My outlook on life is deeply connected to my internal barometer for fairness which I use to critique my surroundings, both personal and professional. I’m feeling its heat as I read about how retailers are being financially punished for not complying with the new EMV chip technology for credit cards at the POS. As of October 2015, if merchants didn’t purchase the EMV terminals, there was a shift in card liability from the banks to the merchants. Seems fair, right? Wrong!

The barometer is heating up, especially since naively, I wrote a blog about the need for merchants to comply encouraging them to bite the bullet, and invest in the EMV terminals, as a simple solution. The truth is even though merchants bought the EMV terminals it did not guarantee that they were certified as compliant. A recent Green Sheet payments article, EMV Liability Shift Challenged in Court, clarified how retailers are trapped because the card brands and issuing banks knew it was not possible for all merchants to be running devices certified as EMV compliant in the time frame allowed.

Two Florida merchants have filed a law suit explaining that they followed all procedures to meet the compliance due date: training their staff, buying the terminals, only to be waiting for their devices to be certified. In the interim, the merchants have assumed liability for all the fraud losses, despite spending thousands of dollars on installation and training, while the card issuers and card brands avoid financial responsibility for the card fraud. Who do you think is going to win this suit, the big banks or the insignificant Florida merchants? I am voting for justice, but my barometer is starting to rise with fear.

To put things in perspective, during the last 6 months, the combined Florida merchants were assessed responsibility for 88 chargebacks for Visa and MasterCard, totaling over $9,000 in card transaction plus a $5 fee on each of the 88 items, according to the Green Sheet. During the same time period last year, the 2 retailers had a total of 4 chargebacks. Now, multiply these figures to all the retailers in the country that have not been certified, and we are talking a big hit for everyday struggling business people. Totally UNFAIR!!!

The card companies are certifying companies based on their size so the big boys like Wal-Mart are at the top of their list while small retailers at the bottom are twiddling their thumbs. Think how frustrating it must be for merchants, knowing that the card companies reaping the benefits from the liability shift are also delaying the certification process. Beep, Beep, UNFAIR!!!

It’s yet another reminder of the ol’ cliché about two sides to every story, which frequently plays us for a fool when information is one-sided and kept hidden. Next time I go into a retail establishment with the proper terminal yet can’t accommodate my EMV chip card, instead of thinking hey, get with the program, it will be those #**#card companies are screwing you around.

Cash Flow Solutions will be eagerly awaiting the results of the merchants’ motion to temporarily halt the shift in liability until all merchants with EMV-compliant terminals receive their certification. This verdict seems so straight forward like how can it go any other way, but big money is a powerful advocate that has few boundaries.