System Unavailable: What to do when the Credit Card Network Goes Down - By Avi Jorisch

No matter how much you plan and prepare, the world of computers and networks it is not a perfect environment. A Merchant must be ready for an occasional outage in credit card processing. While every merchant accepts their credit card slightly differently, the power source for each could go out – for example, the physical terminal could break; no internet connection for the virtual terminal; no phone signal; software virus for the point of sale.

Every location that accepts credit cards as a normal means of payment should have the phone number and other specific information that the Merchant needs to place a voice authorization call on a transaction. Voice authorizations are needed when the Merchant can’t send it though their normal processing channels because the communication method is down (i.e. Internet), if the transaction amount is too high to be approved or when a transaction is being declined without a specific reason. The voice authorization obtained from the call center should be recorded and notated on this slip.

A “knuckle buster” should be present, as well as the authorization slips, to take an imprint of the card and retain the customer’s signature with the transaction.

But above all, you should keep the phone number for your merchant provider in your contact list, and ideally on your speed dial. In the best of circumstances, you develop a personal relationship with your provider and have the representative’s personal cellphone number. If you do not have that type of connection, at the very least you should have the toll free number for the customer support line at your disposal.