Sep 5, 2017
Denise Hagopian, Heavenly Choice Gifts, Flowers & Balloons

Denise Hagopian

Owner, Heavenly Choice Gifts, Flowers & Balloons

Montebello, California

Close to 80 percent of Denise Hagopian’s sales come by credit card payments, but she feels rising bank fees and ineffective regulations are putting the hurt on small retailers like herself. She isn’t afraid to speak out either, and that includes to her customers.

What are your biggest frustrations when it comes to the debit/credit card payment structure?

  • Debit and credit card fees have doubled and tripled from 2015 to 2017. My sales are now 75 to 80 percent on cards.
  • Bankcard fees and expenses are increasing 3 to 5 percent a year.
  • Banks are giving extra rewards perks and charging merchants additional costs.
  • Major banks have preprogrammed debit cards to process as credit, therefore, charging us a percentage rather then a flat debit fee. The customer cannot even request debit with PIN for safety. Even if the card says it is a debit, the transaction processes with percentage fees.

Have you had talks with customers about the fees and using debit vs. credit?

They are appalled when I explain the fee structure the banks are charging us. Customers just want to control their information and know their money is safe. U.S. banks didn’t implement PIN with chip safety the rest of the world has adopted. Many are angry that fraud is up and do not feel the banks protect their information.

Every time someone gets hacked and has to close an account, their credit score is dinged. My husband died and I couldn’t remove his name off of accounts; I had to close them and reopen. When I went to buy a house, all my credit reports showed not enough time open.

Do you have any thoughts or ideas on what needs to happen to spark change?

  • Customers and store should be able to choose debit or credit.
  • Pin numbers must accompany all transactions. The tools for safe transactions are PIN/chip checks and balances. Congress and banks have legally transferred liability of fraud to merchants.

Do you have any tips for fellow retailers?

Every store should renew the CPI compliance annually to reduce fees. Most stores are not even aware they are paying a monthly fraud fee.

When you review your monthly statement the back page has all the junk fees, start fighting monthly to have them removed.

The only way to know your real percentage is divide your total fees by total transactions. This way you are getting a true picture of the real monthly cost. The advertised percentage is misleading.

The banks are using small business to pay for transition costs to chip technology, and we have no one to fight for us. Banks make so much money from charge backs, like $35 per incident from merchants. Even if you win, you must fight to get the fee back.

RELATED: SCOTUS rules merchants can share credit card fee info with customers

Denise Hagopian’s Heavenly Choice has been in business for 35 years. She is a member of Party & Paper Retailer’s Editorial Board. Have thoughts on card fees? Share them with Party & Paper Retailer editor Zeke Jennings by emailing

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