Posts by Joe Weppler

Your Office Move is an Opportunity to Save Time and Money on your Telecom

The decision to relocate your business is never made lightly. While the process can be stressful and distracting, it’s also full of wonderful opportunities to make improvements and save money – particularly when it comes to your telecom services.

To help make your move a success, we’ve put together a list of things to keep in mind concerning your telecom equipment and services while you’re undergoing this process.

 

Establish your tech requirements:

  • Can the wiring at your new location handle your current setup?
  • Do you have the physical space you need for technology resources like power, cooling, conferencing, and wireless connectivity?
  • Do you have an accurate estimate of how much it will cost to purchase new equipment versus moving your old hardware?

It’s inevitable that your big office move is going to have hiccups, but going in with a plan can help you weather the storm of unproductivity. It’s important to consider your technology and its support systems before you commit to a big move in order to minimize your downtime and prevent large gaps in your overall office efficiency. For example, if your new location isn’t properly wired, you will need you will need to be on top of the re-wiring process to make sure your equipment has the proper connections it needs to function.

Assess current services:

  • Is your office keeping up with technology advances and taking advantage of the best, most recent deals for telecom services?
  • Are there services you can renew, eliminate or change? Do you need to downsize or upgrade?
  • If you’re moving your old services and implementing them at the new location, will your incumbent service provider force you to sign a new contract – locking you in with your current setup?

The telecommunications industry is a dynamic marketplace. The technologies, services and players are always changing. Whether you’re implementing your old services in your new office or finding new vendors entirely, you need to be fully aware of all the options available to you in order to make sure you have the technology you need, at the lowest possible price.

Talk to a telecom cost-reduction professional:

A professional cost-reduction consultant can help take the weight off your shoulders when you’re preparing for an office move. They can:

  • Set up a site visit and handle your tech audit beforehand, making sure nothing slides through the cracks.
  • Fully analyze the market and make sure you’re not getting locked into any overpriced contracts.
  • Investigate the most cost efficient way of getting you set up in your new location, including simplifying and modernizing your setup, while reducing costs in the process.

Your big move is a great opportunity to both find savings on your telecom bills and increase your overall satisfaction levels with your telecom environment. Plan for your future needs, assess your current tech, and make sure to contact a professional!

Ensuring Point of Sale Security (Both Online and Off)

When you’re operating a business, customer trust is paramount. Your shoppers trust you to be able to provide what they need, when they need it. They trust you to treat them fairly. Perhaps most importantly, they trust that conducting a transaction with you isn’t going to come back to bite them. If your customers’ credit card information is stolen because your payment solution wasn’t properly secured, their trust, and subsequently their business with you, will go right out the window.

Enter Point of Sale (POS) security. The prevention of unauthorized access by hackers looking for ways to steal customer information. By providing data protection and blocking up any security gaps, you can secure your customer transactions and ensure you’re never on the chopping block for leaking sensitive information – not to mention avoid potential massive fines from the card brands.

Consider the following points when addressing the security of your POS systems, both online and on-location.

1: Point-To-Point Encryption

Ensure that you have software in place to protect your customers’ data from exposure. Point-to-point encryption tools encrypt your customers’ data as soon as it’s received, and encrypt it again when it’s sent to the POS server. In other words, whether an attacker is trying to steal the data from the terminal or intercept it on the way to the server, you’re covered.

 2: Physical Location

You’ve probably heard the term “skimmer” before in reference to hijacking data from a customer’s card. Whether you still swipe cards or use a newer chip machine, a common tactic used by fraudsters is using physical equipment to tap into the POS terminal and intercept the information. Key loggers can record your PIN, and most of the time these devices are hidden within the terminal itself.

It’s much easier for a hacker to install a skimmer on a device that is simply sitting at a front desk or bar then it is to install one locked in a security case. If your terminal is sitting in view of the entrance to your location, consider keeping it under lock and key and under the supervision of a security camera. Hackers search for low risk, high reward terminals and a simple security case and camera are often more than enough to make your terminal an unattractive option.

If your terminals have a wireless connection, such as those used by servers at a restaurant, ensure you have a system in place to keep track of the physical terminals, and make sure you write down their individual serial numbers. Any terminal that goes missing for any length of time should be immediately suspect. In fact, merchants dealing with significant sales through their POS terminals should make checking for tampering part of their daily routine.

3: PCI Compliance

One of the most common issues we see with new merchant services clients here at Schooley Mitchell is with PCI compliance. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of procedures maintained by the PCI Security Standards Council. It has tons of guidelines revolving around authentication, encryption, vulnerability testing, antivirus, and more. These standards are designed to protect credit card information by ensuring that the systems used to transmit the data are sufficiently secure. Failure to adhere to these standards drastically increases your risk of data theft.

Validating your PCI compliance involves filling out an annual questionnaire and, depending on the scope of your own POS terminals, completing quarterly scans to check for vulnerabilities. In addition to keeping data secure, maintaining PCI compliance can also reduce the fees you are charged by your merchant services provider on every transaction. The safer your data, the smaller the risk you represent to the credit card companies.

4: Address Verification

You should always use an address verification system (AVS) if you accept online sales. Address verification is done by comparing the billing address from the purchase “request” with the address data on file at the issuing bank. This is an important step in preventing fraud, because a criminal stealing a card number often has no access to the billing address associated with the card itself. If they attempt to use the card for a purchase and the address doesn’t match, your AVS system will alert you to the discrepancy. Between your AVS and proper requirement of the CVV number on the back of your card, a fraudulent charge can be avoided even if the entire credit card number is stolen.

5: Suspicious Purchasing Patterns

If you accept payments online, you need to be aware of the warning signs and red flags that go hand-in-hand with online fraud. Signs include exceptionally large orders paired with one-day shipping, emails comprised of long strings of numbers and letters instead of real words or names, and several orders from a single IP address using multiple different credit cards. While none of these things are definitive proof of a fraudulent transaction, they can represent early warning signs, especially when used in tandem.

By monitoring for these red flags, along with utilizing your other fraud detection tools, you can help even the playing field and catch fraudulent transactions before they cause significant damage to you, your processor, and your customers.

By paying special attention to the points listed above and consulting with your merchant services provider directly or through a merchant services expert, you can maintain your reputation as a safe and reputable merchant, avoid the fees that go hand-in-hand with a data breach, and protect both yourself and your customers.

The Battle Between Amazon and Google Continues at CES 2019

UPS versus FedEx. MasterCard versus Visa. AT&T versus Verizon. All these famous rivalries pale in comparison to the biggest of the modern day – Amazon versus Google.

“The Battle for Second Place,” as it were, the two internet giants have been duking it out for years. According to Statista, Amazon and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) were the number two and three largest companies in the world by market value in 2018 respectively. By mid-year, Amazon was worth $777.8 billion U.S. dollars, with Alphabet trailing closely behind with a market value of 766.4 billion. Both are still a ways off from Apple’s gold medal showing of $926.9 billion, but the battle is fierce nonetheless.

Recently, the rivalry has been focused on smart home supremacy. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are the market leaders in the smart-speaker environment, and they were both front and center at CES 2019, the world’s largest consumer tech show, which took place from January 8-11 in Las Vegas.

There were over 30 brand-new products compatible with voice assistants announced at CES this year, from ceiling fans and tech-driven crock pots to futuristic smart glasses and even Kohler’s smart toilet. While many of these products play nice with both Alexa and Assistant, some of the exclusives include a new front-door camera from the people at Amazon’s Ring and Google Assistant’s new “interpreter” mode that translates conversations in real time.

If we’re handing out awards for ostentation, Google took the crown this year with its massive booth outside the Las Vegas Convention Center – the centrepiece of which was the “It’s a Small World” promo that Google itself called “part ride, part marketing stunt.” Complete with singing animatronics, riders were carted through various scenes that showed off some of Google Assistant’s features, such as GPS navigation and the new interpreter mode.

Whether you’re a fan of Amazon, Google, or neither, it’s clear from the showing at CES that 2019 is going to be another big year for the smart-gear market.

Canada Post and its union aren’t negotiating

shipping cost reduction servicesSometimes, you just have to find someone else to make a decision for you.

It’s been over a week since Canadian postal workers were forced back to their jobs by legislation – but Canada Post and its union aren’t negotiating. Instead, they’re waiting for the government to appoint a mediator to resolve the issues that have plagued the Canadian post environment for nearly a month and a half.

Back-to-work legislation was officially passed last Monday ending legal strike action, but the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) warned officials that their fight is far from over.

CUPW president Mike Palecek called the legislation unconstitutional, stating “you cannot legislate labour peace.”

“In the coming days, we will be calling on our allies and membership for a campaign of mobilizations, demonstrations and non-violent civil disobedience,” Palecek’s statement said.

Both Canada Post and the CUPW were warned last week by Employment Minister Patty Hadju that the government would issue back-to-work legislation should they fail to reach an agreement within a few days.

True to her word, Bill C-89 was fast-tracked by the Liberal government through the House of Commons, and the Senate vote passed by 53 to 25, with four abstentions. C-89 imposes fines anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000 per day on anyone found in contravention of the act, and up to $100,000 per day against CUPW or Canada post if either are found guilty of violating the terms.

Many Canadians depend on Canada Post to ship their small packages and mail, especially with the rapid approach of the holiday season. Despite the legislation, Canada Post has warned Canadians that they can expect delays of both mail and package delivery into the new year as a result of the rotating walkouts employed by CUPW.

If you’re nervous about potential delayed or missed deliveries this holiday season, there are several domestic and international small package shipping and courier businesses in Canada that remain unaffected by the strikes.

If you’re a business owner looking to reduce shipping costs, visit https://www.schooleymitchell.com/services/shipping/ for more information.

Hurricane Florence victims will receive free telecom services

According to telecompaper, wireless and prepaid customers of AT&T and Verizon who live in the areas most impacted by Hurricane Florence will be receiving free services from their carrier. This will mostly apply to customers living in the Carolinas.

AT&T will be providing unlimited talk, text, and data for its impacted customers. Likewise, Verizon will be giving free talk, text, and data to its customers effected by the storm.

Both carriers have also lifted speed caps and restrictions for first responders in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

This small but crucial act could be lifesaving, and shows just how important carriers and ISPs are in disaster situations. If not lifesaving, at the very least this service allows victims to keep their friends and families updated to their status and safety during the hurricane.

Source: AT&T, Verizon to give unlimited communications to customers affected by Hurricane Florence – telecompaper.com
Published: September 12, 2018

Managing your personal network

Keeping expenses down while maintaining the speeds and data you need can be a delicate balance. Here are some tips for managing your own personal network to ensure you’re getting what you need without breaking the bank.

1: Assess what you’re paying for!

You need to make sure you understand exactly what you are paying each month and what you’re getting for those payments. Are you paying full price? Are you paying for services you don’t need? Are you paying for services you don’t even realize you have access to? Are you signed up for a minimum-term contract with penalties for breaking it? If you don’t understand, call customer service and have them explain it to you!

All this information is important not only for your own records, but because if you know exactly what you’re paying for, you’ll know exactly how to bargain for better prices. Ensure that you review your account information, billing information and contract so you have a thorough understanding of where your money is going.

2: Have a clear understanding of your needs!

It’s very important to separate the relevant from the irrelevant. Sometimes you see a deal that sounds too good to pass up, but you need to remember that a deal is only a deal if it’s something you’re actually going to use! Do you only use your smart phone and watch Netflix? Then why are you paying for a home phone/cable bundle? Even if you’re paying a reduced price, if you’re not using the product, it’s not worth your money.

3: Be timely and accurate!

Phone and internet providers want your business as long as you’re paying for it. As soon as you’re not making timely payments, your business is no longer a priority. Write down your payment dates and pay them in full, on time, every month. If you’re always paying and you’re always on time, you have leverage because the company wants to keep you as a customer! You can use that to bargain down prices.

4: Don’t be afraid to haggle!

So now you’ve assessed your payments, you’ve trimmed the fat and gotten rid of the things you don’t need and you’ve paid your bills in full and on time. The company wants your business! Now is the time to haggle.

Don’t accept the posted price. If you don’t ask, you don’t get! If you can’t get a deal from the person you’re talking to, escalate the call and ask for the retention department. Come prepared with alternative options and services if they try to call your bluff – with the amount of competition, you can squeeze even the large companies to give you a discount.

Finally, remember to be polite and professional. Sometimes, discounts are discretionary – which means an employee can decide whether or not to offer them to a customer. If you’re rude and aggressive, you’re much less likely to be offered the discount.

A solution in sight to Samsung’s Pink Line issue?

galaxy-s7-edge-stillIt was just not Samsung’s year. First, the Galaxy Note 7s began exploding. Then, the replacements did as well. Now, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 edge has its own unique issue that is plaguing users.

According to TechTimes, Galaxy S7 edge users have been reporting a defect in the phone that causes a pink or purple line to appear across the screen. Samsung has now come forward to acknowledge the issue.

Samsung claims the display issue occurs only if a handset has been dropped, but it’s possible for the line to appear on a phone that does not have a broken display. The line is caused by damage to the phones internal circuitry.

However, multiple Galaxy S7 edge users have claimed they did not drop their phone and think it could be a software issue. Some even questioned whether or not the issue was covered under warranty.

Samsung has promised repairs under warranty, but only if the devices have no visible damage. If there is physical damage to the phone, the user will be footing the bill.

Save