How Does Your Store Absorb Bank Fees? ‘‘We are looking for feedback on how other stores are handling increasing bank fees. Our main concern is the bank fees associated with credit- and debit-card usage. If these fees are absorbed in your markup, has your markup changed? Do you have a minimum purchase limit? Do you charge a convenience fee? We would like to hear from anyone on what approaches you are taking to offset the bank fees.’’ —Shelly Averett, manager, St. Johns River State College Bookstore, Palatka, FL We have a $5 minimum for credit- and debit-card charges. To be honest, it does not make sense to me to only be able to set a minimum amount for credit cards since debit-card transactions are more expensive for small amounts (i.e., the flat transaction fee is higher for debit cards than for credit cards). According to our fee structure, any transactions of up to roughly $30 are less costly if you run them as a credit card rather than a debit card and we instruct our cashiers to process those transactions accordingly. —Ueli Stadler, CCR, manager, Reed College Bookstore, Portland, OR The merchant-service fees are included in the markup and the bookstore markup has not changed in several years. We do not have a minimum purchase limit or convenience fee. I see merchant-service fees as a cost of doing business. If the merchant fees were to become excessive, I would raise the store markup on products. I don’t want the customer to have another reason to shop somewhere else just because I am adding a convenience fee. —Brenda Reinke, director, Oklahoma City Community College Bookstore, Oklahoma City Approximately 40% of our credit-card fees come from online orders, with the balance coming from in-store transactions. We explored creating a minimum purchase a few years back, but established that to break even on credit transactions, the minimum amount needed to be $8 total. We researched that over an eight-month, two-rush period of time and had roughly 700 credit-card transactions of less than $8. The fees associated with the transactions were roughly $1,400 total. We have well over $150,000 in credit-card bank fees each year, so savings of $1,400 wasn’t worth the aggravation to our customers. We do not charge any convenience fee or have a minimum purchase requirement, nor have we increased margins specifically due to higher credit fees. Our campus utilizes Higher One for financial-aid refunds. Approximately 35% of our processing fees come directly from the use of the Higher One debit cards. While we accept debit transactions to reduce processing fees, we specifically inform our customers and cashiers to process the Higher One card transactions as credit due to excessive debit fees charged to the customer by Higher One and other banks. —Matt Branca, CCR, director, The College Store, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport Although the administrative side of our university is about to start charging a fee for paying by credit card, our store has chosen to opt out of that plan. We view bank fees as a cost of doing business, so it’s also not figured into our markups. We don’t want to give our students one more reason to complain about the prices. Although we do encourage them to not use credit cards to pay for smaller items, we don’t have a minimum purchase. We keep spare change containers by the cash registers during midterms and finals weeks for students who need to purchase test sheets, so they don’t use their cards for a 15-cent purchase. —Penny Kimball, director, University of Alaska Anchorage Bookstore Bank-card fees are a cost of doing business for our store. We do not have a minimum purchase, do not charge a convenience fee, and have not altered our margins as a result of increases for accepting them. —Charlie Rutt, director, University Store, University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg We were in a similar situation three years ago, before we instituted a $3 minimum on all credit- and debit-card purchases. Before that, it was common for students to purchase a pencil or pack of gum on their cards, and we’d take a loss on the transaction after the bank fees. Now, students will often add an extra item to their purchase just to hit the $3 minimum. Initially there was some pushback, but most customers have come to accept it. It helps to keep the minimum reasonable. It’s a hurdle, not a wall. —Darris Crear, lead operations assistant, Contra Costa College Bookstore, San Pablo, CA Compiled by Dan Angelo, assistant editor in the Publications Department at NACS.
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