WTF? (What’s That Fee?)

Do you have your most recent merchant statement handy? You might want to pull it out and give it a good review because we’ve heard from several of our merchant customers recently that they are being charged new fees for services they have never heard of. We worked with some of our contacts in the industry to figure out just what these fees are and what the reasoning behind them is.

Our hope is that the next time you talk to your merchant bank or merchant services provider (MSP) you can bring up a few of these fees and negotiate them off your account. (Some of them we take care of for you, so there’s really no reason for Shift4 customers to be paying them in the first place.) Don’t be afraid to be aggressive in your negotiations.

Here are a few fees to watch for on your merchant statement:

Communications Fees:
If you see any fees for communications (sometimes called LAN or WATTS fees), dispute them. Shift4 handles your communications and we pay for direct lines to the processors. As a Shift4 merchant customer, you should not be paying communications fees.

PCI-Related Fees:
These fees go by a number of names, including “non-PCI-compliance fee,” “PCI assurance fee,” or sometimes just “annual fee.” Typically, they cost merchants about $100 per year (which may be billed annually, quarterly, or monthly, depending on your contract). The question we pose to you and invite you to ask your provider is “Why?” If your card data environment (CDE) is 100% compliant, why are you being charged non-compliance fees or being charged for breach insurance when They can’t steal what you don’t have®?

Scanning Fees:
PCI requires quarterly scans from an authorized scanning vendor (ASV) to remain compliant. A few MSPs arrange for these scans and bill their clients for them when they happen. However, some providers have recently been discovered charging merchants this fee without ever actually arranging for a scan. Even worse, they sometimes charge the fee but still recommend the merchant pay for their own third-party ASV – leaving the MSP to collect all those fees with no services rendered. If you are being charged scanning fees, be sure you’re receiving quarterly scans. If you are paying for your own ASV scans, ensure you are not being charged a second time by your MSP or merchant bank.

Other Fees:
  • Regulatory Fee – Several banks added this fee to recover losses from the Durbin Amendment. It’s usually $5/month and does absolutely nothing for you.
  • Statement Fee – Our sources say it costs about $2.50 to prepare, print, and mail your statements, so why are you seeing $10/month statement fees?
  • Batch Fee – Some processors have taken to charging merchants 20-30 cents each time they submit a batch. If you don’t submit a batch, they have nothing to process and make no money, so charging you a batch fee is basically charging you for making them money – ridiculous.
  • Visa Fixed Acquirer Network Fee – Visa implemented this fee to recover losses from the Durbin Amendment. It is a variable fee based on transaction volume and merchant type but can be as high as $65/month. (Wasn’t the Durbin Amendment supposed to save merchants money, not cost them more?)
Ultimately, the range of fees you may see on your statement depends on a number of variables. While we can’t list them all in this space, we encourage you to question any fee on your statement that doesn’t make sense. The merchant services industry is cutthroat; if your current provider won’t discount the fee in question or take it off entirely, there’s a good chance their competitors will. Use this knowledge to your advantage as you fight for the best possible rates!

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