How To Read A Credit Card Merchant Statement – 5 Ways To Categorize Fees

Reading your merchant statement and finding the rates and fees you’re being charged can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?”. One reason is because there are nearly as many different statement formats as there are merchant acquiring companies. Also, because of how competitive the industry has become, many monthly statements don’t completely disclose the rates being charged. And sometimes they are completely hidden.

I know of banks that don’t even send a statement out. If a merchant wants details of what they paid they have to logon to an online account to find it.

It’s War Out There!

One reason for this is the competitiveness. You have to remember that credit and debit cards make up part of a 2 trillion dollar industry. Money is like a magnet – it attracts Most merchants are being contacted continually by competing processors trying to get them to switch processors, by promising “lower rates”, etc.

So, to prevent a sales agent from another processing company from taking a merchant away – some processors make it as hard as possible for a competitor’s sales rep to walk in to a business, analyze a merchant statement, and do an ‘apples for apples’ comparison.

That being said, there are still some basic keys to look for when reading your statement. Here’s what I look for in analyzing a merchant statement, in order:

  • One: The pricing structure – how has the account been set up? Which pricing model does it employ? Is it using tiers (e.g. 3-tier; 4-tier, etc.) or – is it using “Interchange Plus”? (NOTE: most merchants are on a tier pricing model, which, in my opinion guarantees they’re being overcharged. Also, there are other pricing structures but tier pricing is by far the most common)
  • Two: The monthly fees (sometimes called “Other”) – next, I look to see what the monthly fees are. This can include: a statement fee; monthly service fee; account maintenance fee (normally, you’d only see one of these although I’ve seen two – or, you may see the equivalent fee but using a different term); PCI fee; batch fee; and gateway or access fees. Any miscellaneous, but not monthly fees can also show up here – e.g., an annual fee or semi-quarterly.
  • Three: Processing Fees – this is where the discount rates will be listed. If you are on tier pricing the best statements will print an itemized list showing the “qualified”, “mid-qualified”, and “non-qualified” (the 3 tiers) rate. If you are on Interchange Plus, you’ll see a list showing all the different cards you took, followed by the actual interchange rate for the card, the “dpi” (discount per item), plus the processors mark-up expressed as basis points and a transaction fee (or per item, depending on the term used to list it).
  • Four: Authorization Fees – here’s where you’ll find fees that go to VISA and MC. They’ll show up listed as access, authorization, and /or WATTS fees. You could also find here AVS fees (address verification); assessment fees; brand usage fee; risk fee; settlement fees, IAS fee (Issuer Access & Settlement).
  • Five: Third Party Fees – 3rd parties means networks other than VISA & MC that are included in your statement. This would include American Express, Discover, and the debit networks if you are using pin debit

Part of the problem in reading a merchant statement is different processors use different category names and different terms to identify charges. That’s why I began by saying it can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?” While there are common terms used for certain fees there is also a wide variation used, depending on the acquirer (the company you signed a merchant agreement with).

Again, part of this is due to an attempt to hide what’s being charged and make it difficult for a competitor to analyze a statement. While that’s ‘somewhat’ understandable – in my opinion it’s a disservice to the merchant. Integrity demands transparency. Maybe if processors were more merchant oriented they’d have a lower turnover and would not have to worry about competition so much. At least that’s my opinion.

Marketing to Senior Citizens – Health and Fitness, the Growing Trend Amongst Seniors

Today seniors can’t afford not to get moving! With all the hype around nutrition and exercise the aging population is well aware of the benefit of an active lifestyle.

Most seniors of the 55 plus group are keen to reap the rewards of healthy aging through a variety of activities. They are not newcomers to the gym so to speak. Most have kept active with some form of physical activity throughout their lives, whether it is hardcore workouts in the gym or a congenial round of golf on a summer’s afternoon. Women of this age group have also managed years of multi-tasking, most having juggled full time careers, while raising families and still found time to fit in some form of exercise. These women became well acquainted with aerobics, step classes, strength training and power walking. Also, stress relievers such as yoga and pilates were embraced to combat tension and fatigue. In many cases these activities were their salvation of an overly busy lifestyle.

It is only natural then, that these baby boomers are looking to continue their active lifestyle into retirement. Quite possibly, with the time constraints lifted at this stage in life, it leaves them to focus more sharply on their health and wellness.

A huge opportunity exists for gyms and programming facilities to cater to this senior market. The number of seniors is set to skyrocket in the next five to ten years and if gym operators are to jump ahead of this curve, they should set their marketing sights on appealing to and attracting this demographic.

How to go about this? What are seniors looking for when it comes to staying fit? Firstly it is important to see a visual image that they can relate to. Marketing success is all about seeing yourself in the picture, being that person who is strong, fit and beaming with energy. If a beautiful twenty something image is smiling back, then age becomes a handicap in the mind of the senior, derailing their good intentions, making them feel like they can’t compete. The perfect image that will empower the market they are trying to impress is an attractive fit senior pursuing the exercise of his or her choice. An ad such as this will pop with the 55 plus market, creating a role model with whom they can immediately identify and connect. Seniors like everyone else need to be able to put themselves into that ad campaign and honestly believe that it could be them looking out. This puts the wheels in motion for a positive mindset and a “can-do” attitude.

Seniors are only as old as they feel. Once again we come back to the mind-set, which is a very powerful tool. Boomers today are constantly fighting the aging stereotype that has depicted seniors in the past. Seniors in their sixties often look, act and feel ten to fifteen years younger than their actual age. Advertising should play up to this pretense which promotes this healthy reversal known as “turning back the clock”.

Another means of promoting fitness is to educate the senior who wants to get moving and who wants information as to how this will benefit them and enhance their life. They need to know the positives, what they can expect, and can look forward to as a result of embarking on the fitness journey that the marketer proposes. The campaign needs to encompass every aspect of their life, proving that properly presented, seniors will understand that an opportunity to change is being offered which will impact and alter their lifestyle. It’s within their reach, all that remains to be done, is to get out there, set realistic goals with realistic time frames and make it happen.

This brings us to another point. Marketers should focus on the enhancement of senior life overall, as a result of engaging in exercise and activities, rather than the promise that, if you join up you will achieve this enviable body or snag that hot date. The quality of life and the heightened enjoyment of everyday activities which seniors can have as a result of exercise need to be highlighted.

Marketing programs should also contain testimonials and feedback from actual seniors delighted with their progress and accomplishments, similar to that of “before and after stories of weight loss”. Seniors want to hear how it has enhanced and changed other people, who are just like themselves. They want to hear the successes, for example, how exercise lowered blood pressure, how strength training enabled other seniors to do more, how medication was reduced, how endurance was stretched. It all gives the feeling that anything is possible, if they can do it, then I can as well. It sends a message and an incentive to become a joiner.

Seniors often prefer to sample a program on a trial basis to see if it’s going to be the right fit for them. Offering special programs geared to this group is smart when limiting them to one or two classes. Fitness activities can be offered at many different types of senior living facilities. Places such as retirement communities and nursing homes already recognize the need and benefits of fitness and nutritional programs. Approaching these senior residences is an effective strategy of marketing to large groups of seniors. There are also many senior assisted living residences that do not have organized fitness classes or programs in place yet, but they will soon. Visit these places and offer a free class or program, if these programs are successful you will know that this appeals to seniors and if the need is strong enough to continue. This will help to target the senior market, zeroing in on what works and what doesn’t.

Marketers of fitness need to alter their sales approach to seniors. This age group is not impulsive and will appreciate a thorough, softer sell approach. Seniors need and want information and prefer patience. This in turn builds trust, instilling confidence in the senior contemplating buying a membership. It basically reaffirms that they are doing the right thing in taking this first step to join.

Seniors as consumers hold certain expectations that need to be met for fulfillment. As part of the packaging of the programming, seniors also need and crave socialization and to be part of the group. They need leadership, to have an instructor to safely guide them through the program, with an eye to protecting them from injury and awareness of ailments like arthritis and osteoporosis in the participants. They look for convenience, with minimal stairs and easy entry, or even better brought to their home. Lastly they want value and attention, to feel like they are progressing and that their state of well being is something that is noted.

As with any market, the sales approach needs to be geared to their age defined needs and preferences. In the year 2010 and in the coming years the greying of the boomers market will keep growing by leaps and bounds. There will be an even greater emphasis on slowing the effects of aging and possibly the reversal through movement and exercise. This, the marketers realize is what it’s all about at any age. Seniors, like everyone else, want to maintain a high quality of life and that definitely includes exercise to make it happen.

Why Computer Hardware Is Important

In this day and age, it is hard to deny the influence of technology in our lives. We live in an era where pretty much is automated and computerized. And amidst all the technological advancement that humankind has achieved, one important device has been created that will only sure to become more relevant to our lives as technology progresses, the computer. No one can deny that computers are now an essential part of our lives, the same way a cell phone and television does. It is safe to say that in this day and age, having no computer would be an inconvenience. Which is why it is important that we know the how our computer works so that we would be aware of the things that we should do in case it stops working. The hardware of the computer is considered to be the most important because without it, it will simply not work.

Simply put if you know how to handle the hardware of a computer and know each of their function for the unit, then you can easily determine what the problem is in case the unit stops functioning. In order to be familiar with basic computer troubleshooting, then you also need to be familiar with computer hardware. A good example of this is the memory of the computer (RAM). All programs and applications that are ran in a computer needs memory. Without RAM it simply won’t function. Aside from that, even if you have a RAM but it does have the specifications to keep up with the programs that are being ran, then the operation would be slowed down to a crawl. So when it comes to computer hardware, you have to make sure that it is not obsolete, so you need to upgrade depending on what sort of program that you are usually using.

When handling computer hardware, you have to keep in mind some safety measures so you can manipulate the unit safely. Before opening any computer cases, you have to make sure that the unit is unplugged or you might risk electrocution or shocks. While checking your hardware components, always check for damaged parts because that is most likely the one that is causing problems. When inserting components and parts, you have to remember that if it doesn’t fit, then most likely you are inserting it on the wrong slot. If it does not fit, then do not force it or you will risk breaking the component. Before touching any parts inside the unit, make sure that you discharge yourself first by through a grounded metal object or you can use an anti-static wrist strap or mat which is sold in stores for cheap.

By knowing and analyzing every computer hardware part you will know about its importance and if it ever breaks down then you can perform the proper troubleshooting steps. Every hardware component is important for the computer’s operation. The performance of your computer largely depends on how good your hardware is, so be sure that they are always in good working condition.

Pest Control Services Are Important To Your Business

Clearly homeowners will want to keep their homes free from pests for hygienic reasons. But when it is a business that has an infestation, it is a legal requirement as well. Once a rumour starts that there have been bugs and pests seen in a business, it will start to affect business and this will be even worse if the organisation is involved in food preparation. It is not only when pests are seen at the premises that problems arise, but also if anything gets sent out in a parcel.

Customers do not want to open a can or packet of food and find a carcass in it, nor do they want to open any package and find droppings or body parts. Not only will there be the need to refund and maybe compensate, but could also mean loss of repeat orders and the end of a great reputation. When a license is issued there are lots of commitments that have to be made and if they are not kept the license can be removed. In the worst cases there can also be large fines and even prison sentences.

It also has to be born in mind that many people will be afraid if pests. And it can mean hours of lost working time if people are not able to carry on with their job. Pests will be a major reason for licenses being revoked, and as a result it will be best to get rid of them as soon as possible and normally with the help of pest control experts. Irritating bites can be the least of the worries in some cases depending upon the type of pest that is involved. Serious illness is possible from some, and it is both humans and animals that can be affected.

Some people will think the best thing to do will be to wipe out the pests, but this could cause more problems than it solves. Most of them will play a part in the food chain and nature in general, so control is the best option. It is here that the expertise of pest controllers comes into play, as they will know what to do to solve the problem but not wipe out a species. Once the infestation has been dealt with there is still a role for the pest controller. They will be able to give advice regarding the best way to prevent the problem starting up again.

This will tend to be related to keeping the place clean and tidy, and not providing anything that the pests could survive on. They will take their services a step further and make routine inspections to see if they can find areas were standards have slipped or pests have breached the practices put in place. From time to time there will need to be the repeat of the actions that have prevented access to the pests. There will be no attempt to condemn a client by the company, but simply an attempt to help solve the problem and make sure it does not return.