Better Business by Robb Hicken: Be careful picking a credit-card processor for your business

ROBB HICKEN, chief storyteller for the Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River RegionJuly 9, 2013 

Robb Hicken

The call came from a 1-800 number. The person on the phone claimed to represent Customer First Merchant Support.

"[They] stated we were being overcharged, at a corporate rate, and if I sent the information they would stop the overcharging for us," says Kelley Doogan of Insight Consulting in Boise. "They were asking me to send a statement from our credit-card processing company."

Customer First Merchant Support could not be found as a processing company. This appears to be a marketing call, a ploy to get billing information in order to make a sales pitch based on the current rates.

"I have received many sales calls, and I know credit card processing is a very competitive business, but no one has ever asked me to send them my statement," Doogan says.

Whether you're looking to make a switch or selecting a merchant processor for the first time, choosing a processor is an important decision and can be vital to the overall success of your business. The Better Business Bureau advises to be aware that this company is targeting the area.

If you receive such a call, ask the company three simple questions:

• Do I currently do business with you?

• Will you please give me a phone number where I can contact you, other than the 1-800 number?

• Did I contact your company for information or changes?

If the answer to any of these is no, hang up the phone.

So far this year, BBB has received more than 1,700 complaints against credit card merchant and processing services.

Accepting a credit card gives your customers options. They can charge a purchase and pay it off over time or use a debit card rather than write a check. By offering your customer these options, you open the doors to increased revenue.

Here's how the BBB suggests you find a processor:

Ask around. As with any important business decision, make sure to get at least three estimates and check a business' reputation at Ask other business leaders what service they use.

Know where to turn. Make sure the merchant processing service has a solid support team. Can you contact the company 24 hours a day? This is important to business owners trying to process a card outside of typical business hours.

Technical support is a must. It is vital to your business' success.

Try it out. Don't settle without a trial period. By making sure the merchant processing service you choose has a 100 percent money-back guarantee before selecting it, you can save yourself a lifetime of hassle. Does the company keep every promise it made to you?

Make sure every penny you spend is necessary. If you have a question regarding a fee you were charged, ask.

Staying competitive with other merchant services is the name of the game for processors, so they will want to keep you happy.

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