As winter approaches, we thought it would be a good time to address some of the perceptions and misperceptions regarding payment processing in the fuel oil industry. We consulted Tracy Richmond of COCARD in Beverly, Mass. for some insight. COCARD specializes in processing payments for the energy industry.
FON: Let’s get right to some of these payment processing issues. Is it true that fuel marketers must have two merchant account numbers to get the best processing rates from Visa and MasterCard?
RICHMOND: Definitely not. Two separate merchant accounts are not required. By working with the world’s largest processing company, COCARD is able to provide dealers with one merchant account that provides Visa with their requirements and MasterCard with their requirements.
FON: What about electronic funds transfer (EFT)? Is it free from the bank?
RICHMOND: All banks have a fee associated with both paper deposits/debits and EFT debits. This fee may be hidden and deducted from your overall monthly interest credit, but there is a charge for EFT that is somewhere in your banking fees. EFT is still more cost effective than credit card transactions and is a great solution for some of your customers.
FON: Will providing the card verification value (CVV) code on a credit card transaction lower the processing rate?
RICHMOND: The processing program for energy companies does not require any additional levels of security. If your current credit card processor is offering you a lower rate for entering the CVV code, then you are not on the proper processing platform for an oil or propane dealer.
FON: Is the rate I should be paying for MasterCard transactions a flat 75 cents?
RICHMOND: As of April 2008, the interchange category for MasterCard Utility was reduced to 65 cents for a credit card and a flat 45 cents for a debit card. As an oil or propane dealer, you should be paying this rate along with a small processing fee from your processing company. If you have questions about how you are being charged, please ask COCARD to review your fees.
FON: Can any credit card company get oil and propane dealers the lowest possible processing rates for their industry?
RICHMOND: Well, COCARD is the only company that processes exclusively for the energy industry. We have worked closely with MasterCard, Discover and Visa to provide dealers with the lowest processing rates available. COCARD dealers have seen proactive price reductions in each of the last five years.
Tracy Richmond is a vice president at COCARD, headquartered in Beverly, Mass. COCARD is a pioneer in reducing costs for heating dealers, and handles the processing needs of the industry’s leading fuel dealers. COCARD is a preferred choice of hundreds of home heating fuel and propane dealers from Maine to Alaska and has been recommended by many associations including ESPA, MOC, VFDA and ICPA to their oil and propane heating members. The company can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (866) 849-8800.