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Voluntary Payment

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Showing revision 14Q: How much does CellarTracker cost?

A: As you probably know, CellarTracker is a free site with a "voluntary annual payment" model to unlock premium features (e.g. automatic cellar valuation and some professional scores). This is commonly referred to as a "freemium" business model, although CellarTracker goes further than other sites in merely suggesting the annual level of contribution based on cellar size. As of December, 2010, these subscription payments comprise more than 80% of the revenue of CellarTracker with the balance coming from advertising and affiliate traffic. I last revised the payment suggestions in January, 2007, but I wanted to give you heads up that going forward I am tweaking this upward. That said, I want to be VERY clear about one thing: FREE means FREE. Any data that a user enters is always intended to be accessible to that user regardless of payment status. And these payment suggestions are exactly that, just suggestions. Some users choose to pay $10/year for premium support while others gladly pay upwards of $250/year.

If you are a long-term supporter and have picked an annual level you are happy with, then you should feel no pressure to revise that.

SUGGESTED AMOUNTS
    0-499 bottles:  $36/year
  500-999 bottles:  $75/year
   1,000+ bottles: $150/year

In the spirit of transparency, below is a table showing the historical suggestions for voluntary annual payment.

HISTORY OF SUGGESTED ANNUAL PAYMENT
Year 0-499 bottles 500-999 bottles 1000+ bottles
2004 $20.00 $40.00 $75.00
2007 $30.00 $60.00 $100.00
2011 $36.00 $75.00 $150.00

My simple goal is to build and maintain software that you will hopefully be using decades from now, and I am deeply appreciative for any support.

CellarTracker Payment Page

Q: What are the premium features?

A: The primary premium feature is automatic cellar valuation based on auction and community pricing data. In addition, premium members can see scores (but not review text) from several content channels including Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, John Gilman's View From the Cellar, and Brad Baker's Champagne Warrior. Finally, premium members do not see banner advertisements.

Q: What happens if I renew early? How do you calculate the 'due' date?

A: In short, there is no penalty for renewing early, as the system goes to great lengths to honor your original term. That said, the system is also very permissive if/when a user lapses payment. Any subsequent payment from that user starts a fresh premium period. This is described in detail here.

Q: What happens if lapse payment? Will I still be able to access my data?

A: The system is designed to allow user's to always access any data they have personally entered regardless of their payment status. Some automatically integrated premium data (professional scores and values) will 'dry up' when payment lapses, this should have no impact on data that a user has entered. Accounts with data are never purged except by user request. If you are having trouble logging in it is for unrelated reasons, as no one is ever 'locked out' based on payment status etc.

Q: Why don't you support PayPal?

A: The short answer is that actually the site does accept payment via PayPal, although these are processed manually and may require a few hours to be credited to your account. Simply PayPal to my merchant account which is eric@cellartracker.com. The longer answer is that the payment system for CellarTracker, called Payflow Link, is actually owned and hosted by PayPal. It was originally part of merchant services division of Verisign which PayPal acquired a few years ago. At the time and subsequently, PayPal has mentioned that THEY would integrate PayPal into the flow of Payflow Link, but alas that has never happened.

Q: Is my online payment secure, and how do you handle credit cardholder data?

A: Please see my Password Security FAQ for a brief discussion of this.


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Edited April 27, 2012 (diff)

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