Merchant Services: Statement Sleuth

December 1, 2011

The Official Merchant Services Blog is here to share information with merchants to get them better prepared to understand how the payment processing industry works. This premise stems from Host Merchant Services and its philosophy to bring trust to the industry.

Payment processing can be confusing. And nowhere is that more evident than in a merchant’s processing statement. One of the ways some processors make their money is by hiding fees within the arcane labyrinth of a monthly statement, making the fees and the numbers difficult to understand.

Host Merchant Services believes that when one of its merchants receives their statement every month, that merchant should understand the items on the statement and that the fees should match what was promised in the sales process.

So in an attempt to help everyone understand that process better, The Official Merchant Services Blog is going to shine a spotlight on statements and see what there is to see.

What Is a Merchant Statement?

Every month, you receive a Merchant Statement from the company that processes your transactions. These transactions include Debit and Credit Card Transactions. This statement summarizes your net sales for all the cards that you process. It also provides your monthly transaction volume as well as provides you with an itemized list of your daily transactions. You can also see the majority of your debit and credit card processing fees. This is where we’re going to shine the spotlight, as this is where fees get hidden. Your fees on your statement include:

  • your transaction fee
  • your monthly discount rate for your Credit Cards
  • your monthly terminal fee (if you do not own your credit/debit card machine).
  • your Interchange charges
  • any chargebacks
  • third-party transactions
  • credit adjustments

 

The tricky part about these fees is that each company assembles their statement in a different way. Each payment processing provider has a unique statement layout structure, so most of the characteristics of the statement are the same but are put there in a different order. It forces merchants –– especially those who have used more than one processor in their time in business –– to do all of the eagle-eyed investigating themselves.

Host Merchant Services Image of Person Confused by Merchant Statement

We’ll stick to the basics and then when that’s done, we’ll take a moment to explain why Host Merchant Services might be a little less confusing than other Payment Network Providers.

Card Deposit Summary

It’s pretty common for the Card Deposit Summary to be prominently displayed in a merchant statement. A lot of times it’s the first item a merchant will see on their statement. The phrasing may be a tad different –– perhaps it’s called a fund summary –– but for the most part it’s the opening line on each merchant services provider’s statement. The summary tends to include a laundry list of statement data, such as:

  • Amount of transactions incurred in that month
  • The dollar amount of those transactions
  • What credit cards were used
  • Any discount or coupon usage charges

 

Often this information is presented as individual daily line items, but some payment processors may combine all the data into one section.

Credit Card Fee Summaries

After the deposit summary information, most statements provide some sort of variation of how much the credit card issuer charged per transaction. This is usually called the Summary of Card Fees. As we explained in a previous blog series, a lot of payment processors offer a tiered pricing plan. And this is the section of the statement where you will see fees being charged for “qualified transactions.” That term specifically relates to your qualified tier in the pricing plan you signed up for. This section should include any fees, discounts and rates applied to transactions made through your merchant count. Most payment processors provide a complete list of card fee categories in this section, since qualified and non-qualified pricing tiers differ. Also included should be a listing for gross sales amounts per credit card and any fees and discounts applied to specific card transactions.

Transaction Fees

This section is an extension of the Summary of Card Fees section. This section lists each fee related to card transactions in dollar amounts. This can be a daunting section to sift through as the terminology used in this section is extensive. There is no shortage of card fee categories, and you’ll see chargebacks and batch header fees and ACH return fees mentioned here. This is why Host Merchant Services says payment processing can be confusing. The statements sometimes overwhelm merchants with tiny fees and cryptic buzzwords. Within that morass, the black hat companies will hide fees that some merchants aren’t aware they are paying or –– even worse –– aren’t aware they don’t even need to pay.

Host Merchant Services Image of Merchant Statement Analysis

No Hidden Fees Guarantee

Now that some light has been shed upon the statement, and we can see where the fees get hidden and where the confusion takes place, it’s time to take a look at a much simpler way of doing this: Host Merchant Services offers a processing plan with no hidden fees. The company offers its merchants an Interchange Plus pricing plan. So right off the bat, there are no tiered pricing plan issues, so its merchants are not hit with “non-qualified” tier penalties and fees. Host Merchant Services also eschews a long-term contract. So there is no application or set up fee. No annual fee. No Non AVS Adjustment fee. Host Merchant Services does not penalize you with termination fees. Host Merchant Services also does not lock its merchants into contracts for equipment. The company provides free equipment, including free terminal paper. The prices that the company quotes during the application process are grandfathered, and will not increase at all during the lifetime of the business relationship.

It’s a simple and straightforward plan, really. Host Merchant Services shows you exactly what you will be charged on your monthly statement. The company has swept away many of the added charges that other companies hide on statement fees. And then the company sticks to the plan they quoted its merchant. The company will be happy to review your statement and help you find areas where you can save money each month.

Host Merchant Services Click Here Button

For more information contact the company here.

So monthly statements may be extremely confusing –– to the point where one thinks it is being done on purpose. But using some of the guidelines put forth here, or using Host Merchant Services itself, you can find your way through the puzzle that is payment processing.

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