Make the up-front charge more fair

I liked the idea of up-front charge so I switched to it on the 1st of this month, however I think it is not really fair to the patrons who sign up on 30 August to be charged again 2 days later.

I have two suggestions:

  1. Make the up-front monthly payment proportional (or at least allow the Patron to decide) so if someone signs up on 30 August they will pay 2/31 of the money for that month and then the regular payment on the 1st of September.

  2. For Patrons who signed up in the second half of the month (and were charged immediately) skip the next charge. Maybe even allow the creator to decide from which day in the month this happens.

In either case the creator should probably need to opt-in to the feature and in either case you might offer the patron to have full payment both when signing up and next month. After all many are there to provide support and not to get the benefits.

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A better solution would be to charge on the anniversary date. This would have the added benefit of eliminating (or at least attenuating) the regularly scheduled system problems associated with running the billing cycle on the 1st of the month.

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@Michael_Loucks right, that would be probably even better.

On a second thought though, I guess, if a single patron gives to multiple creators then today they are charged once for the total amount. If Patreon was to charge on the anniversary date then these would probably fall on different dates for a single patron.

That probably need to be smoothed somehow.

Easy enough if Patreon would allow them to carry a balance an only charge their card when the balance drops below a fixed level. That’s how the tollway handles my transponder. I set a minimum level, they charge when I pass a toll, then replenish when it drops below my minimum.

Yes, it’s work for Patreon, but it solves the charge-up-front problem AND basically fixes the ‘declined’ problem in most instances.

Nearly every problem that arises here has a solution, and I’ve continually provided them, but alas, nothing I’ve suggested has been implemented.

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There are a lot of conversations about this on the forums with a lot if pros and cons for various proposed solutions. If you search charge up front you’ll find a bunch and some of these things you’ve mentioned bave been brought up and given feedback on too by other creators.

Unfortunately as far as I know we have yet to hear from patreon staff saying they are planning on making any changes at all. Which is very sad. This system is not “one size fits all” and there needs to be options.

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As suggested by @Temrin I ran a search now with charge up front and after a bit of scrolling I indeed found a few threads about the topic. I don’t know how I missed them before posting myself, but here are some of them, in case someone else is looking at this topic and is wondering:

I have a Patreon account for more than 2 years, but recently I started to be active again and switched to up-front charge. Now I am not sure it was a wise move.

It’s a pity that this issue has not been addressed yet.

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Thinking aloud:

I have a number of ebooks that I sell for 5-20 USD each.

On the 1st of each month I could go over the new patrons who signed up in the last 15 days and send them a message explaining the situation and offering them to select one of my books to get it free of charge. That might make the situation more acceptable.

What do you think about it?

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That’s totally cool! I’ve done that with my monthly bundle packs before. I think that’s a great way to handle it.

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I have designed my Patreon around the current system. As long as they sign up before the literal end of the month, they instantly have access to all of my content from that month. If they were to not be charged I KNOW people would exploit that to steal content without paying. They’re constantly looking for ways to cheat NSFW creators. There are entire groups and websites dedicated to it.

I think the thing to keep in mind is that there are people who support creators just to support them, but there are a lot who support creators just to get whatever exclusive content they may be offering. I know most of my Patrons are the latter.

I do absolutely see how these changes would benefit those with support-focused Patrons, but for those of us with reward-focused Patrons it could be really problematic.

I definitely think it would need to be opt-in and even then I know some Patrons would try to bully creators into using it if they’ve seen other similar creators using it. The world for creators who are not models or cosplayers seems way more supportive and kinder so if you’re not one of us I can totally understand why this might sound crazy, but it’s definitely a thing.

Anyway, I could go on, but I think this is already too long. I just didn’t want to say I wasn’t a fan without a decent explanation. I do think it would be beneficial to some creators. I’m just not sure what percentage.

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I can’t recall if I or someone else mentioned this before, but if they want to do a two second bandaid fix, they could put a noticeable message on the pledging pages that have charge up front explaining the details. That you will be charged again, regardless of when you signed up, on the first of the following month. At least that way people can be informed before they pledge. There shouldn’t be any major changes to the code, so not too much work, and it at least somewhat addresses the problem.

That seems like a nice idea/work around for the time being :slight_smile:

Hope they address this at some point.

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Hi all,

Thanks for jumping in to share your feedback and suggestions. We recognize that patrons joining in the second half of the month feel like they’re being doubly charged, and it can be a confusing process. We’ve added an extra line of messaging in the checkout flow to try and help curb this confusion, see my example below:

I don’t have any update for you at the moment I will definitely take your suggestions to the team!

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Yes, thank you! Love seeing that there :smiley: Really appreciate y’all taking the feedback into consideration!

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I actually offer to do a partial refund for Patrons who join super-late in the month. So far, no one’s taken me up on it (my Patrons are awesome, and mostly are just happy to support my stuff and get knitting/crochet patterns! :slightly_smiling_face:)

I know why charge-up-front became a thing-- to stop unscrupulous people from taking content and running. And charging by join date is (understandably) too cumbersome, since one of Patreon’s advantages is to aggrigate the payment processor fees, etc.

But it’s still has some issues :cry:

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Another possibility that I am sure someone already mentioned is to charge prorata for the current month and the next month. If someone signs up on 28 August they will be charged for 3/31 + 1 of the monthly payment.

In any case let the creator decide from which day in the month they would like this to be the case, if at all.

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I disagree with this. Someone who signs up at the end of the month, to our Patreon anyway, gets access to everything they would get if they signed up at the beginning of the month. It would not be fair (to us or our other Patrons) if they paid a fraction of the monthly pledge and got it all.

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Yes! Anniversary billing would be so helpful (at least as an option creators can opt into). For customers who have never used Patreon before, they come in expecting a subscription services to work the same way it does everywhere else. Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, almost everyone uses anniversary billing.

It is easier for customers to understand, and more convenient.

The primary reason Patreon doesn’t is so they can double dip on transaction fees for non-grandfathered creators (old creators got to pool transaction fees which made the clunky billing system kinda make sense. But newer creators don’t get this benefit and older creators have less of it due to the smaller number of eligible creators to pool with. Ex: if a patron supports two creators, one old and one new, the full transaction fee gets charged to both creators. Patreon itself only pays the fee once – in effect, Patreon pockets the difference).

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I disagree with this. Someone who signs up at the end of the month, to our Patreon anyway, gets access to everything they would get if they signed up at the beginning of the month. It would not be fair (to us or our other Patrons) if they paid a fraction of the monthly pledge and got it all.

Completely agree. I don’t really see the problem as it’s clearly stated when they sign up that they will be charged on the first of the month, it’s not like it’s a surprise and it’s not like they’re not getting the full month they’ve joined at! I produce a LOT of posts each month and have never had any complaints about this (4.5yrs with a page), most folks understand how it works.

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Upvote if you like this idea:
- Allow the creators to set an Expiration Date instead of Charge Up Front.

  • Basically, Expiration Date is a value that creators can set (min: 30 days to prevent abuse) that specifies how long a subscription lasts before the patron has to pay the thing again.
  • Patrons need to pay for the first time, just like Charge Up Front, but the point here is that, because it’s in this system, Patrons always get the same benefites for a set amount of time, no matter when they joined.

Bad at English, and I’m not good at Literature, but I hope you understand the concept anyways.

I got a Patron who joined at the last day of the month, so they got double charged.
I really want this idea to be a thing so future Patrons won’t have to go through what they had to.
They still want to stay with me though, which is awesome, but still. It’s kinda unfair for patrons like them with the current system you guys have.

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I think most of you would agree that if you signed up to Netflix on 30th of a month and they charged you the full monthly amount immediately and then again on the 1st of next month, you’d be quite upset. Even if they said so when you signed up.
And with Netflix too you get access to their full content immediately.

Netflix charges me on the 11th of every month. Probably because I signed up on the 11th of some month. I understand why this anyversary model might not be a good idea in case of Patreon and why some patrons would prefer to have the charges of all of their contributions combined together. Although the suggestion of @Michael_Loucks to carry a balance for the patrons could solve this.

Zoom on the other hand charged me a partial fee for the first partial month and then charges me on the 1st of every month. (I know they don’t have content, I am just showing an example.)

There is a 3rd similar solution which is charging the partial fee for the current month and the next month at the time of signup. Then keep charging on the 1st. This would also be strange to some people, but probably understandable. Especially if this happens in the second part of a month.

In any case my suggestion is to allow each creator do decide what would they like to offer.

This would make life a bit more difficult to Patreon and their developers which might be the reason they don’t offer this level of flexibility.

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Or… you could accept the functionality this platform offers, and work around it to make it work for you. To me, it sounds like charge upfront may just not be for you.

Adding new pledge systems in addition to what Patreon already offers (monthly / per post / up front / annual / different currencies) is just going to confuse patrons even more. With each addition, communication towards my patrons is less about my campaign, and more trying to explain “how this works”.

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