Bambora (Beanstream), Do The Right Thing

We’ve been using Bambora, formerly known as Beanstream, for quite some time now for our credit card sales processing. Admittedly, probably because we are mostly in the business to business (B2B) sector, we don’t get a ton of credit card sales – many of our clients prefer to pay the old fashioned way by cheque, and now some are moving toward Interac Email – where funds can be transferred to someone almost immediately via email, and deposited into another bank account.

When we went through our name change, we looked at continuing with our merchant account that we had with Chase Paymentech or moving toward to something like Beanstream, Stripe, or a number of other options that were available. With all of the options, there is a big disadvantage in that it takes at least 3, and in some cases 5 business days for funds to be deposited into your bank account, whereas with Chase Paymentech, a credit card transaction done before midnight would see the funds deposited by 5:00 am the next morning.

There were several things we liked about Beanstream which included:

  • Real telephone support. With some credit card payment options, there is no phone support whatsoever.
  • Simple account setup. To be fair, others including Stripe also have simple account setup, but we were able to discuss the setup over the telephone with a knowledgeable representative with Beanstream.
  • Canadian based. Being based in Canada, and with several Canadian clients also considering making e-commerce payments available, it made sense to go with the Canadian guys.

There was also another big thing that we liked: The fee structure. There was NO minimum monthly fee. The ONLY fees were the discount fee and the small 30 cents per transaction. This was a big selling point that Beanstream even used to market their services. So, we went with Beanstream and have been recommending and even implementing e-commerce sites for clients, with Beanstream.

Recently, Beanstream became “Bambora.” When it first changed, the service levels continued to be of high quality, and there were no changes to the fee structure.

Who Is Bambora?

Bambora is a Swedish based online payment facilitator that has been in existence for several years. According to The Financial Post, it had been in discussions with Beanstream since 2014 in regard to taking Beanstream over (although the same article states that Bambora has existed since 2015).

The company apparently employees 700 people and provides payment processing to 100,000 merchants worldwide.

What’s The Wrong Thing?

As pointed out earlier, Beanstream’s major marketing effort was built around the low discount fee and small per transaction fee, and that’s it. Nothing else, nothing more. That’s what many of us signed up for.

Yet now that it has become Bambora, that seems to be changing and the company does not seem to have any ideas of continuing that fee structure. Indeed, we received an email from Bambora:

Your company currently has an account open with Bambora, formerly Beanstream. We have recently audited our book of business and noticed a pricing issue with your account, which requires immediate attention. Each account we hold has a fixed cost that we must ensure we are covering.

Please note that as of November 22nd, 2017 you will be charged a $10 monthly fee. Your per transaction fee will not change.

The Bambora team is standing by to help you, and ensure there is no disruption in service. If you wish to discuss the new pricing structure, please contact us at 1-888-472-0811 or support.northamerica@bambora.com.

We appreciate all of your support over the years and look forward to working together in the future.

Best Regards,
Bambora

Really, Bambora? You suddenly did an “audit” and realized there was some “issue” with our account? First of all, that is utterly dishonest of you. Surely, in your discussions with Beanstream, you must have known that there were no monthly fees associated with Beanstream payment processing accounts! How did this apparently require an “audit” to show this? If you did not know, there is something wrong there.

Second of all, we, who signed up with Beanstream, signed up with the premise that there was no monthly fee. How could Beanstream operate all these years, and quite successfully, with no monthly fee, yet now you are claiming some “fixed cost” that each account has, that you must cover? It makes no sense and smells of gouging. Which is what “big banks” do, in our perception – and now you’re joining in on that gouging behaviour.

Sure, ten bucks really is not a lot of money per month to most (but to some, it could mean the difference between a gallon of milk for their kids – especially to those small struggling merchants trying to get something going). But that’s not the point, nor should it be the point.

Look, if you want to start charging new accounts 10 bucks a month, go ahead. But you should be honouring your fee structure to previously signed up clients, and not coming up with some excuse about an “audit” or “fixed costs” that did not exist, before.

What’s next? Next year, we get an email stating you’ve conducted another audit and you need another 10 bucks a month?

I seriously hope Bambora reconsiders what it is doing and how it is doing it, and if not, I will be reconsidering my relationship with them, and which payment facilitators I will recommend to my clients and associates, and assisting with set-up, in the future.

4 Responses

  1. First off, I want to apologize for the wording of the pricing email you received. To fully explain let me dig in a little.

    We have been working for quite some time to understand our lifetime value of our customer and grasp our product revenue. What we came to learn was that we were actually losing money on a number of customer accounts – something no business wants to do!

    We were acquired by Bambora in September of 2015. We waited until May of this year to rebrand due to many reasons, including resourcing and ensuring our customers had plenty notice.

    Although we are Bambora, all of our pricing decisions were made by the same people who were a part of Beanstream. We made the decision to update our pricing model (for all net new accounts) to ensure that we are covering the fixed costs of our business. New customers are charged a $49 set-up fee, and a $25 monthly fee. Existing customers, like yourself, were grandfathered in at a $10/monthly fee.

    We understand that some of our customers, yourself included, may leave us due to this pricing change but we hope that this is not the case.

    There are many other providers who may have pricing model that better suit your business needs. We recommend reviewing Merchant Maverick for unbiased reviews of all the different provides.

    This decision was not made lightly, and involved the input of Marketing, Product, Sales, Customer Support, and Risk teams in the local Victoria office. All of us apologize, and are here to answer any other questions you may have around our pricing increase.

    Our Best,

    Bambora

    • admin says:

      Thank you for the comment, Nicole. The problem is… due to your marketing, I chose to go with you. Now, your fees are approaching the same amount, if I had stayed with Chase Paymentech. And Chase Paymentech held the advantage of depositing my credit card payment funds by the NEXT day, not waiting three days.

      So, your Beanstream marketing swayed me to move to you away from Chase Paymentech, but in the end, I would have been better off sticking with them, for just a few bucks more a month, now.

      That is not satisfactory to me, at all. You’ve also made us look like fools, in recommending you to our own clients, based on your marketing messages that included no monthly fees – and that is not something I take lightly.

      Just two weeks ago, before I received the email from Bambora, I had referred a couple of other businesses to you. I am not sure if they signed up or not, at the time. But it is rather uncomfortable to be in that position.

  2. James Murphy says:

    Totally agree with this blog post. To Nicole (the Beanstream employee): Please check out meaning of “grandfathered.” It means exempt, not something “new but less.” The new fee is annoying and unexpected. Bad taste in mouth here.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your comment, James, and your support in this matter.

      Here’s the thing… while we don’t put through a high volume of credit card transactions, we have one client alone that does hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card sales. We referred them to Beanstream, before they became Bambora.

      With what Bambora has done, we’re seriously looking around at alternatives and if we leave, will be doing our best to take our clients with us.

      Bambora has kind of shot themselves in the foot here with this. We might be relatively small as far as credit card payments go, but some of our clients are not so small. Many of our clients have been with us for two decades, and want to trust our recommendations – and we want them to trust us. When a company suddenly decides to pop a new fee, after years of “bragging” about how there were none… that’s something we’re going to take notice of and look around for someone else.

      And we’ll take those clients that do hundreds of thousands a year, with us. I don’t think Bambora has thought through the “unintended consequences” of their decision. That, and the “bad taste” you write of… yeah, I get that for sure.

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