Everyone has been buzzing about the recent news regarding Wells Fargo and their unscrupulous practice of opening false accounts. I wish I could say it was isolated to Wells, or even further, that it was isolated to the banking industry in general. Unfortunately, it is neither and, if I were to draw a diagram, my sense is that a dotted line would lead back to Wall Street. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not out to bash the mountaintop of capitalism. But….the quarterly earnings report can drive some questionable behavior by even those with tremendous integrity. The pressure on sales and relationship management teams comes from the top and can be crippling. Other times, it’s a matter of greed. Regardless, competition for market share is fierce. That means pricing, opening new accounts, and attaching additional products or services to those accounts are key to generating the revenue that gets a gold star for “shareholder value”. This cross selling culture is largely driven by the desire for publicly traded companies to stay relevant on Wall Street.
How does this apply to payment card acceptance and what’s a merchant to do? Review your statements! I know it is a violation of trust when these things to occur. However, people (or organizations) will engage in behavior that they are confident they can get away with, especially if it helps them achieve their quarterly forecast. The fact is, very few merchants adequately review their statements. While statements can be very confusing, it is your only defense to insure that what was contracted is what you are being billed. Many contracts contain language that give you a limited amount of time to notify or question a billing error…..otherwise, too bad for you. Contact your Payments Provider or Relationship Manager and insist they explain your billing statement to you. And if they are not able, or worse, not willing to take the time to explain it in a way that you can clearly reconcile…..it may be time for you to find a new partner. The extra revenue they capture is your profit margin, and left unchecked, can amount to significant dollars out the door. Having the knowledge and expertise of an independent advisor or consultant who knows what to look for and where to find it can help to successfully navigate the details of what is hidden in those statements and keep your card payments fees on the straight and narrow.
Let me know how I can help.