I had been a happy software seller using FastSpring payment processing since 2014. When in 2020, FastSpring decided unilaterally to outsource monthly payments to PayPal subsidiary HyperWallet, I knew there was something going on. Indeed why would a payment company outsource a payment to another payment company, in addition to being competitors ?
HyperWallet in turn only allowed seller accounts to be actually paid after an identity verification took place. I thought they were being ANAL, after all, those guys are a private company, not the IRS, so what the hell. Yet I went through it and once completed I never had a problem with monthly payments. However I never liked having to deal with two companies even though my contract was basically with only one. Just did not have other options at the time being.
Yet things went on, and I thought perhaps that was the end of troubles. Well I guess until now. In November 13, 2023, FastSpring sent an email with this :
"FastSpring Risk Screening Process: Action needed
We would like to express our sincere gratitude for your continued support and trust in our services. As the e-commerce industry continues to evolve, we, as a responsible merchant of record, are obligated to perform regulatory requirements aimed at ensuring the security and integrity of our platform. In line with these evolving industry standards, we are implementing a Risk Screening Process, which is essential for maintaining a secure and reliable marketplace for all of our users. This process will include ID and address verification and will be conducted by our trusted partner, ShuftiPro.com who is renowned for its expertise in this field."
This is the first part of that email, and yet I am being let known that yet another third-party from nowhere is being introduced, and that probably I'll have to show identity papers even though I owe nothing to them. And of course, they probably think they owe nothing to me either, so whatever identity papers I show them, they get to sell them to any party they want if so they choose. How does that can possibly fit my contract with FastSpring ? How many additional third parties will get added in the long run ?
And here is the rub,
"We have implemented a fee of $150.00 to complete the Risk Screening. (...) If the fee payment isn't received by the specified date (December 4, 2023), your account will be unfortunately disabled, resulting in loss of access to the FastSpring platform and payment processing capabilities, including subscription renewals. Any existing payouts will be held for a duration of 90 days to account for potential refunds or chargebacks before being released."
So I have to pay for this even though I am the one providing identity papers. Really ?
And if I don't, my FastSpring account gets disabled next month regardless the sales going on. Oh and by the way, pending payments will be held as well.
Extortion, scam, phishing, I am out of words to describe what's going on here. How come a company that I came to respect along the years can coerce me into doing these things without giving alternatives ?
Oh and that's before you realize that the $150 USD they ask is before the VAT. Because yes, you'll be paying a VAT on it. In euros, it's a total of 175 euros instead of 142 euros.
I have asked support at FastSpring what was going on and got nothing relevant and was not offered options. Yes, support ended right there. That's it.
Now you know, next time you are wondering if FastSpring is a company to rely on, the answer is a definitive NO.
I went through a lot of shit already : I was in contract with Plimus/Bluesnap before and they screwed me too with monthly maintenance fees that were held and eventually never paid. Lost more than $300 USD with them, along with a despicable support people policy.
I am not saying this is the end for payment companies. Just that those that haven't been sold yet are taking a look at their margins, and probably doing this to get rid of small sellers. But this does not bode well for payment companies on the one hand, for individuals trying to sell software out there by relying on such payment companies on the other hand.
The first thing I did is try a non US company if perhaps the operating norms are a bit more loose and they won't be as much ANAL and as a result those guys won't screw sellers as much as those mentioned above did.
I am holding my breath though. Not quite confident that this will go smooth for the foreseeable future. It's really as if, when it comes to getting paid, something trivial, if you are a small company trying to sell out there, things are being made harder for doing just that. So you can have ultra speed internet fiber, PCs that can run all the software you want, but unable to make a business in this environment unless you are large and known. I am pretty sure if I were able to afford to send them a lawyer, things would take a different turn. Disgusting to say the least.