Feature Request: Monthly Payments starting on Join Date

Hi,

This is something that is really a frustration that I’ve been having with Patreon.
As a creator, we have two options to bill monthly:

  1. Up Front ( regardless of the join date, patreons get charged, plus they get charged on 1st of the next month) - The problem with this model is that a lot of people who join my page near the end of the month, get charged “quickly” two times and they decide to quit being a Patreon because they were charged too often and almost all of them said that they expected they will be charged 30 days from their join date.

  2. Monthly (Patreons get charged 1st of the month - again - regardless of when they joined, so if they joined on 2nd May, they will be charged on June 1st) This really doesn’t make sense to me.

So I’m really interested to know why there is no option for Patreons to be charged on the day when they join and then 30 days from that date. Is it really that difficult to have this kind of charging model?

Thanks!

8 Likes

I would absolutely love that. The way the system works now is such a pain. I offer refunds to patrons that join at the end of the month now, because the system is just not fair for them. Patrons get access to all the content I have ever posted, so this system just doesn’t make sense for my way of working.
If Patreon changes this, it would make me and my patrons so much happier :slight_smile:

1 Like

This sort of blows up the idea of creators having a regular monthly income.

As it is now, everyone gets charged on the first, and we can payout as soon as it’s done. Payday is always the same day.

With variable charge dates, that regular payout date goes away. New creators could end up with zero patrons who are being charged on the first of the month.

2 Likes

I’m really not sure why this is a point of contention for new patrons, to be honest, but maybe what I remember from the pledge page is different now. It used to be when you pledge to a pay up front creator, it tells you right there on the payment screen that you will be charged today immediately, and then again on the first of the month. If that’s still how it appears, then it shouldn’t really be a surprise that if they sign up on the last day of the month they’re going to get charged again the next day. Would it be an easier solution for Patreon to make that information a click through page that asks them to confirm they understand they’ll be charged twice if they join at the end of the month?

3 Likes

This is how every single other service I’ve ever used works. If my internet company did what Patreon does with charge-up-front I’d cancel immediately thinking it’s a scam and switch to a different ISP. The difference here is there is no viable alternative to Patreon.

Gumroad (and many other subscription service platforms I’ve used) works like this: Whatever the start date for each customer, they charge them in regular intervals. They sign up on the 15th, next month they’re charged on the 15th. Gumroad hangs onto your money for the remainder of the month and pays you on the 1st.

I have two ideas why Patreon decided not to work like this (please correct me if they’ve explained it differently).

  1. If a customer is a patron of multiple creators, the current way lets Patreon (on the 1st of the month anyway) charge them once for all their pledges to various creators, only incurring one transaction fee.
  2. Patreon doesn’t have to hang on to a bunch of cash waiting for payouts, they get the money in and out as quickly as possible. I’m not really sure why this matters to be honest but maybe it does.

Personally, I’d be OK with accepting a slightly increased fee in order to cover the additional transaction cost caused by charging patrons out of sync. Getting double charged in short succession is not well communicated to the patrons at all and is highly unacceptable. I often have to refund patrons because they send me angry messages asking if I’m scamming them with the double charge.

Edit: Alternatively, I’d also be happy if we could let them skip the first month’s payment - i.e. they pay when they sign up (e.g. on the 15th of May), then the June 1st payment is skipped and they’re charged for the second time on July 1st. I’m sure not everyone would be happy with this, it could easily be abused to get 2 months for the price of one, but there are surely ways to prevent that happening repeatedly by the same user. In any case if it were an option I’d personally accept the risk as it moves the frustration from the patron side to the creator side, which is better in the long term.

3 Likes

Agree totally with everything here! This is and should be a long term game with building trust and authority with your Patreons, not making them angry and charging them twice and causing confusion and refund requests.

So much support for this. I would pay money to have this implemented. I easily lose thousands per month due to the current system. My late month sign ups are less than half the rate of my early month sign ups.

“I want to sign up but I’ll wait for the 1st so I don’t get double charged!” - should be tattooed on my arm at this point. And also I never see those people again. I’ve been called a scammer, a cheat, a liar, and everything else you can imagine because people sign up on the 27th and then get charged again a few days later. I’ve had to create a system of “credit” for anyone that signs up late to be sure they didn’t just waste a ton of money on a few days.

I imagine this system works fine for people selling $1 or $3 tiers, but when my patron’s average spending is $30+ on a tier… it doesn’t work.

2 Likes

I think that’s actually not true. You decide when you payout the money from Patreon so you can have your payday whenever you want .

Regular payout wouldn’t go away. It’ll be different in the first month but later it’s going to be just as normal as now. I mean look at it that way:

If I have 30 Patrons who've signed up one each consecutive days in April then on May 1, I have money from 30 pledges just as if I charged everyone on the first. Obviously, in May I'd pay out money I earned in April - but you still have your payday.

The difference is that we don’t charge people who join towards the end of the month a full-month subscription fee. So initially you might have less money but it’s fair this way and in the long run it’d be better for us as we won’t lose potential Patrons who don’t want to join in the middle of the month.

2 Likes

I want to add my 2 cents to this. I totally agree with @ManateeGaming and @gregzaal. The current system is counter-intuitive as nobody in the world (or almost nobody) charges like that and it affects our reputation!!! People don’t blame Patreon but us, creators, and think we want to scam them and they feel cheated by us (not by Patreon).

Even though I inform about the way it works in many places on my website and finally Patreon puts out the date of next charge in the last step of checkout process, some people ignore it or if they don’t, they just run away.

I don’t blame them - it’s so weird when on the last day of the month, they tell you that you’ll get charged again tomorrow :angry: - I’d think it’s a bug or seriously unfair system that I don’t want to be part of.

I cringe every time I see people become a Patron in the last week or so of the month. Because I know I will get emails like that at the beginning of the next month:

I am writing to express my deepest disappointment with ESL Patreon policy.
I subscribed on April 16th, and had half a month to benefit from it, even though I paid for a full month - I agreed on such terms (however I think it’s absurd)

Could you please tell me why I am getting charged again. I subscribed on April 13 and have not enjoyed a full month and you are charging me again on May 1. Don´t think this is very fair.

And these are the nice ones I got this month.

I don’t really understand why we have the payment system like now on Patreon - was it some design concept I don’t get or technical limitation when Patreon was starting up? Nevertheless, I think it causes more damage then it brings benefits. And honestly, this is the biggest pain point that makes me think how to move away from Patreon and which I believe seriously impacts how many people subscribe and the retention rate for new Patrons.

@mindy could you share with us what was the thinking behind introducing such a way of charging Patrons? What’s there that we don’t see? Plus, it’d be really nice to see some data, e.g.

  • how the day of the month affect Patreon retention rate of new Patrons (in the case of creators that charge Up Front)
  • does the pledge amount has some impact on the retention rate when charged Up Front (as @ManateeGaming wrote $1-3 Patrons won’t be so frustrated for being charged for fewer than 30 days as opposed to people who pay $5+)

My intuition would say that data will show that people don’t stick for long if we charge them for 14 days or fewer in their first month and the higher the Tier the more people cancel their pledge after 1 month. But that’s a hypothesis I’d love to test on wider audience rather than just my Patronage.

How do you change it to the setting where patrons are charged up front right when they join?

To avoid all of this, I simply don’t use Charge Upfront. It’s a rather simple solution, and is easy to communicate - you only get charged on the first.

This allows Patrons to ‘Try before they buy’ with ‘Free’ content until they get charged on the first.
I prefer to do it this way, and helps retain Patrons better.

It shows that I’m confident in what I produce, and shows that my main motivation for attracting Patrons is not dollars.

3 Likes

Believe it or not, you can’t!

If you created your account initially with charging “Up front”, and now you want to switch back to monthly, you can’t do that. I wrote a support ticket for that, and I was told to create another creator page instead and start from beginning :smiley: what a joke…

This is a good question! The main reason why we charge on the 1st is that is allows us to aggregate patrons pledges. This significantly reduces the fees that creators pay since many patrons support multiple creators.

The honest answer to your other questions is that payment schedules are a giant can of worms and it’s very hard to disentangle. But if you want to dive into it, I’m happy to try and share my limited knowledge about it with you!

To be able to charge patrons using anniversary billing (that is, every 30 or so days on the day they joined, not tied to the calendar month) we have to de-aggregate payments. This is what Patreon had planned to do back in December 2017 but we ended up rolling back due to community upset. In the announcement post of that change, Patreon said: we need to move our payments system to treat your pledges like any other subscription service. In other words, we need a system that charges patrons at the time of their initial pledge, and on the anniversary of their pledge each month thereafter. However, the feedback to this change proved that it was not popular as it would have disproportionately impacted $1 – $2 patrons and that aggregation is highly-valued, which we underestimated. This blog post (it’s not from Patreon so I can’t vouch for the accuracy here) goes into more detail about that change.

We know that anniversary billing is highly requested and it’s something we continue to think about and explore on how best to solve. As shared in this other thread, we’re starting to explore more payment options on Patreon (both currencies and format) - currently in beta is the ability for patron to pledge annually, not monthly.

@Sierra_Vandervort to turn on charge-up front, this help article has info! But remember, it’s a permanent change like @how2rhino says. We try to make that very clear in both the help articles and the product when you make that change.

4 Likes

Charge-up front is great so people just don’t sign up, download all the stuff the creator offers and immediately leave. Obviously! But as stated above, it is very confusing for people, who sign up on (let’s say) the 25th and get charged again a couple of days later. Yes, Patreon makes it clear when signing up. But still, it confuses people and might result in cancellations. Or people think about signing up on the 25th, then rather want to wait for the next month and never return.

Maybe (as an option for creators) Patreon could think of a way that new Patrons get charged when they sign up and the monthly payments after the initial payment don’t start on the 1st of the following month but the month thereafter. (For example, I sign up today and pay, my second payment is on July 1st followed by monthly payments thereafter).

This would be something like a free-trial but the first month being paid regardless. Best of both worlds for everybody involved (depending on what the creator offers, I guess.) I think that would be a good way to hopefully establish long-term relationships with new Patrons.

2 Likes

Please note that this was a big part of the change they implemented in 2017.

De-aggregating payments will cost my campaign 50% or more of my revenue. It would slaughter my campaign. We saw this in 2017 when I had to SCRAMBLE and promote like crazy to only have my campaign numbers drop by $700 that month (without Patreon actually going through with the changes I still had that heavy of a loss).

I’ve already had what used to be my biggest tier of supporters removed because it was 50c per creation (the minimum is now $1 per creation - which for my campaign comes out to $10 per month - even 50c supporters are paying $5 per month - heck even the few 10c supporters I had from the early days are still making the minimum of $1 per month).

1 Like

What I do is if a patron has an issue and notifies me of it is I refund them the double charge. I know it’s not a great fix, but it works for both me and the patron. Otherwise I assume people are OK with it.

But again, it’s easier for me to refund them the double charge and count the pledge they did, say, on the 29th as the next month thing.

What I also do is i type out a greeting to every new patron. At 300 ish patrons, that’s a lot but I feel it’s important they know I’m sitting down and giving them my time to welcome them. For those that sign up close to the end of the month I also let them know, hey you will be charged again quite soon, if that’s a problem let me know so I can refund you when you’re charged again on the 1st.

It’s extra effort, but it helps and I’ve only ever had 1 person reach out to me about this but we solved it with a refund and they’re still with me.

I know it’s not an ideal fix, but it’s something you can try??? if you wanted till something comes up. Or make your welcome message address it if typing up welcome messages is too time consuming etc

5 Likes

That’s the way I do it right now as well, but not all patrons read their DMs, so there are still patrons that get upset. It’s just far from ideal.