POS advice, plz (not a Craftsman thread!)

Otay, gang, I am contemplating taking credit / debit cards at craft / art shows. What sort of equipment do I need? Not just the bare minimums, but the features that will make things go smoothly for me AND my customers.
I am reasonably certain that I have been approved for a merchant account, so that hurdle is out of the way. But, while I can imagine what I might need in terms of mobile POS stuff, I haven't the foggiest about what features might actually prove useful.
I'm pretty certain that this topic hasn't been covered recently.
BIll
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customers.
There are several options. First off if you have a credit card terminal you can take it with you to the show but you need a hard wire phone line to make it go. This option is probably cost prohibitive.
Second what you can do is leave the terminal at home and use a cell phone to call for an authorization number. That way all you need to do is take an imprint of the card (if you have NCR forms this is easily accomplished by setting the card under the form on a flat surface and rubbing the top with the side of a pencil. (the wooden part) Then look at the back of the card and copy down the 3 or 4 digit verification code.
Now when you get home you can run the charge as pre approved.
The third way would be to get an addressograph machine and pay the bank an obscene rate to process a manual charge. You would still need to call in these to get authorization numbers as the days of floor limits are a thing of the past.
There may be some nifty laptop solution with a card reader and a wifi connection or a cell modem but I suspect that option 2 is probably going to be the best bet.
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A laptop and wireless connection will suffice if you use a service such as:
http://www.netbilling.com /
The service includes what amounts to a terminal within a web browser. A card reader would speed things up but is not required.
I'm not sure the Netbilling option would be worthwhile if this is all you use for -- and at a low transaction volume. But if you want to offer on-line purchasing, handle electronic check transactions and more, it's worth looking at.
You will need a merchant account but it doesn't have to be with Netbilling (and mine isn't).
I am a pretty satisfied customer of Netbilling but I'm not associated with them in any other way.
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Walk into your bank branch, and ask them what they recommend. It will tell you whether you have the kind of banking relationship you need pretty quickly.
Rates are important. More important are people who can help you straighten out the inevitable problems that occur.
A friend of mine is in a different business, that works in multistate regional trade shows. He uses a wireless setup to handle credit card payments. It works, but he's not certain it's up to date. It's not cheap, and I suspect his transaction volume would pretty reasonably dwarf yours.
Some folks have decided that a personal check is still a reasonable risk to take on occasion. I don't know how I feel about that.
Good luck.
Patriarch
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Tue, Dec 26, 2006, 11:38pm (EST-1) snipped-for-privacy@nospam.comcast.net (Patriarch) doth adviseth: Walk into your bank branch, and ask them what they recommend. It will tell you whether you have the kind of banking relationship you need pretty quickly. <snip>
My first thought was to ask a credi card company. However, being as I have a credit card thru my bank I never use the card, just have for actual emergenencies), this would probably be better, or a good starting point anyway..
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There are wireless terminals, but they are expensive so you would need sufficent volume.
You could have a terminal at your home and call in the transaction to someone at home. If this is not an option, you could take an imprint of the card and key in the transactions when you get home.
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Bill,
I did shows last year. I did about 8 shows and transacted about $10k. Probably 3/4 of that was on credit cards. I just had an old fashioned card swiping machine and had a terminal at home. I had a phone number I could call for authorization from the show site and had intended to use it for any transaction over $100. However, I never used it and took transactions up to $300.
I never had one bad charge. Not to say it couldn't happen but unless It was a high dollar amount I wouldn't worry about it.
You can get a remote unit but the cost and charges are big.
P.S Ther is a link to a photo of my booth at the bottom of this page http://www.sonomaproducts.com/company.htm
Bill in Detroit wrote:

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I have been taking credit cards for 10 yr now at shows. I used a knuckle buster until it went belly up, now I just write the info down on the form from the credit card servicing company and when I get home I call in the numbers on my at home terminal (sometime as much as 4 days after I take the card). I get additional info such as a phone number address of the customer in case there is a problem. My company requires a street number on some cards, not an address but the house number. Make sure that you get the card number, exp date and signature for your form. Check IDs with all cards. In ten years I have gotten one bad card (customer was playing credit card switch to get the lowest interest) and two refusals to pay, all of which worked out fine after I had talked to the customer and reminded them where they had used the card. Very important, LOCK up the reciepts seperate from your cash, if someone steals the reciepts and uses the card you can be held responsible for damages. I pay roughly 5% for each card transaction.

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