I’ll start off with saying we’ve been selling online for over ten years and while we have received many phishing emails, we have only come close to being scammed once. So lets start by talking about what kind of payments you’ll be taking for online sales.
Number one biggest and safest is Paypal.
There are protections afforded to the buyer and the seller. The buyer is protected because the seller has to prove they mailed the item within seven business days with delivery confirmation. For sales over $250 the seller must send the item with signature confirmation. If the item does not show up the buyer can then file a claim with paypal.
Now, if the seller has shipped to a confirmed address, sent the item with delivery confirmation, and the tracking shows the item arrived, the seller has done their job. Even if the buyer opens a claim, they will be protected. However, if they missed any of the steps, ship within seven days of payment, delivery confirmation, and a confirmed address, the buyer can and likely will win any claim dispute.
In the US, this is fairly straight forward, and it’s easy for sellers to comply to be protected. If we are shipping overseas, there really isn’t an affordable way to purchase delivery tracking. Neither Priority Mail or First Class International have a way to track packages once it leaves the US. So for those of us who ship overseas, we really are taking our chances. Insurance isn’t really a viable option with the USPS on international either. So I use a third-party insurance company, Shipsurance, to insure large value packages, just for my own piece of mind. I have used their service and it’s very easy. Fortunately for me, I have not had to file a claim, so I cannot comment on that end of the business. With all that said, overseas is more risky. But it’s worth it. We send stuff out of the country multiple times a week. We’ve had a few take a long time or go missing over the years, but not nearly enough to offset the thousands of dollars worth of sales we would have missed out on.
I accept all major credit cards. It’s actually a lot more risky to accept CC than it is Paypal. All it takes is a call to the credit card company from the owner to get a charge reversed. If you make sales in person, you get their signature, so you are protected, but online or over the phone, not so much. I use Propay and customers can check out from my website using their card, I can send them an email for them to click to pay, or I can call them and get the number over the phone. I rarely get credit card payments online. Most people use Paypal.
I do get a lot of credit cards at shows though. Side note: For shows lots of people are going with the Square that lets you run credit cards through your iPhone or Droid. I, however, have not pony-upped for a smart phone, so I am still using Propay, which is actually a lot cheaper for me since I don’t have to pay a data package. However, if you have an iPhone or a Droid already, I believe the Square is a cheaper option to go with over all. Do some research. Another side note: Etsy sellers get a discount with Propay. When you sign up or renew, just ask and they’ll take care of you.
Personal Checks and Money Orders:
I still accept both of these. First of all, I don’t have to pay any fees for this type of payment. It isn’t as fast or simple as an online payment, but if people want to give me money in these forms, I’m happy to take it. I just deposit them as soon as I get them, and then wait ten days to be sure they clear. If it’s a regular customer, I usually don’t even wait. The items just goes right out. It’s important to be sure these payments clear because checks and money orders can hit your account and appear to be cleared, but then a few days goes by and they might show as insufficient funds. It takes a few days for the banks to communicate. So be aware that just because it showed up in your account, it might still need some time to clear. In my opinion ten days is a good amount of time. If your spidey sense goes off about anyone paying this way, do a quick google search to be sure they aren’t passing bad payments.
Are you scared yet? Don’t be. We’ve been doing this online thing for eleven years. I’ve had three checks bounce. One was taken care of by the customer ASAP. The other two were by the same person and my spidey sense was going haywire due to the details of the transaction. As a result, I never mailed the items, and I was only out the bounced check fees and some aggravation.
I have yet to have anyone open a Paypal claim. I’m sure that is partly because we have a 100% guarantee policy that anyone can return anything for any reason within ten days of receiving it. Also, if something goes missing, we either replace it or refund the amount. Don’t get caught in the it’s-the-Post-Office’s-fault trap. Think about it. If you order something and it doesn’t show up, do you care whose fault it was? All you know is you ordered some goods and they never arrived. You’re not likely to reorder from that store again are you? Take care of your customers and they will be customers for life. I promise.