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You Must Accept Credit Cards Online business Requirement!

You Must Accept Credit Cards - Online business Must!

Thousands of small business webmasters briefly lose their domain names at expiration, due to a simple lack of understanding about the roles of three key players in the drama: domain name registrars, web hosts and internet service providers. Fortunately for most, they learn quickly how to save their web site from oblivion by using the 30 day redemption period for expired domain names enforced by ICANN. One simple solution is to extend domain registration for the maximum ten years. The other solution is to treat domain registrar data as the critical business element it is.

Search the WHOIS database to see who your Registrar is on your business domain! Transfer your domain name to take advantage of our lower prices.

I Can't Remember Where I Purchased My Domain Name!

It wasn't until my third client had called asking how to regain control of her domain name that I realized that it was a common problem for small business webmasters to forget where they had registered their domains. WHOIS my registrar? Why didn't I get an email about renewal? Why did my site stop working today?

People rarely realize how important it is to keep their domain registrar notified of changes to their email address and and other contact information. The registrar will send renewal notifications to the email address last on file. For most domain owners, the only time they think about contacting a registrar is the day they reserve their domain name. If they move to a new city and get a new internet service provider, it doesn't occur to them that the old email address will change and that meeans that the registrar can no longer contact them through the previous address, or phone or fax as each of them change and we rarely notify the controller of our domain of those changes.

Sometimes the first indication a business owner will have that there is a problem is the day their web site stops working. If they failed to notify their domain registrar of changed email address, they may never have received their domain renewal notice. Since many registrars honor a 30 day "redemption period" allowing expired domains to be redeemed, it may be possible to save the registration within 30 days following expiration by contacting registrars during 30 day domain redemption periods.

The following URL leads to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (AKA ICANN) discussing the grace period and redemption period rules it enforces.


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by Mike Banks Valentine

A major issue for small business is finding a reasonably priced option for an online Merchant Account so that they can accept credit cards for instant "real-time" approval of online payments.

Small businesses are finding the routine charges of up to $150 monthly to be out of line based on their small sales volume. There are "free" services for this like Yahoo Stores and Amazon zShops. Or the pay-per-transaction model used by ccNow.com which takes ten percent of each sale. The basic issue is that online sales are driven by credit cards and if someone is forced to print a form and mail a check, then wait for their merchandise, they are likely to go elsewhere . . . FAST. So this issue troubles many new online merchants.

Hosting a shopping cart program on a site without the secure server opens you up to huge liability from your own customers and it is unlikely that your Merchant Bank will allow it anyway. This is a major issue for small businesses online and is frustrating many small operators trying to operate with minor online sales.

The expenses aren't justified by the income. The major player in online Merchant accounts is Authorize.net and the application fee alone is a barrier to most businesses - $450, plus about $50 monthly in statement fees plus software leases averaging $25 monthly for 4 years!

The same is true of companies like Charge.com that offer Merchant accounts without the large appplication fee, but don't tell you up front about the software lease fees and statement fees in their promotional materials.

I have set up CCNow for several clients that offer products online. They take a flat 10% fee per sale with no other charges at all and transfer the funds into your bank account after each sale is confirmed and shipped. There is that delay and you lose the additional 10 percent, but it is difficult to find a better deal for small business. If your sales are small and your marketing budget limited, go with the free resources like Yahoo stores or Amazon zShops. If your profit margin can sustain a ten percent take from the top, go to ccNow.com and if you expect sales above $1,000 monthly, then it's worth the application fees and software leases to go with the big boys, AuthorizeNet.

Online merchant accounts proliferate like flies, but this is too important to risk the smaller companies and you need the reliability offered by the major companies I've mentioned above.

Good luck with your store!


Mike Banks Valentine operates WebSite101 Short Course,
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Are You a Respected Customer?

By June Campbell

Ever wish there was some way to tell whether an online business respected and valued you as a customer? That is, some way to tell before it is too late and you are engaged in a bitter dispute over their business practices?

Here are a couple of indicators.

Take the people who ask you to send your credit card information over insecure lines. If it's a little mom and pop operation, I can almost give them the benefit of the doubt. It's a matter of not being well informed and perhaps not having the budget to use one of the online credit card processing services that proliferate on the Web.

But there is no excuse for big companies who do the same thing. I recently attempted to purchase an upgrade to an anti-virus software application. To my surprise, I discovered that credit card transactions were not available online. Then came the shocker. An email message from Customer Service offered me a number of options. I could (1) phone my credit card number in to their Sales Department (no 800 number), fax it in, in which case one supposes the faxed paper would lie around in plain view of anyone who wandered by, or (3) EMAIL it in.

Then today I attempted to pay for my attendance at a dinner meeting hosted by a local networking group for Internet professionals. I clicked through and initiated the online registration process. Just as I was getting ready to click the Send button to transmit my credit card information, I noticed that no little gold padlock was showing in Internet Explorer. The line was insecure and the site owners hadn't seen fit to mention it. Talk about Buyer Beware! A more inexperienced consumer might not have noticed that the padlock was missing and sent the information, assuming it was safe.

The conclusion that I draw from these two experiences is that neither company has respect for their customers. Not only to they allow customers to send private information by an insecure method, but both go to far as to suggest this insecure method as an option.

Yes, the consumer has an obligation to protect himself. But the merchant has a responsibility to encourage safe, secure transactions.

Now here's a second way to tell that you're not a respected customer. Some businesses make you work very hard to buy a product. How committed does a customer have to be to click around a web site until they find a cleverly hidden telephone number for Sales, then go offline to make the call. Then imagine having no 800 number available and being put on hold and forced to listen to Muzak for ten minutes or more until someone takes your call. Then during that time, the company's switchboard bumps you off line and you have to redial and start the wait all over again. Remember, this is to buy the product, not to reach tech support.

The above paragraph accurately outlines the process that I encountered when trying to buy my anti-virus software.

The conclusion that I draw from this example is that if it is so inordinately difficult to buy something from this company, what will it be like to connect with tech support or with customer service if I ultimately need a refund? One can only shudder at the thought.

When we read so many surveys indicating that the consumer is leery of online sales and is complaining of poor customer service, can web entrepreneurs afford to blithely ignore those findings?

I believe that we cannot and we should not. If we hope to generate ongoing sales into the foreseeable future, then the onus is on us to look after ourcustomers.

June Campbell's writing has appeared in several international publications. Visit her on the Web for a FREE newsletter,FREE gifts, articles, guides for proposal writing, business plan development and more. http://www.nightcats.com


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