On the Topic of Pay-Up-Front
Greetings! As a Patreon Creator for a couple of years now, I’ve been considering changing from the existing payment method to pay-up-front. However, there is, what I think to be, a very serious flaw in the system that could be damaging to potential patrons. In this topic, I would like to cover the flaw, as I see it, as well as a possible solution. I would love to hear any and all feedback, and hope that my thoughts may offer some insight.
I would say, first, that collecting payment up front is a great idea. It fixes many issues with the standard system, primarily as a filter preventing fraudulent accounts from taking advantage of Patreon and it’s creators. That said, I have personally abstained from converting to the pay-up-front beta because of the way that payment collection is currently handled. This is best explained through example:
Demo Danny is a user who would like to become a patron of Creator Carla. That’s great! Carla has pay-up-front enabled on her monthly Patreon, to prevent fraudulent accounts from getting to her content without payment. Demo Danny thinks that’s cool, and goes ahead and signs up to become a patron of her.
This takes place on the 28th of the month.
Danny is charged $20 immediately (which he expected), and $20 in three days, when the new month starts (which he did not expect). This frustrates Danny, as he feels he has been double-charged unfairly. In the future, Danny will avoid creators who use pay-up-front, particularly if it is not at the beginning of the month, because he feels it would be wasteful of him to do otherwise.
The issue here is not that Demo Danny was charged up front - but that he was also subsequently charged at the beginning of the month, only three days after his initial payment.
This is not the first time this situation has been handled by businesses, and there are multiple ways to skin this cat. For example, apartment complexes will typically pro-rate your rent should you move in at the end of the month rather than the beginning. Many monthly subscription services handle it another way, by having it charge you in monthly increments based on the date of your initial payment (June 28th, July 28th, August 28th…).
I believe, considering the nature of Patreon and its content, that the model that would fit best is the latter of those two, modified slightly. Let’s take a look at that example again, but with a modified pay-up-front structure in place:
Demo Danny is looking to become a patron of Creator Carla. Carla has the modified pay-up-front structure in place. Danny goes ahead and contributes $20 a month, which he is charged immediately. Again, this is on the 28th of the month.
The $20 that Danny has pledged is sent to Patreon. Carla can see in her Payment Settings that the money is there, and just as it does now, when the first of the month rolls around, all completed payments will be paid out to her PayPal account. Carla notices no change from how she is paid today from how she was paid previously.
The first of the month rolls around, and Danny is not charged. He has made his contribution for the month, and will not be charged again until the 28th of the following month. This coincides with how Danny expected the experience to go, thus he is satisfied by the transaction, and in the future will have no problem contributing to creators using the pay-up-front system.
Now - the fly in the ointment here, as far as I perceive it, is that if you were a patron of many different creators, instead of having your contributions come out in a single transaction at the beginning of the month, they would come out sporadically throughout the month. I do not have a solution to that problem. However, I feel that, compared to the existing problem that can potentially deter users from pledging to creators in the first place, this is the lesser of two evils.
I would very much love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. I am very interested in this topic, as I have been excited about pay-up-front since it was first mentioned… I just don’t want to possibly harm the users genuinely looking to support me in order to stop a few bad apples from taking advantage of the system.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you all have an excellent day.