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An informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur

The Wizard is M.I.A. in the Land of Frauds
By Paul Tomori
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at 23:44:38 (EST)

We recently decided to upgrade our billing system to use online merchant services so that customers could pay their bills by credit card online with greater ease and simplicity. We selected one of the world's largest processors. They charge a monthly fee and a transaction fee for the service and you guessed it: they bill THEIR fees to our company card.

During the online sign-up process to register, I was quoted a monthly fee, which I agreed to and I filled out those standard forms. Lastly, I was asked to input some credit card detail so that the processor could bill us for the service. As I have done many times before, I entered the details of a perfectly valid card only to get an error message stating that the 3-digit security number from the back of the card had been entered incorrectly. Strange, I thought. Who could screw up a 3-digit entry?! Me? Never! Well, maybe. So, I clicked on the button to return to the screen and make the correction. There, I discovered NO PROBLEM AT ALL with that 3-digit number, but I did notice that their system had "forgotten" the credit card expiry information I had inputted. So, I corrected that and tried again. This time an error message stated that my address was incomplete. We have an office suite address, so sometimes it is typed as: 605-43 Church Street and sometimes it is typed as: 43 Church Street Suite 605.

For several minutes, I tried over and over to input variations of the address including the two mentioned above. It kept failing and suggested that I review my credit card statement to determine the "exact" format of my mailing address from the statement. So, I did. And, I made a slight change. And guess what? IT STILL FAILED. Each time I went back and tried again, their system kept forgetting my credit card expiry, so I had to adjust that every single time. It felt like "amateur hour" and I thought to myself: I have seen better credit card capture systems on mom-and-pop websites than on this MAJOR company's website... a company that purports to be the world's leader in credit card processing! Mystifying.

Remember, this company is a Fortune 500 company whose specialty is to provide credit card processing services. What's wrong with this world!? In each industry where you hope and expect to find an expert who can deliver the goods, I increasingly find that the wizards seem to be "missing in action". Imposters and fraudsters are taking over the world and each industry seems to be losing its fundamentals.

So, I am not going to just vent here. Let's be proactive. What can one do? My view is that in whatever industry you settle upon as your "profession" or "career", BE AN EXPERT at what you do. Know how to get the job done and do a GREAT job. When I finally get our application (and payment) with this new supplier worked out, I guarantee that the front-end experience for our customers is going to work and work well... And, there won't be any smoke and mirrors needed by the wizards at my company.

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