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Bluedrake42

Poor Stripe integration for Recurring Subscriptions

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Hi, I just wanted to make a post talking about a serious problem with IPS forums, and that is the credit card integration with Stripe for recurring payments.

Currently purchasing a subscription through IPS with a credit card requires the user to manually store credit card information on the website. Not only is this option disabled by default for many users, but also in general... this undermines the reliability of recurring payments as a revenue source. Many of my users aren't even aware that they have not setup automated billing, and need to manually repay for a new invoice.

When compared to Patreon, Twitch, Youtube, or even Facebook's recurring payment solutions... IPS Forums is sadly considerably less reliable simply because of this one issue. I would like to please ask for the option to require a user to store credit card information in order to purchase a recurring subscription. If a credit card has not been stored, I'd prefer to stop the user from purchasing a subscription what-so-ever... or if a credit card is removed from storage, I'd like to automatically unsubscribe that user from all services they are currently subscribed to.

This is currently how Patreon/Twitch/Youtube/Facebook/etc all currently work, and if it would be possible to get the same functionality for IPS... I think I would use it more often.

Thanks!

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7 hours ago, AlexWebsites said:

Are you saying that users that go through stripe for credit cards cannot automatically be charged for their next renewal and have to manually pay an invoice?

He simply means automatic renewals only happen when the user saves their card, and as it's an optional field a lot of members don't save their card and are therefore required to manually renew. 

He would like the option to force people to save their card to increase the number of automatic renewals. Similar to how you can force anyone who purchases a subscription through PayPal to create a billing agreement.

I think he's right in a way that for items that renew, the saving of a card could be forced initially, and the customer can remove or change the card manually in the client area later if they choose. 

A lot of companies do use this approach when selling plans/subscriptions/memberships. 

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7 hours ago, Tom S. said:

He simply means automatic renewals only happen when the user saves their card, and as it's an optional field a lot of members don't save their card and are therefore required to manually renew. 

He would like the option to force people to save their card to increase the number of automatic renewals. Similar to how you can force anyone who purchases a subscription through PayPal to create a billing agreement.

I think he's right in a way that for items that renew, the saving of a card could be forced initially, and the customer can remove or change the card manually in the client area later if they choose. 

A lot of companies do use this approach when selling plans/subscriptions/memberships. 

Got it, thanks for the explanation.

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I'm sorry this has been disappointing for you. It may be of help to note that we do have a payment overhaul roadmapped for the product in the future. Specifically, this would aim to alleviate this sort of confusion and also allow more flexibility such as deciding which payment methods can/should be used for which purposes and explicitly allowing or disallowing recurring payments. 

With that said, I realize that is not quite what you asked for. In terms of the specific suggestion, I'll be honest in saying I don't love the idea of forcing saved payment methods and recurring automatic payments with no opt-out other than cancelling your subscription. One could make an argument that comparing your community to Youtube or Facebook is apples and oranges. Youtube, Facebook, Spotify, et al will be more familiar with all applicable laws, regulations (which can and do vary) and they will have their own direct relationships with merchant processors. You, unfortunately, will not necessarily have that luxury... in the case of Stripe specifically, their service agreement states you must obtain explicit consent and provide appropriate disclosures to save customer payment information and process their recurring transactions.

Subscriptions generate the highest amount of chargebacks for credit card issuers, processors and merchants. Chargebacks are very costly... to everyone. This is why PayPal no longer permits you to accept billing agreements using credit card - you must instead use their Braintree payment service, which is like qualifying for a mortgage and one of the questions on the app is specifically "do you sell subscriptions?" As much as we want to offer flexibility and ensure your success, we also need to be mindful of placing you in a position of getting yourself jammed up because of lack of knowledge of applicable laws and merchant regulations and of course it's important to us to stay in the good graces of those we integrate with, such as Stripe. 

I would rather focus effort on being clear to the customer from the beginning and give them the opportunity to avoid dealing with manual invoices by simply ticking a box to enable recurring billing. 4.4 also improved what happens when a purchase is about to expire, when it expires and if an attempt to auto-pay failed. If we need further improvement to that area, we're happy to do that as well. 

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I appreciate this answer, and it's the most in-depth and comprehensive answer I've gotten on this topic so far. So I appreciate that, and your feelings on the matter make sense.

However with that said, Stripe has it's own support for recurring payments. Stripe's recurring payments system has all the support I need, and was the system I used previously (before I moved to IPS) to accept recurring payments. If IPS isn't interested in supporting automated recurring payments in the way I need... why am I not allowed to use Stripe's own recurring payments solution?

I'm not as much frustrated that IPS doesn't support what I want... but that it is specifically barring me from using Stripe's native functionality that does. I actually still have a few legacy subscriptions from users who still support our community through this system before we switched to IPS.

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I understand you disagree with handling recurring credit card subscriptions like this... but I don't really understand why it's a matter of how anyone feels about it. My account is approved for subscriptions through Stripe, just as it is approved for billing agreements with Paypal. Why do you not have support for Stripe subscriptions? If you don't want to support the features I want... why am I not allowed to use other services that do?

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I don't really understand this. I'm not asking you to add features you don't want to add. I'm asking you to please let us use native features of our existing payment processors that do what you don't want to do. You wouldn't have to store credit care information, or handle anything in regards to a user... it would all be handled by Stripe. How does that implicate IPS at all? How is that any different from Paypal billing agreements? If I am already approved to use these features by Stripe... why is it IPS's concern whether I should be able to use it?

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I'm very confused, unfortunately. Your original suggestion was asking for the ability to force a credit card to be saved and to force recurring billing. You now appear to be asking for the Stripe subscriptions via checkout method. We do not have support for Stripe "subscriptions" because Commerce handles all recurring billing and Stripe checkout would be redundant. We're certainly not barring you from using whatever you wish, the software just doesn't hook directly into Stripe subscriptions. 

To be clear: just because I personally am not on board with a feature suggestion does not mean it will never happen. All IPS employees have the ability to grab a suggestion and put it up for vetting internally. Developers, support, sales, etc. each weigh in and it either passes or fails from there. No one person, myself included, makes feature decisions. In this case, I wouldn't stand in the way, but from a corporate and legal standpoint, if the feature were to be introduced, I would insist that the customer not be able to proceed to checkout without acknowledging that the admin is forcing them to store payment details and engage in recurring payments and we'd make sure multiple reminders are sent prior to expiration. 

I can tell you from my own experience, a good number of payment disputes and chargebacks occur from people who actually opted in to recurring billing and simply forgot that they did so, were charged and called the credit card company to reverse the charge -- which then incurs a $15-25 fee on our end. Chargeback fraud amounts to thousands of dollars per year for us and an average of a loss of $2.60 for $1.00 of fraud. According to stats released by Verifi, Inc. 85% of chargebacks are conducted by consumers who never contacted the merchant. Most banks and processors consider subscription/recurring based purchases to be high risk. It's even worse if they, as you suggested, cancel a subscription before the term is up and you unsubscribe them from all services as they will then try to dispute the original transaction.

Finally and most respectfully, you are simply not Facebook, Twitch or Youtube -- nor are we. 🙂 As consumers, we know how difficult it can be to get out of recurring billing agreements (if you've ever had SiriusXM, you'll feel the pain) -- for me, forced recurring payments is already a red flag -- it tells me the merchant is likely trying to lock me into something and hoping I'll forget about it and not pay close attention to future statements... combine that with a small site and it's a non-starter; I'll close the browser and move on with my life. PayPal is somewhat of a limited exception because you, as the consumer, can cancel a billing agreement with ease, without contacting the merchant and without performing a dispute. 

I won't debate business practices with you as how you conduct your business is just that: your business. Nonetheless, on a software level, I don't personally like this idea because I feel an inherent obligation to protect customers from exposing themselves to the pitfalls of what most institutions consider to be the highest risk transactions. If you're really committed to this and don't want to wait to see if the feature will be picked up by someone at IPS, it would be rather trivial for a third party developer to do a custom project for you and force the CC save box to be permanently ticked and change the verbiage to reflect that. I'd really recommend ensuring you have your disclaimers and legalese in place as we've had more than one customer get shut down by Stripe for funny business.

Good luck and I'm sorry we don't have a perfect solution for you. 

 

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Well I think we've had trouble communicating exactly what I was wanting from the beginning of all this, but to sum up... I don't really mind which solution I use (either Stripe or IPS's internal soluton) as long as I'm able to find a solution that allows us to do what we need.

However I understand your points, and your perspective makes sense.

I've already had a third party developer create a plugin that does what you describe (you might already be aware of that) however ultimately if it isn't a native solution... I just don't think it will work out very well. It breaks with updates, and never really worked cleanly... and what we need most for a checkout process is for everything to be clean. So creating a custom plugin isn't really an option I think. We had a plugin which forced the tick box to be selected... yet still somehow when people went through checkout, the card still wasn't saved.

I'll think about your feedback, and figure out where to go from there. I understand your points on fraud, and that definitely is a legitimate concern. It is something we've dealt with as well, although we had issues with users attempting to file charge-backs in order to steal digital product keys... so a slightly different more malicious practice.

Would be nice if there was just a credit card solution similar to Paypal billing agreements. I don't mind Paypal billing agreements, but it seems like only allowing Paypal loses us a considerable number of potential supporters who prefer credit card.

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I just wanted to update everyone who is also having the same problem on this.

We've recently decided to begin using Donor Box, and it is exactly what we have been looking for. It is very lightweight, integrates with Stripe and Paypal directly, and also has support for custom API connections. Which means it can still technically be linked to an IPS community forum, with a little effort. Users enter their credit card information, and subscriptions are active by default. It also has support for both one time and recurring donations.

For anyone who is also having this issue and looking for a solution, I believe we may have found ours here.

https://donorbox.org/

Cheers!

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