We operate an online information system for the crafts industry which
we are proposing to expand to a North American level using the
Internet. We need to be able to charge fees for data and, because we
are a small non-profit, don't have the ability to bill after the fact;
we need to be able to process credit card transactions online or do
some sort of pre-authorized electronic cheque withdrawl.
Needless to say we've not been getting the greatest reaction from the
banks. Their reaction when hearing our plans is to class to tell us
of that we would be classed as a standard "mail/phone order" merchant,
that we would have to post a bond of $100,000 to cover fraud and pay
somewhere in the neighbourhood of $5000 for custom software and
monthly charges of between $65 and $150. They usually add that they
fully expect that we'd lose our shirt if we went ahead. We can't
afford any of this.
Teleflora Creditline, a branch of the folks who deliver flowers by
"wire" have done a lot of work on this in the U.S. and, indeed, have a
pretty decent set up (initial set-up fee of $150, 2.55% and 25 cents
per transaction, phone 1-800-842-7111). Their services are not, alas,
duplicated by their cousins at Teleflora Canada (I'm trying to
encourage them ...).
So, I am looking for pointers either to other third party VISA/MC
transaction processors like Teleflora (who operate in Canada) _or_
some suggestions as to how I might otherwise receive payment in "real
time" from many different people all over North America whose
signature I can't get.
I'll summarize email I receive and post it here.
PETER RUKAVINA * Information Manager * PEI Crafts Council
156 Richmond St., C*tetown, PEI CANADA C1A 1H9 +1 902 566 1584
[Moderator's Note: Getting a VISA/MC Merchant account is *very difficult*
for people operating small mail order businesses. Some of the banks get
quite arrogant in fact, with their 'requirements' ... its as though there
was a law saying you HAD to deal with them. I've had very good luck with
an electronic funds transfer service operated by First Financial Banking
Services, a subsidiary of a major bank. Called 'Checks By Phone', it is
a service which allows mail/phone order businesses to receive customer
authorization to debit their checking account over the phone, then
send the same information by fax or modem to FFBS's processing office.
You get your money usually 48 hours later (either it is credited to
the bank account of your choice, or you are sent a paper draft) and
your customer's bank account is debited within 3-4 days. The customer
gets a description of the debit in their next bank statement. This Digest
is a client of FFBS, and I've received many payments via 'Checks By Phone.'
It was no hassle to sign up; my account was in the network about two
weeks after I applied. They specifically deal with small business people
and don't have a lot of red-tape and paperwork to join. They don't care
how small you are, and they assume you are honest until you demonstate
otherwise. Processing fees are a little more expensive than credit cards
and you can purchase check guarentee from them for an extra fee. The
other thing is, they are set up to deal with banks on the United States
ABA transit system (which does include a few foreign banks). So they
might not be able to handle Canadian customers in all cases. But I've
found them quite helpful and efficient when working with my customers
in the USA. Anyone who wants more information about becoming a merchant
and I will respond. PAT]