Credit Cards and a sales rep’s dilemma

In this past week it’s been unfortunate how many phone calls I have received from vendors about declined credit cards. Or, credit cards we have been asked to call for and never receive a response. It’s frustrating and I appeal to those store owners out there to understand our side of this.

Since 2008 the request for all orders to be processed by credit card has risen sharply. Vendors and manufacturers are afraid to extend terms to anyone. Nothing personal, it’s simply a case of statistics and how many times a place can not get paid before they have to put their foot down.

Having owned a boutique for 7 years I understand the frustration of having to use credit cards. Balances pile up; max out. Bill comes: huge interest has accrued and you can’t pay it in full. I get it, I was there. Factors were cracking down as well as manufacturers as they couldn’t even count on a net 30 check to go through. Things got tough then and they haven’t gotten much easier.

Just as you’ll find in many stores these days, vendors don’t want to accept checks. Problem with those is they bounce. Then the merchandise is out of their hands with no recourse. So they have turned to credit cards. Problem is, we process orders and then run the card. Once it’s declined, very often we never reach the owners to to get a new number. So the order either sits or goes back into stock after weeks of trying.

As a store owner I imagine when you spend time with a customer and their card is declined it’s not only embarrassing, it’s frustrating. Particularly if they don’t have another one and leave empty handed. It’s the same for a rep. At trade shows we are asked to call for a card when the order is ready. We trust that we will be able to obtain it. Often times those orders never get sent. Not only does the rep and manufacturer lose, the store loses it’s opportunity to have great merchandise.

When a card is declined we go through the same process. And yet again, we find that more often than not, orders are being restocked. This is a sad commentary on an economy that’s struggling to recover. If we aren’t spending, the economy is not growing.

Sales reps in our industry all work on 100% commission. If we lose an order, we don’t get paid. The manufacturer has more inventory than they counted on and so on and so on. It’s a vicious cycle. As reps, customer service is our number one concern. We want to offer the best service possible however, that becomes very difficult when we are continuously fighting these types of situations.

So, please help us out. Let’s all work together and look towards the future and a brighter economy.