Credit Card Dilemma

My credit card Merchant Service Company announced in August that an additional card processing fee would be assessed, a “Visa and MasterCard kilobyte fee.” I reviewed my monthly Merchant statements to determine just how frequently “new additional fees” are assessed; it happens on a regular basis. In 2013, the increases came as follows. It is not required that you understand the industry terms, just note how frequently “increases” and “assessed” are listed.

January: “MasterCard charges a file transmission fee of $.00167 for all MasterCard and $0.00123 for Visa transactions, retroactive to October 1, 2012.”

March: “MasterCard, Visa and Discover Dues and Assessments and Qualified discount rate increase by.10%.”

May: “MasterCard charges a fee of $0.0185 on all settle or refunded credit and signature debit card transactions.”

June: “A Visa kilobyte fee will be assessed at $0.0025 per item for all Visa sales and MasterCard. Kilobyte fee will be assessed at $0.0035 per item for all MasterCard sales.”

August: “The Plus Debit network is implementing a $6.00 annual merchant location fee.”

October: “Effective October 18, 2013, Discover will introduce its Network Authorization Fee of $0.0025.”

The above listed are in addition to “interchange fees” and the annual “membership fee” of $99.00.

This credit/debit card continual fee assessment situation truly has me wondering if I am doing myself and my customers a favor by accepting their cards. Each new fee further erodes the small profits I am earning in this business, and it is the same situation facing other small businesses. How do I absorb the additional operating expenses? Raise my prices? Charge my customers a fee for accepting their credit/debit cards? Begin a minimum purchase policy? Do I eliminate accepting plastic completely? Not accepting credit cards is not an unusual business practice among my Lincoln Avenue business colleagues, cash or check only is a standard in at least six businesses.

Internet research yielded the following article weighing the pros and cons for small businesses accepting plastic. According to the Business Finance Store in an online article dated May 23, 2013, (

“Accepting any form of card means you are paying a percentage of your profits to the bank. There are also annual fees merchants have to pay in order to have permission to accept cards at their store or office. Each card a customer presents may have a different cost for the merchant based on the rewards the customer is getting. The money you pay to accept plastic comes out of your bottom line… All in all, accepting cards seems to be a necessary evil of today’s consumer business.”

And, the author’s recommendation:

“Work in the added cost of accepting cards into all your products and service prices. If it is going to cost you an additional two per cent to accept cards, increase your product or service price by two per cent to account for this cost.”

That would be sage advice if the costs rose on an annual basis, but they are increasing every two months. Consequently I would be raising my prices to meet these increases every two months. I believe this would be a terrible business practice, and one that would would most assuredly alienate my customer base.

After two months of deliberating, I have made a business decision. Effective December 1, 2013, I will no longer accept credit/debit cards. The decision is based entirely upon the fact that I do not want to increase my prices to cover these continually increasing rates. The decision is not made to inconvenience or alienate my customers. Fortunately, conveniently located Within a 3 block walk from the BBC are five banks. My desire is to maintain lower prices so that my services are affordable for my customers. And, I trust my customers will understand my situation and appreciate my efforts.

The Notarization Process

Customers frequently come into the Business Center with a document that requires a notarization and contains a witness signature line. I am frequently asked when performing a notarization if I can serve as both the notary and witness. The answer to this question is yes!

According to the PA Association of Notaries (, of which I am a member, a Notary Public can in fact witness as well as notarize a signature as long as the witness signature does not require that it also be notarized. On most documents, this is the case, the witness signature does require notarization. If you have any questions or doubts, please call in advance and I can assist with a clarification as to how to proceed.

The next most common question is whether I can perform Title Transfers and other related Motor Vehicle and Driver Licensing Services. The answer is less straight forward. The PA Association of Notaries Practical Guide states, “In addition to providing basic notarial service to anyone who requests it, you may apply for authorization from PennDOT to offer more specialized vehicle and driver licensing services. Although you can do a lot of motor vehicle work as a notary, there are some limits to what you can do. For example, you cannot transfer registration plates or issue temporary registration cards or Plates (T-plates) or order controlled forms. You can do these things only if you apply for and receive authorization as an issuing agent from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV.)”

It may be the case that I am able to assist you with your Motor Vehicle forms, but I cannot transfer titles or issue T-plates. To determine if I can assist you in advance of arriving, please call and inquire. If I cannot assist you, I have several referrals to individuals or firms who can.