Discontinuing recurring payments

We are discontinuing recurring (automatic) payments for subscriptions on akeeba.com in September 2021. You will be able to renew your subscriptions one year at a time with manually initiated payments on our site, like it has been the case since we first started selling subscription in 2010.

We are discontinuing recurring (automatic) payments for subscriptions on akeeba.com. This change will take place over the last few days of August 2021 and the first few days on September 2021.

If you had purchased a recurring subscription you will no longer be charged automatically. You will need to renew your subscription by purchasing a one-year renewal on our site, with a manually initiated payment. If you have one or more of these recurring (automatically charged) subscriptions you will receive one email per subscription from us letting you know about the cancelation of the recurring charge.

For the majority of our clients who do not have a recurring payment set up nothing changes; you will still be renewing your subscription one year at a time with a manually initiated payment on our site as has been the case since 2010.

Important note about Past Due subscriptions

There is a very small number (about a dozen) of Past Due subscriptions, i.e. recurring subscriptions where the initial automatic payment failed and the client was asked to update their payment information.

We will make a final attempt to initiate a charge on August 31st, 2021. If that fails we will manually cancel these subscriptions.

What are recurring (automatic) payments?

Between July 1st, 2019 and September 30th, 2020 we allowed our client to opt into recurring subscriptions for subscription renewals. These recurring payments were handled by our reseller, Paddle. Purchases with automatic payments fell under of the following two categories.

New subscriptions with recurring renewals. You would pay the full price for the first year. After the first year was over and ever three months after that you would be charged a quarter of the renewal price, automatically. Upon successful payment your subscription would be renewed for another three months. This would continue until you canceled the automatic payment or it was impossible for our reseller to take the payment automatically.

Recurring renewals. If you were purchasing a renewal to your subscription you were given the option to purchase a recurring renewal. You would be immediately charged a quarter of the renewal price for a three month renewal of your subscription. After those those three months and every three months you would be charged a quarter of the renewal price, automatically. Upon successful payment your subscription would be renewed for another three months. This would continue until you canceled the automatic payment or it was impossible for our reseller to take the payment automatically.

We stopped giving the option for recurring payments on October 1st, 2020. Any existing recurring payment agreements in place before that time were still being honoured.

What are manual payments?

Ever since we started selling subscriptions on our site, back in 2010, we had made it possible for you to purchase a renewal to your subscription any time before your subscription expires with an automatic discount.

The renewal would have to be purchased manually, i.e. you would have to log into our site and purchase the same product subscription you already have. Our site would know that this is a renewal, give you an automatic discount and you wouldn't lose any subscription time.

This has always been available, it is still available and will continue to be available as the only renewal option from now on. Since you have to initiate the payment yourself it's called a “manual payment”.

Do I lose any subscription time?

No, you do not lose any subscription time. We'd never do anything which would make you lose subscription time. We appreciate you paying for our software with your hard-earned income and do everything in our power to maximise the value you are receiving from your purchase.

All subscription renewals purchased with an automatic payment are honoured. We are only canceling future automatic payments.

What if I have just been automatically charged / was about to be automatically charged?

Our reseller performs automatic charges for recurring subscriptions based on a schedule which is defined between 24 and 36 hours in advance of the automatic payment. As a result, we are processing the cancelation of recurring payments in batches over the course of the first week of September. How your recurring subscription is handled depends on when the next payment was scheduled for.

If you were already charged automatically before receiving the email notifying you of the recurring payments cancelation there's nothing to worry about. The three month extension you purchased with the automatic payment is still valid on our site. You will need to renew your subscription before the expiration of your subscription to receive the automatic renewal discount. You will be sent two emails, 30 and 15 days prior to your subscription's expiration, to remind you.

If your next automatic renewal payment was scheduled between September 1st, 2021 and September 30th, 2021 but has not been charged before receiving the email from us your subscription expiration will be automatically extended for up to two calendar weeks and in any case not after October 1st, 2021. This gives you enough time to make a manual purchase of a one-year renewal.

If your next automatic renewal payment was scheduled between October 1st, 2021 and December 6th, 2021 it will not happen (you will NOT be charged automatically). You will need to come to our site before the expiration date of your subscription, i.e. before the date your next payment was scheduled for, and purchase a one-year renewal manually.

Why do I see two subscriptions for each product?

If you had a recurring subscription to a product and go to our products page you may see that you have two subscriptions, expiring one day apart. For example, you might see something like this:

#234567 2020-02-07 12:00 GMT - Started on 2021-08-06 12:00 GMT. Will expire on 2021-11-07 00:00 GMT. (€9.69)
#123456 2020-02-07 12:00 GMT - Started on 2020-02-07 12:00 GMT. Will expire on 2021-11-06 00:00 GMT. (€35.27)

This is an artefact of how recurring subscriptions work on our site. Every time a recurring payment is made we create a new subscription record since in our current sales system each payment is also a subscription — and the only way to convey information about how much you were charged and the URL to your last receipt or invoice. However, we also need to keep track of the original subscription which is being renewed since this is where additional subscription time is being added.

The first record, with the highest number (#234567 in this example) is your last automatic payment. The “Will expire on” is one day after the date Paddle communicated it would be retrying to charge you again. The reason we add a day is that Paddle says in its documentation that the automated charge may happen anytime between 24 hours before and 24 hours after the midnight of the scheduled automatic payment date. This is the subscription you want to renew.

The second record, with the lowest number (#123456 in this example) is the original subscription or renewal which initiated the recurring subscription. Its start date is the date you first subscribed for the recurring payment. The “Will expire on” date is the date that Paddle would be retrying to charge you again. Do not renew this subscription and ignore any expiration emails you receive for it.

In some cases you might see that the second record shows up as a free subscription. This happened if you tried to renew your subscription before it expired and chose to do so with recurring payments. Since Paddle could not create recurring subscriptions which start as a future date we did the next best thing: we create a ‘free trial’ period for the recurring subscription equal in length to the subscription time left in the subscription you are renewing minus one day (the one day less was due to Paddle making the automatic charge within a 48 hour period instead of a guaranteed date and time). As a result your recurring renewal would start counting just before your previous manually paid subscription expired.

We know it's confusing and it's one of the many problems we had with recurring subscriptions. Neither Paddle nor any other service supporting recurring payments implements recurring payments in a way which is really compatible with the automatic renewal discounts and upgrade discounts we offer on our site. We had to work around their limitations. All said and done this was definitely not worth the effort and confusion. We could either move to only ever having recurring payments at a fixed price (overcharging our clients) or get rid of the confusing recurring payments altogether. We decided on the latter since less than one in five subscribers was using them anyway.

Why make this change?

In short: because it was complicated for our clients and because removing recurring payments allows us to provide a better purchase experience.

Automatic payments were supposed to be a way to make our clients' lives easier. Unfortunately, they proved to be the exact opposite.

There was a lot of confusion as to the frequency of the payments, leading some people believe we tripled our prices (no, we didn't; the automatic payments were per trimester, not monthly). The fact that they appeared identically on card and PayPal statements misled a few people with two or more subscriptions being automatically charged on the same or close together dates into believing they were double payments. Thew way banks work and the implementation of the PSD II directive in the EU in September 2020 led to some frustrating experiences for our clients where one payment would succeed but the next payment using the same card would fail. Even though our reseller was sending out emails to our clients to notify them of upcoming payments and/or the necessity to update an expiring credit/debit card on file these emails could end up in spam or otherwise get ignored, leading to strained interactions with frustrated clients. Moreover, there are the implementation details described in the section above which made them even more confusing.

In short, it was much more painful for our clients than manual payments. This completely beat the purpose of having recurring subscriptions in the first place!

At the same time, having recurring subscriptions was preventing us from implementing a much needed change in our sales system: moving from predefined bundles to product subscriptions with automatic bundle pricing.

Right now you can only purchase individual software subscriptions or predefined bundles which contains specific products. The problem is that most of our clients would much rather prefer a more liberal choice of which products to bundle together. For example, it's currently impossible to bundle together Akeeba Backup for Joomla and WordPress or Akeeba Ticket System (for Joomla) with Admin Tools for WordPress. It is also impossible to “align” subscriptions, i.e. have two or more subscriptions — be it individual products or bundles — expire at the same time.

The best solution to both of these problems is only selling individual product subscriptions and have automatic ‘bundle pricing’ depending on how many active subscriptions you have. This way you can combine whichever products you want, getting an automatic discount for purchasing add-on product subscriptions and for renewing products alike. Furthermore, this allows us to offer the option to align the expiration dates of your subscriptions since all individual product subscriptions cost the same per year (something which was not the case when we had predefined product bundles).

This change will be implemented by the end of the year and we will make a separate announcement about it in due time.