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Rant: PayPal Subscriptions and Required Membership

2:02 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I run a subscription service billed through PayPal. A couple of months ago, despite overall positive experiences with PayPal, I decided it was time to switch to a regular merchant account. I was losing a lot of people at the order page and I suspected some of it had to do with them needing a PayPal account to sign up. Then, PayPal announced that membership was no longer required for one-time purchases. I thought, "cool, it won't be long before they roll this out to subscription services". Well, I was wrong -- it's been months now. I'm still using PayPal and I'm still losing subscribers at the order page.

So here's the point of my rant -- it's time for me to fish or cut bait. Does anyone know when PayPal is actually planning to roll out the 'no membership' option to subscription services? If we're talking months still, I'm gone.

One aside: like I said, my experiences with PayPal have been really positive. It's a great service -- I'm just trying to assess whether it's right for my business.

9:50 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Run a merchant account alongside your PayPal buy now button.

Going PayPal alone is a big mistake, almost as big as not including it on any checkout page as a payment option.

11:50 am on May 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I've been wondering about going with PayPal alone given the new openness to non-members. What's the case against it?
12:00 pm on May 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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pdivi I would at least get started on a merchant account, why wait? Even if PayPal did role out the easier tos many would still prefer to buy direct by cc rather than touching PayPal.

I am one of those that unless you accept my Amex card directly you lose my business, and I will never ever touch anything PayPal related again.

1:10 pm on May 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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From a user standpoint I don't like the way Paypal handles subscriptions anyway. World's worst user interface. Frankly I still want to be reminded and allowed to approve _any_ payment before it happens. I will never - ever "subscribe" to anything via Paypal again.

Use some other service that lets your subscribers approve renewals otherwise it will backlash.

2:11 pm on May 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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And then you have stories like me. About 80% of my gross revenue comes from Paypal subscriptions. It works pretty well for us.
3:01 pm on May 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I would recommend you keep PayPal and get an additional online merchant and put it's buttons next to PayPal's to test which is more popular. Try a search on google for merchants, or use:


With 2checkout, I am not sure if they do handle subscriptions, but no one has to make an account with them to buy something from you. Test with 2 or 3 differnt merchants for about 6 months, and delete the merchant which you recieve the least amount of payments from. That way, you can offer your potential buyers two or more different ways of paying.