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Coronavirus Reserve and Payment Policy Updates

Note: Update to Policies were made on March 27 and detailed here: https://runsignup.blog/2020/03/27/post-race-payment-policy-update/.

As the coronavirus continues to impact events and gathering in the US, we have amended our Reserve and Payment policies. We know that events are working hard to make responsible decisions, communicate with participants, and deliver value to their participants wherever possible. The changes to our policies are outlined in detail below. 

Resources for the latest updates and best practices:
Coronavirus site with recommendations & how-to’s: 
https://runsignup.com/coronavirus
Blog for regular updates and detailed explanations: https://runsignup.blog/
Facebook page for regular updates: https://www.facebook.com/runsignup/

Why are we making these changes?

These steps are taken to uphold our legal and fiduciary responsibility and to make sure the rules of the credit card network are followed.  As a part of this, if a credit card holder requests a chargeback, we must withdraw those funds from the merchant’s account (your account). If you do not have money in that account, we are obligated to collect it from you. Due to restrictions on gatherings and a subsequent increase in the number of race cancellations , we anticipate a significant increase in the amount of chargebacks for each race.

The best way to ensure that chargebacks can be funded is to have a reserve holdback. This reserve is in your merchant bank account (not the RunSignUp bank account). With our Payment Facilitator model these reserves are not commingled and not shared with others to pay any other race’s shortfall. This is your money, set aside to be used to fund any refunds your authorize or chargebacks. Using historical data on chargebacks and cancellations, and factoring some of the unique circumstances here, we have determined that a 20% reserve is a reasonable requirement for races. We are now using automated holdback mechanisms to ensure that the reserve for all races reaches 20%.

Policy Changes:

These policies will be in place until the Coronavirus crisis settles down. All policies are subject to change based on changing conditions and circumstances.

20% holdback on all future races

Prior to this crisis, we paid out races in full each week, and relatively few of them kept any significant funds in reserve. We are now holding back payments in your merchant accounts for all upcoming races until each race has reached the 20% holdback threshold. This number is based on our historical data that shows that as much as 40% of participants do chargebacks on cancelled races, and our assumption that the circumstances may lower that number considerably but will not erase it. 

Get your reserve updated

Since new transaction revenue has dropped 80% and with more decline expected, most races continue to lag behind the 20% holdback threshold. We are starting to reach out to upcoming races to ask them to put money into the reserve account. Many events have proactively begun to do so, including Broad Street Run, Pat’s Run, American Lung Association, and Monument Avenue 10K. 

We will be sending all customers an email later this week to show any shortfall, as well as payment instructions for your organization to get up to the 20% reserve.

100% holdback for cancelled races

With cancelled races, the risk that the majority of customers request chargebacks is high, and there is a $7.50 charge for each chargeback that you owe (in addition to the full transaction amount) that is enforced by the credit card companies. 

While holding the line on no refunds can seem logical, we recommend some flexibility with your customers and using the reserve to refund where appropriate to avoid additional chargeback fees. Using some of the other options outlined at RunSignup.com/Coronavirus, rather than strictly cancelling, can also reduce your chargeback risk. 

We will determine when we disburse funds for cancelled races after we get more data. Some credit card companies make it simple to do a chargeback a year after the charge was made, so there is continuing risk.

Post race payment delays

The process for this is still developing. For the hundreds of races held each weekend, it is difficult to know what happened at each race, what each race’s policy is, and how participants reacted to those policies. We are delaying final payment to races for up to one month to better determine the risk. In most cases, recent races were already paid most of the registration proceeds, and have little reserve available. In some cases, races will be asked to increase their reserve even if the race has already been completed.

Partner revenue share payment postponement

We are holding partner revenue share payments for large race organizations and timers. Historically, we have not fully calculated negative adjustments in these payments because they were so minimal, but in this environment, the amount owed to partners will likely be less. We are updating our systems, but in the meantime will be building toward a 20% holdback to match races.

Contact your Government Representatives!

We know that these reserve holdbacks are very frustrating to you, and it’s frustrating for us to have to make these changes. We are sending letters to all members of the Senate and Congress in states in which we operate with the purpose of asking for an exemption for businesses with the MCC Code 7941 and other event related merchant codes. Our message is that there should be an exemption from processing chargebacks on events that plan to reschedule, which we think the majority of our customers will plan to do. We encourage you to do the same, and will be providing the content of our letters for that purpose.

Summary

We know this is all moving very fast. Ten days ago, things were “normal”, and since then the world has turned on its head. We are here to ensure that our entire community works together to do the right things during this crisis and we can enjoy the rebirth of our sport in the coming months.

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