opinion

Billing Secrets?

Stephen Yagielowicz
Have you ever noticed that some billing companies make it pretty hard for you to fully understand their offerings and thus to maximize your usage of their programs?

I’ve seen three examples of this in two days: the first came on an XBIZ article discussion thread where questions about how much the customer actually pays for a password through the Password by Phone system, as well as other issues with the processor, arose. While a careful examination of its site may partially answer some questions, I wasn’t able to find all the answers. Guenter is right; how can you sell something that you don’t have a price for?

The second example was while talking on the phone with a CCBill rep. Now, I’m not bashing CCBill or any other IPSP, but I was quite surprised by the answer I received when I asked if CCBill could send me a list of countries that they will – or will not – process transactions for (having searched its website for such a list, to no avail). After putting me on hold for a moment to check on this, the helpful rep returned and said “It’s company policy not to disclose that information.”

Now the reason I was asking was to feed data into a geo-redirection script that I’ll share with you here another day – after all, if you can’t make a sale to a customer based upon where he or she is coming from, then there’s no reason to waste bandwidth, slow down your site because of the added server load or open yourself to vulnerability from high-fraud users by allowing that surfer to enter. It’s better to send them off to someone who wants them. On a site relying exclusively upon CCBill for processing, only the CCBill list matters, so not having such a list is problematic in this regard.

Surprised that the company did not reveal where – and where not – its services will work, I contacted Epoch to see if this was commonplace amongst IPSPs. Sure enough, when asked if they provided such a list, the answer came back “Nope.”

I was told however that Epoch processes for all countries except those that the U.S. Treasury bars American companies from doing business with under the auspices of the Office of Foreign Assets Control – and even has a solution for processing in some typically high-risk countries.

While this was good to know and helpful for my needs, it made me wonder why that information is held so closely. Now I’m not trying to stir up any trouble with reputable businesses here, but letting customers know the basic details of what you’re offering should be the foundation of your marketing.

With geo-targeting technology allowing webmasters to maximize their sales possibilities, it’s vital that billing companies provide them with the information necessary to make the best choices for their operations. If you have any questions, ask your rep. If he or she can’t give you an answer, then ask them why not?

You have a right – and the need – to know what you’re paying for; and what you're asking others to pay for.

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