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Accepting cc's at shows


Check with the bank holding the merchant account first. It is my
understanding they have to program the used equipment for you. When
I switched to a cordless unit I tried to buy it from another company
and have the merchant bank program it. It would cost a small fortune
and I would not have service for 2 weeks. It just sounded like such
a headache! I have heard horror stories about the compatibility of
phone services and credit card machines.

If you are checking around perhaps you could check the cost of the
cordless ones. You can take them anywhere (just about), even
outdoors. Check the coverage on the service and the cost per month.
Mine is $12.00 for the network and works on the same system as UPS.
The coverage is actually better than my cell phone network.

Take a look at the ads on Crafts Report and Lapidary Journal. I
think is a good place to start. If you are a member of MJSA they now
offer merchant accounts through Fleet Bank.

Also some banks offer a service where you can use your regular phone
to get approvals. It costs a little more per transaction and I don’t
find it very safe. You could be declined and have to chase the
person around. If you don’t have approval on the spot make sure to
get the persons billing adress for that card and the phone number.
If you are declined many times the banks holding the credit card
account will not be very helpful.

Try your best to get a merchant account. My sales increased
considerably. Also I believe accepting charges increases customer
confidence in you as a serious business. Also you can take phone
orders and not have to wait for the check to clear.

Best wishes,

Vera Battemarco


You can actually find a used CC terminal on Ebay for a good price.
Choose the one you want and then "watch them for a while to see what
they are going for. For example - I use a Tranz 330. With this, I
must run the manual receipt at shows - and key it in later when I have
access to a telephone line. The risk in this is obvious - you cannot
verify at the point of sale. (now that I have a cell phone - I might
be able to call in a verification - not sure) But I have never had a
problem with a rejection, keying in after the show. I bought a used
Tranz 330 on Ebay as a back up to mine because the price was so good.
I want to say I paid $35.00 for it. Certainly it would be nice to
have the cellular Point of sale transaction - but I can’t justify the
cost right now. My rate is also 1.5 to 3%, and I believe my minimum
discount is $15.00 The company, if you’d like to contact them in NPC
Merchant Services out of Louisville Kentucky. I can accept Master,
Visa and Discover. Under NO circumstance (having done it…) would I
LEASE the equipment. $$$$$

Having spoken recently with another jeweler friend about this, who
was able to do all her transactions by just phoning in from a cell
phone at point of sale, and had a good % - I called the company she
was dealing with - CMS out of Memphis. I was told that they no longer
offered that service and all those using it would be changed over
imminently to the expensive cell transaction options - or the way I
do it. The rate is a weeee bit better than mine (at first glance… I
haven’t investigated thoroughly), but the application is $150. It’s
on the back burner for now. And YES, I think it is imperative to accept
credit cards. One final note - I used to deal with American Express -
and while the company seems to bend over backwards for their “retail
customers”, I found the opposite true for their merchants.

Hope that helps - good luck!

jody ochs

Those of you who mentioned getting your equipment used, or great
deals, where did you find it? 

Before purchasing a credit card setup, I strongly urge you to read an
excellent article titled "Wireless Credit Card Processing Solutions"
by Don Ament which was written for the National Assoc. of Independent
Artists (and while you’re at it, consider joining the NAIA which is a
very worthwhile organization). The article explains the three
different options that currently exist, includes the pros and cons for
each, and gives a list of companies that will set your system up from
scratch, including establishing your merchant account.

I, myself, have a cellular type of system but, after reading about
the newer radio technology and seeing it in action, plan to convert as
soon as I can afford to. The radio machine is small, light, handheld,
and very easy to operate. The biggest drawback is that there are some
coverage gaps but, with the spread of radio technology, they are
closing every day.

You can access this article at the following NAIA URL and, while
you’re there, check out the whole site:

One more comment about credit card machines. Someone said, “I have
also found that accepting a cc is MUCH safer than accepting a personal
check” but, as someone else already pointed out, this is not always
true and here’s another case in point:

A wearable fiber artist friend of mine sold a custom-made garment to
a woman who paid by credit card. SIX MONTHS later, the customer
called saying there was a problem with the garment and she was
returning it. She sent back the garment and got credit for the return
through Visa. The artist was subsequently billed for the amount of
the return directly through her merchant account and, when the garment
arrived, found that the armholes had been ripped out (the customer had
apparently gained weight) and the garment was badly stained. When she
appealed the case, she was told that, since her credit card sales slip
did not specify any return policy, she had no recourse.

What can one do about this? Well, it turns out that most credit card
printers have the capacity to print a header and/or footer. I called
the company that sold me my machine and they talked me through the
procedure for programming the footer. When I print out sales slip
now, they read “No returns after 7 days.” It is not enough to state
this on your own sales receipt; it must be on the credit card sales
slip near where the customer puts her signature. If your
machine/printer can’t be programmed this way, write the statement on
the slip before the customer signs it. Ditto if you’re still using
the old imprint type credit card slips.

In my experience, most customers are honorable but you need to
protect yourself as much as possible against the few who aren’t.


I got a great deal with Discover. $35 for the imprinter, $85 for
the terminal (and that included programing it. I get a great rate
because i belong to a Guild here in Portland, and they give us a
group rate. Discover is great to do business with, and if you ever
have a problem they go to bat for you. check them out. My terminal
was used, but in perfect condition. Cheers alma

If you are not actually clearing purchases with a terminal at the
shows, and you have a computer with a modem, you can purchase a
product like PC Authorize, PC Verify and others. I bought an
inexpensive used copy of PC Authorize on Ebay and stopped using a
terminal. The software paid for itself in about 5 months without the
rental fee on a terminal. Steve Brixner.

Steven Brixner - Jewelry Designer - San Diego CA USA

Elizabeth - One of the cut gem vendors who I sell with at a couple of
shows has had, since 1996, a (for lack of a better word) “cash
register” which includes a creditcard swiper, a tape printer, a cash
drawer, and a cell phone. This technology was brand new then, and has
been improved several times since. It allows real-time remote
processing of charges, and produces credit receipts which include the
authorization # from the central clearing house. In 1996 this cost
$2500US, plus the normal monthly fees for cc and cell phone. I’m told
that the price has come down since then. The unit will operate either
on 120vac, or 12vdc with an inverter.

Jim Small
Small Wonders

Dear Carrie, If you find a really good deal on a credit card company
let all of us know about it or if anyone else has a lead for me I
would appreciate it. Last I checked they wanted over $500.00 just for
the electronic machine plus set up. I just couldn’t put that much out
at that time.

I have not offered cc’s before because of the expense involved .
Since reading all the posts I am willing to look into it again. I am
a very small business person and don’t do that many shows a year. I
know of no sales that I have lost because I didn’t take cards. They
always managed to find a Mac machine etc. but I may be if I offered
cc’s it will increase sales. I did get stuck with one bad check which
I never could collect on, but that was one in 25 years of doing
business. Roxan O’Brien

Friends–All this discussion of cc’s mirrors a continuing internal
debate I have. To me, it would seem preferable, on the whole, to be
set up for them, but I do only 4-8 retail shows a year. A couple of
these are sometimes shows that collect the money and then pay me
(minus a percentage). I guess the question is this: I assume that I
am not losing sales unless someone is all set to buy, then backs out
when they can’t use a card. Doesn’t this seem right? Because this
very seldom happens, though my work runs from $50 to $800, most in
the $300 to $600 range. I have been shoplifted a couple of times, but
never have had to “eat” a check (in around 18 years). Does it still
make sense to maintain the ability to do cc sales? I know I’ll have
to break down eventually, but I keep putting it off. Thanks for the
feedback! --Noel

Check with your local Arts and Crafts organization (in Ohio we have
the Ohio Arts and Crafts Guild, and anyone can join that
organization) Anyway, OACG has a deal with Discover which offers
artists and craftsmen (members) a no monthly fee deal, yes you have
to buy the machine, but I don’t think it ran more than $300.00 . . .
and 2.5% per transaction which isn’t bad. It is well worth the
$30.00/year membership fee!

Another place to check is with your local bank. I could have
purchased a machine (for almost the same amount) and had a relatively
low monthly fee along with similar per/transaction deal. One thing
to remember, if you don’thave a good credit rating, you won’t be able
to get any deals at all.

I just wanted so say Thanks Beth!.. you seems solid and
your link to NAIA was great! I will be joining… thanks

I also use discover, they seemed the best at the time, I got a new
terminal for $295 and pay no monthly invoice fees or other contract
fees. everybody else wanted a 3 year contract plus monthly charges
whether you used it that month or not. I think it’t Novus Discover,
I can find the # if you want to investigate. Betty

just a few more comments on cc’s at shows. First of all, if you
are just doing a few shows there is no point getting an expensive
set-up. An inexpensive imprinter and a used reconditioned and
reprogramed terminal will be sufficient. A cell phone would be a
plus so that you can get authorization on the spot for expensive
items. I have never had a customer baulk at the time involved to
check things out. People coming to shows are usually not in a hurry,
but will brouse around while you are checking things. However, if
you do a lot of shows, then by all means investigate getting the
system that allows you to swipe the card on the spot. SHOP AROUND.
Prices vary greatly. -Hope this helps. Alma

I use Novus Discover, and they just instituted a monthly fee (for
those of us who don’t do shows every month) if our usage doesn’t reach
a minimum level. I’m not happy about this. Up till now it was the best

Janet Kofoed

To everyone who is using Discover as their credit card company - do
they allow you to take Visa and MC too, or just the Discover card?

If the latter - do you get much input from customers related to not
being able to use MC and Visa?

thanks -

I stand corrected.

I called my credit card processing contact and found out that if you
have a cell phone or Palm Pilot or other remote machine that can
access a web page you can process credit cards with it using an online
realtim processing gateway.


All, For what it is worth, I would point out that the two largest
dealers at the Tyson Wells show in Quartzsite regularly use old
mechanical hand swipers for credit cards. Maybe simple is adequate
after all…( These dealers are huge tent operations and deal
in many hundreds of thousands of dollars in inventory )

Let’s hear it from those of you who cling to the old tech. Have you
incurred losses as a result of using mechanical swipes ? Ron at
Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.

Yes they let me take visa, M/C, american express, heck they would
have evan let me take dinner club

i am puzzled about how one goes about accessing a web page via a
cell phone and thereby processing credid card charges. Does one
need a special cell phone or what. Please elaborate, as I have a
cell phone, and would like to use it to process cc’s if possible. Is
there a special fee involved? Does one have to make special
arrangements with the cell phone carrier, the
internet server, or what???. thanks for any Alma

I use mechanical imprinter and put the customers address and phone
number on a separate invoice at the show. I also pre-authorization the
transaction on the cell phone when I have time. When I get home, I key
in the transaction on a Tranz 330 terminal as a mail/phone sale. This
allows me to enter the persons street address and zip code and thus
reducing the fee charged by the credit card company. This is not as
fast as swiping the card through a portable terminal, but it is less
expensive for me.


Accessing a web page via cell phone requires a digital cell phone and
Internet service – ours is through Sprint PCS. The digital phone is
$30 a month and includes some hundreds of minutes, and the Internet
service is an extra $10 a month. We use a Motorola StarTac (they make
both analog and digital versions, so be sure what you’re buying.)

The other nice thing about the digital cell phones is that the
battery holds out a lot longer. We have both a digital and an analog
StarTac, and the digital will go almost a week between charges if
we’re not making a lot of calls. (We usually keep it powered on about
8 to 10 hours a day.) The analog needs recharging after just a couple
of hours of being left on, even if we’re not making calls.

Of course, if you already have an analog set up, it’s a real pain to
have to invest in new equipment. But that’s technology for you!