The Merchant’s Guide to Credit Card Processing

December 2, 2008

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Calculating Losses, by Lisa Solonynka, morguefile

Caculating Losses, by Lisa Solonynka, morguefile

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This chapter is an excerpt from my new e-Book, Retailers’ Guide to Merchant Services and can be obtained at Gelise 1′s Storefront.

Chapter 1 Making a Decision to Accept Credit Cards Start-up business owners have to make many decisions about their cash flow and if they are not currently accepting credit cards, this may not be a priority when all seems to be running well. After all, people are coming into the store and paying in cash. Once in awhile, someone asks if you accept credit cards and the answer is “No.” If the customers really wants the product and has the cash, they just pay in cash. However, if the person does not have the cash, the business owner loses out on a sale.

But, this does not seem to matter, as most of the patrons come in with cash. The business owner may even direct the customer to the nearest ATM machine, at which time, the customer returns with the cash and pays for the merchandise.

Money in the Competitor’s Pocket But, what is really happening here? When the owner directs the customer to the nearest ATM machine, he pays for the use of the machine and the owner of the other business receives a fee for the transaction.

What about that customer who desperately needs or wants your product so badly and prefers to pay with a credit card? He leaves and finds another business which sells the same product, but accepts credit cards. Because he has found the product and payment terms he wants, he opts to become a regular customer. Let’s say you own a restaurant and the customer likes to go out to eat dinner with his wife once a week.

Your average dinner is $15.00. That computes to a loss of $60.00 a month or $720.00 per year. This does not seem to be much of a loss for your company on a yearly basis, but what if you turned down five customers per day and they all found another restaurant as the first customer did?

Calculating the Loss

You are open six days per week, so you turn down 30 customers per week. That’s 120 customers per month at $15.00 each which computes to $180 per month. At this rate, the annual loss would be $21,600! What could you do with another $21, 600?

If you are cost conscious, you cannot afford to let this continue. Your competition is earning another $21,600 per year because you will not accept credit cards! If you are profit motivated, you will think about your losses in this way. Could you ever imagine that letting people walk out of your establishment because they are unable to pay in cash could lead to losses of this magnitude?

Let’s imagine what could happen when a customer leaves your establishment to cash an ATM card. He goes next door to cash the ATM card. It costs the customer an average of $3.00 per transaction to use the ATM machine which is the business owner’s profit. If the customer is desperate for your product, they will use the ATM machine.

However, they may decide that $3.00 is too high to pay for acquiring cash out of a machine and leave the store looking for another store which sells the same product and accepts credit cards. If the business owner receives $1.00 for every customer who uses the machine and you send him five customers, he makes five dollars a day. If you are open six days a week, he makes $30.00 a week or $120 a month. After one year, he makes $1440.00, all because you are not equipped to accept credit cards. So now, you are losing $21, 600 + 1440.00 = $23,040. I ask you again, what would you do with an extra $23,040 per year?

Studies have shown that people spend an average of 12 – 18% more when they pay with a credit card. The owner must be prepared to accept the credit cards when customers present them for payment. If you were the owner of a restaurant and a customer came in to use a credit card, you would have to turn the customer away if you did not accept credit cards. Suppose the customer ordered a meal and paid cash for it. If he enjoyed the meal he may decide he wants to share it with friends who are coming to visit on the weekend. However, since he prefers to pay for large orders with a credit card, he decides to plan a catered event at his house.

Let’s suppose that the charge for a catered event is $500.00. You miss out on an additional $500.00 in profits. You may not feel that losing $500.00 a year amounts to much and you could make it up on other sales, but suppose one customer per month wants to pay for a catered event by credit card. Because you do not accept credit cards, you turn the customer away and end up missing out on $6000.00 per year.

This loss could amount to more during the holidays. If you add the $6000.00 to the previous losses, it totals $29,040, all because you do not accept credit cards. What could you do with an extra $29, 040 per year? Sooner or later the business owner is going to resign himself to the fact that if he accepts credit cards at his business, he will make more money. How many years are you going to wait until you decide to purchase a credit card terminal? If you wait one year, you lose $29,040. If you wait two years, you lose $58,080. If you wait three years, you lose $87,120. What could you do with an extra $87,120?

Despite itemizing these losses, some business owners will not be impressed. In their own mind, handling credit cards is just another burden. Having to learn how to make transactions on the credit card terminal, learning the record keeping and watching out for fraud are very time consuming duties. The business owner would have to learn new terminology, keep abreast of the compliance issues, and work to avoid charge backs. These are added responsibilities for which he has to set aside time to perform these tasks. In some cases, the business owner is already overwhelmed with the day to day operation of the business.

ow will the business owner fit this into his schedule? Will the representative be there to assist in the areas where he needs help? What if he cannot get in touch with the representative? These are all valid questions and the owner should not proceed with ordering a credit card terminal unless these questions are answered. Is the extra time spent on learning about credit card transactions worth the $29,040 saved?

Let’s answer these questions one by one. The first question, is one of time management. The owner is going to have to examine his schedule very closely and see when he will have extra time to devote to learning all about accepting credit cards. He may have to delegate some of his duties to his employees in order to free up some time. ss_blog_claim=74da3239dd6b3ea2b0b14afc135d0ec5

There is much to learn, including the operation of the credit card terminal, how to batch out, recognizing fraud, and when and how to call credit card numbers into the credit card companies. Then he has to review and become familiar with the compliance issues. A good representative will assist the new business owner in learning everything that he needs to know. He will answer questions, make himself available when necessary, and provide a telephone number where he can be reached. The representative should be able to answer most of the questions. In order to retain the customer and receive referrals, the representative should ensure that this process is as efficient for the owner as possible. In the event that the representative is not available, there should be a technical support department which will assist the business owner and answer any questions he might have.

Most credit card processing companies have a technical support department available twenty four hours a day seven days a week, including holidays. Most questions and problems with the terminals can be handled over the telephone. Your patrons will take you more seriously when you install a credit card machine. Your current customers will go out and tell their friends that you accept credit cards and then they, in turn, will tell their friends. Advertisers say that the best advertising for a business is word of mouth.

The ones who pay in cash now, will probably continue paying in cash. But now, you will gain new customers who prefer to pay in credit cards. Customers prefer to have a choice in payment methods and studies have shown that you will retain your customers when they have a choice. Credit card terminals also accept debit cards which are a safer transaction for the consumer. Debit cards require the use of a PIN number which only the owner of the debit card has.   In order to use the debit card, the owner must enter his PIN number into the machine. The business owner incurs a charge for the debit card which is below the rate for the lowest priced credit card, the qualified VISA or Master Card. The savings in processing debit cards is around sixty percent. This means that the fee to process debit cards is about sixty percent lower than the qualified rate.

In order to process the debit cards, the owner must purchase a PIN pad in which the consumer enters his/her PIN number. If the owner does not purchase a PIN pad or ask the consumer to enter his/her PIN number, then the fee for the transaction is at the check card rate which is a about double the rate for processing a debit card. Because of the savings involved, some business owners choose only to process debit cards. Debit cards have become very popular as many people carry them in lieu of cash. When people use the debit card, they have the option of receiving cash back from the purchase. This means they can receive an amount over and above the amount of change they would receive from the transaction. The maximum amount is determined by the owner.

Receiving cash back is another very attractive benefit for the consumer to use his debit card instead of a credit card as he would not be able to receive cash back from a credit card. Now the customer has a choice of using cash, check, credit card or debit card. What do you gain by turning down a customer? Studies have shown that a customer is more likely to recount a bad experience rather than a good one. When he relates the experience, people tend to believe the story-teller and boycott the place rather than investigate on their own. You may still continue doing business, but your business will not grow as much as it would have, if you were accepting credit cards.

Some business owners do not believe in credit cards for the social reasons of how customers misuse them. While this may be a valid point, most people are responsible in handling their credit cards. We are living in the “Age of Plastic” and people are able to purchase things that they normally would not purchase because they possess a credit card. Credit cards make it possible for people to have businesses and make more profits than they normally would have if they did not accept credit cards. When the merchant accepts the payment by credit cards, he receives cash in his business checking account within three to five days. As long as the credit card machine accepts the credit card, the merchant is guaranteed to receive the money.

People are responsible for their own credit cards and how they use them. Your decision to accept credit cards will not contribute to the customer’s lack of responsibility in controlling his expenses. This is an issue that the customer must address. It is not the business owner’s responsibility to ensure that the customer does not over spend or abuse his credit card privileges.

Just as the owner must be responsible in learning enough about the credit card processing industry in order to process credit cards, so the customer must be responsible in learning how to manage his debt. The customer, as an owner of a credit card, has certain responsibilities that he must undertake and he/she must make a conscious decision to accept the responsibilities.

© Gail Cavanaugh and The Merchant’s Guide to Credit Card Processing, 2008.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gail Cavanaugh and The Merchant’s Guide to Credit Card Processing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. ss_blog_claim=74da3239dd6b3ea2b0b14afc135d0ec5

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APSense - Get Paid While Promoting Your Business! Check Out: Comments: Name: Business blog Website: This is a good article that any business not already taking credit cards should read and especially in the present economic climate. In the UK for example, for a long time Marks & Spencer refused to take credit cards, so customers could only pay by cash or cheque, until eventually they started to loose customers to their competitors and in the end they had to bow to the pressure and ended up taking credit cards.

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Name: Jamwes Website: Very good information. Thank you.

Name: Chuck Bartok Website: Gail, Very Informative Blog site. Yes merchants can benefit from a well manged Credit Card Processing System. Also another advantage is the Judicious use of the “loans” available to Strong accounts. But like all Credit, it must be managed well.

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Getting Inspired

November 4, 2014


When I need inspiration, I seek quiet places like the beach which has a very calming effect on me. I was studying this photo today as I was thinking about all the things I have to do. My mode of creation right now is through writing. I cannot write unless I have peace and quiet, however, I can create a painting in a noisy place. Go figure!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month – The Need to Prepare for Medical Costs

October 18, 2014


Cancer is a very devastating disease which can change many people’s lives because of the astronomical costs in treating it. Unfortunately, many women do not have adequate health coverage to cover their expenses. As a result, many resort to fundraising to accumulate the funds necessary to undergo treatment.

The average costs for breast cancer treatment total $128,556 over approximately a one and one half year treatment period, which includes doctors’ visits, outpatient visits, hospital visits, and inpatient stays, for women who received chemotherapy as their primary source of treatment. For women who have health insurance, especially now with the high deductibles which employees must pay under the current Health Care Reform, many will have substantial out of pocket costs which are not covered under their health care plans. As a result, many will have to resort to fundraising, borrowing money from family, friends, and employers, or paying with credit cards. If the patient happens to be a business owner, their businesses may suffer, causing bankruptcies because of the high medical costs.

One alternative to seeking funding for the balances which are not covered, is to purchase voluntary or supplemental coverage through an employer. Cancer policies are available which would cover most, if not all of the out of pocket costs not covered under health insurance policies. The out-of-pocket costs would be deductibles and co-payments.

Additionally, a short term and/or a long term disability policy would replace a portion of income lost during treatment. In some cases, the cost of premiums for these policies would be waived during the period of disability enabling the patient to keep the policy in force.

In order to ensure that there is adequate funding in the event that an employee or family member develops cancer, the employee must plan to have the coverage before the diagnosis is made. The employees would not be able to secure coverage for cancer after receiving the diagnosis from the doctor. It is impossible for us to know whether or not we will develop cancer during our lifetimes. Purchasing the coverage and ensuring that we have adequate disability insurance in addition to a cancer indemnity policy while we are healthy, would greatly reduce the stress in determining how we will pay for the cost of medical care.

Once employees purchase a supplemental or voluntary benefits plan to cover out-of-pocket costs or a portion of income, it is important to keep the policies in force. Once they lapse, it may be impossible to reinstate coverage. Most policies have a waiting period during which coverage would not be affordable if the employee is diagnosed, receives medical care or advice before the policy’s effective date. Proper planning is necessary to keep the policies in force.

In conclusion, taking surefire steps to protect one’s income and business through disability policies and cancer policies will enable employees to receive and pay for proper medical care, as well as to continue supporting the family.

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Health and Life Insurance Open Enrollment Season

September 15, 2014

The Open Enrollment Period is from

October 1, 2014 – March 13, 2014 for Qualified Health Plans. For overage beginning in November, the enrollment period is from November 15, 2014 until February 15, 2014. The employers will be searching for Supplemental benefits at that time as well. Employees can apply for their health coverage on the Internet.

You may be hearing the buzz at work about what your employer intends to do with the current benefits or what programs he /she is desiring to add to or subtract from the current benefits package. The employer will carefully consider the benefits package to determine if the package is adequate enough to attract and retain employees.
Open Enrollment is a time when employees can apply for health coverage or supplemental benefits at the workplace without underwriting, which would limit the type and amount of coverage that the employee applies for based on his/her health. This period also protects the insured from lapsing coverage due to employees trying to optimize on the amount they are paying for coverage or purchasing coverage when they are sick and cancelling when they are well. This keeps the insurance companies from experiencing financial risk and insurance premiums from increasing.

Besides health insurance, employers will allow employees to purchase life insurance, disability insurance, accident insurance, or health insurance supplements. An open enrollment is a great time to review the benefits one may have or add benefits to one’s personal program of insurance coverage.

It is important to note that if an employee misses the dates for open enrollment, he/she will have to wait until the next one which will take place one year later. The only exceptions are employees experiencing life changing events in the family, such as a divorce, birth of a child, or If an employee no longer qualify for Medicaid insurance. Some may also be able to apply after the enrollment period if there was a glitch in the system which caused the employees not to enroll for coverage. Anyone can apply for Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Plan) anytime of the year.

In conclusion, the Open Enrollment season for Health Insurance and Supplemental Health insurance programs is approaching and every employee should use this time now to enroll in their coverage.

Life Insurance Awareness Month – September 2014

September 3, 2014


It is Life Insurance Awareness month again and with the students returning to school, it is time to re-examine your financial security. Life insurance is a product which few consumers understand. Therefore, it is beneficial to have a competent life insurance agent to support you in making a wise decision to protect your family.

Approximately 95 million people are without life insurance protection which means that their families are at risk for financial calamity due to the untimely death of a head of the household. Many families today are headed by a single parent which would leave the family even more at risk. If the parent dies, prematurely, the children would be orphaned. Therefore, single parents need to consider who they would appoint as a guardian to the children. They would also need to provide an income to raise the children. Many families today are ill-equipped to assume the responsibility of one or more children in addition to the family which they may already have. Therefore, the best way to provide an income would be to purchase life insurance.

Typically, employees opt to acquire life insurance at a group rate at work for themselves and for the family, because it is inexpensive. Paying for life insurance weekly or bi-weekly seems to be more feasible for most employees. They can also purchase a separate life insurance policy from an insurance agent outside of work. In this case, employees will have to determine how long the life insurance will cover them and if the policy is portable, i.e., if coverage remains in force if the employee retires or leaves the company.

Employees would be wise to purchase a separate policy away from work to ensure there is life insurance coverage during gaps in employment or when the employee retires. Some life insurance policies will reduce coverage upon retirement, and some policies are not portable. These are all questions which employees should be asking their life insurance agent to investigate while they are considering purchasing life insurance protection. Consumers should review their life insurance every two years to ensure here is adequate protection for the family in the event of a catastrophe. Countless people have discovered, when it was too late, that their life insurance policy was inadequate to pay for final expenses or to protect the family.

Throughout the month of September, there will be articles available to help educate consumers on the importance of protecting the family with life insurance. Subscribe to this blog to keep up on latest developments.

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Adding Value to Employee Benefits

August 6, 2014


Employees who take advantage of the benefits package that their employees offer tend to be more devoted to their employers, display more job satisfaction, and are more conscientious about their work. The cost of health insurance may have increased for many workers due to the recent enactment of changes in health care through the Obama administration. Therefore, many employers are offering supplemental benefits to help offset the costs of out-of-pocket expenses for the employees.

One of the most popular supplemental benefit is the Accidental Death Indemnity policy or the Accidental Death and Dismemberment Benefit Rider. This benefit offers an additional amount equal to the face amount of the policy or the life insurance policy, if purchased as a rider. If death to the named insured ensues resulting from an accident on a common carrier, such as a train, bus, or airplane, the beneficiary on the policy would receive an additional amount as specified in the policy.

To derive the maximum benefit from the policy, anyone who travels quite frequently during the year on trips, whose work includes driving frequently to appointments, or who operates machinery or other vehicles during the course of their employment, should seriously consider purchasing this policy or adding a rider to their life insurance policy.

Another factor to consider in adding the rider or purchasing an accidental death indemnity policy, is the increase in accidents due to cell phone use. People who use cell phones while driving are four times more likely to have an accident. Teens and sales professionals have been using cell phones while driving in recent years, causing many fatal accidents. Because of the catastrophic losses sustained in legal battles with the victim’s families, some major corporations have undertaken a policy to prohibit their sales professionals from using cell phones while driving. Teens have been responsible for approximately twelve percent of all automobile accidents.

An employee could purchase the policy on himself/herself and add riders to cover a spouse and children. The additional amount of protection would be advantageous to the beneficiaries at the time of loss. As with all other life insurance policies, there are exclusions under the policy which would place limitations on whether the beneficiary could collect a benefit in certain types of accidents.

In conclusion, anyone who earns a living while driving a vehicle or who frequently travels by common carrier should consider purchasing an accidental death and dismemberment policy or adding the rider to their supplemental benefits policy or personal life insurance policy.


Naming Beneficiaries on a Life Insurance Policy

March 7, 2014


Perhaps one of the most sensitive issues in managing a life insurance policy is in choosing beneficiaries. If we have been responsible enough to buy life insurance, we must also be responsible enough to appoint the best person to collect the proceeds, use it wisely, and fulfill our wishes as to how the proceeds should be spent.

One of the benefits of life insurance proceeds is that they can be collected with having to be probated. The beneficiary simply notifies the life insurance company of the death of the policyholder, and the insurance company processes the claim. A check is then issued to the beneficiary within a few days to a few weeks, after the insurance company has determined that the beneficiary has a right of claim according to the terms of the insurance contract.

If the policy being considered is to pay the final expenses of a burial, a spouse should be named as the beneficiary, since, he or she will be the one to make the funeral arrangements. Usually one beneficiary is needed, but the policyholder can name a contingent beneficiary, if the beneficiary dies before the policyholder has a chance to name another, or if both the policyholder and the beneficiary were to die together in an accident. The policyholder can change the name of the beneficiaries as often as he/she feels necessary.

For larger policies which are being created to fund a trust or to give money to multiple members of the family, the policyholder can name more than one beneficiary along with the percentage of the proceeds to which each has been assigned. In this way, the proceeds can be collected without having to go to probate and the proceeds are tax free.

It is important to choose a beneficiary wisely as this is going to be the person who will carry out your wishes. If you decide to tell the person you have chosen to be a beneficiary, it would be wise to make it clear how the money will be spent. It is also wise to have a will which will detail your wishes for the settlement of your estate. Many people have disputed the settlement of estates and the decisions as outlined in a will.

If a policyholder does not have a next of kin or does not wish to name a beneficiary from the family, he/she can name his/her estate as the beneficiary. In this way, when the estate is settled, the probate judge will disperse the funds according to his own discretion. As it takes two or three years to settle an estate, or maybe longer, the family will have to wait for the probate judge to make a decision. This could interfere with the funeral arrangements if there exists no other insurance or proceeds to pay these expenses. This is why a life insurance is necessary for the payment of final expenses.

The probate laws for each state are different and it is important for all the involved parties to know how the laws are interpreted. If there are questions, a lawyer can help ensure that the family follows the laws of the state and the instructions outlined in the will.

Rhode Islanders and Healthy Nutrition

January 23, 2014


I have been covering for a friend who owns a nutrition club in Middletown, Rhode Island and I am amazed at the number of people who are taking care of their bodies. I have met several people who have lost several pounds through nutritious protein shakes and working out at the local gym.

It is great to observe people trying to prolong their lives and even have a better quality of life. When people live longer, they need more savings set aside to ensure that they have an income throughout their retirement. This means planning for the future with retirement plans and life insurance. Because people are healthier, they can work more hours to earn extra income.

In conclusion, taking care of the body through diet and exercise will enable consumers to work more hours in order to eliminate their debt and accumulate more money.

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