06/04/2013

Processor Update Brings New Technologies & Challenges

One of the major processors we work with recently released a new specification that required Shift4 to recertify with them. New specs often bring new technologies and features for you, our merchant customers. With that in mind, we went through the work required to update and modify our offering to match their new specs and expected the transition – like the vast majority of our other changes – to be simple and transparent for merchants.
What we didn’t expect was for the processor to use this new spec as a chance to add new rules and adjust existing ones so that merchants have significantly higher risk of downgrades. These new rules (or perhaps we should say “new enforcement of rules,” since many of the rules have existed for a long time but have been overlooked) seem primarily focused on hotel and resort merchants.

This new spec now checks for the “logic” of your check-in and check-out dates. If you try to settle a transaction with a check-out set in the future, your batch will likely suspend. Likewise, those properties that use house accounts or ledger accounts to track incidental costs, will find they have a hard time settling transactions when check-in dates on those accounts are months (or years) old. The same is true if their system notices any other “irregularities” in your extended information. Suspended batches, if not remedied quickly, can cause all of the transactions in the batch to downgrade due to delayed settlement.

Speaking of downgrades, this new spec will also trigger downgrades if proper steps are not taken when you accept a card over the phone to hold a reservation, but then manually enter the card when the customer checks in. You must be sure that your PMS is configured to generate an entirely new folio during the check-in process and that it doesn’t default to the original card-not-present transaction. (It would raise a red flag if you try to process the original card-not-present transaction after you have had the card in your possession at check-in.)

Authorizing and settling your transactions as card-present will help you qualify for a lower discount rate, so it’s a good practice. However, many POS or PMS systems will default a transaction to card-not-present if it is manually entered, even if the cardholder is standing right in front of you. So, make sure you get this reconfiguration done to avoid having every transaction downgrade!

New advancements will change the way we accept payments. They will enhance the customer experience. But – as in this case – they may also close some loopholes that processor specifications previously allowed, or make us do things in a new (and sometimes more complicated) way. Yes, it may tough, but Shift4 is here to help you through it and to make it all as painless as possible.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email support@shift4.com or call us at 702.597.2480 (option 2).