Middle-Men That Are Actually Worth Using

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helping-handIt’s no secret that the merchant account industry is a difficult maze to navigate, but I have a hunch it’s supposed to be that way.

Maybe it’s supposed to be difficult, to deter us from ever questioning our contracts. Maybe it’s supposed to be difficult, so we continue walking blindly into terms that are obviously not in our favor. Maybe it’s supposed to be difficult, so MSP’s can continue to nickle and dime us month after month…you get the point, right?

We’ve all seen it with so many other industries. Companies taking advantage of the fact that most of us are L.A.Z.Y! It takes a HUGE amount of motivation for us to change anything, so we just leave it alone. A little fee here, a little charge there, no big deal.

If you’ve had the chance to read any of my posts, you’ll see that I could care less about keeping with the “obscurity” mantra. Matter of fact, I do everything in my power to educate merchants and expose any fraudulent companies or practices.

I take it as my job to lead business owners down the right path when it comes to finding a merchant service provider, and luckily, I’m not alone.

There are a handful of awesome resources popping up online that can help give you a fighting chance in this game (the keyword being “handful”). Hopefully in the future we’ll have more than just a few of these guys, but for now, we’re happy with the ones we’ve got.

They range from merchant account consultants to payment operations auditor’s to reverse auction quote companies that help you get the best deal by having MSP’s bid for your business.

All great ways to load the dice in your favor.

The Merchant Account Consultant

merchant-consultant-consultingGood luck trying to find one of these. My search on Google brought back only a few results, and most of them looked like consultants that offer merchant services on the side…how convenient.

“So you’re telling me that the best way for me to lower my fees is to just switch over to your company? That’s awesome Mr. Consultant! I wish I would’ve found you earlier. Gee thanks!”

I’d be highly skeptical of merchant account consultants that are also merchant account providers themselves. If that’s not a conflict of interest, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, I was able to find four consulting companies that look pretty reputable…

EP Consulting
Adam Pflaumer is the owner of EP Consulting based out of Temecula, Ca. According to his bio, he’s been in the payment processing business for 15 years. That’s great and all, but what matters to me is if he can deliver the goods…it looks like he can.

Apparently, EP Consulting works on a results-only basis, which is great. Their job is to review your merchant account statements and spot areas where they can lower your fees. They then negotiate the new terms with your merchant service provider. If they don’t lower your fees, you don’t have to pay. As always, make sure you clarify those terms before you sign the dotted line.

To buy yourself some more assurance, go ahead and contact all the testimonials listed on their site, and ask for some references as well.

The Merchant’s Guide
Mike Shatz runs TheMerchantsGuide.com, which is an educational and consulting service site for merchant accounts. He’s been in the industry for 20 years, and actually served as Vice President of Sales at Litle&Co, so it’s safe to say that he knows his Shat…sorry Mike…it’s the last name. πŸ™‚

Mike has written an outstanding book on the subject of merchant account fees called: “Understanding Merchant Account Fees In Card-Not-Present Environments” Wow! That’s a mouthful! But, a really informative book nonetheless.

He also offers both consulting services and a payment operations audit, which might sound pretty technical, but it’s basically the same thing that EP Consulting does. He finds out where you’re spending too much in fees, then attempts to reduce them for you.

MerchantFeeSavers.com
Phil Hinke who runs the website MerchantFeeSavers.com. Phil is an industry veteran with almost 20 years of credit card processing experience. He’s also a frequent contributor to the popular website Practical Ecommerce.

Much like the others mentioned above, Phil can help you by acting as your consultant through the entire application process. He can help you audit your current statements to check for savings opportunities. He can negotiate any terms for you moving forward, then keep an eye on your account or educate you along the way. Bottom line…He’d be a good person to have on your side.

Merchant Maverick
Yes, you read it right. I have to give myself a shameless plug too. Visit my services page to learn more. πŸ™‚

Merchant Account Quote and Comparison Services

apples-to-apples-comparisonThis category is still in its infancy, and most merchants don’t even know these kinds of services exist. The easiest way for me to explain the companies I’m about to list would be to think of them as the LendingTree of merchant accounts.

They all help you find the right merchant service provider, much I like I do with my words, but they do it with software.

CardFellow
CardFellow is a comparison shopping engine for the merchant account industry. They collect your business information from you, then run a reverse auction by allowing merchant service providers (MSP’s) to bid for your business. They then assist you in choosing the right provider.

The service is free because they get paid by the ISO/MSP, so you don’t have to worry about shelling out any of your own cash.Β CardFellow makes money by charging merchant service providers a one-time flat fee to place a quote.

Conclusion

It really is unfortunate that as business owners we’re forced to hire “go-between’s” to deal with the first set of middle-men (ISO’s/MSP’s) to begin with. And for what? Just to be sure that we’re not gonna get ripped off?

Not to discount the great service that these folks offer, but if we had just a tad bit more transparency in the industry, then there wouldn’t even be a need for these services. But wait, I almost forgot…

I almost forgot that we live in a world where the federal government bails out banks to the tune of two trillion dollars, then allows those same banks to operate with impunity while the rest of us lazy consumers fit the bill.

In a world like ours, we need this type of middle-man because at least these guys are working to bail us out. They’re on our side.

Amad Ebrahimi
Amad has worked in the eCommerce and online marketing world since 2002. He started as an eBay seller, then slowly graduated to building & marketing his own websites and consulting others to do the same. He founded Merchant Maverick out of frustration with all the misinformation and shady tactics that he encountered when trying to find a merchant account for his and his client's businesses. He's the man behind most of the merchant account reviews, and articles posted on MerchantMaverick.com. Have any questions related to credit card processing? Talk to him.
Amad Ebrahimi
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12 Comments

    Hollywood Storage Center

    Using Adam is a no brainer. He saves you money( In my case, big bucks) and there is no expense out of your pocket! It’s a win, win opportunity.

      Brit Reich - Luxe Home Interiors

      A friend referred Adam and EP Consulting to us here at Luxe Home Interiors (Formerly DOTI). All I had to do was fax over my merchant statement once a month and EP Consulting did the rest. Adam did all the work and we saved hundreds of dollars a month.

        Corinne Wetzel

        EP Consulting is an excellent investment. We know better than to think merchant service expenses are something that we can truly minimize without some type of inside industry help. Its all so confusing! With Adam Pflumer’s help we have reduced our merchant service cost by 30%. It has made a huge difference for us without a lot of effort. Give Adam a call or check out his website http://www.epconsulting.com.

          Michael Wagenstein

          We were referred to EP consulting through another company and were pleasantly surprised that he only charges or collects his fee based on his results. Adam gets paid if he can save you money on monthly Credit Card Merchant fees, so if there are no savings then he does not get a dime. I can assure you that Adam does and will save you money in which case I considered the savings free money that I did not know we were paying our Merchant processor. The fee that Adam collects is very reasonable and comes from the savings he gets for you. The contract period was 1 year which is extremely reasonable and after that contract period we get to keep all the savings. During these hard economic times this can make the difference between being in the Red or in the Black. So don’t wait contact Adam right away http://www.epconsulting.com.

            Tim Bal/Brandel Masonry Supplies

            We own a retail/wholesale building materials business with storefronts in Temecula and Pomona, CA. We hired Adam at EP Consulting to reveiw our contracts and negotiate new terms with a selected provider. We have saved over $3500 per year for the last two years and Adam continues to provide valuable advice for any on-going issues. We would highly recommend EP Consulting for anyone currently accepting credit/debit cards,

              David/Hemet Vally Pipe and Supply

              Adam looked over my service and negotiated the fees for us. He not only had the fees lowerd but he also helped us understand The way the system works to keep the rates at there lowest. No Bull.

                The Merchant Maverick

                Wow! It seems like you have some fans Adam. πŸ™‚

                  Cheryl Zevotek/Granitek Stone Tools, Inc

                  We have a small business and EP Consulting has helped us tremendously! We were sick of being nickeled and dimed to death and not understanding the contract lingo. We had had it. We found and Adam Pflaumer at EP Consulting and he helped us more that we could have imagined. He is very kind and explains all the rate information in a very understandable way. He will go to bat for you! Adam Pflaumer and his company will never charge a dime unless they will absolutely save you money!
                  Call him, you will be glad you did!

                    Carl Hoffman

                    I am an Owner- Partner of Slap’n Leather Motorcycle Gear in Temecula. I was referred to Adam at EP Consulting from another company that was successful with
                    Adams company. I had tried a few other Companies that promised the world, but could not delivered. In come EP Consulting and with in a very few moments had me the best rates. Everything he said, he came through with . Plus if i have any questions, I can call Adam and he immediately helps me through them with no hesitation . The money he has saved our company is incredible!! If you want to eliminate the aggrevation of these want-to-be companies promising you
                    the sky, Call Adam at EP Consulting for a job well done!!

                      Michelle Nicolaides

                      I own a small business in Temecula, CA. I hired Adam Pflaumer at EP Consulting in April of 2008. I used him for 1 year and saved nearly $7,000.00 in merchant fees over those 12 months. A large amount of my sales are paid by credit cards and these fees are an enormous part of my expenses. Adam re-negotiated with the processing company that I was with and also armed me with the knowledge to read and calculate the statements, (which I think are intentionally made to confuse people). After the first year I felt confident enough to go it alone and now I am enjoying 100% of the profits. I consider the extra profits that I shared with Adam, an extremely worthwile investment for my business. I will use him again in the future if I think I need help and I would highly recommend him to anyone looking to increase their bottom line. P.S. No savings, No Pay.

                        Steve

                        My name is Steve and I own a house cleaning franchise. I met Adam at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Temecula. He told me he could save me some money on our credit card merchant fees. We decided to give Adam a try. Adam negotiated with our credit card merchant company and saved us about $3,000 per year in processing fees. Each month for 1 year we received a statement showing our savings and Adams fees. He charged me 50% of the savings each month for 1 year. Best part about the service is that it cost me nothing $0 out of pocket. Give Adam a call if you want to save money on your credit card processing fees!

                          Susan Abraham

                          I have had a relationship with Adam Pflaumer of EP Consulting for the last 10 months. Over that period of time, Adam has saved us almost $13,000 in credit card transaction fees. Not only did he re-negotiate the fee structure with our bank, but he has also come to our business for a couple of training sessions. The training was a tremendous benefit and so helpful. It helped our cashiers better understand the importance of putting in needed information. I would defiantly recommend his consulting firm to anyone who asks.

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