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pjf (2464)

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I run Perl Training Australia [].

I help with Melbourne Perl Mongers.

I spend an awful lot of time talking about Perl, and have had my picture in the Australian newspapers with a camel. That's rather scary.

Journal of pjf (2464)

Friday July 30, 2004
04:01 AM

PTA is now a merchant

[ #20144 ]

After many years of "meaning to do that soon", I've finally got around to making Perl Training Australia a merchant, and hence able to accept credit card transactions. At least that will be so once I fax in some ten pages of documents and provide the bank with a small sum of cash.

I've called an incredible number of banks in the process, and found a very wide difference in the knowledge of their representatives, particularly when it comes to on-line based systems, as opposed to ones with terminals.

What I also discovered is that there are products that exist that the banks do not advertise, and do not recommend when you explain your needs and requirements. You can't find these products unless you know about them already, or suspect they might based upon discussions with other banks. They're sort of like banking easter eggs.

Once I discovered the existance of these easter eggs, the process became much much simplier. Go to each bank, mention the magic words, and lo! An offer for an extremely low-fee and flexible facility appears. Either that, or the customer consultant gets very confused and you get transferred through five different departments.

The other thing I found surprising is the variation in fees and conditions for what is essentially the same service but at different banks. Sometimes a difference in ongoing charges and establishment fees of 300% was seen.

One particularly frustrating occurance was that different consultants from the same bank would disagree with each other. One bank gave me two pieces of conflicting advice regarding making payments into a third-party bank account. Another gave me three different pieces of advice as to our eligibility to use a particular service.

In the end, I found a very knowledgable consultant, who also happened to have done some Perl programming in the past, lived in the local area, was interested in learning more about GnuCash, and dismissed a number of the fees and charges that I had expected for the facility that I was after. I think I've made a friend in merchant services, and that should hopefully assist matters as they progress.

For those wondering what these merchant easter eggs happen to be, they're services provided by a group called Cardlink, who provide on-line processing capabilities. Cardlink operate on behalf of the banks to provide on-line terminal replacements, batch processing facilities, and real-time "e-commerce" facilities. They have a lot more technical clue than the banks, and their staff have been very helpful in answering my questions regarding standards and interoperability.

The downside is that Cardlink's programmer API is a windows-only system, and they can't provide me with the network protocol that gets used. That's okay, because I wasn't really planning to use their programming APIs in anger, and with the service I've negotiated I'm getting Cardlink's services for free. However cardlink have shown themselves to be quite clueful, and have informed me that they're very willing to look into providing alternate solutions based upon customer demand. That's a good sign.

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