"What do you do?"

"Merchant services." It is an odd thing to describe to anyone who doesn't own a business that takes credit cards. If you're a pilot, you say "I'm a pilot." and everyone understands and moves on with their conversation. But most people don't think about credit card terminals, the service behind it, or the many companies it takes to make a single transaction work. 

ePOS LLC is a company I set up to refer clients to the correct merchant services processor so they can get the best deal and free local tech support. My almost 20 years experience in the industry tells me exactly where a referred client can get the best deal. I am not paid by clients who are referred to my partner processors. There is no application fee.

So how do we make a profit? Everyone needs a profit to live and to thrive. We make our living by referral payments from our processing partner. Much like an independent insurance agent, I find the figurative best "policy" for business owners in America. 

This free service saves referred clients money and gives them a local person to whom they can pose questions and get straight answers. 

I write this in part to publicly clarify what ePOS does for transparency to my clients. And in part to clarify that we do not owe for taxes in Multnomah county. We owe Oregon state taxes and federal taxes as we are located and doing business in North Plains Oregon. 

We moved and improve

ePOS Merchant Services has relocated, expanding from our small Beaverton location to lovely North Plains, Oregon. Located just a few exits west of Beaverton off HWY 26.  

My wife and I have remodeled a new four bedroom home. With just the two of us, we have plenty of extra room for office space. Many people are hesitant to admit that they office out of their home. But by saving $2500 to $4000 per month by not leasing or purchasing office space, we can be more profitable, charge our clients less, and have more money free for the charities we care about.

Of course usually we come to your location, but we welcome visitors here by appointment. Coffee is at 7:30 am (and 5 more subsequent times throughout the day), and (if we've earned it) cocktails are promptly at 6 pm. 

 

Jason Hanson, Owner

ePOS Merchant Services

10750 NW 289th Ave

North Plains, OR 97133

 (888) 560-9025

 

What's EMV and What Needs to be Done by 10/15?

Telemarketers are now plaguing business owners with claims that they need a new credit card terminal by October to read the new EMV (Europay/MasterCard/Visa) chip cards. Is this true? 

Well the short answer is no. You can still take credit cards after Oct 2015 without upgrading your hardware. Yes, more and more people will be coming into your business with chip cards. But for now, you don't need a new terminal. Flip that card over: mag strip. Swipe. Boom. Life hack.

However, to be PCI compliant (see earlier post about that), many merchants will need to update their terminal software. If they don't, they may face a small monthly PCI fee.

But preying on misinformation, many sales people are trying to rush people into leasing a new terminal. For example, John at Gene's Deli (9220 SW Barbur Blvd., Portland, OR) (try the Rueben) got a call from a sales person who insisted he needed to lease a new terminal for $50 per month for 48 months. Turns out the 'fancy new terminal' was available on Amazon for $275. But they wanted to charge $2400 plus other fees. Really? 1100% markup? John didn't fall for it and neither should you. 

Maybe you do need a new terminal. Maybe you just want one to take ApplePay. Don't lease. Don't buy. Don't be victimized by commissioned sales people. 

My company will loan you a new Verifone VX-520 NFC EMV ApplePay (google it) terminal for just $1. And if you don't have a buck on you, heck, you can just have it free. OK, they're free for everyone.  

No contracts. No charge terminals. 

Let's get down to business. 

 

Jason Hanson, ePOS

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Please hold for a 17-minute survey…

Don't you just hate being hounded to give reviews? For the most part, I feel that surveys waste our time on this planet. And plenty of other people are usually willing to review a small business on Yelp or Google+. 

But merchant service companies are often reviewed only when something went wrong. Why? Because the credit card terminal is like an air-conditioner-- you only notice it when it breaks. 

If your merchant service company works hard to give you good, honest service please give them (or us) a review. Rate us on Google+ through the Google Map app, or by searching ePOS Portland Google+ and click on the pencil icon.  

Honest companies like mine, or for example Signature Business Solutions in Arizona, need your recommendation to succeed. Plus, by recommending people like us, you're reinforcing honest business practices in a wildly unregulated industry. 

Thank you! 

Jason Hanson, ePOS 

Source: http://plus.google.com/+ePOSPortland

In 1998 . . .

I started selling merchant services. I was not quite 18. My dad had to sign the forms as the "sales rep" so everything was legit. But the owner at Grandma Goodman's Country Store in St. David, AZ, took a chance and signed up for credit card processing services from a kid.

I'll never forget that first merchant. I worked for three months trying to sell, but no one wanted to buy from a 17 year-old who looked 14. 

Since then I have grown by working in merchant services with several different ISO's. In 2009, I opened my own ISO. 

Our small group of four, work hard to help our clients and provide real value in North Plains, Oregon. 

You can call, email, or make an appointment to stop by. Tea is at 3. Cocktails at 6. 

Jason Hanson, ePOS

PCI Compliance--What Does it Mean?

A few years back the Payment Card Industry came up with a security standard. The idea was to have every merchant complete a list of questions verifying that they handle customer's credit card numbers and information in a secure way. 

PCI Compliance process helps merchants keep their businesses secure. For example, if a business has a computer POS system handling their credit card transactions, PCI compliance requires a scan of the computers once a year and continuously updated security software. Keeping these things up to date prevents criminals from stealing your customers' card numbers. Just like locking the back door every night. 

The annoying news is that non-compliant merchants are charged a monthly fee of $19.95. Please know that this is not a trumped up fee to pad ePOS' wallet. We don't receive this money. It goes to offset the risk of merchants who chose to ignore PCI security standards.

We want EVERY ePOS merchant compliant all the time. We are reaching out to our customers this month and helping everyone get compliant. Please, if you get an email from us, or from MyPCI.com, these are legitimate attempts to help you from your current merchant services company. Of course if you get a call or email from someone other than ePOS or MyPCI.com, kindly disregard. 

PCI Compliance saves you money and protects you from liability. Please check your statement for PCI Non-complaince fees. Contact us. We will help you get compliant and prevent further costs imposed by the industry. 

Jason Hanson, ePOS

(Even we have to do it. See?)

Early Termination Fees from Credit Card Processing ISO's

Three days ago in Portland, a small clothing retailer called their old merchant services company to close their account. 

After a three minute hold the representative came back on the line and said that the early termination fee came to $1547.

The business owner called me for help. We both agreed that $1547 seemed like an arbitrary and insane figure. So we had called back and demanded the representative send us a copy of the original signed contract that indicated such a large early termination fee. Upon examination of the contract we found that no such early termination fee was indicated. 

So if you find yourself closing your account with another merchant services company, never pay the early termination fee without demanding a copy of the signed contract first.

And in today's competitive market there is absolutely no reason to ever sign a contract for credit card processing that requires an early termination fee.

Why not go with ePOS? We have no contracts, and no early termination fees.

The only way we can retain your business is by providing excellent low cost service, and free modern Apple pay compatible equipment. 

And even if we can't get you out of your current contract, we do have a program that pays up to $300 of your early termination fee when you open an account with ePOS. Love. Not contracts. 

 

 

Jason Hanson, ePOS  

 

 

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Pictured: Our lovely bright backlit Verifone VX-520. It connects to your internet or phone line, so it's fast and secure. It takes VISA, MasterCard, Discover, Amex, PayPal, Apple Pay, smart cards and will even record cash transactions if you want. Super solid work horse. And we loan it to you free of charge. 100%. For realsies. 🐶

Apple Pay

You may have heard a lot about Apple Pay. As a business owner, here's what you'll want to know. 

What is Apple Pay?

It's a built-in application from Apple for iPhone 6 and 6-plus, that loads all your credit and debit cards right into your phone. Sound risky? Well anyone who stole your phone to use your cards would have to steal your fingerprints too. Here's what Apple has to say about their new application:

"Now paying in stores happens in one natural motion — there’s no need to open an app or even wake your display thanks to the innovative Near Field Communication antenna in iPhone 6. To pay, just hold your iPhone near the contactless reader with your finger on Touch ID. You don’t even have to look at the screen to know your payment information was successfully sent. A subtle vibration and beep let you know."

How Can I Accept Apple Pay?

ePOS now deploys Apple Pay compatible equipment as part of our Free Terminal Program for new customers. 

That's it! If you would like to accept Apple pay, let us know and we'll hook you up. 

Jason Hanson, ePOS

 

Protect Your Business From Scammers

This year we have seen major retailers like The Home Depot and Target hacked. But are scammers and hackers just interested in big business? By no means. Here's what we've seen happen this year IN PORTLAND

1. Malware/Spyware.

The Scam: In a recent report from a NE Portland merchant we saw a customer's credit card number stolen and used overseas. An honest employee entered a loyal customer's credit card into their computer to process an online order through the merchant's virtual terminal. Unfortunately, the employee's personal computer (a Mac) was infected with spyware. The credit card number as entered into the computer was sent back to thieves listening in over the Internet.

How to protect: Always use antivirus/malware/spyware protection on every computer used to process credit cards. Even a Apple computers are vulnerable. We recommend MacKeeper for Mac, and Norton or McAfee for Windows. Keep the software current and scan the computer every week. 

2. Visa Gift Card.

The Scam: In a downtown shop on November 5 (this year), a man walked in and picked out over $1200.00 in merchandise. He then offered to pay with his Visa Gift Card. It came back "declined". Then he called someone from his phone, claiming that it was Visa. The person on the phone walked the cashier through getting the terminal to print a receipt. The receipt didn't look normal. It said "Approval Offline" and it was designed to deceive. The scammer walked out with the merchandise and the merchant was paid nothing. 

How to Protect: Never allow the customer to call his own number for the credit card. Always call the number from the back of the card yourself from your phone. This scam could be done with MasterCard, Discover, or American Express gift cards as well. 

If the terminal says "Declined" you will need to accept a completely different card. 

If the terminal says "Approved Offline" it means that the approval has not been received from the bank. 

3. When Telemarketers Say "Your Terminal is Not PCI Compliant."

The Scam: A merchant services company in Portland is calling merchants pretending to be your current credit card processing company. They start with something like "Hi, this is ______. I'm calling from merchant services to let you know that your terminal is not PCI Compliant. To protect you from fines and fees, we need to upgrade your terminal." 

How To Protect: Ask them directly if they are your current merchant services company. Ask them their company name. Of course we will never call you asking you for information. Why would we? If you are an ePOS customer, you know we already have your account information and know you by name. 

I hope this helps and I hope everyone has a prosperous and happy fourth quarter!

Jason Hanson, ePOS

 

Something New in Restaurant Point of Sale

Just 5 years ago a restaurant had to budget around $5000.00 per station for a fast, quality POS system. The systems were often Windows-based (like Aloha). They were susceptible to spyware and the like, leaving the restaurant open to huge liability when handling customer credit cards. So my little Merchant Services ISO tried to avoid the Touch Screen POS business from 2008 to 2013. We encouraged merchants to use traditional terminals until things got better. Well they have. And now you can get a complete POS station for less than $900.00.

The iPad came out but it took some time to become powerful. Now it is. This has allowed app developers to build comprehensive retail and restaurant apps for tablets. There are now SO MANY options for a new business that wants to use iPads or Android tablets as a POS solution. 

But there is a concern: many POS App developers got into the Merchant Services business. This meant to use their app, you'd have to use their processing service. And once you signed up, you'd be stuck with their rates unless you want to completely change your POS system. 

Then ShopKeep came along. They let you use any Merchant Services company you want. That means you can find the best Merchant Services deal on the market and plug it into your ShopKeep system. They also have no contract and charge just $49 per station, per month.

It also means that they only make money if you use their software. They know you'll only continue using their POS App if it's awesome. Companies who insist on a contract term beyond 30-days in today's market, are usually only doing that because they know you won't stay on your own, out of satisfaction.

That's why ePOS and Shopkeep are now working together. ePOS provides fast, low-cost, credit card processing, and Shopkeep provides the excellent POS application. With both companies you are contract free. Your hardware will work with dozens of other companies out there! We know you'll stay because we know you'll love ShopKeep and ePOS. 

 

Jason Hanson, ePOS

Tablet Terminals-- Advancement, or Just a Pretty Face?

You see them at falafel trucks, ice creameries, and sandwich-eries. Maybe your coffee shop just got one.

Until the last 18 months or so, tablet credit card terminals were a bit janky. But fret not! Two things have happened since the first iPad was presented in 2010. First, the tablet is now way better. Seriously. Pick up an original iPad. It feels downright biblical (tablets...Moses...no?) Second, developers have beautified and streamlined their applications. They're actually a pleasure to use now.

Here are two offerings that in my opinion, represent the product type.

Oh, and just a note to clarify; we are considering the Tablet Terminal. By this we mean the tablet that is designed to replace a credit card terminal and cash register. It's not a full POS system like ShopKeep or LightSpeed. So here it goes:

In Square's case, the product is beautiful, simple, and works with most mobile devices. On the other hand, it's limited and not ready for complex retail inventory or a restaurant table-service environment. Some argue that's not Square's target market. And they're right. Square has made a name by targeting the small/mobile/quick-service-food-carts/handyman/home-service market. The rate of 2.75% is high at a glance. But the lack of other fees is compelling for small, low monthly volume businesses. It's basically a great rate if you process less than $10 average ticket. Merchants with average tickets above $10 and monthly volume over $7500 and you can score a net rate of around 2.00% including all other fees. Square came out of the gate in 2009, focusing on smartphones with some reader and app glitches. But updates and better phones and tablets soon led to smooth sailing. 

PayAnywhere is similar product (that we actually offer). But to be objective, just like Square, it's not right for everyone. It's the same basic billing idea as Square for $12.95 per month and 2.69%. If you process over $5000 per month, you qualify for a loaner tablet from PayAnywhere (Square's stand is $99 plus the tablet). But again, like Square, it's limited. It is designed for the same basic market. Don't expect features like an employee time clock, advanced inventory tracking, table charts for your restaurant, or printed out tip lines. Oddly, in my experience, PayAnywhere actually runs better on Android tablets. The free tablet program is a Samsung encased in a credit card reader with a swivel base. A recent update has resolved glitches and added comprehensive billing explanation. Another nice change is that the advertisement to accept credit cards through PayAnywhere no longer appears on the customer's receipt. If you don't like the 2.69% + $12.95 fee structure, you can opt for a traditional account injected into the app. 

Overall, the Tablet Terminal is better than an old fashioned credit card terminal.

1. They're faster.

2. Customers are used to them.

3. They will connect to a cash drawer and receipt printer.

4. That 16 year-old you just hired as a cashier already knows how to use it as he has a tablet or smart phone on his person. At this moment. 

5. They're cheaper to operate and reduce paper consumption with email and text receipts. 

6. Swiping a card through a dial terminal and waiting 12 seconds and spending 25 cents on the transaction fee alone before the percentage rate is very vintage. Why not prove you were there in '84 with a Cosby sweater, and save the money?

 

Jason Hanson, ePOS

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance and Strategy of Selecting the Right Merchant Services Company

Once you applied for a business license, did you notice all the calls and visits you suddenly received from Merchant Services (credit card processing) sales reps? They offer free terminals, fast customer service, quick funding, and low rates. In exchange, within minutes of speaking to this person, you are expected to share your business checking account number, social security number, EIN, home address, and virtually every other bit of personal and business financial information. 

Surprisingly, this scenario happens many times every day, in nearly every city in North America. The majority of merchant services sales reps are honest and try to provide all they promise. But how secure is the information that the rep took from you? Did they leave your application forms in their car? When they reach their office, is your information locked up properly? Do they use a secure computer system when creating your account?

Beyond all these concerns, you are trusting the company you choose with the success of your business. If their network or equipment fails, how much business will you lose while you wait for customer service to resolve the matter completely?

To protect your company and make the right choice for merchant services, here are some recommendations:

1. Ask the sales rep who else uses their services in your industry and area. Does the rep hesitate or do they have references at the ready?

2. Never sign with a rep you just met (or spoke with on the phone). Take some time to Google their name and their company name. Ten minutes in front of your computer can save you thousands of dollars. Dishonest companies can never hide long from the Internet.

3. Don’t believe just one bad review. We’ve all seen that one difficult or unreasonable customer. Look at the merchant services company as a whole, and see what most people are saying to get a complete picture. 

4. Don’t sign with a sales rep or company who talks negatively about other companies. Sales reps who speak ill of others often do so to hide their own bad reputation. 

5. Call the merchant service company’s support line. How long does it take to get a human who speaks your language clearly?

6. Don’t go with a company that requires a contract. Many offer contract-free accounts. If there’s no contract, they must believe in their service quality to retain you as a client.

The facts are that many merchant service companies offer great products at great prices. If you use your instincts, do your research, and choose a company with experience in your industry, you’re likely to make the right choice. 

-Jason Hanson, ePOS