The focus is
By T. Foster Jones
IN ORDER TO better understand credit-card
processing needs among Costco Business
Members, Elavon (formerly NOVA
Information Systems) commissioned The
Marketing Workshop Inc. (MWI), an independent marketing research firm, to conduct
focus group research in Seattle and San Diego
in July 2008.
“The main objectives of the focus groups
were to find out what was most important to
merchants, to find out what their impressions and experiences were using our service,
and to figure out how we might help more
Costco members,” says Bernie Deckys, Costco
d agents w
answer an4nally, we h
ho offer 2
y questions.ave custom
they may h9er service
the various charges on their bill.”
fir in3“If I didn st started, t g everythin • Fees.
4’t understa hey were ve g to me.” (S “Our fee.nd somethi ry patient i eattle) structure7ng when I n explain- is very
straightforward. We don’t have any hidden
fees,” says Bernie. “They are all disclosed in the
pa an1perwork. Y d-dimed b “We have6ou’re not y a variety n’t found a.going to g of hidden f n error from9et nickel- ees.” the time
we’ve been doing it. Every month it’s been right
on the ball.” (Seattle)
• Customer service. Elavon/Costco’s
24/7 customer service received positive
to correct a9e study.
me that we
r it’s just to r
n error in t.have tried
he software,9to contact
been more than helpful and extremely respon-siv
or4views in th
g times .ice is amaz
and savin9ing.” (San
Costco members became Elavon customers
im3sed on qui
em to be b
portant w4 cker access
a.to funds or
re a small 9what they
y. That is
“I chose them because of the price of the
m ab3achine and le.” (San D “I went 4the rates. T iego) to
costco.co.hey were ve m and com7ry reason- pared the
rates to my bank. They were less, so I changed
immediately.” (San Diego)
in Be ic1• Hassle g credit-ca rnie. “At El ated to wal6. “Merchan rd process avon/Costc king them.ts tell us th ors is a ha o, we offer a through th9at switch- ssle,” says taff ded- e process
and the 24/7 customer service, as well as an
easier system of dealing with any needed
• Hidden fees. Merchants complain that
a multitude of hidden costs appear on their
bill each month.
“They charged me tons of weird fees that I
didn’t even know existed.” (Seattle)
• Waiting times for funds to reach their
account. Merchants would like to see the
money available the next day.
“I worked with some other companies
where everything is unpredictable—you’re getting your money, you’re not getting your money.
It is frustrating.” (Seattle)
• Customer service. Merchants want
immediate access to an account representative and resolution in a timely manner.
Frustrations with other companies
According to the report, those Costco
members who were using processing companies other than Elavon/Costco expressed several frustrations about their service.
• Confusion about rates. Merchants
complain that the credit-card processing rates
“The debit cards are different from the credit
cards. The whole deal with mileages and all
those cards is confusing. At the end of the day, I
really don’t understand that.” (San Diego)
According to the focus-group members
using Elavon/Costco credit-card processing,
they are satisfied with the service’s performance in a number of important areas.
• Rates. “Unfortunately, the complexity
of the pricing structure is not something we
control,” says Bernie. “The various interchange categories are set by the card associations, VISA and MasterCard. What we’ve
done to make it easier is try to create a statement that is clear and easy to understand.
“In the end, the study was both reassuring and a bit frustrating to us,” says Bernie.
“It’s reassuring, in the sense that what we’re
doing for our members is working, and working well. It’s frustrating, because we see that
there are many, many Costco Business Members who are not using the service, and who
would benefit from switching. We need to
continue to get the word out.” C
For more information, visit costco.com
and click on “Services” or call toll-free at
1-866-213-4748. Refer to priority code 83119.