Layman’s Version of New Visa Mastercard Requirements For PayPal Merchants

Posted on July 19, 2010. Filed under: eBay, Paypal, Tips & Hints - Website Sales, Tips - for the eBay Seller | Tags: , , , , , , , |

All ecommerce sellers who accept PayPal will need to accept the new Commercial Entity Agreement by October 1, 2010 in order to continue receiving Visa and Mastercard funded payments.  

Accepting this new Commercial Entity Agreement actually means that you are agreeing to accept each of the different commercial agreements for several banks.

  • Commercial Entity Agreement with JP Morgan Chase
  • Commercial Entity Agreement with HSBC
  • Commercial Entity Agreement with Wells Fargo
  • Commercial Entity Agreement with Wells Fargo – Pro
  • Commercial Entity Agreement with National Westminster Bank
  • Most of the Commercial Entity Agreements are very similiar but there are some differences.  While the agreements are obviously very complex, I have tried to boil them down into a short list of 5 Do’s and Don’ts that encompasses the highlights of various agreements. 

    1. WHO can and should give and get information?

    Ecommerce merchants must clearly identify themselves to buyers so that buyers know from whom they are purchasing.  This includes the requirement that sellers provide the address of their permanent establishment on their website if they are accepting PayPal payments on their website.

    Sellers cannot ask buyers for their Visa/Mastercard information (card number, expiration date, CVV2 number) and if for some reason the seller gains access to this information, either by design or by default, then the seller agrees to notify PayPal and the buyer promptly.  This is a major requirement because all sellers who accept PayPal must be compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards.

     2. WHAT must sellers do in the event things do not go as expected?

    If sellers plan on limiting the return of their item, they must clearly indicate that to the buyer BEFORE the purchase (thus explains eBay’s requirement that all listings have a return policy stated).  If the seller does not want to offer a refund for the return of an item, they need to state something like “NO REFUND, EXCHANGE ONLY”.  Of course, the seller must always provide the item as described.  For example, if a seller offers a blue shirt but delivers a red shirt then Visa / Mastercard would expect them to give a full refund.  But if the seller delivered a blue shirt but the buyer decided that they didn’t want the shirt because it didn’t look good on them then the seller has a right to offer to exchange the item rather than refund the purchase price.

    In the event of a chargeback, sellers must work through PayPal to resolve complaints.  This is often a source of seller frustration because PayPal decides which chargebacks they will fight.  

    3. WHEN can an ecommerce merchant accept PayPal?

     Sellers can only use PayPal to accept payment for goods and services they have provided within a 30-day window (and the days are counted as BUSINESS days).  PayPal cannot be used to collect payment for any previous “debt”.  So, for example, if you are a service provider who offers payment terms (ie customers normally pay their invoices by check within 30 days)  and your customer doesn’t pay your invoice then you cannot agree to accept PayPal for the service you provided 6 months ago but never got paid for with a check. 

    PayPal also cannot be used to accept payments for any good or service that would be considered illegal.  

    Partial shipments can be billed separately so that means one shipment tracking number must be provided for each and every PayPal payment.  If  an eBay buyer purchases 3 items and makes 3 separate payments, each with full shipping cost, a seller who combines all 3 items into one package and gives back a partial refund of shipping for each transaction is at risk for 2 out of the 3 transactions since there will only be one tracking / delivery confirmation number available.

    4. WHERE can ecommerce merchants indicate to buyers that they accept Visa / Mastercard?

    Sellers can display the Visa / Mastercard logos on their own websites as long as the logos are not misleading.  Sellers cannot make it appear to potential buyers that they are accepting Visa / Mastercard directly unless they have their own merchant account.  So any ecommerce merchant who accepts Visa / Mastercard only through PayPal must make that clear by using appropriate logos and wording.    And ecommerce merchants cannot display logos in a way that would imply that Visa / Mastercard endorses the product or the website.

    5.  HOW are ecommerce merchants expected to accept PayPal?

    Sellers cannot establish a minimum or maximum transaction amount.  If a buyer wants to use PayPal for a $1  purchase, for example, then an ecommerce merchant must accept payment and must not charge extra (surcharge) to the customer who uses PayPal.  This provision applies to U.S. sellers but some countries do allow merchants to add a surcharge if it is disclosed in advance.  But this is strictly forbidden in the U.S. 

    Additionally, sellers cannot in any way try to discourage buyers from using credit card funded PayPal payments.

    NOTE that I am in no way giving any financial or legal advice, just doing my best to summarize all the lengthy legal agreements of the new Commercial Entity Agreements.

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    Top 10 Countdown to a Better 2009 Year as an Ecommerce Seller

    Posted on January 24, 2009. Filed under: Amazon, eBay, Other | Tags: , , , |

    There is no doubt that 2008 was a tough year for all ecommerce sellers, and especially rough for eBay sellers.  However, I really have high hopes that 2009 will be a much better year.  I decided to include a Top 10 Countdown List for any ecommerce seller who is ready to put 2008 in the rear-view mirror and get on with 2009:

    #10 Become your own 30-day business detective

    For 30 days, write down every comment, both good and bad, that a customer or even potential customer has to say about you or the product you sell.  Write down the questions they ask and make note of whether they asked before or after the purchase so you’ll know if you need to work harder to convert more sales or work harder to prevent customer service issues after the fact.  At the end of the 30 days, you will be able to see definite patterns which could give you a whole new direction for your business.  You might even consider “adding some fries or coke” to your menu.  Offering add-ons is one very important way to set yourself apart from the competition and often times the add-ons are small dollar but high margin products.  And if the add-on item will only add a small amount of weight to the packge, consider offering free shipping for the add-on with the purchase of the main item which will provide a little extra revenue for you and a better value for your customer.

    #9 Remember that you are not in a popularity contest

    Every business is unique and sometimes what is “popular” at the moment might not be for you.  For example, we are gearing up to try Amazon’s FBA program and to list several items on Bonanzle.  Both of those strategies are “popular” right now but that is not what is driving our decision.  We are considering only one product line for the Amazon FBA program and a few different product lines for Bonanzle because we don’t think our other products are a good fit for either of those venues.  If your product line or business model isn’t geared toward Amazon FBA or Bonanzle then don’t do it… and don’t apologize for it… and don’t feel like you need to explain why you are not participating in the “popular” strategies.  Chasing after the popular crowd, instead of doing what is right for you and your business, could get get you spinning your wheels.  On the RedInkDiary blog, Henrietta wrote an article titled Sometimes Less is More and she said something that I still remember — “I learned that it is really easy to spin your wheels and make a lot of dust.”

    #8 Make sure to Promote Your Business YOURSELF

    While it is all well and fine to expect a venue that you pay to drive traffic to your items, it is your responsibility to promote your business yourself.  After all, it is YOUR business.  There a number of different websites and blogs out there devoted to giving you information to promote your business.  Take advantage of every opportunity to promote you and your business.  And, don’t forget to get listed on the Merchant Directory website.

    #7 Work with your manufacturers to promote them and you

    Talk to your manufacturers who supply you with goods and ask if they would be willing to split the advertising cost of a unique promotion with you that, of course, only features their products.  They may have some really great marketing ideas to offer.  Or, ask your manufacturer if they would be willing to donate a prize package to one lucky customer who participates in a contest that you would promote.  Most manufacturers really want you to succeed, because that means they succeed, and are willing to help you if they can.  At the very least, ask them for promotional materials such as professional product flyers or pamphlets that you can then put your company label on and include in your outgoing packages. 

    #6 Read for enjoyment

    Read a novel, a magazine, or anything else for enjoyment.  Try reading outside if the weather is good or in a quiet place indoors.  The best and most unique business ideas are often triggered when you are expanding your mind in an enjoyable and relaxed way.

    #5 Show Your Customers Some Love this Valentines Day and every day!

    Take every opportunity to communicate with your customers after-the-sale if your product is the kind of item that is likely to get repeat sales.  Send your customers a Valentines Day card thanking them for their business and, if appropriate, include a coupon good on their next purchase.

    #4 Stay “Positively” informed

    It’s okay, and perhaps healthy, to complain sometimes about an aspect of your business or about a particularly tough customer.  But too much negativity is not healthy for you or for your business.  Avoid “toxic” news sites such as the eBay community boards which are 90% toxic and 10% informational.  Instead, make sure to get news from more “balanced” news sources and be sure to keep informed about ecommerce in general not just about the venue where you sell or the product line you currently carry.  It is important to focus on the big picture so you know where you and your business fit overall.

    Some great sources I have found are (a) Twitter – be sure to sign up for Morning Papers and myBlogUtopia on Twitter and (b) the current list of Webinar/Radio/Video that is compiled – see list by clicking HERE – that show there is always ecommerce news happening.

    #3 Work on the Reward System

    Staying motivated, especially during tough times, is sometimes difficult for business owners.  It is easy to allow yourself to get sidetracked or to refocus your efforts on nonproductive issues.  When you find yourself having difficult concentrating, make sure to work on the “Reward” system.  Tell yourself that after you tackle X number of emails that you’ll make yourself a nice warm cup of tea or a delicious latte.  Or listen to a webinar in the background, one that you really will enjoy, while you tackle your inbox, a task that you would put off forever if you could.

    #2 Blog

    Okay, if you don’t blog right now you really should.  It is a great way to keep your current customers informed and to market to new customers.

    To help you get started, the Savvy Seller has some good podcasts about WordPress – click HERE .  And if you are already a blogger and haven’t visited  Alpha Inventions then you should run right over there right now!  The purpose of Alpha Inventions is to connect bloggers with each other in a faster way.

    #1 Control What You Can and Just Deal with What you Cannot Control

    If 2008 taught us anything, it taught us that we can only control that which is directly in our sphere of influence.  As sellers, we cannot control the total economy and we cannot control or influence the decisions that companies like eBay make.  But we can control how we react to those uncontrollable things.  During one particularly frustrating period as an eBay seller last year, I got up in the middle of the night and rearranged my entire living room.  Then I went to work and rearranged my office.  And, believe it or not, I felt so much better after that because I proved that I could exert some control over my environment even if it was just a small amount.  And that small triumph gave me the strength and motivation to tackle bigger issues. 

    If you are staring at the wall that still has November 2008 on the calendar and you’re moaning about how bad sales were during the holidays then you are letting your environment control you.  You need to get up and toss out the calendar (and get a new one of course), clean out the coffee pot that probably hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned since 2005, and make sure you have plenty of ink pens stocked (okay, that last one is specifically for me – the person who is never without a pen at work!).  Get yourself in the right frame of mind to tackle the big things as well as the small things.  Stop playing the part of the victim.  The economy and eBay did not personally choose your name out of a hat as someone to pick on in 2008.  

    I really believe that 2009 is going to be a great year for my business.  I’m busy turning my own ship in a whole new direction and I’m using my Top 10 Countdown List to keep me on track this year.  And, on that note, since I have now finished this blog post I deserve a nice cinnamon dolce latte and since my coffee pot is nice and clean it will definitely be the most tasty drink I’ve had all week.  

    I hope your day is a good one!

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