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 Post subject: Issues raised at the 2011 FOPS AGM
New postPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:03 pm 
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There were a number of important issues raised at the FOPS AGM, held last Saturday at the Black Country Museum.

The payment of membership renewals is becoming a big problem, because the ability to process debit and credit cards costs the FOPS a monthly fee from Barclaycard and also a hiring fee for the machine that processes cards. These fees are disproportionate to the income generated.

Cheques are rapidly disappearing, so the subject of how to pay in the future was raised.

There is the possibility of using PayPal on the FOPS Website. I have researched the use of PayPal and it isn't too difficult to set up. It would require that anyone wishing to use the facility would have to register on the FOPS site so that an account could be created for them. The appropriate subscription fee would be allocated to the account, so that when they logged in (on the FOPS site) and clicked on the 'Pay Now' button, it would pass the required information to PayPal to transfer the funds to FOPS. PayPal charge a transaction fee of 3.9% + 20 pence when a payment is received. It is important to note that the FOPS would not have access to a member's credit/debit card or PayPal account information, that is all handled by PayPal.

Standing Orders (SO) were in use by FOPS until a few years ago. They were stopped because there were members still paying subs at an old rate and hadn't updated their SO whenever the membership fee was increased, so there was some concern about reintroducing SOs because of the extra administration involved in keeping members SOs updated.

Standing Orders are not the same as Direct Debit (DD) as each member has to update their SO payment manually, whereas with DD the vendor can draw any amount from the bank account of the client/member automatically. Also, the FOPS do not have the financial resources involved for using DDs, so they are not an option.

The other important issue raised was that of declining membership in the various enthusiast groups and whether groups should be merged into a single entity.

So please let us have your input on these important issues.

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Dave Stubbs


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 Post subject: Re: Issues raised at the 2011 FOPS AGM
New postPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:38 pm 
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Regardless of the fact that banks want to withdraw cheques, the present system is unsatisfactory. I recently received a letter from Phillips stating that my pride and joy was no longer insured as I was no longer a member of FOPS, a bit of a shock considering I had sent the renewal cheque months ago!. What happened to it is a mystery but my bank says it's not been presented, and I for one don't want to spend my life chasing bits of paper lost in the post. That's why I almost never use them any more, my bills are paid by standing order, internet banking or PayPal.

I appreciate that FOPS isn't big enough for SOs but why not just tell us the bank account number and sort code so we can pay by internet banking?, I believe it's a lot cheaper and of course we get instant confirmation. PayPal would be another avenue but what's all this about registering accounts?, just tell us your email address and we pay it, simples :D2
You can also put buy-it-now buttons on this site to let people join or renew by a single click.

Greg


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 Post subject: Re: Issues raised at the 2011 FOPS AGM
New postPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:01 pm 
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Hi Greg.

I assume that you chased up your payment with the Membership Secretary?

It is essential that anyone paying FOPS using 'electronic transfers' leaves an audit trail so that there is no ambiguity as to where the payment came from, so I was attempting to solve that by allowing members to sign up for the service. Also, it would prevent anyone from making an incorrect payment amount, which would require a time consuming chase up by the Membership Secretary!

Bank transfers can appear on statements in a very vague way, so if a member paid by transfer, but forgot to say who it was, it would be very difficult to identify where the payment came from, resulting in more wasted time for the Membership Secretary or Treasurer.

That is the advantage of PayPal, the originator of the payment is identified. Existing members could renew, new members could be signed up, or if someone was feeling generous, make a donation!

FOPS CAN implement Standing Orders, it is Direct Debit that is too complex, because FOPS doesn't have the huge turnover required to sign up for the service.

The FOPS website sign-up process wouldn't take much setting up for each member wishing to use it and would ensure that a complete audit trail is created for any payments that are made to FOPS.

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 Post subject: Re: Issues raised at the 2011 FOPS AGM
New postPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:36 pm 
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Dave Stubbs wrote:
Hi Greg.
I assume that you chased up your payment with the Membership Secretary?


Yes thanks Dave, all sorted due to an instant credit card payment, but if it had happened next week after you stop taking them I would have been left uninsured for anything up to a fortnight until a cheque worked its way through the post and banks.

Dave Stubbs wrote:
It is essential that anyone paying FOPS using 'electronic transfers' leaves an audit trail so that there is no ambiguity as to where the payment came from, so I was attempting to solve that by allowing members to sign up for the service. Also, it would prevent anyone from making an incorrect payment amount, which would require a time consuming chase up by the Membership Secretary!

Bank transfers can appear on statements in a very vague way, so if a member paid by transfer, but forgot to say who it was, it would be very difficult to identify where the payment came from, resulting in more wasted time for the Membership Secretary or Treasurer.


A fair point, my bank is as bad as it gets for meaningless statement comments, it would rely on people putting their membership number in the comment field, though you usually only have to enter this once and the bank remembers the recipient's details for ever more.

Dave Stubbs wrote:
That is the advantage of PayPal, the originator of the payment is identified. Existing members could renew, new members could be signed up, or if someone was feeling generous, make a donation!

FOPS CAN implement Standing Orders, it is Direct Debit that is too complex, because FOPS doesn't have the huge turnover required to sign up for the service.

The FOPS website sign-up process wouldn't take much setting up for each member wishing to use it and would ensure that a complete audit trail is created for any payments that are made to FOPS.


I was under the impression that PayPal already forwards the payer's details?, it always has for me. It just rings alarm bells when you have to set up accounts that involve payments, so much scope for things to go wrong...

When you mention merging of groups are you referring to FOPS and MOOS?. It's certainly true that this is so specialist it doesn't warrant more than one organisation, and there's greater strength in numbers when it comes to things like lobbying the government, they only like to deal with one representative of a particular interest.

Greg


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 Post subject: Re: Issues raised at the 2011 FOPS AGM
New postPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:29 pm 
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Hi Greg.

Quote:
I was under the impression that PayPal already forwards the payer's details?, it always has for me. It just rings alarm bells when you have to set up accounts that involve payments, so much scope for things to go wrong...


PayPal provide an 'Application Program interface' (API) that generates all the web code for making payments to the FOPS PayPal account. I would have to embed that code into the Membership page on the FOPS website. But note that it does not allow FOPS to access a PayPal user account details.

A member only needs to login with their FOPS username/password to access the Membership page to initiate the PayPal process using the "Pay Now" button that PayPal generated for me to embed, there is no security information required by FOPS in a members account, PayPal deal with all that stuff!

The FOPS account would only contain enough information to uniquely identify a member: username, password, name, FOPS membership number and the membership category (Adult, Junior, etc), which would be converted into a renewal fee before the connection to PayPal.

Once a member has been transferred to PayPal with the correct payment amount and any other relevant information like name, membership number etc, the FOPS process would end and the member would either login to their PayPal account, or use the PayPal facilities to complete the payment to FOPS with credit/debit card. The FOPS site has no knowledge of this process!

As you say, once the transaction has completed, PayPal will send an email alert to the Treasurer with all the details of the payment.

Also, it will allow the FOPS membership page to generate an email to alert the Membership Secretary, Treasurer and yours truly the Webmaster that a transaction has been made, because PayPal only generates one email alert, which will have to be the Treasurer, because he is in charge of the PayPal account for FOPS.

Regarding groups merging, it was suggested by a member at the meeting that all similar societies...even music box groups should consider a merge, but I think the old differences between groups is still as strong as ever and it will never happen...however that is my view and not an official statement from FOPS!

The reason for the FOPS/MOOS split in the first place was because some members were unhappy that decisions were being made by non organ owners, so you had to be an organ owner to join the Mechanical Organ Owners Society, but even that doesn't apply anymore, as there are too few members to enforce it. Also, most MOOS members are in FOPS, so there would only be a small increase in membership of the newly created group.

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Dave Stubbs


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 Post subject: Re: Issues raised at the 2011 FOPS AGM
New postPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:46 am 
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Dave Stubbs wrote:
Hi Greg.
it does not allow FOPS to access a PayPal user account details


I was really only playing devils advocate here, I think some members will be shy of such a system, but as long as there are alternatives I would go for it.

Dave Stubbs wrote:
Regarding groups merging, it was suggested by a member at the meeting that all similar societies...even music box groups should consider a merge, but I think the old differences between groups is still as strong as ever and it will never happen...however that is my view and not an official statement from FOPS!

The reason for the FOPS/MOOS split in the first place was because some members were unhappy that decisions were being made by non organ owners, so you had to be an organ owner to join the Mechanical Organ Owners Society, but even that doesn't apply anymore, as there are too few members to enforce it. Also, most MOOS members are in FOPS, so there would only be a small increase in membership of the newly created group.


I wasn't aware they were once one and the same, and am a member of both myself.
The strongest reason for a merger is that of presenting a single voice when it comes to dealing with authority. This is something that can unexpectedly become crucial if a decree emerges from the bowels of the EC, that has serious consequences for what to them is an insignificant minority that they never even considered. When this happens it's too late to start thinking of merging, you have to be there, lobbying from day one. This has happened to plenty of other minority interest groups so we shouldn't be complacent.

It got quite close to home a few years ago when the ROHS directive banned lead in anything containing electronics, and that meant new church organs couldn't have lead pipes!. The big players in the electronics industry negotiated many exemptions, mostly with valid justification, but pipe organs didn't get an exemption. I don't think the organ industry even knew it was happening so didn't present a case for one. Fortunately they were successful in lobbying the European Commission after the event and got a ruling that pipe organs were not within the scope of ROHS, not a proper exemption and open to challenge in the future so not ideal, but it's probably safe. It would have been much better if there was a single organisation keeping an eye on the EC and getting in the discussions at the right time.

Other groups have got their act together, take the British Model Flying Association for example which I'm also a member of, they are recognised as the sole UK representatives of the hobby to both the uk government and the international FAI. That position saved us from either losing the right to radio spectrum, or having to pay stupid prices for it, a few years ago when the government started profiteering from their 'ownership' of the spectrum.

Greg


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 Post subject: Re: Issues raised at the 2011 FOPS AGM
New postPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:15 pm 
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Yes, indeed, there used to be just one group, which split because of politics...the usual thing!

Maybe someone could give us some more history of those early days?

Can I also add that the issue of using PayPal is only at the discussion stage, so all the stuff about creating FOPS accounts is academic, but if the FOPS Committee decides to go ahead with PayPal, I will have to come up with the mechanism to make payments from the FOPS site, so I was simply looking for some feedback.

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Dave Stubbs


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 Post subject: Re: Issues raised at the 2011 FOPS AGM
New postPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:15 am 
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Dave,

I like the idea of using PayPal as it not only makes things easier and more cost effective for FOPS, but also provides the person paying a conformation that the payment has been processed. (without having to wait for the cheque / debit card payment to clear and appear on the statement) I also like the idea of a "Pay Now / Renew Now" button on the FOPS website. However, when considering using an electronic form of payment, please consider those members without a computer that would need to continue using non-electronic payment methods.

As a high percentage of members probably have a computer, would it be possible to send out an email to all existing members when renewal is due. I guess you could have a separate distribution list for each membership category so this shouldn't be a major task for the membership secretary once the lists have been set up. This would help to get the payments in earlier as members would be reminded when the renewal is due rather than having to wait for the next issue of Keyframe to be issued.

Regarding the unification of the various societies, I have doubts that this would work. I am not aware of the history or politics, but I assume there are reasons we have the different societies in the first place, therefore combining them would not be an option. However, to address the point Greg made, is there an option to have a joint committee with representation from FOPS, MOOS & BOGA. This committee could be the "single authoritive voice" on all things relating to mechanical organs and could be recognised by goverment so our hobby will have representation at the highest levels when needed. My thought is this committee would be formed by several members of each society to address any legislation etc, and would be in addition to the current society level committees, allowing each society to continue working in their own way while still having a single voice at government level.

Just my thoughts,

Aubrey


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 Post subject: Re: Issues raised at the 2011 FOPS AGM
New postPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:00 am 
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Hi Aubrey, thanks for your comments.

I agree that not everyone is using a PC, or the Internet, but the number of users is on the increase.

Setting up an email reminder isn't too difficult to implement, in fact I send a group email to all Organ Availability Register members who have registered an email address whenever someone posts a request for hiring an organ on the forum.

The subject of merging is very complex, because you could guarantee that if a new 'super group' was formed by a merger, even if it was a joint committee, there would be so many differences of opinion, that within a very short time a new 'splinter' group would be formed, leaving us with the same situation we are in now...and much less stable.

Personally, I think that although at present there are relatively small groups with declining membership, at least they are all politically stable...and probably best left alone.

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Dave Stubbs


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 Post subject: Re: Issues raised at the 2011 FOPS AGM
New postPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:21 pm 
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Dave,

I wasn't suggesting that a new "super group" is formed, in fact I am in favour of keeping the different societies separate. I was thinking that each society has a committee member that has responsibility for keeping up to date with legislation and they could communicate with their equivalent members in the other societies, keeping us all up to date with important changes. If there was something that needed to be highlighted at government level, we could be represented as a combined movement rather than an individual society.

Perhaps this role already exists in FOPS and our hobby is being represented at government level when needed, but reading one of the earlier posts, it gave the impression this was not the case.

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Aubrey


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 Post subject: Re: Issues raised at the 2011 FOPS AGM
New postPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:00 pm 
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Aubrey_Froment wrote:
Dave,

I wasn't suggesting that a new "super group" is formed, in fact I am in favour of keeping the different societies separate. I was thinking that each society has a committee member that has responsibility for keeping up to date with legislation and they could communicate with their equivalent members in the other societies, keeping us all up to date with important changes. If there was something that needed to be highlighted at government level, we could be represented as a combined movement rather than an individual society.

Perhaps this role already exists in FOPS and our hobby is being represented at government level when needed, but reading one of the earlier posts, it gave the impression this was not the case.

Regards,

Aubrey


I think the term 'umbrella organisation' is sometimes used. It's a proven approach but people rarely think it's worth bothering, until the government comes up with something and they find themselves fighting on the back foot. To be successful you need to spot proposed legislation when it's at the consultation stage and get your 2p in, not wait until it's on the statute book.
Greg


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