How To Read A Credit Card Merchant Statement – 5 Ways To Categorize Fees

Reading your merchant statement and finding the rates and fees you’re being charged can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?”. One reason is because there are nearly as many different statement formats as there are merchant acquiring companies. Also, because of how competitive the industry has become, many monthly statements don’t completely disclose the rates being charged. And sometimes they are completely hidden.

I know of banks that don’t even send a statement out. If a merchant wants details of what they paid they have to logon to an online account to find it.

It’s War Out There!

One reason for this is the competitiveness. You have to remember that credit and debit cards make up part of a 2 trillion dollar industry. Money is like a magnet – it attracts Most merchants are being contacted continually by competing processors trying to get them to switch processors, by promising “lower rates”, etc.

So, to prevent a sales agent from another processing company from taking a merchant away – some processors make it as hard as possible for a competitor’s sales rep to walk in to a business, analyze a merchant statement, and do an ‘apples for apples’ comparison.

That being said, there are still some basic keys to look for when reading your statement. Here’s what I look for in analyzing a merchant statement, in order:

  • One: The pricing structure – how has the account been set up? Which pricing model does it employ? Is it using tiers (e.g. 3-tier; 4-tier, etc.) or – is it using “Interchange Plus”? (NOTE: most merchants are on a tier pricing model, which, in my opinion guarantees they’re being overcharged. Also, there are other pricing structures but tier pricing is by far the most common)
  • Two: The monthly fees (sometimes called “Other”) – next, I look to see what the monthly fees are. This can include: a statement fee; monthly service fee; account maintenance fee (normally, you’d only see one of these although I’ve seen two – or, you may see the equivalent fee but using a different term); PCI fee; batch fee; and gateway or access fees. Any miscellaneous, but not monthly fees can also show up here – e.g., an annual fee or semi-quarterly.
  • Three: Processing Fees – this is where the discount rates will be listed. If you are on tier pricing the best statements will print an itemized list showing the “qualified”, “mid-qualified”, and “non-qualified” (the 3 tiers) rate. If you are on Interchange Plus, you’ll see a list showing all the different cards you took, followed by the actual interchange rate for the card, the “dpi” (discount per item), plus the processors mark-up expressed as basis points and a transaction fee (or per item, depending on the term used to list it).
  • Four: Authorization Fees – here’s where you’ll find fees that go to VISA and MC. They’ll show up listed as access, authorization, and /or WATTS fees. You could also find here AVS fees (address verification); assessment fees; brand usage fee; risk fee; settlement fees, IAS fee (Issuer Access & Settlement).
  • Five: Third Party Fees – 3rd parties means networks other than VISA & MC that are included in your statement. This would include American Express, Discover, and the debit networks if you are using pin debit

Part of the problem in reading a merchant statement is different processors use different category names and different terms to identify charges. That’s why I began by saying it can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?” While there are common terms used for certain fees there is also a wide variation used, depending on the acquirer (the company you signed a merchant agreement with).

Again, part of this is due to an attempt to hide what’s being charged and make it difficult for a competitor to analyze a statement. While that’s ‘somewhat’ understandable – in my opinion it’s a disservice to the merchant. Integrity demands transparency. Maybe if processors were more merchant oriented they’d have a lower turnover and would not have to worry about competition so much. At least that’s my opinion.

Differences Between Products And Services

What are some of the main differences between products and services? And when are these relevant?

Tangibility versus Intangibility

Products are tangible. You can buy pork as a tangible product. You buy it, you ship it and sell it. In the same way as you buy stamps, cigarettes and cars.

Financial service companies however, make it possible to exchange pork bellies Futures, on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). A future is (not the most simple example of) a service with which you can hedge your risk. In this last case, most of the people trading on the CME will never see or smell the pork bellies.

The ownership between products and services is different. A stock could be called a financial product that you own. You can place a stock order which might result in a transaction later on. Your bank services a depot fee for saving you a lot of work. You cannot own a service.

Where the product is much more standardized, the service is tailor-made. Companies differentiate in offering products and services, but the variations between similar products of different producers are less prominent than the variations between services.

You can count products in the same way as you can count your money (or have your bank service you this information). A service is not countable, but is “leveled;” better than the best service is not possible. There is a limit in what a service can offer.

A product is produced by a manufacturing process. A service is offered by the utility element of companies; you subscribe to a service in the same way as you subscribe to your gas and electricity supplier.

And this brings us to the essential of these differences; changing from one (product approach) to the other (service offering) is very complex, because of the last mentioned differences. Not only the process is different but the style change you need to support this change… Good Luck.

© 2006 Hans Bool

Electronic World – How We Use Electronics in Daily Life

Using electronics today is so much a part of our daily lives we hardly think of the way the world would be without electronics. Everything from cooking to music uses electronics or electronic components in some way. Our family car has many electronic components, as does our cooking stove, laptop and cell phone. Children and teenagers carry mobile phones with them everywhere and use them to take and send pictures, videos, and to play music. They send text messages on the cell phone to other phones and to their home computers.

Wireless internet is becoming more common all the time, with laptops set up in cyber cafes where people can drink coffee and check their email all at the same time. The computer user can do all the web searching in relative privacy thanks to the electronic accessories which can be added to the computer. Conversely, more and more transactions are being sent electronically across the airwaves so security is becoming a larger issue than ever before. Merchants who sell products online must be able to assure their customers that information submitted at a website is not being accessed by unauthorized personnel.

Music is a prime user of electronics, both in recording and in playback mode. Stereos, record players, tape decks, cassette players, CD drives and DVD players are all the result of advances in electronics technology in the last few decades. Today people can carry a playlist of hundreds of songs around with them easily in a very small device–easily portable. When you add Bluetooth or headphones the music can be heard by the user, but does not disturb those nearby.

Electronics technology in cameras has increased dramatically. A digital camera is available to most Americans at a price they can afford and cellphones often includes a fairly sophisticated digital camera that can capture still pictures or even video pictures and store them or transfer them to a computer where they can be saved, shared digitally with family or friends or printed out in hard form with a photo printer device. Pictures obtained through a camera or by means of a scanner can be edited, cropped, enhanced or enlarged easily through the marvel of electronics.

Literally thousands of everyday devices that we use constantly make use of electronics technology in order to operate. These are products ranging from automotive engines to automated equipment in production settings. Even artistic efforts benefit from computer modeling prior to the committing of valuable artistic media to create the finished product.

Electronics devices are being used in the health field, not only to assist in diagnosis and determination of medical problems, but to assist in the research that is providing treatment and cures for illnesses and even genetic anomalies. Equipment such as MRI, CAT and the older X-rays, tests for diabetes, cholesterol and other blood component tests all rely on electronics in order to do their work quickly and accurately. Pacemakers and similar equipment implanted in the body is now almost routine.

Why Computer Hardware Is Important

In this day and age, it is hard to deny the influence of technology in our lives. We live in an era where pretty much is automated and computerized. And amidst all the technological advancement that humankind has achieved, one important device has been created that will only sure to become more relevant to our lives as technology progresses, the computer. No one can deny that computers are now an essential part of our lives, the same way a cell phone and television does. It is safe to say that in this day and age, having no computer would be an inconvenience. Which is why it is important that we know the how our computer works so that we would be aware of the things that we should do in case it stops working. The hardware of the computer is considered to be the most important because without it, it will simply not work.

Simply put if you know how to handle the hardware of a computer and know each of their function for the unit, then you can easily determine what the problem is in case the unit stops functioning. In order to be familiar with basic computer troubleshooting, then you also need to be familiar with computer hardware. A good example of this is the memory of the computer (RAM). All programs and applications that are ran in a computer needs memory. Without RAM it simply won’t function. Aside from that, even if you have a RAM but it does have the specifications to keep up with the programs that are being ran, then the operation would be slowed down to a crawl. So when it comes to computer hardware, you have to make sure that it is not obsolete, so you need to upgrade depending on what sort of program that you are usually using.

When handling computer hardware, you have to keep in mind some safety measures so you can manipulate the unit safely. Before opening any computer cases, you have to make sure that the unit is unplugged or you might risk electrocution or shocks. While checking your hardware components, always check for damaged parts because that is most likely the one that is causing problems. When inserting components and parts, you have to remember that if it doesn’t fit, then most likely you are inserting it on the wrong slot. If it does not fit, then do not force it or you will risk breaking the component. Before touching any parts inside the unit, make sure that you discharge yourself first by through a grounded metal object or you can use an anti-static wrist strap or mat which is sold in stores for cheap.

By knowing and analyzing every computer hardware part you will know about its importance and if it ever breaks down then you can perform the proper troubleshooting steps. Every hardware component is important for the computer’s operation. The performance of your computer largely depends on how good your hardware is, so be sure that they are always in good working condition.