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Article published in Issue Number: 061201

Hoppin' holiday service

By David H. Press, Integrity Bankcard Consultants Inc.

Since the holiday season is in full swing, I thought I would share with you some advice we at Integrity Bankcard Consultants Inc. give our clients this time of year. Most important is to call your customers and wish them happy holidays. Gifts and cards are nice, but a direct call is always the best.

This is traditionally a slow time for acquiring new merchant accounts. Customer service calls, though, increase during the holidays. Make sure your staff is prepared for the onslaught you're going to get from your merchants. This season is incredibly hectic for them.

Joy to the wise

Monitor your merchant accounts because fraud spikes as holiday transaction volume increases. The parameters set for the rest of the year may need to be tweaked, so your risk department can spend time looking at suspect transactions. Don't be afraid to contact merchants when you see suspicious activity. They are busier this time of year but will welcome your call if it can prevent a loss after the year-end rush is over.

If you haven't already done so, send out educational bulletins to your merchants. They should include basic fraud tips that are readily available from the card Associations. This will help lower potential fraudsters' ability to take advantage of merchants, who have more than enough to do right now.

Once the holiday season comes to an end, make sure your risk, retrieval and chargeback staffs work very closely together. Many merchants will likely have a higher number of retrievals or chargebacks. This is the time for you to work with them and make sure they are providing all the necessary documentation to fight them.

Merchants need to hit their system's return key for all items returned to them. If there are delivery issues, those disputes need to be handled between the merchant and the cardholder first, and the documentation should reflect this.

Make a list, check it twice

Sales of bankcard services are usually slow during the holidays. It's a great time to review your sales materials and presentations. The saying "If it ain't broke don't fix it" comes to mind, but these presentations can always be tweaked a little. See if you need to update your pricing in these materials. Also, you may want to offer an after-the-New-Year special to get more customers.

This is also a good time to review your internal policies and procedures. There have been many changes in card Associations' rules and regulations. Be sure you are in compliance with them. You may want to have an independent party take a look at your policies and procedures. A fresh set of eyes is always good.

I am always looking for ideas for future articles, so if there's a topic you want me to write about, send an e-mail to . Most of all, enjoy the holidays with your family and your employees.

David H. Press is Principal and President of Integrity Bankcard Consultants Inc. Call him at 630-637-4010, e-mail or visit

Article published in issue number 061201

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