March 22, 2012
I was wrong.
I’ve been to a few local races where they took credit cards as a form of pavement and always wondered, why were they were so accommodating? I assumed that no one showed up to a race without cash or a check and that when a race accepted credit cards that they were simply letting runners who would have otherwise paid with check or cash an alternative payment method. Plus accepting credit cards means the recepient has to pay a fee, which in turn reduces profits.
At the Golden Gallop last year I decided to not take credit cards. I figured if someone showed up on race morning without cash that we would let them run the race and that we would email them after the race to ask them to send in a check and we also wrote down their credit card number as a backup. The race had about 90 race day registrations and about 12 people showed up without cash or check and were expecting pay with a credit card, that’s a lot higher percentage than I would have guessed.
After the race I sent an email out to the 12 runners and politely asked if they could send in a check to cover their race registration fee. I received six checks based off that initial email, so I decided to send out a secondary email combined with a phone call to ask for payment and three more runners paid their bill. Thus, I was left with three runners who would not respond to email or messages left on their phone. Race day registration was $40, thus the race was looking to lose $120 from these three people who would not pay.
I tried a third email and phone call, to no avail, I was too trusting of my fellow runners. Eventually we worked with our online registration company to process their credit cards for their race day entry fees and that was the end of the story. I thought I was simplifying things by not taking credit cards, but in reality I wasted a ton of time trying to collect payment and it was frustrating.
Race directors are now in luck, thanks to products such as Squareup and PayPal the process of accepting credit cards is now easier than ever. The I Run Colorado 5K was the first race that I had seen use that technology to handle race day registrations and it worked remarkable well. Since then I have signed up for a Squareup account and found it to be beneficial. I highly recommend that more race directors move to accepting credit cards via this method on race day.