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Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

Monthly fees, bank service fees, percentage of sales fees, equipment fees, new qualification fees...you name it we can get socked with fees. I use a seasonal account for when I do art shows. Offering credit card options definitely makes a difference in sales. Is there a credit card server, anyone knows of, where rates aren't eatting up our profits?

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When my old Nurit died a few years ago, I switched over to Guy McDonald. I think that they are reasonable and they do support the artists, even donating to artists who have had severe financial problems. You should compare their rates and service to whatever else you're considering:
http://teamacinc.com

Larry Berman
Digital Jury Services
http://BermanGraphics.com
Test Your Jury Images and Presentation
http://JuryImages.com
412-401-8100
Thank you Larry I will check them out.
I too have been familiar with Guy for many years, and if anybody can get you what you're looking for, he can.

But you also have a complaint that merchants have had for years. The fees keep rising. And they are going to go up even more since Congress started limiting what the card companies can do as of Feb 1. So they are going after the merchants. People have testified before Congress complaining about rewards cards. The customer gets the rewards and the merchants pay for them in a higher discount rate. There's the new $100 fee attached to the merchant acounts. Wal Mart has no problem paying the fees but the little guy does. But the card issuers see us as no different than Wal Mart.

So believe it or not, I have taken down my Visa/MasterCard sign. I have cancelled my AMEX and Discover acounts. I don't advertise the fact I take plastic. If someone asks, I of course will take the card, but my cash sales have actually increased! Most cards I take are now debit cards anyway with fewer and fewer actual credit cards. There were commercials where there was a coffee shop and everybody was swiping their card for coffee and a doughnut. Swipe the card for a $5 purchase. I was starting to get a card handed to me for an $8 item. And since the contract with Visa/MasterCard say I cannot deny that transaction, I was starting to lose money taking plastic.

Now one thing everyone has to remember. Visa/MasterCard aren't the bad guys here. They get the same amount per transaction whether it's $5 or $500. The processors we're with take the rest. They advertise 1.5% per transaction. But when we get a business card it goes to 2.25%. When we get a rewards card it goes to 3.25%. And you never know what the percentage is until you get your statement.

They talk about reigning in the credit card companies. I won't hold my breath.
I noticed more cash sales this year too. I have trouble reading my merchant statement with all the different fees. Its mind boggling sometimes. Thanks for your reply.
Through 1st National Processing the only increase I have noticed is through the credit card companies themselves where quarterly merchants, the artists, have to pay about $30-40 for credit card fraud protection as set by MC and Visa. This is something all merchants have to pay and this isn't cool with me as with what Chris says, yes some big companies can afford it, but not the smaller ones. Other that my monthly fee of $8 is still the same since I started a few years a go and the processing fee has stayed the same too. On their website, 1st National Processing, they have a pretty informative article about "reading the fine" print no matter which processing company you go through. I highly recommend reading it for anyone thinking about switching or contemplating about starting to accept credit cards. The article isn't slated, in my opinion, about hard selling 1st Nat.'s machines and stuff - pretty well rounded like giving you the facts and letting folks decide for themselves about the rest.

I most likely will always take credit cards regardless. It is evident that in today's society that people rarely carry cash any more - at least for big purchases. Those who don't take plastic I think are seeing this loud and clear. It bothers me that the c.c. companies know this and are able to take advantage of the situation. It is also frustrating that there isn't a voice for the smaller people on Capital Hill either, as fees shouldn't blanket all types a businesses as we clearly are not all the same. I don't mind paying for the use of my merchant account - its part of playing the game, but when it gets excessive, that is where I draw the line.

Michelle
Well that is one fee I hope not to see. CC Fraud Protection Fee. That is news to me, as a merchant. Thanks Michelle.
We were told a while back we had to be 'certified' for PCI compliance (even though we only used a knuckle-buster and paper). I went through the online process and passed. When I called my provider back then to ask why we had to do this I was told that it didn't really apply to us as we had a dial-pay account and were manual. Three months back we started getting charged $25 per month for non-compliance and then last month an additional $75 for an annual compliance fee! The processing outfit had just been bought out by another company and it took me over six weeks to finally talk to a real person about it all. This 'customer service' person told me I'd been misinformed, and that because we were manual and paper only, we could NOT be certified as compliant and would have to pay the $25 monthly fee going forward. I closed the account immediately.

Since some of our items go well over $100, I spent a few days looking about for another merchant account. We finally settled on Chase, which has it's own network (we don't have to worry about PCI stuff and will never be charged for it), has reasonable monthly fees and charges flat rates for credit (even if they're points/rewards cards!) and debit cards. There are other providers like Chase, but the key is to find one that has it's own network and you don't have to worry about the PCI mess.
I had to do the PCI test also back in June costing $65. (I am set up manual and with trans unit to plug in # manual. )The processer, Elavon, said if we didn't take the test we would have a $20 monthly charge starting Oct. until we took the test. And every year we have to get recertified and pay again. No matter what, it stinks.
Glad you got rid of that processer. What a rip off. Who were they? Can you report them?
I was just going through a cable news site and read where the Senate is loking into these fees. We'll see. But I won't hold my breath.

Now I've noticed something else new. Earlier this year I was handed a VISA card that had no raised or imprinted numbers. The card was printed. I thought this odd, but swiped it anyway, and it was indeed valid. The customer said she just got it as her old card expired. I called my processor and was told the card manufacturer is going this route because of unauthorized people tracing the numbers with a pencil, and using the card fraudulently. So this will stop that practice.

Well, this past weekend I was handed five more of these new cards, so they are getting into the mainstream. But micro businesses like artists and crafters who do not have a terminal are now out of luck. You cannot use these cards in a knucklebuster as no info will appear on the receipt. And if we get a chargeback, we need proof we had that card in out hot little hands. And the only way this was acceptable was through "electronic capture" or imprinting. So... what happens now?
The best you can do is write the numbers manually on a credit card slip and make sure to get a valid signature that you can provide the credit card company. I don't know if this would work but you can also take their picture holding both the artwork and the credit card used to purchase the work.

Larry Berman
Digital Jury Services
http://BermanGraphics.com
Test Your Jury Images and Presentation
http://JuryImages.com
412-401-8100
And who carries a camera all the time to art shows? I sure don't. Larry, I kind of got this hilarious image of customer, card and art thingy. Do we say "smile"? lol Sounds like a shot of the art & cc bandits.
Perhaps we will be introduced to yet another gizmo to operate for credit cards. Something secure for everyone? I wish they would so it would be a whole lot easier then the way we have been with receipts we need to lock up, shred & burn. Maybe a cellphonelike sized card slider? Or was that invented already? Writing all those numbers can be a formula for errors and lots of aggrevation. Should we call can ask what's the plan?
When I went with a cc machine - a swipe one, I knew this was the best option for me as I see knuckle busters as "pre-historic". When I worked at the MD Renaissance Fest. back in the early '90's we used a swipe machine and it was a very old style of one. We wouldn't dare use a knuckle buster although many artists who do shows like ren-fests still use them. With cell phones and other technology so accessible it is easy to see how cards evolve as well as machines to process them. When I compared my options, I just saw myself possibly loosing slips, running out of slips, have issues with the imprint not being legible enough and so on if I went with a knuckle buster. I think this is why things have evolved to swipe machines as they make things simple. Granted I have a roll that prints out slips, however they fit perfectly in my cash drawer of my cash box and when I batch out my system the final read out gets stapled to my receipts and filed. So to take it a step further and phase out knuckle busters - as I saw it coming and know perfectly well my Nurit will be phased out due to technology too - it is just part of being in business. I think the biggest issue is security. I have had my numbers stolen through identity theft (it was quickly caught and rectified). Granted no one is ever safe, but if I can get something done faster and easier - where I don't have to wait for someone to call and verify a number (and be put on hold) and fill out forms and other messes - I am all for it. So, what happens now? Everyone up grades - there is no way around it. - Michelle

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