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The Perils of ‘Free’ Solutions

Free

We’ve seen reports recently of a few vendors offering free website and registration solutions for youth sports organizations, and just like you, our ears perked up. We wondered how a business can offer their ‘bread and butter’ services for free and continue to be a viable solution for organizations in the long term.

Key Factors to Evaluate

There are a few important things to keep in mind when evaluating online services, especially when you hear the word “free”:

  • “Free” can be misleading. It’s possible (and likely) to make products & services sound free, but in actuality fees may come from 3rd party merchants as processing or administrative fees. If processing credit cards online, all processors charge a different rate based on card type – and rates can sometimes be negotiated. Processing fees can have a huge impact on your bottom line and they’re an important piece of the puzzle when evaluating services. A 1.5% difference in rate is an extra $1.50 for every $100 collected. For 500 participants, that’s $750 a season. Be sure to do the math to ensure the ‘free’ solution is actually a good deal.
  • Privacy Policies, or the terms about how your data can be used, are a crucial aspect of any agreement and should be reviewed carefully, especially when it comes to registration data. Youth sports organizations have a responsibility to protect personal and sensitive data of their members, especially children. If a privacy policy contains statements about sharing data with “family of businesses”, “business partners”, “marketing vendors”, “research vendors”, or using your data for the purposes of doing “marketing”, “promotions”, or “sweepstakes”, a red flag should go up. These loopholes allow vendors to use your member data for their own financial gain.
  • Website Content Usage. While not as critical as sensitive registration data, how your website content can be used should also be of some concern. If the terms of your vendor’s agreement afford the right to copy, distribute, reproduce, or edit your web content, another red flag should go up. For example, many parents do not want to see photos of their children in a mass email marketing campaign, online brochure, or printed catalog, especially without permission.
  • Support. The slogan “You get what you pay for” applies here. If a vendor isn’t making any direct money on the account and is simply growing their database by offering a free solution, it’s likely that customer service and support will suffer and/or be unable to support the growing free model. Online Registration is a complicated process and you want to make sure you’re partnering with an organization that will be readily available to assist when needed.
  • Terms and Conditions. While it’s ‘free’ today, will it be free tomorrow? Look closely at the vendor’s terms and conditions for specific guarantees on timing, and also examine any cancellation options – both from your side and the vendor’s. We’ve seen some cases where vendors can cancel an agreement at any time for any reason, and that’s probably not the peace of mind you’re looking for with a solution.

Demosphere’s Solution

Demosphere takes data security very seriously and per our privacy policy, we never share, sell, or distribute an organization’s data to anyone, ever.

Our pricing is competitive and fair to ensure the long-term viability of both your organization and ours. We also provide the lowest merchant rates in the industry and have maintained the same low average rates for over 10 years.

Lastly, our Technical Support Team is second to none. Our goal is to provide products and services that ease the administrative hassles of managing a youth sports organization from registration to team building, scheduling to standings, and communication to marketing.

Let us show you why paying a fair price for top-notch products and services is money well spent.

Contact us today!

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Kris Baker

Kris Baker is the Executive Vice President of Demosphere and has been serving the Youth Sports Community since 2007.