If you’re in business, you take plastic. If you do, you’re probably not happy with it. One issue businesses often face that upset them is a lease for their credit card terminal.

We’ve all seen loan sharks in gangster movies, but the way some lease contracts read, loan sharks would be a nicer thing to experience. However, before I launch into the dangers of a lease (and boy howdy I am going to launch like NASA), one must understand that a credit card terminal is usually free. As in no charge. Gratis. FREE.

People pay leases because 1) they need a machine to process don’t they? And 2) they don’t know any better. If I were to add a 3) it would be that the company signing them up makes more money, so they often pay bonuses for sales people to sign businesses up on leases. I despise this lack of service orientation. A company always makes more when their customers are happy. That being said, when was the last time you could say you were happy when it came to your business’s fees for taking plastic?

A lease is a binding contract that one must pay unless they release you (which they won’t). Besides often being titled ‘Unbreakable Lease’ I have seen companies pay leases for machines that stopped working, and even after they have closed their businesses down. In one case, we met a woman in her 90’s that had closed her business and still had two years on a lease that she had to pay. It cost her $99 a month 1) on her fixed income, 2) even though she had closed her business, 3) even though her credit card processing account allowed her to close with no penalties after shutting down, 4) and even though she returned the machine. Bear in mind that $99 was a per month charge and was for a single machine that she could have bought new for $250. To help compare apples to apples, at the end of a 4-year lease she would have paid $4,800 for a machine that she could have gotten new for $250, a refurbished one for about $100, or Free from her merchant provider. When in doubt, read my article on how Women are Charged More.

Simply put, if a business sells $1,500 a month on credit cards, a merchant provider will give your company a machine to use for free for the lifetime of the account. If it goes obsolete, they will most often replace it for free or at a reduced rate. If you’re merchant provider won’t provide you a free machine, like my daddy always said ‘Vote with your feet’ (I’m Southern so I get to call my daddy, daddy) and find one that will. If you do significantly less than $1,500, or are just starting out and have no idea what you’ll do, you can get a mobile account temporarily, or even buy a refurbished terminal. There’s just no reason to sign a lease locking your business into fees for years on end no matter what.

A Happy Ending

If you’re upset about that very true story about a little, old lady, there’s good news. When my agent brought me the news of this grand lady that deserved our respect for her time on this Earth, I contacted our lawyer. Having this guy’s phone number should be require a concealed carry permit as he is a shark in a suitcase. TJ’s questions for me were specific: Her business is closed? Yes. They are still charging her? Yes, outrageously. You don’t have her account? No. She isn’t planning on re-opening is she? No. So there is no way you could possibly make money on this deal? None. “I’m all in,” he said. “Don’t worry. This will take one phone call. Maybe a follow up letter, but that dog is going to let go of this particular bone (he’s Southern as well). And there’s no charge…”

Two days later she was released from the lease…