The Myth of Free POS

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We recently had a call from a customer who is planning on opening a location in Virginia that will be a full service restaurant with a bar. They were inquiring about a POS system that would be able to handle both operations. They heard that some companies offer “free” Point of Sale equipment.

The customer referred us to one of these companies on the internet and we took the time to read about their offer carefully. In today’s world, anyone can post anything online and reader beware, but the interesting point of this particular Review site was that it stated they do the research so that “you don’t have to.” To their credit, they did state that the supposed Free POS systems were accompanied by long contracts and that the terms/conditions should be reviewed carefully. They listed the top 5 advantages as follows:

  1.  Low Upfront Costs
  2.  Simple to Setup
  3.  Overnight Replacement Part Shipping
  4.  Lifetime Warranty
  5.  They Don’t Make Money Unless You Make Money

I will be addressing each point shortly, but the bottom line is that there is no such thing as Free POS. They still make plenty of money even if you don’t.

RDS POS offers tailored Point of Sale solutions systems focused on Hospitality, Retail, Grocery, and Petroleum/C-Store. Customers demanding an honest single source for their POS solution come to RDS POS for the best in Service, Software, and Hardware.

Most of us have heard the phrase “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Or how about “if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is not true.” Then how is it that there are still advertisements claiming “Free POS?” Is it possible there is such a thing as free POS for your business? Here are some common (and mostly misleading) phrases we found when researching this topic:

“Upgrade your Business to Point of Sale FOR FREE”

“FREE POS System for Hospitality, Bar or Retail”

“Is a FREE POS in your budget?”

“A comprehensive FREE point-of-sale solution for your business!”

To better understand, let’s quickly look at the components and pricing of a POS system: 19475626_m
1  Hardware – This could include the POS touch screen, all-in-one touch pc or separate processor (computer), customer display, barcode scanners, cash register drawer, kitchen display, and thermal printers.
2. Software: It is defined as the specific program than runs the point of sale operations and does have a variety of features.
3. Credit Card Processing– you must use their services, no negotiating on rates or terms
4. Training–  all remote, no  local, qualified trainer with any experience
5. Service & Warranty– at their mercy, no qualified support for on-site, nor any night and weekend support

It is easy to understand that all the above components cost money. Some imagine that the revenue from credit card processing may be able to allow sellers of POS systems to offer the system for free. This is typically NOT true. The share of revenues the POS provider receives is way too little to cover the costs involved if you are to get a real system. So, how is it that you see advertisements for “free POS systems?”

We went searching and found the answers. Here is what we discovered when we tried to purchase a two station POS system for FREE for a restaurant from one of the nation’s leading advertisers of free POS:

  1. Basic Package: $60/month per station: Total: $120/month. Includes touch screen with receipt printer and cash drawer
  2. Optional Equipment: Total: $33/month. Includes remote printer (x2)
  3. There is a $250 per quarter maintenance. That is an extra $6,000 in the five year term.

Then we moved on to the fun part– THE FINE PRINT! Commonly, most business owners are so busy with setting up their business that they don’t read the pages of fine print and this is where you can come across surprises. We suggest that you spend the time to always read the fine print and ask questions. Here are a few interesting and frankly scary parts from it:

Terms: The monthly payment agreement is for 60 months and then it is automatically renewed for an additional 48 months if you don’t give them notice 60 days period to the termination of the first 60 months. Early termination fee is equal to the number of months remaining and the entire amount is due upon termination! So if after operating for 36 months, you want out, then you need to pay them 24 months’ worth of payments immediately.

Rate Hike: The POS seller can adjust the monthly service charges upon 30 days written notice. So at any point, they can raise the fees and you have to accept it.

Credit Card Processing: You have to maintain this service with them and pay any fees they like. There is NO OPTION! This is a huge unknown, and does not allow for any comparison in rates or costs. Count me OUT!

Equipment Ownership: They own the equipment and upon termination, you must return all the equipment in working condition.

The actual provider: Your POS provider is actually a bank. Don’t know if I want the bank to know everything about my transactions.  What does a bank know about POS?!?

We know it’s hard to believe, but feel free to read the entire contract yourself.
Cost of ownership: Basic Package + Optional Equipment + Tax
$120+$66= $186 x 60 months = $11,160
Plus 20 quarters of $250 = $6,000
Total: $17,106.00 (Depending on what State you are in, you may have to add applicable taxes to it.

This is the cost if they don’t decide to raise the monthly fee as they see fit and if you forget to cancel the term 60 days before the expiration, then you are stuck for another 48 months or $13,728. You still have to pay whatever they charge for Credit Card Processing and you still don’t own the EQUIPMENT and are at the mercy of the seller. And you are still stuck with low level service and support.

CONCLUSION:
When we tried to bring up this to them and asked “how is this free?” we were told that this is like a cell phone contract. I am no fan of mobile phone companies, but at least with the cell phone companies you own the phone at the end and they can’t just raise rates on you if you are in a contract.

Directly stated, it is not only dishonest, but also grossly deceitful. One must wonder, if this is how a relationship starts, how will the rest of it go? The only factor we are not certain about is the service they provide when you have the system. You are obligated, so you can be at their mercy. They may be wonderful service providers, but in business, trust is everything and if they are this way in the beginning, who knows. A POS System is an investment in your business just like your employees who need to be trustworthy.

SOLUTION:
If you want an honest and reliable POS solution provider, then contact RDS POS Systems. Our goal is to help you build your business instead of locking you into fine print. Your success directly reflects upon us and brings success to us.

Contact us today with any questions: POS is what we do!

by Garry Easterling

April 8th XP End of Life – Don’t be an Ostrich

Windows XP was laid to rest on April 8, 2014.  It is survived by its siblings Windows Vista (stop laughing), Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Before you read further, this does not pertain to XP embedded.  You still have time left on that; end of life for XP embedded is January of 2016.  Not sure if you are on XP embedded?  Keep reading and contact us. We can help.

The passing of Windows XP marks a major milestone in the progression of desktop technology.  Many times Microsoft extended the life of the platform because of the success it had in the marketplace and the outcry of the impact ending support would have on the PC community.  Finally, just a few short weeks ago, Microsoft pulled the plug; this time for good.

A few months back we posted an article about the “tsunami of viruses” that were likely to hit at end of life.  Thus far, those fears have not come to reality; at least not anything that has created any public outcry.  Why is this?  It could be the end of life was much ado about nothing.  It also could be as many reports suggest; thieves are targeting smaller firms.  The attacks are likely happening, but not getting the headlines.  Additionally, recent reports show the market share for XP has only dipped by about 1.5% since end of life.  Larger firms, especially since the Target breach, have shored up their networks.  Smaller firms often the laggards, not so much.  Small business is vulnerable and the crooks know it.

One other major concern if you are still running XP on your front or back of house systems, XP is no longer PCI compliant.  Ensure that all system components and software are protected from known vulnerabilities by installing applicable vendor-supplied security patches. Install critical security patches within one month of release. (Source: www.pcisecuritystandards.org) 

If and when your business is breached and you are running Windows XP, you will likely not garner much sympathy from the PCI Security Council as they determine origin of fault and levy fines.

Many store owners we talk to are not even sure if they have XP.   There is a lot of misinformation out there.   If you are not sure if you are vulnerable, let us know.  This is not the time to stick your head in the sand and not take action.  We are happy to provide an assessment.    Whether or not you use RDS to help with the upgrade or change, protect yourself.  Upgrade your system and remove this liability from your business.

Growing Concerns as XP End of Life is Approaching

Experts predicting a “tsunami of viruses” as operating system support ends.

Let’s face it, the media loves a technical disaster story. In 2000 we had Y2K, and a plethora of security breaches and viruses and worms (Remember Nimda?) that seem to never be as big as what we are told they will be. These items caused lot of inconvenience and in some cases some serious damage but nothing that wasn’t patched, and repaired. We adapted, learned and moved on. So why should we get concerned about XP end of life when other technical “disasters” that either happened or were looming turned out to be much ado about nothing? It’s simple really. The people in charge of updating, patching and preventing are not going to be doing it anymore as of April 8, 2014.

So what?

XP is still being updated and security holes are still being patched. Between January 1 and March 30 of 2013 Microsoft released patches for 34 security vulnerabilities 28 of these were network related. So without these patches there were 28 ways a hacker could have created something to harm systems running on the XP Operating system. The Windows XP operating system in April is going to be “as is” there will be no more patching, no more updates. This will make the machines that are currently operating on Windows XP vulnerable and a soft and relatively easy to exploit target. Even currently with patches, the malware infection rate for a Windows XP machine is over 2 times greater than that of Windows 7 machine and it will get worse. Additionally with the install base for Windows XP being as high as 43% from some reports, XP will be a major target of those looking to exploit systems for financial gain. Additional reports even speculate that more sophisticated groups are withholding code in hopes that the vulnerabilities they have discovered remain unpatched after end of life in April. For more information read Microsoft’s own Security Intelligence Report

For most Point of Sale customers on a modern touch screen point of sale system the problem is not the front of house POS system. Many but not all run XP embedded which has another couple of years of life with end of life set for that on December 31, 2016. The issue is in the back office computers. Many back office systems even those deployed in the last few years run XP Pro and most are exposed to the internet. Firewalls, PCI compliance and other solutions can only protect so far and an outdated system like this is likely to cause you to fall out of PCI compliance no matter what other safeguards are in place.

There are other reasons that an update should be in the works for any machine you have still on XP. Technology changed. Windows XP just doesn’t work with many newer and peripherals like printers, scanners, scales, and other devices. Why? It’s more than a decade old and the machine it was designed to be installed on just doesn’t have the horse power to drive these new devices. Not to mention the leaps and bounds software has taken. Newer programs just don’t work on a machine that was designed to surf the web, check email and run a few programs. To put it in perspective… 12 years ago when it was released the PC it was designed for had less power than an iPhone does now.

If you have questions or concerns about the risk your business may be taking with your current operating environment please visit our windows XP end of life page at www.rdspos.com/xp or call your local office.

Article by:

Patrick Solum
Marketing Director
Retail Data Systems
psolum@rdspos.com

@sodakforce

 

A Member Minute with Retail Data Systems of Wichita

Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce member RDS of Wichita is recognized in this month’s Member Minute. General Manager Paul Baumgartner and Account Manager Brent Christy are interviewed about the advantages of being a Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce member, doing business in the Wichita area and the successes of Retail Data Systems. Some of the highlights from the article include:

  • Paul Baumgartner being recognized as the NCR Salesman of the year
  • Working in the great community of Wichita, KS
  • How beneficial it is to be a member of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce
  • RDS operates as a national company,
    while also maintaining a small business feel
  • A Brief overview of the types of services and solutions RDS offers to our many customers

You can read the full interview on the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce website.

http://www.wichitachamber.org/membership-member_good_news-member_minute.php

Can You Afford to Not Have Integrated Video Surveillance?

Studies show that 75% to 90% of employees will steal from their employer.   Theft can take many forms, from the coffee that the cashier “forgot” to ring up, the produce that the cashier let lean on the side of the scale to give a friend a lower price on those steaks, theft of product from the stock room or just out-and-out skimming from the register.   So as a store owner how do you deter theft in a way that will allow you to run your business without turning into a full-time store police officer? 

One way that is rapidly gaining popularity due to its ease of use, time savings and rapid return on investment is an integrated store surveillance system.  Although more expensive than the off the shelf products that sell for a few hundred dollars, these products allow the t-log information from the POS to be burned into the video image allowing the transaction log and the video to always be in sync.  Integrated systems also allow for intelligent monitoring where only transactions where a void or over ring can be quickly viewed.  They also can be set up in high theft areas to monitor when someone moves into the video frame.  Additionally these products can be monitored remotely and securely so an owner does not have to be in the store at all times.

Studies are showing that integrated video surveillance systems are one of the top technology purchases for 2013 due to their proven effectiveness.

Are integrated video surveillance solutions right for you?  Possibly not.   Your local RDS representative can help you evaluate your potential ROI to determine if one of these systems is right for your business.

Join the conversation…. 

Some examples of their value some of our many customers with these systems have shared with use are:

  • A fraudulent slip and fall lawsuit that was avoided after video was reviewed.
  • A thief stealing from the office safe that was caught.
  • A cashier that was not ringing up items for friends and family.
  • A stock boy who was stealing merchandise from the storage room during his night shift.
  • The unprofessional behavior of a bartender towards customers.
  • A cashier that was giving free drinks and food items to her friends.
  • The shoplifter that was caught stealing baby formula.
  • A C-store cashier giving away beer.
  • Many, many more

If you have a something to share about how video surveillance has helped your business please post in the comments below. 

Watching…. MSN.COM Poll – Cash Registers Vs. Mobile Payment

The results are not final yet, but in over 120,000 replies so far to a poll on MSN.com many consumers are still saying they overwhelmingly prefer cash registers to mobile apps.

Granted the poll doesnt ask if this is in regards to the gas pump, grocery store restaurant, bar, or retail outlet but the results are none the less interesting.

Post below with your comments on why you think this may be.

POS vs Mobile WHAT DO YOU THINK?

More stores are having salespeople & and even shoppers ring up sales on smartphones & tablet computers.

How do you feel about stores using tablets & smartphones to ring up sales?

12 % I like the technological upgrade. 14,366 votes
59 % I prefer cash registers. 72,498 votes
13 % I’m not sure yet. 16,269 votes
16 % I don’t care. 19,996 votes

Total Responses: 123,129

More to come when final results are released!

RDS Colorado Customer on Bar Rescue – Spike TV Sunday 9:00 CST.

We are pleased to announce that NEW RDS of Colorado customer Solids and Stripes will be featured on Spike TV Sunday March 10 at 9:00 CST. GM Fred Ward and his team were called upon by the show to provide a Point of Sale solution to this great but struggling pool hall / bar in Denver, CO. Congratulations to our new customers on the relaunch of their business and to our team in Colorado for doing such a great job on the technology and services side of the house.

Windows XP Not PCI Compliant in April, 2014

Microsoft Ending life of Operating SystemXP RIP

Microsoft has had April 14, 2014 publicized for some time now as being the end of life for its most successful and widely adopted Operating system, Windows XP.  This is creating a serious PCI risk in that many retailers have not paid attention as they are stuck with machines that will no longer be PCI compliant due to this issue.  It is critical that if your company is running a point of sale system with Windows XP that you put in process a plan to move to a platform that is PCI compliant and will be for the foreseeable future.  Not doing so will put your company outside of PCI compliance and opens up your company to all kinds of risks from hackers, spam, viruses and spyware as the operating system will not be receiving any patches after that date.   In addition most manufacturers and developers have stopped developing software and peripherals for the platform leaving retailers finding it difficult to work with newer technologies such as updated scanners, cell phone coupons, loyalty programs, and others.   For more information on if your store might be at risk please contact your local RDS representative for a FREE POS Analysis.

Burger King Twitter Account Breeched

Take a lesson from Burger King. Make sure your sociial media account is secure with a strong password that is changed often. Although the actual cause has of the breech hasn’t been determined or released, many times these thing end up being traced to poor password / account managment.

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/02/18/burger-king-twitter-account-hacked-posts-obscenities/

RDS Southeast Showcasing at the 2013 Hospitality Career Expo

Retail Data Systems SE showcasing the Aloha Point of Sale System at the 2013 Hospitality Career Expo Friday February 1st at the Georgia International Convention Center.  RDS staff met with and networked with over 2,500 future employees, customers, hospitality students, teachers and mentors.  Showcasing OUR BRAND and making a lasting first impression on the industries future buyers.  Educating the future of the hospitality industry and training the educators who influence our industry is another way we take pride in the industries we serve.

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