Merchant processing. If you’re in the business of selling anything these days, you’ve got to have a merchant service. Few people carry cash; most are reliant on their debit and credit cards to buy things, including beer.
These days merchant processing fees are a necessary evil, if you’ve got a business.
I swear, there’s gotta be thousands of merchant services doing business in Washington State. Not a day goes by where a sales guy or gal is stopping in or calling unexpectedly. Every time, my response, “No thanks, I’m very happy with my current merchant provider.” Some are persistent and will try to waste my time, attempting to drag me into their pitches. I know these sales folk are people too, so I don’t want to be rude, but some become like mosquitoes, buzzing around, trying to stick it in me and bleed off a percentage of my business gross $.
Lately I feel this response of mine is a bit of a white lie. Following is open letter to my merchant provider, of whom I don’t seem to get any return call from manager or sales representative.
My dear Merchant Service Processing provider,
Two years ago we first talked. It was I who called you, seeking a service offering lower fees than my current provider. I had asked around to other small business owners for several months before I called you. I called you because of your stellar recommendation for good customer service and low & competitive rates. I talked to nearly a dozen other small business owners about their merchant service providers before checking with you. That’s how stellar your referral was.
When you told me you’d drop off thermal paper for my merchant processing machine each month, I thought that was a really cool extra benefit. (To this day, I have never received a single roll.)
The transfer and setup went with a few bumps, but having been through this before I knew that was to be expected. You assigned a brand new technician to my account, so together we learned things like: “If you do a software download on the terminal, you must first make sure all the settings are either correctly programmed at the master source, at least the parts that aren’t programmable from the terminal itself.”
The deposits from sales made with debit, MasterCard, Discover, and Visa have gone into my business bank account without a hitch, and on the schedule we discussed.
The savings per month, as you indicated. Thank you.
Also, when I asked how to run cards — debit vs. credit — for sales amount to lose the least amount of fees, you weren’t flippant like my previous provider. You actually took the time to look into it and get back to me. You also gave me advice to purchase my terminal instead of renting it. The result? With owning my terminal and swiping cards as you instructed, I’m on track to save $100–150 every month.
At that time, you also tracked down all the information on our gift card service, which I was told is some third-party service to First Data Services. I realize this took some homework on your side. My original sales contact said the information would go into our file.
This January there was issue with a gift card. We needed to check full activation and discharge status, my husband called to get information. The number on the back of the gift card only gives current balance in a computerized voice, with no historical data. This puts us reliant on you for a phone number for the third-party service where a live human is present to speak with us. He called our tech to get support and was told he would be gotten back to.
A few weeks after that, a second customer requested gift card historical activation and discharge status. This time, I contacted the technician. I also asked status on the previous card. He didn’t have a number for the gift card service and pointed me to First Data. I contacted First Data and was told that the gift card service was through a third-party and my merchant provider would be able to assist. I again returned to my technician for support.
I have followed up with my technician on this every four-to-six weeks since that time. Long-suffering and patient. We gave the two customers benefit of the doubt and re-issued gift cards for them back in Jan/Feb. I can’t make them wait according to your time schedule; that would be poor service on my part. My business depends on my customers. I can’t leave them waiting.
Sometime late spring my technician sent me email with logon instructions to check our merchant account online. It appears that he didn’t check it before sending to me as there was zero gift card information therein.
That’s all cool that the gift card history may be accessible to view online. My technician seems to be attempting to go beyond what I’d hoped for… All I requested was a phone number with a human to talk to, to ask for history information from, unless this was information that he could provide. (He was given both gift card numbers back in Jan/Feb.)
So, I continue to check in with him.
Mid-summer, I receive a notice from the State Liquor Control Board requiring EBT be turned off on my merchant processing machine. I asked my technician for a letter confirming this. I requested it twice via email. Both times I was told it would be forwarded to me. I still have never received this. I still need it to forward to my WSLCB agent.
Three times I have requested from your business, suggested that, “Perhaps my technician has a full plate and someone in the office could assist him with my account?” Not once has anyone else other than my assigned technician responded. My technician, a nice guy, always apologetic, but doesn’t follow through in a timely manner. I do believe he has too much on his plate, or perhaps my business is a low-priority account because you offered such low pricing to us to sign us on, you are not making enough money from us to allow us to “depend on you.”
I visit your website and read:
You can put your trust in (us). We provide exceptional personal service and all of our services and products are guaranteed.
We have been in business for nearly 10 years and our unparalleled service, competitive prices, and overall value are why our loyal merchants won’t go anywhere else. We look forward to serving you!
OUR BUSINESS DEPENDS ON YOU, THE WAY YOU CAN DEPEND ON US!
(Bold emphasis added.)
I get sad reading that. I call and leave message (I have never gotten a live person, just voicemail), I try my original sales contact’s mobile number to discover she is no longer at the company, I email the general address and through the website. Again, the only person I ever hear back from is my technician. And that is never very timely.
I was happy when my technician called two weeks ago to tell me he had a solution for me, so I could finally see gift card history. I was apprehensive when he told me it would require a new software download. We have been through software downloads before. Nearly 90% of the time a new download means something else changes. We are creatures of habit here. Change to routine doesn’t come easy. Yes, I was apprehensive. Past experience tells me we need to do software upgrades and installs at least an hour prior to opening, or after closing, so that everything is in working condition when our customers are in-store.
Thus, I scheduled this appointment for Tuesday, September 4th at 9:00 a.m. That would give my technician an hour to get the software download in place, for us to confirm everything is in working order, the card processing, the closing procedure the same, running of card deposits and rentals also the same. It would also give me time to re-verify with him the EBT is off; to, again, request the letter for the WSLCB.
I arrive shortly after 8 a.m. to do my normal opening routine so that I can be available to assist with those operating verifications when the technician is in.
9:00 a.m. I see a car pull up. Looks like it could be yours. Nope. Some other merchant service.
I pull out my mobile phone. No message. He must be running late.
I look again. Nope.
I look again. There is a message. His phone got wet. He couldn’t call in advance because he has plumbing issues.
He says he’s been calling the main store line. We never answer the main line before or after hours. My cell number, as my husband’s, should both be in your company files.
Grr. I have heard “Plumbing Issues” as a call-off before (not from you); that doesn’t settle well. And wait until 15 minutes after appointment? WTH? I normally work a 12-1/2 hour day on Tuesday, coming in early put it at 13-1/2. I am tired. I am angry that I have been strung along for eight months now over this when all I originally asked for was a phone number with a human on the other end of the line. Grr. Yes, I am frustrated. Perturbed. Even a little angry. It has been eight months for this solution, only to be put off again.
He wanted to reschedule for later that day. I said no. I can reschedule for next Tuesday, September 11th at 9:00 a.m. I can’t inconvenience my customers by making them wait during business hours. The merchant processing terminal needs to be up and running all day; there’s no time for software downloads and verifications during business hours.
I also need to reorder gift cards. I have also mentioned this to him in earlier conversations this year. I requested an order form. He said he would get it to me; it was in the office.
I send him reminder when it doesn’t come.
Next day he tells me a sales gal in the office will be completing the form and sending it to me for signature. I ask for art specifications, order quantities and costs. He doesn’t reply. I email your business through the website requesting info and a phone call. No reply. Three days later, still no reply from my technician. No reply from the office.
Sure, I may be happy with your prices. But I am less than happy with the “unparalleled service” — thankfully, it is truly unparalleled. My last merchant service provider wasn’t that great, but at least he’d give me phone numbers when I requested them. At this point, I just don’t know what to say, other than: I am saddened.