To answer your questions:

  • As soon as a patron’s payment has declined, they no longer have access to any patron-only posts
  • I’m not sure about when we remove this from the public number, but I can find out. I think it’s likely to be as soon as the patron declines.
  • We actually currently retry an obscene number of times - 9 times in the first two days of the month, but we keep trying throughout the month as well
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Thanks for weighing in! We definitely don’t want to get between you and your patrons, so this is helpful feedback. I’m wondering how many declines you typically see? How does it affect you currently, if at all?

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Right! I knew you tried repeatedly to recharge, but didn’t realise it was so thorough! That actually reinforces the case for swifter action regarding deletion.

For me, a month would be plenty.

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I would prefer the option to do this myself without the option of blocking them but just simply removing them. I personally DM all declined people to let them know it’s declined and that they will be removed from the project if it doesn’t go through or i don’t hear from them before X date. However i usually give a little more time, especially for those whom have has successful pledges in the past. I’ve also had some patrons who’s work takes them out of internet range for weeks at a time and i don’t want to remove them until they’ve returned and have a chance to actually see whats up. (Often times if the payment period has passed and it doesnt seem to be trying to charge them anymore, they just end up shooting me money via paypal and i keep them on.) Sometimes I’ll even give a declined patron another month of content just because they’ve been a really supportive person. (I have no idea how the “pause your pledge” thing even works and what content they are able to see when they do this or even what it looks like on the creators end. So i can’t even tell if this is something that may be impacting what i see or how their pledges look to me.)

But it’s never one solution is right for every situation. I just want the ability to remove people without blocking them so i can take control of my project without it looking like they’ve done something wrong (since they were getting emailed when blocked, unsure if that’s still a thing.) Perhaps this is because i have a small patron base on patreon (like ~30 people) but i want to be as personable as i can with those i know who’ve been supportive and not auto remove them without having time on my end to attempt to communicate with them.

I do see how attractive it is, if patreon just did it for us though, so i’m a little torn. I guess i’d prefer if it was optional. For me i just worry about it still reflecting poorly on me since that’s not how i run my projects. People usually still get removed from my patreon within a couple weeks of a declined pledge but it really depends on the circumstances around that particular patron. :frowning:

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I very much agree with this.

I totally understand - it can certainly feel very final to remove a pledge. I’m wondering if there is an upper-bound to what you think is still ok? For example, if Patreon removed pledges automatically after 2 months of declines, would you have any issue with that? 3 months?

As much as I can, I want to try to balance making all of you comfortable with the system and also making it less of a hassle for creators with large decline bases.

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Recently the last couple of months have had one fraud and between 5-9 declines each of the last two months (many of these the same people since I sent warnings the first time it happened but gave them nother month to fix things.)

I did have a lot more earlier on until I removed them, my current supporters seem a lot better in this regard.

The number on my page says I have 77 patrons currently so declines make up a rather small but not insignificant about of patrons, most of them are at the $10 level as well.

It doesn’t affect me too much at the moment, I don’t do anything differently but I do expect to see the number of patrons and money to drop on pay day each month which is annoying but understandable, not much can be done about that.

I don’t think it should be forced, but a option, so i have no outer limit to suggest because it is seemingly taking my power away from me as the creator of my project page. I also don’t think this is really the solution we need overall. What we’ve been asking for is just the option to remove, not block, for a long time now. This whole other automated thing seems like a non-answer to the problem, a flourish that really only works for some people and for some others, impedes on their projects, where as the simplest and most straightforward answer is the remove button. I don’t actually think overall this automation should be a priority (and in my case, not needed.) The remove a patron (not block) should be the focus as it is optional and useful, let alone that it seems to be one of the most sought after features here and elsewhere, for years, outside of some privacy issues. It doesn’t need flourishing, just a simple button that creators can use if they need to.

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I agree with Temrin.

We can already ban people if and when we want to. The issue that is being talked about here is the ability to remove without banning. It doesn’t need to be automated and nor should it be.

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I agree with this idea. I don’t like block supporters that are declined for several months.

I agree that any potential automated system that removes declined patrons should be optional and not mandatory for creators. But if it was an option, I would use it. I really hate contacting patrons who’ve declined, and I almost never do it. I don’t like looming over people who might already be stressed or embarrassed by their declined pledge. But if it’s been months and they haven’t fixed it, I just don’t consider them to be active patrons anymore, and I don’t like having my numbers skewed by their presence.

I would also definitely appreciate having the means to manually remove a patron without having to block them.

If having an automated system AND having it be optional is too complicated to achieve, I think a simple manual system would be enough - even though I hate playing bad cop. :slight_smile:

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Thank you for clarifying all this, @erin. And my apologies, @gareth.southwell, I got that bit wrong…and I’m glad I was wrong! :blush::wink:

— Jack

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