Middle-Men That Are Actually Worth Using
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
“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…
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. 🙂
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.
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.
Yes, you read it right. I have to give myself a shameless plug too. Visit my services page to learn more. 🙂
Merchant Account Quote and Comparison Services
This 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 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. CardFellow makes money by charging merchant service providers a one-time flat fee to place a quote.
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.