By Jeff Fortney
From Aug. 23 to 28, 1973, bank robbers held employees of the Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, Sweden, hostage. When the hostages were finally released, most praised their captors and had become emotionally attached to them. Many even said their captors had done nothing wrong.
Nils Bejerot, a Swedish criminologist and psychiatrist, coined a phrase for this attachment: "Stockholm Syndrome." Today, the FBI reports that over 27 percent of victims suffer from this syndrome. Those who develop it share such symptoms as seeing their captors as giving life by not taking it, being isolated, seeing the world through their captors' eyes and seeing acts of kindness in their captors' actions. They have been stripped of their independence by captors who gained control over their basic needs.
Sadly, this syndrome isn't restricted to hostages. It is found in the payments world today. And salespeople are highly susceptible. Say you're new to the business. You seek a processing partner that will help you make money. During your discussions, the company seems to be a very good fit. It has a nice bonus plan and the pricing seems OK, so you sign the contract.
After the first couple of months you find you aren't being paid residuals. Why? Because the contract requires they exceed a certain level before you are paid. You also discover you signed an exclusive agreement, and production minimums must be met to retain your residuals going forward. The company also charges merchants additional fees that you've learned, based on conversations with your peers, other processors don't charge.
Instead of addressing these concerns, those suffering from Stockholm Syndrome make comments such as, "I should have read my agreement better, but it's OK," or "All the other processors are doing the same thing. My processor is no different."
However, salespeople suffering from this syndrome can take the following steps toward professional freedom:
After addressing all seven steps, examine your current business relationships. What needs to change for them to fit you better? Will your processor change, and under what conditions? These questions are necessary because, for example, your processor may be able to make adjustments to your relationship or address contractual concerns. If your partner does agree to changes, remember to have them verified in writing.
If it is necessary to seek other partnerships, consider what I've just said, and be sure to verify everything. Don't look back and think of what might have been. Use the lessons you have learned, and move on to find the perfect fit. Once freed, you will find a very bright future.
Jeff Fortney is Director of Business Development with Clearent LLC. He has more than 12 years' experience in the payments industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-618-7340.
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