Well, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but I am fairly sure that it isn’t over yet.
I do find that in situations such as this, the best thing for me to do is to do my homework and not do anything in haste. I think that gathering as much information as possible and making an intelligent decision is the best way to go. That is the plan anyway.
As soon as they were opened yesterday I placed a call to the bank. They did have a phone number listed on the notice and it at least put me directly into the Merchant Services department. That was a good start. The call was answered by a pleasant girl who informed me that most of the department was in a meeting. She took my information and told me that I would receive a call back soon.
I went on with my day and tried not to think about it. After all, these things don’t happen overnight. I have learned when dealing with companies like this that I do much better if I put things aside and get busy with other things, as it seems that they rarely put you at a high priority. I am sure that soon after the letter was sent, they were flooded with calls regarding these changes. In a way, I was happy that I was here in Canada and didn’t find out about it until now. The letter was dated July 26th and for once I was grateful at the delay in receiving information, as the initial rush of questions from local merchants would have surely occurred already.
After working on some custom orders for a couple of hours, I needed to get an order out at the post office and also get some groceries. I did my errands and upon returning there was still no message from them. It was now afternoon and I was getting a bit antsy. It was a beautiful day out and I decided to take a walk around the river. I am sorry to say that I haven’t been taking my daily walks for quite a while. Things have just gotten in the way of them. Be it the bugs or the heat or just being too busy in general. It is something that I need to take the time to do every day though. I think it is important for my own well-being on a lot of levels.
While walking past one house that has a beautifully kept little pond, there stood a blue heron at the far edge. At first I thought it was a statue or something, but then it turned its head and I realized that it was indeed real. I had seen him before on the way to the store, as the pond is right off the road, and I am hopeful that he will make residence there fore a while.
Walking always gives me time to really think. My partner and I used to walk every night and discuss the business and our plans and we referred to them as mini business meetings. It was a nice way to talk over things without other distractions and we seemed to accomplish a lot in that time. Yesterday was no different, and we talked over our options regarding these bank issues. It is good for us both to be on the same page with this.
When I returned from walking, there was a message from the girl from the bank. I called her back and found her to be very pleasant and helpful. While assuring me that the rates that were being charged to me were not going to change, I also was smart enough to realize that once the contract was sold to the new organization, it wouldn’t be in my bank’s control. I suppose that they need to say stuff like that to customers to avoid panic and losing the contracts, but I would have to be pretty naive to think that things would stay the same.
She also informed me that the new company had tried to contact me and was unable to reach me. They had on record a phone number from 8 years ago when I still lived in the Chicago area. That was a bit disturbing, because not only had I fully updated my information when I first moved to Canada, but I had done so again last year when I settled here where I am now. After all, the statements were properly arriving at the new address and all the account information such as email and even my site address pointed to me here. But she told me that they had made several unsuccessful attempts to talk to me about things. It doesn’t help my confidence in them.
Apparently this changeover will happen very quickly. She said I am to expect a call from them next week in which I will have to go over some information and have a phone training session and then set things up with my payment gateway in order to make a smooth transition from one processor to the other. On the plus side, they did seem aware of how detrimental ‘down time’ would be and promised that the transition should be seamless. We’ll see.
Everything should be completed by next week, which gives me no time at all to even consider going with another institution at this point. I am fairly certain that is how they want it. Strike fast before we can think about it.
On the up side, everything can be done from here. There is a phone training session and I am told that there is nothing that needs to be signed as far as contracting with them. The process of running my first transaction will serve as an acceptance of their terms which is also in itself scary. It is as if they give you no choice except to follow their terms or you are out of business as far as processing cards.
I am still going to be looking into other options. My son just signed on with another bank to process cards for his new business. He did affirm that it was quite an ordeal not only to find a bank which offered low fees, but also go through the approval process. His business is incorporated though (mine is sole-proprietorship) and may have some different criteria, but after last weeks’ financial woes on wall street and around the world, I am pretty close to certain that at least for the moment, banks are being careful with taking on small businesses like mine.
I am thinking that for now I will see how it goes and stay put. I will certainly keep you all updated on what is going on and I am sure that next week sometime when the transition is being made, I will have some thoughts on the entire process. I don’t for a minute though believe that the rates will not increase in some shape or form. It is just a matter of when. I expect that for the first few months they will remain the same until we are all settled in. That is what happened with the big bank when they took over last year. Then, little by little, things started to be added on and terms amended so we (hopefully) wouldn’t notice. So far that has been their mode of operation and I don’t see this company being any different. I just need to keep a close eye on the charges and things and have another plan in the wings for when I have enough.
Today I am going to spend the day working on some custom orders. I have several different ones that I took on and I would like to get a good handle on them if I can. It will be a good day because I will finally be able to get to the saw and do some cutting – something I haven’t been able to do for weeks. It is already sunny and beautiful out and I plan to take another walk today. I think it will be a good habit to get into today. Maybe I will take my camera with and get a picture of that heron if he is still around.
Thank you all for your support and comments yesterday, both on the board and privately. It really does help to discuss ideas when making decisions like this and hearing about others experiences is definitely a plus. That is why I like to share it here too. I want other woodworkers who are thinking about starting a business to realize that there is a lot more to things than making projects. I hope that by sharing some of the things that happen to me and the obstacles that I face and how I overcome them helps others who may find themselves in the same situation. It isn’t always easy, but by doing some research and with the help of others who have had experiences that were similar, it is easier to find some answers.
Thank you all for your help.
I wish you all a happy and creative Saturday!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"