Column: CEO of NTC Texas Responds to NY Times Article on Credit Card Processing

By Linda Borek, CEO of merchant service provider NTC Texas

If you’re a business owner and haven’t read furniture store owner Paul Downs’ series in the New York Times on his search for a merchant service provider, you should.

Downs walks you through his lengthy process of finding a good fit for his business after a sales representative at Emerald told him he was paying much too high of a rate- and took a lot of time to patiently explain to him why and how he could help. Downs decides to request a quote and is insulted when the underwriter considers him such a risk that he must put aside $10,000 in a reserve fund in case something were to go awry and the bank is left footing the bill.

Throughout the piece you think Downs is just concerned with rates, rates, rates and will go for the lowest one he can find, but then chooses to go with Emerald in the end because “Even though I didn’t like the company’s reserve account terms and even though it offered higher prices, I felt that Emerald World’s sales representative, Kelly Nelson, had been extremely helpful from the outset. He had opened my eyes to the true cost of the fees I was paying PNC. And he has offered in writing, the ability to cancel the deal on 30 days’ notice (WorldPay and Wells Fargo offered fixed, three-year terms). “

I reiterate this mantra to my team on a daily basis.  The credit card processing business is never, ever about the rates. It is about who you trust. So everything you do, everything you say, everything you write, every piece of marketing material, every blog, has to have a level of trust come across in it. That’s so important.

So how should business owners go about looking for a credit card processor?

With so many options in this complex business, you need to do your homework like Paul did, and then go with someone you can trust and fits your needs.

For homework, Downs really did such a great job doing thorough research almost like an engineer, meticulously dissecting the pieces to understand the solution. I only saw a couple of things that seemed just a little off. There are two rates included in the interchange rates (discount rate and per item) and the way he explained dues and assessments was a little unclear. All cards associated have several association fees that card associations assess. You can see a more detailed breakdown of this here.  Also, Downs was told he had to sign an agreement with each of the three banks and one merchant service provider he rate shopped, however in today’s market, almost everyone has dropped the contract provision.

For trust, as an experienced salesman himself Downs said from the get-go he has a strong appreciation for a good salesman so I should not have been surprised when he decided to go with Nelson.

“Kelly Nelson at Emerald World, who had opened my eyes to the high prices I had been paying PNC for processing, had done everything right,” Downs said in his March 27 article. “He had taken the time to educate me about something I didn’t know. He had proven that this solution was better for me than my current situation. He had outlined a deal that was very low risk for me: my fixed costs were low, and I could back out whenever I wanted. And he was patient while I was distracted with my trips to Germany and Dubai, and he was able to remind me that he was still around without being annoying.

My advice to any other business owners out there looking for a credit card processor is do your homework like Paul did.  Check the providers’ rating on the better business bureau’s website (not just their score but whether there are disputes and resolutions of those disputes), and you might even want to check out their Facebook page or other social media profiles of theirs for reviews, which can be very revealing. Remember, it is always about finding someone you know you can trust.

Lastly, know what’s important to you. Healthcare professionals, for example, should look for recurring payments, installments plans, and online payments.

NTC Texas has no connection to any of the outside parties mentioned in this article that could cause a conflict of interest in our unbiased, outsider review.