I have had several reps asking about technical issues. I wanted to run through a few of them so you can be better informed when speaking with technical support.

I. “Comm Error” – Stands for communication error and is by far the most common issue that you will face. The credit card terminal communicates in two ways. It sends out a signal to the bank which includes the amount of the transaction, etc. The bank authorizes these funds and sends a signal back to the terminal to say “Approved” or “Declined.” If a communication error happens on the way to the bank or on the way back, it will say “Comm Error.”

A. It is normal and to be expected for a new merchant processing over a phone line to receive this error once or twice in the first couple weeks. Always instruct the merchant to unplug the terminal, wait a few seconds, and plug it back in. This will be a temporary fix 95% of the time. Tell new clients to expect this error once or twice in the first few weeks and instruct them to try this fix. This one tip will save you more than 60% of your total time spent on technical support; the customer will be happy. They will feel in control, which all business owners love! (Also, it will save you a tough phone call and time away from selling)

B. If this happens multiple times or still doesn’t work even after the unplug and re-plug, you need to make some changes. First, ask the merchants the following questions and write down the answers. You will then be better informed when you call Tech Support:

  • “Did you experience the same problems with your old terminal from the other processor?”
  • “Is this a dedicated phone line?” If not, “Do you have a splitter on the line and how many other things are running on this line?” – It is always ideal to have a dedicated line for the Credit Card machine. Sharing this line with a fax machine is fine. However, sharing it with a phone or ATM machine will result in occasional problems regardless of what you do. Someone may call in or try to use the ATM machine while a transaction is coming. This can cause temporary problems with the connection and can even cause the terminal to freeze. On rare occasions it is possible for a transaction to still go through the bank even though the terminal reads “Comm Error” or even “Decline” if the connection is interrupted at just the right moment.

“Is this a digital or an analog line?” They probably will not know the answer. But if their carrier is Comcast or Verizon, there is a good chance it could be a digital line. This is a problem which you need to tell tech support when you call.

C. Now is the time to fix the problem. Here are some possible solutions.

 

1. Lower the “Baud Rate.” This is the rate at which information is sent over the phone line. If their connection is sketchy, you can lower this rate from the default of 2400 to 1200. Often this will fix the problem. Obviously tech support will have to walk you through this.
2. Enable “Blind Dial.” This is a setting in the communications portion of the terminal which has to do with how many times the terminal will attempt to send or receive information before giving up. If there is a bad connection, you can turn on “Blind Dial” to have a greater chance of going through without the “Comm Error.”
3. Ask tech support to change the “Auth Phone Number” and “Settle Phone Number.” Especially if the client is on a First Data platform, the phone number at the host could be overloaded. If tech support changes the main number and leaves the back up or “2nd Number” the same, the terminal will try one number and automatically dial the other number if the first one doesn’t work.

II. Transaction went through that should not have. – You will deal with this all the time. The employee may have entered $42.40 instead of $4.24. Or perhaps a transaction was accidentally entered twice.

A. If the merchant calls you about this, begin by asking, “When did this happen?” If it happened today and the merchant hasn’t batched or settled out yet and if they want to get rid of the entire transaction, the problem is an easy fix.

1. There is an “Invoice Number” on each receipt. The numbers start over from “1” each day and are deleted once the transaction is batched or settled out at the end of the day. Simply tell the merchant to hit the “more” key on the terminal (There are 4 purple buttons right under the screen; it is the far left button.) until he or she sees “Void.” Instruct merchant to select “Void.” The terminal will ask, “Do you want to void the last transaction?” to which they will hit “No.”
2. Next the terminal will ask how the person wants to look up the transaction; look it up by “Invoice Number.” The rest is self-explanatory: enter the invoice number, confirm that it is the right transaction, and then the transaction will be completely voided from the batch.

B. More often you will need to manually process a refund. Assuming the client already left the place of business, here is what you do:

1. Get the amount and date of the transaction and the last 4 digits of the card number from the merchant. (This can all be found on the receipt.)
2. Call tech support and explain the situation. Tell them you are planning to manually process a refund. They will look up the transaction, get you the first 12 numbers of the card and the expiration date.
3. You call the merchant back with these instructions: Press more until seeing “Refund.” After selecting “refund,” start typing the card number in. Once that is complete hit the green “enter” button and then follow prompts to enter the expiration date and amount, hitting the green “enter” button after each. If any other prompts come up, hit the green “enter” button to bypass these. The refund will run like a normal transaction and print a receipt that says “Refund.” The merchant can provide this receipt to the client if necessary for proof that the refund was processed. The refund may take several days to show up in the client’s account.

III. “No Host” or “No Host Connection”– This is the final one for today. It is an unusual error and basically means that you are not connected to the processor. The most common cause is the number “9.” Either there is a “9” in front of the phone number in the terminal when it isn’t necessary or there is not a “9” when it is necessary to dial “9” in that particular business to obtain the dial tone. This issue is almost always something to do with the dial out number or “Authorization Number.”  Although tech support will usually think it is the splitter or some kind of connection problem, it almost never is; so don’t buy that. If they say, “It must be the splitter,” or “Something else must be running on this line,” plug the terminal directly into the main line to see if it works any better. If it doesn’t work any better, tell tech support the splitter isn’t the problem so they can move on to the real problem which is almost certainly the “Auth Phone Number.” The best way to solve this problem: from the main screen press “6;” enter “0000” as the password or “123456;” select “Communication” and then “View;” read through each item you see to the technician. The technician will probably say, “Oh, it has the wrong number!” or something simple like that.

Hope this was a help!

James Shepherd

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