i keep getting both closer and further away at the same time. i suppose the ultimate effect so far is that i’m getting neither closer, nor further away from going live with the new web site. i’ve arbitrarily decided that i want to go live with it around the middle of next month, but that’s an entirely arbitrary deadline and depends a lot on my getting past a couple of what appear to be impossible obstacles, only one of which i have the remote impression that i can fix. the optimist in me says that’s the reason why the business is named after the Remover of Obstacles, but the pessimist in me isn’t willing to concede defeat yet.
the other problem is a seemingly simple problem that gets worse once i actually got around to figuring out how to fix it: the total amount of the order in a customer’s shopping cart is transferred to paypal without any problem. i figured out how to get the shopping cart on my server to figure out the shipping charges without any problem, but when it switches over to the paypal servers, it somehow forgets to add the shipping charges to the shopping cart total, the result being that i would have to request that they fill out shipping as an extra charge again – which would make the customer suspicious, under the best of circumstances, and probably cost me quite a bit in sales, if nothing else.
to add to the problem, in a way that is entirely to my liking, but in a strange sort of way, i’ve actually got another incense order this week, which makes four in the past week (one of which i had to refund because it was made from a page that doesn’t really exist). i haven’t been talking too much about it because i don’t want to jinx anything just yet, but it seems like i’ve gotten far more business this year than i did during the same period of time last year. which means, of course, that the more i sell while i’m still getting the new web site ready, the more i’m going to have to update the new site when it finally goes live, because the amounts of product that i have at that time will be different than it was when i first entered it into the database. the longer time goes on after the database goes live, the less i will have to worry about discrepancies, but it’s likely to be a major headache the first couple of times i run out of product and have to cover my ass.
and that’s not to mention the fact that i’m getting more and more concerned about my relationship with paypal at all. it seems like when i first started doing business with them there wasn’t anywhere near the stigma that there is about doing business with them now. and, to top it all off, there have been things like PayPal Warning dot com, and feedback from people like the lady at the bank about paypal’s reputation suffering, frauds, ripoffs and other wonderful stuff that i don’t want associated with my business.
the obvious solution to the paypal problem mentioned above is to get a “real” merchant account from somewhere, get an SSL certificate – again, from somewhere, and who knows how i’m going to pay for it – and “roll my own”. there are a number of interesting alternatives, including ProPay, which requires that i limit my credit card transactions to $1,000 and has a $35 annual fee, along with the 3.5% + $0.35 per transaction fee, which i think is a bit much for me. there’s also National Merchant, which has no annual fee or signup fee, and has a “discount rate” which is $0.25 + “as low as 1.99%” – but there’s no obvious indication of how high that “discount rate” might go.
there’s also 2Checkout which i haven’t investigated yet, but i get the impression that it’s more of a replacement for paypal than it is a “real” merchant account. there’s also costco merchant credit card processing, which has no obvious way of connecting it to the web (is that what a “payment gateway” is? i’m still learning a lot of terminology for these sorts of things), and i understand that they pull your credit rating as a part of their verification process, which automatically makes your credit rating go down. and there’s also washington mutual, whose representative was way too ready to sign me up, assuring me that their merchant servies were the cheapest, and offering me $250 cash if they couldn’t meet or beat any competitor’s prices. the lady was eager enough to sign me up that i was a little suspicious of her motives. i said i would come back in an hour, but that was yesterday, and i didn’t come back.
instead i talked our neighbour into sharing their hydraulic ram firewood splitter and split the four big rounds of firewood that we’ve still got from last year into about the same amount of firewood that we already had. i figure i’ll go back on monday and actually talk with her about some of the details before i sign up with anyone.