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Fax: (562) 904-0546
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~ Merchant Credit ~
Part One of Two
Fraud wears many
hats. Most of us have never experienced fraud at craft shows,
but suddenly there's feedback about deliberate theft by giving
wrong contact information and a stolen or
'maxed-out' credit card.
you process checks, you should ask
to see their driver's license, and to take down the information, -
including the ID number the state has assigned. You also have
the right to ask to see another credit card - look at it to
see if it has the same name on it as the one you have been asked to
use, - but you may not write down the account numbers.
just to ensure the name and/or photo matches the driver's
Visa/MasterCard and other credit cards now have in their contract
that you are obligated to check identification for sales over a
certain point, (floor limit). It makes sense, and you should
certainly take the few seconds to look at the drivers' license,
photo ID, etc. to safeguard your sale!
cover the following Eastern US States:
would like to mail your credit card information, or to send a check,
here for an order form to print out. Then fax or mail it in.)
Sell More at Art & Craft
We've received lots of inquiries about
merchant credit, via email and by phone. Although we are happy to
answer individually, for every spoken query there are probably ten or
more people who are wondering about being able to accept Visa or other
credit cards for payment.
Typical of the questions we get are:
do I find out about merchant credit? "
be surprised if your local banks and some advertisers don’t
want to do business with home-based businesses . They can express this
in many ways: they can simply say “We won’t do
business with you because you’re a home-based
business”, or they can hike up the fees.
Several years ago I researched
the subject and found that it’s common for merchant credit
arrangements to vary considerably in their fees and contracts. For
instance, at times there used to be an application fee, which ran
$100 - $300, and these same companies often charged extra for a check on
your credit history, ($50.) They may also tack on a fee
per-transaction, (.05 - .20, or more) and a batch-out fee (.50). Things
are more competitive now, I think you'll find it easier applying for
merchant credit privileges.
This means if you have 3 charge
slips, you are charged .05 to .20 each (.15 - .60 for 3 sales) plus your batch
out fee (another 30 cents?) at the end of the day when you
transmit these transactions in a 'batch.' These charges are
in addition to your discount rate, (the percentage of the transaction
you pay, which ranges from 1.6% - 4.75% depending on the company and
your contract, and whether you key-in the information, or whether you
swipe the card, for the lowest rates.
Other possible fees:
· Monthly fees for the privilege of having
merchant credit or for a statement. How can you do business
without an end-of-month statement of transactions? This is a
common industry-wide expense, varying from about $8 - $12.50
. We'll call this one a 'necessary evil.'
A monthly minimum: if you don’t
process enough transactions to assure the credit company of $15-$30 in
fees through the discount rate on the sales you process, they may
charge a minimum fee between $15 and $30.
· Some contracts have a
They can withhold funds up to 6 months, -or more, because as a new
account you’re considered a risk(?). I’ve heard of
them withholding $1,000; if you don’t read the very fine
print, - or ask the right questions, you won’t know until it
companies will close your account if you have no activity for two or
three months. It’s a hassle to reopen it, and there may be
extra fees. Working as an artist or artisan is a seasonal business. There may be several months in which you have little or no
business, without processing any charges in that time period. Go with a
company that is used to working with home-based businesses and
won’t penalize your business for being seasonal or for being
need at least an imprint unit, (ballpark $25-$50+/-) and maybe a
cell-phone to use on-site for authorizations. You may also need a modem
if the credit company won’t accept paperwork and insists that
you swipe or key in information (a P.O.S. unit has a modem in the unit,
and uses cellular technology for transmissions. You may prefer to buy
or lease to buy the equipment so that you’ll end up ahead,
financially, over a period of time, as opposed to just renting
it. (Rarely, if ever, will you find a bank or a rep who will
arrange to let you work with 'paper' transactions. )
Banks are trying to get away from
paper: they charge more for giving authorizations by phone
instead of using a swipe unit/modem key pad and processing on their end
with paperwork. It makes sense: they
have to pay someone to answer your phone calls.)
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