Merchant Account Services FAQ

Merchant Account Services

What is merchant account processing?

Merchant account processing is the service provided by a processing entity to the merchant that includes authorization of electronic credits and debits, settlement of processed funds, depositing of funds to checking accounts, merchant billing and account activity reporting.

How will I get paid for my electronic transactions?

Funds are automatically transferred to your business checking account via an electronic Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfer two business days after a transaction has been “captured” and settled for payment. For example, credit card transactions submitted on a Monday will be funded on Wednesday. We have instituted this policy as an additional protection for you and your Internet transaction.

Will I receive statements from Total-Apps?

Yes. You will receive monthly statements in the mail that gives you the ability to review your daily sales, financial history, and other pertinent account information.

What credit card types may I accept?

You will automatically be set up for VISA® and MasterCard® transactions. You will have the option to also accept American Express®, Discover®, JCB® and Diner’s Club® by just clicking on those card types in the merchant application.

I already have a retail merchant account. Why do I need another one?

Visa / MasterCard Card Associations have different criteria for evaluating the potential risk involved in credit card transactions where the card is not physically presented to the merchant. This type of business is typically referred to as “card not present” or “MO/TO” (mail order/telephone order). For this reason, a separate merchant account is needed.

How do I get a merchant account?

The Total-Apps online merchant account application can be accessed from the online application section within our website.

Is there a contract to sign?

In order to take advantage of the Total-Apps merchant processing services, you will need to sign a Merchant Services Bankcard Agreement.

What information will I need to complete the merchant application?

To complete the merchant application, you will need to have the following information available:

General Information: Legal and DBA (Doing Business As) name, Business address, and name and title of legal business signer, Business telephone number, fax number (if applicable), and contact name, Web site name, E-mail address, and Internet site address. Business/Storefront Information: Zoning and physical store location, Type of ownership, state incorporated, and federal tax ID, The date your business began, number of employees, and what your business sells.

Sales Data & Business Information: Totals of annual cash and credit card sales, and percentage of credit card sales by mail order, telephone order and in-store purchases, Sales tax percentage, Credit card refund and submission policies, Delivery information. Method of Advertising. Businesses with credit card volume over $150,000 will be required to fax the signed Terms and Conditions agreement, along with additional financial data. Current credit card processing information: Name, address and phone number of current bankcard provider, Merchant number.

Business Owner Information: Names, addresses, phone numbers of first/second owner, partner, or officer, Title and social security number of person(s) listed.

Banking Reference Information: Bank name and address, Contact name and phone number, Date the banking relationship opened and average daily balance of the account, Total dollar amount of credit available, Total dollar of business and Personal accounts. Funding information: ABA and DDA numbers (have a voided or blank business check available to retrieve this information).

Card Type Information: You will (upon approval) be able to offer MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club. If you are a current American Express merchant, please provide your Service Establishment number provided by American Express.

How long does the merchant account application process take?

After submission, your application will be reviewed by our credit decision system. If the application is approved or declined, Total-Apps will contact you via e-mail (in most cases, within 24 hours of submission). If additional review of your application is deemed necessary, you will be notified by e-mail to provide additional information to us. You will have up to 10 days to provide this additional information back to us.

Is my merchant application information secure?

Yes, your application information is encrypted and secure when it is transmitted to us.

What happens after my merchant application is approved?

You will receive an e-mail from Total-Apps confirming your approval. No additional set up is required on your part. You will also receive a hard copy Welcome Packet by mail that contains additional information.

How quickly can I begin processing credit cards once my merchant application is approved?

After you received an e-mail of approval from Total-Apps, your account should be ready to process in 24 hours. Total-Apps will then reprogram your existing hardware, overnight a new terminal or configure your e-commerce gateway for you. Before you begin accepting credit cards, we recommend that you review the Merchant Account Operating Procedures for specific information regarding credit card acceptance.

Will I need to purchase additional equipment?

Only new retail swipe merchant accounts will need to purchase hardware. Under most circumstances, we can reprogram your existing equipment so no additional purchases are necessary.

Retrieval and Chargeback Guide

Media Retention and Retrieval Request Elements

If you deposit via magnetic tape, electronic transmission, or electronic data capture terminal, and hold your sales records (media), it is your responsibility to respond to all media retrieval request within the required timeframes. You are responsible for retaining and providing copies of transactions for a minimum of three (3) years (seven years required for Visa International transactions, i.e., Visa transactions outside the United States or Visa cards issued by foreign banks).

When we fax you a Retrieval Request List, you have twelve (12) business days from the date of request to fax us a clear and legible copy of the sales record along with the index numbers from the Retrieval Request List. If you are unable to respond to the request within twelve (12) days you will be subject to a Chargeback.

Please fax copies of the transactions with the appropriate Retrieval Request List index number to: (949) 266-8260 (Available 24 hours a day)

If you do not own a fax machine, we will mail you the request. Immediately, send us a clear and legible copy of the sales record, along with a copy of the Retrieval Request List to:

Total-Apps Retrieval Dept.
30 Enterprise
Suite 100
Aliso Viejo, CA 92630

Telephone: (949) 274-8975
FAX: (949) 266-8260

If possible, arrange to fax the information back to us at the telephone fax number provided above.

The required elements to fulfill a retrieval request for Visa:

Cardholder Account Number
Card Expiration Date
Cardholder Name
Transaction Date
Transaction Amount
Authorization Code
Merchant Name
Merchant Location
Description of service/merchandise — itemized charges
Ship to Address (if applicable)
AVS response code (if used and the response code is available)

If the retrieval request comes in for “Request for copy bearing signature”, the merchant must provide a copy of the order form with the cardholder’s signature

The required elements to fulfill a retrieval request for MasterCard:

Cardholder Account Number
Cardholder Name
Card Expiration Date
Merchant Name
Merchant Location
Transaction Date
Authorization Code
Description of merchandise or service
Ship to Address (if applicable)
Transaction Amount
AVS response code (if available)

If a retrieval request results from a difference in the following information on the sales record and transmitted record: merchant name or an incorrect city, state, foreign country and/or transaction date, a $25.00 handling fee may be charged by the issuing bank and may be debited from your account.

If you do not respond or respond late to a media retrieval request, there is no recourse for a non-receipt of requested item (sales record). Effective October 1, 1994, chargebacks for “non receipt of requested item” can no longer be reversed unless the request draft was provided when initially requested.

Association rules and regulations require that a merchant must make a good faith attempt and be willing and able to resolve any disputes directly with the cardmember. It is a violation of Association rules and regulations to rebill a customer for a transaction that was charged back.

ChargebacksThe term “Chargeback” refers to a returned transaction resulting from the lack of adherence to the conditions of the Sales Agreement, Association regulations, or these Operation Procedures, and result in the debiting of your merchant account.

Your merchant account may also be debited in the event Total-Apps or its clearing bank is required to pay bankcard Association fees, charges, fines, penalties or other assessments as a consequence of your sales activities. Such debits shall not be subject to the limitation of time specified elsewhere in the Sales Agreement or these Operating Procedures.

In the event you maintain a bank account with Total-Apps’s clearing bank we may cause your bank account to be debited for the actual or contingent Chargeback amount owed to Total-Apps, pursuant to the Sales Agreement between you, Total-Apps and the clearing bank. If an account is not maintained with BankCard Service’s clearing bank, we may debit the actual or contingent Chargeback amount from your bankcard settlement, or from any other account accessible to Total-Apps by virtue of an ACH Agreement between you and Total-Apps.

Chargeback Process/Dispute

A cardmember, or the card-issuing bank, has the right to question or dispute a transaction. In most cases, before a Chargeback is initiated, the card issuing bank request a copy of the sales record, via a “Retrieval”. Once a Retrieval is received from the card issuer, we will respond by sending a copy of the transaction, if available.

If the information provided is sufficient to warrant a reversal of the Chargeback, and within the applicable timeframe, we will do so on your behalf, but reversal is contingent upon acceptance by your customer’s card issuing bank under Visa and MasterCard guidelines. If the Chargeback is reversed, the card issuing bank does have the right to re-present the Chargeback a second time.

If the charge is not disputed within the applicable time limit set forth by MasterCard and Visa regulations, reversal rights are lost. Our only alternative, on your behalf, is to attempt a “good faith collection” to the card-issuing bank. You will receive only the amount, if any, recovered from the cardmember’s bank.

Association rules and regulations require that a merchant must make a good faith attempt and be willing and able to resolve any disputes directly with the cardmember. It is a violation of Association rules and regulations to rebill a customer for a transaction that was charged back.

Chargeback Reversals/Collections

If your dispute and documentation supports a reversal of the Chargeback to the card issuer, and is received within the MasterCard and Visa reversal timeframes, we will reverse the item back to the card issuer and your account will be credited. It is important to note that the reversal is contingent upon the acceptance by the card issuer and/or the cardmember. The item may be represented a second time and your account will be debited accordingly. A reversal is not a guarantee that the Chargeback has been resolved in your favor.

If the Chargeback is presented by the card issuer a second time, it cannot be reversed and you may be debited. If you feel strongly that it is an invalid Chargeback, you may request us to have MasterCard or Visa review and arbitrate the item to determine the validity. Both MasterCard and Visa have a $150 filing fee and a $250 review fee; both fees may be non-refundable and may be debited to your account. In addition, if the decision is ruled in favor of the cardmember and/or card issuing bank, an additional penalty may be assessed and debited to your account.

If your dispute and documentation supports your case, but is received after the MasterCard and Visa timeframes, our only alternative is to attempt a ‘good faith’ collection with the card-issuing bank. This process can take from 30 to 180 days, the transaction must meet the card issuer’s collection criteria (e.g., above a set dollar amount; within a specified time limit; etc.), and the card issuer may assess a collection fee (e.g., $25 to $100). A ‘good faith’ collection is not a guarantee that any funds will be collected on your behalf. You will be credited, when and if, the card issuer accepts the collection and makes payment (less any fees charged by the card issuer).

Due to the short time frames and the supporting documentation necessary to successfully (and permanently) reverse a Chargeback in your favor, we strongly recommend the following:

Avoid Chargebacks by adhering to the guidelines and procedures outlined in this guide. If you do receive a Chargeback, investigate, and if you dispute the Chargeback, contact us immediately. Whenever possible, contact the cardmember directly to resolve the inquiry/dispute. If you have any questions, call Customer Services and they will assist you (or they will refer you to someone who can).

Disputing Chargebacks, Debits and Summary Adjustments

In order to quickly resolve disputed Chargebacks, debits, and summary adjustments, it is extremely important that these issues/items be sent to the address below. (If the Summary Adjustment is for unreadable or incorrect cardmember number, resubmit the corrected sales record with your next deposit. Also, if the transaction is over thirty (30) days, you must reauthorize.)

The following information should be obtained from your files:
Clear and legible copy of the sales record showing:
Date of sale/credit.
Cardmember’s account number,
Cardholder’s name
Total amount of the sale
Description of goods and services,
Date and authorization approval code.

A dated cover letter detailing the reasons for requesting a review of the Chargeback, debit, or summary adjustment and documentation to support your dispute should accompany your sales record. (You should retain a copy of the correspondence and all documentation for your files.) If the inquiry is related to prior correspondence, be sure to include the control number we used previously. Immediately submit the sales/credit records, all documentation, and your letter to:

Total-Apps Chargeback Department.
30 Enterprise
Suite 100
Aliso Viejo, CA 92630

If you have any questions, please call Customer Services. If you are informed by a Customer Service Representative that additional documentation is required in order to fully review the item; please submit it immediately to the above address.

It is strongly recommended that, whenever possible, contact the cardmember directly to resolve a Chargeback.

Changing of Merchant Operation Activity

Change of DDA Number (Checking Account)

If you change your DDA number, you must call your Relationship Manager or Customer Services immediately for an Electronic Funding Agreement that must be completed before a change can be made.

Change in Legal Name or Structure

You must call Relationship Management or Customer Services and request a new Sales Agreement.

Change in Company DBA Name, Address, Telephone or Fax Number

Contact Customer Services.

In an effort to combat credit card fraud and reduce Chargebacks which ultimately lead to higher costs and risk for all parties, the MasterCard and Visa Associations have developed several programs designed to mitigate fraud risk and control Chargebacks. Guidelines have been established and merchant monitoring programs and reports have been developed to track merchant sales transaction deposit activity.

In the event you exceed the guidelines outlined in each program below and/or submit suspicious transactions as identified on Total-Apps deposit exception reports, you may be subject to:
Operating procedure requirement modifications
Incremental Chargebacks and/or fees;
Settlement delay or withholding subject to a Total-Apps investigation to validate transactions
Termination of your sales agreement.
Total-Apps will make every effort to work on your behalf and support you in defense of Association concerns where we believe you are not at fault or where Association enforcement of unreasonable guidelines is evident.

If you receive a paper statement, the following guide reviews important features of the statement:
Your statement mailing address
Key information including your merchant number, the statement period, and the bank accounts into which we deposit you money and deduct your fees.
The customer service phone number for any questions you may have.
The address of the store location for this statement.
The Outlet Funding Summary is the core of the statement and brings your deposited batches, deductions, and checking account deposits into one consolidated report.
The Deposit Summary columns provide summary information on your deposit activity by day.
The Financial Summary columns provide the fees and adjustments to your account due to Chargebacks, Chargeback Reversals, Interchange and Assessment Fees, Discount, Other Fees and Financial Adjustments.
The Fund Date is the date your deposit was processed for funding.
The Total $ Submitted is the net dollar amount of your batch deposits for the day.
The Total $ Funded indicates your bankcard deposits that were funded.
The $ Paid by 3rd Party indicates your non-bankcard deposits you were funded for in a separate deposit to your DDA (for example, American Express and Discover).
The Net $ Funded is the net amount that was deposited into or deducted from your account on the Fund Date.

Definitions / Glossary

Acquirer: A financial institution that maintains the merchant Chargeback credit card processing relationship and receives all transactions from the merchant to be distributed to the Cardmember Banks.

Address Verification: A service provided through Total-Apps in which the merchant verifies the cardmember’s address. Primarily used by Mail/Telephone/Internet order merchants. Not a guarantee that a transaction is valid.

Associations: MasterCard International, Visa, U.S.A. or Visa International, which are licensing and regulatory agencies for Bank Card activities.

Authorization: Approval by, or on behalf of, the card issuer to validate a transaction for a merchant or another affiliate bank. An authorization indicates only the availability of the cardmember’s credit limit at the time the authorization is requested.

Authorization Approval Code: A service provided through Total-Apps in which a merchant accesses a national negative file database through his/her terminal/register to verify or authorize that the person has no outstanding bad check complaints at any of the member merchants. This is not a guarantee of payment to the merchant.

Authorization Center: A department within Total-Apps that electronically communicates a merchant’s request for authorization on Credit Limit credit card transactions to the cardmember’s bank and transmits such authorization to the merchant via electronic equipment or by voice authorization.

Batch: Usually a day’s worth of transactions, including sales and credits to be processed by the card processor.

Batch Header Ticket: The identifying form used by the electronic submission merchant to indicate a batch of sales/credit records (usually one day’s work).

Cardmember: One to whom a credit card has been issued.

Cardmember Bank: The bank that issued a bankcard to an individual. The term is frequently used in conjunction with interchange arrangements to identify the card-issuing bank.

Chargeback: A returned transaction resulting from the lack of adherence to the conditions of the Sales Agreement, Association regulations or these Operating Procedures and the resultant debiting of your merchant account.

Credit: A refund or price adjustment given for a previous purchase transaction. A number issued to a participating merchant by the Authorization Center that confirms the authorization for a Credit Draft sale or service.

Credit Draft: A document evidencing the return of merchandise by a cardmember to a merchant, or other refund made by the merchant to the cardmember.

Credit Limit: The credit line set by the card issuer for the cardmember’s account.

Discount Rate: The amount a merchant processor charges a merchant to give credit for depositing and handling merchant’s daily credit card transactions.

Issuing Bank: Cardmember’s bank or the bank that has issued a MasterCard or Visa card to an individual.

Retrieval Request: The documentation of monetary transactions (i.e., sales drafts, credit records, computer printouts, etc.)

Merchant Sales Agreement: The written contractual agreement between a merchant and BankCard Services’ clearing bank containing their respective rights, duties, and warranties with respect to the acceptance of credit cards.

Merchant Account Number (Merchant Number): A number that numerically identifies each merchant to the merchant processor for accounting and billing purposes.

Referral: The message received from an issuing bank when an attempt for authorization requires a call to the Voice Authorization Center or Voice Response Unit (VRU).

Submission: The process of sending batch deposits to Total-Apps for processing. This may be done electronically or by mail.

Transaction Fees: Service costs charged to a merchant on a per transaction basis.

What is a Bank Letter?

When applying for a merchant account, you may be asked to provide bank statements or a bank letter. Bank statements simply show the transactions that occur as well as your account balance. Bank letters, on the other hand, show your balance and your bank’s assessment of you and your history as a customer. The letter will have a bank letterhead, status of your account, and verify the information with bank account / routing number with a signature from a bank representative.

Here is an example:

Sample Bank Letter

Am I required to have a physical storefront to process credit cards with Total-Apps?

Most of our eCommerce applicants have a physical storefront; however, this is not a requirement.

Is there a fee for processing my application?

Total-Apps never charges a setup fee!