dharma talks

April 16, 2015

Gravity Payments Does the Right Thing

Referencing the recent New York Times article, I wish to commend Dan Price of Gravity Payments for his remarkable decision to offer a more sustainable salary to his employees - we see this as a rare gesture given the credit card processing's reputation for principally maximizing shareholder profits above all else. Anytime an industry player makes a decision to do the right thing, it influences the whole space, so kudos and congratulations to Dan!

The fury of media attention got me thinking about our own practices at Dharma that we haven't shared or had the good fortune of such media coverage! Granted, we only have 7 full time staff versus 120, but our average employee's salary here is already above $70,000 per year, plus incredible benefits - like fully paid health insurance, company paid $3,000 HSA contributions, paid commuting costs and gym passes, weekly lunches, company outings, etc. In our case, as CEO, my salary is less than 4 times the average employee's pay (probably the lowest ratio you'll find), versus the 21 times difference between the average pay and former salary of Gravity's CEO! At Dharma, our vested staff participate in a stock ownership program. Dharma could have taken last year's charitable donations of over $100,000 to further line our pockets, but chose not to, because helping those in need is a founding tenet of ours. By cultivating a culture of commerce with compassion, we benefit our community of customers and partners as well as our employees plus the organizations we give to. That is what Conscious Capitalism is all about and we take our place as leaders in the field.

We hope that other companies step up as examples of doing the right thing - what do you think?

April 15, 2015

Dharma Named to B Corp Best for the World!

Dharma is Best For Workers!










For the second year in a row, Dharma Merchant Services has been named as an honoree in the B Corp "Best For The World" awards in the category of " Best for Workers".  The Best for Workers honorees are recognized for creating the most positive worker impact. These companies have earned a worker score in the top 10% of all certified B Corporations on the "B Impact Assessment". We are honored to powerfully support our Dharma family with free healthcare, free public transit passes, paid vacations and numerous other benefits that allow them grow and thrive together so that they can support our amazing community of clients and stakeholders.

March 27, 2014

Dharma Founder Interviewed About B Corp Status

B-Corp-Vendor-SpotlightWhen you do business with B Corps, you support a unique sector of the economy that is focused on doing well while also doing good. B Corps solve social and environmental problems while also turning profit. The more profitable they are, the better they can support their workers, their communities, and their social or environmental mission. Everyone wins.  Dharma friend and client MightyBytes is doing a series of interviews with registered B Corps in their supply chain. Click here for the interview with Dharma's founder Jeffrey Marcous! 



February 22, 2014

Merchant of the Month - Impact HUB

impact hub-global 2


Impact Hub – Dharma has had a relationship with the San Francisco Hub for over 5 years now and have since added the Seattle and Los Angeles locations to our community. Now called Impact Hubs, they provide work space and office facilities for companies and individuals who are about making an impact for social change. A simple visit to one of their operations can instill a vibrant sense of creativeness, positive energy, innovation, and community. With 45 locations on 6 continents and over 7000 members, The Hub is indeed making an impact. The Dharma team often attends events at our area Hub locations and in fact used the SF location for our 5th anniversary celebration. For more about this incredible group please visit www.theimpacthub.net.

February 22, 2014


Phishing Email graphic


We have recently been made aware of an email phishing scam that is circulating to merchants for which we need to alert you. It appears to be sent from either a generic domain of merchantservices.com or from a network provider as firstdata.com. The message directs a merchant to call a number with their MID (merchant identification number) and their TID (terminal id number) to update information. Two samples are below, but please note that you should neither reply via email nor call the number.

February 22, 2014

What's New - Marketplace Fairness Act

Fairness-actMarketplace Fairness Act – if you haven’t heard of this legislation yet, this will soon impact every merchant that sells goods and services online.  This bill was overwhelmingly passed by the Senate and will likely be approved by the House soon.  When in effect, all ecommerce companies will be required to assess, collect, and pay sales tax to the more than 13,000 tax jurisdictions in the country!  How the heck can I be expected to comply with this law you might ask?  By engaging with Certified Service Providers who can provide the software which integrates with your shopping cart that will provide real time updates on tax rates, manage the tax billing to the merchant each month, and facilitate the tax payments to every state, county, or state agency.   This legislation was destined to happen as bricks and mortar retailers have been crying foul for losing business to online stores and because government agencies have had to give up tax revenue as such sales have shifted online.   Dharma has your back and will provide further guidance as developments become available.

December 20, 2013

Support Tips - Protect Your Account From Fraud!

Helpful Tips OPTIMIZED
Here are a few ways to insure that your are receiving the maximum benefits of your merchant account from Dharma Merchant Services:

• If you are not currently signed up for online access to your account, we recommend doing so as this is invaluable in tracking the flow of transactions, settlement, and funding to your checking account, thereby eliminating the need to call or write to support departments.  Best way to get this set up is an email request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
• For ecommerce merchants, please login to your payment gateway every day to view transaction activity as this is the season for fraudsters to run programs through websites that check whether stolen credit card numbers can be successfully authorized.  Often, these authorizations are for only a penny or a dime, but as a merchant, you are billed for each transaction and when there are thousands of generated sales, it could be costly.  The fix is to limit the amount of sales or even setting minimum sale amounts that can be made through your site.   Every month we find merchants whose sites are compromised in this way
• Also for ecommerce merchants – to be able to accept a gift card, a change needs to be made in the AVS settings of the payment gateway which would allow cards that do not have an associated billing address (for AVS) to be successfully authorized.  Check with your gateway provider to make the appropriate change – otherwise these sales will be declined.
• Bricks and mortar merchants also need to view daily batches as innovative new skimming devices have been used to detect card (and PIN debit numbers) right from the point of sale terminal.

December 20, 2013

Right Action - Seafood Watch

SeafoodWatch APP Optimized
Dharma's name comes froms a sanskrit word meaning 
"right action". This new section is designed to share ways that we can all make more sustainable choices. 

Worldwide, the demand for seafood is increasing.  Yet many populations of the large fish we enjoy eating are overfished and, in the U.S.,we import over 80% of our seafood to meet the demand.  Destructive fishing and fish farming practices only add to the problems.  By purchasing fish caught or farmed using environmentally friendly practices, you can support healthy, abundant oceans.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California has created a handy Seafood Watch guide to help you choose wisely when purchasing fish at your local market or restaurant. The guide comes in a handy, downloadble .pdf form or you can even install their iPhone APP.  You never have to wonder whether it is better to choose U.S. farmed tilapia or wild-caught monkfish.  The Seafood Watch guide can help you navigate the waters and assist you in becoming a good steward of our oceans.  BTW, the U.S. farmed tilapia is the best choice because the wild monkfish have been drastically overfished in recent years.

December 20, 2013

Merchant of the Month - EO® Products

EO Staff OPTIMIZEDEO® Products is a family owned and operated, certified organic manufacturer of personal care products using the highest grade natural and certified organic ingredients. EO® creates products that are natural, gentle, effective and free from animal testing. At EO® , they know that providing a product with integrity and sustainability is a choice and they make the conscious choice to ensure that only the finest products are created.

Based in Marin County, CA, EO® was founded in 1995 by Brad Black and Susan Griffin-Black.  Brad and Susan believe the formulation of beneficial and synergistic herbs, essential oils and natural ingredients is an art form and they search for ingredients with uniquely beneficial traditional and therapeutic properties. EO® Products include no synthetic colors, fragrances or harsh chemicals. It is EO®'s mission to develop their own innovative and efficacious formulas, source natural ingredients, manufacture, and find the most environmentally friendly packaging to fill and ship each and every EO® product.

EO® creates and manufactures their products in their 22,000 sq. ft. organically certified facility with the help of more than 30 employees who are the force and the heart behind EO®.  EO® also gives back to their community by donating EO® products to local homeless shelters and community organizations. Not only are all EO products organic and sustainably sourced, but they are also free from harsh chemicals like paraben and artificial colors and fragrances. EO 's commitment to sustainability extends to their signature blue bottles that are cast from recycled PET bottles.

The EO® product line encompasses more than 100 items containing signature essential oil blends (EO® stands for Essential Oils). Essential oils are steam distilled directly from flowers, leaves, bark and wood without any adulteration or synthetic additives, as it was intended directly from nature, and their products smell amazing!

December 11, 2013

Gift Credit Cards and AVS with Authorize.net

Gift Card AVS Authnet

Many gift credit cards (stored-value cards with a Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express logo) do not include a billing address on file at the issuing bank. As many shoppers love using these cards for their purchases, you may need to update your default Address Verification Service (AVS) filter settings in order to accept these transactions. If you do not, you may end up rejecting valid purchases.

To accept gift credit cards during and after this holiday season, please follow these steps:

  1. 1.Log into the Merchant Interface at https://account.authorize.net.
  2. 2.Click Account from the main toolbar.
  3. 3.Click Address Verification Service in the Security section.
  4. 4.Uncheck ONLY the checkbox labeled U - The address information for the cardholder is unavailableDo not uncheck ALL of the AVS settings.

    (If you are using the Advanced Fraud Detection Suite (AFDS), then select a radio button to allow, allow and report the triggered filter, or authorize and hold for review all transactions that result in a U response code.)

  5. 5.Click Submit or Save.

This will help prevent the rejection of legitimate gift card purchases that do not have any available address information. All other regular credit and debit card purchases will still be processed according to the other AVS filter settings you've specified.

November 08, 2013

Partner of the Month: One PacificCoast Bank

One PacificCoast Bank FSB 699506 i0

By now, businesses and organizations who support sustainability are used to making green choices on several issues; for example, offering public transit passes for employees and using recycled packaging. But how "green" can we be if the bank we use invests in coal-mining mountain-top removal or is "too big to fail". Greening the financial side of your business can often be easily overlooked.  Fortunately, our partner of the month is here to help.  One way to green your finances is to partner with Dharma partner bank One PacificCoast Bank, one of the largest green banks in the US. The OPCB team dreamed of creating a triple bottom-line bank and a supportive nonprofit foundation and in 2007, their vision was realized when OneCalifornia Bank and OneCalifornia Foundation opened in Oakland, California. Fashioned in the image of the great socially responsible banks and credit unions of national and international fame, OPCB is mandated to produce meaningful social justice and environmental benefits at the same time that it is financially sustainable. Dharma is proud to partner with One PacificCoast Bank and its awesome green team in creating a more sustainable and socially just world.  

Providing credit to constructive businesses and non-profits -- especially those boosting entrepreneurial activity in inner cities, following and strengthening wellness models, or reconnecting vital rural/urban dependencies -- is OPCB's main business.  Credit allows these beneficial activities to grow and scale. OPCB also believes that a healthy environment is the only reliable foundation for economic prosperity. OPCB strives to be a catalyst for positive change in its communities by providing fair, transparent, and sustainable banking products and services as alternatives to more predatory practices that otherwise unwind the benefits of lending practices.  We are grateful to partner with OPCB in strengthening community and supporting sustainable businesses.

November 08, 2013

Updating your Dharma account is easy!

weve made updating your account easy 2

Do you have an account update to make? Have you moved locations? Do you have a new employee who should be able to call on behalf of your business? Do you need to update your checking account or add AMEX? I have good news – you have the power to do all of these things directly from the “Manage Your Account” section of our website! You don’t even need a login or password – just your merchant account number.

This is a powerful tool for you to make important updates to your account. We understand that, when hiring a new employee or changing your checking account, updating that information with your merchant service provider is usually the last thing on your mind. But providing the new information to us will make things a lot easier in the future! The contact info we have on file determines who can get support on your account and allows us to provide an added level of protection by identifying authorized contacts.

If you are processing with a terminal or a gateway such as Authorize.net, the support departments will not be able to provide detailed information unless you are added as a contact on the account and you know the correct business address on file. The address on file also determines where your monthly statements and important notices, such as Chargeback notifications, are sent. Please help us keep your account information up-to-date so that we can provide the best service possible!

September 27, 2013

USAePay and Apple's iOS 7 Update

When you update your Apple device to iOS 7, you will need to adjust your microphone in order to swipe cards with your PaySaber Jack card reader. Once you have iOS 7 installed, follow the instructions and screen shot examples below to allow the USAePAy app to access the microphone.

1. Go to Settings > Privacy > Microphone
2. Turn on the PaySaber Jack
3. Restart the USAePay app and begin swiping payments.

USAePay and Apple iOS7

If you have not updated your Apple device to iOS7, your app will function as usual.  When you do update, follow the promts above to allow microphone access the first time you open the USAePay app.  For additional assistance contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . 


September 20, 2013

Merchant of the Month - Northwest Earth Institute

EchChallenge 2013

NWEI EcochallengeWe have overworked our planet. In the pursuit to improve our lives, we have risked our own survival. The result has been global warming, depletion of the ozone layer, pollution and even the extinction of certain species! Now, more than ever there is a growing awareness of the fact that proper stewardship of the environment and survival are intricately woven into each other. But, saving the environment does not have to be all doom in gloom. In fact, our client and partner Northwest Earth Institute has created an event called the EcoChallenge to be a fun and inspirational way for people to take responsibility for the Earth by changing one habit at a time.

Northwest Earth Institute was started in 1993 by native Oregonians Jeanne and Dick Roy and NWEI with a simple objective: to give people a framework to talk about our relationship with the planet and to share in discovering new ways to live, work, create and consume. Over the last 20 years, NWEI has developed and implemented programs designed to motivate individuals and organizations to take action toward a sustainable future. And (as more than 140,000 NWEI participants worldwide have discovered since then) it turns out that within that simple objective is a recipe for powerful change.

The EcoChallenge is an annual event that challenges people to choose one action to reduce their environmental impact and stick with it for two weeks. By visiting www.ecochallenge.org, individuals and teams pick a category—water, trash, energy, food or transportation—and set a goal that stretches their comfort zone and makes a difference for themselves and the planet. EcoChallengers will accrue points for engagement - everything from succeeding at your EcoChallenge to engaging friends and family in the event will earn you points. At the end of the EcoChallenge your points will increase your odds of winning fun raffle prizes!

The two week challenge which runs from October 15-30 gives individuals, organizations, companies, and universities an opportunity to change their daily habits in a way that is better for Earth. The event demonstrates the collective impact of many people making sustainable changes in their everyday lives. This can be as simple as carrying a tote bag to farmer’s market or buying a reusable water bottle.

The Dharma team will be rising to the challenge by committing to go “zero-plastic” both for the two weeks of the challenge and beyond. “Adding zero-plastic to our sustainability bottom line (which includes composting, recycling and being a paperless office), will be our small way of helping the environment and is a habit which we can then carry over to our personal lives, as well.” said Ron Lewis - our Dharma office manager extraordinaire.

Working individually and collectively to raise our consciousness and responsibly steward our environment is the surest way to promote the health of our communities and the long-term health of our planet.

Are you up for the challenge? Sign up at EcoChallenge.org today. The earth will thank you.

September 20, 2013

Support Tip of the Month - Help! Where's My Money?!

We recently had a merchant who told us on their original application that their maximum transaction amount would be $5,000.00. Then, they ran a transaction for $60,000…yikes! Because the sale was over ten times the high ticket amount reported on their original application, this set off a big red flag in the system, and these funds were held by our underwriting bank. To learn more about account parameters and how to avoid funding holds on large transactions.

When signing up for an account with Dharma, we ask you to share your expected annual processing volume, average ticket amount, and maximum ticket amount to the best of your availability. This is to get a big picture of your account and set appropriate expectations. The higher the volume, the higher the risk for our underwriters. Our underwriting bank takes the information you provide and sets account parameters in the system. If the system catches something out of the norm, such as a really large single transaction or a huge increase in your daily volume, it will set off a possible fraud flag, and the funds will be held. We then request an invoice in order to verify that the transaction is legitimate by checking the cardholder’s name and billing information against what’s on file with their bank. If the information doesn’t match up, we might have to reach out to the cardholder directly.

Although we understand how frustrating it can be to not receive expected funding, we offer an alternative perspective that the underwriting bank holds these funds for your protection, as well as theirs. To share a recent story of a funding hold working in favor of a merchant – we had a merchant accidentally run a $200 sale with a few extra zeroes at the end of the total, accidentally running it for $20,000. Luckily, the system caught this ahead of time, and we requested further information about the sale. The merchant saw their mistake, and they were able to avoid a very costly and embarrassing situation with their customer.

In order to avoid any surprises, please make sure to be aware of your processing parameters, and let us know in advance if you are going to run a transaction that is larger than your max ticket amount. If your parameters change as your business grows, we totally support you!! Just let us know so we can adjust the expectations accordingly. If it’s a big change, our underwriters might request business financials in order to support the higher processing parameters. The key is communicating – as long as we know what to expect, we can protect you against fraud and support your account in the best way possible. Plus, we can make sure you get your hard earned money deposited quickly!

  • Authorize.Net
  • B Corp Best for the World
  • B Corporation
  • Best of Category
  • Better Business Bureau
  • CardPayment Options.com
  • Conscious Capitalism
  • Fit Small Business