Sending Invoices: Alternatives to PayPal

Does anybody know of any non-PayPal methods of sending invoices to customers for doing computer-related work (such as animations and programming for Blender)? I would like customers to be able to pay by credit card, but I don’t want to use PayPal anymore because customers can (and have) retroactively just taken their money back, and PayPal’s fees are a rip-off anywhere.

I was looking into Google Wallet, but then customers would have to have a Google Account, and sign in for Google Wallet, and that’s precisely what I’m trying to avoid: I just want them to be able to pay by credit card.

I was then looking into Amazon Seller, but as a sole proprietor there was no option for me and the sign-in process froze up, and it was never clear that I could use them, anyway.

So the objective is just to be able to receive credit card payments, without customers having to sign in and create special accounts with a business.

Welcome to the world of business. The old-fashioned way still works: print it off, stick it in an envelope, mail it to A/P, and wait 60-90 days to get paid. Or, charge it off to “bad debt.”

And, yes, customers are entitled to refunds and they just might “help themselves” if given an opportunity. PayPal et al has a dispute-resolution mechanism which any customer can avail themselves of … and that some customers will, even if they don’t deserve to. Credit-card companies have a similar system of “chargebacks.”

If this is happening to you frequently, you might have a customer-relations problem. People might not be satisfied with you or feel that you are keeping your promises to them, as they understand those promises. (This being the only understanding that actually counts.)

You should not, in any case, be a sole-proprietor. Form an LLC, and “mind your P’s and Q’s.” Actually hire and befriend both an attorney and an accountant, in hopes that you will never need either one but with the expectation that one day you will need both.

As I said, welcome to the world of business. It’s an acquired taste.

Ha ha. I’ve been doing this work and making a very modest living for over three years now. But since Junior came along last December, I’ve been making even less money and, of course, spending more. But still, just working very casually as a sole prorprietorship has, thus far, been fine. (My earnings are so low I don’t even have to file taxes.)

There was just this one “chargeback” right now, so it’s not a recurring customer relations problem. This was not even a “dispute” - it was straight-up fraud by the customer. The simple job was completed to their express satisfaction over three months ago. So imagine how startled I was to see this, and then see that PayPal didn’t have any protection for me, THEIR customer, and then PayPal charged a $20 service fee ON TOP of the bogus chargeback! They said it’s all in their credit card company’s hands, which is completely unsatisfactory, because I can’t afford any of this.

But I still need to be able to offer a credit card payment option to people. Most of my customers are in Chicago, and the jobs are only $100 or less, and they just want to pay me and get their stuff in under a week. PayPal was good for this (although there were definitely snags), but I don’t trust them now and assume there are comparable services.

Quickbooks online. I run a custom furniture business. All businesses I know use Quickbooks. $10 or so per month, depending on version.

That looks like a great option. Thanks, I’ll let you know how it goes!

They will pester you about accepting credit cards through them, which I don’t choose to do because my invoices are high dollar and infrequent, as opposed to lower amounts more frequently. Credit cards come with risks for you. I simply invoice a customer in Quickbooks, qb sends the email for me, and the client see the invoice as web page and can download as pdf or print it. Of course QB is a full accounting program as well. QB is pretty easy to use - especially the invoice part, and of course it has a client data base as well, so invoicing takes about 1 minute or elss, depending on how much you want to type. There are all sorts of QB now. I just have the online version, so I can use it anywhere, even on my phone and tablet.

Three years versus twenty-five. A few very-specific pieces of advice:

  • Form an LLC. You can do it online.
  • Yes, hire a bookkeeper/accountant and make friends with a lawyer. (No, really. I’m serious. Larry’s a nice guy. (That’s why they bury lawyers twenty feet under … because, “deep down, lawyers are nice people!”) Larry collects lawyer-jokes, and doesn’t charge me by the hour to leave me ROTFLMAO.
  • Some people will defraud you. Others will try. One client actually filed a small-claims suit against me to try to get me to do work for free, until I politely reminded him and the judge of the seven-page contract with his original signature on it. (“That was the end of that!”)
  • In an argument with a consumer, you will lose.
  • LLCs and sole-proprietorships are under close tax-authority scrutiny right now because US-IRS et al have discovered how many “independent contractors” aren’t paying their taxes. (And, in this case, I regret to say, IRS is right.)

I would recommend to you any of the late Herman Holtz’s (nee “Hermann Holz”) books on “consulting contracts.” And then say, “but discuss them with Larry.” In all seriousness, “it’s a bit of a mine-field out there,” and there are accounting and legal professionals out there who specialize in helping small businesses and businesspeople at rates those people can afford. (All business-related legal expenses are tax-deductible anyway.)

There’s a number of web services like Weebly where you can set up a business website and accept payments from ordinary credit cards (all of the major ones at least). It makes it far easier for customers as they don’t have to sign up for anything.