Customer Stories

Publisher Partners with FNBO to Resolve Merchant Service Issues

    • langdon-adam-headshot.jpg
    • Adam Langdon

      Managing Director, Enterprise Banking
      Feb 23 2024

Publisher Partners with FNBO to Resolve Merchant Service Issues

Author: Adam Langdon, Managing Director, Enterprise Banking

A family-owned and operated Midwest publishing business, with a rich history of producing a local newspaper for more than 135 years, recently faced a troubling payments problem. The company encountered issues with its reoccurring payment processes that weren’t being solved by its providing vendor. The company asked FNBO to investigate and identify the issues, which eventually led to the establishment of new payment automation capabilities.

Isolating Payment Deficiencies and Establishing a Solid Partnership

As the hub for a regional news organization, the publisher relies on subscriptions as a cornerstone of its operation. Given that monthly fees are charged on a reoccurring basis to customers' registered credit cards, smooth transaction processing is vital to consistent news delivery, as well as customer satisfaction.

Prior to working with FNBO, the publishing company relied on a different third-party vendor to process reoccurring subscription charges. Unfortunately, the technology did not always deliver as expected, leading to card processing challenges. 

Up to 10% of automatically reoccurring subscription card transactions were being erroneously declined by the payment processor’s system, representing a significant operational hazard. Rejected card transactions ran the risk of inadvertent subscription cancellations, significant customer dissatisfaction and the potential for declining profitability.

To isolate the deficiency in card processing, the publisher’s representatives opened an extensive support case with the company and issuer of the point-of-sales system. It was a venture that ultimately led directly to the doorstep of the organization’s CFO but unfortunately returned no viable resolutions.

This is when FNBO was asked to step in and investigate. As the “great big, small bank,” FNBO is focused on supporting businesses and helping them achieve sound financial operations.

How FNBO Identified Issues with Publishing Company’s Payment System

To assist the publisher, a team of five FNBO merchant services specialists performed a comprehensive review of more than two-months’ worth of the publishing house’s transaction data. The team scoured extensive lines of transaction code as well as ancillary information, such as the types of cards being declined and the residential geographies of customers experiencing card rejections.

After a two-week data investigation and several discussions with employees, the FNBO team was able to isolate important patterns: only Visa debit cards were being declined and the declined cards all originated with one bank. The team also realized that the inception of the problem could be traced back to a time when new regulatory mandates were issued.

Armed with these insights, FNBO worked extensively with the publisher’s team to rerun card transactions through multiple gateways. Once it was clear that the problem originated outside the gateway connections, the team spent time talking directly to the publisher’s customers.

It was quickly determined that the only denied card transactions the customers experienced were those related to the publishing company’s products. When the cards were used at retailers or other locations, transactions were approved without fail. With this important information in hand, we highly suspected that the issue was related to the point-of-sale system.

After pulling all of the data together and running multiple test scenarios with the system, FNBO was able to identify why transactions were being declined. When changes to the regulatory parameters were issued, the card processor implemented technology protocols within the processing system designed to prevent fraudulent transactions.

While these safeguards protected card holders from certain types of fraud, they also prevented reoccurring charges to debit cards. Once the card processor updated its fraud controls, the erroneous declines stopped.

FNBO Supports Communities

At FNBO, we are dedicated to client success and ensuring a safe and financially inclusive environment for our communities. To uphold these standards, we gladly joined forces with the publisher to address its card processing challenges.

"We firmly believe that ensuring sound operations and financial access for all businesses is paramount in building stronger communities,” said Kim Mason, a member of FNBO's merchant services team. “In our commitment to this principle, we were more than willing to assist the company in ensuring fair financial access to its subscription services, even though our efforts initially benefited a competitor.”

As a result of this dedication, the publishing company moved its card processing to FNBO, using the bank’s leading-edge Clover point-of-sale solution.

FNBO strives to partner with customers on each and every financial journey, ensuring seamless support and guidance to build better communities. Learn more about our merchant services or contact a team member.

About the Author

As the leader of Merchant Services, Adam emphasizes revenue development and growth for area companies, helping to drive business profitability in support of thriving and prosperous communities. He has garnered experience across multiple industries, working with a number of top financial firms to lead merchant service strategies.

The articles in this blog are for informational purposes only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations. When making decisions about your financial situation, consult a financial professional for advice. Articles are not regularly updated, and information may become outdated.