Last week, one of our customers had to completely cancel an event after the first morning due to severe weather. This is pretty rare. Most events have a small handful of cancellations that can be managed easily but this event has more than 100 people who need a refund or a credit towards a future event.
That's a lot of people.
I did some thinking Monday about how we can improve the cancellation process. The tricky part is that we can't directly perform refunds because in 99% of the cases, we've already sent the event organizer the monies that need to be refunded. Combine that with a second round of bank processing fees for credits and it's not financially great for anyone either.
Enter Paypal. People occasionally ask why we don't accept Paypal and it is because it gives too much control to a third party (one that isn't a bank and isn't regulated as such, I might add). We don't have anything against Paypal per se; we built our payment processing system before Paypal offered an API to process cards behind the scenes and redirecting attendees to paypal.com is not an option for us. With the investment we've made, there is little point in switching now since our rates are lower.
In this case however, the best solution does appear to be Paypal. Using their Mass Payments API, we can send as many as 250 refunds at a time for a quarter per transaction. Paired with an upcoming enhancement to handle credits and coupons, this will be a big step forward in eliminating the post-event reconciliation and paperwork that we're not very good at yet.