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Taking payment - At check in or check out?

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The Farmers Daughter

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I'm curious to know what others do with this. I take payment at check in...never used to...but I had some situations that made me change this policy. Some legit, like guests with emergencies that had to depart in the middle of the night, and some not - slackers trying to run out on their bill. What do you folks do?
 

JBloggs

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There was an Inn the news on this forum about someone running out on their bill at a Bnb and it was a FELONY in the state it ocurred, Virginia. Very interesting. The police caught up with them and hauled them to jail.
 

Morticia

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This one comes up a lot and you'll hear good opinions on both sides!
We take payment at check-in for a few reasons...
  • our cc machine is in the dining room, too much noise during breakfast;
  • MOST of our guests leave during the breakfast hour;
  • we feel more comfortable knowing the card is good for whatever reason;
  • we had ONE guest in 5 years leave without paying where the card was bad (we hadn't done the check-in because they were late arrivers and they were also early leavers);
  • it's easier to take money from people you don't know!
  • due to the late arriver/early leaver scenario, we run the card at 9 PM if the guest has not yet arrived. If the card is good, they get the keys left for them; if not, they have to ring the bell to get in.
 

Don Draper

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We do it both ways, but usually at check-out. Most folks are adding on a mug, coaster, etc. and they won't know about that stuff at check-in. It helps that there are two of us, so one can be finishing breakfast while the other is dealing with the check-outs.
 

JBanczak

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Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection.
 

YellowSocks

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OK, I smiled when I saw the title of the thread... we've talked about this one before! And in the past at least, we've had people feel strongly about doing it one way or the other. I read everyone's opinion and decided to do it on check-in, which has been working well for me. I only had one lady who was surprised about it... but as others have said, what hotel do you go to that doesn't take a cc when you arrive?
That said, I'm not that stringent on it... for starters, we take a one night deposit, up front, when they make a reservation. So, if they're only here for one night they're already paid and all they do when they arrive is sign the deposit slip. This covers a LOT of our reservations!
For the multi-night stays, I generally run the cc upon arrival, but there's some flexibility about it. If I have several arrive at once (rare, but it does happen) then I might say I'll run it later, or in the morning. Or if they seem to be in a hurry (to get to the reception or reunion or campus), same deal. But the latest I run it is the next morning, not when they check out.
Then, when check out comes we wave goodbye and off they go.
=)
Kk.
 

YellowSocks

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Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection..
JBanczak said:
Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection.
Does anyone know if this applies to PAI? When I got set up Tom told me to press purchase and do it that way. Does that mean I'm at risk on chargebacks?
=)
Kk.
 

JBanczak

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Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection..
JBanczak said:
Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection.
Does anyone know if this applies to PAI? When I got set up Tom told me to press purchase and do it that way. Does that mean I'm at risk on chargebacks?
=)
Kk.
.
YellowSocks said:
JBanczak said:
Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection.
Does anyone know if this applies to PAI? When I got set up Tom told me to press purchase and do it that way. Does that mean I'm at risk on chargebacks?
=)
Kk.
Tom supports lodging at least in some cases - we recommend him for our Rezo Desktop customers. But if you are charging upon check-in, then you are not following lodging guidelines. So yes, you are at risk.
However, every risk must be evaluated. If you haven't gotten any/many chargebacks, I wouldn't lose much sleep over it. PCI compliance is a MUCH more imporant beast to tame. That being said, the writing is on the wall that no funny business is going to be tolerated when it comes to credit cards. There will come a day when everyone will be required to truly be setup on the right gateway, and it probably won't be too far off.
 

Morticia

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Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection..
JBanczak said:
Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection.
Does anyone know if this applies to PAI? When I got set up Tom told me to press purchase and do it that way. Does that mean I'm at risk on chargebacks?
=)
Kk.
.
I'm not sure how it works but we do not use 'purchase' on the cc machine. My understanding is that is for buying gift items. Or, in the case of the guy who had to buy a new mattress a big ticket item!
 

Morticia

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Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection..
JBanczak said:
Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection.
Does anyone know if this applies to PAI? When I got set up Tom told me to press purchase and do it that way. Does that mean I'm at risk on chargebacks?
=)
Kk.
.
YellowSocks said:
JBanczak said:
Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection.
Does anyone know if this applies to PAI? When I got set up Tom told me to press purchase and do it that way. Does that mean I'm at risk on chargebacks?
=)
Kk.
Tom supports lodging at least in some cases - we recommend him for our Rezo Desktop customers. But if you are charging upon check-in, then you are not following lodging guidelines. So yes, you are at risk.
However, every risk must be evaluated. If you haven't gotten any/many chargebacks, I wouldn't lose much sleep over it. PCI compliance is a MUCH more imporant beast to tame. That being said, the writing is on the wall that no funny business is going to be tolerated when it comes to credit cards. There will come a day when everyone will be required to truly be setup on the right gateway, and it probably won't be too far off.
.
Do you have to do the check out on the actual check out date or can you do a check in and then a check out on the same date? I could 'hold' the transactions in the machine but then I get charged a penalty for doing the processing late.
And, yes, I am set up as a lodging facility and do not do 'purchases' but actual lodging transactions with room numbers and folios, etc.
 

Tim_Toad_HLB

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Unless the guest offers to complete the financial end of things earlier in their stay, we ask on their last morning if they'd like me to use the same card they made the reservation with. Some folks want to pay with cash, or some other card they prefer for miles, etc. so we like the flexibility that affords for folks.
With really long range bookings, those folks are so completely appreciative that they don't have to pay interest on something they aren't "consuming" until six or seven months later, that they end being some of our best repeat guests. They also end up being our least cancelled bookings.
We get virtually no walk-ins, so having a swiper just isn't practical for us.
We use an online processor and run a pre-auth right after getting off the phone or receiving the online request. We have a seperate computer for doing this not in a public area and the service passed its PCI_DSS security with flying colors, so we're pretty comfortable with its security.
The fees are already what our regular research shows are very competitive and the absence of the costs or lease on a swiper and other supplies drives the cost down further.
The pre-auth doesn't count as a charge so there are no fees to us involved and it gives us total peace of mind for the months, weeks, days, whatever, leading up to a guest's arrival.
We usually are satisfied with the pre-auth on its own, but will run the deposit if we caught any funny vibes from the guest on the phone or emails.
Almost nobody wants to send a check for the deposit, so we set up our accounting to run everything on checkout.
A big tipoff for us to do the deposit is if someone asks "What is the last day I can cancel without any fees?"
Those are probably the same type folks who make four different dinner reservations then only honor the one that most appealed to them on the drive to the restaurant.
Most folks when we offer to go over the cancellation policy with them will reply with "Are you kidding, I've been looking forward to this vacation for months and will not be cancelling"
 

Morticia

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Unless the guest offers to complete the financial end of things earlier in their stay, we ask on their last morning if they'd like me to use the same card they made the reservation with. Some folks want to pay with cash, or some other card they prefer for miles, etc. so we like the flexibility that affords for folks.
With really long range bookings, those folks are so completely appreciative that they don't have to pay interest on something they aren't "consuming" until six or seven months later, that they end being some of our best repeat guests. They also end up being our least cancelled bookings.
We get virtually no walk-ins, so having a swiper just isn't practical for us.
We use an online processor and run a pre-auth right after getting off the phone or receiving the online request. We have a seperate computer for doing this not in a public area and the service passed its PCI_DSS security with flying colors, so we're pretty comfortable with its security.
The fees are already what our regular research shows are very competitive and the absence of the costs or lease on a swiper and other supplies drives the cost down further.
The pre-auth doesn't count as a charge so there are no fees to us involved and it gives us total peace of mind for the months, weeks, days, whatever, leading up to a guest's arrival.
We usually are satisfied with the pre-auth on its own, but will run the deposit if we caught any funny vibes from the guest on the phone or emails.
Almost nobody wants to send a check for the deposit, so we set up our accounting to run everything on checkout.
A big tipoff for us to do the deposit is if someone asks "What is the last day I can cancel without any fees?"
Those are probably the same type folks who make four different dinner reservations then only honor the one that most appealed to them on the drive to the restaurant.
Most folks when we offer to go over the cancellation policy with them will reply with "Are you kidding, I've been looking forward to this vacation for months and will not be cancelling".
Who do you use for your processing? We don't pay a lease fee or anything for the machine (it was here when we bought the place) but we're always looking for someone with better rates.
I'm very happy that a couple of folks this week paid via check and some with cash. All of them seem to be trying to not run up cc expenses but to live within their means. Heck, I don't care what the reason is, I just like not having to pay the fees!
 

Copperhead

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Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection..
JBanczak said:
Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection.
Does anyone know if this applies to PAI? When I got set up Tom told me to press purchase and do it that way. Does that mean I'm at risk on chargebacks?
=)
Kk.
.
YS - I have been set up the same as you for a very long time, have had 2 charge back attempts which I have one due to our detailed paper trail from reservation through departure. I have won each.
Due to several treads regarding this, I recently called my processor and discussed changing over. This is what I was told from MY merchant provider: I am considered a lodging vendor even though my machine is set up as retail, changing my machine setup would not change my rates as I have been assigned the lodging rate discount.
Then I asked about 'chargeback protection' as it has been stated here. They said it is up to Visa, MC etc as how they handle the chargeback matters but we did discuss this in more detail. I was (and am) mostly concerned with taking deposits where the card is not present. He told me there is no real advantage which way the machine is setup IF the card is not present AND the deposit would be taken more than 10 (?) days prior to arrival.
The main advantage to the 'lodging gateway' is that the CC co. can tell by the card swip when the person checked in, and the date of check out by the check out process and the signed reciept at that time. If you are set up with the loging gateway but are not taking the card until check out it is the same as if you are using retail and If the person walks with-out signing, you still have a battle to prove the charge if date of departure was an issue. (so really the chargeback protection is that it is more full proof for the credit card company to prove to the guest that the transaction took place and the card was signed. Early departure charges become YOUR battle at the time of billing, thus hopefully being handled prior to having the CC company be involved.
As we all know discount rates vary by merchant processor so check with your own processor about if there are differences in rates due to the set up of your machine...Also go into detail about you operate - including how / when you take the deposit, and payment after arrival...ask them if there is any advantages to do things one way or another for better 'chargeback protection' too.
I made the switch to the lodging gateway to check it out for a month but will be returning to my old way then. For me it is just 1 more step to make with each guest - have them provide their card at check in to swipe, then at check out provide the reciept to sign along with the deposit reciept. (this after taking a deposit and closing the ticket waisting a lot of paper in the process).
 

wendydk

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We take one night deposit at time of reservation and the balance upon checkout. Often people just cruise and say to use the same card.....six years and never a problem. I use Cellcharge. Cheap and easy...can process by phone or online with no equipment or associated costs....never a chargeback.
 

Don Draper

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Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection..
JBanczak said:
Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection.
Does anyone know if this applies to PAI? When I got set up Tom told me to press purchase and do it that way. Does that mean I'm at risk on chargebacks?
=)
Kk.
.
YS - I have been set up the same as you for a very long time, have had 2 charge back attempts which I have one due to our detailed paper trail from reservation through departure. I have won each.
Due to several treads regarding this, I recently called my processor and discussed changing over. This is what I was told from MY merchant provider: I am considered a lodging vendor even though my machine is set up as retail, changing my machine setup would not change my rates as I have been assigned the lodging rate discount.
Then I asked about 'chargeback protection' as it has been stated here. They said it is up to Visa, MC etc as how they handle the chargeback matters but we did discuss this in more detail. I was (and am) mostly concerned with taking deposits where the card is not present. He told me there is no real advantage which way the machine is setup IF the card is not present AND the deposit would be taken more than 10 (?) days prior to arrival.
The main advantage to the 'lodging gateway' is that the CC co. can tell by the card swip when the person checked in, and the date of check out by the check out process and the signed reciept at that time. If you are set up with the loging gateway but are not taking the card until check out it is the same as if you are using retail and If the person walks with-out signing, you still have a battle to prove the charge if date of departure was an issue. (so really the chargeback protection is that it is more full proof for the credit card company to prove to the guest that the transaction took place and the card was signed. Early departure charges become YOUR battle at the time of billing, thus hopefully being handled prior to having the CC company be involved.
As we all know discount rates vary by merchant processor so check with your own processor about if there are differences in rates due to the set up of your machine...Also go into detail about you operate - including how / when you take the deposit, and payment after arrival...ask them if there is any advantages to do things one way or another for better 'chargeback protection' too.
I made the switch to the lodging gateway to check it out for a month but will be returning to my old way then. For me it is just 1 more step to make with each guest - have them provide their card at check in to swipe, then at check out provide the reciept to sign along with the deposit reciept. (this after taking a deposit and closing the ticket waisting a lot of paper in the process).
.
This is what our processor (First Data) told us as well, there is no advantage or additional protection against chargebacks if you use the lodging gateway, it is all in how your account is initially set up...and we also found that it was just one more step for us to perform with the lodging set up, the retail is much simpler for us.
We were able to change our terminal to do address verification when the card is not present. You enter the house number and zip code and if they match the cc records you get processed at a lower rate. This was helpful to us as we take a 50% deposit on all reservations. This is the only thing that gets us through the slower months, on a cash flow basis we could never get away with not taking the initial deposit.
 

Proud Texan

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Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection..
JBanczak said:
Keep in mind that in order to get chargeback protection, you need to be using a lodging certified credit card gateway, and take payment at check-out. You pre-auth at check-in to show you got a swiped card on the check-in date, then you charge on check-out to send data on the length of stay. This gets you the best rate and the best chargeback protection.
If you are not on a lodging gateway then it doesn't really matter as your date information doesn't pass through anyway and you are pretty much on your own for chargeback protection.
We run their card when the reservation is made thereby verifying the card. This is performed by a manual keying of the number in the form of a Check-in on our machine. If the card is good I send them a confirmation. If not, they are given the opportunity to provide an alternate method of payment. When they arrive, I get their card and do a Check-out. This allows me to swipe their card and thus take advantage of a lower rate with my credit card processing service. We're not selling mugs or receipe books so this seems to work for us.
If there's a better way, I'm open to suggestions.
 

GeorgiaGirl

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Unless the guest offers to complete the financial end of things earlier in their stay, we ask on their last morning if they'd like me to use the same card they made the reservation with. Some folks want to pay with cash, or some other card they prefer for miles, etc. so we like the flexibility that affords for folks.
With really long range bookings, those folks are so completely appreciative that they don't have to pay interest on something they aren't "consuming" until six or seven months later, that they end being some of our best repeat guests. They also end up being our least cancelled bookings.
We get virtually no walk-ins, so having a swiper just isn't practical for us.
We use an online processor and run a pre-auth right after getting off the phone or receiving the online request. We have a seperate computer for doing this not in a public area and the service passed its PCI_DSS security with flying colors, so we're pretty comfortable with its security.
The fees are already what our regular research shows are very competitive and the absence of the costs or lease on a swiper and other supplies drives the cost down further.
The pre-auth doesn't count as a charge so there are no fees to us involved and it gives us total peace of mind for the months, weeks, days, whatever, leading up to a guest's arrival.
We usually are satisfied with the pre-auth on its own, but will run the deposit if we caught any funny vibes from the guest on the phone or emails.
Almost nobody wants to send a check for the deposit, so we set up our accounting to run everything on checkout.
A big tipoff for us to do the deposit is if someone asks "What is the last day I can cancel without any fees?"
Those are probably the same type folks who make four different dinner reservations then only honor the one that most appealed to them on the drive to the restaurant.
Most folks when we offer to go over the cancellation policy with them will reply with "Are you kidding, I've been looking forward to this vacation for months and will not be cancelling".
Tim_Toad_HLB said:
A big tipoff for us to do the deposit is if someone asks "What is the last day I can cancel without any fees?"
I ask this question of every reservation that I have made or plan on making. It gives me a peace of mind in case something would come up. I usually will keep a notebook of where we are going on our trip and add this info in it.
 

gillumhouse

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I run it at checkout because I always hope for cash or a check (spelled no cc fees). There have been several times the guest has asked if they could use a card different from the one they gave with the rez. I tell them I do not care as long as it is VS or MC and valid. If it is a debit card I encourage a check instead.
I swipe the card do all the room number, days etc and get the pre-auth and then I do a checkout. So far no problems. Also there is the gift shop sniffing the last morning - I hope for a lot of interest in it.... Sometimes there is!
 

JBanczak

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I guess everyone gets different information, but one way to look at it is this - if it didn't matter whether you were setup on the right industry code, then why would they have bothered to create a lodging gateway in the first place?
I'd ask for any advice like this to be put in writing - as a lot of what I'm reading hear is contrary to what we've heard directly from Visa, Intuit, Tom W, and numerous other processors. Ultimately, it makes a lot of sense to follow whatever the rules might be for your specific industry - getting blindsided by a credit card issue is the last thing we want for our customers.
 

muirford

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Using the lodging functionality as we do - swiping the card to authorize it a check-in, charging the card at check-out - does NOT preclude adding a gift shop item at checkout if the guest wishes. They say I'd like to buy a mug before I leave, I say that's fine, would you like to pay cash or add that to your room charge, and off we go. You have an opportunity at check-out to change the total and then have the receipt signed for the new amount. If you want to do the hard sell, there is the chance when taking the key at checkout to ask if the guest would like to add any items from the gift shop before you put the charge through.
Moving to a lodging program rather than a POS purchase program saved us a lot of processing fees with our old processor - switching to Tom's company, Payment Transaction Solutions, saved us even more.
 
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