If you haven’t read about the new “Brand Damaging” issues and you accept credit cards on your website… You need to. The potential impact on your business is too large to ignore.
Now that you have hopefully informed yourself, let’s concentrate on keeping you out of trouble and getting canceled.
The new rules may seem a bit daunting, but they are really pretty simple…. If it’s trickery, you cannot do it anymore. You may be sitting there thinking, “I have been running this “Free Money” website for 10 years…. This doesn’t apply to me. You are most certainly wrong. These are new rules, new implementations and new punishments for violations.
The cost for violating one of these rules and getting caught (and you will) is at it’s best cancellation of your merchant account or gateway account…. At it’s worst, very large fines and cancellation. Heed this warning, even if you haven’t received any communication from your Merchant services providers.
Merchant Processing Survival Tips 2010
Online marketing campaigns that employ any “Free-Trial”, “Deferred Billing” and/or “Shipping Only” are considered trial offers and are subject to the new rules. Consumers must receive a tangible good or contracted service in exchange for the credit card charge(s). Incentive type discount offers are acceptable ONLY when the cardholder is receiving goods or services in exchange for payment. Having said this, note for example that e-Online will no longer support
accounts engaging in hidden or delayed charges and ‘free’ offers that are not truly free.
- Avoid using “free” or “risk free” language on your website and in marketing campaigns (including PPC) .. Unless it is 100% really free.
- If you use the “Pay Shipping & Handling Only” technique, then these charges must be fair, reasonable and fully disclosed. So if you have been slipping by on the $5 shipping and $20 handling fee, you must stop. Also note that inflating your actual shipping has additional implications as well… Did you know that most states expect you to pay sales tax on overcharged shipping fees?
- Trial offers need to be no less than 10 days and the trial period should not begin until product is shipped to the consumer or the service has begun. You are not permitted to offer trails with exemptions, filtering or special rules for age, weight, height, geographic location, race etc.
- Avoid creating a false sense of urgency because if the matter is not genuinely urgent you are in violation. For example if you have the “10 day only” message running on your website for 3 years now… You are in violation. These periods of offers must be genuine and accurate. e-Online has strictly forbid the use of applications such as countdown clocks, tickers, or language such as “Offer Expires Today!”, for example already.
- By mandate of the FTC, product claims, promises, g