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Wild Apricot Payments

Author’s Note: On February 11, 2019, Wild Apricot changed to July 2, 2019 as the date that Wild Apricot is planning to add a Payment System Servicing Fee if you use a payment gateway other than Wild Apricot Payments (AffiniPay) upon the time of next renewal payment after that.

So, if you’re a Wild Apricot customer, you most likely received an email earlier this week such as this:

We’re introducing a new Payment System Servicing Fee on April 2 for paid plans. You will not be charged this fee if you use Wild Apricot Payments as your online payment system.

The fee will only apply to paid accounts that use a third-party online payment system. The fee is equal to 20% of your chosen Wild Apricot billing plan.

Currently, this fee applies to one or more of your Wild Apricot accounts, and so a 20% fee will be added to each billing plan on the next renewal on or after April 2. However, if you switch to Wild Apricot Payments, this fee will no longer apply.

If you want to learn more about switching to Wild Apricot Payments, you can join a webinar we’re running:

Choosing and Setting up Your Payment System
Wednesday Feb 6

As we felt this was abrupt and not at all informative enough as a site developer of Wild Apricot sites, we were in attendance.

As you might expect, the tone of the presentation was to convince attendees that their move to begin charging customers in April if they use a non Wild Apricot Payments credit card payment gateway was both necessary for Wild Apricot development, and advantageous to customers.

On the first question – that it is important for Wild Apricot development to reduce the number of payment gateways they must support – they are fairly successful at making the argument. It is true, all the payment gateways have different requirements and different functionality and with financial regulation and security requirements that is going to continue to be the case. Supporting 16 takes away from development of what can be done with payment gateways as the shopping environment has to work for all, so gains forward can be at glacial speed. But you can also reduce support by dropping to 3 or 4.

And so there is a big if – IF they can develop their product faster on the online purchasing side this will be advantageous to customers in the long run for them to get everyone over to Wild Apricot Payments.

Because Wild Apricot Payments is a custom rebranding of Affinipay, it can be used for other payments as well, such as invoicing with a link for payment using the Affinipay processor. I can’t speak to the ease of this yet since we’ve not used Wild Apricot Payments. But if you have other online uses of your Stripe/PayPal/Authorize.net payment gateway beyond Wild Apricot, there is no guarantee that Affinipay will be accepted – it will depend on the service wanting to plug in the payment gateway information. Affinipay has been around for 10 years and used in places like MemberClicks as well. As a payment gateway they generally have a good reputation.

A few of the technology advantages on Wild Apricot Payments exist today over some of the other payment gateways on Wild Apricot, but there was additional development discussed. Hence the financial disincentive to keep using those other payment gateways. I think Wild Apricot is going to plow any additional funds into developing Wild Apricot Payments. Paying more is not going to provide future benefits for the other processors – if Wild Apricot is successful in this effort, most, if not all, of those other payment gateways will not be available within a year or two on Wild Apricot. It is just a matter of time.

Webinar attendees were allowed to submit written questions during the webinar, there was no spoken back and forth between WA and audience. They received a LOT of questions and they have promised to provide the questions and answers to attendees, but I suspect it will be a few days at least. My biggest concern at this point is a philosophical one because this is an abrupt move by Wild Apricot (even though they state it has been in planning for a long time), and because Wild Apricot was sold to Personify in 2017, and Personify was sold to Pamlico Capital late last year. Wild Apricot has succeeded for the last 10 years because it has been the most reasonably priced online association management software on the market. Customers could depend on what their annual costs would be based on the size of their organization. If anything, pricing changes should have occurred more often and more incrementally.

This pricing change can represent a change to feature pricing. If this is just a one-off because it involved external software providers as well, that’s one thing. If it is a sign of things to come in general, that’s another. I’ve asked them if there are plans for future feature pricing.  I am awaiting that response.

Depending on the format of how Wild Apricot provides the questions and answers, I will send our clients highlights after I receive them. I think Wild Apricot has been surprised at how beaten up they have been on their Facebook group of users, they have been surprised by the email response from clients, they were surprised at how many folks signed up for the webinar and how many questions they received (the last words from the  webinar as they were cutting off were “there are a LOT of questions” from one Wild Apricot employee to another).

They will be holding a live webinar every week about this, so I do recommend that Wild Apricot customers sit in on one and hear what they have to say if you’re on the fence about this. In the meantime, you may want to review this:

https://gethelp.wildapricot.com/en/articles/1430

As for me, at this point, I am on the fence about this. On the technology side, I see the future upside (if accomplished). It comes with a cost, and a risk. Wild Apricot has decided it is worth that cost and risk. On the business practices side – well, not impressed. If they truly knew they were going to do this for a long time, but just didn’t know when, they could have told their customers this much further in advance. Not only are they charging folks more money if they use a non Wild Apricot payment gateway, they are also forcing them to do work to change over, and not considering possible additional ramifications for the organization in changing over. The window is too short, period.  There is no other way to see it than being very ham handed.

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Kessler Freedman, Inc.