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Old 08-14-2008, 06:15 PM   #1
Gideon
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Fictionwise Handling Fee Against Credit Card Terms of Service?

From what I understand forcing a "handling fee" or other such things with purchases with credit cards is against almost all merchant agreements with the credit card companies.

So what's up with Fictionwise?

I mean I know they make you pay their little fee to get you to get into their micropayment system instead even with "free" ebooks, but is this even ... well, not "legal" but "not against the CC TOS?"
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Old 08-14-2008, 06:55 PM   #2
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From what I recall, the fee is only if you spend less then $5. so if you purchase something for less then $5 you can make up the difference by adding to your micropay account.
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Old 08-14-2008, 06:59 PM   #3
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Yeah, but in a brick or mortar store it is against the merchant agreement to force such a fee. Places that go ".30 cent fee for purchases under 2.00" for instance, are breaking the contract with the credit card company. They generally force parity with whatever other forms of payment the business accepts.

I'm just curious.... I tried to download a free ebook and was informed of this fee, and even willing to do it, paypal didn't want to go along with it so it's all academic.

Using their site in the eReader iphone software is a giant pain in the butt, btw. Except for downloading what you've already bought - that works well.
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Old 08-14-2008, 07:24 PM   #4
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I can't say for the larger companies out there Gideon, but my wife runs a small quilt/fabric shop. While the Visa/Mastercard agreement states no handling/use fee. The banks that run the transactions from our card reader to our acounts bank charge us a minimum transaction fee on all transactions. The minumum fee balances out at about $5.00, after that it is a straight percentage. This is why small mom and pop stores have a $5-10 min on card purchases. If there are too many little charges they loose al proffit from the sales.

Also if we have something in stock or its a regular item, they pay the requlay price. but if we have to special order something and is costs us more to get it then a regular item, we are going to charge the customer more. Weather it is listed as shipping, handeling, or wrapped up in the base price depands on the paperwork.

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Old 08-14-2008, 09:02 PM   #5
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Yeah, I'm not really saying anything about it being fair or anything (my family has had multiple small businesses, so I get it) just that it may still be against the agreement. Unless someone complains, of course, it will likely never be dealt with.
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Old 08-15-2008, 02:29 AM   #6
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Yeah, I'm not really saying anything about it being fair or anything (my family has had multiple small businesses, so I get it) just that it may still be against the agreement. Unless someone complains, of course, it will likely never be dealt with.
I'm a CC merchant, by the way, and it's certainly not against my terms of service to have a minimum charge for a CC transaction. Given the way that most small businesses pay for such transactions (a flat rate + a % of the amount of the transaction) it's really not feasible to accept CCs for very small amounts. Virtually all shops in the UK have a £5 or £10 limit below which they don't accept credit cards.
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Old 08-15-2008, 10:40 AM   #7
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Unless someone complains, of course, it will likely never be dealt with.
Even if someone complains, it will not be dealt with by Mastercard or Visa.

I filed a complaint against PayPal and its credit card with Visa, Mastercard, several of my credit card companies who stood to lose, and the NYS Attorney General. All of the latter told me I had to deal with Mastercard and Visa. I kept complaining to MC and V and finally I got a telephone call from someone at MC who told me ("off the record") that PayPal generates such high revenue for MC that I shouldn't expect anything to be done. The NYS AG was Spitzer at the time and that office told me they were focused on Wall Street wrongdoing.

My complaint against PayPal had to do with becoming verified. PayPal offered 2 ways to become verified: let them access your bank account or obtain a PayPal credit card. I didn't want either but needed the verification. I asked PayPal why its credit card would verify me but not my Amex card. "Because we do an exhaustive credit check." I laughed.

First, the PP cc is issued by GE not PP. Second, they guaranteed a decision in 30 seconds. How exhaustive could the check be in 30 seconds. Third, did they think Amex simply gave its cards to everyone?

In the end I got the PP cc because I needed the verification. Now about every 2 months I get a marketing call from PP wanting to know why I do not use the PP cc for PayPal purchases -- never have and never will. I usually respond that I'm still in the process of exhaustively reviewing PPs creditworthiness to determine if the cc is a reliable finding source.
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Old 08-15-2008, 02:01 PM   #8
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smaller merchants often pay a certain amount per transaction as well as a percentage, and it just isn't worth it to make a $5 sale if you're paying $2 plus 25 cents plus you have to pay the publisher.
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Old 08-15-2008, 02:06 PM   #9
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I'm a CC merchant, by the way, and it's certainly not against my terms of service to have a minimum charge for a CC transaction. Given the way that most small businesses pay for such transactions (a flat rate + a % of the amount of the transaction) it's really not feasible to accept CCs for very small amounts. Virtually all shops in the UK have a £5 or £10 limit below which they don't accept credit cards.
I don't think the minimum is an issue... but most CC merchant agreements...at least in the US do NOT allow for a credit card "fee" OR a cash discount. They don't want their card holders to feel penalized for using the card.

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Old 08-15-2008, 02:13 PM   #10
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You know, I've never seen a situation where the "handling fee" or $5 minumum is not prominently posted, either online or in brick. I'd rather have it stated up front than rolled into the price of the item, but either way, it ends up the same.
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