What to do about a bad card...

In the past I haven't had any problems with getting bad cards, but this year is turning out kinda sucky. A couple weeks ago I sold $200 worth of art to a perfectly nice woman who was shopping with her 40-something daughter. Both purchased something, and the daughter's charge for $70-ish went through fine, but Mom's card has been declined. I called it in twice, no dice. I've called both Mom and Daughter, but am receiving no replies. Does anyone have experience with using a collection agency? Cause now I'm a little ticked off. This is the third bad card this year.

Up til now, I haven't lost enough to warrant investing in a phone/square, etc, and have just been using a knuckle-buster. I can start calling in bigger purchases from the shows in the future but for now I just need some advice about what I can do to collect this one. Thanks!

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  • Now take the $200 and buy a smart phone...  You had written it off right?
    • Ha! Perfect idea. I think the problem is with my merchant services - I got a second card number from her and it still won't go through, but nobody can tell me why it's not going through. They are Venezuelan cards, one a Visa & one a Master Card, but she/they say it has been working at the stores in the area. She is willing to meet me and just give me cash, but the cards not going through with my bank is troubling.


      Has anyone else had problems with merchant services not clearing out-of-country cards?

  • Yes, yes, I know it's my fault. And as I said in the initial message, I will be calling them in from now on. I am duly humbled. It's easy to let that step go when it's busy. Speed dial is a great idea, and I am going to find out if I can bypass typing in the 20-something code and just get a person to take the info. A smart phone is not in the budget this year, but I'll start researching my options.


    I called the slip in twice now, but I'll try again next week. Thanks for all the tips.

    • There's usually a limit on the number of times that you can try to authorize a card number. Can't remember if it's two or three. After that, it won't go through. Contacting the miscreant is the best way to get your money. If they won't answer your phone calls and don't respond to email, the money's probably lost.
      • I just got a phone message from the woman's daughter, who had been out of town. She thinks the problem might be because her mother's card is foreign (Venezuela). I haven't managed to connect with her yet, but looks like maybe there's a chance it will turn out okay.


        Thanks Jim for the heads-up. I'll check with our merchant services to see what the limit is.

    • Hi Steph,

      When you do finally take the plunge on a smart phone you won't be sorry.  I dragged my feet as long as I could but now just love my phone.  I pay about $12 a month for the merchant warehouse account and have to type in the credit card info by hand as opposed to swiping it but it doesn't take any longer than the knucklebuster did and I'm never worried about a declined card. My sales are larger (paintings) so there's not really a rush in my booth and by the time my husband gets the painting wrapped I'm all done writing up the sale and have it approved and the receipt emailed to the customer if they want it.  It almost always shows up in my account by the next day.  If I had a lot of small sales I would probably go with a swipe of some kind but even typing it in, it won't go through if you type it wrong and it will talk you though your mistake.  It's very simple.  Good luck!

      • Amy,

           I would look into the square because there is no monthly fee and you swipe the card on the atttachment they send you for free.  The app is free.  All you pay is the processing fee about 2.75% on the transaction.  No transactions for the month - no fee.  Great for those of us who may not have shows 12 months a year.

        • Yep, that would be the one I'd switch to most likely.  Without going back to the numerous threads on the subject, I think I was waiting to see how they handled transactions over a certain amount.  Wasn't there something about them holding monies for 30 days?  It sounds like they are resolving that and depositing funds directly. 

          Truthfully, I think they are all about the same and the few dollars one way or the other doesn't add up to much and I don't like spending my time worrying over a half a percent here or there.  Call me lazy, but I just raised the prices of my paintings a tad to cover the credit card fees and knock off 3% if someone asks and is paying by check or cash.  When I figure out what I pay to Merchant Warehouse for fees and monthly charge it came to 3.1% of my cc sales.  So yeah, I could save a dollar or two on a $500 sale with the square, but by the time I jump through the hoops to change companies, some other cc company will have the "deal of a lifetime" and on and on it goes.  

          • They only hold money for 30 days if you do not swipe the card and type in the number and it's over $1,000 per week, I believe.  Since using the square, I have swiped all of my transactions totaling more than $1,000 a week, got 1 declined credit card, and they have deposited all of my money within 2 days.

            I'm one happy camper. 

            • When was the decline? At the time of purchase or was it later and charged back to you?

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