Online payment systems
I'm after a bit of help; I have written a proposal for our governors regarding online payments and they have now come back to say that they would like reviews from schools that are already using systems.
It doesn't have to be very long, a paragraph would be fine, ideally we were looking at ParentPay, WisePay and SchoolPay.
It would be really really appreciated!
We use ParentPay and come September/half the year seems to be the most unstable platform in the world. I was looking to move away but SLT don't seem to want to!
EDIT: although its instability the Finance/Catering Staff love it!
I didn't run the project for our system that went online last month so I don't have any proposal docs lying around to crib from, but we elected to go with WisePay and have been very happy so far. Take up has been excellent already - the first trip published wholly on the system had something like 38/40 people as paid online last I knew, which is a phenomenal start. It will also tie in with a full backend system developed alongside the online payments (unlike ParentPay, who are developing one retroactively) which we're going to implement in the new financial year.
Certainly our finance manager is delighted with it - once you add up the staff costs of manual payments it pays for itself. If they're still worried about cost I believe you're allowed to add an admin charge onto trips which will easily cover costs (although be careful not to start making a profit!).
We went with sQuid, only been using it for around 2 or 3 months but the parents appear to like it and the uptake has been a high percentage of our families.
I did quite a bit of research on payment systems a few months ago and decided on ParentMail’s system in the end, which we’ve been very happy with. I looked into Parentpay but was put off by their reliability/downtime issues and poor support, a lot of this you can see on a thread here (along with comments on other payment providers). As an addendum to this at Bett Parentpay were talking about their ‘new system’ which I looked at (just to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake!) My suspicions were it wasn’t a new system so I spoke to a few cashless catering companies who said they had not written new integrations into a new system. My guess is it isn’t ‘new’ it’s just had a makeover, which means it could well have all the same reliability problems - so please beware!
As I said, ParentMail’s been good for us, it’s user friendly, support is good and parents have quickly got on board with it; well worth considering I think.
We're also using sQuid. Not had any problems with it and it works well. Company are good to work with as well :)
If you already have a merchant account e.g. take card payments on site? There's the option of going it alone.
This is what the college I work at did, we created our own system from scratch. All be it probably very over the top for what you need, as this provides a POS terminal for several locations around the college site and has custom integration to any and every service that we need. Haggled over our fees with the merchant and got ourselves a substantially cheaper deal than going with ParentPay etc.
If you feel that the cost of going with these companies is too much then it's worth looking at the huge initial outset for the cost savings further down the line.
However, in the proccess of setting our own up we went to look at a school that was using WisePay, and their feedback was that it was fantastic. Parents/staff loved using it and couldn't speak ill of it.
How do ParentPay, WisePay, sQuid et al. compare (in terms of fees) to companies such as GoCardless who simply charge a transaction fee of 1% upto a max. of £2.00? :confused:
It is almost impossible to find prices on their websites which leads me to believe they are all really expensive. :(
I got a good deal with sQuid and dont really want to post the costs on here incase we paid well below the RRP which I think we did, but even their catalogue price was cheaper than the other competitors when I looked at them - Parentpay, Wisepay but I haven't heard of GoCardless so didn't investigate that one.
We were the same. We got a special offer last summer with a much cheaper price than anyone else was offering. I think because they're quite new to education, but are very big in other markets that they are able to cross subsidise a bit and have much larger market power. One of the other nice things is unlike the other providers they're an actual registered FSA eMoney provider.
Originally Posted by Sylv3r
Hi - I'm the MD of ParentMail so I'm not an impartial participant - however I'd like to offer some impartial advice!
Schools have a tendency to 'commoditise' services i.e. "what are their rates", "how cheap are their text messages" etc but this is dangerous because what all schools need is reliability. Messages that go out when they're supposed to, payments appearing in the right accounts, parents being able to top up dinner accounts during busy periods ... etc etc!
Saving a few pennies here and there amounts to nothing when your systems stop working (or money goes in the wrong account) and all the parents start to call you!
My second piece of advice is to do with systems being 'fit for purpose' by which I mean that 'everybody and his dog' is now jumping onto the payments wagon (just as they did with the comms wagon 7-8 years ago). This might seem great but choice can be overwhelming and tiny companies can make themselves appear larger and more capable in this modern age. That should act as a warning for schools to be extremely careful with choosing - it's easy to buy the wrong system ... especially if you're focused on price.
Finally payments cannot exist without comms i.e. you need to tell parents when things need paying for and also when they've paid (receipts). Some systems are strong with payments but useless with comms and some are the other way around. Several now are partnering up i.e. comms and payments across two systems (which just gives you two problems to fix potentially)! When you make a decision please check the rounded capabilities of the whole system.
Since it's difficult to step out of a payment system easily (see earlier comment) it's well worth taking your time and making the right decision.
Best of luck,