Paypal sucks but so does Digital River and Google Checkout is no great shakes either

We use primarily use Paypal for our smaller transactions at Foliovision ($1000 and under). Some customers complain. They'd just rather not do business with Paypal. In these cases, we do have bank accounts in three major jurisdictions but it does slow down transactions and increase transaction costs on smaller invoices.

I tell them there is just no other payment service which works well for small international payments.

Precautions we take:

  • we don't confirm our bank account numbers which technically means that Paypal can't withdraw funds from our bank accounts.
  • they do do it anyway, but in our case it would be illegal and there's a very good chance that the bank would go after Paypal for the money themselves if Paypal did manage to snooker them into giving them cash.
  • we run a balance under $2000. Over that and the money gets shunted off to one of our bank accounts.
  • we are very good customers. We send lots of sales through and we buy lots of goods too. Occasionally we even have to switch currencies. Paypal makes a fortune off of Foliovision. We even introduce lots of new customers to them as well.

In general, limit liability and make yourself valuable. I recommend you do the same.

But then I go and read a post like this one about how Paypal single-handedly nearly ruined the Macgraphoto graphics bundle (sorry to have missed it Jacob: great idea for a themed bundle!). And I think we haven't done nearly enough and that we are playing with fire.

In the comments over at apparentsoft, someone recommend SWReg. Reasonable fees, big solid company, international operation. A lot to like on paper. But then it turns out SWReg is a shell of the original customer focused company built up by Steve Lee. SWReg is part of Digital River who specialise in two products these days, banes of the shareware world:

  1. download guarantees (if you lose your license they will give you the code and let you download the software again). Any respectable shareware author does this free of cost.
  2. reservations clubs. You sign up for $10/month usually unwittingly making you eligible for 10% off of 50% overpriced services and vacations. Great deal. Spend money to be marketed to at rip off rates.

So every time you send a customer to a Digital River company they will take his or her personal data and monetize/abuse it to the limits of the law and beyond. There is no way I'm putting any clients of Foliovision on that boat.

That knocks off RegNow, eSellerate, ShareIt,,, Emetrix in a single blow.

Someone else recommends Google checkout. Fortunately a more informed soul piped back that you'd be exchanging the frying pan for the fire. No one answers the telephone at Google (well AdWords does, but only AdWords).

PayPal certainly has its problems, but trust me, the alternative is NOT Google. Do not trust Google Checkout. If you think this story is bad, consider the following:

1. The author was able to speak to people.
2. He will eventually get the money.

If you have a similar problem with Google Checkout, your account will be closed automatically, there will be no one to talk to, and you will never, ever, ever be able to receive the money in the account. They keep it.

Here's Amy's full Google checkout horror story. In any case Google checkout is available only in the US and the UK. So much the better.

The payment provider to whom Apparent Software moved was often mentioned in the thread with Dan Engel, the FastSpring CEO even coming doing a drivethrough carrying a welcome sign. Unfortunately when you go to checkout the FastSpring site, you see that all that friendliness comes at a very high price: 8.9%. Ouch. That's triple Paypal and quadruple Google checkout rates. I'm afraid our accountancy firm and taxes already get a big slice of our revenue straight off the top. I'm not looking to lose another 10%. Thanks anyway Dan. While highway robbery with a smile may be better than a knife in the back it's still brigandry.

Kagi and Plimus are the same with 10% fees on sample $50/orders with Plimus scraping down to 9%.

kagi fees 10 per cent
kagi fees 10 per cent

Curiously Plimus likes big value sales, so we'd be in better shape with our larger value transactions at 4.5%. Plimus is also open to international businesses.

So where does the absence of customer service and extortionate fees leave us now?

We've implemented e-Junkie for clients and like it but e-Junkie only provides the shopping cart and delivery. They don't actually run the transaction for you. You're back to Google Checkout and Paypal.

There's just Avangate who gets high customer satisfaction rates. One independent provider in the world! But fortunately Avangate is international so they will accept us.

What are the rates like?

A bit confusing as there are two packages: 4.9% plus €1.95 or 8%.

On $50 transactions they both work out to $4.50 or 9%.

On a $300 transaction the 4.9% plus $2.50 fee costs $17.20 per transaction or 5.7%.

So for the international software or services seller who would like to break free of Paypal and Google and have a payment gateway, there are really two options. Plimus or Avangate.

Their existing customer base like Avangate much better: Avangate outscored Plimus on both ease of use and reliability. On the customer side, I don't like buying via Plimus as they are always holding up my orders for fraud verification. If I have to spend half an hour wheedling my $25 software out of the payment provider, I've just paid about $100 in hidden costs. I'm sure many of my clients would feel the same way.

Avangate as a buyer has been quick and painless.

My vote goes Avangate. Those clever Romanians, naming their company as if it were Stonehenge and somewhere in Britain. Who would guess that Avangate is headquartered in Their CEO Radu Georgescu is one of the few companies to best Microsoft in business, selling RAV anti-virus to Microsoft at an enormous profit and managing to keep his independence, retaining his company and his team in Romania. If Georgescu is smart enough to protect his software company from Microsoft, I expect he's clever enough to protect his merchant clients from fraud.

Avangate also shows enormous transparency, displaying names and photos of all their top management on their website, including links to their LinkedIn profiles. Elsewhere Avangate tell the whole story of their company, including products which they sold off. That kind of accessibility and transparency also earns heavy respect from me.

Avangate for the win by two full lengths.

avangate Radu Georgescu s
avangate's Radu Georgescu: the man who outsmarted Microsoft and got his money and kept his life


Why not run our own merchant services?

  1. Heavy setup and monthly fees.
  2. Not compatible with Freshbooks (Avangate isn't now but I'll see what I can do about that.
  3. Not compatible with the supplier of our hosting so we wouldn't be able to automate our rebilling there either.

So at the end of the day, running online payment ourselves would be a whole lot of hassle and a lot of costs with very few discernible benefits.

Another simple alternative:

E-junkie Shopping Cart and Digital Delivery

This entry was posted in Business. Bookmark the permalink.

88 Responses to Paypal sucks but so does Digital River and Google Checkout is no great shakes either

  1. Interesting review, Alec.

    We’ve been considering between Avangate and Fastspring as our providers after we decided to ditch PayPal (or was it actually them who decided to ditch us?).

    Anyway, we compared both and found two of them very similar, also in terms of commission price. In fact, for us Fastspring was marginally better. But price was not our only concern.

    Their rates are 5.9% + $.95/txn or 8.9%. So you can go with lower % on higher-cost transactions, if you do them.

    I think both companies are good, we’ve just selected to go with FastSpring, but I’m not sure they should be so easily waved as you did in the article, because of their commission. After all, Avangate has very similar commission.

    Also, and I admit I’ve not done this comparison very well, you need to look how they handle multi-currency and how they transfer money to you, since these can incur additional costs. For example, wire transfers may cost money.

    And, by the way, why don’t you signup for MacGraPhoto 2 notification at

    We’ll be doing one again in 2010. Now we just need to think which provider to use for this :)


  2. One thing you miss is that FastSpring does offer an alternative of 5.9% + $0.95, which in many of the price points is cheaper than the others mentioned, and can work with clients who have higher ticket average order size to make sure the pricing is very competitive. I think you’ll find there are times where a Plimus or SWREG might be cheaper, but sometimes you get what you pay for.

    Ken White
    Chief Customer Service Officer

    FastSpring offers a next generation Java-based e-commerce payment, merchandising, and fulfillment solution for software publishers which is focused on customer service, flexibility, and reasonable pricing.
    View the Flash Demo at:

  3. A note on FastSpring’s rates…

    They’re 8.9% _OR_ 5.9% + $0.95 per transaction. That changes your calculation considerably.

  4. Hi Jacob and Shawn,

    You’re right: with the two tier system, FastSpring and Avangate are quite close. With the small difference in price, it’s really more a question of customer service. Hopefully both FastSpring and Avangate are good in this aspect. We need more merchant friendly and competent payment providers!

    To tell you the truth, both Dan Engel and Radu Georgescu worry me a bit as CEO’s as they have a history of working as serial entrepreneurs. I.e. build and sell. One or either of them could end up selling their clients out to Digital River like Steve Lee. But I suppose one has to take the approach that restaurants run well for a number of years and some then go bad. A payment provider is a medium term relationship and reasonably easily ended in case policies change.

    I will look into those transfer costs and payout system. I definitely need to move away from Paypal, but those 9% and even 6% fees really bother me. I think Plimus is doing a better job here getting in well under 5% (4.5%) on larger transactions.

    Any fee higher than 3% on gross is more like tax than a transaction cost. Such fees take a huge amount out of profit. We’re running businesses here, not casinos.

  5. Dmitry

    Thanks for sharing the information! In my turn I would also like to mention ecommerce provider I currently use and the one missing here – PayPro Global. The experience with them has been very good so far. The commission rate is 4.9% + $1. So by now my vote belongs to this company :)

    [This looks like comment spam to me and not a genuine testimonial: PayPro Global looks pretty shaky at first glance.]

  6. @Alec, thank you for your feedback about Avangate. We totally enjoyed reading about your needs and preferences :)
    The compatibility with Freshbooks is a good idea, we will look into API integration.

    To make you review even more accurate, I have just one comment: Radu Georgescu is not actually the CEO of Avangate, but President & Chairman of the Board.

  7. Hi Oscar,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    The issue we face is that we’d have to custom build a billing solution for

    1. our hosting services (which work on their own billing system)
    3. a module to interact with Freshbooks (not sure if it’s possible (I think Freshbooks only works with their list of payment providers) as we let people pay their invoices directly from the invoice.

    So we’d be stuck fighting a crappy API in three different places. Frankly we have a lot of interesting commercial and open source work to do instead of fiddling with payment gateways while Rome burns. We’re thinking about changing our hosting billing mechanism from the built-in automation in H-Sphere and migrating our control panel back to cPanel which is a lot easier for the clients to use. H-Sphere doesn’t cooperate with Avantgate (or much else either). At that point, I’d like to build for Freshbooks. Apparently there is a payment API we can tap into on our own. At that point, we could sell directly ourselves via the website and for custom larger invoices run it through Freshbooks but with payment inside our own solution.

    Thanks for the good question!

    PS. WP E-Commerce is a horrible solution – the code is messy, buggy, fragmented and you have to pay for it byte by byte. Dan the project leader has been caught out several times bad mouthing the competition via sock puppets. Not a project in which we want to take part. When we code a Shopping Cart we do so on Market Theme You can see an example at

  8. I really enjoyed reading your review. I use Paypal right now and I’ve always been satisfied and happy with it. However, my best friend, my mother and my sister have had issues with Paypal holding their money or making very shady refunds. I’ve been lucky I guess but its always been on the back of my mind.

    I have never tried google checkout, but I was hoping it would rank high as I’m a big fan of their other products.

    It seems that I’ll have to check out Avangate soon.

    I’m left with a puzzling question though. You do web development, and use freshbooks… and WordPress. What kind of analysis and approach did you consider when you said it wouldn’t be worth rolling your own solution?

    I’m working on 2 checkout sites for two different parties and I was pretty sure that a combo like wp-e-commerce/shopping cart, wordpress, & freshbooks would be awesome and very inexpensive. Perhaps I am too optimistic.

  9. I use Avangate since the mid-January. Before that I used only Paypal.

    I read many reviews about it and i decided to try it.
    After 2 weeks, i was amazed: i had 60% more orders than the previous period of time.

    In February, the sales were 300 % more and in mid March i have 50% more than the previous month.

    It is really incredible. The most important factor were:
    – the multiple payment choices
    – the very well made checkout page as well as the cross selling.
    – the IPN they provide helped me to integrated with my website license manager

    It isn’t an ad for them, it is the truth.
    I am truly happy with them.

  10. Good article. I too have found setting up my own merchant services too much hassle and risky.

    As for the service to use, one important factor for me is file hosting. Avantgate might well come on top, but the few hundred megabyte hosting just won’t cut it when one is selling tutorials in video form and when people prefer downloads.

    I’m looking at Fastpsring now, though still considering.


  11. Dan

    FastSpring offers free file hosting up to 5GB per file, no max on account hosting.

  12. Ana Belleza

    After benchmarking, I decided to choose Avangate in order to replace my paypal merchant system. Within 2 months my website received 25% more sales.
    I’m very happy with them

  13. Dan from Fastspring

    I’m glad to hear you found a service that works well for you, Ana.

  14. Robert

    Why don’t you have a look at ? Yes, it is a Digital River company, too. But since this company in located in Cologne – German law is applied and no customer data is transferred to the US. And they do not even use this data for own marketing things…

  15. From what I’ve seen, anything project touched by Digital River is either predatory now or will be in the future. Instinctively, I just wouldn’t want Digital River to have access to my information or that of my customers.

    That said, thanks for the suggestion Robert.

  16. Alex

    Hey guys! Be careful with Avangate, it is a scam! I bought a piece of software online but the product key was not delivered. I tried to call the support line but to no avail! Just google “Avangate scam” and you’ll see other people who had problems.

    Remember, always google “[company name] scam” and try to read what other people went through. It will save you a lot of stress. Good luck!

  17. Hi Alex,

    I guess you are referring to the Avangate discussion here. Yes, it doesn’t look good. I don’t like to be given the run around for two weeks for a refund either. Avangate should take more care to work with more responsible merchants and to put the onus on the merchant and not the customer.

    That’s what the big credit card companies have done and it’s worked for them. I’m always happy to pay for a larger ticket item on my credit card as I can trust them to back me up.

    Poor show by Avangate.

  18. Robert


    I understand.
    What do you think about Cleverbridge as alternative?

  19. Thanks to all who mentioned Avangate in this post.

    It’s nice to see that we are appreciated for what we do, at the same time we found it necessary to give an explanation regarding the refund issue.
    Avangate treats refunds according to the contractual terms agreed with each vendor. Following customer feedback, we have started implementing a new refund procedure in which Avangate will have a more hands-on approach. This will surely reduce the number of such incidents in the future.

  20. Hi Sorin,

    Good to hear that you are updating your refund procedures as clearly they haven’t been working very well.

    Please let us know when the new system is in place.

    Thanks for the update.

    Making the web work for you, Alec

  21. Dan

    Lately we use more and more Fastspring as their % is better for us (as we sale low price products).

    It would be too expensive for us to have a minimum +2.5 USD for a 15 USD product instead of 8.9% (Fastspring).
    Also the minimum of 25USD required by FS to send us the money is better as we can pay further our developers.

  22. Dan

    In the same time i have to admit that the Avangate checkout process (with all their options) seems to me better.

    In my opinion Fastspring and Avangate are for sure the best on the market.

    I really appreciate the fast, really fast and HQ answers of Fastspring.

  23. Robert

    Share it margins can be negotiated individually.

  24. Pat

    I hate Paypal and going to use FastSpring now since there are so many good review here. I had Paypal account for awhile selling my goods on Ebay and other website it was going well until Ebay suspended my account the worst part is Ebay close my Paypal a few days later and i will have some money in my account, I explained to them that most of money that i made are from the other website not ebay but they didn’t care and said they might release my account if i get my Ebay account back. Now I don’t care about Ebay or Paypal anymore since Ebay bought Paypal, they think they can do whatever they want. I just open my own website and won’t use Paypal anymore. They use to be really cool but not anymore after Ebay take over. I will go with fastspring, thanks for the useful review.

  25. Thanks for the positive feedback. We’re thrilled to work with you.

    You can see more feedback on what you can expect from working with us

  26. Mike

    Fastspring? What the hell? Their cart is not even EU compliant in any way.
    There are better direct to cart solutions – for sure.

  27. Not EU compliant? I’m not sure what you’re referring to there. Our order page is translated into 18 languages, supports localized payments in Euros, Pounds, USD, AUD, CAD, and Yen, and we manage VAT. In what way are you meaning EU compliant? I’m not sure what you’re referring to, Mike, but I’m listening. Thanks for the feedback.

  28. Mike

    EU compliant e.g. means – show VAT on the cart page. This is not the case.
    But there are dozens of questionableness I could mention while visiting any Fastspring order process ( – selecting any product ).

    Being merchant of record you could (and will) meet heavy legal conflicts…

  29. Mike, There is no such thing as a single standard for EU Compliance. Often times two clients, one in Germany and one in France, will have completely opposite opinions on what their laws and buyers require.

    Our system provides a good amount of customization that individual clients can use to have the cart behave as they would like. We have many clients who will do VAT Inclusive pricing, which is what most german clients need. We also have many, many clients who are EU based and want it to work the opposite way.

    The bottom line is that in a 30 second glance at one clients order page isn’t much of a basis for starting to throw darts at a company.

  30. Met Hrovat

    What would be the best payment processor for physical product?


  31. Hi Met,

    It depends on volume. For small volumes, you still can’t beat Paypal with it’s low 3% fees and huge international reach and low or non-existent monthly fees.

  32. This is an interesting discussion that’s been going on for a long time. I’d like some advice. I will be introducing a software product that should sell for under $10 USD (it’s useful, but has limited features and I figure that’s about the most it would be worth).

    To prevent theft, I want to use a license key that will allow installation on perhaps 3 computers. This means that someone, somewhere, has to keep track of the number of installs for each license key.

    Do any of these vendors do that? How should I proceed.

    I would appreciate your help. Thx.

  33. Hi Harry,

    In that price category, you are better off just letting people install it on as many computers as they like.

    Personally I won’t buy software which uses eSellerate authorisation (I’ve actually stopped my purchase of software four or five times: there’s perhaps one or two pieces left with eSellerate activation on my computers and I won’t be renewing them).

    Even hardened pirates are ashamed to steal truly useful $5 applications.

  34. Thanks for the thougth alec, but I believe I will be offering a unique and useful utility. Once it is open to theft, once it has been stolen by one person, the genie is out of the bottle. You can’t stop it. So, whether or not you would or wouldn’t buy software with a mandatory registration isn’t the question. The question is how does one go about doing this.

    thanks again.

  35. Every utility creator thinks his or hers is unique and special.

    I didn’t say anything about not including registration. I said something about including painful registration which uses a third party app.

    I think you are on the wrong path but go ahead and poison the user experience. Make sure that no one wants to use your application.

    Roboform no longer has a place at Foliovision for instance, due to what a pain the registration process/license management is. Three licenses sold instead of fifteen. MS Office another victim. As little Adobe as possible. And certainly no small utilities with painful registration.

  36. Thanks for the post which has really helped me to form an idea about how not to use Paypal. Any further comments on which service would be better for selling many items at low prices (say $1-$4 range) like selling ebooks? At such a low price range, would it be idiotic to assume customer service could take a back seat if one has a liberal return policy for such low cost transactions?

  37. Hi Karl,

    I don’t think customer service can ever take a back seat. I’m not sure how you’ll ever turn a profit selling such low priced items. The only working business I’ve seen in that price range were photography ebooks, 1 for $5, various packs at $4 each.

    Not sure at all if there is any other viable way to make such low value transactions than Paypal. You could look at Amazon payments.

    Making the web work for you, Alec

  38. Mel Lucid

    Thank you very much for this useful review. Wow, more than I had hoped to find.

    I got ticked off at paypal because they only allow withdrawals of $500 each month. I do not like to connect my pp accnt to a bank accnt or my credit card after all I read about them.

    Is it mandatory to connect to a bank accnt or credit card with these companies you are reviewing as better than pp?

    Just trying to cover my assets ;>

  39. Hi Mel,

    No, for the most part, these other companies do not want to draw money out of your account but rather serve as a temporary holding spot for money which you are earning. Paypal is both a receiving and a spending account which is how they finagle the banking info out of people. Paypal only have my bank information one way. I would never give them withdrawal privileges. I can withdraw up to $5000 per withdrawal so I’m not sure why you are stuck at $500.

  40. Hello (and sorry for my english)

    I’ve created SYS4SOCCER, a software application for soccer coaching and in the last two years I have sold the program through a company that deals with all the business aspects, leaving to me only the technical support and application maintenance. This company only sells sporting goods, so it was very good to increase my sales, but in return I only receive 33% of total profits!!!

    Once the agreement I have with them will end now, I decided to start selling on my own.

    I plan to sell worldwide and I am looking for a method to do this. I’ve read the reviews here some of these services (FastSpring, Avangate, etc.), but I’m asking all of you what could be the most effective way to do it.

    My system works as follows:
    The customer goes to the site, download and install the program. The customer can try the demo program, and at any time when he wants to buy a license, he buys the license and, at the time of purchase, I have to receive an email with the customer information (name, email address, etc.) and a reference code generated by the program.

    Then, I use that reference code to create the activation code that I then send to the customer by e-mail.

    In fact, the only thing I want is a payment system that I can controle (access the clients information by e-mail ou backend management system) and all the activation stuff is dealed by me.

    Any suggestions?


    João Ribeiro

  41. Hi Joao,

    Sound like a great plan. You can use any payment provider as you are providing the license code yourself. Some people use esellerate to be able to use esellerate licensing but esellerate belongs to the baddies at Digital River so that is out of the question.

    I’d go for the lowest cost alternative here which is Paypal to start with and your own merchant account after that.

    Making the web work for you, Alec

  42. daniel

    i want to sell a small .NET/C#-software ~30$ worldwide.

    i did a research and think fastspring and paypro are good solutions for me.
    But i have a question concerning the DRM/copy protection. Does avantgate also handle this?
    Do i need additionaly solutions?

    paypro seems only to provide an integrated solution?

  43. Hi Daniel,

    You’re either going to have to write some code in you app or use an existing .NET/C# library or out-of-the-box application as a solution.

    You may have already seen in your research, but FastSpring supports a variety of registration license key code-generation products, including AquaticPrime, ByteShield, Software Passport, CocoaFOB and Quick License Manager (QLM).

    Let us know how we can help: steven (at) fastspring dot com.

  44. Ed

    Is there an all in one service company that can provide everything needed for digital ecommerce – site hosting, global payment, DRM and distribution (digital)?

  45. Proctor


    I still a user of paypal, even though deal with them is pain in the ass, at the beginning they block my account because i have a lot of sales, then finally the conclusion is they keep 10% of my revenue as their save deposit for refund and keep it for 3 month. For my current revenue at 20-30k monthly it still a lot of money they kept me away every month.
    One think i dont like is I want to use my company name/program name instead of my full name displayed for every order made, but they only allow 1 premier account/business account, so i cant make another account for my company.

    I came along to this site and found out about another payment processor rather than paypal.

    What i wanna know is it ok to have 2 payment processor in your website, and test which one convert better.

    And can fastpring or avangate only display my company or product name instead of my name mention on the receipt.

    Sorry for not perfect english since english not my primary language

  46. @Proctor

    FastSpring allows you to display your company name in the confirmation email/receipt as well as the billing descriptor, so your company name is displayed on their credit card statement.

    Let me know if you have any further questions:

    steven (at) fastspring dot com.

  47. Dan

    What i wanna know is it ok to have 2 payment processor in your website, and test which one convert

    Yes you can use two and yes you can edit receipt text.

  48. Satyajeet

    I know all you guys seem to prefer avangate, but we applied for an account and its been 4 days and there has been no reply from them even after a reminder. If this is how long they take to create an account i seriously wont have any confidence in the quality of support we are going to get.

    My initial mail to fastspring inquiring about some features that we needed was answered within 4 hours. So we have decided to go with fastspring.
    Coz if presales is this good, then support for paying customers should be superlative.

  49. Satyajeet

    I take my words back…reply from fastspring

    “We’d love to help, but we unfortunately don’t support SEO related products at this time.”

    So SEO software is now rated in the same category as porn pill and casino… go figure…

    Oh well back to swreg i guess

  50. martin

    I recently signup with avangate can anyone tell me that what is the payout date for vendors and have they ask for software testing from vendors
    before payout date

  51. martin

    I recently signup with avangate can anyone tell me that what is the payout date for vendors and have they ask for software testing from vendors
    before payout date

  52. This thread seems to missing a very important point. Fastspring and Avangate are ecommerce solutions + a backend marketing solution which includes cross-selling, up-selling and more.

    Backend solutions such as these can easily increase the lifetime value of your front-end customers by significant margins (anywhere from 10% to 300% or maybe even more).

    Paypal is simply a ecommerce solutions and won’t increase your frontend sales by anything.

    Having said that, if your revenue is more than 50k per month, I think the best e-commerce/backend marketing solution are actually custom made ones.

    Custom e-commerce/backend marketing solutions do have a high upfront cost and a significant upfront time investment to integrate. However, the ROI is incredible and will last a long time.

  53. Camille

    Are you from Avangate? or Avangate paid you? You denied all platforms but Avangate.

  54. SWREG Victim

    SWREG, Digital River is the biggest scam of the century.

    We were vendors with SWREG for the last 3 months. They were supposed to make our first payment on 15 August 2012, but when the payment didn’t come, and I followed up for it, they not only closed my account without any reason or any notice (against their own agreement) but have also held our funds for no reason. They avoid my calls and ignore my emails. And when they reply, they send in totally irrelevant excerpts from the agreement.

    I am not going to let these scammers get away robbing me of my $5800. They are thieves and no one should ever tie up with them. I now know how they sustain themselves – by stealing other’s money. They are bloody crooks and I will make sure I make them famous all over the internet.

  55. Phil

    Iam building a Java based product that I intend to sell with licensing. Does Fastspring support license activation in Java(from the product) to any of their licensing vendors?

  56. Pingback: Paypal Fees: How Paypal steals from their best clients

  57. Michael

    cleverbridge does

  58. Neil from Ohio

    Between the article and the comments on this page, there are some links to other articles. One of them sounded interesting to me:

    “Google Algorithms Creating Spam”

    But I cannot read it. Avast Anti-virus has blocked access to that page on the grounds that it contains malware:

    [quote]Infection Details
    Process: C:\Program Files (x86)\Comodo\IceDragon\…
    Infection: JS:Iframe-CN [Trj][/quote]

  59. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for the tip but we are unable to establish that malware alert, even using Sucuri which checks about 10 different services. Let us know if you have further information.

  60. BitBuddy

    you should look into Bitcoin.. (weusecoins dot com, Coinbase dot com and BitPay dot com) Forget about Paypal, its day has come and gone, soon it will be taken over by Bitcoin as the inets leading form of payment.

  61. eLord

    Hello everybody,

    I browsed and read all this long thread : very nice ! Nevertheless, I would like to expose my case and maybe it will be the occasion to update the status on june 2014.

    Well, in brief, I’m back in the software creation field after ten years outside. In the past (1998-2002) I created small tools, often with a Frewware edition and a Paid one below USD10. At this epoch I worked with RegNow (huuu)… But reading what you all said here, I’m not very encouraged to be back with DigitalRiver, and even more from the point I saw they renamed their service “MyCommerce” ; sounds like a cheap name, not very pro for me (like if we were talking about LittleMarket).

    Now, for my activity relaunching, I have a bigger software ; close to twenty months of dev and tests to reach the 1.0. So I would like to choose the right payment platform without mistake on the first pass.

    This software will be at relativelly low price (certainly below USD 40.00) because I hope in quantity (it’s a very specialized software and I well know the customers needs, since I worked in the target domain and this is the reason I was able to have the idea and develop this specific software).

    So, I need a fluid and automatic chain. The platform should be able to :
    – provide multilingual and cutomizable order page (bad to see a big gap in layout from the customer point of view, I think)
    – handle all major currencies, manage frauds and customer calls about pre/post sale,
    – host my executables and my compiled keygen (written in C) with security (I mean, even human one ; I would prefer a well established service to prevent any social engeenering like a probationer who could have access to the keygen(s) – if you see what I mean)
    – handle post-sale process (email license data, provide a secure time-limited links for download, notify me)
    – allow coupon and affiliates (eventually with the possibility to decide about permanent commission for a single named person) through a smart board.

    Of course (and DigitalRiver is eliminated because of this), I wish that my customers be mine in full (i.e. I know their full info as name/addr/email and they are not contacted by the platform for others products in my back).

    Also, the vendor support should be reactive 24/24 7/7 (it’s always daylight somewhere in the world).

    The question is : what’s the ideal magic platform for me ?

    Avangate ? But if I well understood, it’s in Europe and my product highly targets the USA ; does it has an impact ? FastSpring ? CleverBridge ? Another major one (since I was out of business these last years, I don’t know the current state of the market) ?

    All you lights are welcome :)

  62. Avangate and FastSpring both have lots of fans. We’ve worked with Shareasale as an affiliate and many of the vendors we use trust them.

    Let us know how it works out for you, eLord. Additional feedback welcome.

  63. Definitely FastSpring. Been working with them for the past 3 years = 0 problems. The best 24/7 support, and a high robust backend with a lot of possibilities to explore (running scripts in result of a purchase, embed code in your native application code to create the possibility of buying licenses from your app, etc.)

    5 star service so far.

  64. Hello eLord,

    Welcome back to the software development field. I just wanted to send out a quick note and invite you to try out FastSpring:

    Some of our features include:

    – Multi-language and customizable order pages where we can match to the look/style of your site (no extra charge).

    – Processing 16 major currencies (and growing), and handle multiple payment options including major credit cards, PayPal, Amazon Payments, iDEAL, giropay, WebMoney and Sofort.

    – PCI compliance and international tax collection/management.

    – Secure and reliable file hosting through Amazon Web Services.

    If you would like to discuss, please just send an email to and somebody will respond to you shortly.

    Thank you,

    Steven at FastSpring

  65. Fastspring are so helpful. It’s a pity their fees are so outrageous at 8.9% per transaction.

  66. Daniel

    Yes, we use Fastspring for few years already and we enjoy the fast support, the fast money cycle and the features they have. We used in the past Avangate but simply didnt like it so much. It isnt as “agile” as Fastspring

    PS: Fastspring made 3 times in a row templates for my website, for the payment page and they delivered very quickly. The visual integration is always important.

  67. eLord

    Thanks for your opinions, Alec, João and Daniel. Unless about cost, you seem to be Fastspring supporters. Well, in 2000, if I remember, the fee was around 30% (oops)… But the game changed :) So, Alec, why do you think 8.9% is outrageous ? Is it the only reason why you don’t go with FastSpring ?

    And thank you too for your invitation, Steven. I’ll don’t hesitate to ask my questions. Just one right now : João talked about the possibility to call a server-side script after order, but do you accept compiled executable (I mean keygen written in C) ?

    Well, with your reply and others things I continued to read here and there I’m inclined to go with FastSpring or Avangate… I’ll visit both deeper before to apply… And will be back to tell you my return of experience ^o^

    At this time, from what I assimilated, in my mind Avangate sounds like the best established (inertia included) and FastSping, the challenger. But I may be wrong.

    Also, maybe an unusual last interrogation. Is it possible and (if yes) does some of you use two order platforms (for example FastSpring and Avangate:) ?

    Have a good week-end (me, it will be dev – lol)

  68. dave

    8.9% is way too much.

  69. @eLord: it’s been almost a year, how did it go?

    @dave: know something better?

  70. Allow me to provide rundown of some of these services, from personal experience.

    share-it Germany. (AKA Digital River) (I used this this outfit for 10 years)

    1. Accounting is good. you get a proper credit note, and my accountant had no complaints.
    2. Customer gets a proper invoice.
    3. You have no idea what they are charging you per sale. But the summary in the cart is pretty much accurate, and is what you will get paid out.
    4. Payments are prompt.
    5. Control Panel and product setup is old fashioned, outdated.
    6. Cart is outdated.
    7. No API and no IPN, you get an email,they deliver, thats your lot. Its not enough in this day and age.
    8. They have you covered with new vat regulations.
    9. Support of any kind, is awful, and damed right evasive. they don’t want to talk to anyone, good luck with any problems you have.
    10. Transparency. do you have a problem with them? tough luck.
    11. Refunds are ok.
    12. They totally screw both you, and your customers on currency conversion, making your products inexplicably expensive for anything but the primary currency you choose, pocketing the difference. Thats where they make the money !
    13. They force things into your cart, like download insurance, or cd backup. you get practically no cut of that extra revenue
    14. You can choose which countries you would like to sell to.

    There are some very suspicious things going on at Share-It, which Is why I dropped them last September.

    Avangate (since last september) via EU dutch subsidiary

    1. Accounting is good. You get a proper credit note, and my accountant has no complaints.
    2. Customer gets a proper invoice.
    3. You see what they are charging you per sale.Everything is clear ,in both the notification, and the control panel.
    4 Payments are prompt
    5. Control panel is very good, with some minor bugs. Unlike shareit, Avangate are actively fixing and improving their platform, and are open to ideas and suggestions.
    6. Cart is modern and top notch. There are several good templates provided, all of which are easily customizable. If you have a problem , you will get real help from a real dev, very quickly.
    7. Full featured API. easy to set up IPN. Everything anyone could need, is all there.
    8. They have you covered with new vat regulations.
    9. Support is everything you could hope for, and then some.
    10. Transparency. Do you have a problem with them? No problem. You can speak to humans, and send them bitching support tickets. They will absorb your frustration, stay professional and answer whatever you can throw at them.
    11. Refunds are ok.could be better, from the customers point of view. But everything is in place to make customers happy.
    12. However, there is a great discrepancy between what they say your earnings are (and what you see at midnight, on the last day of each month) and what you actually get paid out. To me this is inexplicable, making any thoughts you previously had about the what you’re being charged per sale, insignificant. IMO they are pulling the same stroke as share-it, but doing it on the backend, at my cost, rather than at the frontend.
    13. You are not forced to add things to the cart, like cd backup or insurance. But if you do decide to add those things, they actually make it worth your while. It is a good way to reduce your fees, by offering download insurance. thats good for you customer, reduces your supprt, and covers your fees.
    14. You can not choose which countries you would like to sell to.

    My summary on both services is as follows.

    ShareIt = a sloppy old dog, not willing or capable of change.
    Avangate = young, fresh, dynamic, learning.

    However, be very careful using any of these services. Both of the above services (and I suspect all other similar services) are up to some funny games when it comes to converting your money, and both take huge liberties (with your money), when converting it to another currency for you.
    They will never tell you what their rates are. (Avangate, do some kind of monthly averaging) This is absolutely NOT transparent, and stands out like a sore thumb in their concept. it always leaves you significantly out of pocket (as much as 10 to 15% just vanish).
    It is my suspicion that the real money is being made on these absurd conversions rates, that nobody can ever validate or proof. And that the ~4.9% or ~5.9 % they all quote, pale into insignificance, against what they are creaming off on currency conversion.

  71. How they make money…..

    If you sell from the EU, to the USA, and you set a product price and primary currency based on the USD.

    If the USD were 1/1 against EUR (for sake of simplicity in this example), you make a sale for 300 USD, your fees, at 5% would be ~17 USD for the sale.

    Avangate fiddle

    You’re going to be paying as much as 15% for them to convert your USD sale back into EUR to pay out to you.

    so instead of getting ~283 EUR paid out , you will get ~240 EUR, or whatever they decide to give you, and no explanation as to what happened to the missing 43 EUR.

    Share-It fiddle

    If the customer selects EUR in the cart, he won’t see a 300 EUR (for a 300 USD product @ 1/1) but ~340 EUR. That makes your product super expensive, in anything else but your primary product currency. If you do make the sale, you won’t get paid out 283 EUR, you’ll get maybe 240 EUR. so the customer has paid 340 EUR, and you got 240 EUR. That is one hell of a lot more than 5,9%. Both the seller and the customer get stiffed @ shareit.
    If you specifically set a EUR price, having been shocked by the odd conversion, you will absorb that 100 EUR delta yourself !! meaning that you would get 200 EUR for a 300 EUR sale. It is a complete ripoff. I had to learn this the hard way.

    Of the 2 evils, Avangate is significantly less evil, and Share-It’s evil just takes the piss out of everyone involved.

  72. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for your detailed notes. That’s an amazing analysis of dirty tricks which hurt both business and customer. I don’t believe in charging for download insurance but with that much ground to cover, I can understand why it might tempt you.

    You are certainly right that currency conversion can destroy an international business.

    Right now we’re trying out Braintree (yes, I know Braintree have been bought by Paypal but they are being run as a separate team for the moment) which does something very interesting with exchange.

    Braintree actually convert at Visa’s middle day rate. I.e. they are not taking points on the currency conversion at all. Rates are around 3% or 4% per transaction depending on if it’s cross-jurisdiction or note. Still a heck of a lot clearer than all these crooks. Let’s hope this lasts.

    We’re still in the early stages, so this is not yet an endorsement but informational. So far we’re impressed with the very clear onboarding process and the nice back end tools though.

    We continue to use Paypal, with preferential rates based on volume. We have some methods on reducing exchange fees. We pay between 2.2% and 3.5% depending on whether it’s international or not. We keep Paypal balances in all the currencies we use and transfer them out to accounts denominated in that currency (no conversion).

  73. Josie

    My biggest gripe with Avangate is their payment schedule.
    If you make a sale on January 1 (or anytime in January), they send payment on February 16.
    With a few days delay for wire transfer, you are waiting up to 6-7 weeks to get paid.
    They always pay on time – but who wants to wait that long?

  74. RE: avangate payment times.
    This is normal, and to be expected. You are paid on what you earn for the entire month. That’s a 4 week window to sell. When that window closes, you are told after a few days exactly what you earned last month, and when you will be paid out. its takes them 2 weeks. to pay you. I don’t think you will find another reseller that pays out faster, or significantly differently. Share-it are pretty much exactly the same, taking 2 weeks, after the month closes.

  75. Daniel

    Once a month is too much nowdays.
    Example Fastspring each 2 weeks or Gunroad each Friday.

  76. In regards with payout terms (I am part of Avangate team): these are determined by the packs – we have monthly, twice per month, weekly and even days payments according to the edition / terms or the volumes. We will investigate making this as an option from the application and more streamlined process (appreciate your feedback), meanwhile please contact your account manager or support team.

  77. Josie

    Re- Avangate payment times.
    This is not normal, and not to be expected.
    For Avangate to pay you fortnightly, you need to make sales in excess of $100,000 per month.
    For someone starting out, waiting up to six or seven weeks to get paid can severely impede growth. Less flow of money available for advertising, less sales for you, less commission for avangate.
    Clickbank and Gumroad pay weekly. and FastSpring pay fortnightly. There are many others with similar payment schedules.
    Even other companies that pay monthly, send that amount on the 1st of the next month – avangate makes you wait until the 16th. waiting up to 7 weeks for a payment is stifling to growth.
    In many respects, avangate is a leader in the online payments industry, but it really needs to reconsider this aspect – there are many people who won’t join them because of this sole factor.

  78. Paul

    an update on Avangate/Shareit.

    The the winds have changed. Shareit aka Digital River, have changed their game. lower prices. less crap, and they got an API.They have gotten rid of all the forced backup CD or download insurance rubbish. so they are now on a level playing field, with Avangate. Shareit are, for me, slightly cheaper now, it remains to be seen if shareit are still ripping everyone off on exchange rates though, and if they will reveal how much they are charging on fees, per sale, in the sale notification.

    On the other hand we have some SERIOUS problems now with Avangate order processing, that have only recently come to light. (meaning i only recently noticed this problem) Avangate have a real technical issue with their CC processing. As many as 1 in 10 sales wont get processed, and are flagged as unfinished. This can cost you as much as 10% of your potential revenue, and will drive you and your customers insane. The support don’t give a hoot, and think that it is all the fault of the customer. There is nothing wrong with the cards that fail, they go through fine via shareit. If you scale this issue over all the Avangate vendors, it is a gigantic bug, that they are not able to fix. That is for me the death blow with Avangate, and i will post again to let you all know where I go next. As great as they are, a consistent 10% loss,via Avangate is unforgivable.

  79. Missy

    @Alec, I too strongly object to the way Roboform changed its payment structure and besides that they’ve lost half my passwords, auto-select the wrong account for me, and half the time my changes don’t update, or don’t display. It’s a nightmare and I need to change. Who do you use now? Do you have any recommendations?
    Thanks for the help. Missy :)

  80. Missy

    @Paul @Avangate This is very worrying, is anyone else having Paul’s experience?

  81. Hi Missy,

    We moved over to LastPass. While it’s US based and hence subject to various Patriot Act requirements, other than that LastPass is very solid.

    LastPass has recently been sold to another company with a less attractive reputation (LogMeIn) so we are considering moving over to our own database stored in Pleasant Solutions Password Server which leverages KeepassX. Another couple of affordable alternatives are Vaultier or (hosted in Switzerland, hence not directly subject to US laws: the creators are Russian nationals and hence less vulnerable to indirect pressure).

    Really it’s time for a full post on team password management.

  82. To answer to Paul’s comment above (I am heading Avangate Product management team) – thank you for the feedback – I am surprised especially given the fact that we are recognized and have built in proprietary logic to recovering failed transactions and ensuring highest authorization rates (case studies on our website with clients results on conversions on all customer life cycle stages ). I want to learn more on your specific website / countries coverage so I can provide an answer to what you mention as “bug” (please contact me with some orders examples and I will gladly look into the reasons).

  83. Thanks for your feedback Adriana.

    I’ll be interested to hear Paul’s side of the story.

    Exchange rates are a sore point for international merchants as well.

    Paypal really hammers users on exchange rates. I try to leave money in multiple currencies and am fortunate to have accounts in those currencies to which I withdraw the money directly. To inverse it, I suppose the multiple currencies balance at no extra cost is an attractive feature of Paypal.

  84. Following the feedback we received, beginning of 2016 we are releasing a fully automated FX solution, where we are locking the exchange rate at the moment of purchase – our merchants will not see any fluctuation between anticipated payouts and settlement.
    How this will work:
    * For transactions processed in like for like currencies, Avangate settlement will be without any exchange rate or mark-up, regardless of your location (multiple currencies balance).
    * When a currency exchange is required, Avangate is using the official European Central Bank rate and is adding a fixed mark-up
    Example – For Brasilian shoppers (we are assuming that you do not have a Brazilian Real bank account) transactions, Avangate will convert the amount in USD, add the above mentioned markup and lock the amount until settlement.

  85. Missy

    Thanks Paul, appreciate the tip :)

  86. @adrian lordon
    RE: locking the exchange rate at the moment of purchase
    that is the fairest solution, and will makes it fair for everyone.I appreciate this move.

    RE: unfinished transaction. I have over 21k in failed transactions for the last 12 months. Half of which either succesfully re-orderd, or I presonally redirected to shareit. the other half, got lost. that still equtes to a lot of lost earnings for me, avangate. Ad if anyone else has this issue, a lot of money globaly. anyone who has an avangate account can see how many unfinished sales that have by looking at “orders & customers” and filtering only “unfinished sales” over a time period, of say 1 year. for me its a shocking number.


  87. We are constantly looking for ways to improve the overall authorization rate – depending on market, product type, risk profile and our merchants pricing (dynamic 3D secure, intelligent payment routing as per your AOV, countries mix etc). We have activated on your account the option to see the decline reasons for your orders – this will provide a better overview of what and why is happening (as you stated it is in our interest to have the highest approval rates as long as the orders are not fraud attempts).
    Looking at previous months for credit card declines I saw that you had an authorization rate >93% (you can check for benchmarks and how we are against), December being 100% to date.
    Thank you for sharing, appreciate the feedback.

  88. as of April 1st 2016, Avangate have made a great move with the exchange rate issue. They are calling it “Exchange Rate Optimization”. what it boils down to, is that averaging is over, and that t you get what you take, when you sell. As far as I know, they are the only ones doing this, and it’s it doesn’t get cleaner than that. I sell sell some, via shareit, and they are still, to this day, up to the same old crap, I am pretty pleased with Avangate right now. what I am missing though, is some kind of shopping cart integration tools, for prestashop, or woo. They have not noticed what outfits like Zapier/cloudwork are doing.

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