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Industry Secrets Revealed For The First Time…

To Non-Industry Businesses

Dear Fellow Entrepreneur,

Thank you for requesting our report, "The 10 Facts Every Business Owner Must Know About Merchant Accounts ". When you read this report you will learn:

  • How to avoid costly charge backs (page 2).
  • Five ways to lower the risks in your business (pages 3-5).
  • Which charges and fees are reasonable, and which are not (page 8).
  • And much, much more.

When I wrote this report, I got so carried away… that I ended up writing two additional reports (which I included for you as a courtesy, in the form of bonuses). When you read Bonus #1, you will discover concise, actionable tips on How To Use Your Merchant Account To Make More Money. Read Bonus #2, to learn How To Avoid Costly Fees.

These reports will benefit you whether you are starting a new business and just beginning to think about a merchant account; or even if you already have a merchant account, for your established business.

I am happy to share these insider secrets… things I’ve learned in the last 10 years in the credit card processing industry. But it is only valuable if you read it and apply it right away. Our company, US Merchant Systems has served tens of thousands of clients in over 9 years in business. We only succeed when our clients do.

I urge you to find a quiet, private place, have your calls held, barricade the door and read this report. Then call toll free to our office at (877) 570-4579.




Stuart H Rosenbaum


P.S. After you read this report, I invite you to call one of my Account Sales Managers, because they will customize the service for your business. Just call David at (877) 570-4579 and tell him you don’t want to be like Harry. (An inside story you will learn after reading page one of your report.)

P.P.S. I wanted to eliminate any reason you may have to not do business with us today. That is why I pulled out all the stops and made this 3-pronged bonus offer.

Bonus #1

Free application, set-up and installation of your new merchant account. ($195 value)

If you already have a merchant account, we will provide a Free Account Analysis. One of our trained Account Relations Managers will look at your most recent statements and show you where you can save money on your current account. They almost always find a way to save you money. But if they can’t, they will tell you—so you’ll at least know that you’re getting a very competitive deal now.

If they can save you money, I have instructed my people to switch you (with your permission) at no cost to you. You must act within 60 days of receiving this letter to take advantage of this bonus. Call your Account Sales Manager today at (800) 570-4579.

Bonus #2

Free hosting for your new web site. We will purchase the first three months hosting for your web site (Normally $29.95 per month—for a total bonus value of $89.85.)

This applies to any new web site you purchase from us (powered by Big Picture Technologies). It comes with an e-commerce package to allow your new business to sell your products or services on the Internet, 24 hours a day, in a secure environment. Your customers will buy from you, knowing that their credit card information is safe from hackers. If you have a retail store, this is a great way to tap into the power of the Internet and open a "virtual" store taking orders from customers worldwide.

Not sure if you want to sell on the Internet?… Ask your Account Relations Manager about a Free 30-day test drive. (Let’s see your local car dealer do that!) Again, you must act within 60 days of receiving this letter to take advantage of this bonus. Call your Account Sales Manager today at (877) 570-4579.

Early Bird Bonus #3 (You must respond within 10 days of receiving this letter.)

A lot of businesses never make it on the Internet. That is such a shame, because many times it is because of some small things they fail to do right that ROBS THEM OF THE HUGE REWARDS that others easily obtain.

I puzzled about this for months, wondering, "Why is it that a few businesses do so well on the Internet while others struggle?" It became apparent that throwing money at expensive Super Bowl ads is not the difference. We’ve all seen what happened to so many companies who tried that strategy.

Yet, it was often the smaller companies that thrived on the Internet. What is it that they do that gets them superior search engine placement, for example? And I finally found the answer. I discovered one of the top Internet marketing gurus in the country. I found that he had unlocked the secrets to Internet marketing success.

Unlock the secrets to powerful Internet marketing tools for:

  • web page promotion and design
  • getting ranked at the top of search engines
  • free and low-cost online classified ads that produce sales
  • dominating your market with affiliate/reseller/associate programs
  • exploiting AOL and other online services
  • building a responsive opt-in e-mail list fast
  • turning leads into lifetime customers with e-mail marketing
  • and so much more

I have agreed to not reveal the name of the author of this Internet marketing course, just yet. If I told you his name, you would probably know him. And he has a web site that sells this course for up to $397.00. Because I am offering this same course as a bonus, during this marketing test, I have agreed to withhold that last bit of information.

Again, you must act within 10 days of receiving this letter to take advantage of this special bonus. Call your Account Sales Manager today at (877) 570-4579.

Here’s what will happen when you call your Account Relations Manager. They will ask you some questions about your business, (or business idea). If you don’t already have a merchant account, they will help you set up a merchant account for your business. (If you do have a merchant account, they will help you to make sure that it is one that you want.)

Then they will help you establish a web presence, if that fits your needs. We provide solutions for all types of businesses, retail with point of sale terminals as well as e-commerce solutions. If you set up a web site, you can take advantage of all three bonuses.

Bonus 1—Free application, set up, and install: $195.00 value.

Bonus 2—Free 3-month hosting: 89.95 value.

Bonus 3—Free Internet marketing course: 397.00 value.

Total value of all three bonuses: $681.95

So why am I offering such valuable bonuses?

This whole campaign—the Free Report with the two Free Bonus Reports and the 3 additional Bonuses was designed to show you that we are unique in the credit card processing industry. Anyone can say, "we have the cheapest rates". When you read our report, you will know that you can get into trouble relying on those claims.

What makes us unique is that we tell you what to look for, and how to get what is really the best deal for you. We know that our business relies on building long term relationships with our merchants. That is why we are going through the considerable expense of acquiring a new client… we want to keep that relationship for a long time.

I am betting that my excellent staff will keep our merchants happy and prosperous for years to come. It’s that simple.


The 10 Facts Every Business Owner Must Know About Merchant Accounts

By Stu Rosenbaum

"If you don’t read this report before getting a credit card merchant account it could cost you hundreds, or even thousands of extra dollars per year. Read this report right away, before getting a merchant account."

This report has been written for your financial benefit. If the information is used properly it can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your cost of credit card processing. With more than ten years of industry experience, I have determined that the following is information that you desperately need in order to fully enjoy the benefits of accepting credit cards and cash alternative payment methods in your business.

Don’t be Like Harry

Harry was a computer reseller who sold products by phone order and retail. He saved enough money from his job as a computer technician to open up his modest business. After having been turned down by his bank, Harry was gratified when our company approved his merchant account. We were happy to have Harry as a client. Being a fairly new company back then (1993), we did not know all the things we could’ve done to help Harry fully benefit from his merchant account.

One day, out of the blue, Harry called me and told me that his account had been shut off. Not only was the account terminated, but Harry was informed of two disturbing facts: 1) Harry owed more than $10,000 in charge backs; and 2) His name and business had been added to the Visa and MasterCard Combined Terminated Merchant File (CTMF)- He therefore could not establish a new account with any bank or credit card processor. Harry was distraught. I spoke to him at length.

What happened to Harry happens to thousands of merchants each year throughout the US and the rest of the world. Harry was a victim of credit card fraud. Moreover, Harry was a victim of my ineptness as the sales manager of the company that provided Harry with his service. I didn’t warn Harry of the pitfalls of credit card processing nor educate him on the significant dos and don’ts associated with this service. You see, a merchant account for credit card processing is a service that should enable businesses like yours to add many new sales, increase the size of customer orders and

generally help your business prosper and grow. If used properly by an educated merchant these will

be the results. If the merchant is not aware of and does not avoid the important pitfalls that can be associated with this service- the merchant can lose much more than just the cost of the service. The story of Harry’s loss- is now your gain because it has prompted the writing and distribution of this report.

One day Harry received a call from a man that identified himself as a referral and potentially large customer. Harry was so exited to get new business that the thought of being set up or scammed never occurred to him. The man placed an order with Harry for computer hardware totaling more than $10,000, and assured Harry that if he was satisfied with the merchandise he would place several larger orders. Harry shipped the computers to the address provided. Not more than two weeks later Harry’s account was shut off, all of his credit card processing funds were held, he was added to the CTMF and was told he had to pay the processor over $10,000 for charge backs. Later, upon investigation, it was discovered that the caller actually called from a prison pay phone in upstate New York, calling Harry with stolen credit card numbers.

Today, 8 years later, I am the CEO of the very same company that established Harry’s merchant account. I have sworn an oath to do everything possible to prevent our clients from ever becoming victims like Harry. We can’t prevent all credit card fraud from happening to our clients, but we can greatly minimize it by educating our clients on the things they really need to know about credit card processing and how to protect themselves and benefit from the service.

What You Need to Know About Accepting Credit Cards

When you accept a credit card from your customer, you do so at your own risk. Don’t be discouraged-- the benefits outweigh the pitfalls a thousand fold. When you accept a credit card for payment, your merchant-processing bank receives money from the customer’s card issuing bank and then sends that money to you. You believe that what you have received is your money- this simply is not true. What you have received is loan from the processor or the bank . You can keep the money as long as nobody asks for it back. That is how credit card processing works for you- the merchant.

Thankfully- most customers are basically honest. Not too many customers buy products or services with the deliberate intention to dispute the charge and avoid paying the bill. But it happens. Visa and MasterCard are comprised predominantly of card issuing banks. The rules have been established to protect these issuers and the consumer. There are rules to protect the merchant as well-- but there is more protection afforded to the consumer. In this report I will talk about some of the rules and pitfalls and what to do to avoid them, as well as how to use a merchant account and other transaction services to improve your sales and grow your business.

RULE #1 Avoid Charge Backs

Charge backs are sales, which have been reversed either temporarily or permanently. Usually your bank or processor has taken back the money either by deducting the amounts from payments due you, or via direct access to your bank account. If no money is available- you will still owe it.

There are many possible reasons for charge backs. The most common and most avoidable is a failure to respond to a retrieval request. A retrieval request is a request for information about the sale- usually from the card-issuing bank. The information requested would be a copy of the credit card receipt and a copy of other documents associated with the sale.

Other reasons for charge backs include:

  • Acceptance of lost or stolen credit card- known as an "Unauthorized Sale" – this was what occurred with Harry.
  • Customer Service Dispute- the customer complains that they did not receive what they paid for. This could include faulty workmanship.
  • Customer complaint of unauthorized sale, or amount.
  • Unsigned sales draft.
  • Undelivered product or service.

There are many others that are subsets of the reasons above. Later, in the report, I will take these up and tell you how to minimize your risk.

RULE #2 Stay off the CTMF- Combined Terminated Merchant File:

If you plan to be in business and depend on accepting credit cards, you do not want to get on this list. The CTMF is a file that identifies everything about any merchant that has been terminated for specific reasons.

The information stored in this file includes the name of the business, address, principals’ name(s), home address, Social Security numbers, corporate tax ID number, phone numbers, web addresses, type of business, etc. When new processors or banks attempt to establish a merchant account for their client, all information is run through the CTMF. If any data matches, the account is held up for investigation. If the match is true- for example you had a previous business- unrelated to the current one- and your name and SS# are in the CTMF- you will not be accepted for an account- with very few exceptions that we’ll talk about later.

Occurrences that can cause one to be added to the CTMF are as follows:

  • Laundering - This is a term used to describe a situation where one business processes transactions for another. Not only is this a violation of the merchant agreement, it is also in violation of federal and most state laws. When one merchant launders- accepts transactions for another merchant or business- it is easy to get caught. When the consumer receives their credit card statement the transaction will appear under the name of the merchant that ran the transaction- not the merchant that sold the product or service. This causes the consumer to dispute the transaction and will trigger an investigation of the merchant that illegally ran the transaction resulting in loss of merchant status, addition to the CTMF and no possibility of obtaining merchant services.
  • Factoring - this occurs when a merchant runs their own credit card through their own merchant account, thus creating an illegal cash advance. The card data and merchant data create a matching file that results in an investigation and possible loss of merchant privileges and CTMF.
  • Excessive charge backs - the term "excessive" is up to the bank or processor. Most banks and processors will only tolerate a 1% threshold; some may go as high as 3%.
  • Excessive retrieval requests - these do not always result in a charge back. However, they are indicators that charge backs may be forth coming. The thresholds are similar to those allowed for charge backs.
  • Excessive refunds - again this is up to interpretation by the bank or processor. Excessive refunds do not always result in the merchant being placed on the CTMF, however may result in a loss of merchant privileges as they also are an indicator of possible charge back risk.
  • Excessive fraud, fraud target - the merchant may have no intention to commit fraud and is not a party to the fraud, however his business is a fraud target. This creates a risk to processors, banks and the merchant. This category will result in placement on the CTMF. Merchants must understand that they are responsible for taking all measures to prevent fraud. Choosing the right processor or bank that is proactive in helping reduce fraud is critical.
  • Falsified information on merchant application - Be careful here and ensure all blanks are filled in and correct before you sign the application. Sometimes over-zealous sales representatives can misstate information about your business, estimated processing volume and average transaction size. If you are not exactly sure because your business is new, make sure the word (estimated) is written in conjunction with volume and transaction size representations about your business.
  • Failure to pay merchant fees - if you do not pay your agreed upon processing fees you can be placed on the CTMF. This is sometimes handled by paying the fees plus any penalties.
  • Merchant fraud - any fraud committed on the part of the merchant such as willfully charging a stolen card, double charging the client, purposely charging for unauthorized sales, etc., will not only result in loss of merchant privileges and CTMF but will most likely result in criminal prosecution.
  • Violation of the terms and conditions of your merchant agreement may also lead to placement on the CTMF.

The above summarizes the key reasons why a merchant might be placed on the CTMF. Again, it’s important to choose a processor that will be proactive in educating you and looking out for your interests.


RULE #3 Minimize Costs by Lowering Risks in Your Business

There are many things that you can do as a merchant to avoid or minimize risk in your business. These are extremely important issues to understand before you apply for a merchant account. In cases where the bank or processor views your business to be too risky- you may not be able to obtain the service at all, or you may obtain the service at a costly premium. The following is not just food for thought but urgent recommendations for your business:

Do Not Invest a lot of Money in Printed Materials or Ads Until You’ve Obtained Your Merchant Account:

A lot of money can be wasted in printing brochures and advertisements if you are depending on accepting credit cards and you are denied the service. I have witnessed companies that have poured thousands of dollars into a marketing campaign only to find out that their service, product or method of sale was too risky, and therefore they could not establish a merchant account.

More importantly- you may be able to establish the account if certain terms are modified or certain business practices are altered. Why print the materials when you may have to print them all over again. Let me be more specific…

Some companies offer a service such as a lifetime membership or annual subscription. This may sound like a great opportunity to the merchant, but represents an unlimited liability to the bank or processor and the merchant. Here’s why- suppose you marketed a lifetime membership for an association that you formed. You charged a $300 lifetime fee. Now a year later you decide that the business isn’t working out so you want to close it. Remember, you sold a lifetime membership to your clients. If you close down you have failed to deliver what you sold the client. The client could dispute the charge and would win the dispute for the full amount in a charge back regardless of how old the sale. Even if the business no longer exists- you would personally be required to repay the money-if you personally guaranteed the merchant agreement, (which most business owners are required to do). If you can’t pay, or declare bankruptcy against the liabilities of chargebacks, the bank or processor has to pay the card issuer back.

By changing the wording of the offer, or the nature of the offer- you may be able to get exactly what you want, without exposing yourself, or the bank or processor to a charge back liability. For example, you could charge a $300 one-time activation fee that is non-refundable after a period of time, for example 30, 60, or maybe 90 days. Thereafter, you charge a $10 annual membership fee, and also disclaim to the client that you were only responsible to deliver service for the period of time for which they paid the annual membership fee. Or the membership fee ($10) could be refunded- you have reduced the risk of charge back liability. Notice I said reduced. You have not eliminated it altogether- because clients can dispute any transaction on any grounds, but at least you are not telling them that you will provide service for "life". Now you should understand why I recommend that you do not print your materials until you and the bank or processor have agreed on which offers and business practices would be acceptable and enable you to establish a merchant account.

In all cases, banks and processors will want to see your ads and marketing materials before they establish an account. The best approach is to forward copies or samples (before printing quantities) along with a note explaining that terms can be changed based on the bank’s acceptance criteria. Any offer of a product or service which has future or ongoing delivery or service connected with it represents a greater liability to you and the processor or bank.

Be Careful Selling High Priced Items by Telephone, Mail Order or on the Internet

High priced items such as jewelry, computers and electronics are targets for fraud. If your business includes selling these items by telephone, mail order or Internet, then use a fraud screening service and address verification software.

A fraud screening service rates the risk of the transaction by several parameters including to where you are shipping, known charge back history of the card being used and other parameters. Address verification software enables you to determine that the shipping address matches the cardholder’s address and greatly minimizes the chances of receiving a fraudulent transaction. Both of these services are usually available through your credit card processor.

Verify the Printed Card Number with the one Embossed on the Card

If you are accepting cards face to face with the client in a retail environment, always check the card number that prints on the receipt with the one embossed on the credit card. There are many fraud schemes throughout the US where the magnetic strip has been re-encoded with stolen card information, and does not match the embossed number on the front. If you accept a transaction of this type, you will surely suffer a charge back of that sale.

Check ID if the Magnetic Strip Does Not Work

Some magnetic strips can become demagnetized or worn out to the point that your credit card terminal may not be able to read data from the strip. In this case you would manually enter the card information by using the terminal keypad. When this happens, check the ID of the presenter to ensure that their name is the same as the name on the card. Occasionally fraud is perpetrated by presenting fake cards where no data actually exists on the magnetic strip, and the numbers embossed on the front of the card are stolen numbers. Even if you heard that you are not supposed to require ID for a credit card transaction or the client complains to you- trust me- in this case verify the ID, or don’t accept the transaction.

RULE #4 Choose a Bank or Credit Card Processor that is Proactive in Handling Charge Backs

When selecting a service provider (bank or processor) ensure that they are proactive in handling charge backs. Service Providers are required to notify you by mail in the event of a charge back or retrieval request. However, some do so slowly which may reduce your window for disputing the charge back. Really good service providers will notify you quickly not only by mail but will also fax, email and/or call you in an effort to help save you from a costly charge back.

Be Careful When Selecting a Bank or Service Provider

Small banks usually cannot provide credit card processing services as efficiently as service providers that specialize in the service do. Oftentimes the small bank acts as an agent for a service provider- in which case the service provider ultimately will handle your account. If the service provider is a good one, you’re in good shape. If the bank or service provider is unprofessional or too slow to respond to issues- this can cost you a lot in time and hassle.

Choose a Service Provider that Knows How to Manage Fraud

If your business is risky in nature, choose a service provider that can manage the risk. Oftentimes banks and sometimes service providers are risk adverse. They may initially accept your account, but at the first sign of trouble they’ll shut the account off and hold your funds.

It’s important to know that you are establishing a relationship with a company that knows and has experience with your type of business. If the service provider is not proficient in managing fraud and preventing losses- then losses incurred by that company from other merchants may result in higher fees or "emergency fees" charged to you.

RULE #5 Keep a Good Filing System

Keep a good filing system for your copies of credit card receipts. If you receive a retrieval request you will need to provide a copy of the receipt to your service provider. If you do not provide a copy within the specified time frame, you will receive a charge back with NO POSSIBILITY of reversal. If you have a high volume of retail transactions, request a service called signature or receipt capture, if available. This service will allow you to store images of receipts for easy retrieval when needed later.

RULE #6 Read the Contracts Before Signing

There are many fees associated with credit card processing. Most are valid and necessary. But you want to know what the fees are, as well as terms, whether or not you are locked in for a long period of time, cancellation penalties, charge back procedures, thresholds, and general do’s and don’ts of the contract. If you do not read the contract you will be surprised when the bill comes.

RULE #7 Do Not Assume that Cheaper is Better

This is very important to understand. Why do you pay more for a Lexus than a Toyota? There are obviously some important differences. Same with selecting a credit card service provider. Remember-these companies will be handling your money. The difference between the cheapest provider and one more moderately priced could be the small difference in price that costs you big dollars in time and hassle . Any company that has to be the cheapest to get your business has to cut corners somewhere. Those cut corners will include increased hold times for customer service issues, lack of assistance in managing charge backs, delays in equipment and service warranties, inaccurate billing statements, lost transactions and many others that will ultimately make the "cheapest" deal actually be the most expensive by a large margin. Also- beware of companies that offer the "Lowest Rate" and then place in the fine print that the rate is only for an introductory period . Check your statements for rate increases without notification to you.

RULE #8 Do Not Accept Orders by Telephone, Mail Order, Internet or Manually Enter Transactions Unless Your Account has been Set Up to Do So.

Basically, there are two types of accounts that service providers can establish for you. Card Present and Card Not Present. Card Not Present transactions are riskier and therefore more expensive to establish, with higher rates. More fraud occurs with Card Not Present accounts. Your application for services would have required you to disclose whether your transactions would be Card Present or Card Not Present. If your account was set up for Card Present transactions and you perform several manually entered transactions, you may lose your processing privileges, or sustain significant surcharges for the manually entered transactions.

RULE #9 Call Your Clients before Shipping

If you sell by telephone, mail order or Internet and ship products valued over $100, it is highly recommended that you call the client before shipping and verify the order again, ensuring that the transaction was not a fraudulent or unauthorized one.


RULE #10 Call Your Service Provider if You’re Going to Exceed Your Limit or Average Ticket Size

If your sales exceed your limit or the amount applied for on your merchant account, your funds could be held by the service provider and you risk losing your processing privileges. The same can occur if you run transactions that greatly exceed your average ticket size as stated on your merchant application or agreement. The answer is to call your service provider when you realize that you may be exceeding your monthly limit or need to run an excessively high transaction size.

In most cases, your provider will work with you to increase your limit or allow the large sale. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BREAK UP LARGER SALES INTO SMALLER TRANSACTIONS because credit card companies have sophisticated fraud prevention software that will identify the fact that the same client ran multiple transactions in your business. This could cause a loss of processing privileges.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What do I do if I am on the CTMF?

If you are on the CTMF, call our legal department at 1-800-655-8767, ext. 298. We will be happy to give free advice on how to handle the situation if at all possible.

What if My Credit is Bad and I Need a Merchant Account?

This depends on your business. The riskier your business the more important good credit is. If you have a retail business selling low ticket items credit may not be a problem with our company. If your business is risky you may need a deposit, or reserve account, or co-signer in order to qualify.

What if I Need a Higher Volume than the Service Provider Will Approve?

If this is the case, assume a merchant account is like any other credit. Take what you can get and with good processing history, continue to ask for increases.

Why Do I Have to Personally Guarantee?

Banks and service providers want personal guarantees for the same reason that you don’t want to give one- RISK. However, in most cases unless you are an established, publicly traded or well funded private company, the bank or service provider will require it. The personal guarantee helps to ensure that you live up to your obligation as a merchant.

If you have more questions or would like to establish your own merchant account, call us at 800-610-5323, or apply on-line at www.merchantsystems.com.

Now that you are educated- let us serve your processing needs… and save you money doing so. Use the information in this report to select a merchant account processor you will be happy with for a long time to come… U.S. Merchant Systems.

BONUS #1 Using Your Merchant Account to Make More Money

Up to now, I have told you some of the ways to lower your costs by minimizing risks. Now it’s time to look at ways that a credit card merchant account can make you money.

Accept All Cards

Take all of them: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express- and even Diner’s and Carte Blanche, if available. Don’t believe the commercials that say, "And they don’t take American Express!" There are over 30 million American Express Card holders in the US, and the average American Express transaction is nearly twice that of the other cards. The first time you refuse someone’s card, may be the last time you see them. The famed author of "Guerilla Marketing" – Jay Conrad Levinson said in his book, "Take credit cards- all of them".

Use Card Acceptance as a Sales Tool

When attempting to finalize the sale with your client, simply ask the alternative closing question: "Will that be cash, check or charge?" It worked 20 years ago and still works today.

Sell More to Credit Card Users

When the client indicates that they will use a credit card, you have twice as much possibility of upgrading the sale over cash or check buyers. Always offer an upgrade or accessory to the sale once this has been determined.

Prominently Display Card Logos

Let your clients know that you accept all cards by placing logos on store windows, counters, and most certainly in yellow page or other ads.

Have an E-commerce Web Site

If you have products that can be sold on the Internet then you should have a site with a separate merchant account (from your retail business if you have one). Accept transactions on-line using a payment gateway provided by your service provider. Some service providers even provide a turnkey solution for e-commerce at a reduced rate if you have your merchant account with them. Be sure to ask for one. Display your web address on all your ads and marketing materials- including your storefront window.

Do Not Offer Discounts for Cash Buyers

Even though you pay a fee for accepting credit cards, do not offer a discount for cash and certainly never charge a fee for using the credit card. These will offend credit card buyers and reduce their patronage to your business.

Accept ATM Cards and Checks

ATM cards generally cost less than credit cards to accept. There are fewer disputes with ATM Cards. You may need to invest in more equipment and some monthly fees- but one sale usually pays for that. Accept checks but if you are concerned about getting bad checks- use a check guarantee service. Your service provider will usually provide that service as well. The fees are about the same or sometimes less than credit card fees. When determining your retail prices, include a mark up for these costs. Now, by accepting all forms of payment, you never have to say "no" to a customer.

Accept Checks Online

There are now services that enable you to accept checks on the Internet. There are even services that will guarantee the funds for you. Remember, the more methods of payment you offer- the more sales you’ll make.


BONUS #2 How to Avoid Costly Fees

Turn Visa and MasterCard Debit Card Transactions into ATM Card Transactions:

I have been in many stores that accept credit cards and ATM cards. In many cases, these stores are paying thousands in additional fees because of untrained clerks.Here’s why. A credit card transaction will require that the merchant pay discount fees. A discount fee is the percentage that a merchant pays for each credit card sale. In addition to discount fees, there is usually a transaction fee charged as well. With most ATM card transactions there are no discount fees- only transaction fees. Accept the transaction as an ATM card sale and save money- here’s an example:

$100 sale for groceries:

Merchant Credit Card Fees:

1.75% discount fee (example only), and a

$0.25 transaction fee

Cost: $100 x 1.75% = $1.75 + $0.25 = $2.00

Merchant ATM Fees:

$0.35 transaction fee (only).

Cost: $0.35 a savings of $1.65 per sale of $100

Don’t give your client a choice as many clerks do. If the card can be used for both, make it an ATM transaction and save money. In the example above each $100,000 in ATM sales saves the merchant $1,650.00.

Do Not Manually Enter Transactions if the Card Can be Swiped Through a Terminal:

Visa and MasterCard charge discount fee surcharges for manually entered transactions if your account was set up as a retail, Card Present, account. These fees range from 0.50% to 1.50%, depending on the processor.


Close Your Batch Every Day:

Terminals create batch files and the terminal must be closed each day to avoid additional discount fee surcharges.

Avoid Costly Contract Termination Fees:

Most service providers charge a contract termination fee. If the merchant terminates early, these fees help minimize losses from costs associated with establishing accounts. These may range from $150.00 to as much as $500.00, or more. Review your agreement and ensure that these fees are reasonable. You do not want to get locked in with a service provider that does not provide good service.

Do Not Pay Excessive Application Fees:

Most service providers charge application fees. $25 to $95 is reasonable, above that is not. Ensure that the service provider has a policy of refunding your fee if you are not approved for the account.

Beware of Excessive Annual Fees:

Most Service Providers charge an annual fee or renewal fee. $35 to $50 is reasonable. Much above that is not. Keep in mind that cheapest is not always the best, however, there is also a reasonable limit to fees.

Avoid Costly Merchant Club Fees:

Some Service Providers charge as much as $15 per month for extended service on equipment, with a few rolls of paper thrown in on occasion. While some extended service may be a good idea, usually $5 to $7 per month should cover it.

About the Author

Stu Rosenbaum has been in the merchant account business for over ten years. During that time, he has seen accounts from nearly every industry. He has helped countless merchants--Big, small, young and old. He has seen the good, the bad and the ugly.

Stu is an entrepreneur who started U.S. Merchant Systems, Inc. in 1992 with two partners and $1,000. Today, they have grown this business into one of the industry leaders.

You may have read about Stu and his company in Advantage Networker and Spare Time magazines, or heard his interview on CEOCast.com. His website is www.usms.com




Business Merchant Account Services
for Cougar Mountain Software Support-All Versions

  • Process cards for a lower rate
    • Face to face or at a distance, rates from our partner, Pivotal Payments, are typically lower than their competitors'.
    • At your request, Pivotal Payments will analyze your current provider's statement and show you where you can save money by choosing Pivotal Payments.
    • Pivotal does not use a fixed pricing structure: individual, competitive rates are based on your average monthly transaction volumes.
  • Accept cards for payment at point of sale, through CMS Professional Order Entry or Accounts Receivable
  • Accept cards in person or over the phone
  • You may qualify for a rebate of $1,000 or more, depending on your transaction volume**
  • 24 x 7 LIVE support, 365 days/year
  • Accept all major cards VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover
  • Be approved in 48-72 hours after submitting a completed application (and required documents
  • Process debit cards as credit and save even more!
    • You decide when it makes sense for your business
Debit card hint : Depending on transaction size, processing debit cards as credit cards can save you money. Since credit card rates are a percentage of the transaction and debit card fees are fixed per transaction, it makes sense to calculate your cut-off point and process debit cards as credit when the value of the sale is below that amount. Most merchants find that if their average sale value is under $25, it makes sense to process debit cards as credit cards.

** Rebate check is paid after you process $1,000 in payments. New businesses (without processing history) will receive rebate after six months.

You will need to submit one month's receipts for analysis (3 if you are a new business)

Pivotal Payments Credit and Debit card processing services are available with CMS Professional and Denali Premium Point of Sale , Order Entry, and Accounts Receivable Modules.

Works with all versions of Cougar Mtn Professional for Windows and doesn't need to be upgraded when you do an update/upgrade to your Cougar Mountain Software Support


Please let us know what info we can send you now and what are the areas that are of most important to your organization.

Please fill in below, or call us on (714) 228-5444 or fax us at (800) 531-2944...

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email us at sales@CougarMtnSupport.com  //  phone (714) 228-5444.

(We are not Cougar Mountain Software in Boise, we take their excellent product and make it better.   We offer software products, enhanced reports, services, training and hardware that maximize the value out of this powerful accounting program.  We have been customizing solutions for Cougar Mountain since 1990.  We are located in California.