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Charging Ahead

Opening a merchant credit card account is easier than you think--once you understand the process.

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This story appears in the April 1997 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Like any good business owner, when John Greenlee's customers talk, he listens. "We were doing festivals, and customers asked if we took credit cards," says Greenlee, who sells leather handbags and accessories at festivals, expos and home shows. "I started keeping count, and at six different events, [a total of] 25 people asked. That's 25 customers I lost because they didn't have cash, and I'm leery about out-of-state checks."

The solution to his problem seemed simple--establish a merchant credit card account. Companies offering merchant status seemed plentiful, and Greenlee found one whose program sounded good. But when he read the contract, he found some glaring omissions the sales representative had neglected to mention: "I had to sign a four-year contract," he says, "and if I didn't do at least $2,500 a month in [credit card] sales, I would have to pay an additional charge."

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