No Matter How Much Things Change . . . They Really Don’t
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Following the distribution of a recent issue of CardWare e-zine, I received 
numerous complimentary calls and e-mails regarding my blog.

One reader, with whom I have not had contact since the ‘99 ETA, e-mailed me 
regarding her return to her MLS roots after eight years as an industry supplier.  
She commented that, although she didn’t anticipate great success during this 
down economy, she was continuing to call on existing businesses for two reasons.  
First, once the economy turns around, she will be the first person they think of.  
And in the meantime, if they experience a problem requiring assistance, she will 
be the one they turn to.  As she noted, she was returning to the roots of her 
sales success . . . . . . the basics.

The basics and the need to return to ones’ roots is the theme of this month’s article.  
For those processing transactions, “the basics”  is an imprinter and sales slip.

Why is an imprinter and sales slip important to you as a salesperson?  
More important, why is an imprinter and sales slip important to your merchant?  
Why promote something or ask your merchant to invest in something that 
may never be used?

Au contraire!

A well-known hotel in a major resort town is fighting an illegitimate $1,400 
chargeback, frankly without a leg to stand on. A cardholder, in this case the 
actual cardholder, checked in with his wife for an extended weekend luxury 
package that included spa treatments, dinners with wine, you know the drill.

The magnetic stripe was unreadable, so the clerk keyed in the account number, 
expiration date and a hold amount, and received an authorization. The cardholder 
signed the check-in folio and the couple went on to have a great weekend running 
up additional charges, all of which were signed for by the wife.

Upon their departure, they used express check out.  And when the cardholder 
received his statement, he disputed the charge.

Keyed transaction, NO card imprint, NO prompt or entry of CVV on keyed 
transactions, illegible signature on folio, wife signed everything else.   
To add insult to injury, the cardholder could not be recognized on the check-in video, 
because he never exposed his face (surprise!) and his wife was never in the picture.

Two major errors were made that would have been a slam-dunk for this hotel 
refuting the chargeback. NO imprint of the card and NO prompt or entry of the CVV.

“Back to the basics.”  The rule has been the same for decades.  Paraphrasing
“when requested, the merchant shall provide a legible copy of the imprint of the card.”

In the instance of the hotel the one, (yes one) electric imprinter had been broken 
for over a month, yet no one alerted maintenance or the credit manager.

Whether tough economic times or not, card association rules favor the cardholder, 
so the merchant must use every tool and resource at their disposal to protect 
their rights.  This is even more so true now because both normal fraud, 
and friendly fraud, are on the rise.

A few CardWare clients have recently eliminated the embossed imprinter plate 
from their new merchant kit, believing it was no longer necessary.  New clients 
are omitting both the imprinter and the merchant ID plate from their kits. 
This is a huge mistake.

In my opinion, the merchant could hold the processor liable for a chargeback 
due to a lack of imprint if the processor failed to provide them with an imprinter.  
I don’t know many merchants who will pursue legal action over a few dollars, 
but more surely will when the transaction is substantial for them.  Remember, 
it isn’t what you as the salesperson deem “substantial,” it is what your 
merchants deem substantial.

The reasoning and justification for an imprinter is the same today as it was five, 
ten and fifteen years ago: to prove that the card was present during the transaction.

As an MLS, do not shortchange your sale by omitting an imprinter and merchant 
ID plate.  At minimum, ask the merchant to show you their imprinter and order 
a plate for it. At least for one moment in time, they will know where it is.  Also, 
as an MLS, don’t allow your processor to expose you and them to the opportunity 
for a lawsuit because your merchant was not provided the required (remember 
what the card association rule says) tools for their protection.

Would you omit sending a printer with the terminal to a new merchant? No.  
Would you omit sending them the sticker with the authorization and support 
phone numbers? Of course not.  Then why would you omit an imprinter 
and embossed MID plate?

As notably stated elsewhere in The GreenSheet, it’s about doing it right, 
and what is right.  Providing an imprinter is the right thing to do, the 
short-sightedness of others notwithstanding.  To quote Mark Twain, 
"the reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated."  If imprinters could 
speak, this would be what they’d say.  In no small way, they have become, 
once again, a critical tool for protecting the integrity of transactions, 
and the success of merchants.

Biff Matthews is President of Thirteen Inc, the parent company of 
CardWare International.  He is one of 12 founding members of the ETA, 
serving on its board, advisory board and committees.  (740) 522-2150