OK, so what I am about to tell you is not a “for instance…” example. This happened last week right here in Savannah.
There’s an elderly man that owns a Bed & Breakfast right here in Savannah. He has seen a lot, done a lot, and is a cancer survivor. He has the scars to prove it. It has eaten up part of him and left his eyes badly damaged so that he cannot be in bright light and has trouble reading. He was referred to me like 99% of all our clientele by other very happy customers and he was in a pickle. A good guy, a likeable guy, “a real mensch” was the actual terminology used about him.
So I call him. He was not happy. He was in a pickle.
Why? He had been thinking about moving his credit card business for his B&B from his current company to someone else and a man came calling on him (this is not coincidental, it’s just that guys from my industry are always calling, it’s why my firm is almost completely word-of-mouth). So the man presses and presses him until he is finally let in. Our mensch is honest and shows him his credit card machine and describes what he does. This is when it gets thick. Salesman informs the man that his old credit card machine is illegal. Illegal? (It’s a harsh term, but if his machine is too old it can be non-compliant, but there are no credit card police coming to get him). It is not only illegal, but it illegally stores all of the customer data ever (no, it doesn’t), and cannot ever be destroyed (yes, it can), and he is risking fines of $5,000-$15,000 per incident of use (only in terms of malfeasance, and if he were illegally storing his customer data which he wasn’t).
This is when the salesman pushes the contract. Well our mensch doesn’t want to sign a contract today. He wants to see if what he says is accurate. After all, he just filled out a compliancy form with his current company who supplied the machine years ago and they had not mentioned anything. Well now we turn from thick to ugly. The salesman informs our good man here who has been doing everything he was told up until that moment that the salesman is a ‘certified compliancy officer’ and that he is honor bound (I don’t think honor has any place in this article outside of the proprietor of the inn) to report him. He also said that he would be in the office until 3pm that afternoon and then he goes home (who goes home at 3:00 pm?), but that if he received his contract or a call to finish up the contract by then he, “could go ahead and take care of it”. Really? That’s sweet.
Did you miss that? There was a threat in there. He would report him. He was honor bound to do so. Well if it’s a matter of honor, wouldn’t he have to report him no matter what? Is this the way people are doing business now?
Here’s the truth: There are no credit card police. No one was coming to get him. He did in fact have an older machine. It was non-compliant. Whoop-de-doo. This added a small fee to his account every month and when he changed to a newer model (which a good company will give him for free, mensch or no…) it was gone. Still even then there’s a $4.95 PCI compliancy fee that he would have to pay, but any reputable company will wave that for the first twelve months of an account.
Here’s How to Handle It: If you are EVER put remotely in that situation: stay calm. Think. Would your current company you work with put you in this much danger? Perhaps. Here what you do. While your ‘officer’ waits for you to decide if he should report you or not, call your current company, get customer service, inform them who you are, and then tell them that a ‘certified compliancy officer’ is there at your business and says he is going to report you. Then hand him the phone…
You will never see so much back peddling in your life.