Nov 21, 2008

E-Checks: Who’s gonna count the money?

Back when we ran a web design consultancy, we had a client that wanted us to build their first e-commerce website. We had this unbelievably long meeting with their "website committee" who, instead of talking about functionality and business requirements, seemed to be focused more on "jazzy home page intros." When we got down to the actual "how to make money" discussions, one of their employees wanted to call the whole thing off. Their concern? "Who’s gonna count all the money? We don’t have enough staff as it is!"

We explained to them that it might actually take some time to make any money. It’s not like they’d be drowning under a sea of checks or something. But still. It was actual cause for concern to them.

We left the meeting bewildered, and on our way back to the office, swore that if this MailChimp thing ever took off, we’d never say silly things like that: "Who’s gonna count the money?" C’mon. It’s a good problem to have.

But look at that picture above.

These are checks mailed in from MailChimp customers. Some of them are nice, big fat checks. Some are teeny-tiny $15 checks. I love ’em all. But I’m about 3 weeks behind processing and depositing them. There’s too much other stuff to do.

Who’s gonna count this money?

Yes, we have people who help. But some of them are checks that didn’t need to be sent at all (accounting departments who mistake receipts for invoices). Some of the checks are totally wrong (customers just make up orders and "discount rates" sometimes—it’s entertaining). Some of them don’t include order forms, so I have no idea what to apply them to.

Don’t get me wrong. We love the money.

But this is just not scalable. Who’s gonna count this?

So we’ve implemented an e-check payment option in MailChimp.

1. If you can’t pay by credit card, then write a check.

2. Then, DON’T MAIL IT.

3. Instead, log in to your MailChimp account, then go to the "Buy" screen.

You now have a new option:

4. Click the new "Pay by eCheck" tab (see above), then enter your bank acct, routing number, and the usual stuff.

5. Hit submit, and you just saved a stamp. Plus, you don’t have to wait around for the check to arrive here, for the payment to clear in the bank, and for someone at MailChimp to contact you to confirm your account’s been updated. It’s all instant.

Switching from CC to checks?

If you’ve already paid by credit card in the past, MailChimp remembers that option. So if you want to switch to pay by checks (which would be crazy, by the way), you’ll need to go to your Account settings, and go to "Billing Info" and in the "Payment Information" box, change to the eCheck option:

So this should save some stamps, save gas (trips to our bank), which will in turn prevent global warming, save a few whales and polar bears, and give our customers more payment options. And like I’ve already mentioned, payment will be instantly applied, so there’s no waiting around for confirmation.