Barter exchanges help you by acting as a broker hooking you up with potential barter partners. They make their living by charging a commission on each transaction (usually around 5-6% per transaction). Because there is a transaction when you earn barter credits and a second transaction when you spend them, you end up paying a total commission of 10%-12% in cash on your barter. If you trade a lot (like I do) then your monthly bills from your exchange can be substantial. That being said, I do not begrudge them their fees. They earned them. Honestly I look at my exchange like an outside salesman. I will happily pay a salesman a 15% commission on any business that they bring to me so really my barter fees are a deal to me.
That being said, I have found that there are many barter members who REALLY don’t like paying their transaction fees. Because of this they often look for ways to rationalize why it’s OK to cut out their exchange from transactions and steal their fees. The most common excuse I hear is that members feel it’s fair to pay their exchange on an initial transaction when they first introduce a new barter partner, but if they continue to trade on an ongoing basis, they don’t feel that it’s fair for the exchange to earn fees for doing “nothing.” I understand this point of view, but if you want to conduct business in an honest and moral way the decision is quite simple: What does your agreement with your exchange say? If it says that you are not to barter directly with members that were introduced to you through the exchange, then you should not. If your agreement with your exchange does not include that stipulation then you are free to trade direct. If you have an agreement that you do not like, then certainly feel free to renegotiate or cancel the contract you have with your exchange.
Bottom line: Your barter exchange is a great asset to your barter business. Treat them well and pay their bills happily. Cutting corners to short their fees is the same thing as shorting your employees part of their wages.