5 Familiar Merchant Account Problems and What to Do About Them

by Jul 10, 2014General Merchant Account

Whether you’re operating a brick-and-mortar retail store, a service-oriented office, an online business, or all of the above, you’ve likely discovered that there are plenty of hurdles to leap  so you may identify with these familiar merchant account problems.

So the last thing you want to worry about is having merchant account problems that cause delays in payment or leave you owing more money than you anticipated. You want all of your credit card transactions to proceed in a problem-free fashion that entails no extra effort or expense on your end so that you can focus on more important aspects of managing your business.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. But becoming aware of common merchant account problems can help you learn how to address and even prevent them. Here are just a few potential merchant account problems you may face, and what you can do to keep them at bay.


1 – High rates

Understanding the rates associated with merchant accounts is not as simple as seeing a number on a page. For one thing, you’ll find yourself dealing with as many as three types of rates for transactions: qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified.

Generally speaking, qualified transactions are represented by authorized card swipes, mid-qualified have to do with specific card types (government, corporate, rewards cards, etc.), and non-qualified transactions occur when certain authorization criteria are not met, say when a card number is entered manually instead of being swiped.

And all of these transaction types can come with different rates. So you really need to look at your business, how your customers use credit cards (in-store, online, and so on), the cards you accept, and a variety of other criteria that could affect the number and type of credit card transactions your merchant account processes.

Then you can shop around for the vendor that offers the best overall rates for your business needs.


2 – Delayed funds

There are a few reasons why your funds may be delayed when credit card transactions occur. But if they are delayed at the ACH (automated clearing house) stage, chances are that the reason has something to do with payments that are out of the norm for your business.

For example, suppose you deal in sports memorabilia using an ecommerce merchant account. It can be difficult to determine what the average cost of a transaction might be, but you will have to make some kind of declaration concerning common processing amounts for your virtual merchant account.

Then you get a Babe Ruth signed baseball and suddenly you have a transaction that is well above your stated average. You should probably expect this payment to be held during processing while the ACH clears it.

Of course, if you know such a charge is on the horizon, you may be able to call in advance to let them know it is coming and expedite the process.


3 – Copy requests/retrievals

Whether a cardholder loses a receipt or disputes a transaction, your business will be called upon to deliver copies of related documents to the cardholder’s bank, verifying the transaction.

In some cases this could delay payment, and it will always require extra work on your end, which can certainly be annoying. There is no real way to know when such requests will pop up, so you’ll simply have to deal with them as they occur.

But you can prepare for such credit card processing snafus by making it easy to call up and send copies of receipts and other related documents. And you should certainly make sure that all of your paperwork has matching business names.


4 – Software integration

Those who run retail stores have traditionally rented hardware meant to allow them to swipe credit cards. But many businesses now use computers for everything, which means you’ll need to make sure that whatever you use to complete credit transactions is compatible with your business management software. And options for mobile devices (Square) have altered the landscape even further, potentially requiring additional software considerations.

You’ll also want to make sure that employees are well versed in how to use the hardware and software your business relies upon for credit transactions so as to avoid problems.


5 – Inadequate customer support

When you experience merchant account problems related to processing, it’s important that you have access to support services that can explain, advise, and help you to clear them up as quickly as possible so that you can get paid and avoid future issues if possible. So a provider that offers little or no customer service simply won’t suffice.

Before you select a provider, be sure to ask about options like phone, email, and live chat support, or even a direct line to an account representative. The more support you receive from your merchant account service, the smoother your business transactions are likely to be.


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