Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sick of PayPal? Check out these alternatives

If you've had it up to here with the online commerce platform de facto, maybe it's time to take your money elsewhere on the Internet.
PayPal  has long been a tent pole of e-commerce, a service integrated into nearly every online shopping experience. But that doesn’t mean it’s above the ire of the Internet. Lately something’s been amiss over at the site, and now complaints of shoddy customer service and poorly worded user policies are coming back to haunt it.
First, in true holiday spirit, PayPal froze Regretsy’s charity campaign and a company representative dealt with the situation poorly (the phrase “You can use the donate button to raise money for a sick cat, but not poor people” comes to mind). And this isn’t the first time PayPal has been accused of abusing its power: various websites have had their donate button access revoked at the site’s whim, and in many cases, the forced refunds directly profited PayPal. Even if that is totally above board, it isn’t a practice that will endear itself to most.
Now, Regretsy is feeling that pain again, but this time as a spectator after a woman shared her story with the website. Recently, a woman named Erica sold a rare violin for $2500, and used PayPal for the transfer of funds. The buyer wasn’t satisfied, saying it may be a fraud despite legitimate authentication, and he wanted a refund which Erica was willing to grant. PayPal then decided with very little evidence that the violin was counterfeit, and stated that in order to issue a refund the buyer would need to destroy the antique violin, leaving Erica without the sale money, and without the antique violin.
Once again, we could be looking at a PayPal fail. And if you’re one of the many who’s had enough, it’s time to start doing your shopping elsewhere.


Google Checkout

Pros: It’s never a bad idea to get on board with Google if you’re searching for Web apps. If you have even one or two other Google accounts, the incentive becomes even greater. Small business owners might already be using Google Ads or Offers (and think of the capabilities if Google Wallet really takes off), and there’s something to be said for simplicity. Comparatively low cost as well.
Cons: This is a relatively new Google product and it’s not quite ready for widespread consumer use yet. You can only use debit and credit cards, and as with all of these other options, it’s not as widely used as PayPal.
Cost: Using this to process sales will cost a minimum of 1.9-percent + $0.30 per transaction. Transaction processing rates you are charged are determined by your sales volume from the month prior (extra 1-percent if you’re selling to someone in a different country).


Amazon Payments

Pros: If you’re a real e-commerce addict, you probably use Amazon often enough as is. And if you’re constantly selling items on Amazon, there’s an immediate upside right there. Of course Amazon’s prestige in the market is also a benefit.
Cons: You can’t simply install an Amazon Payment button on your site and keep users on your page, they will instead be redirected to Amazon. Amazon has been criticized for its server structure in the past, and it might come back to haunt you (not to mention you’re helping promote that brand instead of your own).
Cost: Transactions greater than $10, Amazon charges 2.9-percent + $0.30. Less than $10, 5-percent and $0.05.



Pros: Dwolla is super user friendly and ties in to the growing social commerce movement. You can send money through syncing with social networks and pay for things with your phone. Dwolla will also immediately pay for something up front that costs up to $500, as long you pay that back within a month.
Cons: In order to use its faster deposit system “Instant,” you have to pay $3 a month. Otherwise it’s a three to five day wait to get and send funds. It’s also a new company, which means it’s still developing the application’s architecture and working out the kinks.
Cost: Transactions under $10 are free; over $10 they are $0.25. 

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