Top Five Mystery Facts About Your Merchant Services Account

The merchant services industry is not well known for being clear and transparent about the way it structures fees, leases and rents equipment and handles contracts.  Here are the answers to the five questions we most often run into.



1.  What rates are you paying and where are they on your statement?

Most merchants to do not have a good understanding of how they are being charged and how to decipher their statement to find out.  The industry makes it indecipherable as a way to prevent price comparisons that might loose them accounts.  Pricing is complex and statements often miss vital information that would allow the merchant to understand their fees.

2.  Do I have to switch my terminals if I change my processor?

You might think yes.  Most commonly the answer is no but this is used as a way to make merchants think that they have to stay with the processor who originally delivered their equipment.  You can change processors and keep your equipment in about 90% of cases with the exceptions being some more complex POS systems.

3.  Do I have to wait for my contract to expire to switch?

Simply put – NO!  You can switch anytime and may have to pay an early termination fee but that will likely be reimbursed by the new processor.

4.  Are you paying too much for your equipment?

Some processors deliver aggressive rates on transactions but charge hefty sums for equipment leasing.  These leasing contracts can amount to thousands of dollars over their term on equipment that is worth a couple of hundred bucks in most cases.  Ouch!  When you are asking yourself if you are getting a good deal, be sure and include leasing costs in the equation.

5.  Will switching processors affect my POS system?

No.  You might have to use something called middleware to translate between your POS system and your processing but you can, in most cases, switch processors and save a significant amount of money every month.  If you think your locked in, check.  You are probably not.

The bottom line is your bottom line.  It’s worth spending a few minutes finding out if you can get a better deal.  It is usually hundreds or thousands of dollars a year difference and we know you hate dealing with it, but drop us a line.  We are nice and we can help 🙂


The Man With A Vision- Steve Patzkowski CEO

We’re all here because of our Chief Executive Officer’s vision and purpose. He envisioned the very financial institution that he has worked for many years, the merchant services industry evolving into an ethical solution to the economy. This was an unbelievable thought at first when the large banks were crumbling our US economy and making headlines doing so. He believed that we could remove the greed and run a business with good intentions and transparency. This would gain the trust back from the people and with our fair, low rates save them money and help the success of America’s small businesses. On top of it all, we give 25% of our revenues to non-profits of the merchant’s choice. Talk about power to the people!

Steve has great ideas no doubt, but is also a spiritual man that leads us in our business and social purpose. He is welcoming and a real leader with an abundance of knowledge and positive energy to share. He welcomes each new sales representative and make himself available to the entire Ethix team with weekly live broadcasts, forums and more. Follow Ethix and the team on our website blog, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to see how we are helping communities and broadening our social impact.


Ethix Wins SF Bay Area Social Enterprise Alliance Pitch Night

SEA Pitch NightOn Tuesday of last week I received an email letting me know that Ethix had been selected to present at the Social Enterprise Alliance Pitch Night in San Francisco.  I had been eagerly awaiting the news as it had been some time since I had completed the lengthy application to be included in this event.   I was excited and started to think about what I wanted to say about our company.

Social Enterprise Alliance is “An alliance of leaders across sectors advancing social enterprise to benefit communities.”  This is very much in our wheel house here at Ethix and I was looking forward to the opportunity to get feedback and insight from this audience.  Thursday came around and I headed over the bridge from our Oakland office and into the city.  On arriving, I was welcomed by Antonio Aguilera, President of the SEASF Board and Jan Cohen, a veteran social entrepreneur and SEA Board Member who spoke with myself and the other pitchers about how to make an effective presentation on our young companies.  We picked numbers to determine the order of our pitches and settled in with a packed house to commence the contest.

I pitched second of five and was inspired by everything I heard that night.  It is really amazing to be a part of the Bay Area’s vibrant community of changemakers.  At the end of the evening the audience was asked to vote.  Ethix and Yellow Leaf Hammocks came out in a dead tie for first place in the first vote.  It was very exciting.  In the run off vote, Ethix took the day!

This has been such a powerful validation for myself and my amazing team of partners who are working to build this company.  We know that we are doing something powerful through re purposing a much maligned model in financial services to make it work for communities but it is really meaningful to share that and have it validated by an organization like Social Enterprise Alliance.  I feel very appreciative of the opportunity and pretty psyched about the results.

Leading Our Community Driven Purpose, Brooke Thivierge, CCO

So we would like to introduce you to another member of our team. Brooke Thivierge, our Community Manager and all around “keep us together and pointed in the right direction” superstar. It’s hard to think about Brooke without mentioning Riley (the dog) who, with the exception of Brooke’s husband, is her most frequent and constant companion in addition to being official Office Dog here at Ethix.

Ethix is a growing company so we all wear a lot of hats but Brooke manages to shift fluidly between customer care, sales team support, internal operations and community management. She blogs, posts, tweets, calls, answers, acts, listens, supports, organizes and, most importantly cares. Brooke is the one who finds the time to organize us around giving to MISSSEY for Christmas to support their work with sexually exploited youth. She remembers holidays and birthdays and packs decorations into the office to get us to feel something other than busy. She is great at her job but she also knows that small gestures of appreciation and acknowledgement are just as important as big social impact gestures and as a company that is all about community, Ethix owes much of it’s own to Brooke’s commitment and care.

Getting Technical With Our CTO Brian Thivierge

Brian perfectly fills the position of Chief Technical Officer here at Ethix. His wealth of knowledge, experience, sensibility and compassion for the “dumb” questions keeps us all working with confidence that we are in good hands. Like all of our other team members, Brian is incredibly valuable in his department and all the other areas that we finagle him into.  Brian maintains the computers, phones, office equipment, website, forums, live webcasts, newsletters, and even the marketing material and e-tools that many will see or use. He has been called a web guru, marketing genius but most importantly he is “our tech guy.” Thankfully his tech knowledge is paired with his creative ideas that help build and improve our growing company. So, technically speaking we’re not just lucky to have him, we’re thrilled!

The Not So General Election


Vote with your business

Just a few short days until our next general election.  Everybody, well almost everybody, gets a vote.  Not everybody feels like they have a say.  Democracy gives us a chance to choose every 4 years but each and every day we are making choices that probably have a greater impact on our economy, our culture and our collective health than the ballot that we cast.  If I think about my day, I can choose to get up at 6am instead of 7:30am and have time for a swim or a trip to the gym before work.  Then I can pick between the kale and eggs in my fridge or the really amazing (and I mean really amazing) chocolate croissants that are just a quick stop on my way into the office.  Hmmmmm??????  Bike or drive, lunch box or restaurant… it goes on and on and, when I think about it, these are all economic decisions.  What products will I buy and what industries will I support?  Am I funding the problems or driving resources into areas where people are looking for solutions.  The thing is that we live in a economy that is shaped by a cultural and political system rather than a culture that is shaped by an economy.  I think that means that our real voting power lies in how we spend our time and our money.  How we allocate our resources.  The great American thing about that is it brings us back to the fact that we really do live in a democracy even while our politicians butt heads and behave like arses in Washington.  Vote with your business, vote with your wallet, vote with your feet and your facebook friends and your page fans and then tweet tweet tweet away and vote some more.

And while you are at it.  Vote for Ethix.  We “”sell” the difference we want to see in the word”:)

How The Ethix Community Partnership Can Work

Ethix is based in the Jack London District of Oakland.  As soon as we opened our offices we reached out to the local neighborhood association, The JLDA to see if we could support them in their fundraising for the application to be a Business Improvement District (BID).  This is a great example of how our Community Partnership Program works.  The JLDA has already spent time and effort building relationships with local merchants and working with them towards the goal of becoming a BID.  They have done a great job of building a community of committed residents and business owners who want to see the neighborhood improved.  We are developing a relationship with them and have added the Ethix Program to the ways in which they can raise money to support their area.  We have started reaching out to local merchants with the JLDA’s advocacy and support and requesting that those merchants designate the JLDA as the recipient of their 25% donations.  The association will benefit from a residual income stream to pay for programs that benefit the merchants.  The merchants benefit from lower fees and neighborhood improvement that does not cost their business any extra money and the residents benefit from a cleaner, safer and more vibrant local business community.  By converting fees that would traditionally disappear onto the balance sheet of large financial institutions into funds for community improvement and development we are strengthening the ties between businesses and the neighborhoods they are in.  I think that is pretty cool and I am excited to see this program used all over the country by neighborhood and merchant associations that want to save money and raise money using Ethix.

Sales Representatives With Disabilities Thrive At Ethix

Do you know someone with a disability that requires them to work from home? Ethix is hiring independent sales representatives………This position can be done from home with just a phone, computer w/internet, and passion to find leads that turn into sales. All training & support is online with phone support if needed. We think this would be a perfect opportunity for someone who is visually impaired, in a wheel chair, injured, transitioning from the military, ect. Think of the possibilities and call us or share with the people you know.

As Seen on TV…

Ethix coming to a television near you

Ethix just got some amazing news! San Francisco Digital Film School recently sent out a notice to interview companies for the television commercial projects that are produced by their film students.  I spotted the notice on the day of the event and hustled to get into SF in time to pitch Ethix.  Brooke came along with me and we got there just in time to be the last pitch of the evening.  So with no preparation to speak of, we sat down in front of 3 students and Tom of Tom Donald Films.  We were in there for about 20 minutes answering questions and talking about our vision and then we were thanked and shown out with the expectation that we would hear from them in a couple of days.  Well that was last Tuesday…

By Friday I was thinking we didn’t get selected and then last night the email popped up at about 9:30 pm.


Tai Cordts will be producing a 30-45 second commercial on Ethix.  We are getting together to brainstorm with him on what that will look like next week.  Thanks so much to SFDFS for hosting the pitch and, most importantly, for picking Ethix!

Follow Us On Pinterest

We would love for you to follow us on Pinterest where we can all find inspiration in each other. We will provide information that is not only inspirational but also educational. Where we can be ourselves and show you what we’re all about. Images speak truth and we’re all in this together to make better communities locally and globally.