Merchant Services : Reviews and Expectations
The primary costs to a merchant of merchant accounts are discount rate and transactions fees. The merchant account provider has a lot of latitude in the pricing structure.
Three tier pricing of Merchant Services is one of the most common pricing schemes. Using 3 tiers pricing, the merchant account provider groups the transactions into 3 groups (tiers) and assigns a rate to each tier. The three tiers are qualified, mid-qualified and non-qualified rates.
A qualified rate is the lowest tier. It is what a merchant is charged when processing a consumer credit card in a way that has been defined as standard by the merchant account provider. The qualified rates is what is usually quoted by merchant account salespeople. A mid-qualified rate is what the merchant is charged if processing a transaction outside of standard parameters. A mid-qualified rate may apply to rewards or corporate cards, which can comprise up to 40% of the cards used for purchases. The Merchant Services, of course, has no control over what card a consumer uses.
What is a Merchant Account? A retail establishment is able to accept credit cards, debit cards, electronic gift and loyalty cards through the medium of a "merchant account" established with a credit card processing firm. Merchant accounts or credit card processing services are provided by merchant banks or Merchant Service Providers (MSP).
A merchant or retail establishment benefits from subscribing to credit card processing services by tapping into the huge potential held by sales generated through card transactions. Retail establishments with card processing services are a preferred choice among shoppers. Providing such payment options invite the shopper to spend a little extra than planned.
Credit Card Processing
The technology used to make acceptable credit card transactions involves a credit card terminal. This is a single piece of electronic equipment with a telephone like keypad connected to a power supply and a telephone connection. A credit card can either be swiped on this machine or details of the card can be manually keyed -in. The telephone connection is required to verify the validity of the card and authorize the transaction. Advancement in technology allows the same verification process to be completed through the internet or cellular networks.
Considerations in Subscribing to a Merchant Account
The financial gains and expenditures must be taken into account to devise a successful method to accept card transactions profitably or at a low cost. The key aspects that must be considered in deciding a favorable merchant account must include:
- The cost of the credit card terminal
- Charges or rates specified by the Merchant Service Provider
- Scope of Transactions
- Application and Setup costs
- Acceptability of major credit cards and
- Security of transactions
Merchant Services : Reviews and What to look for in a Merchant Account ?
Although many business owners use the terms, "return" and "chargeback" interchangeably, they do not have the same meaning. A merchant return is simply a means to repay a customer who decides not to keep a product or retain a service. Often, when a return is initiated, a merchant may credit the customer's account on the same credit card that was used initially at the time of the transaction. Store credit may also be an option when a customer requests a return.
The business practice of a return is between the merchant and the customer, and does involve any third party, such as the merchant account provider, it's acquiring back, or the cardholding associations.
In contrast, a chargeback typically involves third parties. Here, the customer does not announce dissatisfaction with the product / service (or bewilderment in even receiving the charge) to the merchant, but rather to the card-issuing bank. The merchant is eventually notified and can try to "win back" the funds that were taken away as a result of the chargeback.
Consequently, many merchants don't realize that if their chargeback ratio is 1-2%, their credit card processing account may be closed. Surprisingly, even refunds are calculated in this ratio, although their assigned "weight" is less than actual chargebacks. (I don't know the formula but I'm guessing that 5-10 refunds equal one chargeback.)
Ethical and fair-minded business owners, especially those who run businesses with solid past credit card processing records, need not worry too much about the possibility of a closed merchant account. As time elapses, the relationship between the merchant account provider and business owner develop and a great sense of trust between both entities develop.
Of course, the objective of any business owner must be to eliminate or reduce the frequency of refunds and chargebacks - both of which can hinder a business's growth. Indeed, refunds vs. chargebacks is a losing game for any merchant.
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