The Shame of Our Industry

Often when I walk into a merchant’s premises for the first time, after introductions, the first thing out of my mouth is an apology!  Why you ask?  Well, I have been in processing for many years now, and even felt compelled to write a book on the subject, as I got so discouraged that most companies in our industry are not out to help their merchants, but rather it seems they are trying to plunder them!  And if you ask merchants what they think, most would not only agree, but swear by it!

Did you know that from its beginning in the 1980s up until the change in legislation in 2002, the Canadian payment processing industry only allowed the big chartered banks to process credit cards?  That big bank elitist attitude continues to permeate our industry even to this day.

Obviously, merchants have a good reason to feel they are still being taken advantage of.  They might not know the specifics of “double dipping”, leasing a terminal for five times the original cost, or the hidden charges of non-qualified transactions, but merchants know when they are being fleeced.  And the sad part is that it’s the industry pioneers, the bank processors, who lead the way.

Another reason for their attitude of entitlement, is that the whole industry is based outside Canada.  That literally means that when you do a transaction in your business, the money exchanges accounts in New York City.   This makes it difficult for an independent merchant service like ourselves to link into this complicated system.  Thus, the bank processors feel that since they are the only available choice, they can gouge merchants mercilessly.

It is also the opinion of this humble writer, that the fact that these banks are both public companies and institutions contributes immensely to the ‘profit at any cost’ mentality.  And whereas the free enterprise system normally punishes this type of business practice for mistreating customers this way, for some reason we Canadians often live under a loyalty illusion that there is benefits to be had from dealing with the same bank forever!

The challenge for us is to show our merchants that bigger is not always better, but rather, as a local personal merchant processor we care about doing our very best to bring topnotch service at a reasonable cost.  No more 1-800  – “wait for the next available operator” frustrations!