I apologize for bothering you at your email address instead of through other means, but unlike most messages you’re probably receiving right now, I’m not directly complaining about the new fees being passed to Patrons. The problems with that are merely a symptom of the problems with another change made to Patreon recently. The Anniversary billing system.
When I signed up for Patreon 3 years ago, there was only one reason that it was useful compared to what I was already doing. It consolidated all of my support into a single, easily tracked payment in my bank account. There certainly wasn’t any other reason to sign up for it. I don’t care much about the extras that most creators put up, I just want to try and ensure their continued survival. The site for viewing the extras was extremely deficient. There was no RSS feed for one, and there still isn’t. Almost everything else I follow across the entire internet uses RSS, Atom, or some other similar feed format. Instead of using a simple syndication system, you flood my email box with notifications of new posts, 66% of which I simply archive and ignore, which is a massive daily timesink. Your system doesn’t support multiple images in a single post either, and has poor browsing to go between multiple posts on a single creator, or on all creators. The singular useful feature was concentrating those payments down to one.
And now that’s been wrecked, and there’s no reason for Patreon to even exist anymore because of it. Not only does it break the nice, single entry in my bank statement and replace it with hundreds of disparate entries that are difficult to track and obscure what’s going on with the rest of my finances, but to add insult to injury each of those hundred entries will now be 38% higher because the creators complained about the negative results of your anniversary system, and instead of reversing it you doubled down and shifted those fees to us.
I’d be perfectly fine with paying the fees on the transaction if there was a single transaction to pay the fees on. This would be $4 per month instead of $35-40 per month. But both the impact on my bank statement and the impact on my wallet from that ill-conceived feature means that it is probably untenable to continue using Patreon. Your new system penalizes the most enthusiastic users of your service the most. Patreon is already over half of my family’s monthly entertainment budget. To absorb the additional fees at this level, I would have to cancel Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, AND Youtube Red. Since other family members use all of those, that is impossible.
There were many alternatives to what you attempted to do prior to this. One would be Prorating instead of charging for the entire previous month. The weakness to this is that someone could try to sneak in at the end of the month, grab the data, then cancel, but you could easily add a cutoff where instead of prorating after a certain date of the month, it would just pre-charge the next month. You could also pre-charge people who sign up if they haven’t been on the platform for very long, or are pledging a much larger amount than their normal pledges. Don’t let a few bad apples wreck things for everyone else, create countermeasures for them alone.
If you insist on keeping the Anniversary system, there’s still one thing that you could do to not allow VisaMasterCard to fleece your customers further. You could allow us to prepay the month’s worth payments at a time of our choosing. Simple interface, “At X day of the month, Charge enough to fill the account to $X, and pay that amount * 0.029 + 0.35 in fees” and if we use more than that before the next funding date, you can charge us the further transactions with their fees. This would be an acceptable compromise to allow Patreon to still be a viable platform.
What’s worse is that you’re not even allowing your creators to tweak things to soften the blow of this change. One of the people I follow said they were going to drop the pledge amounts down so that they would be charged the same amount as the old tiers, but because of other changes, this is impossible.
I can’t even pledge to some of the tiers of people I support because you’re worried about people changing their pledges down to where they would have been previously.
On the other hand, it really makes no sense any further for creators to use Patreon even if their customers would come along with them. Here’s a chart showing various scenarios under old patreon, new patreon, and other payment services, in an Apples to Apples comparison instead of an Apples to Oranges comparison that you used.
Comparison of old Patreon vs new Patreon, Apples to Apples.
As you can see, the old patreon was better than Paypal for pledges under $5 where the creator supported more than one creator on the site, but if they only supported one, it was universally worse. The new patreon? It’s always the worst except for the single-creator case on the old patreon, which was just slightly worse. It’s also significantly worse in all cases than the 95% that you’re quoting to your creators. At $10, they only get 89%.
On the gripping hand, I actually think it might be illegal to pass through credit card transactions fees to your users.
I’ve already started shifting my support to other means, just like I had it back in 2013, but it is a minor hassle to do this. If you find a way to preserve the single monthly payment system I will be able to enthusiastically return and tell everyone else I know to do the same. Otherwise, I’ll be sending this same letter to all of the creators I support and asking them for alternate means to support them.