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During my two decades in this industry, I have heard many complaints from merchants relative to their merchant accounts. The most common one, however, seems to be that they simply don’t fully understand all that they are being charged.  Have you ever felt this way yourself?  Don’t feel bad since you are like the majority of merchants I come in contact with.  Unfortunately, it’s quite often by design that you are pretty much kept in the dark about your merchant services.  Hopefully, this site, my email course and frequently posted articles, will help bring clarity and enlightenment.

I’m assuming that since you are on my site, that you are either a merchant, or accountant  that has a desire to learn more about credit card processing.  Hopefully, your visit today won’t be disappointing.  Take some time to read a few articles but, most importantly, fill in the form at the right and subscribe to my FREE email course entitled “Understanding Credit Card Processing”.  It has recently been updated to include information on EMV and NFC technology which is a MUST READ.  This course was originally being sold nationally, on this site, for $47.  It received great acclaim from merchants for its thoroughness and great displeasure from those in the industry…for its, well, thoroughness.  I felt that offering it for FREE would open up the opportunity for more hard working business owners to expand their knowledge.  By the time you’re done with the course, you’ll know more than probably 80% of the reps contacting you.  The easily digestible lessons are spread out over approximately a month so as to not be overwhelming.  I’m confident you will find the knowledge gathered to be extremely helpful so why not take it for a spin.  And, of course, rest assured, your name and email address are safe with me.

It’s unfortunate that in the world of credit card processing, there are numerous reps that are….well, let me just say, less than ethical.  Typically, it’s not their fault as they have had less than stellar training.  The bottom line is this….all processors have the same cost so, consequently, every one of them could, theoretically offer the same pricing to you.  But, what happens when a rep walks thru your door….”I’ll bet I can offer you better rates than you’re currently paying“.  They mostly focus on rates, don’t they?  Sound familiar?  Well, honestly, it’s not just about rates and, as a merchant, that shouldn’t be your focus either.  Ask lot’s of questions (you’ll find some good ideas in the course) of those trying to sell you and, in addition, be cognizant of how many questions they are asking you about your business and how you transact business.  Are they truly interested in offering and providing “solutions” or are they primarily interested in just “selling” you?  My success in this business has always been by developing, and maintaining, mutually rewarding relationships.  That’s what you should be looking for and hopefully, you’ll discover information here that will be beneficial in that endeavor.  Remember, Benjamin Franklin once said…”An investment in knowledge, pays the best interest“.

Keep in mind that while I will never actively solicit your processing business here. I am, however, available to answer any questions that you may have regarding your current relationship.  And, if after spending some time here, you desire my assistance with your credit card processing needs, I would welcome the opportunity.

I have relationships with several merchant services providers and will place your business with the most appropriate entity that will provide exactly what your needs require and do so in a totally transparent manner.  I can offer truly FREE EQUIPMENT along with no long-term contract like most processors insist on.  I believe we need to “earn” your business daily with superb customer service and great rates rather than simply keep your business because you’re tied to a contract.  Additionally, I can help by providing other business solutions for increasing your sales and, subsequently, your bottom line.

While this site is primarily about merchant services, you will sometimes see articles posted discussing other marketing and business ideas that I have found to be beneficial to business owners.

So, with that said, welcome and thanks for coming by.   If you have any specific questions or comments, please post them here.  If there’s a business related type topic that you’d like to see covered, please let me know.

To Your Continued Success

P.S.  If you’ve found the content on this site, or in my e-course, to be helpful or enlightening, please share it with others utilizing the helpful buttons at the bottom of each article.  You may also subscribe to the RSS button below and add us to your feed burner, so that you will automatically be notified when new content is posted.  Thank You!

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Posted in business services, credit card processing, marketing, merchant accounts, merchant services, Visa and MasterCard | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments


As you may recall, October 2015 ushered in a new era in the credit/debit card acceptance and   processing world.  This date was supposedly when credit card transactions in the U.S. were going to become considerably more secure.  This “deadline” was for merchants and card-issuing entities to be ready to process so-called “chip-and-PIN” cards instead of the legacy “swipe-and-signature” kind.  While last October’s deadline for the shift to occur was not a legal mandate, it, unfortunately, encouraged many in the merchant services industry to utilize it as a total money grab.  One of the most significant changes that took place in October was the liability shift from issuers to merchants for fraudulent transactions.  However, there are details that weren’t discussed with merchants and instead, fear motivation was being utilized to get merchants to make the move to new terminals at a cost.

Even still, recent estimates indicate that the percentage of merchants now equipped with these new terminals range from 17 to 37 percent.  U.S. consumers currently can expect to find chip cards accepted in checkout lines at fewer than one in five brick-and-mortar merchants.  And many merchants even if they “dip the chip” are still having the customer sign the receipt rather than validate it with a PIN.  Primarily, that’s because the issuing entities haven’t associated PIN’s with the majority of chip cards issued.  If a customer presents a chip-enabled card, but the merchant processes it as a swipe and signature, the merchant, not the issuing bank, is responsible for the cost of any resulting fraud. Even facing that risk, merchants seem to be slow in adapting to the new technology.  While it’s understandable, small merchants that aren’t making this adjustment in how they transact sales are increasingly becoming targets for the fraudsters.

So here’s how this works.  When you accept an EMV card in your business and the card turns out to be a cloned card, the issuing bank assumes the liability of that fraudulent transaction.  However, if a chip enabled card is presented and your POS terminal does not support chip enabled cards, and that card is cloned, you, the merchant bear the burden of the liability.  This could, quite obviously, be devastating to your business and livelihood.

There are really two forms of EMV transactions.  They can take the form of chip and pin or chip and signature.  Chip and pin is the more secure of the two, however, here in the U.S. we are still seeing predominantly chip and signature.  Big box retailers are advocating for the use of PIN-based cardholder verification because it affords an added, and critical, layer of protection against lost and stolen cards.  This is the next logical step but it will certainly take a while for full implementation.

Merchants will find that some, while very few, EMV cards, already have a PIN associated with them and the terminal will prompt and ask for one.  However, the majority of these chip enabled cards are currently still signature based.  In the meantime, for those signature based transactions, take precautions to help minimize the risk of accepting a fraudulent card.  Check the signature on the card to make sure it matches what is on the card.  And, ask customers for further identification especially on large transactions.  It’s going to take years for a total migration to take place so, in the meantime, be cautious for your own protection.

So, in summary, what do you need to know in today’s new environment?  First and foremost, you need to upgrade to the chip enabled technology.  However, don’t be talked into spending hundreds of dollars or signing a lease on a new terminal.  There are no cost alternatives that I can provide for you.  Once you have the new technology in place, utilize it.  When you accept a card that is chip enabled, plug it in rather than swipe it. The sooner you adapt to this new procedure, the more comfortable you and your customers will become with it.  If you’re still not comfortable with the process, call the Customer Service line for your provider and get some training.

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Increase Your Sales by 8-10% within 30 days

Marketing your business, in the past several years, has evolved into two-way conversation between you and your prospective customers.  The traditional practices of sending your offers to the masses in the hope of attracting wider audiences, is no longer truly effective in today’s digital age.  If you hope to survive and thrive in the 21st century, it is imperative that you learn and adapt to this style of lead generation that converts to increased awareness of your brand and conversion to an increase in sales.

Today’s style of marketing is, as it should be, focused on “engagement” with your potential audience.  Your communication to them may be, at times, simply information and education rather than a specific offer for your product.  You want to constantly work on building long-term relationships that will continue to grow. But let’s face it, with so many facets of your business vying for your attention, how do you add one more time consuming task to your daily activities?  When you consider the power and statistics of what proactive mobile and social media marketing can do for your business, you can’t help but find the time to devote to this profitable endeavor. Rather than cover the topic of statistics here, do a search for things like: SMS Text marketing statistics, or Email marketing statistics for further confirmation.

Are you effectively and regularly marketing thru all of these channels:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Your email list
  • Your SMS text marketing list
  • Your very own web site

Mobile and social media marketing is perfect for all types of business:  restaurants, bars, clubs, convenience stores, boutiques and clothing stores, health and beauty, automotive service or any kind of service business.  Simply, any business that is looking to increase traffic and drive repeat sales should be capitalizing on this form of marketing.  Stop and consider how powerful your attention to this form of marketing can affect your revenues:

  • Attract New Customers
  • Get more repeat store visits
  • Grow business lines
  • Fill empty seats, tee times, or slow hours
  • Increase average purchase
  • Sell perishable inventory quickly
  • Cater to your best customers with special offers
  • Bring back infrequent customers
  • Be creative….the ideas are endless

Recent studies have shown that 80% of small businesses currently use some form of social media marketing.  However, many aren’t utilizing this powerful resource to the capacity that is available to them.  They feel it is either too complicated or too time consuming.  In actuality, neither of these ideas is accurate.  With the proper tools and a simple to use interface, it’s really quite simple:

  • Create your offer
  • Send your offer out
  • Customer Redeems
  • Track your results

With the right tool, you can create your offer, customize it and send it to all five marketing channels listed above, with a single click of your mouse.  I have that tool available at such an affordable monthly cost, you’ll be anxious to get started with it right away.   If you’d like to check out a short video about the power and simplicity of this tool, simply click HERE .  In addition to this phenomenal tool, I offer FREE EMV TERMINALS, FREE RETAIL/RESTAURANT POINT OF SALE HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE, NO CONTRACT TERMS, TOTALLY TRANSPARENT INTERCHANGE PLUS PRICING AND EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE.  Let me help increase your sales and improve your bottom line.  Contact me directly for complete information.

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Posted in Business Growth, Business Management, business services, credit card processing, EMV Technology, marketing, merchant services, mobile text marketing, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drive Sales with Creative Marketing

Running a business and trying to continue to increase sales and profitability is a never ending chore.  You need to constantly be staying ahead of the crowd with your marketing techniques in order to thrive.  So, what are you doing and how effective is it for you?  I may have some ideas for you.

As a merchant services rep and small business consultant, I’ve been privileged to see some ingenious ideas during my career.  For years, merchants have used gift certificates but these were primarily purchased by someone to give as a gift to someone else.  Well, along came gift cards which open the door for more creative uses.  I remember when they were first introduced but merchants didn’t take to them too much at first.  After all, their “gift certificate” program was working just fine for them.  But then, some creativity set in and whole new ideas were put in place for them.

When a customer made a return to the store, instead of a refund, the amount of the original purchase was put on a gift card which, of course, meant the customer had to come back to the store to redeem.  And consider the following statistics regarding gift cards:

72% of customers will spend MORE than the value of their card

On average the recipient will spend 20% MORE than their gift card value

90% of gift cards are used within the first 60 days

Now as good as this sounds, you still need to get people to your establishment before they can purchase a gift card, don’t you (unless of course you have an online presence where they can make a purchase)?

Maybe you’ve got a great location and people stop in, just because.  Or maybe they find you in the yellow pages (remember those things).  Possibly you use some form of print media in a local publication that gives some percentage off or a BOGO offer.  Maybe you’re really more technologically adept and utilize some form of social media to get them there….great for you.  But, once they’ve been in what are you doing to capture their contact information so you can proactively market to them in the future?  Obviously, since they’ve been in your business, something about it drew them there and you want to keep them coming back.  So, how are you doing that?  I’ve got some ideas to share with you that maybe you haven’t implemented just yet….but you should.

What are you doing to capture email addresses?  There is a certain “style” and “technique” to do this, of course.  People don’t like randomly giving out their email addresses because of all the spam they already get so you’ve got to make it worth their while.  And, rather than asking “would you like to be on our email list” (bad deal….don’t ever ask a closed end question where the answer can only be YES or NO).  Instead, say something like, “If you’d like to join our Preferred Customer List and receive advance notice of sales or new merchandise simply put your email address on this list (and of course you have to have a list on the counter) and in addition, you’ll receive 10% off your purchase today”.  You’re giving them an immediate gratification reward in exchange for their email address and now they feel special being on your “Preferred” list.  Once you have their address, you can load them into an autoresponder (which by the way is very simple to do) and in a matter of minutes, you’ll be able to send out a blast email for specials in the future which, of course, drives sales.  If you’re not already doing this, you need to get on it right away.  It’s one of the most effective and cost efficient forms of marketing that you can do.  The autoresponder that I have used for years is Get Response.  I would highly recommend that you check it out now by CLICKING HERE for a 30 day FREE TRIAL.

Next, I want you to consider…..oh, hold on just a second, I need to check this text message coming to my phone.  Ah hah, I was wondering where I would take my wife for a nice Valentines Day dinner and that text just firmed it up.  I opted in to one of our favorite restaurants text program a while back and the text that came in is offering half off the second entree on Valentines Day.  If you’re not utilizing SMS text marketing to drive sales in the most effective, INSTANT marketing methods on the planet, then you’re really missing out on sales.  Consider the following SMS text marketing facts and statistics:

SMS campaigns have over 7 times greater performance than email campaigns

90% of mobile device users who were enrolled in SMS loyalty clubs felt they had benefited from being involved in the program

Coupons delivered via SMS have redemption rates 10 times higher than those of printed coupons

90% of all SMS text messages are read within three minutes

The open rate for SMS text messages is 98% compared to 22% for email

Mobile offers are redeemed 10X more frequently than print offers

90% of consumers that have joined Mobile Loyalty Programs feel they have gained value from them

70% of consumers say they would actually like to receive offers on their mobile devices

SMS text message marketing is one of the most powerful mobile channels you can use and that’s why major brands rely on it to drive engagement and sales.  Simply put, YOU’RE CRAZY NOT TO ADD MOBILE MARKETING TO YOUR CURRENT STRATEGY.  Let’s face it, everywhere you look, people are texting.  Why not get right in their face, in an instant, and creatively drive sales and profits.  While SMS text marketing doesn’t really have a proper application in my type of business, pretty much all of my clients have tremendous potential with this form of marketing.  I’ve highly recommended ProTexting to them and once you check them out, you’ll see why.  Check over in the side bar on the right and you’ll see an ad for them.  Simply click on it and you’ll be on our way.

Well, that’s it for now.  I gotta run out and take advantage of that “special” on Paczki’s that I just received on my phone.  I mean hey, it is FAT TUESDAY and this creative marketer has got my business.  Then it’s off to the gym tomorrow!!!

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Merchants At Risk for Not Using EMV Properly

As you know, October 2015 ushered in EMV technology into the payments industry.  This new technology affects customers from  a security standpoint but, in addition, it protects merchants against significant financial risks….when utilized!

As you might imagine, the task to replace all credit and debit cards held by customers, has been, and still continues to be, a huge task.  Have all of your personal cards been replaced with chip embedded smart cards?  I still have some in my wallet that have yet to be replaced.  But, even when I shop and use my smart card, it’s pretty rare that the cashier has me insert the card rather than swipe it.  This defeats the whole purpose of having a smart card and the merchant is subjecting themselves to huge financial risks due to the risk shift that took place in October.

In essence, if a merchant has a EMV enabled machine, their first method of accepting payment is by utilizing the technology properly.  That would be, of course, requesting that the customer insert their card into the machine and leave it in for the duration of the transaction. Swiping the card is now to be a secondary option if, for some reason the machine can’t read the chip card.  In that case, it’s considered a “fallback” transaction and the merchant is protected from financial risk when the need for swiping presents itself.

Have you noticed this yourself when you’ve been out shopping?  Have cashiers been instructing you to “insert your card and leave it in for the duration of the transaction“?  In questioning merchants why they aren’t using the technology correctly, they tell me that it’s either “too much trouble” or “I don’t understand it”.  Both of these answers are not good and merchants really don’t understand the potential risk they are taking.  This lack of understanding, quite frankly, falls on the shoulders of their processing provider.

If you’re reading this and not currently using this new technology as it was meant to be used, contact your provider for training, immediately for training.  Worse yet, if you haven’t yet acquired new terminals then that’s something that you need to get on.

I hope this information has been informative and helpful.  Thanks for reading

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EMV Frequently Asked Questions

October of 2015 ushered in one of the most significant changes in the acceptance of credit/debit cards for payment of goods and services. EuroPay, MasterCard and Visa, or more commonly referred to as EMV is providing a huge step in protecting merchants and their customers from fraud. However, with the implementation of EMV, has come much misunderstanding and, in some cases, misplaced fear. My hope is that the format and content of this article will bring about much needed clarity. So, with that said, let’s begin:

Is it true that, as a business owner, if I accept a lost, stolen or fraudulently replicated credit card for payment that I could be financially liable for losses?
Well, in a word, yes you could be potentially liable. To limit and possibly eliminate your risk, you must absolutely be utilizing an EMV equipped terminal. Many merchants are still using the old, now outdated, credit card terminals with mag-stripe readers, which puts them at unnecessary risk.

Where and how can I get one of these new terminals?
Your current merchant services provider should be able to upgrade you with a new terminal, most likely at some cost. More than likely there have also been many sales types knocking on your door, instilling fear in you regarding this risk shift and have attempted to sell you a new terminal, or worse yet, set you up in an iron-clad long term lease. Unfortunately, there have been many, in this industry that have utilized this massive change in the payment landscape as an opportunity for personal financial gain. Be informed, free terminals are also available to merchants.

How are these new EMV terminals different than the terminals we have been using for years?
While at first glance, these new terminals look very similar to your existing terminal because they still have the mag-stripe reader on them (we’ll discuss why in a future question). The difference is that the new terminals have a slot where a smart chip embedded credit card is inserted into the machine rather than simply being swiped.

So, when I accept the card for payment, how is it actually processed differently?
Your customers insert the “chipped” end of the credit card into the smart chip reader found on your EMV ready terminal and the card remains there for the duration of the transaction. This allows the chip to create a unique, one-time use digital signature for that specific transaction, which the terminal is able to read, decipher and encrypt. In turn, this direct communication between the card and terminal greatly minimizes the risk related to fraudulent transactions. Further, the data transmitted by the EMV chip card is constantly changing, making it nearly impossible to replicate.

It seems like that process would take quite a bit longer than swiping a card.
The transaction time may take a few seconds longer simply because of the additional required security steps. However, remember, this additional time is for yours as well as your customer’s protection. EMV contactless transactions can also be performed utilizing a NFC (Near Field Communication) equipped terminal. These transactions are slightly faster than those where the card is inserted.

What happens if the chip in a card becomes damaged and can’t be read be read by my machine?
It’s pretty unlikely that a chip would become damaged because they are pretty well-embedded in the card. However, if you do experience this situation you would simply perform what is called a fallback transaction using the mag-stripe reader. In this scenario, there would be no need for you to be concerned about liability for fraudulent transactions because you had EMV equipment in place and it did not cause the inability to process the transaction. In fact, the point-of-sale terminal will document that the more secure chip embedded form of transaction was initiated first.

If the chip is damaged, can the card number be manually entered?
If the card/chip is damaged and cannot be read, the machine will prompt the customer to re-insert the card a couple times. If it still can’t be read, the mag-stripe reader should be used as discussed above. While manually keying in the transaction is an option, it could have liability shift consequences which you want to avoid at all costs.

I’ve heard that some chip cards require a pin while others require a signature. What is the difference?
The card issuing entity determines whether the cards they issue require a pin or signature. This EMV migration is huge in the payments industry and issuers want to make it as simple as possible for consumers. Since consumers are already accustomed to providing a signature for credit card transactions, this is what will be prevalent in the marketplace, at least for now.

Will the EMV liability shift that went into effect in October 2015, cause any change in Interchange Rates?
While Interchange Rate changes, either up or down, is always a possibility, there have been none as of this writing that were a direct result of EMV implementation.

While this article is not meant to be an exhaustive representation on the topic of EMV, it does, I feel cover the most frequently asked questions. We will continue to see this industry evolve and become much more sophisticated over the coming years for the protection of all involved.

One more point of information for you.  If you are looking for a new, totally ethical, transparent merchant services provider that provides totally FREE equipment and NO CONTRACT COMMITMENT, then look no further….I’m your guy.

I hope this new year presents you with new opportunities and increased profitability in your business as well as a renewed sense of purpose for your life.

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