UPDATE: The problem was with the Paypal account I used. Apparently in the years since I used that account, Paypal Japan has changed policies and I can’t receive money on that account without upgrading to a premium account.
I am not pulling this post down because youcaring.com still took 3 business days to figure this out (including one business day of not answering me at all), and because I’ll have to wait at least one more to get an answer on how to change the destination account. (Re-upgrading my Paypal account will take 7 to 10 days.)
But yeah, youcaring.com’s crime is mostly just slllloooooowwwww customer support.
I recently helped rescue a sick tanuki (see photo; poor little guy) from around my neighbourhood, and I thought it would be nice to do a little bit of crowdfunding to cover the costs of the compassionate fellow who drove several hours over toll roads to help me set the trap and then again to pick the little guy up and take him for treatment.
I did some quick checking around and came across youcaring.com. For a small-scale, beer money project like this, they seemed perfect, particularly the part about no fees. Crowdfunding platforms generally take a 5% – 10% cut of whatever you raise. Sometimes it’s worth it. On the large platforms, you get quite a lot of exposure, which is valuable. But for a tiny project like this, mostly targeted at friends and family, a smaller site with no fees was appealing. Also, of the smaller sites, they were one of the few that offered Paypal, which is important because I’m based in Japan, where a lot of other payment processors won’t allow me to withdraw funds to my local bank account.
I launched the campaign on Thursday evening (Japan time). A few hours later, my friend Rosie let me know that it wasn’t allowing her to click through and donate on her phone. I quickly tested it on my phone and multiple browsers and found that the button that is supposed to trigger the checkout screen wasn’t working; it was just reloading the page it was already on. I tested a few other campaigns, and the site worked properly.
I immediately opened a ticket with their support system. They’re a small site, so it didn’t seem unreasonable that they only answered during west-coast US business hours. They didn’t answer overnight on Thursday, my time. Finally got a peep out of them on Friday morning.
Them: Are you able to have your donors try on a different browser or device? There is a known issue in Firefox that our engineers are working on.
Ignoring the fact that, in addition to my problem, apparently their platform doesn’t work on 12% of computers (that’s Firefox’s market share) and they don’t mention that anywhere on their site, I pressed on, and replied within 4 minutes.
Me: The "Donate Now" button does nothing, so my donors can’t actually complete their donations. They click the button, the loading screen appears, and then just returns to the link at the top. It won’t progress to the credit card entry screen. This happens in all browsers, as far as I can tell. I’ve tried personally with Firefox and Chrome, as well as the mobile versions, plus the mobile browser within Twitter. Can you confirm that it’s not happening with this campaign on your end? [note: since then I’ve tested in the Edge browser; that also doesn’t work]
Despite having replied within minutes, this exchange took place about 15 minutes after their close-of-business on Friday (their time) and I have received no reply as of today (April 2). Which is totally reasonable for a business this size, except that the thing that is broken is the main function of their platform. And yes, it’s just for one customer (as far as I can tell—other campaigns go to the payment screen with no problems), but this isn’t like some weird formatting, or photo uploads not working properly. This is the bit where people give money to the campaign. Also, the worst time for a campaign to not be able to accept money is when it launches, of course, because it really ruins any momentum that you build with that initial post to your followers.
To add insult to injury, to anyone on the donate page who left one of the “send me emails” boxes checked, they have been sending emails advertising all the lovely campaigns that person could donate to… even though the one campaign that person was trying to donate to hasn’t received any money yet. So the “Donate” button submits the donor’s personal info, but doesn’t accept the money.
PERSPECTIVE: Yes, I’m running a tiny campaign trying to raise a few hundred bucks. It’s a “beer money” campaign, and there are no lives or livelihoods hanging in the balance. Terry the tanuki is going to get treated regardless. So it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense for youcaring.com support to spend a lot of time on me and my piddly campaign. However, I would be wary of any company that behaves this way towards any customers. Maybe it is worth it to pay that 5% fee to deal with a company that responds meaningfully when you have a problem with its platform (especially in the case of a medical fundraiser or a similarly important fundraiser). I guess I’m mostly annoyed because I have software to run my own fundraiser directly off my website, but I thought I’d save time and energy by using an existing platform for this one. Ugh. My mistake.
CONCLUSION: I’m going to follow up with youcaring.com on this, just to see how it comes out. I’m hoping for them to turn things around, but I’m not holding my breath and fully expect to spend time next week searching for an alternative platform. Bummer. They seemed really promising for future mini-fundraisers like this one.