Differences Between Products And Services

What are some of the main differences between products and services? And when are these relevant?

Tangibility versus Intangibility

Products are tangible. You can buy pork as a tangible product. You buy it, you ship it and sell it. In the same way as you buy stamps, cigarettes and cars.

Financial service companies however, make it possible to exchange pork bellies Futures, on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). A future is (not the most simple example of) a service with which you can hedge your risk. In this last case, most of the people trading on the CME will never see or smell the pork bellies.

The ownership between products and services is different. A stock could be called a financial product that you own. You can place a stock order which might result in a transaction later on. Your bank services a depot fee for saving you a lot of work. You cannot own a service.

Where the product is much more standardized, the service is tailor-made. Companies differentiate in offering products and services, but the variations between similar products of different producers are less prominent than the variations between services.

You can count products in the same way as you can count your money (or have your bank service you this information). A service is not countable, but is “leveled;” better than the best service is not possible. There is a limit in what a service can offer.

A product is produced by a manufacturing process. A service is offered by the utility element of companies; you subscribe to a service in the same way as you subscribe to your gas and electricity supplier.

And this brings us to the essential of these differences; changing from one (product approach) to the other (service offering) is very complex, because of the last mentioned differences. Not only the process is different but the style change you need to support this change… Good Luck.

© 2006 Hans Bool

How To Read A Credit Card Merchant Statement – 5 Ways To Categorize Fees

Reading your merchant statement and finding the rates and fees you’re being charged can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?”. One reason is because there are nearly as many different statement formats as there are merchant acquiring companies. Also, because of how competitive the industry has become, many monthly statements don’t completely disclose the rates being charged. And sometimes they are completely hidden.

I know of banks that don’t even send a statement out. If a merchant wants details of what they paid they have to logon to an online account to find it.

It’s War Out There!

One reason for this is the competitiveness. You have to remember that credit and debit cards make up part of a 2 trillion dollar industry. Money is like a magnet – it attracts Most merchants are being contacted continually by competing processors trying to get them to switch processors, by promising “lower rates”, etc.

So, to prevent a sales agent from another processing company from taking a merchant away – some processors make it as hard as possible for a competitor’s sales rep to walk in to a business, analyze a merchant statement, and do an ‘apples for apples’ comparison.

That being said, there are still some basic keys to look for when reading your statement. Here’s what I look for in analyzing a merchant statement, in order:

  • One: The pricing structure – how has the account been set up? Which pricing model does it employ? Is it using tiers (e.g. 3-tier; 4-tier, etc.) or – is it using “Interchange Plus”? (NOTE: most merchants are on a tier pricing model, which, in my opinion guarantees they’re being overcharged. Also, there are other pricing structures but tier pricing is by far the most common)
  • Two: The monthly fees (sometimes called “Other”) – next, I look to see what the monthly fees are. This can include: a statement fee; monthly service fee; account maintenance fee (normally, you’d only see one of these although I’ve seen two – or, you may see the equivalent fee but using a different term); PCI fee; batch fee; and gateway or access fees. Any miscellaneous, but not monthly fees can also show up here – e.g., an annual fee or semi-quarterly.
  • Three: Processing Fees – this is where the discount rates will be listed. If you are on tier pricing the best statements will print an itemized list showing the “qualified”, “mid-qualified”, and “non-qualified” (the 3 tiers) rate. If you are on Interchange Plus, you’ll see a list showing all the different cards you took, followed by the actual interchange rate for the card, the “dpi” (discount per item), plus the processors mark-up expressed as basis points and a transaction fee (or per item, depending on the term used to list it).
  • Four: Authorization Fees – here’s where you’ll find fees that go to VISA and MC. They’ll show up listed as access, authorization, and /or WATTS fees. You could also find here AVS fees (address verification); assessment fees; brand usage fee; risk fee; settlement fees, IAS fee (Issuer Access & Settlement).
  • Five: Third Party Fees – 3rd parties means networks other than VISA & MC that are included in your statement. This would include American Express, Discover, and the debit networks if you are using pin debit

Part of the problem in reading a merchant statement is different processors use different category names and different terms to identify charges. That’s why I began by saying it can be like playing “Where’s Waldo?” While there are common terms used for certain fees there is also a wide variation used, depending on the acquirer (the company you signed a merchant agreement with).

Again, part of this is due to an attempt to hide what’s being charged and make it difficult for a competitor to analyze a statement. While that’s ‘somewhat’ understandable – in my opinion it’s a disservice to the merchant. Integrity demands transparency. Maybe if processors were more merchant oriented they’d have a lower turnover and would not have to worry about competition so much. At least that’s my opinion.

Pre-Employment Testing

As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, many employers are resorting to pre-employment testing to determine the best candidate for the job. While resumes provide employers with some insight into the capability of applicants, a relevant test can really help narrow the field. Unfortunately, there are also several disadvantages to pre-employment testing. Additionally, there are strict laws prohibiting discriminatory or disrespectful questions from being asked.

Advantages

Pre-employment tests provide employers with a number of advantages. Some such perks, include:

• Employers can identify positive traits within candidates, such as integrity, competence, motivation, and reliability

• Employers can identify negative traits within candidates, such as substance dependency and inclinations toward theft

• Provides further insight into candidates

• Can help determine differences between candidates who seemed equal after evaluating their resumes and undergoing an interview.

Disadvantages

Unfortunately, pre-employment testing is also disadvantageous for many employers. Some drawbacks include:

• Test results are only one factor of the hiring process. Employers should base their decision on other factors, such as their experience, qualifications, and interview.

• All tests administered by employers must be certified for validity and reliability

• Test results are not necessarily indicative of applicants’ ability to perform their job. Instead, tests focus on applicants’ potential.

• Testing conditions must be fair and consistent for every candidate

• Testing may eliminate some candidates who are highly qualified, but do not perform well on tests

• Applicants may react poorly to the test. Additionally, if they believe the test was discriminatory, they can legally challenge the test.

Discrimination

When writing tests, employers must be aware of the laws pertaining to employment testing. Any questions which require applicants to divulge something about themselves that could result in discrimination is illegal. For example, employers cannot ask about an applicant’s:

• Age-Some employers discriminate against older applicants because they assume that the older they are, the more pay they will request.

• Race/Ethnicity-Race and ethnicity are irrelevant factors when applying for a job. This law protects minorities from discrimination.

• Disability status-Some employers will discriminate against persons with disabilities, even if they will not impede the applicant’s job performance. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from asking questions pertaining to an applicant’s disability status.

• Sexual preference-Because sexual preference is private and irrelevant to one’s job performance, employers are prohibited from inquiring. This law protects members of the LGBT community who might otherwise be discriminated against.