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Enhancements for dealing with lapsed members

I understand that this most recent software update has introduced a change in the way that lapsed members are handled. Let's assume that we have WA set up so that renewal is once per year and occurs on the member's join date. According to the way I understand the online documentation, if a member is lapsed, then if they renew, a new renewal date is assigned, meaning that they don't owe any back dues. However, if a member is active and they are in arrears, they then do owe the back dues. (It's not clear from the documentation how this gets handled -- does the member have to renew, and then renew again? This is how it was handled in the past, and it is very confusing for members -- it seems to me they should be charged the back dues + dues necessary to be a current member all in one shot).

I'm finding it difficult how to make this work for our situation. Here is how we handle things. We give our members a 48 day grace period after their renewal date. If they haven't paid by then, then their records get archived. Periodically, some of those members will come back and say, hey, I want to be a member again. So, then we de-archive them so that they can renew. We want them to pay their back dues. I hesitate to mark them as "Active" because that is one more thing to have to remember to do (and so it might be forgotten) and because it seems inaccurate to mark them as "Active" when really, they are behind in their dues. So, can you help me figure out how to handle our membership pages given this new change in the software?

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    rmillsteinrmillstein shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    15 comments

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      • Ed TEd T commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        1) Better way to identify/act on records which are Active but overdue (maybe add one more renewal action step?)

        2) If someone does owe backpay and is way overdue (more than the whole full renewal period), force them to catch up in full (vs, current functionality where they would only pay for one renewal period and would still not be fully caught up)

        I agree with post of these suggestions - however no matter how you slice it and dice it the whole process to way too confusing for customers on the front and end us on the backend. The ultimate solution is to create a wizard that simplified the whole process and asks appropriate clarifying questions along the way that lay people can understand.

      • rmillsteinrmillstein commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        [quote user="Chief_Apricot"]In next version 4.3 archived members will be able to renew. [/quote]

        Woo-hoo!!! I am *very* glad to hear that. It is probably the #1 frustration for members, because they don't know what's going on and why they can't simply login and renew, and the #1 time suck for me, because I have to de-archive each person manually and write back to them explaining what happened and what they need to do.

      • GordonGordon commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Glad to hear that archived members will be able to renew.

        In reviewing the actions taken after a member fails to renew, there are two opportunities for us to have the system make changes - after x days and again after y days.

        After x days we can change membership level and/or change the renewal period to Never. After y days we can take these same actions but also lapse a member and/or archive him.

        With the ability to have members renew from the archive, my preference would be to lapse a member after 30 days and archive him after 60. But the current tools do not allow me to lapse a member after x days, I have to wait until the y date.

        Could we make the x day options the same as the y day options?

      • Dmitry ButerinDmitry Buterin commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Hi Gordon,

        Yes, since release 4.2 Members in *lapsed* status get renewed from actual date of when they renew - while members in *active* status but with past renewal date get renewed from that old renewal date.

        In next version 4.3 archived members will be able to renew.

      • GordonGordon commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I agree it makes no sense to have a member renew and still be overdue. This can only happen if the member is late by more than the membership period. A member who is five weeks late and renews does not present a problem if the renewal period is annually but does present a problem if the renewal period is monthly.

        One solution would be to force the member's data into the archive when the member is overdue by the duration of the membership period. Thus a member with a monthly renewal would be forced into the archive when they are a month overdue.

        In his post of 5/23 in this thread, Chief said :
        To make this more flexible we decided to use Active/Lapsed status as administrator-controlled switch on whether to renew member from his prior renewal date (Active status - this situation assumes member kept using his membership privileges and thus owes back dues) OR renew from date of current renewal (Lapsed status).
        This seems like it would be the best solution and the implication is that is is already available. Is this the case? I'm unaware of it.

        Regardless of the solution selected for this issue, the problem created by member's data in the archive preventing a member from renewing (discussed above) remains at the top of my list of renewal related issues.

      • Evgeny aka Apricot KernelAdminEvgeny aka Apricot Kernel (Product Manager, Wild Apricot) commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I think that current logic of Lapsed/Active is ok for most customers (active members with past dates renew since old date, lapsed members always renew since current date). It's not ideal but acceptable.

        What is actually a problem is that active members with past renewal date, when they make renewal, still can get renewal date in past - which is bad. So I would like to focus this requests on this particular problem.

        Comments?

      • Dmitry ButerinDmitry Buterin commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Hi Gordon,

        We recognize the deficiency of current approach where archived members can't login or reapply - this is something we are working to change, maybe even in version 4.3 (just have to be careful with data security/privacy)

      • rmillsteinrmillstein commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        [quote user="Gordon"]

        The presence of a member's abandoned data in the archive prevents them from being able to renew and they only get a cryptic message (email address in use?) which they cannot get past. The result is that they either give up (most likely) or use a different email address or occasionally contact me and and ask what is wrong with the system. None of these alternatives is ideal or even acceptable. [/quote]

        I'm glad you mentioned this; we have this problem, too. Here is a recent (and typical) email that I received from one of my archived members:

        The system won't let me log in using my email address [deleted for privacy] (it says it doesn't remember my email) but when I try to do a new membership registration, it does remember me and blocks any renewal.

        At a minimum, it seems as though the messages that archived members receive should be more informative, but...

        [quote user="Gordon"]

        For me, the ideal solution is that their membership could be automatically re-activated and their renewal date set to today's date. This is essentially what happens when I have to retrieve a member from the archive and reset the renewal date - except that I have to do it all manually and then only when the member contacts me. [/quote]

        ...I like the idea of an automatic reactivation, although I would not want the renewal date to be reset (again, given what I say above, that we want our members to pay their back dues).

      • GordonGordon commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I understand that when a member does not renew they fall into a "Lapsed" state but at some time their lapsed period expires and they are archived - which marks the beginning of my problems.

        The presence of a member's abandoned data in the archive prevents them from being able to renew and they only get a cryptic message (email address in use?) which they cannot get past. The result is that they either give up (most likely) or use a different email address or occasionally contact me and and ask what is wrong with the system. None of these alternatives is ideal or even acceptable.

        For me, the ideal solution is that their membership could be automatically re-activated and their renewal date set to today's date. This is essentially what happens when I have to retrieve a member from the archive and reset the renewal date - except that I have to do it all manually and then only when the member contacts me.

      • Dmitry ButerinDmitry Buterin commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The gist of what we have changed was in response to requests from many users - who made a very good point that if someone was overdue for long time, it does not make any sense for them to catch up on overdue fees, they might as well simply register as a new member with a different email. To make this more flexible we decided to use Active/Lapsed status as administrator-controlled switch on whether to renew member from his prior renewal date (Active status - this situation assumes member kept using his membership privileges and thus owes back dues) OR renew from date of current renewal (Lapsed status).

        From the feedback we got back so far, looks like most clients liked this change.

        I agree that this might be improved further, specifically I see two areas:

        1) Better way to identify/act on records which are Active but overdue (maybe add one more renewal action step?)

        2) If someone does owe backpay and is way overdue (more than the whole full renewal period), force them to catch up in full (vs, current functionality where they would only pay for one renewal period and would still not be fully caught up)

        I would really appreciate comments from other users.

      • rmillsteinrmillstein commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I do agree that at some point it doesn't make sense to charge members for back dues. I guess I had thought that "lapsed" meant "lapsed in paying dues." If it doesn't, then perhaps we need some other term like "in arrears."

        Perhaps what we need is a way to specify a length of time after which we will no longer consider the person as "in arrears," but rather, simply not a member at all -- what you are now calling "lapsed." The member level adjustment allows us to do that, but only if the member record isn't archived. And again, we cannot afford to pay for members who are not paying us. We have to archive members who aren't paying, even if they are just "in arrears" rather than fully "lapsed." Is this what you mean by #1? I am not sure what an extra "renewal action step" means.

        If we can distinguish "in arrears" from "lapsed," then as for #2 the simplest thing would be to keep the current renewal day and catch them up to the minimum year that makes them a current member. I guess if some WAers don't want this, you should tell them that the appropriate category is "lapsed" rather than "active," just the way you are now telling me that I am using the categories inappropriately. It is hard for me to imagine why anyone would want their members to pay back dues without actually paying enough dues to be current.

        Sorry, I know you asked for comments from other users, but I had more input to give.

      • rmillsteinrmillstein commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I should mention that this feature isn't really working in a very good way in any case. Let me give an example to illustrate what I mean. Suppose a person should have renewed by 1 Feb 2010, and suppose they are kept as an active member. And suppose that renewal for the Society is on a one-year, date of sign-up basis. Now it is 24 May 2011 and they've come to pay their dues and back dues. The default that Wild Apricot gives them is to renew from 1 Feb 2010 to 1 Feb 2011, which does not make them current with their dues. In order to be current with their dues, they have to renew a second time. Most members don't notice this, and so it requires an additional explanation and an additional step on their part, with possible frustration on both sides. It seems to me that WA should, at a minimum, flag for the member that renewing for one year does not make them current with their dues. It would be even better if the default was to renew them until 1 Feb 2012 (in the above example).

      • rmillsteinrmillstein commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Thanks for your suggestions, but they won't work for our situation. The basic problem is that we have about 500 members, give or take. That is right around your price point where it makes the difference for an extra $50/month if we go over the 500, and that's a lot of money for us. We have conferences once every two years and our members can be lax about renewing. So, we need to archive people when they haven't paid in order to save money.

      • Fluid ApricotFluid Apricot commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I see 2 possible ways to handle this:

        1) Downgrade the member to another membership level that does not have access to restricted pages or other member privileges. You can still keep the member in active status in this case and whenever they decide to rejoin they just upgrade / change membership levels. Their old renewal date is used in this case.

        2) Reduce your grace period (to say 7days or less) at which point you lapse the members (no need to archive them). The member can still renew whenever they want and there are really no back dues to worry about.

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