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Subscription cancellation/failure

versatilversatil Member
in General edited January 2014

Hi, we have a site that is going to be primarily indefinite subscription based (like Netflix). Currently we're basically using two vendors/payment gateways: one for credit card (which we manually create recurring billing for) and the other is PayPal Recurring Payments.

This setup was done to get the site up and usable, but for a mass market we need everything to be automated. We're thinking FoxyCart is perfect for this because it both abstracts vendors and allows for subscriptions. Right now the biggest thing would be not just abstracting and automating subscriptions to create user and/or assign privileges, but so that when something goes wrong or if the user cancels their subscription we can rest assured we would be clearly notified so we can have our system remove privileges accordingly.

Since I haven't used the xml datafeed before, it's not very clear what happens in this case so I'm just trying to get a clear picture. So my questions would be... is there feedback for when a subscription is cancelled, or a subscription payment fails? When, in what form, etc.? E.g. with would we get an immediate notice? Via the datafeed? With PayPal would we get an immediate notice also with the datafeed? If so are the notices in the datafeed also abstracted so we don't have to take into consideration the vendor and their nuances, we can just know what to do?

In the case of PayPal we're not sure what to do if we need to point IPN to FoxyCart... as in I think the higher ups would prefer that kind of thing comes to us first and somehow forward it to FoxyCart. I'm not sure if that is possible, or if that's a good or even smart decision. (Also from experiences a number of years ago, iirc IPN was a royal pain. Is that still the case? Are there issues we should be aware of and does FoxyCart somehow help work around them?)

I'm just trying to plan ahead so I can flesh out features in phases. After a number of years it looks like I'll finally get to do some deep integration with FoxyCart =)

Please advise. (If what I'm saying is confusing go ahead and ask away, I'll try and break it down better.)
  • fc_adamfc_adam FoxyCart Team

    Good questions to ask!

    So in terms of subscription management, we don't automatically send any dunning style emails for subscription renewals, expirations, cancellations or payment failures. That said though, we do provide the functionality that allows you to set up any style dunning process you need using the datafeeds.

    The transaction datafeed [] is sent to you whenever a product is purchased, or a subscription is successfully renewed. Using that datafeed you can create customers and privileges on your side as required.

    Using the subscription datafeed [] you can remove privileges for customers who have failed to pay for their account or their subscription has cancelled. You can also use it to send reminder emails to customers when their subscription is coming up for renewal, and if their payment failed to provide a link to update their payment details.

    This process should be the same for all payment gateways.

    There are some special considerations when using PayPal and subscriptions, we have those documented on our wiki, just look at the relevant PayPal integration for what you're looking to use:
  • Wasn't aware of the subscription datafeed. I was thinking it might be an issue if, say, someone cancels their subscription but we don't find out til the next day... But I suppose it isn't as they still have until the remainder of the period (e.g. the month) for their last payment to run its course. This is great then, esp. b/c it's abstracted we don't have to worry about payment gateway nuances.

    Thanks, Adam.

    As for PayPal just as I figured we have to point IPN to FoxyCart (and grant API access to Can anyone advise regarding my earlier concern? Quoting here again for convenience:
    In the case of PayPal we're not sure what to do if we need to point IPN to FoxyCart... as in I think the higher ups would prefer that kind of thing comes to us first and somehow forward it to FoxyCart. I'm not sure if that is possible, or if that's a good or even smart decision.
  • fc_adamfc_adam FoxyCart Team

    What exactly would the higher ups want to do with the IPN from PayPal? Understanding what they'd want to do would help us answer your question better there - sorry for not hitting that question in my first response.
  • Good question. It seems they're just not comfortable with having a middle man between us and them, I suppose then the main argument would be a matter of downtime (if middle man doesn't get the IPN then we don't).

    I think having understood the subscription datafeed can help, b/c it makes it clear we really don't need anything instantaneous for recurring subscriptions, also all gateways are abstracted so it's neither our headache nor development time.

    I'll have a talk with them, what can I say about FoxyCart's end to reassure them? (virtually no downtime? and if for whatever reason an IPN is missed? Does this ever happen?) I've no doubt FC would be better prepared than whatever we're using/doing.
  • brettbrett FoxyCart Team
    @versatil, I think the best reassurance may be that we've processed almost half a billion in transactions through our system, we're certified with PayPal as a Gold Partner, and the odds are that we've got a more robust infrastructure than you (or any individual FoxyCart user) will ever have. Not saying that in a braggadicious way, but since we serve thousands of merchants, we have very different needs than the average user.

    Some links that might help:

    Does that help?
  • No worries. Not taken as braggadicious. That's precisely what I needed to hear. Here's to hoping one day we're not an average user either =D

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