Refund fee guilt

When I have non-legit derailments that I don’t manage to respond to on time, I often get a reminder from the support workerbees that refunds cost Beeminder money. (I have flat out refused to accept honey money in lieu of refunds because I’m not confident I’ll ever spend that much honey money).

I recognize this is a real problem for Beeminder, and I recognize that I could help alleviate it by responding faster, but in practice I can’t get up to 100% timely responses to non-legit derailments. As a result, I feel guilty and frustrated.

I would like to stop these bad feelings (and therefore the reminders from workerbees that prompt them). I’d be happy to pay for the extra refund costs I impose on Beeminder. I’d also be happy to use a different payment modality (ACH/direct deposit?) with lower transaction costs. And I’d be happy to get all my refunds in an annual batch. Please help me find a solution that works for you! I love you guys and I don’t want to keep hurting you!


Responding as a non-workerbee–I sometimes have this problem. I try not to email on the weekends, and if I don’t realize I derailed on a Friday night, for instance, it’s possible I won’t notice until Monday. (Mercy pushes the goal down after I derail…)


Thanks for bringing this up for discussion (and for worrying about our side!) – it’s definitely worth us having a think about how we can make that less painful in general, especially as we scale! Even with the best will in the world, everyone misses something sometimes, and when there’s a lot of people, it’ll happen a lot in aggregate (even if every single person alone only messes up now and then).

One thing that Danny has talked about would be a “support subscription”, which would in part cover the support workerbee time and could also in part cover refund costs. I’m leery of a support subscription because I don’t want people to think they have to pay to talk to us – after all, we get a good deal of benefit from talking to users ourselves! So I don’t think it’s quite consistent with “upside-down support”, at least not if it’s compulsory. Maybe a voluntary support subscription? But that potentially leads to confusion like thinking you’d get better service if you subscribe (which I don’t think we’re set up to provide – we already give everyone the best, fastest service we can).

I’m under the impression that something like a “tip jar” might be a problem (for-profit companies can’t always legally take anything that looks like a donation). Plus, then the user might get the impression they can tip a specific workerbee, or that tips will go directly to workerbees, and 1) I don’t know if that’s doable and 2) if it was and we divided the tips between workerbees, then it wouldn’t answer the refund fee problem.

Setting the system up so that we do refunds less the portion Stripe wants to take in fees would probably be the neatest solution, but I’m not sure how users would feel about that. A lot of users do express that they’d gladly pay the fees, but at the very least we’d need to be transparent about that and clear that you won’t get the full amount back if something goes through to refund. I’d also want there to be a full refund version for when it’s an issue of support team coverage or something.

There was a suggestion recently about invoicing people so they only pay at the end of a week/month, which would also provide more opportunity to call not legit before it goes through, but I wonder about sting immediacy there. :thinking:

Anyway, that’s what I’ve got so far, definitely eager to hear if other people have ideas!

(I steered away from offering ideas about how a specific user can prevent the issue on their side – I do it by ensuring derailment emails are prominent in my inbox, for example, but that works because I’m chronically online and in my inbox. For some others, receiving refunds as honey money and using honey money against derailments as well is an option that would work and wouldn’t cost Beeminder anything. But it’s so individual, and I don’t want to add to guilting any individual user!)


I like both “refunds less fees” and “invoicing monthly.” I assume almost all Beeminder users have some savings so in practice Beeminder charges don’t come immediately out of their intra-month consumption. So sting immediacy is somewhat illusory - I feel the sting when I get the email, not when I can’t afford to buy something I would otherwise have bought.


No, on a personal level, I feel the sting immediately in my bank account, because I have to then rejig my budget. It doesn’t matter that I have savings (though of course I do) – that’s all already allocated to serve various purposes, and I have to take something away from one category to fix the money required by Beeminder.

So I think it’d be overgeneralising to say that the sting immediacy is illusory anyway, and thus dismiss the problem: that’s definitely not universally true.


Note that for those using credit cards, all payments are bundled up and paid out of one’s bank account monthly. (That’s the “credit” part of “credit card”.) If you instead use debit card with Beeminder you can get the money deducted from your bank account immediately (and that may be what @shanaqui is doing), but I’d imagine most people are using credit cards, and thus paying (in the “deducted from bank balance” sense) only monthly in any case.

But all this only matters if you’re using cash basis accounting. If you do actual accounting instead (as I recommend), you count each charge on the day you incurred it, no matter when the money leaves your bank account. In addition to being a generally good way to track income and expenses, it makes you feel all Beeminder stings immediately, no matter the finicky details of how and when the payment eventually goes through.


Indeed, I use a debit card with Beeminder (it’s more common for my age group in the UK to be using debit cards and rarely credit, though I think my parents used credit more frequently) – but I also do what you call actual accounting, in that I track my credit card transactions on the same basis as my debit card transactions. I account for them and what category they belong to on the day they happen, so I would also have sting immediacy even if I used a credit card.

I wouldn’t with monthly invoicing, at least in the way I have things set up right now, because I only reflect transactions that have happened. I think with monthly invoicing I’d have to add Beeminder as a credit account, or something like that, so in a sense I could work around it and not lose sting immediacy from my budgeting efforts. :thinking:

But there is also something powerful in seeing the notifications from my bank that the money has gone (I get notifications for all transactions), so I’d be loath to miss that visible and audible trigger!


i think i would prefer monthly invoicing to not-getting-the-full-refund-amount-because-of-deducted-fees. then again, my payment history only goes back to mid-february, and i only had a total of 2 refunds in that time, so i’m not really the target audience for this discussion. (but i thought it couldn’t hurt to chime in.)

refunds once a month might be the best solution of the two, especially since

—so if deducted-fees-refunds were the norm, regular-refunds (because of support team coverage etc.) would have to be yet another option only applicable under certain circumstances. there’s already too many different options on beeminder :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

As a pragmatic option which would require no implementation changes, I wonder how everyone involved would feel about an action of: “deliberately upgrading a a more expensive plan, and mentally accounting some of the subscription fee as covering refund overhead”.