The Search for a Credit Card Processor with Great Customer Service

Customer service should be your FIRST consideration in picking a credit card processor.

That may fly in the face of what the industry has told you, but I’m going to show you why it’s true and even give you a Customer Service Wish List.

Let me ask you a question. Why did you start your business, and why do you go in every morning and keep your business running? I’ll bet nine out of 10 of you said either because it involved something you love or because you saw a need that you wanted to fill. That 10th person over there in the corner might have said “to make money,” but I’ll bet he didn’t pick a business he hated.

You and I both know that running a business sucks a lot of time and energy out of your life. Why would you partner with an organization that doesn’t give you full access and full support? Why would you take on a credit card processor that doesn’t have customer service when and how you need it? Unless you like spending hours wading through a website or you enjoy hearing “Your call will be answered in approximately…,” you need to be able to get answers fast. The customer service your business receives should be the most important consideration of your credit card processor selection.

I know you are saying, “But the rates are different, some rates are higher.” After all, almost every provider’s advertising is talking about the lowest rates. Our ads talk about it, too, because that is what business owners have had drummed into their heads. How much is that tenth or two-tenths of a percent worth to you when you spend hours, if not days, trying to get the answers you need to keep your business running? What about if you suddenly discover your account is down/blocked, and you can’t accept credit cards? Before you jump at the lowest rate, figure out how much the tenth or two-tenths of a percentage will actually save you over a month, and then divide that by the amount you think an hour of your time is worth. Now think about the amount of time you’ve spent trying to straighten out problems. Are you still saving a bundle? Do you know what kind of customer service the low bidder has?

I’ll let you in on a little non-secret, the basic card company fees (MasterCardVisaDiscover, etc.) are the same whether you run the transactions through us or any other provider. The differences come from how much markup the provider has to add to cover their risk, maintain their organization, and maintain their P&L. Some of our competitors can offer lower rates, partly because they offer less customer service and therefore, lower overhead.

This is what makes some Aggregators so attractive to new businesses – they have less staff and take on more risk by not requiring their merchants to have credit checks or merchant accounts. In fact, one of them, that I’ll just call “Geometric,” is running an ad campaign about how easy they make it for new businesses. Geometric’s ads don’t mention that they charge a higher rate per transaction than most other merchant services providers.

Geometric apparently also has a policy of deactivating accounts, cutting off activity, freezing assets and notifying you, by email (!), if you trigger their algorithms for possible fraud or if they suddenly discover you are in a business they don’t want to handle. They have a customer service number you can call once you get a code to use, but it’s only available for 12 hours a day based on Pacific Coast Time, AND it’s only available for active account holders. If your account was just suddenly deactivated, sorry, you can’t call them. Of course, they do have a website with FAQs you can wade through. Oh, and their customer service is so good (NOT), they’ve racked up nearly 1,500 complaints with the BBB in three years. That’s just the kind of help you don’t need when you’re running a business.

I’m not saying that all aggregators are bad. I know people who have used them fairly happily for years, but their businesses were hobbies, not even big enough for storefronts. I’m just trying to point out that the easiest answer is not always the best.

I’ve looked at a number of our competitors’ websites, especially their terms and customer help pages, and I have to say that some of them leave me exhausted. With some of them, you click on an FAQ page, and it sends you to a new page for a detailed explanation. That page has a link half way down that sends you to a policy page, which in turn sends you to another page for a definition. By the time you get halfway through trying to figure out the answer to your question, you feel like you’re in one of those giant mazes that is cut into a corn field.

In this day and age, if you have a problem in your business, you need to pick up your phone and be able to talk to someone and at least begin to resolve it. I don’t care if it’s 5 a.m. and you’re brewing the first coffee of the day, or if it’s midnight and you are at home going over last month’s numbers. It goes without saying that none of us want to have to listen to 45 minutes of synthesized “Captain and Tennille” hits before we talk to someone.

So, what do you look for in a Credit Card Processor’s Customer Service department? I’ve created a Customer Service Wish List for you: Download it below.