Recently I went looking for an online merchant account, with disastrous results. I made the mistake of taking information at face value and relying on the ecommerce merchant account provider's good reputation in other areas.
Fortunately, you can avoid the same experience I had by asking the right questions of a potential ecommerce ecommerce merchant account provider.
Merchant Account Provider Questions
Understanding the answers to these questions before signing an application or agreement will help make for a solid partnership between you and your merchant account vendor:
1. As a merchant, can I accept credit cards both online and offline?
Do I need to get separate authorizations or permissions when setting up my ecommerce merchant account for different types of transaction (Internet, retail, phone orders, etc. )?
What other merchant fees are involved if I accept both online and offline credit card charges?
2. Can I accept ecommerce payments using methods other than Mastercard and Visa (Discover, American Express, Diner's Club, online checks, debit cards, etc. )?
If so, what are the fees and do I need to do anything to “activate" those ecommerce payment methods?
3. What are the different discount rates and fees for different types of ecommerce and other charges through the merchant account (Internet, in person, telephone, mail, etc. )?
4. What are the other fees related to this ecommerce merchant account - yearly, set-up, application, monthly minimum, statement, support, cancellation, discount, per-transaction, gateway access fees, card reject fee?
Are these subject to change?
Are there any other fees involved in order to get my ecommerce merchant account functional?
5. Do I process ecommerce charges manually or automatically?
If manually, is it possible to get automatic merchant account processing?
If so, do you provide a secure online payment gateway for my ecommerce merchant account?
How do I get up and running and what extra charges will I pay to do so?
6. What other software and services do I need to become fully ecommerce enabled online (such as secure gateway provider, etc. )?
Do you have a list of these additional ecommerce providers that are compatible with my ecommerce merchant account?
7. Do I need additional hardware or software not previously mentioned?
If so, what is the cost and how do I get this equipment?
Many of these questions are different ways of getting at the same issue - you want to know every component, every function, every fee, and every charge association with making your ecommerce merchant account work effectively for your business.
If you ask these questions while establishing a mutually comfortable relationship with your ecommerce merchant account provider from the start, you can avoid “traps" and lay the groundwork for a long, solid partnership.
About the Author
Bobette Kyle draws upon 12+ years of Marketing/Executive experience, Marketing MBA, and online marketing research in her writing. Bobette is proprietor of the Web Site Marketing Plan Network ( WebSiteMarketingPlan.com ). Http://http://www.Take-Payments-Online.com , one of the network sites, explains different aspects of ecommerce.
© 2003-2004 Bobette Kyle. All Rights Reserved.