Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Taking Credit Cards

Changes to the rules of how credit card transactions are processed necessitated a change in the system I was using last fall.  The software I was using (PC Charge Pro from had been  made obsolete by the new compliance rules.  PC Charge Pro is a very good system (and what they're selling now is compliant with the new rules) and I liked it a lot, but before I spent the money on new software, I decided to see what was new in the market since I'd last looked. My husband suggested I look for merchant services apps for my smart phone (a Droid), which is what I went with.  First I'll tell you about a popular system we looked at and didn't choose, then I'll tell you about the one I signed up with (and am very happy with).

Of the merchant services that work with smart phones, Square ( is one of the more popular ones.  Their fees are low and the card reader is cool, but there are problems with the way they do business that turned us off.  Any company that has no "real" office or phone number where you can talk to live people about problems is not a company I want to deal with, for one thing, and that's the case with Square.  Also, their reputation for customer service and complaint resolution is bad
( The Ripoff Report website has an interesting complaint
(\up-346db.htm) against Square too - it's always good to check these things when you're researching something that involves your money.  (Notice in the Ripoff Report the problem with taking sales over $1000 - many of my sales are over $1000 since I sell bronze, so that was a real turn-off for me.) 

A better solution, IMO, is They have free apps for Iphones, Androids, Blackberry and I believe Window phones too, and their rates are guaranteed to be the lowest (they will work with you on what the best rate is for your business). You can get a Bluetooth swipe machine to go with your
phone for $129, IIRC, which works great. However, if you're in a place like Equine Affaire where one company has the WiFi contract for the premises, you may have problems. At Equine Affaire in Ohio this April when I tried to use my Droid to do charges (it works great at home!) I couldn't get online with the
phone because of the WiFi service for the fairgrounds blocking my signal. I finally had to pay for the internet access and use my computer to use the free Merchant Gateway on So a really good aspect of the Merchant Warehouse system is that you're not locked into just using your phone - you have another option. BTW, when you input the customer's email address, a very professional-looking receipt is emailed to them, which is a really nice feature.

Periodically, Merchant Warehouse will go over your account and make sure you're still getting the best available rate, which is the first time that's been offered to me in the 16+ years I've been taking credit cards.

Merchant Warehouse has an A+ reputation with the BBB (Better Business Bureau). Whatever system you go with, be sure to check them out with the BBB and possibly Dunn & Bradstreet as well to make sure you're going with a reputable company and equipment. It's also a good idea to do searches for complaints against whatever company you're interested in, and whatever terminal you're interested in as well. I once was leased a terminal that the company KNEW would be obsolete in a year when AT&T changed their system!!!! There was no way for me to know that when I got it (because when I signed with them, I wasn't given the name and
model number of the swipe machine I'd be getting, so I couldn't research it - and honestly, it never occurred to me that it could become obsolete like that), but in researching our complaint against them, we discovered AT&T let those companies know that certain terminals wouldn't work anymore BEFORE this company leased this machine to me. What a pain.

Another good thing is that Merchant Warehouse gives its customers who refer people to them $100 if that person signs up. So if you do check them out and decide to go with them, please give them my name! :D I've already gotten paid for referring others to them, and they pay very quickly! You can also get a standard swipe machine type of system or software for your PC (although with the Merchant Gateway, I don't know why you'd need the software) with Merchant Warehouse if you prefer to work that way rather than with a smart phone.

I've been with 4 or 5 different merchant services companies since I've been in business. This Merchant Warehouse system is easy to use, easy to explain to others who might be working in your booth, inexpensive, secure and the people there are nice to do business with. I'm very happy with them, which is a very pleasant change from some of the ones I've had before!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nanning and "Tolt" updates

Nanning is at the enlarger's in Oregon. The maquette has been scanned and is already at the foundry where the mold and castings will be made for the maquette edition as well as the life-size.  You can order a maquette now and it should be delivered hopefully by the end of October.  The maquette will be mounted on a shaped walnut base (not a rectangular one but one that follows the movement of the horse) and numbered sequentially.

These pictures were taken just before the piece was shipped.  For more information on this piece, please see its webpage, Nanning 374: Spirit of the Friesian.

Now that the piece has been scanned, the next step is to cut it out of Styrofoam at life-size.  To do this, the enlarging company uses a seven axis robotic arm.  The piece will be cut out in all three dimensions and will be 1/4" smaller all over than the finished size (17 hands at the withers).  A coating of the same kind of clay I use will be put on it and then I'll go out there to do the surface detailing.  I can't wait to see the enlargement!  I guarantee I'll get all misty-eyed.  This project is a dream come true for me!  I'm so excited about it!

"Tolt" is finished and gorgeous and now installed in its owner's home.  Here are the final pics of it.

Now I'm starting on a bust of Nanning that will be a bronze wall-hanging.  I'm eager to get started on it, and I'm REALLY eager to go to Oregon soon to do the final work on the Nanning life-size!  YIPPEE!!!!