Wednesday, January 07, 2015

kickstarter switches from amazon payments to stripe

hn discussion:

fiblye 16 hours ago | link

I have no experience with Stripe, but Amazon Payments was a huge pain in the ass for me when trying to set up my Kickstarter. Kickstarter verified me just by asking for a bit of personal info. When I tried making an Amazon Payments account, it locked me out after one failed attempt of verification with absolutely no reason for why it failed. I was pretty sure I should've gotten 3 attempts, but nope.

I then had to fax a bill proving I exist to Amazon in order to unlock it and try again. Got another attempt, and it locked me out once more. I then got a warning saying the next failed attempt would permanently disable my account.

Called up Amazon and they unlocked it for me. The rep was about to hang up, but I made sure she stayed on the line to walk me through the issue step-by-step. Turns out Amazon's system didn't like the way I input my street address, even though it verified just fine on Kickstarter. Verification normally takes a few hours/days to tell you that you failed, but the rep stayed on the line and made sure it went through fine that time.

Sorry for rambling on, but Amazon Payments gave me more trouble than any other payment service. Even Paypal was better. Googling for answers to my problems gave me countless results from other people who had the same mysterious problems, and it seemed many couldn't even get a response from customer service. If Stripe is even marginally better, then I'm glad they're moving on to them.


johnmaguire2013 12 hours ago | link

I used Amazon Payments for about 6 months for little freelance projects when I was 18. I loved it. Quick deposits to my bank, super-low fees, and I convinced a lot of people to join it.

Then they started saying they couldn't verify me. There was no "Talk to support," only "try verifying again." I tried about 3 times, and then it finally locked me out. I finally found a way to call up support and they said "Okay, we'll get back to you in a few days about what's wrong."

A few days later I got an email saying my account had been banned, would not be unbanned, and any further requests for information would be ignored.

Still wish I knew what I did wrong.

In the meantime, I've never been able to support Kickstarters because I couldn't use Amazon Payments.


xorcist 2 hours ago | link

Sounds exactly like Paypal.

The companies which handle your money seems to have the worst customer service. I don't understand how they get away with it in the marketplace.


sdoering 53 minutes ago | link

The silent majority uses it, is not interested in the workings of the system and the small amount of gone bad edge cases.

Imho it's sloth - or exactly the same reason, why all these "great leaders" (aka politicians) get voted into office time after time. ;-) And I am as guilty as everybody else.


sethd 14 hours ago | link

Same exact experience as well. We ended up creating a new Amazon account linked to a different bank account and EIN (subsidiary of the main company) just to get around the lockout after submitting information to verify and waiting quite awhile. Months later we received a notice saying the first account was unlocked after review but by then the Kickstarter was over and the money already deposited in our other account.


habosa 16 hours ago | link

I had the exact same experience. I have to have my friends buy things on Kickstarter for me since I don't feel like faxing Amazon proof of my existence (which they don't seem to require when I want to Amazon Prime some more USB cables).


free2rhyme214 16 hours ago | link

Funny how big companies continually do this.

Only a few big companies avoid doing this which is why startups will thrive until they too become big slow companies.


jakejake 13 hours ago | link

You can kinda tell when a process is designed around fraud prevention, rather than being designed around user experience. Big companies make big targets and so they naturally become more risk averse.


rhizome 6 hours ago | link

Yet they also have the resources and manpower with skills to smooth it all out if they wanted to. That is, if it's even possible; the financial system's burdens may be insurmountable to provide a good UX.


rebootthesystem 15 hours ago | link

This does not surprise me at all.

Amazon, behind the curtains, is an ugly smelly mess. Just ask anyone who sells on Amazon professionally. The stories I've heard are beyond belief.


leeoniya 15 hours ago | link

yes, it's bad; not just bad, it's borderline insane, given the resources they have to make something awesome.

there are no fewer than 4 different APIs and endpoints to do the same thing, each with strange feature omissions / quirks and differing names for the same variables (sometimes just case). there is a separate sign-up for each service, with all-new verification; it's like they absorbed 10 different competing payment services, kept their original APIs and rapidly churned each of them into some additional shitty branded product. what's worse is that FPS was the best option as it could do what you wanted, how you wanted without being forced into a specific UI/pipeline.

now FPS is being discontinued [1] and everyone is being shoved into the widget-only "Login and Pay with Amazon"

if anyone knows of a way to retain the "leave-to-log-in -> select funds source -> come-back-with-token" process, please let me know. we're trying to keep our UI the same for all payment processors/methods, this widget requirement is not going to work for us.

[1] reply

ChrisNorstrom 14 hours ago | link

I hate selling on Amazon. Hate it. Ebay fees are 11%, Amazon fees are 40-50%. I've seen a seller almost cry watching amazon take over $140 in fees out of a $300 transaction. And ruetinely take 50% of gross receipts. Yes this is normal. I read the email customer service sent back about it. Sellers have started canceling large transactions and directing their buyers to the same product listing on etsy, ebay, or their own store. Don't get me started on the inability to control shipping rates like every other marketplace. Amazon is the dinosaur of online shopping.

And the biggest insult is Amazon saying they make so little profit. Where is all this money going?


Alupis 12 hours ago | link

Amazon fees are 40-50%. I've seen a seller almost cry watching amazon take over $140 in fees out of a $300 transaction That's a little exaggerated. My company sells a lot of stuff on Amazon... for a Pro Merchant account ($40 a month and gets you no per-item listing fees), Amazon commission rates are based on which selling category you list your items in... they range from 10% - 30% generally, but do fluctuate from time to time. For any items on Amazon that is listed at or less than $6 there is a minimum commission rate of $1 or $2 depending on the category (the reason most cheaper items have disappeared from amazon lately).

Regardless, you have to bake the Amazon commission rate into your sale price, otherwise you will lose money.

It's often considered an "insider secret" that almost everything listed on Amazon is more expensive than if you just did a search for the seller's actual website. Few people do this, and a lot of people just assume Amazon is cheaper always (which is absurdly false).

The pricing formula is often:

product cost * 2 == your normal markup for selling on your website

Amazon formula is often:

(product cost * 2 ) / (1 - commission rate in decimal) So, say you acquire a product for $10. Your website will probably list it for $20 retail price. On Amazon (assuming a 20% commission rate) you will likely list it for $25 (10 * 2 / .80 = $25)

Amazon then takes their 20% commission cut ($5 in this case), which leaves you back at your original target retail price, $20.

The customer eats the Amazon commission fee.


pbhjpbhj 12 hours ago | link

It's often considered an "insider secret" that almost everything listed on Amazon is more expensive than if you just did a search for the seller's actual website. // See, I'd assumed that, but at least in the UK the things I've looked at buying on Amazon have been equitably priced and sometimes cheaper on Amazon that on the sellers own sites. Didn't Amazon get in trouble for having a contract term that requires that they be able to sell at the low price offered to anyone else .. or did I dream that.

Once you factor in postage and having to make a new account Amazon has worked out cheaper for me [versus sellers own site] each time I've looked.

Any examples you can give?


Alupis 12 hours ago | link

requires that they be able to sell at the low price offered to anyone else .. or did I dream that. That's very false, at least for regular products on Amazon, ebooks and books have special rules and maybe that's what you recall...

You can list your products at any price you want. Browse to any product that has the "More from $xx" button below the main listing, it will take you to a list of all sellers listing that same product

(matched usually by UPC or similar, but can also just be hand selected when the listing is being created, however usually only small-time sellers bother with that since it's very difficult to manage a catalog of 20K+ products and handle each one by hand) Each will list it at different prices. Some sellers even list the same item multiple times at different prices. There's no perfect strategy, but obviously they think it benefits them somehow.

Once you factor in postage Well, it seems you are overseas and not in the US, so shopping on is probably not going to save you a lot because your shipping fees will be much more significant than most people buying domestic. Have you tried shopping on These should be mostly domestic sellers (if you are in fact from the UK). There's also a Japan amazon and a few others.

and having to make a new account Amazon has worked out cheaper for me Making an account is free on almost all (sane) ecommerce websites. So this is just a laziness thing (no really it is, I'm not being smart with you, we go through great pains to make account creation as simple and easy as can be since it often does turn away customers). I do agree that having a common account is nice and simpler... which is why a lot of ecommerce websites now allow you to checkout with an amazon account (well, maybe not anymore?), Facebook account (to grab you name, email, address, etc), google account, etc.

Any examples you can give? There's loads. Some categories and really really big sellers (think Target/Walmart sized sellers) get special deals/treatments on Amazon and are called "Platinum Sellers". The electronics items generally will be round-about what you will pay on or similar, but in my experience will be a few bucks cheaper and/or have more selection that is easier to browse.

Here's a few quick ones I found: Listed at $57.95 + shipping per each

And from the manufacturer: Listed at $28.00 + shipping per each

Here's a better example of the same seller on Amazon, and on their own website: Listed at $6.63 per each Listed at $0.26 per each

~~~~ Another dirty little secret is the Buy Box (what the "Add to Cart" button on the main product page is called) is not always the cheapest offer for an item. You often have to click the "More from $xx" link to see all offers and find the cheapest one. The Buy Box is awarded based on a convoluted algorithm that weighs a lot of factors including feedback ratings, email message response times, number of feedbacks in the past 12 months (it's average to have about 4%-8% of sales leave feedback), on time shipments, on time deliveries, etc etc etc... They all add up and allow some sellers to list an item at a higher price than others, but still get awarded the Buy Box.


JohnTHaller 2 hours ago | link

requires that they be able to sell at the low price offered to anyone else .. or did I dream that. That's very false, at least for regular products on Amazon, ebooks and books have special rules and maybe that's what you recall... As per Amazon's guidelines: "General Pricing Rule: By our General Pricing rule, you must always ensure that the item price and total price of an item you list on are at or below the item price and total price at which you offer and/or sell the item via any other online sales channel."


You are required to offer the item at the lowest price available on or they can cancel your listing and/or account.


pbhjpbhj 10 hours ago | link

re: geography. Yes, I meant considering the parallel situation in the UK with

re: making accounts, it takes time; if pricing is comparable then using your established account is usually quicker. Yes that's "laziness" if you like; I prefer to consider it consideration of the value of time.

Your examples:


Canakit sell the item for $57.60 + $12.95 shipping on their website: On Amazon it's $57.95 + $15 shipping ... which is $2.40 more.

However SparkFun, which aren't even in the list - despite it saying "by sparkfun" in the product header [what's with that?] do sell that item at a lower price from their own website. Digi, the manufacturers, don't appear to sell it at all.


Cotton finger guards are a pack of 4 .. but still vastly over-priced. has at 100 for $5 (5¢ each) but it's an add-on item.

With your I tried ordering 4 from their website and the subtotal with shipping (to mainland USA) + taxes comes to $10.77. That's more than the vastly inflated Amazon price!

// I never said you couldn't find things cheaper elsewhere, just that IME the sellers external price was pretty close to the Amazon price for things I'd looked at buying. We're one-all on your examples. I suspect niche products probably have more Amazon markup?

Looking at top sellers in Home & Kitchen ( for example NutriBullet sells at $69.99 whilst it's 6 x $19.99 + $39.50 on their own website ... that's probably a special case. The top 2 items in that dept. weren't available via the sellers own site.


pbhjpbhj 9 hours ago | link - Amazon price parity policy (it was dropped), didn't think I'd really dreamt it up though.


rasz_pl 7 hours ago | link

There is plenty of stuff that is somehow cheapest on Amazon, or Amazon exclusive. Whats up with that?

for example Seiki TVs


ChrisNorstrom 8 hours ago | link

Here's a screenshot of my fees this year:


buovjaga 13 hours ago | link

And the biggest insult is Amazon saying they make so little profit. Where is all this money going? I guess they make the profits disappear by using tax havens:


mschuster91 11 hours ago | link

Even "sunk" or "disappeared" money must end up somewhere. In Amazon's case, they have a shitload of investment costs (warehouse/datacenter building and staffing, both need massive upfront investment and take quite a time to go black) and costs for failed/under research-projects like the Fire Phone.


moe 14 hours ago | link

Where is all this money going?

Presumably into keeping their retail prices slightly below the competition, and free shipping.


mandeepj 13 hours ago | link

Amazon fees are 40-50% That is enormous. I do not see that fee structure anywhere here - reply

ChrisNorstrom 8 hours ago | link

I didn't either but:


vacri 9 minutes ago | link

The reason is right there in the footnote: the user only charges a penny for the items. The user is doing a hacky trick, and firing off a higher percentage take by amazon.


from lizard's ghost

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