After using PayPal for years, we now use Google Checkout. Google is simply fantastic, and the guests comment on it's ease of use and trust the brand. Similar to PayPal in that you have to link your bank acct. and send the guest an invoice, but much different than PayPal in that the transaction cost is less (3% from USA - 4% from overseas), and Google authenticates the credit card payment within minutes/hours, plus automatically, yes auto sweeps the funds in to your bank account within days. Our guests pay in full 30 days prior to arrival, we prefer personal checks, and make it clear to the guest upfront that if they prefer using a credit card, there is an additional fee. Great for overseas and last-minute guests.
"We prefer payments by personal check or cashier's check. Payments in United States Dollars (USD) only.
Credit card payments: Google Checkout charges a convenience fee. Oceanside101 does not receive any portion of the convenience fee. Add 3% for convenience fee (4% outside the US). American Express*, Discover*, MasterCard, Solo**, Visa, Visa Electron**. *Accepted only in the United States. **Accepted outside of the United States along with Visa and MasterCard."
Hi sfvacationhut & everyone,
Yes, you have the option of offering your guests eCheck only, credit cards only, or both. These preferences can be set when you set-up your payments account, or if you’ve already set-up your account, Contact Customer Supporthttp://support.homeaway.com/ for assistance in changing these settings.
At this time, we don't support the option of offering different payment methods for individual guests / reservations.
Hope this helps.
In response to your earlier posting, if you offer both credit cards and eChecks, you may specify a preferred method of payment - say eCheck. When you do this, your preferred method of payment becomes the default on the guest payment / checkout page (although guests would still have the option of the other payment method you offered). When you offer just eCheck or just credit cards, that is the only option the guest has to pay.
Regarding your rental agreement questions:
"I'm not sure, but I believe they may have something that requires the guest to click a box, agreeing to those rules? I didn't see such a checkbox when I looked into the system, but it might be there. "
"Regardless, it certainly wouldn't be a signed document or a handwritten initial. If that's what the credit card companies require, we'll be in a real pickle, in case of any chargebacks through the HA system. But it seems the folks at HA must have ironed this out already ..."
Yes, we have fulled vetted this and our implementation is based on the latest online best practice (modeled after big online travel companies),. When you purchase non-refundable travel items on sites like Priceline or Expedia, they utilize the same check-box agreement with the buyer.
Regarding cancellation fees, I recommend including language in your rental agreement outlining that you have a non-refundable booking deposit. So, your cancellation policy might be 100% refundable if cancelled more than 90 days in the future, less a non-refundable booking deposit of say, $250.
Hi aznative -
ReservationManager rates are a flat 2.5% of the transaction for Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. It doesn't matter if the card is a corporate card, rewards / miles cards, loyalty card, etc. Always 2.5% for US-issued cards. If the card was issued by a foreign bank (i.e. a guest from the UK), the rate is always 3.75%.
We worked very hard to bring a single price point to market to eliminate the confusion and bad feelings about credit card pricing. I hope this helps clarify.
Thank you for your responses. We would love to look further into using your system, and feel that we have a solution to this very cumbersome process of collecting payments from guests. Could you please answer one question in reference to your statement:
Can you say, with 100% assurance, that if one of us receives a chargeback with your system, but we have an airtight contract with a cancellation policy in it, the cardholder has checked the box that says that they agree to the merchant's terms and conditions, but no initials or signatures are on or next to the policy regarding cancellations, then if the dispute gets to pre-arbitration with VISA that VISA will find in favor of us, the merchant?
Here is a clause I found on VISA's Operations and Procedures website today, and I believe it is referring to a system that sounds like the one you mentioned above:
"• Return, refund, and cancellation policy for Internet merchants.
This policy must be clearly posted to inform cardholders of their rights and responsibilities (e.g., if the merchant has a limited or no refund policy, this must be clearly disclosed on your website before the purchase decision is made to prevent misunderstandings and disputes). The website must communicate its refund policy and require the cardholder to select a “click-to-accept” or other affirmative button to acknowledge the policy. The terms and conditions of the purchase must be displayed on the same screen view as the checkout screen used to present the total purchase amount or within the sequence of website pages the cardholder accesses during the checkout process. This policy page cannot be bypassed."
Does your system meet these guidelines and have the terms and conditions displayed on the same screen view as the checkout screen?
Also, I would appreciate it very much if you could tell us if you have a time limit that you will allow a credit card to be used for an advance deposit. For instance, it is May, and a guest wants to book a home for the following January. Will this be acceptable to you as an Aquirer? (Learned a new word today!) Actually, ARE you the Aquirer or are you using another institution as the Aquirer?
Thank you so much for helping us all muddle through this very messy and risky business!
Great sleuthing, AZnative.
Am looking forward to hearing Patrick's responses.
Not sure what an Aquirer is, but most likely it's Yapstone.
I believe Yapstone is the one actually providing the credit card services. For example, it sounds to me the HomeAway people had to negotiate with Yapstone in order to get the rates and fess that are provided through the HA reservation system.
We do not accept credit card payments at all.
The reason? We were stung badly by one rogue renter a few years ago and they have spoilt it for everybody else.
Our property managers at the time, took a booking from a family in Miami.
Evidently the family paid by credit card (Amex) this was for a 10 night booking over the Christmas and New Year period.
I was called by a neighbor enquiring as to whether I had amended our No Pets rule on this property as it seems the current renters had a dog with them. I told them no we do not allow pets and it is in our T&C's.
I called the home and spoke to the renters and enquired as to whether they had a dog on the premises. After a pregnant pause they admitted that they did. I was furious and contacted my property managers and requested that they evict them, as they had broken the T&C's and lied blatantly denying they had a dog until pressed.
Remember at this time the property manager was holding the monies paid for the rental.
I was to receive the money less their commission of 15% on my next statement.
The manager duly arrived at the premises along with the sheriff and the renter was evicted under
FL State.509 (101)1
Incidentally the renter had spent 9 of their 10 nights at the house with their dog in tow already.
The next I hear is that the property manager has received a charge back from the guest on her Amex card.
Amex would not deal with me as the owner but only with the property manager as the agent.
My experience with Amex is they are always customer friendly and never in this case to the offended party, me!
Never got the money back, so the busiest period and the $3000 rental fee down the river.
Outcome: Property manager fired, no more credit cards accepted.
sfv - An acquirer is the company who actually processes the payments for your when you send one through. They are the company who provides you with a virtual terminal, sends you statements, and clears charges for authorization. They are the liason between you and the credit card company such as VISA, MC, AMEX, etc. Here is a link that illustrates the different players in this whole system: http://usa.visa.com/merchants/new_acceptance/how_it_works.html
I, too, hope that Patrick will respond. I don't know how much of this is given to you as a merchant when you sign up with the HA system. When you signed up, were you sent instructions, procedure manuals, contact numbers, etc. from them? How have you found their customer service to be? Also, have you put through any charges yet to know how fast they authorize the charge and then deposit the money into your bank account?
bobbh - We know just how you feel, as I'm sure you have gleaned! I'm so sorry that you had a chargeback as well, and for such a high amount... that is really upsetting. And in your case, the money is just gone. In our case, at least we have the opportunity to still, hopefully, get renters for January and February, and make up the $5,000 that we lost, but you not only lost the money but you can't go back in time and make up for a lost 10 days of potential revenue. You have our heartfelt sympathy.
You know, one reason people like (and many times nowadays, need) to use credit cards is not just to get their air miles, but so that they can pay for a vacation over time. If you have a low-interest credit card, it could make it possible to spend $2,500 to rent a nice house for a vacation, that they might not otherwise be able to afford to do.
I would be interested in hearing from those homeowners who do not accept credit cards, but have fairly high rental rates (say $2,000 during peak season for 7 nights) as to whether or not they ever get inquiries that fall through because they don't accept credit cards, and the renter can't afford to send a check for $1,500 - $2,500, depending upon the length of stay?
I have two properties with weekly rates of $1600 and $1800 respectively and only rent for full weeks. I allow my guests to pay in 2 to 3 payments provided the last payment (and $500 security deposit) is made at least 45 days before arrival. If they are interested in renting and it is within the 45 day window, then all money is due upon lease signing. Checks are certified or bank checks. First payment is always due back to me within a week of when I send the lease via email. (three days via Priority Mail if it is less than 45 days before the rental date) The lease goes out the same day they say they are interested in commiting to a rental. If they are not interested in committing and paying the 35-50% of the money (i.e. they are 'thinking about it' or 'just want to see the lease'), I don't send the lease. I encourage people to carefully read the lease - which is very detailed - but they do understand that absent a major objection to the terms, they are committed to that week. (NB - I did have one prospective guest who wanted her security deposit back upon her departure - in cash. Since I am not there - and was a bit offended by her implication that I would steal from her - I did not accommodate her request and rented to another family.)
I have no problem saying no to people who don't wish to work with me under these terms. I'd rather be safe than sorry. I have always done business this way and it has worked smoothly (much much better than my credit card experience). BTW, I am usually fully rented for the summer (our high season) by mid to late winter.
We do virtually the same as you and it’s been flawless for 7 years. We live in Wisc. with 2 properties in Cal.. 1) We ask for a deposit to hold and confirm the reservation, 2) We send the lease agreement after deposit arrives (with a stamped addressed env. to return the signed lease in), 3) We ask for full payment 30 days prior to occupancy, 4) After full payment is made, we US Mail our arrival instructions. We prefer personal checks, and although 99% pay this way, we do use Google Checkout with a transaction fee to the guest of 3% in US, and 4% outside US - exactly what Google charges. I couldn’t be happier with Google, user friendly and a trusted name. Overseas guests in particular are advised by us to think about the deposit by credit card and Air Mail the balance later. 3 or 4% isn’t much added to a deposit - but in peak season we rent for as much as $2600 week - the added % to this is costly and hence, to the other question posted, the added
fee is counter productive to any frequent flyer miles or other credit card perks.
Good luck, Jim
Unfortunately, like most things in life, nothing is 100%... What I can say is that our processing partner VacationRentPayment, has advised us that including your cancellation policy in near proximity to the check-box that that guests must check and agree to prior to making payment is the best practice used by other online travel sites and is a sufficient form of traveler acceptance of your cancellation policy and rental agreement. It is consistent with the Visa regulations you’ve posted above. This does not guarantee that you would win a charge-back dispute, as those largely depend on what a guest claims to their bank. For example, if the guest claims fraud, merchants rarely win those disputes. So to reiterate, our implementation is best practice to our knowledge, and by collecting the date, time, and IP-address of the traveler during acceptance and payment, we have meaningful information (in your favor) that can be shared with the processors and issuing banks during a dispute.
There is no time limit from our perspective on how far in advance you may take a deposit. You should make sure you are in compliance with any local or state regulations however.
And, HomeAway is not the acquirer. Our partner VacationRentPayment (a YapStone company) is the initial acquirer we’ve integrated. We plan to integrate Payment Processing Inc. (PPI) later this year.
I hope this helps!
Are you sure that the 3% and 4% that you charge for Google Transactions, does not violate the credit card rules?
Visa, MasterCard, and Discover have rules that conflict with each other, with regards to charging a "service fee" or "processing fee" for using credit cards ... the end result is that if you want to accept all three types of cards, the credit card companies do not allow you a significant processing fee for people using credit cards. (The rules work out so that the only fee you can charge, would be a flat fee equal to the credit card % charge fee multiplied by your smallest transaction, for example 2.5% x $250 = $6.25. That would be your fee per transaction! Not much of a dis-incentive!)
Of course all of us, the owners, naturally want to discourage people from using credit cards, especially when these people have other free options for making payment. Unfortunately, the credit cards don't want us to do that, so they make it a violation of their rules if you charge this kind of extra fee for credit cards.
On the bright side (sort of ... ), from what I understand, the credit card companies do allow us to provide a DISCOUNT against the advertised price, for people who are NOT using credit cards.
I have posted a lot of info on this, including links to web sites that provide you with the exact information ... when I get a chance, I'll look for that info again and paste it for you here.
Jim, if the Google Checkout option provides some way to get around the credit card companies' rules about not charging extra fees, that will be great. I would LOVE to charge people an extra fee for using a credit card. Or provide some other incentive so that they will only use credit card as an absolute LAST RESORT. So if you've got some tips, I'm all ears.
I am definitely taking a look at Google Checkout, regardless, as it might be a good alternative for online payment. Thanks for telling us about this.
Hello, I'll try to address some items from your email. The reason I mention card perks is simply becuase of the disadvantage of paying 4% on say $3000 - would one use a credit card to pay a fee of $120 just to get a perk? I guess I've never seen, in 7 years, someone use a card soley for a perk - always for the conveience. We are honest, clear, and upfront on our payment preferences. If the guest choses to pay with a card, knowing we do not prefer them, it is their choice, we provide the option.
No need for me to push Google (they have never advertised anything, ever), it's just that they are not a card co., they are a trusted name world-wide, and the process is simple. We even get remarks from guests saying how easy it was for them to use - and we all know how tough it is the get a 'good' remark from a guest. Thanks, Jim
If there is no fee, I believe most people WOULD use their credit just to get a perk.
Personally, I would. As a consumer or guest ... I get 1% back on all my purchases .... if I purchase something for $3000, that's $30 in my pocket. Why would I pass that up?
This is precisely why (when I put on my owner's hat), I would like to charge a convenience fee for guests who are paying with credit card, just as you are doing.
The problem I have is, charging a fee like this violates the rules for Master Card, Discover, and Visa, if you are accepting all three cards. I am looking for a way around this ... and wondering if Google Checkout might be able to help?
The other idea I've thought of is ... (not sure if it will be kosher with the credit card companies, which is why I haven't done it yet) ... we could advertise that the "booking fee" of 3% or 4% or whatever, as a standard part of the price for the rental. Then, we could have some fine print that says the booking fee is waived for cash / personal checks. I wonder if this would pass muster with the credit cards, in terms of looking like a "discount."
(The credit cards allows us to give discounts against the "advertised price" to people who pay with cash / check. They do not allow us to tack an extra fee on to the advertised price, for people who pay with credit cards. This applies if you are accepting all three types of cards ... Visa, MasterCard, Discover.)
So do you know if Google Checkout has some way of helping us to get around these rules?