Monday, November 21, 2011

Swiper, No Swiping!

I was at a craft fair here in Augusta last weekend, at which I bought a bunch of handmade soap. I would have bought some candles, too, but that vendor didn't accept plastic, and I never have any cash on me. Which got me thinking about the SEA sale coming up very soon. D'oh! I will need to have some way to accept cards.

I keep reading about Square, the mobile card-swiping device. I was, in the back of my mind, sort of thinking of that as the solution. Yeah, no. Square only works with iPhone, Android, or iPad. Obviously I am not a techie or gadgeteer, as it looks from the outside like anything that works with a smart phone ought to work with a laptop; but sadly, no. Because there is no way on the site to get information prior to sign up, I went ahead and signed up, and then started trying to figure out if it would work for me. It won't, so Square will be sending me, free of cost (thankfully!) a device which is completely useless to me, and I am still without a way to take plastic.

So, if not Square, what? I hate dinking around with this but I need to figure it out. The options I have dug up so far:

  1. If there is wireless access available onsite, I could use Paypal's Virtual Terminal service. Thee fees are 2.9%, plus 30 cents per transaction. This costs $30 a month, but I can cancel it after the single month for which I need it. It's a cumbersome, though, as I have to type in the card numbers manually, and has a per-month payout limit of $500.
  2. MerchantAnywhere provides a reader that will work with a Windows machine. This service is $24.95 a month, on a month to month basis. The swiper cost $99 upfront, though.
  3. I can purchase a swiper to work with Paypal's virtual terminal for $$40. Or, this will work with:
  4., which has $120 in set up fees, but only 10 cent per transaction; no percentage. or:
  5., which has a $29 monthly fee, a $29 set up fee, a transaction fee of 25 cents plus 2.15%. Plus, of course, the $40 for the swipe device. Or:
  6. I can create a Payflow account, which is also through Paypal. (I admit I find all these different Paypal solutions confusing: Merchant account, Payflow, Payflow Pro, Website Payments Pro...I just want to be able to swipe credit cards. How many different ways can you do it?) This one has a $179 set-up fee, with a monthly service fee of $19.95. Plus the $40 for the swiper. Since I can't see how it's different from Virtual Terminal, I think I can cross this one off the list.
  7. ChasePaymentech iTerminal. Either I am getting tired and losing patience, or it doesn't say anywhere on the ChasePaymentech website what the service costs. Or, more likely, both. It may be on there somewhere but I grew tired of clicking around trying to find it. They are working so hard to keep the secret, it makes me think the cost must be around a bajillion dollars a month. No, a day. But I'll never know, unless one of you is willing to ferret out the info.
  8. Or, my best choice may turn out to be a more traditional payment processing service, like those offered through Powerpay. This won't work at the Uptown (not that I'll necessarily be going to Uptown!) but it would work for my upcoming event, as it is inside and there will be electricity available. Can't yet say how much this would cost, as I am waiting on a shout back from someone at Powerpay. This also makes me leery; why can't the prices just be on the website? Is it so complicated they need to explain it in person, or so expensive they need a persuader to sell it? Don't know, but I will let you know if I ever find out.
Barring some new info, I am leaning toward Virtual Terminal, with the USBSwiper device.

Back in the old days, when most people still carried checks (yeah, I know...I'm old, okay) when I ran into the occasional customer who had only plastic, I'd just sell them the pots, and give them a business card & ask them to send me a check when they got home I never had anyone fail to pay, but that won't work anymore, as virtually everyone will have only plastic. Just like me.


Felicia Kramer said...

Very interesting post. The credit card thing is one of the reasons (among others) that I have avoided looking into doing art/craft fairs.


Kings Creek Pottery said...

Hi Lori,
I use ChasePaymentech through the Potters Council. They charge $3.50 per month and a percentage fee per transaction- it's different for each card, but cheap. So, if I do not sell in a month all I owe is $3.50. Nice. The sent me a free knuckle buster- I think I had to pay for the plate, but can't remember. Going through Potters Council is the only way to get these rates. After a show, I have to call in each slip on an automated phone system, but it is not too bad. The money is directly deposited into my account. I also ordered a square, thinking it may be cheaper over all. My issue is that we still do not get cell service in our area! It's always somethin' ;)

Sue Pariseau Pottery said...

I previously used ChasePaymentech through the Potter's Council, but at the end of my contracted time, they adjusted by monthly fee to $25 so I moved to 1st National Processing using a swipe and store device, it's $6/month, but the transaction fees and % are lower. It comes out abot the same cost as the Chase, but with swipe capability instead of phoning in each transaction. I didn't see moving to a smart phone in your list of options. Is that something to consider?

-Rob, Simple Circle Studios said...

I am in sort of the same boat right now. I have not been able to take credit cards thus far, which I believe has cost me a couple of sales. Luckily my wife has a smart phone, so I think I am going to try out the square pretty soon. It works with the new ipod too, not just the iphone, right?

Kevin Carter said...

We have been using Propay for the last five years, and it has worked out very well. You need to get a knucklebuster and receipts, but this is sometimes a plus, as we have had people using Square borrow it from us, as they cannot get a signal for some reason, and so can't use their Square!
The fees are quite reasonable, and have given us quite a few sales when the customer would have walked away if we didn't take plastic.

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