Despite repeated requests to correct its content, the SBA has chosen to mislead small businesses.
A dangerously erroneous article recently posted by the Small Business Administration is misleading small businesses, and the SBA has carelessly ignored repeated calls to have the article removed or corrected.
On September 10, 2013 the SBA posted an article titled The Best Credit Card Processing For Small Business Owners, written by guest blogger and affiliate marketer Marco Carbajo.
In the article, Marco Carbajo makes numerous false statements in an attempt to connect the topics of credit card processing and small business lending in order to increase sales of the $100-a-month credit building system sold through his Web site.
After growing tired of addressing questions from CardFellow clients misled by Marco Carbajo’s article, I contacted the SBA to request that the article be removed or corrected. The regional SBA office here in Hartford, Connecticut directed me to the office in Washngton, DC where my emails and phone calls have been ignored. For the record, the email I sent to the SBA is at the end of this article.
Since the SBA is failing to take action to correct its erroneous content, I will happily pick up the slack.
The following is a list of erroneous information quoted from Marco Carbajo’s SBA article followed by the correction.
- Marco Carbajo & SBA: “I’m going to share with you how to determine which merchant for credit card processing would be best for your small business.”
- CardFellow’s Correction: A merchant does not provide credit card processing services. A merchant is a person or business involved in the trade of goods or services. CardFellow’s article on credit card processing companies will clarify the actual players that provide credit card processing services.
- Marco Carbajo & SBA: “While regular rates go from .41% to 2.19%, some merchants specializing in small business have processing fees ranging from 0% to .36%.”
- CardFellow’s Correction: While it is completely unclear what is meant by “regular rates,” it appears the term is referring to both merchant discount, which is the sum of interchange fees, assessments and markups, and also just the processor’s markup on an interchange plus pricing model.
The reason for this conclusion is that 2.19% is too high to be only a processor’s markup, and 0% is obviously too low to cover a processor’s cost of interchange and assessments.
The sentence can be somewhat salvaged by being re-written as, “A processor’s qualified rate on a tiered pricing model may range from 0.41% to 2.19%, while a processor’s markup on an interchange plus pricing model may range from 0% to 0.36%, or more.”
- Marco Carbajo & SBA: “Having a merchant provider that provides low credit card processing fees while enabling your business to establish its own creditworthiness is an ideal solution for a small business owner.”
- CardFellow Correction: This statement is false. While competitive processing fees are important, an acquiring bank does not report a merchant’s processing activity to the credit reporting agencies. A small business will not build its creditworthiness through credit card processing activity.
- Marco Carbajo & SBA: “When searching for the best merchant to supply credit card processing for small business consider these two main factors before making a decision.
Low processing fees
Building your company’s creditworthiness”
- CardFellow Correction: A business should not consider building its creditworthiness through its merchant service provider because the merchant service provider it chooses will not report to credit reporting agencies.
I appreciate the work the SBA does to help small business, but it must maintain an ongoing commitment to adhere to higher content standards to avoid misleading the businesses that look to it for guidance.
The following is the email correspondence I’ve had with the SBA to date:
To Whom It May Concern:
It has come to our attention that the SBA has posted an article with erroneous information that is very detrimental to small businesses. The article in question is posted here: http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/best-credit-card-processing-small-business-owners
As the founder and president of CardFellow.com, which is an online marketplace that educates small businesses about credit card processing and how fees truly work, I am very qualified to recognize the dangers of the information in this article.
I have made several attempts to contact the SBA to have this information removed or corrected, but have had no success to date.
As an organization whose mission is to help small businesses, I sincerely hope you act upon this request.
On 2-5-2014 the SBA wrote:
Dear Mr. Dwyer,
Thank you for e-mailing the National Answer Desk of the United States Small Business Administration.
You have submitted your request to the webmasters, which was correct and they should respond to you, but we did notice something in your complaint that puzzled us.
We are a bit confused by your assertion that the SBA posted erroneos information, given that the SBA Community Blog is information provided by the clients. Furthermore, you referred to SBA as the Small Business Association, which is a private company and is not affiliated with the federal government.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
SBA National Answer Desk and Call Center
On 2-5-2014 Ben Dwyer from CardFellow wrote:
Dear U.S. Small Business Administration,
I appreciate you noting that I referred to your organization erroneously. The article has been updated to refer to the Small Business Administration instead of the Small Business Association.
With that said, I can’t help but to point out the irony in the correction. I wouldn’t be going to such great lengths to have erroneous content corrected if it was in fact posted on the Small Business Association’s Web site. As you’ve noted, that SBA is a private organization that is not supported by taxpayer dollars, and therefore it’s free to post what it wants.
On the other hand, the Small Business Administration is subsidized by taxpayer dollars, some of which come from CardFellow, and it should be held to higher standards.
I don’t feel it’s relevant where erroneous content is published on SBA.gov. Content posted on the SBA Community Blog or anywhere else should still be reviewed by your staff to ensure it’s accurate and that its message does not have an ulterior motive – like some guy selling small business lines of credit.
I’m eagerly awaiting the response from your webmasters.
On 2-21-2014 Ben Dwyer from CardFellow wrote directory to Ingeborg P Spreng at the SBA:
Dear Mr. Spreng,
I haven’t heard back regarding the matter below, and I am curious if the SBA plans to take any actions to correct the erroneous content in question, and to ensure the content that it is posting on its Web site is accurate.
I can assure you, I will not be dropping this matter until I hear a response.
On 3-3-2014 the SBA Answer Desk Responded:
Thank you for e-mailing the Small Business Administration’s Answer Desk. To answer your question, the following information is provided.
This matter has been submitted to our web team. Their team is very responsive. They respond to inquiries based on the order they are received. Our office cannot provide further assistance on this matter.
Again, thank you for your inquiry. We value your questions, and appreciate your asking the SBA Answer Desk for assistance.
SBA Answer Desk