Cold Call From the Gates of HELL

14 years as a business coach – I had never received a cold call about merchant services.
But all that changed this week. Now that I’m helping other businesses with their credit card services, I decided to let them maneuver me and see what happened…
Here’s my recollection of the way it played and my interior comments:
Them: “Hello – Mr. Gerrold, are you the decision maker at your company regarding merchant processing?”
(First off – please learn how to pronounce the name Gerald – it isn’t that difficult…
and second – OH MY GOD – I’m getting a cold call for merchant services – this’ll be FUN!)
Me: “Yes I am!”
Them: “This is important! I’m _______ from Sekure Cost Review and we’ve been MANDATED to call you to verify your Visa and MasterCard rates.”
(Mandated???? There are no mandates anywhere on this. Now I know they’re liars….)
Me: “Who exactly mandated this?”
(Expecting he’ll just hang up)

Them: “Your bank has mandated this. We have been charged with contacting every customer to verify their rates – because Visa rates go up three times each year – and we need to know that you’re paying the right amount.”
(Visa rates are reviewed and updated twice per year – and if they are – it’s maybe a hundredth of a percent on their services… This is not a big thing at all…. This is just a scare tactic to make sure I comply.”
Me: “So which of the Visa rates are we concerned about here, and when did they change?”
Them: (shaken by my pushbacks) “Let me get you one of our Senior Analysts to answer your questions….”
A moment later Stephanie clicks into the call. She’s obviously been selling a LONG time. She talks about the weather. She talks about New England. I’m feeling nice and comfy… Finally she continues….

Stephanie: “There are so many little charges that are on a merchant statement – we need to find those hidden charges for you. So if you’d just send me one of your statements from the past six months, we’ll do our analysis and give that back to you by tomorrow morning. Just email it to us and we’ll email our findings back.”
Me: “OK – will do. Gee – I hope everything is ok!”
(I couldn’t resist playing the victim for her… It was just too much fun…)
Next – there were a couple of things that I had to finish in the office. My wife came home and we were making dinner together…. It had been about 40 minutes from the cold call. The phone rings and it’s Stephanie from Sekure Cost Review wondering why I haven’t sent my statement yet… Geesh – these folks are PUSHY!!!!! But I play along and lament that I’d been busy.

I pulled an old statement - used whiteout on the merchant account number, scanned it and emailed it while I spoke on the phone with her. She doesn’t hang up until she sees it in her inbox.
Since I’m an agent for my merchant account company – they’ve really taken care of me on my credit card rates. And I’m thankful for that. I’m actually getting the rate that only a multi-million dollar business with great credit ratings would get (and my coaching business – robust as it has always been – is NOT a million dollar a year business….).
The next day – I didn’t get anything from them in the morning. I was pretty sure I would not hear from them again – for two reasons:
1) I had sent them a statement with very small credit card sales that month
2) The rates were so good – I knew that they couldn’t beat them.
And just by the way – when I’m analyzing a business’ merchant account statement – if they have a great rate and are perfectly priced – I TELL THEM SO! I probably do two to three of those a week, saying if they’re happy with their current service – certainly the rate is right – call me if either of those change.
2:30 in the afternoon – the “analysis” from them hits my inbox the same time the phone rings. It’s Christina Murphy this time… She leaves a voicemail because I was out of the office. I need to call her back because they have a package for me.
She called me back in the late afternoon with a HARD SELL….
“Look at those rates! We’ve got them down to ZERO for you!!!
You don’t have to do any of that PCI Compliance stuff….
We’ll buy out your existing contract!!!
There is no way for you to lose on this. Just click that button now in the email and we’ll get this all set up for you!
There’s no way you can walk away from something free, is there?”
I hung up the phone feeling sick – knowing that this is why merchant account folks have a bad reputation. Anyone who would manipulate someone this way is just terrible.
I looked at their proposal. I KNEW there was NOTHING THERE FOR THEM – There would be NO REASON to take a merchant like me. The rate that they gave was BELOW what I was paying – and that is so minimal. How could they do that? Why would they do that?
And then I did some research about them on the web. The reviews of their company are atrocious. Previous customers have written complaints, have felt cheated, lied to, lost money, sent to collections. It’s one of the worst horror stories I could imagine. If you want to read the details – here’s the website that has 62 reviews of them:
So what should you walk away with from this post?
Here’s my advice:
Only use a merchant account company that you trust.
Only use a merchant account company that doesn’t use strong arm tactics to get you to “sign now”.
Do your research to find good, reputable merchant account companies.
I hope that Integrity Merchant Solutions would be the right company for you.
I hope that you trust me enough to allow me to help and advise you in any way that I can.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll be writing my next blog entry soon…. Phone: 860-298-8820