Wednesday at 6PM the store owner called me to to report that credit cards were taking 2 minutes to process again. I went over to verify that and look things over for an easy solution. Just as before nothing on site is to blame.
This time around I am going to get the store a new merchant account with a different company – who uses a different network. The new network is compatible with the POS being employed at the store and does not require a 3rd party solution for the interface. This puts me in that proprietary situation I mentioned in the last post I did regarding POS Credit Cards. However, after speaking with the sales staff I was re-assured that the deal would be geared toward matching a rate we currently have.
I have already informed all parties having a relationship with the current credit card system what the plan is.
The store owner said that he fears a year from now that they will just raise the rates. He also wants to correct the problem quickly and wondered if we could try something else with the current provider. I explained that I have exhausted all possibilities with the current credit card processor. I have asked them for a different solution. They have informed me there are no other solutions that they have. I said the wise thing is to move to a different credit card processor. He agreed but, he wanted me to verify that the sales for the last two days settled. I checked and they had. So today I will be negotiating with another credit card processing company to get the same deal or something better. That will be hard to do because the current rates they have are very very good.
I get calls from local businesses all the time. Every call is about something broken or something that is needed. One of the nice things about providing a good solution is having a positive effect on people. If your working with a business your success impacts the staff and the people it serves. That’s a great experience!
Today I finished implementing a credit card processing solution for a new business in Marion IL. This project has lasted a few weeks. Sometimes getting computer software to work well with credit card processing networks isn’t easy.
Let me explain how that works. Commonly a Point Of Sale (POS) system will be designed in a proprietary fashion. They brand it and build it in a way so there are controls in place on how their product is used and by whom. This sometimes forces a merchant to purchase credit card processing through the proprietary vendor who sold the POS system. Proprietary vendors almost always charges higher rates on credit and debit card transactions than the market is offering. The vendor will have larger profits this way as long as they keep getting new customers on their contracts. Most new business owners just don’t know the details and they get whatever they sign up for. I think sometimes the programmer just picks one processor to limit the chaos of having to provide a payment interface to multiple different networks.
My processor reseller, Linda, is a free agent who I trust to offer credit card processing solutions to my customers. I normally have several suggestions on what POS software solutions will work well with each business. I provide that information to the owners and when they have had time to look at the options and make a choice I have them take their decision to Linda. Linda works out the CC processing accounts. She does a great job getting the best deals.
The POS software purchased at this new business uses a 3rd party software solution to interface with the “non-proprietary” credit card networks. The network Linda provided has discount rates that are less than 2%. Unfortunately, the first day we connected the POS system and programmed it to use that network there was a problem. All of the credit card and debit transactions were taking 80 seconds. There is one stand-alone credit card machine on the counter that is also used to accept checks electronically. They were using it to process credit and debit cards since the POS card swipes were so slow.
During the troubleshoot I looked at the local network, the operating systems, the antivirus solutions, I tried using a different router, I ran the 3rd party app from a completely different system, and I tried running a different version of the 3rd party app. No change that was made on site had any effect on the slow speed of these transactions. So I could prove the problem was not on site. It is important to do that. In situations such as this I am working through three degrees of separation from the credit card processor. Every vendor associated with the credit card system is blaming another vendors system. You have to be able to isolate who’s system is not performing. This was a bad configuration for the account the business had on credit card processors front end network.
As soon as the troubleshoot was done I ordered a pin pad for the stand-alone credit card machine so they could run debt transactions from there also. A day later Linda and I set the 3rd party app to temporarily use a different network. The business needed to use that solution until a new permanent credit card processing account was ready. It takes about a week for a merchant credit card processing account to be created. They have a lot of security and regulations to take into consideration. They have to interface directly with the merchants bank account.
Monday I received a call from the processor that the account was ready. This morning I went over to the store and spent an hour on the phone with the credit card processor and the support team for the 3rd party software. We re-programmed the 3rd party software to use the new account that was built. I am excited to say it worked. Both credit and debit cards are running as fast as 2 seconds from the POS system. They are very happy and so am I!
I received a very interesting call today. This customer called in from about an hour away and said that he had a Dell Net book that he purchased from a friend and it had a virus. He wanted to know if I could fix that. So I met him for lunch at a local restaurant and we spoke about the situation.
To me it is important to fully understand how a computer is used by its owner before I ever touch it. I have a name for that conversation. It is a “Free 15 minute consultation” even when that talk takes longer. This individual is retired and used it to access email. He has had the laptop for 2 years. He said he was using windows mail and that he liked to use the FireFox browser and did not want to lose his bookmarks. He was also considering writing a book. So he needed the Open Office suite to get it all down and then convert it over to PDF.
A net book from Dell, at least this one, is a very small computer. So small it doesn’t even have an optical drive. There is no recovery CD shipped with these systems. It is loaded on the internal drive as a recovery partition. For any individual with a net book the question becomes, “Is it trash? and “Do I just need to buy another one?”. And if you answered yes then you probably lost everything on that computer that was near and dear to you. Thats the beauty of what I do. I restore lost data on a daily basis. Whatever the reason your computer has failed my number one goal is to get your files back.
Lets look at the price tags. You can buy a net book for roughly $250. He said he got this from a friend. He did mention the Geek Squad visit that he backed out of. I don’t know exactly what the problem was there but I think it was a miss-communication over the cost they would charge to provide the solution. That was last Friday.
He thought no one was open over the weekend (Midnight Tech is but he did not know that). So he wanted to call today. He found my business in the Verizon super-pages telephone book.
This gentleman most likely wants to spend less than $200 and thats good because I would not have charged that much anyway. I am glad to have had the opportunity to look this guy in the eye and know that I am really going to be helping him out. It will take me 2 hours he should have it back by Wednesday unless this needs a new hard drive or something along those lines. From what I can see it is in pretty good shape.
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