Friday, August 26, 2016

Bad News: Paypal vs. Postal Payments

Bad news from Paypal. The company did hold off doing this for many years, and did notify users that they were doing it only when considering bankruptcy; they were giving users a very, very good deal on small accounts, and many of us have always wondered how sustainable such a good deal was. Anyway, as of this summer, when you send this site a Paypal payment of $10 or $15 or whatever is the bare minimum we have to charge to make a profit, Paypal delivers an actual payment that involves, eww ick, now we have to add a $1 (or, for larger payments, $2 or possibly more) surcharge for online payment.

Believe me, I didn't want to do this. The more digits my dyscalculic brain has to bother about, the more likely it is to make those dyslexic-type mistakes. I'd prefer to keep all online prices in multiples of $5, eliminating all one-dollar bills and small change from my Paypal account altogether, and cashing out when the account reaches $100. This was my original policy; Paypal is the party that's making it impossible.

Since the only way we collect online payment is Paypal, this applies to any form of online payment and will apply equally to any marketing site (e.g. Craiglist, E-Bay, etc.) that the real-world members of this site may use individually or collectively.

As local lurkers have had many chances to observe, any merchandise shown here that I sell in real life costs much less than the online price--local buyers get books for typically 10% of their online price. Why? Because (a) real-world transactions are much, much simpler, and (b) in a real-world transaction, local buyers are free to snap up a "bargain" price on an item that might be considered lower in value. In the case of books, a lot of local buyers are willing to pay $1, cash, for books in conditions that don't meet Amazon's standards; after a book's gone through public libraries and/or schools, storage sheds, open-air markets, etc., its condition is very unlikely to meet Amazon's standards. If you buy the book online from this Amazon Affiliate site, what you get should meet Amazon's standards. If it doesn't, send it back.

It wouldn't be ethical for this site to accept any competing online payment processing service's offer that made it possible to eliminate the surcharge. Paypal anticipated the possibility that some other company would start advertising "We Don't Deduct Anything from Payments Below $100...For Now," and people who've been using Paypal might then have an incentive to advertise that the surcharge applied to Paypal payments but not to Elcheapo payments, etc. Those who continue accepting Paypal payments at all have signed a contract to the effect that we will not, ever, do this. All forms of online payment are equal, unless somebody develops a competing online payment processing service that costs us more than Paypal.

However, because U.S. postal orders are not online payments, because you-the-buyer pay the processing fee up front and the post office pays us the full amount in cash, it would be unethical to apply the surcharge to real-world payments made via U.S. postal orders. You actually pay a little more for the extra security of paying via postal money orders, but we don't have to charge you as much. What our new surcharge actually does is reduce the difference between Paypal handling fees and U.S. Post Office handling fees. Formerly, postal payment added more than $1 to your $10 payment, whereas online payment added only a cybersecurity hazard. Now, postal payment still adds a little more than $1, but online payment adds $1.

So...this web site likes the convenience of Paypal, but this web site will always recommend Keeping It Real. You're safer, and we're safer, if you can use a U.S. postal money order. (This has always been the case.) Better yet, come to Gate City (the current miserable weather is bound to break soon), check out the bargains I've not written about yet, and pay cash.