Thursday, December 7, 2023

FastSpring Risk Screening

I received a pair of e-mails from one of my payment processors, FastSpring, which included this text:

Our implemented process is designed to ensure full alignment and compliance with regulatory standards, including KYC/KYB (Know Your Customer/Know Your Business) requirements, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations, Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) guidelines, and international sanctions screening. We’ve had to invest in various compliance measures to meet these regulatory requirements, but they do come with associated costs. We’re striving to keep these costs as reasonable as possible for our sellers.

The annual Risk Screening process is applicable to all sellers. To offset the administrative costs associated with this service and to ensure a seamless process, we have implemented a fee of $150.00 to complete the Risk Screening, no more than annually.

[…]

Upon successful payment processing, our Risk team will reach out to you in the following weeks to guide you through the screening process. We understand the importance of your business, and we are committed to upholding the highest standards of security and service. If the fee isn’t received by the specified date, your account will be unfortunately disabled, resulting in loss of access to the FastSpring platform and payment processing capabilities, including subscription renewals.

This sounded a bit suspicious. The e-mails seemed to be sent from FastSpring, but they looked different from other e-mails I’ve received from them. They used different formatting and did not address me by name. A link to their terms of service was included. The ToS does mention a $150 fee, but it refers to it as a “Vendor Risk Verification Fee,” whereas the e-mail calls it a “Risk Screening Fee.”

The e-mail said to go to fastspringverifications.onfastspring.com to pay the fee. This is odd because it’s a store hosted at FastSpring itself. It calls FastSpring an “authorized reseller” and has a field to enter a coupon code. There’s a “Get updates about our products and offerings” box that’s pre-checked. Nothing on the main fastspring.com site seems to link to this store.

This store is not inside of the admin interface for my account, and it doesn’t ask for my account ID, so it’s not clear how they would associate the payment with my account. Do they match the e-mail address? And why aren’t they just taking the fee out of my earnings automatically, like they do for their other fees?

This all just looked strange, but I contacted FastSpring’s support and they said it was legitimate.

The decision to use a separate payment link, fastspringverifications.onfastspring.com, is intentional and aimed at enhancing the accuracy of fee tracking. This approach ensures a detailed and accurate record of all fee-related activities.

I don’t understand that at all. In any case, I’m a longtime customer but am currently only using FastSpring as a backup processor, so the transaction volume is low, which may explain why they want me to pay the fee.

It’s not that big of a deal, if legit, and it seems I have no choice if I want to keep the account, so I went to pay the fee, but they said my credit card was declined (3 times). I know the card works and had just used it for something else. It’s never been declined anywhere else. I contacted the card issuer who said there was no record of FastSpring even attempting a charge. I’ve contacted FastSpring again to see what’s going on but have not heard back from them since yesterday, whereas the initial confirmation that the e-mails were real came after only a few hours.

Everything else with FastSpring has gone smoothly over the years, which is what makes this so surprising. So I wanted to document this odd interaction in case anyone else gets these e-mails that look like possible phishing.

As a side note, when I got started selling software, all the e-commerce providers would post their rates online. It was all transparent and simple to compare. Now, they are all up front about the fact that rates depend on negotiating custom deals based on your scale. FastSpring pointedly does not tell you their pricing, except to say that it’s “simple, flat-rate” that “works on a revenue-sharing model.” But there’s apparently at least one hidden fee that’s only mentioned in the fine print.

Previously:

Update (2023-12-08): FastSpring e-mailed me back to say that the payment issue was corrected, but it again reported that my card was declined.

Update (2023-12-08): FastSpring “pointed the store to a different processor,” and then it worked for me. They were very nice and said they would proceed with the screening, anyway, if we couldn’t get the payment to work.

Update (2023-12-11): See also: Hacker News.

I forgot to note that the first e-mail that I got had the FastSpring domain name misspelled!

As to the verification, FastSpring asked me some basic questions about my business and requested some documents. We then moved on to the next phase with ShuftiPro, which I failed. The live photo capture didn’t work in Safari on my Mac—I gave it camera permission, but it kept showing a blank image. They then gave me a QR code to scan with my iPhone to continue the process there. I used the phone’s camera to take a photo of my face, but it was rejected for being “altered or photoshopped.” They also requested a document for address verification, so I submitted an insurance certificate, but that document was rejected for being “altered/edited.” So I’ve now contacted FastSpring to see how I can try again and what I can do about it falsely claiming that the information I’m providing was altered.

Update (2023-12-12): Rob Jonson:

I really want to use @PaddleHQ for billing in my SAAS. They really don’t seem to want the business. Applied for verification two weeks ago. Responded to email a week ago explaining what I do. Still no response.

Back when I did verification with Paddle it was quick. I’ve yet to hear back from FastSpring about what to do about the verification that failed yesterday.

Update (2023-12-16): FastSpring was able to manually verify me, so my account is back in good standing.

Update (2023-12-21): See also: Reddit.

Update (2024-01-03): Even though FastSpring had previously told me that I was verified, I got another e-mail from a different support person saying that I still need to do the verification.

Update (2024-01-04): I have not yet heard back about my verification. I did receive an e-mail yesterday from Braden Steel, Senior Product Marketing Manager at FastSpring, who writes:

As a payment provider, FastSpring is required by our upline payment processors and other organizations to perform ongoing risk assessments on all of our customers in order to comply with various regulations and rules related to fraud prevention, money laundering, sanctions screening, and other similar concerns. For customers processing more than $5,000 per month through the FastSpring platform, ongoing risk assessments are free. For customers processing less than $5,000 per month through FastSpring (e.g. using FastSpring as a failover / backup payment solution) there is a $150 per year fee to cover the administrative costs of ongoing risk assessments which isn’t fully covered by FastSpring’s fees for customers processing less than $5,000 per month. If you’d like more information on the fee or have additional concerns, please contact support@fastspring.com.

I can kind of see why FastSpring doesn’t want to be a backup, though if they made it attractive to be a backup they would be on-deck to be promoted to primary at any time, whereas now they are encouraging developers to drop them completely. It’s unfortunate that developers who are just starting out, are part time, or are getting most of their sales from the App Store are going to be stuck with a semi-hidden fee that’s a higher percentage of their revenue even though they are prioritizing FastSpring.

I asked why they are adding the fee now—since I’m not aware of the regulations changing in the last year—and whether the $5,000 per month is a minimum for the year or an average, but have not heard back yet.

Update (2024-01-05): Here are two more Reddit threads on FastSpring and alternatives.

Update (2024-01-10): More clarifications from Steel:

Why Now? In the 18 years we’ve been in business, we’ve built up a large number of customers who use us as a backup or may maintain their FastSpring account despite only using FastSpring for only a small amount of their sales. As the number of these customers has grown, not only do admin costs increase, but potential risk also goes up. We’ve made the call to do this now to ensure that we’re protecting our customers and our business.

I don’t find that this really answers the question about why longtime customers who have never caused problems and haven’t changed their business info are suddenly a risk. There are legal and regulatory requirements, but it seems that they do not specify that verification needs to be done annually (and other payment processors do not):

The requirements can vary depending on where they originate globally. To ensure continued compliance with all of those regulations, we’ve made the decision to standardize our internal processes.

I’ve also heard that longtime customers with higher sales volumes, while exempt from the fee, are not being required to do the verification, either. So it seems that FastSpring is only worried about the risk from low-volume accounts, or perhaps they are staggering the verifications and focusing on those first.

The fee seems to be determined based on the lowest-sales month of the year:

To calculate this fee, we look at the previous year’s sales volume on a monthly basis to see who falls below the $5,000 monthly threshold. Those who do may be subject to the fee for the following year as we do our standard risk verification that is applicable to all sellers on the FastSpring platform. Sellers are only subject to this fee after they’ve been on the FastSpring platform for an entire year as well to give them time to ramp up their stores on the FastSpring platform.

If you aren’t able to ramp up to $60K of annual sales, with no month falling below the minimum, you have to pay the fee every year.

Update (2024-01-11): I got an update from FastSpring saying that the original e-mail from Steel was in error:

The fee is only applicable to sellers who are transacting at less than $5000 annually, not monthly.

The original text seemed to be part of a coordinated press response, so I have to believe this is more a backtracking than a correction. In any case, the reduced threshold is great news for smaller businesses who don’t have $60K in annual sales. And businesses using FastSpring as a secondary processor could direct some orders to FastSpring until they hit the threshold in order to avoid the $150 fee. In theory, everyone will still need to go through the annoying annual screening, though.

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Michael -

I got the same e-mail from FastSpring and had the same experience today as you - I tried to make the payment, using two different cards from two different banks, and in both cases was the purchase was declined. Immediately afterward, I make a test purchase of my own product through FastSpring with one of my cards, which when through immediately.

Could you send me an e-mail and let mw know if you heard back from them about he problem making a payment?

It does all seem extremely strange.

@Kevin That’s odd, too. I wonder whether that’s due to a difference between the Classic and Contextual backends. I’ll post here when I hear back from them.

Captain Hammer

Thank you for documenting your experience. I have not received an email, yet, nor do I see a notice in a company Dashboard. Not using the new dashboard or doing subscriptions (if it matters).

This is very weird. They're calling this a risk screening, but what is the new risk? FS already has enough identifying info to pay you, perform tax compliance, and has a multi-year history of legitimacy.

I agree this should be absorbed by their processing fees. FS is not the cheapest around. This new annual fee is more than the Apple's annual Developer fee. I also dislike that everyone is no longer straightforward about their costs.

Any news from Paddle along this front? I haven't experienced any new "risk screenings" from any other services. This feels like a made-up fee attached to a cable bill.

I miss Kagi. The were straightforward and never did me wrong.

Beatrix Willius

A Xojo developer went through this a while ago. Fastspring is using ShuftiPro with some AI nonsense:

"The process went very badly - having to upload photos of driving licence and passports / utility bills etc to an automated system that had the Artificial Intelligence of Artificial Sweeteners."

@Captain Exactly—it’s not mentioned anywhere in the admin interface, which is where I would expect to see something that pertains to my account, specifically. I guess this is a rolling screening because I just got the e-mail this week, but the Hacker News post I found was from two months ago.

Paddle had me do a more extensive background check in 2019 (with Onfido) than FastSpring did when I signed up with them, but there was no extra fee and it doesn’t seem to be an annual process. The earlier part of the FastSpring e-mail implies that they are being required to do this and are paying ShuftiPro to handle it. I have not had to do such a screening with Apple or PayPal. I think maybe I did with Setapp when creating my account.

I guess my main complaint is that it’s been anything but the “seamless process” that was promised.

Nice to see I wasn't the only receiving or being puzzled/annoyed by this.
After years of positive and smooth operations and partnership with them, this reads and feels forced, even a little like blackmail to me. Especially the prospect of this being a yearly occurence from now on, kind of like a new participation fee. These mails really rubbed in the wrong spot, tbh.

Additionally, the short timeframe they want to enforce here makes this even more frustrating. Still, seriously considering alternatives right now.
And if their "seamless" payment doesn't even work, they'll probably disable the account even if one tries to comply when the due date comes.

As I said, feels disappointing after years of fruitful partnership.
Somehow oddly reminiscent of the mail Kagi sent when they folded? But that might just be me.

I got one of these as well, and also thought something looked "odd" about it. But like you, I contacted Fastspring Support via the admin interface to confirm it was legitimate. They were very friendly and polite about it.

No problems making the card payment here, it went straight through for me. Though besides the Fastspring payment receipt, I've not yet received any email detailing next steps for the ShuftiPro compliance screening. I don't get a good feeling about ShuftiPro yet, the minimal research I did was full of people saying "easiest way to be approved for crypto and casinos!", which is not reassuring to me at all.

I thought I'd been selected due to a very low income year & having just transferred out a Fastspring payout. So it's reassuring to me to see that it's happening to others as well, though frustrating for all of us.

They were very friendly few year ago. Now it is all about money.

They want US to pay their own so called "Risk Screening" for a fee of $150.00.
That would mean that fastspring costs $150 every year for us.

No thanks.

We will not do pay for that.

If I had to guess from the behavior, I'd say the company has a new owner who is trying to milk its customers before the service deteriorates too much following a reduction to a skeleton crew. Although I suppose any kind of pressure could be responsible.

It'd be interesting to see if they actually follow through and cut you off if you don't pay for this verification.

I note the CEO changed in 2019. The original vision of this company is probably lost by now.

This fee is explained in thier terms of service (fastspring.com/terms-use/seller-terms-service) found in section 4.1.

"FastSpring expressly reserves the right to charge you a Vendor Risk Verification Fee of $150, no more than annually. FastSpring’s decision not to charge you the Vendor Risk Verification Fee in any given year is not a waiver of its right to charge it in any subsequent year."

So the want eacht time a transaction fee, plus $150 each year. And the whole thing hidden under seller-terms-service and not under "Pricing" on the website.

This has been very interesting to read; thank you Michael and others for documenting your experiences. I've been a FastSpring customer/vendor with an active store since 2011, but as yet I have not received the email (this is the first I'd heard about it).

In recent years my sales volume has been virtually negligible so perhaps I'm below the threshold of viability, or maybe it's just a matter of time. I also just migrated from the "Classic" to a "Contextual" store last month; relevant or not I don't know.

Amusingly I was recently trying to confirm the terms of commission they take, and figured I was just a dunce because I couldn't find any discussion of it on their web site. By the sounds of it this is purposeful (which strikes me as distasteful). I wonder if they would even take me as a customer if I were to sign up today.

I've been a fastspring customer for 14 years. I first received an email from them back at the beginning of October. So it looks like they might be rolling these out over time. I took one look at it and thought it was for sure a scam, so I ignored it completely. Time passes and I notice that my store was placed in "test mode". I contacted support, and days later I get a reply indicating I had not responded to the email and paid the $150. Unbelievable....

After 14 years and a "lot" of money moving through fastspring they claim to send 2 emails (I only got 1) then take my store offline. In the store portal (both classic and new) there is no indication I needed to pay some new fee. Just a "store is in test mode" notice.

I have since paid the $150. That was last week. I have not yet been run through ShuftiPro to verify my identity (again, after a 14 year business relationship). All through this, the store remains down. I've seen no sense of urgency at all on their part, not as far as I can see.

Best I can tell, this is a money raising activity and an attempt to cull certain accounts. That's how it seems from my perspective. If that is the case, in my opinion it's a really dishonorable way to go about it.

Do not pay.

If something like this is done from other providers, it's usually for free.

We received the email to pay within 3 weeks or we will lose our account with FastSpring and we are customers for 9 years. Sorry but FastSpring is no longer trustworthy. We will not pay.

I can't believe this was actually legit!

I had gotten two such mails, with the first from: <support@fastpspring.com> FastSpring Risk Team

Note the extra "p" in the email domain. That was clearly a scam, and so I ignored it.

I'd claim that this new fee is a violation of the terms, and they aren't allowed to single-sidedly make such changes. But then again, it's a U.S. company, and they can do what they want, I guess (I'm from Germany, where this wouldn't fly so easily).

Guess I'll have to look for a new payment processor, as the fee would be nearly 10% of my revenue through them (I make most directly through Paypal, but some prefer a different processor, hence I offer FastSpring as an alternative).

Oddly, when I login to the FS site as a vendor, there's nothing indicating that I need to pay this fee. This looks all soo wrong.

Actually, the new website layout won't even show me my payout options, but the classic layout looks fine, without any indication for me to pay a fee.

I then also logged into the Hyperwallet site to check my setting there, but wouldn't even be shown my data before I'd agree to some new terms. This is also legally not allowed, I think. I must be able to get to my information before having to agree to new terms that might give me a disadvantage. What a mess.

I received the same email last week. I've used FastSpring with my business for 11 years, not a single problem, plenty of sales, you would think everyone would be happy.

And now this....

I will definitely not be paying them $150 to get a random third party to 'risk assess me'. They have 11 years worth of transactions to show my credibility.

I received a follow up email shortly after which further threatened to close my account should I not pay up in 3 weeks.

I have emailed them and asked them to check this isn't some kind of mistake.

Such a shame when a decent company tramples all over 11 years worth of goodwill with demands like this. I will move elsewhere and I'm sure all their other customers will too, there are plenty of other options, the industry is very different to 10 years ago.

@Oli Which other options offer a similar feature set? The closest I’ve found is Paddle, which has its good points but is far from a drop-in replacement.

Beatrix Willius

One developer acquaintance says that Paddle did the same to him that Fastspring did. And another said that he has problem getting money out of Paddle.

I'm looking at Lemon Squeezy and Transaction Cloud.

fastspring don't get it. They will lose their customers and make even less money.

I remember when Plimus try to force their clients to pay monthly fee for the service. All of them just leave Plimus..

If it helps anyone, FastSpring apparently is saying that they now cost $150 a year for all members. I will be working on moving away from FastSpring by Jan 2024.

"We understand that the e-commerce landscape is constantly changing, and as a merchant of record, we want to ensure the safety and security of our customers. Therefore, it is essential for us to conduct a comprehensive Risk Screening on our sellers. The $150.00 Risk Screening Fee is necessary to cover the expenses incurred in this process. Thank you for your understanding.

The annual Risk Screening process is applicable to all sellers. To account for its administrative and overhead costs, FastSpring expressly reserves the right to charge you a Vendor Risk Verification Fee of $150, no more than annually. FastSpring’s decision not to charge you the Vendor Risk Verification Fee in any given year is not a waiver of its right to charge it in any subsequent year. FastSpring will determine when the Risk fee will be assessed to sellers, based on Gross Transaction Value (GTV) below a certain threshold, to account for administrative and overhead costs. This fee is explained in our terms of service (https://fastspring.com/terms-use/seller-terms-service) found in section 4.1."

I've been with FastSpring for more than 8 years, and have never seen anything like this. Why would they suddenly need to start verifying identity now?

I haven't received this email yet...or at least I don't think I have! It's entirely possible I saw it, thought it was spammy just like everyone else and deleted it. They do send quite a lot of emails. It's slightly concerning to think I might've missed it especially when everyone here is saying there's no mention of it when you log in. Nothing to indicate you need to take action on something.

I toyed with moving to Paddle a while back (and indeed still have them set up as a backup processor) but the problem is all our existing subscribers would still be on FS with no way to migrate them.

UPDATE:
After paying the $150, I went through ShuftiPro and verified my identity. I had no issues during verification. But, you will never guess what has happened since: Nothing. My store remains locked in "testing" mode. I have sent three additional support emails, including opening a new support request.

It has been 5 days since I completed the verification and a total of 10 days since I first contacted FastSpring support. All through this time, my store has been in testing mode and unable to take orders. That's right, this isn't just about the $150 and my time... they have had my store down all through this and even after paying and jumping through their hoops, they still have it down.

A shady email with warning signs all through it, payment / personal info given, and a locked store that remains locked. Is this an ecommerce provider or a ransomware scam now? The parallels are uncanny.

@Gray Sorry to hear that. It’s now been 5 days since I paid and the verification didn’t work, and I’ve e-mailed FastSpring multiple times and not gotten any help. So far they haven’t taken down my store, though.

As we all know times are changing and everything is getting more expensive and it's going to be difficult for everyone. For Paddle, Fastspring and for the software developer.

I had asked FS how to remove my account, for I can't afford the 'Risk Screening Fee', but they replied that I don't need to do anything, if I don't pay the money, my account will be disabled. So I guess that my account balance will be locked and never be paid, I can't get my money anymore.

UPDATE 2:
Since it has been many days, I finally decided to remove the FastSpring purchase option from my web site. After all, I was getting email from people trying to use it and it wasn't working. Shortly after this, and coincidentally I'm sure, FS re-enabled my store.

So, until the next random FS email arrives (possibly in my spam folder next time), asking for $150, or whatever the fee is next year, my store has been restored to operation. I'm "only" out $150, a few hours of time, and of course sales for half a month.

I guess I now need to monitor for mail very carefully from FS, checking the spam folder, etc. There will be no notification on the dashboard, just some email that looks like a phishing scam. If I miss the email next year, my store will go away for weeks and I'll have to deal with support at a snail's pace to get it restored. Or, perhaps I won't....

They should be ashamed of themselves!!!

I also received a notification from Fastspring to pay these fees. Almost $100,000 in revenue generated for 2023... and a chargeback rejection for $20!

Goodbye, I'm going to Paddle, which I've been testing for the past 3 months simultaneously. There's no way I'm paying these $150 fees.

Do you know of any other services besides Fastspring and Paddle that act as resellers? I'm accustomed to always having at least 2 providers in case one of them fails!

I finally received the shakedown emails this morning. Being on the cusp of the Christmas holidays, and the urgent and draconian nature of the request, the timing is particularly distasteful.

On the other hand, perhaps it was fortuitous—I have been preparing to launch a new subscription-based app in early January, and despite having recently invested a fair amount of time configuring my products on FastSpring and my own back-end system accordingly, I can pull the plug on FastSpring now before any subscriptions get locked in.

Again, as a 12-year customer, I'm unimpressed. I will follow up with them and share these sentiments, although I might not have time to properly do so before zero hour.

Got the same email from FastSpring.
I don't like this. I consider it invasive. Especially during pre-Christmas time.

Same for me. Just received this very fishy email. I wrote them a kinda angry mail. Let's see what happens. But I think my Christmas holidays will be used to switch to another provider. With anual sales of like 2k, they already taking ~10% processing fees and than 150$ in addition. No. That's not going to happen.

I received this e-mail a few days ago.

For me, its more the way they have done this. Especially sending an e-mail just before a two week Christmas period, for a deadline for 12th January.

I've also sent FastSpring an e-mail expressing how unhappy I am with this. I'm also planning to look into alternatives.

Just got the email...good god what a terrible way to do business. They gave me 7 days notice or will shut down my store. Over $150. They have shown themselves to be untrustworthy and awfully greedy with this move. If they really need to raise more revenue because they are in financial trouble they should either:

1) Slightly increase their fee per transaction

or

2) Give account holder more than 7 day notice with a threat to terminate their account.

Is burning so many bridges really worth it to them, for $150? Makes me think they are close to having to shutdown and this is a desperate move to raise some cash. I wonder if I pay them the $150 and I going to find out they are closing up shop and they are going to disappear into the night in a few months?

Looking for an alternative. Anyone try using WooCommerce for software?

I also have received such emails over the past several months. I just ignored them until I got the one today & searched out this thread.

I have used FastSpring for some 15 years after Digital River kicked me out (I was an initial customer of DR) because I was not corporate-y enough.

My volume is pretty low, so I may just wait & see what happens. But I now would also like to switch to some other processor if I could find one.

I received the email as well, plus a follow up pushing me to pay by the end of the month. My sales are not huge and I am not willing to accept these antics, so I shall write and let them know I plan on closing the account, but I still want them to pay what is owed.

I have been with FastSpring for 8 years and rarely in contact nowadays. All I have noticed is that the hoops that both vendors and buyers have to jump through seem to have increased, while the customer service has definitely gone down. Not sure where I'll go next, if anywhere, but this $150 annual fee to verify my status when I've been there without issue since 2015 is absurd and feels like a shakedown to raise additional money.

I don’t get why they think they can charge this fee. If it wasn’t yearly (like once every five years) maybe I’d pay it just to avoid having to go through the effort of migrating away. Giving me 7 day notice or shutdown just doesn’t seem right.

I think i’ll write a shitty PHP script and do it myself even though I hate PHP more than I hate Swift!

I received the email as well. I contacted Fastspring's support without success. My question is: how can I cancel my contract/account with Fastspring? Can anybody help? Thank you

Email I got says my account will be disabled and any remaining payouts will be held for 90 days before being released. I don’t think you have to do anything at all. If you are already ready to move to another solution you should be able to login and pull all your products down in the Fastspring Dashboard. then fix all your links on your webpage so you don’t get any Fastpring sales just before deactivation.

More bad experiences with FastSpring detailed at https://www.trustpilot.com/review/fastspring.com

After doing a bit of reading, seems they are culling the low volume accounts. Unethical after all they promised, and maybe something illegal there.

>After doing a bit of reading, seems they are culling the low volume accounts.

If they are it seems kind of dumb. A low volume account now might not *always* be low volume. What if a low volume account holder releases something popular next year and they already left? I doubt they are losing money on a low volume account.

Some commented above said they have lots of revenue and still got the e-mail so I think they just want to collect $150 from every account. Say 10k accounts times $150....some guy in a suit is licking his chops. Or they are desperate and about to go under.

Shaking down developers. Who do they think they are Apple?

I received those two emails four days ago. I contacted FS support with this message:

Please transfer my funds to my bank and cancel my account/plan. This is due on or before January 11th 2023.

My only remaining issue here is that, because my account funds are under the $100 payment threshold, they might try to keep it.

What nonsense is FS.

Got the same email and they request the payment within 12 days and if I will not pay they will close my account. 😡

Sorry Fastspring but I will not pay each year $150.

Data collection and sale are a huge part of the new digital economy.

Do not agree to data collection if you want to use services or products!

Do not provide sensitive personally identifiable information to anyone!!!

Mine was supposed to be cancelled near the end of December if I didn't pay and I even wrote to tell them I would be cancelling. Just before the deadline I removed the website but out of curiosity I just checked at FastSpring, only to find the store is still active. I figure they are either not enforcing this or being very slow about it.

Can anyone here recommend some alternatives to FastSpring? What I need is (first of all) compliance to different tax regulations, in essence I want a reseller for my product, who will take care of collecting VAT in respective countries of buyers and then deal with tax return with respective tax authorities in those countries, just like FastSpring does. And then, easy setup (store incorporation in a web page) and license generation (hitting a webhook on my server) are plus.

I started looking for alternatives when I started planning selling a cheaper product, for which FastSpring flat charge (5.9% + $0.95) become a bit too much (almost 16% of the product price) and this issue with “risk screening” assured me the decision was right.

I was looking into Paddle, as they seem the obvious candidate, with very similar feature set (and lower flat rate), but I’m currently struggling with their customer support (is this the right place for a rant about that?) to activate my old account (that I created years ago just to test things, but I haven’t used in in the meanwhile so it got deactivated). The struggle with their customer support started on December 6 and it still isn’t over!! So, I’m not really sure if I can trust such service provider… What if I experience the same troubles when something really goes wrong with my store? (I had only super positive experiences with FastSpring in that regard).

I also tried to look into Stripe, but it’s so confusing, they seem to offer a lot of different payment “products”, “solutions” and what not, that I don’t even know where to start.

I’d appreciate any hints. And if this is not appropriate place for that, you can contact me directly (Michael, I apologise for hijacking these comments).

@Dragan Good question. I use Paddle, but my experience is that their feature set and customer support are both worse, though FastSpring’s support is no longer what it one was, either (used to be so fast). I imagine there’s a way to piece together different Stripe services to do what you want, but I don’t think they have an integrated solution.

@Dragan,
Moved from FastSpring to PayPro Global (Canada). Same features. Happy for now.

@Michael
At the time I was considering FastSpring and Paddle, but I opted for FastSpring, despite being more expensive, because I didn't like that if I tried to buy some product sold through Paddle and gave up in the middle of the checkout procedure (but still entered my email before bailing), Paddle would nag me with 3 - 4 mails in the course of the following 7 - 10 days, "reminding me to continue where I left off". I found it intrusive and at the time, there wasn't a way to turn that behaviour off.

I don't really know if FastSpring support has gotten worse, since the last time I had to deal with them was almost 3.5 years ago. But Paddle is terrible and it's a full story in its own right.

@steph
Thanks for the suggestion, it looks promising. Just one question, if you don't mind answering… What are their rates? They don't state any flat rate on their web site (a huge plus for Paddle) and it seems I have to fill in a form and "schedule a pricing consultation with a member of our sales team". That's similar to what FastSpring also started doing exclusively for a pricing information, but they used to have a flat rate stated on their web site years ago.

@Dragan,
4.9% + 1$

Their response in your update (and that's also doing the rounds on Reddit and Trustpilot) seems strange.

If they are targeting accounts earning less then $5000 month, why didn't they just be honest, and explain this in their initial email (or responses when people are contacting support)

Considering the Christmas break, when a lot of places are closed, etc. - their deadline is effectively just over a week, if you take away the Christmas fortnight.

If they'd perhaps emailed people a few months ago, been honest with their reasons, engaged with their users, etc. - may have been a bit annoyed, but would have been more understanding.

However the trust with FastSpring is now completely gone.

Their response today feels more like damage control rather then actually responding to people's concerns.

I'm now looking at alternatives - considering using Gumroad.

So I spent like a week putting together my own checkout. I wasn't happy about having to spend time doing this because I have a lot on my plate right now. Getting 7 days notice right before Christmas (maybe they sent a Risk Screening e-mail earlier and it went to my Junk....but still...). It's hard to trust someone who essentially says give me 150 bucks or I'm closing you down in a week out of the blue. Grab me by the legs, turn me upside down and shake me until my lunch money falls out why don't you.

I don't get why they are being forced to do these risk screenings when there are so many ways to sell products on the web with no such requirement. But if you are making below a certain threshold common sense tells me you are most likely not part of a money laundering scheme. It is what it is.

Where I live there is no sales tax on digital products so on that front I won't have to worry about that. Then I had to remove all the Fastspring links from my site. PITA. Now I look and my Fastspring pages are still up...and somehow somebody still found one because I just made a Fastspring sale.

Did they not collect $150 from enough accounts to make payroll and nobody is there to take down the stores?

@steph
Thanks 👍🏻

@steph thanks for the hint with PayPro. I initially tried to sign up with Paddle, but their support for purchase and requesting a serial from the developer webpage is now at zero. Their old Paddle Classic system did support that but the solution for paddle business is „send the key yourself in a follow up email“. Welcome in the email-sending business.
Paddle Classic is now deprecated and new accounts cannot sign up for it.

Signing up for PayPro was extremely simple. Creating products and setting up serial generation callbacks was super easy. Test purchases looked excellent and their behavior when the serial generator failed also was much better than expected.
Don’t know if I ever had an onboarding experience this good.

Been selling on fastspring for 9 years after switching from Kagi (RIP). I was generally satisfied and refusing the Paddle emails urging me to ditch fastspring. I got an email in September, it was odd because I received it as a notification as if I opened a support case on their support site. They requested some details like company name, ultimate business owner etc.) Didn't ask for money but did ask me to go through that Shufti things which felt quite Orwellian.
I wonder if they didn't charge me because I was part of the pilot for this, or maybe it is because I'm not in the US.

I didn't pay the risk screening process fee, switched to BMTMicro, an e-commerce company listed in the PADGen which is a small, lightweight and free application that lets you easily create PAD files. Below is the list of the e-commerce providers, Most of them have been disappeared.

Affiliates_Information_Page
Affiliates_Avangate_Order_Page
Affiliates_Avangate_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_Avangate_Product_ID
Affiliates_Avangate_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_BMTMicro_Order_Page
Affiliates_BMTMicro_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_BMTMicro_Product_ID
Affiliates_BMTMicro_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_Cleverbridge_Order_Page
Affiliates_Cleverbridge_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_Cleverbridge_Product_ID
Affiliates_Cleverbridge_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_clixGalore_Order_Page
Affiliates_clixGalore_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_clixGalore_Product_ID
Affiliates_clixGalore_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_CommissionJunction_Order_Page
Affiliates_CommissionJunction_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_CommissionJunction_Product_ID
Affiliates_CommissionJunction_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_DigiBuy_Order_Page
Affiliates_DigiBuy_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_DigiBuy_Product_ID
Affiliates_DigiBuy_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_DigitalCandle_Order_Page
Affiliates_DigitalCandle_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_DigitalCandle_Product_ID
Affiliates_DigitalCandle_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_Emetrix_Order_Page
Affiliates_Emetrix_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_Emetrix_Product_ID
Affiliates_Emetrix_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_eSellerate_Order_Page
Affiliates_eSellerate_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_eSellerate_Product_ID
Affiliates_eSellerate_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_iPortis_Order_Page
Affiliates_iPortis_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_iPortis_Product_ID
Affiliates_iPortis_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_Kagi_Order_Page
Affiliates_Kagi_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_Kagi_Product_ID
Affiliates_Kagi_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_LinkShare_Order_Page
Affiliates_LinkShare_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_LinkShare_Product_ID
Affiliates_LinkShare_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_NorthStarSol_Order_Page
Affiliates_NorthStarSol_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_NorthStarSol_Product_ID
Affiliates_NorthStarSol_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_OneNetworkDirect_Order_Page
Affiliates_OneNetworkDirect_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_OneNetworkDirect_Product_ID
Affiliates_OneNetworkDirect_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_Order1_Order_Page
Affiliates_Order1_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_Order1_Product_ID
Affiliates_Order1_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_Osolis_Order_Page
Affiliates_Osolis_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_Osolis_Product_ID
Affiliates_Osolis_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_Plimus_Order_Page
Affiliates_Plimus_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_Plimus_Product_ID
Affiliates_Plimus_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_Regnet_Order_Page
Affiliates_Regnet_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_Regnet_Product_ID
Affiliates_Regnet_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_Regnow_Order_Page
Affiliates_Regnow_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_Regnow_Product_ID
Affiliates_Regnow_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_Regsoft_Order_Page
Affiliates_Regsoft_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_Regsoft_Product_ID
Affiliates_Regsoft_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_ShareIt_Order_Page
Affiliates_ShareIt_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_ShareIt_Product_ID
Affiliates_ShareIt_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_Shareasale_Order_Page
Affiliates_Shareasale_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_Shareasale_Product_ID
Affiliates_Shareasale_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_SWReg_Order_Page
Affiliates_SWReg_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_SWReg_Product_ID
Affiliates_SWReg_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_V-Share_Order_Page
Affiliates_V-Share_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_V-Share_Product_ID
Affiliates_V-Share_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_VFree_Order_Page
Affiliates_VFree_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_VFree_Product_ID
Affiliates_VFree_Maximum_Commission_Rate
Affiliates_Yaskifo_Order_Page
Affiliates_Yaskifo_Vendor_ID
Affiliates_Yaskifo_Product_ID
Affiliates_Yaskifo_Maximum_Commission_Rate

@EyalRefler,
Update : someone from FastSpring called Braden said this on reddit : "For customers processing more than $5,000 per month through the FastSpring platform, ongoing risk assessments are free.". So that's the montly sales threshold. And chances are you won't be bothered by the screening process either. Only small vendors get hammered : by the screening process, by the fee and by the lackluster support of it all.

Now I also moving from FastSpring.
This remember me how I have been moving from MyCommerce(ex ShareIt)... They implemented sales threshold. At least honestly.

PayPro Global is looking good.
What do you think about 2checkout?
Both support key generators.

My account was closed yesterday because I didn't pay the fee 🤷‍♀️ Didn't have an active product on sale anymore, but would have potentially used it again in the future. Likely won't anymore ...

I just had somebody write to me asking if they could buy my product after having taken down the site, so out of curiosity I logged into FasSpring and my account is still active. I don't see why they pushed that short deadline on us and then do nothing. FastSpring have handled this badly.

I recently received this email, but my situation is somewhat unique. I am responsible for maintaining a payment component (free) compatible with the AGL Windev/Webdev, widely used in Europe. Currently, this component supports payments from several providers, including FastSpring.

On principle, I won't be able to support FastSpring if my account were to be blocked because I also use FastSpring for other software that I develop.

I just got two emails from FastSpring today saying they will disable my account unless I pay them $150 to pass the risk verification before Feb 2nd. I followed the payment link in the email and found that it's not associated with my account. The only way to identify me in the payment is by the email address I enter on the order page. It's phishing to me, just like the regular phishing emails in my email box every day.

I have submitted a support ticket to ask them if these emails are legitimate, but nearly a day has passed, and I am still waiting for a response.

So I then searched for this thing on the internet, and I can't believe it started a month ago and is legitimate. What???

So they don't trust me, who have been with their business for 14 years since 2010, and consider me a risk to them? And paying the additional $150 per year help them remove this risk? Seriously????

I'm not paying the fee. If they consider someone who has had zero problems with their business for 14 years to be a risk, being with them is a risk, too. I'll start finding an alternative and find a way to move my current subscription customers to another payment processor, immediately.

@Nomadic, I will try out BMT Micro after reading your post. Another thing I'm concerned about is how to seamlessly move current active subscribers between old and new payment processors.

I received these emails a few weeks ago, with the same misspelled domain name, odd payment server address and all. I did not want to believe that this is real, so I contacted FastSpring support and they confirmed that they are serious about it.

I went through the verification process at Paddle a few months back, at no cost and without any suspicious communication, but still a bit strange, so I am not willing to pay $150 per year for risk screening at FastSpring. I let the deadline pass by, and am now waiting for my account to be closed, after more than ten years. This is the prefect way of driving customers away...

I did not pay the $150 and terminated my account with Fastspring before the deadline at the end of December 2023. My account was closed by Fastspring, my remaining credit was transferred to me on Jan 15th.
I am also looking for a suitable alternative. I will avoid buying software via Fastspring in the future.

Hello All,

Thank you for the kind words, it's nice to see some familiar names from my Plimus days 21 years ago :)

I appreciate the opportunity you guys give PayPro Global as an alternative, if there's anything that we can do to make the transfer easier, faster, please drop us a line and feel free to mention my name + this thread.

As for the question above about transferring subscriptions, we are PCI DSS Level 1 (highest cards security standards) and there is a document process on how to securely get such transfer should be done directly between providers, drop a message to the team and they can give you the details, at least on our hand given the short time, I promise we would treat it with urgency.

Meir
PayPro Global

@Meir PayPro Global

We can't find any kind of "pricing plans" on your website, same as at Fastspring. 🤔

Is it a secret ??

Take a look for example at the lemonsqueezy website under pricing:

"Simple pricing with no hidden fees. It’s free to start — no trial, no contract, no risk."

Hello see http://www.paddle.com/pricing
5% + 50¢ No added costs, no hidden fees

I'm not really sure if I should post my latest experience with FastSpring here, I don't want to sound like disclosing private correspondence, or like bashing any company or entity, but I realised it's very related to all the things already said here, and it really shows pretty weird policies they started implementing, so I'll go on… I haven't received any email about needing to pay risk screening, but I was bitten by it in another way…

On January 22 I received a very short email message from mailer@fastspring.com, saying "Your FastSpring store has been changed to offline by FastSpring. Live orders may not be placed at this time. If you have questions or think this status change was made in error, please contact our support team via email at support@fastspring.com."

It happened without any prior emails, I've checked thoroughly all my inbox and spam folders. So, I logged in into my FastSpring dashboard and at the top I sew the blue badge, saying “Storefront Under Review - We are reviewing the setup of your Storefront. Please allow up to 48 hours of us to activate your store.” When on the “Account” page, I saw a banner at the top, saying "This Store is currently in testing/trial mode. Once you have met the minimum requirements for Store activation, we will automatically review your account. Please allow up to 1-3 business days.” I have clicked "minimum requirements for Store activation” page, read it thoroughly and as far as I could see, all requirements stated were fully met by my store and products settings. Since I didn't understand why the status of the store has been changed, I sent a support email message.

Michael, you're apparently right about their support not being what it was. It now appears super slow. It took them more than 24 hours to send an automated reply that they were looking into my issue and would inform me as soon as they have more information. Then nothing happened for another week, when I decided to send another email, asking for an update on the issue. It took them another 2 days to finally inform me that the issue was about completing some "mandatory verification steps to remain compliant with our payment processing partners". In essence, they asked me for the company name, my name, company registration number, VAT number, full address, etc… All data already available in my account information. They also need that for something called "UBO - Ultimate Business Owner", but even I visiting UBO web site and reading about it, I still can't figure out if I need to do something regarding it, or FastSpring will handle that once they receive my information.

Whatever it was, I find it completely unprofessional and even ridiculous to set my store offline just like that, out of the blue. The lucky coincidence is that I'm in some transitional period with my product anyway, it isn't generating a lot of sales, so I don't think I will lose much due to this situation. But I can only imagine how I'd feel if that store was my main or only source of income and if it was generating a considerable amount of money.

@Dragan That sounds kind of the Beneficial Ownership Information that is now required for most companies, but I haven’t heard from FastSpring about it. Sorry to hear about your situation—there’s no reason for them to take your store offline with no notice for something like this.

If they got your company name, personal name, company registration number, VAT number, full address, etc they don't need any kind of Beneficial Ownership Information since they have the information already!

After I didn't pay the $150 fee and my account was deleted, I still receive emails from Fastspring, even though I had asked not to send me any more emails. I have contacted the support several times, which also answers me. However, with the fact that this is not possible. Fastspring, listen, that's more than ridiculous. Strangely enough, emails from Fastspring do not contain a link for "Unsubscribe"

I never responded to any of their emails and never did anything. Everything is still working. Go figure ...

My FastSpring account was closed, as I requested. Their last email said they would contact me and pay my remaining funds in the next payout. However, it's been nearly a month, and I have not received my funds, and no one has contacted me either.

It's funny. I asked FastSpring about how long would I get my remaining funds after closing my account. They said they had paid my remaining funds between Jan 8 and Jan 14. But this whole thing started on Jan 12 (the time I received their emails asking for the risk screening fee), and the time I asked them to pay my remaining funds and close my account was Jan 25. So I guess my remaining funds are gone.

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