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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 11/22/2003 10:41:22 AM EDT
Have been researching credit card merchant services for my small business, and have discovered that many of them make used car salesmen look like model citizens. Meanwhile, my own bank seems to be preoccupied with selling financial services that are more obscure and inscrutable than your average Calvin Klein commercial. Merchants accepting credit cards in payment for services or goods delivered? Never heard of the idea!

Is anyone using a card merchant service that they're happy with? Something that has reasonable rates and fees for internet sales, and also provides a "virtual terminal" service for manually entering phone or mail-in orders?
Link Posted: 11/22/2003 11:27:01 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/22/2003 11:31:53 AM EDT by Axel]
We had a merchant account for a time, shopped around and had the same observations you did. I found one that was recomended on an auction related site and used them for a while. They were cheap and used a phone system that allowed you to enter all your transactions without having to invest in terminals or software. It works fine if you are not doing many transactions or face to face retail. If I can find the exact company I'll post it for you. It had a name like EZ merchant, but the quick search I did turned up other companies with related names.

Oh, and American Express is an expensive headache. Don't mess with them unless you have to.

One method I can reccomend for research is to talk to other small businesses around you. There you can get the ins and outs, from people actually dealing with the companies. I wouldn't go with anyone until you talk to a few people at least.
Link Posted: 11/22/2003 11:28:18 AM EDT
i just IMd GirlWithGuns about this topic. i use wells fargo bank for business account as well as merchant services. 2.42% and they have done right by me for 5 years. a friend who runs a business says to find local company who resells credit card services and you can get lower %, but note that the "Bank" handling it can be elsewhere, so ask lots of questions... ones like:
- how long after closing a batch do i get my money? (Wells: midnight)
- how often does the bank debit my account for fees? (wells: 1x month) others will do it daily or even with each individual charge, cluttering up your register.
- or does the amount automatically get deducted from the deposit? (which confuses the deposit amounts... customer X got charged $78.50, but gets deposited as $76.34)
- what are ALL the hidden fees?!

on this last one, it can get real stupid. many options available to bill you:
- $0.10 per transaction (as well as any other fees)
- discount rates of 2.00% to 3.50%, depending on monthly volume or average transaction amount
- "statement" fees of up to $10/ month
- "interchange" fees of up to $20/ month
- "bank" fees from the actual bank of whatever per month they want to charge

Wells Fargo Bank has one main "Fee". it's $25/month MINUS the "discount rate" they charge. so if you have no transactions, you pay $25/month. once i run up about $800 in charges to customers, this fee disappears. takes me about one working day to do this...

then there are a few small "hidden" "visa" type of fees that crop up and average about .1% of my total bill, or about $5 per month.

also, there are many things to do to prevent criminals from stealing from you, but that's another who topic...

IM me if you want to talk more about it on the phone.
Link Posted: 11/22/2003 11:30:35 AM EDT
Amex isn't a headache for me and with it comes big spenders, imho. discover has a goofy up front fee to pay of $50 or $100 (i forget) but their customers are damn near militant about their 3% cash reward they get. they, too, will spend some dough.

i do mail order and have about 250k in yearly sales.

Link Posted: 11/22/2003 11:31:37 AM EDT

Originally Posted By wsmc667:
i just IMd GirlWithGuns about this topic. i use wells fargo bank for business account as well as merchant services. 2.42% and they have done right by me for 5 years. a friend who runs a business says to find local company who resells credit card services and you can get lower %, but note that the "Bank" handling it can be elsewhere, so ask lots of questions... ones like:
- how long after closing a batch do i get my money? (Wells: midnight)
- how often does the bank debit my account for fees? (wells: 1x month) others will do it daily or even with each individual charge, cluttering up your register.
- or does the amount automatically get deducted from the deposit? (which confuses the deposit amounts... customer X got charged $78.50, but gets deposited as $76.34)
- what are ALL the hidden fees?!

on this last one, it can get real stupid. many options available to bill you:
- $0.10 per transaction (as well as any other fees)
- discount rates of 2.00% to 3.50%, depending on monthly volume or average transaction amount
- "statement" fees of up to $10/ month
- "interchange" fees of up to $20/ month
- "bank" fees from the actual bank of whatever per month they want to charge

Wells Fargo Bank has one main "Fee". it's $25/month MINUS the "discount rate" they charge. so if you have no transactions, you pay $25/month. once i run up about $800 in charges to customers, this fee disappears. takes me about one working day to do this...

then there are a few small "hidden" "visa" type of fees that crop up and average about .1% of my total bill, or about $5 per month.

also, there are many things to do to prevent criminals from stealing from you, but that's another who topic...

IM me if you want to talk more about it on the phone.



All I can say is DITTO. I use Wells Fargo and have been very happy with them. We dont even have the terminal. We still do it the old fashioned way, paper receipts and call in for authorization. Easy Peezy, japanesey.
Link Posted: 11/22/2003 11:40:37 AM EDT
Sleazy and dishonest are the words I'd use to describe all of the merchant account providers we've dealt with. We pay about 4% off of the top plus $359.40 per year for credit card processing with about 20,000 transactions per year with a $20 average charge. We could get a lower rate if we used AVS, but we tried it for a while and it was blocking about 40% of our legitimate charges.

We use Nova (800-725-1243). After using them for four years, we haven't had any problems other than them overcharging us. They do that each and every month. It usually takes six to eight months to get the bill straight. Of course, they keep your money until the issue is resolved.

As far as a virtual terminal, Nova required that we buy IC Verify. It is expensive and a piece of junk. IC Verify almost put us out of business when we started using it. Each time we entered a charge, it actually did it 29 times. We didn't realize it until we got our statement after six weeks of use! Handling that mess took over a year and about a man-year and a half of labor. Since many people actually have debit cards, we ended-up causing dozens of people to bounce checks. We paid all of their fees for them, which we probably didn't have to, but it was the right thing to do. Stay far away from IC Verify.
Link Posted: 11/22/2003 4:44:02 PM EDT
FWIW, i have been using the dumbed down version of IC Verify, called PC Authorize (made by the same people) for at least 4 years. ZERO issues. it has AVS, and doesn't "decline" purchases based on inaccurate billing info, just tells you if the digits match.

BUT in order to get CC2V or whatever it is, you'll need IC Verify. i looked into that and the rules regarding storage of that info makes it nearly impossible to manage those credit cards. EVERYone is violating the merchant rules UNLESS they ask for your credit card CC2V (aka security code) every time you purchase from them. they're not supposed to maintain that number on any computer for more than like 7 days.

blah blah blah... anyway, i'm very happy with pc authorize. it's nicely dumb.

Link Posted: 11/22/2003 6:42:04 PM EDT
From what I could gather from the company's website, PC Authorize appears to be a hardware-based "virtual credit terminal" for entering credit sales manually. Although it looks like a simple, bulletproof approach, the reliance on a PC-based platform isn't my ideal solution. (I have been known to fire up the Windows box when I have to, but would rather work with a Mac whenever possible).

Wells Fargo's Internet Merchant Account looks promising - The fact that they throw in an Authorize.net, Verisign or CyberSource gateway for free is a major selling point. Plus, they allow you to enter transactions manually (thus fulfilling the "virtual terminal" requirement).

Thanks so much for the advice, gentlemen! The breadth of experience found among ARFcom'ers never ceases to amaze me – Truly, what you guys don't know ain't worth learnin'...
Link Posted: 11/22/2003 7:11:41 PM EDT
I manage a branch for a company that has 45 branches in 6 states and we use "DollarsOnThenet".

It is web based but I do not know much else about it as it was all done by our corporate office.

BigDozer66
Link Posted: 11/22/2003 7:43:39 PM EDT
CardService international (www.cardservice.com). If you're doing Internet only, you might also check out Verisign's (www.verisign.com) payment gateway. We use CardService at www.ihost.biz. Everything is automated (I wish ar15.com would do the same for new account signups). I have no idea why Amex would be a headache???
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