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Steinlaw
Steinlaw, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 1811
Experience:  Consumer law attorney, author of California Debt Blog, Businessweek.com top foreclosure attorney
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I asked a question a couple of weeks ago of a Real Estate lawyer

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I asked a question a couple of weeks ago of a Real Estate lawyer and signed up for free service for a month----Do I get to ask questions of ANY type of lawyer, or do I only get to ask of that type? If I can ask of you, are you the one I speak to if I have a problem regarding money lost through my credit card merchant rep?

Here is my problem / real question: We have a small business and while working a trade show over the weekend, our wireless credit card terminal no longer would allow us to process credit cards half way through the day on a busy Saturday. This has happened before, so we did as we have previously done, just went "Offline" to "store and forward". The weird thing is that we even had a good signal, but could not even BATCH our transactions that evening. The next morning, when we opened for business, the machine said "Need to Batch" and would not let us do ANY transactions, even offline ones without batching, but it wouldn't allow us to batch either. We attempted to call our merchant rep company, only to find out that they are CLOSED on Sundays. Thankfully, we happened to have some credit card slips that we could hand write for our customers that day. First thing Monday, I called and EXPLAINED to the rep I spoke to that we had done both online and offline transactions on Saturday, and that we were unable to batch or do anything on our machine. She quickly said that she could batch from her end and did so, and then proceeded to walk me through steps to supposedly fix my machine. What she actually did was to CLEAR my machine from ALL transactions----meaning we LOST all the offline transactions---$644 worth! We pay for their services monthly and depend on them to keep our money safe and guide us correctly. Looking back, she should have uploaded those transactions before batching and/or clearing the machine. This was HER job to listen to what I was telling her and instruct me properly. I STRONGLY feel that their company should take this loss and not me! They say that when we go offline, there is a note that comes up on the machine that says we accept any and all risks. This is true, however, ANY reasonable person (and ALL other vendors I have spoken with) understand this to mean risks between us and the CUSTOMER, not our merchant rep. We realize that we might later find that a customer or two might have a declined card, but we should have the opportunity to RUN all those cards and find out! They are also telling me that their rep did nothing wrong...that when she walked me through the steps with the machine, that it DID NOT clear out the transactions, and this is totally insane. If it didn't then where did they go? I have even faxed them copies of all the signed credit card slips. Unfortunately, no ones signatures are legible and the slips only print out the last four digits of their card #XXXXX so there's no recourse. Can I legally fight with the credit card company to get my money back?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Steinlaw replied 3 years ago.
I am sorry you went through this.

Your best bet is to write a letter to the company asking for the money. Provide them with copies of the receipts, even if you have to go to Kinko's to have good copies made. Then give them 30 days to pay you the money.

If they do not, sue them in small claims court. That is going to be your best bet since the amount of money is under the small claims court limit.

Good luck.
Steinlaw, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 1811
Experience: Consumer law attorney, author of California Debt Blog, Businessweek.com top foreclosure attorney
Steinlaw and 7 other Consumer Protection Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thanks so much for your help. Our contract with them just automatically renewed after 3 years, and unfortunately there's a $195 penalty for leaving without giving a 60 day prior notice. I had planned to leave them anyway as we've had other problems with them (duplicate charges that I've had to request refunded on numerous occasions), however, my mother passed away the month before the 60 days so I wasn't in the frame of mind to give notice in time. You'd THINK they'd let me out of it under just those circumstances. Anyway, yesterday they finally agreed to EITHER let me out, OR give us HALF ($322) of our money back. Since I hadn't heard from a "Just Answer" attorney yet, I didn't know what to do so I accepted the $322 offer, so I guess I'm stuck with that now? Just curious, how difficult is the process of small claims court? Do you think we're better off just taking their offer? Thanks!
Expert:  Steinlaw replied 3 years ago.
Small claims court is not that difficult. It is designed for individuals without an attorney. It is very "user friendly" and most courts offer an advice clinic to help you through it.

You probably are not stuck with the $322 at this time because you have not signed anything. However, I would still take it. Fighting over another $322 is a lot of work and time and energy. You are going to lose probably 5 or 6 hours to handle this. My general rule is that if a dispute is not over $500 it is not worth pursuing in small claims court. So, I would have fought for the $644, but I would take the $322 and move on with life.
Steinlaw, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 1811
Experience: Consumer law attorney, author of California Debt Blog, Businessweek.com top foreclosure attorney
Steinlaw and 7 other Consumer Protection Law Specialists are ready to help you

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