Information on Merchant Accounts,
Ecommerce and Credit Card Processing

September 30th, 2021 by J B

5 Advanced Processing Options That are Much More Affordable Than You Think.

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There are many ways to accept payments and some are more cost-effective than others.  Here is our list of 5 ways to accept payments that are generally much cheaper than most businesses expect.  Here we are going to focus on the monthly costs.  Keep in mind most of these do have an additional transaction fee that is part of the overall billing.  That said those fees are generally pennies per transaction and if they increase sales or operational efficiency, they will likely come at a negligible cost.

  1. Recurring Billing

Many businesses feel that Recurring Billing on credit/debit cards or even electronic checks is the type of service that would be costly to set up and hard to manage. The truth is for most businesses it can be set up for a nominal cost and is easily managed through a web portal. Once set up, this gives merchants a wide variety of recurring billing options from totally custom per-customer to pre-configured plans, all for around $10 per month.

2. Invoicing

Invoicing allows a merchant to send out an email invoice that includes a direct link for the customer to enter their own payment details. This can be a very useful tool for most service-oriented businesses. This is another option that most merchants do not feel is within reach, or simply have not done the research into what might be available, but again this option can be set up for under $10 per month in most cases.

3. Customer Vaulting

In addition to recurring billing, vaulting offers a way to store a customer’s credit card information for later use. This is done securely through a payment gateway in what is called a vault. When thinking about storing credit card numbers, it rightfully is considered highly complex with many areas of potential loss and liability. A vault takes away most of the risk in storing customer information allowing a merchant to later charge their customer’s card for differing amounts depending on the services being sold. This is often very convenient for companies that have contracts with variable pricing and delivery dates. Using vault storage usually also allows for recurring billing through the vault, making it possible for both fixed recurring charges and variable needs-based payments without the customer having to provide their payment information after the initial entry. Using a customer vault reduces errors common with manually entering payment information while drastically decreasing the complexity and time required to store and charge a customer’s card in the future and generally costs $5 – $10 per month for the service.

4. QuickBooks integration

Quickbooks is one of the most common accounting software products in use by businesses all over the world. Intuit knows this and frequently charges exorbitant fees for its built-in processing services. Unfortunately, some versions of QuickBooks remain off-limits to developers but for others, there are options to process with a 3rd party directly through your QuickBooks program, or outside of QuickBooks, with the option of importing payments, for just a few dollars per month in software costs.

Because this service is completely dependent on the version of QuickBooks being used, please contact us with your QuickBooks product information, and we can provide options for integrating without being forced to use Intuit’s expensive processing services.

5. Full Featured Point of Sale Systems

Long gone are the days when buying or leasing a point of sale system required a second mortgage on the family business and a double-digit percentage of gross sales in annual fees just to keep the system running.

For as little as about $10 per month plus the cost of hardware, there are full-featured systems for almost every type of business: retail stores, restaurants, food trailers, counter-service, and just about everything else in between. Newer, cloud-based, point of sale services additionally have the ability to integrate hundreds of custom applications and features into a system, making even the most robust legacy point of sale system obsolete. Many systems are available for as little as around $500 for a complete hardware setup with a printer. Mobile, completely wireless POS systems are becoming increasingly common and affordable for businesses without access to the internet or reliable sources of power such as food trailers, trade-show merchants, and mobile trade services.

If you have been wanting a way to improve your business’s ability to process sales the price really isn’t an issue anymore. It is well worth taking a look at what’s out there and in most cases for penny’s a transaction you could greatly improve how you handle payments. If you are not sure where to start, feel free to reach out to our team and we will get you on the right path.


September 7th, 2021 by J B

Void vs Return and what is a Reversal?

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Credit card refunds are very common and happen for many reasons. There are two primary forms of credit card refunds and they are not always used correctly. Many businesses and their employees believe that a refund is a refund however, there is a huge difference between the two types and it could end up costing you money.

During the life cycle of a credit card transaction, there are two stages that a transaction can go through. The first of these is the authorization stage when the funds are reserved for the business which results in a cardholder’s account showing a “pending” charge. The second stage is a settlement, where funds have actually started moving between the issuer and the merchant’s bank account. This is why your point of sale does a daily settlement.

During the first stage, authorization, you have the opportunity to void the transaction. This allows you to effectively delete the transaction from your point of sale’s batch so that it will not ever settle. Voiding a transaction, however, does not send any additional information to the card issuer. The cardholder will still see a pending charge for two to three days. After the issuer sees that the transaction has not been settled they will release the pending amount back to the cardholder. Voiding a transaction prevents you from paying discount rates on those funds as money never actually changes hands.

Once a transaction has settled voiding the transaction is no longer an option because the funds have already started moving. Once you have settled you are likely going to be paying the discount rate for the original transaction. At this point, your only option is to refund the cardholder. A refund is basically the opposite of a sale where funds are routed from the merchant’s batch back to the cardholder’s card. The main difference in the process of a sale and a refund are point of sale devices don’t request authorization from the issuer to send funds to a cardholder. This results in the cardholder receiving a deposit on to their account a few days later.

Earlier I stated you might be paying the discount rate for the original transaction. This is not always the case. Depending on how your account is set up and the type of transaction you may actually receive a credit back on your account for the original processing fees. This is not the same from one processor to another so it’s a good idea to contact your support team and ask. It is also important to verify on your statement that you are not being charged an additional discount rate for the return amount. This is rare, but there are definitely some merchant accounts that are set up this way

So is a Reversal the same as a Refund or Return?

They sound similar, but no. A reversal is effectively a void, however, it takes the additional step of communicating with the issuer to inform them that the business is releasing the authorized amount. While this also will prevent you from paying discount fees for the transaction you will likely incur an additional transaction fee. That said, if you have the ability to process a reversal it is a better way of voiding a transaction, as it gets the pending amount released from the cardholder’s account much more quickly.

In short, if the batch is still open reserving or voiding the transaction will prevent money from moving which prevents you from being charged a discount rate on that sale. If the transaction was in a batch that has already settled then you are left to refund the cardholder.


July 28th, 2021 by J B

5 More Things to Avoid doing with Your Merchant Account.

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

We are back again with 5 more things you shouldn’t do with your merchant account. These are additional things to void when you have a merchant account. If you missed out last 5 List feel free to review it here.

  1. Do not process refunds to other forms of payment.

Refunds should always be processed on the same form of payment they were issued on.  If a customer pays with cash, a refund should be issued with cash.  If a payment is made with credit, then the refund should be processed on the exact same credit card, the original transaction was made.  If the card has been completely canceled and a refund needs to be issued, it should be done using some other traceable method just in case the original sale is disputed. This will not completely protect the merchant, however, a merchant can at least show that the customer received a refund offsetting the original payment. It is common for cancelled cards to still accept refunds on existing transactions, so this is an uncommon situation if the original information is still available for the refund to be processed on. 

Another option is refunding to a gift card, only valid at the business issuing the refund. This clearly doesn’t work for merchants without an existing gift card program and can increase complexity in accounting, but it does allow the merchant to retain some control over where the refund will be spent. We generally see this to be most effective for situations outside of the normal refund process or timeline, although many merchants benefit from offering it to their customers, sometimes even with a bonus since the money from the refund must be spent in their establishment.

2. Do not assume an approved transaction is guaranteed funds.

Credit card transactions are not guaranteed funds. Many merchants see an approval code on a receipt and think it’s guaranteed money, but unfortunately, that is not the case. An approval is just the card issuer saying that the card is eligible to be processed by your business and that there are not any immediate issues preventing them from approving the sale. Beyond that, the deposit into the merchant’s bank account is essentially a loan until the transaction is fully settled and the opportunity for a chargeback has expired. The authorization received from the card issuer reserves funds for the merchant to collect, but if the transaction is later disputed, or the card turns out to have been stolen, even up to around 180 days after the transaction, the merchant is still obligated to return the funds to the cardholder. Ultimately, businesses are responsible for the payments they accept, and part of that responsibility is protecting themselves from bad actors as well as preventing cardholder fraud.

While there is certainly some transaction fraud that the issuer covers directly, businesses should still protect themselves as much as possible.

3. Do not ever let a customer touch your payment device.

Whether it is a countertop terminal or a POS system, your payment device should only be touched by people who need to use it and no else.  Many devices these days are designed to have cardholder interactions in which case it’s appropriate to allow the customer to complete their portion of the transaction.  In those cases, someone from the business will be setting up the transaction and will be present while the cardholder uses the device.  Outside of those cases, you should avoid anyone else touching your device.  For example, it’s possible to delete a batch in almost any terminal in less than 5 seconds or wipe the programming of the device in just a few more seconds.  Even if someone doesn’t know how to do that simply dropping your machines could cause it to enter a tampered state in which the entire device has to be replaced.  I have even heard about people trying to run off with a payment device even while it was still plugged in.  Just avoid the headache and keep your device to yourself.

4. Do not assume your batches are being funded.

Batching or settling your device is the process that finalizes your sales and starts moving money.  Just because your device has settled does not mean the funds are heading to your bank account.  There could be risk-related issues that tie up your funds, or a bank account issue that does not allow the processor to make a deposit.   There could be some rare funding issue that causes a slight delay in funding.  In any case, make sure you are checking your deposits and matching them to your batches.

5. Do not blindly rely on automatic batches.

Auto Batch is a nice utility that is mostly used in retail environments.  The issue with auto batch is that people do not verify that the batch has closed.  Like with a manual batch process your payment device should print or display the status of your batch.  Many people just glance at this status report and if something prints out, they do not think about it again.  You should always check that report to make sure it states that the batch was close successfully.  If the batch is not closed successfully funds never start moving and so you never get paid.  Un-settled batches are one of the most common causes of delayed funding, and it is a very easy delay to prevent.  So, whether you are on auto-batch or manual batch make sure you are confirming the status of each batch that is processed.  If the batch does not close contact your payment processor right away so they can help you get it resolved.

Taking a few small steps to avoid a potential misstep can go a long way. One key is to pass the information along to employees and co-workers. The more people who understand the small things the more effective you will be all around.


May 20th, 2021 by J B

5 Ways Businesses Lose Money via Their Merchant Account.

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

Your merchant account should be something that helps you generate sales, but sometimes it can lose you money as well. Here are 5 common ways merchants lose money through their merchant account.

  1. Employee Returns

This is a form of internal fraud where employees make returns to their own credit cards while hoping to hide those returns with the day’s normal business.  This can be fairly easy to catch and remedy however you need to be reviewing your daily batches and comparing those to your transactions.

2. Return Fraud

This type of fraud is usually found in the big box businesses however it can also be applied to small and medium businesses.  Basically, it’s the act of purchasing something at a discounted cost just for the purpose of returning it to another location or business for a higher price.  Many stores will accept goods back for store credit even if you do not have a receipt.  The big box stores are hip to this trick and keep track of who is returning items and will go as far as telling customers they are no longer eligible to return items to their stores.  Smaller businesses however are sometimes more inclined to accept these returns to help build relationships with customers.  In these days of mega online stores and a multitude of discount sellers out there, it’s easy for a fraudster to take advantage of an unsuspecting business.  It can be as simple as browsing what you have for sale locally, finding that same item for half the price online, and then returning it to your store for credit.

3. Friendly Fraud

You know there is nothing friendly about friendly fraud.  This takes a special type of person to knowingly commit this form of fraud.  A customer comes to your business and makes a purchase like anyone else. Its likely that nothing will seem off about the transaction to you.  Once they leave the store is when the fraud is perpetrated.  This customer contacts their credit card company and makes specific claims against the transaction knowing it will be next to impossible for the business to defend themselves through the chargeback dispute process.  The cardholder almost instantly gets credit back on their card, and they never have to return the product.  Free stuff for them, a total loss for the business.

4. Authorization Fraud

I think of this type of fraud as what the sketchy people from #3 move up to.  It takes a ridiculously small amount of social engineering to convince most businesses into assisting the fraudster in walking out with goods without actually paying. 

How does it work?  A fraudster shops just like anyone else, and brings their items to the checkout.  Once the items are rung up they will make some sort of excuse why they need to contact their credit card company to get prior approval.  Many times, the fraudster will give you a credit card that declines when you try to run it.  The cardholder will apologize and call their “card issuer”.  After a bit of a conversation, they will then tell you their credit card company declined the transaction because the amount was abnormal, and they suspected fraud. The fraudster/cardholder may tell you their credit card company gave them an approval code that will allow the transaction to go through.  They may also hand you their phone and the “credit card company” might walk you through processing the sale.  The thing is the authorization code that is provided by the cardholder, or “credit card company”, is fake.  It will settle like any other sale, but several days to a month later the actual card issuer will dispute the transaction saying the approval code used was not issued.  At that point, the merchant is required to pay the card issuer back in full.  Meanwhile, the fraudster is long gone.

5. Not Reviewing Processing Statements

Processing statements a probably one of the last things most business owners want to think about.  If the funds are making it to their bank account, they don’t see a reason to review the statement.

The truth is processing statements are where the processor will provide notice of changes to the account.  Many times, these could be related to rate and fee increases, and while sometimes these cannot be changed that is not always the case.  Contacting your processor to ask about new fees or changes to your fees can result in you saving money.

Also, while there are systems to check account continuity things can slip through the cracks.  I have seen processing statements where the merchant was being back billed for a fee from months past, only to find that all their other statements are being back billed for the same fee.  Like someone setup, a manual back bill and accidentally set it to a recurring fee.

With a merchant statements, you generally only have about 45 days from the end of a processing month to dispute any charges before those charges are considered accepted and final.

Conclusion:

Its not fun spending extra money or having someone steal from you. If you keep an eye on your processing statements and you transactions can easily prevent most losses. When it comes to fraud if something doesnt feel right about the sale its probably best not to accept payment on a credit card. Use your best judgement and dont get carried away by the prospect of an excessively large sales. If its out of the ordinary you need to take a step back and assess the risk of completing that sale.

You wont ever be perfectly protected from loss, but a little work today can payoff in big ways down the road.


April 20th, 2021 by J B

Is Clover Care Warranty Worth It?

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

Did you just get a Clover point of sale, or are looking to add one to your business?  Clover offers a standard 1-year manufacturer’s warranty which is full replacement coverage for hardware defects.  Clover also has an extended warranty option that lengthens that coverage to 3 years and includes accidental damage coverage.  Clover Care can be added to your Clover device(s) at the time of purchase or any time during the initial 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.  Once enrolled in Clover Care you have no additional out-of-pocket expenses and with just one call you can have your replacement device as soon as the next day.  If you have a Clover System or are looking to add one Clover Care may be just the thing to give additional peace of mind.

Clover’s standard warranty is about what you would expect from any hardware provider.  Full replacement coverage for any manufacturing issues.  Most hardware issues are going to be noticed in a short time after setting up the system.  Once up and running for a couple of months you generally are not going to run into any major hardware failures, however, whether you run into issues small or large Clover can replace your device about day to keep you up and running.  Extending this coverage does more than just extend the standard warranty time.

Stepping up to Clover Care does add an additional 2 years to the standard warranty however it adds much more than that.  Clover Care also includes accidental coverage for the full three years, extending the original warranty’s coverage.  This additional coverage means your device can be placed up to three times with no additional fees.  Accidental coverage really increases the protections for your business by covering not sure manufacturers’ issues but also including damage caused by customers or employees.

Adding Clover Care does not need to be done only at the time of purchase.  Clover gives you the option to add Clover Care anytime during the standard 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.  This gives the business a chance to try the system and decided if that additional coverage is worth the extra cost.  For some companies, it’s going to be better to cover the risk of replacement themselves, where others might be in a situation where accidental damage is potentially more likely.  The nice thing about adding the extended coverage early is that your accidental coverage starts earlier.

Once enrolled in Clover Care you can receive up to 3 replacements during the 3-year period with no out-of-pocket costs.  Clover devices range anywhere from $350 to $1600 and deployment and shipping costs can be quite costly when looking at overnight deployment.  In contrast, Clover Care can be added for as little as $80 on some devices.  So, for one lower warranty price, you are getting up to 3 overnight replacements over 3 years.

It’s up to you if Clover Care is right for your business, but it’s certainly worth asking about pricing for your given hardware setup so you can weigh the risks and rewards of having that additional coverage.  Are things like overnight deployment at no additional cost or the extended and accidental protection worth a little more money upfront?  At this point, you should have a fairly good idea of the program and how valuable those protections are for your particular situation.  As always if you have any questions about Clover Care or any of the articles on our blog please reach out.


February 16th, 2021 by J B

5 Things to Avoid Doing With Your Merchant Account

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

There are many great ways to use your merchant account but you should also be aware of the things you should not do with your merchant account.

  1. Do not process your own credit card.

    While running your own credit card for $1.00 or less is considered ok for testing purposes, you should not ever run your own card for an actual sale. There are several issues with running your own card, but the most common one is a business owner trying to loan money to their business. This is a violation of not only your processing agreement, but also the card issuer rules, and in certain circumstances may be outright illegal. Even if you legitimately need to make a purchase from your own business, there is no way for the payment processor or issuer to confirm the validity of that transaction, nor to assess the risk of the individual transaction. If you need to make a purchase from your own business, pay by cash, check, or ACH directly between your bank accounts.
  2. Do not accept payments on another person or business’s behalf.

    There may be times when you are asked to accept payment for goods or services provided by another party to whom you will pay with some other means. Or maybe someone you know just needs to accept one payment and does not want to open a merchant account. There are many reasons why you might be tempted or asked to accept a credit card payment for someone else, however, never do it. Once you accept that payment, you retain all the liability for that transaction. Also, fraudsters use this tactic by paying with a stolen card and getting the business that accepted it to pay them cash. When the chargebacks start coming in the business retains the responsibility but the fraudster is long gone with the actual money.

    Another slightly less common but still prevalent tactic used by some fraudsters is to get multiple companies to take some of their transactions for a fee. They are almost always doing illegal business and have been banned by card associations, so are turning to tricking other business owners into mixing just a few of their illegal transactions in with the business’s legitimate ones, to avoid detection by card associations. This risk for accepting these can very quickly turn from just monetary chargeback risk to actual crimes such as fraud and money laundering, depending on the transactions being mixed in with the legitimate ones. Do not ever agree to mix in someone else’s transactions with your legitimate ones.
  1. Do not operate multiple businesses through your account.

    Running more than one business through a single merchant account can be a receipt for disaster, even if those businesses are similar and your own. Each merchant account is underwritten for a specific business with its own set of risk profiles. Two or more businesses being operated out of the same merchant account can affect how a risk department reviews your account against what it was underwritten for. Maybe you are doing a much higher volume than would be expected out of a single business, or maybe one business has much higher average tickets than the other. Inconsistencies like this will raise flags that your processor will have to address. Also, if something negative happens to one business the funds of the other could now be in jeopardy. If you had a merchant account for each business, then issues with one account don’t immediately affect the other’s ability to process payments.
  2. Do not run your eCommerce and retail sides of your business through the same merchant account.

    Similar to number 3, if we break the payments industry into 3 very general business types: Retail, Restaurant, and Ecommerce, each will have unique risks, even if they are all the same business. For example, a retail brick and mortar store that has an eCommerce site is just one business, however, the retail side of the business has different risks than the eCommerce side. Likewise, a restaurant with either a retail section or an eCommerce store would want to keep each business type separated so the one account isn’t taking on the risks of all of the account types. This makes sense for accounting purposes in addition to avoiding tripping up and potentially affecting all areas of a company’s processing capabilities if something goes wrong on one account.
  3. Do not process any payment where the approval(authorization) code was not obtained via your terminal or your processor’s authorization center.

    This is an extremely common fraud technique. A customer enters a business claiming to have an approval code from their issuer that needs to be entered into the terminal for the payment to be accepted, sometimes they even pretend to be on the phone with them obtaining an authorization code after the first transaction declines.

    Almost 100% of the time this is an outright fraud attempt, however, there have been times when the cardholder legitimately seems to obtain an approval code.

    But, what should you do?

    Do not accept the authorization code!

    Even if the cardholder did somehow legitimately obtain such approval, if it does not originate through your processor, then there is no electronic or paper link to the specific sale taking place. If your processor didn’t give you the code, you do not have authorization for the transaction, full stop.

    We’ve seen more fraud attempts and actual fraud losses from merchants taking authorization codes from their customers and forcing a transaction through, than all other forms of fraud against merchants combined.

    Also never call the number on the back of the credit card to try and obtain an approval code, only get one from your processor. The customer’s card issuer should not give you one regardless, and if they do, there is still no link to an authorization with your processor which is required to properly settle the transaction and required in the case the customer requests a chargeback. The only two ways you should ever obtain an approval code is electronic via your terminal / payment device during the normal sales transaction or via your processor’s automated voice authorization system. That is it, no other means of obtaining an authorization should be honored.

While you may have already done some of these things without consequence that doesnt mean you should continue. Its similar to playing with fire. Hopefully this quick list will help you avoid some common mistakes an prevent you from having to work through the negative results.


July 30th, 2020 by Evan V

Avoiding Equipment Leases

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

There is a reason we typically do at least one article a year regarding equipment leases and why we think they are a bad idea in most cases. It is simply because they are still prevalent in the industry, and merchants are still being sold on something they don’t fully comprehend until it is too late. Paying incrementally can be a major benefit for many businesses for equipment purchases, but at what overall expense? There is a fine line between an acceptable loss on a deal, and being taken for a ride that doesn’t end. Sometimes with some simple searches, a couple of phone calls, a merchant can save countless headaches and a similar number of dollars

Value

It seems like a simple concept and makes sense in some circumstances. I mean around 1 out of 4 people choose a leasing option for their vehicles, why not on their processing equipment?

Most people have an idea about how much a car is worth. People know that a 2020 Ferrari is going to cost more than a 2010 Honda Civic. The same is not always true about processing equipment especially when it comes to used value.

The typical reason that merchants get caught up in leases is simply that they don’t know the equipment’s value.  Some sales agents push lease, and many use it as an option for their potential customers. But those potential customers don’t always understand what they are getting into with a lease.

Example:  A sales rep is setting up a merchant business, and the business needs two credit card terminals. The sales rep explains for just $29.95 per month, we’ll install and set up two VX-520’s and include a lifetime warranty. The merchant, not knowing anything about this equipment may think $29.95 a month is a fine deal at first. Then down the road, the merchant looks online and finds that same VX-520 selling for under $200. Its easy realizes that with the 48-month lease, they will be spending at least double what they could have paid for the same equipment. Then they try to cancel their lease and return the equipment only to find its uncancelable.

This example may seem unlikely to some, but unfortunately, it is not. We have come across this situation and much worse many times. By simply knowing the value of the equipment being leased or purchased, a merchant can get a good understanding of what kind of deal they are getting.

Getting out of an Equipment Lease

The simplest answer is you don’t. Signing a lease is essentially like taking out a loan for the processing equipment. The merchant is agreeing to pay back the value of the equipment agreed upon, at the designated terms. Every contract will be structured differently, but this is really where the fine print comes into play. If it is within a certain time, some equipment leases have an opt-out clause which will let you get out of the agreed lease. Sometimes an equipment lease will also have a buy out clause, which will enable a merchant to buy out the lease agreement for a lesser or perhaps even a larger sum than the total cost of the lease.

No Deal Grunge Rubber Stamp Over A White Background, Vector ...

There is no easy or desirable answer to get out of an equipment lease agreement. If a merchant decides to simply stop paying the lease, in all likely hood the lease will accrue penalties and be pushed to collections. It is entirely possible the lease company will seek to resolve the dispute in court depending on how much is owed on the lease. To put it best; don’t agree to a lease if you don’t know the value of equipment and are not prepared to pay the total amount agreed upon.

Other Options

Before going through signing up an equipment lease, it would not be a waste of a merchant’s time to explore other options. Many processors will work with their merchants and sometimes break up charges of the equipment if a merchant does not want to go through a lease agreement.

Do the math on how much the equipment really costs and ask if it is really worth upgrading or changing equipment. Essentially look at every other possible option before even considering going into a lease. Because once you’re in, you’re in.

Leasing Summed Up

It is of note, not all leasing agreements are a total rip off. Sometimes on higher-priced equipment or under reasonable terms it can be very beneficial for a merchant to investigate leasing options. The purpose of this article is to encourage research, both for the value of equipment and the terms of the lease. The processing industry has taken a very positive turn of full disclosure, and trustworthy services when compared to its initial procession. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at the Merchant Store with any questions or concerns.

The Merchant Store, 800-937-3850 info@usmsi.com


June 26th, 2020 by Evan V

Accepting Payments in a Safe Environment

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

As businesses are increasing safety measures to keep their doors open, they often overlook their payment acceptance practices. For many businesses, this can be achieved by upgrading equipment or using their existing equipment differently. Other businesses will have to be more creative to produce a safer environment.

Customer Use Only

Many businesses are implementing customer-facing interfaces or self-checkout. Having a customer-facing device helps mitigate potentially transferring harmful germs by reducing contact.

Below are specific examples of equipment that The Merchant Store uses for its merchants during this time of social distancing.

Retail or Counter Restaurant: Card Present         

Clover Mini W/ Swivel Stand or Customer Facing:

Amazon.com: New Clover POS Mini (Open a Merchant Account with ...

Perfect for any retail businesses when customers are primarily present. Capable of being a full point of sale system, with applications and software that are tailored for any type of business. With the Clover mini and swivel stand, an employee will never have to transfer any materials back and forth with the customer.

The employee can ring up the sale and simply turn the device around to face the customer, who is able to complete the payment process and select their preferred method of receipt. Your customers are able to pay through traditional EMV methods or through contactless payments like ApplePay and GooglePay.

The only downside with this set-up is the employee and customer still have contact with the same device. That said, since the Mini offers a single flat surface, it is easy to clean and have ready for the next customer.

Clover Station W/ Customer Facing Mini:

The primary reason we are proponents of the Clover system is the various Clover devices and their many configurations. Businesses can set-up their system for exactly what the business needs. With a full Clover Station and a Clover Mini as a customer-facing device, you are able to keep employees and customers at a safe distance. The employee can handle all transactions via the Clover Station, and with a customer-facing Mini, the customer is the only one who handles the card, device, and printed receipt if necessary. You can also accomplish this same setup with two Clover Minis.

Countertop terminal W/ External Pin pad:

One of the easiest and most commonly used set-ups is a countertop terminal, with an encrypted pin pad. This type of set-up is not only easy to use but is also one of the most affordable options. This accomplishes the same distancing measures in the example above for a fraction of the price. The store clerk rings up the sale and starts the transaction process on their terminal as usual. When its time to run the card, the transaction shifts over to the customer-facing pin pad where the transaction is completed. First Data’s FD series and Dejavoos Z Series are two of the best devices to use in this setup.

Restaurant

Truth About Free Credit Card Swipers | Best Free Card Readers

These days, restaurants are especially looking for creative ways to accept payments safely or all together. Most restaurants have gone strictly to carry out, which for many businesses has not been their primary service. With the Clover systems, businesses have an easy option to incorporate online ordering and payments to any website. Many merchant providers also have established gateways, which can be more cost-effective if the business is able to work with their webmasters to incorporate a checkout feature on their website.

              Many restaurants have gradually reopened, whether that be at a limited capacity or by doing curbside. One option that many owners and managers have found effective is the pay at the table option. This option allows the customer to complete the payment at the table using a portable handheld terminal. These terminals can be connected to either WIFI or a data plan, and the transactions can be completed anywhere that they have connectivity. Many businesses are also using portable terminals for curbside or delivery, if necessary. Depending on how the system is set up, these terminals are also able to communicate and work with a POS system. While this may seem like a hassle or perhaps an unneeded extra cost, connecting these devices is quite affordable and simple to use.

Get setup or contact us for more information on a contactless processing solution!


April 30th, 2020 by Evan V

Chargebacks: Reminders and What you need to know…

Filed in: Merchant Accounts | 1 comment

**A demand by a credit-card provider for a retailer to make good the loss on a fraudulent or disputed transaction. **

Simple as that…or not so much. Most merchants will, at some point, experience a chargeback from one of their customers. In simplest terms, this action is a dispute of products sold or services rendered made by a customer with their card issuing bank. The bank can then force a reversal of the transaction from the merchant and return the sales amount to the customer.

The purpose of the chargeback system is to protect the consumer. If a customer is unsatisfied with a transaction, they may simply call their credit card company and request a chargeback. Once the dispute process is initiated, it is up to the merchant to provide proof that services were properly rendered. As well as possibly losing out on the sales amount, the merchant is typically charged a chargeback fee by their processor (usually ranging from $15 -$50), which may even exceed the amount of the initial sale. Some merchant services providers will work with their merchants to help with the chargeback fees, but not all.

Once a merchant has received a dispute and complied with the request for additional information to refute the claim, the card issuer will make a final decision. The issuer will either deem the chargeback valid and the transaction amount is permanently removed from the merchant’s bank, or invalid and the sales amount is posted back to the merchant. For this reason, it is imperative that merchants work to reduce the risks of chargebacks by ensuring proper customer service and retaining necessary transaction details and supporting documentation.

Avoiding Chargebacks
• Verify the name of your business is the name the customer will see and recognize on receipts and invoices.
• Respond to retrieval requests promptly, providing all required information. Typically, the business will have two weeks to respond and submit supporting documents upon receiving a retrieval request.
• Make sure your customer is aware that you are charging them. This seems very simple but is one of the primary reasons merchants receive chargebacks.
• If retail, be sure to retain proof that the card and customer were present. Verify additional identification, compare the signature on the card with the signature on the receipt, and do not accept a card without a signature.
• If a card is declined, do not go above and beyond to get approval. Simply ask for another form of payment.
• If using a virtual terminal or phone order, be sure to use and receive Address Verification (AVS) to confirm the billing address matches the card.
• Provide invoices with up to date business information with a customer service number. This will eliminate simple mix-ups.

• One of the most important tips we would like to share: When shipping expensive items, be sure to ascertain proof of delivery, preferably to the billing address and by the cardholder. This can help protect the business from fraudulent orders that could result in major financial burdens.


Excessive chargebacks can prove detrimental to any business, including lost sales and major fees. Large fines may be levied against the business, as well as the revocation of the ability to process payments entirely with credit or debit cards. The Merchant Store takes chargebacks very seriously by keeping our merchants informed, fighting on behalf of our merchants, and taking care of chargeback fees when necessary. We firmly believe it is our job to keep our merchants protected and informed. If your processor is failing to do so, please feel free to contact our team. We are here and happy to help! Contact 1-800-937-3850 or info@usmsi.com.


April 8th, 2020 by J B

Small Business Aid – Know Your Options

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

If your business is in need, there are several loans and programs to help you get through these uncertain times. There is a lot of good information on the Small Business Administration’s COVID-19 webpage.

Coronavirus Relief Options

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
The PPP is an incentive for small businesses to keep existing employees on their payroll. These loans will be forgiven if the business keeps all employees on payroll for eight weeks. The money can also be used for other qualifying business costs.

This program is available to almost any business with 500 employees or less, including non-profits, veterans organizations or tribal business concerns. It also includes sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed persons.

If you feel that you would not qualify due to past credit issues, or liens, it is still worth contacting your bank and asking about the loan. This program is designed to keep companies business-ready, and from what we are hearing, past issues have not been a problem for businesses applying for this program.

Remember, your depository bank will be making these loans so you should contact them directly. If for some reason they are not participating, you can always reach out to another bank, however, they may require that you open other accounts with them.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance (EIDL)
The EIDL is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. According to the SBA, this loan advance will not have to be repaid. The business eligibility appears to be the same as with the PPP above.

You can go to https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/ to begin the application process. It starts off with a quick eligibility verification section, and if your business is eligible, you can continue to the application.

SBA Express Bridge Loans
Express Bridge Loans are for small businesses that already have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender. For those businesses, you can access up to $25,000.

These loans can be term loans or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA EIDL. This loan is expected to be paid in full or in part by proceeds from the EIDL.

SBA Debt Relief
The SBA Debt Relief program will provide a reprieve to small businesses by paying principal and interest of current 7(a) loans, 504 loans, or microloans for a period of six months. They will also pay the principal and interest of new 7(a) loans issued prior to Sept 27, 2020 for a period of six months.