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I got this note a short time ago and was wondering if anyone else may have gotten the same note from this outfit

Merchant Name: PHOTO SARGE 

Merchant Number (last six digits): 601737

Dear Merchant, 

We are sending you this email because our records indicate that your questionnaire status was changed to "In Progress" due to selecting the re-assess option as of 04/30/2015. In order to maintain your PCI Compliance you MUST complete the process to validate your compliance.

Please log on to https://mcps.pciapply.com/ and continue to finalize the PCI Compliance process. You may print/save your PCI Compliance documents at that time.

Should you require further assistance please contact us at (800) 327-0093 or use the live chat option. Thank you for your continued assistance in contributing to a more secured payment card acceptance environment for all industry members.

Regards,

PCI Compliance Department

Merchants' Choice Payment Solutions 
Office: (800) 327-0093

     When I replied by email asking what service they were providing I got a return message saying this website was not a responsive one or something like that.  

     I called that 800 number to ask just what services they were providing and the lady on the phone was somewhat elusive.  She put me on hold and that was about ten minutes ago.  I'm now listening to a series of recorded messages to tell me why I should stay on hold until someone responds.  

      OK.  She just got back to me to advise that department was closed for the day and transferred me to the voicemail for that department.  

  I have been through this before with a couple of different outfits over the years that charged PCI fees.  None of them were able to provide a scenario in which an art show merchant was protected by their services that they were not already protected from by the credit credit card companies from fraudulent charges.   

      You have that phone number.  If you can get through to them and get a response I'd really like to hear their response.  

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Comment by Bernard Zalon on May 5, 2015 at 7:36pm

That was a big reason that I switched to Square.

Comment by Bill Sargent on May 5, 2015 at 7:05pm

   I wrapped it up with my processor.  Check out your agreements, fees for that questionnaire, etc. and see what the PCI compliance process is actually costing you.  You pay if you do and you pay if you don't.  Someone called me about my blog post and, if I understood her correctly, her processor had been charging her an annual fee of over a hundred bucks to cover the services charges involved in the PCI thing.   

     Go ahead and call your agent or processor and ask them just what the PCI compliance process does to protect you and if they can ask their supervisor to give you a call and furnish one example where a merchant was defended against legal action by any customer for non compliance.  

     Also be aware that your agreement may force you to comply with a requirement for automatic contract renewals for up to two years.  The terms are not made clear when you are told to check the yes box in order to be able to receive service.  

      My impression from all this is that few, if any, banks offering merchant services are transparent with their terms and conditions and are aware at some level this component of their business revenues is dying.  They're whistling past the graveyard while extracting fees that they have come to see as entitlements rather than payment for services that have actual value.  

      On a completely different subject, Wells Fargo is under scrutiny for loading customers with fees for optional services and products they never asked for.  One business owner got notices that a savings account had been opened for him along with a personal account, etc. to go along with his regular business account.   This was not free.  Google this on the news.  

     Anyone wanting to terminate their service will find that the person they contact will refer them to a specialist whose job it is to intimidate the customer into staying on another year or two or face legal action.    Suggestion  Let them know you are keeping a log of your correspondence and posting copies on this website.  Include names and phone numbers.  Demand to see a copy of any service terms you did not agree to or were coerced into accepting in order to get the service.  Chances are these terms were never clear to you.  Sixteen states have passed laws nullifying agreements that contained vague language or were lacking in clarity concerning termination, etc.  

     Again, I was fortunate in being able to terminate my agreement when it became clear in their responses that they had no such agreement from me.  I am not mentioning their name as part of our talk while smoking the peace pipe.  

     It will be interesting to hear other stories about PCI issues, just exactly what PCI is about, and the stealth termination penalties that would never have been agreed to had the terms been made clear to the customer.  

Comment by Lynnea Bennett on May 5, 2015 at 1:01pm

in my youth.. I handled fraud complaints on credit cards at a bank.. in those days it was more often someone stole the physical card and used it.

In the hairsalon I use the same credit card processor as the other employees and every year they have us fill out the PCI compliance stuff.  For us the chance we would take a fraudulent card is slim to none but we have to do it.  We all take the damn survey.. we don't keep the customer numbers/info anywhere but we have to fill it out..  I keep that business separate from my art show business.

I can understand the banks not wanting to continue taking the loss.. but seriously as merchants for the most part we are just doing honest sales and business.  For the most part at shows we all have a physical card and person in front of us.  But we will have to jump thru hoops for the privilege.  I'd say that if the request came from your card processor you probably have no choice if that is who you want to use.. if it was random I'd call your processor for more info.

Comment by Alan Anderson on May 1, 2015 at 11:29am

As is everyone.  Until they are not.  Google "Square Complaints". I for one won't buy anything with a card if they are using Square.

Comment by Bernard Zalon on May 1, 2015 at 11:21am
Well, all I can say is I have a variety of sale amounts, usually $500 or less, but I just had one for a couple thousand on a Sunday and it was in my account on Monday. Square's never held my money for mor than a day or two. I'm very happy with Square.
Comment by Alan Anderson on May 1, 2015 at 10:52am

Prior to the failure of the knee-jerk gun control bill 2 years ago, p22 read "Sales of firearms online" as a prohibited use.  within weeks of that bill failing, it changed to "(22) sales of (i) firearms, firearm parts or hardware, and ammunition; or (ii) weapons and other devices designed to cause physical injury"  If you, in THEIR sole opinion, violate this, they will terminate your account and hold your funds pretty much as long as they dam well like.  Of course, if you are typically making lets say $150 transactions, then get a big sale of $2500, they can hold your money for 70 days, or if your keyed transaction suddenly skyrocket, they can do the same.

Comment by Bernard Zalon on May 1, 2015 at 10:42am

I've never needed any customer service from Square that couldn't wait.  I must admit, however that I haven't read their merchant agreement.  My bad.  Anti Second Amendment?  Huh?

Comment by Alan Anderson on May 1, 2015 at 10:34am

PayPal and SalesVu are much better options than Square.

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on May 1, 2015 at 10:34am

I get calls about being a merchant regularly, not quite monthly, but every other month. Someone is always trying to sell merchant services. I DON'T TALK WITH ANYONE OTHER THAN MY MERCHANT ACCOUNT PROVIDER. And when someone contacts me about compliance or new technology or anything that might have something to do with my banking procedures, I hang up and call my merchant account provider to learn what they require.

Comment by Alan Anderson on May 1, 2015 at 10:33am

Other than the fact that Square has horrible customer service, the worst merchant agreement in the world, and is incredibly anti-2nd amendment, that makes sense!

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