EMV Credit Cards: Beware Misleading Gear Sales Tactics

This report is mostly for brick-and-mortar merchants, regarding the October 1, 2015 fraud-liability rule changes and deceptive sales tactics surrounding the changes.

The new rules are causing a large proportion of retail merchants to change their card processing equipment to prevent liability for certain fraudulent transactions. Read my February and March 2015 posts — “EMV Credit Cards, Part 2: Point-of-sale Devices, Alternatives” and “Follow-up: EMV Credit Cards and AmEx OptBlue” — in case you aren’t familiar with EMV chip cards and the fraud accountability change on October 1, 2015.

The cause of this guide is to alert merchants the use of EMV cards has generated some deceptive sales tactics that may damage the merchants’ businesses.

EMV credit cards.

Misleading Sales Tactics for EMV Equipment

1. Don’t sign a new agreement. You ought not need to sign a new agreement with your current supplier to upgrade your equipment to process EMV chip cards.

If your current provider instructs you to sign a new agreement to process EMV chip cards, something else is probably happening other than just updating your gear and it is probably not in your best interest.

Merchants have recently contacted me since their current salespeople informed them that they needed to sign a new agreement so as to update their equipment to process the new chip cards.

In one specific instance, the merchant did not understand why he began receiving two statements every month after updating. 1 announcement had just minimum monthly charges; another had the complete processing detail and costs.

What the merchants did not see is that they had changed providers and in the process changed their pricing and their stipulations. They were getting a statement with minimal fees from the initial provider because their salesperson never advised the first provider of the change.

What the merchants didn’t see is that they had unknowingly altered suppliers and in the process changed their pricing and their stipulations.

Bear in mind that independent sale brokers generally sell for more than 1 provider. They do so for several reasons, mainly not to rely on a single supplier for their earnings.

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Regrettably, some salespeople try to benefit from representing more than 1 supplier by shifting an existing merchant to another supplier they represent, to get bonuses or other income from another supplier. I am confident that is what this sales representative did in this example.

2. Do not switch suppliers. Most providers have very strict rules preventing sales representatives from switching merchants for private gain.

In the above example, the sales agent did not inform the original supplier because, presumably, he violated his contract with the first supplier. I understand a salesperson that played with the supplier switching game this past year and lost $150,000 in yearly residuals once the supplier discovered it.

If your salesperson changes your supplier with no completely understanding it, the first provider would probably like to know so it can take care of the salesperson.

If your salesperson changes your supplier with no completely understanding it, the first provider would probably like to know so that it can take care of the salesperson.

The matter of being deceptive to merchants is not confined to small providers or revenue representatives that represent many companies. A salesperson from one of the biggest banks in the nation recently had a merchant sign a new contract — supposedly to use EMV chip card equipment.

The salesperson put the merchant on a new pricing strategy without fully communicating the change. Once more, the merchant began receiving two statements; its monthly processing costs also increased.

3. Watch for salespeople posing as card-company workers. Beware of salespeople and telemarketers posing as someone from one of the card companies.

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I have had numerous merchants inform me that they received telephone calls from Visa telling them that their terminals are illegal and they need to upgrade them. I haven’t heard of a Visa employee calling a merchant in that fashion. Moreover, terminals which can’t process EMV chip card info aren’t illegal. Certainly merchants should understand the fraud liability shift that occurs on October 1, 2015 and the company decision they need to make, as I explained in my February and March articles.

4. Never lease equipment. Many salespeople are benefiting from merchants by renting terminals and PIN pads for absurd amounts. I have spoken with merchants who have signed leases at $99 or more per month for up to four decades. These terminals and PIN pads cost $200 to $300 to buy . If a salesperson actually proposes leasing the equipment, you’re talking to the wrong salesperson. Period.