The Department of Homeland Security is buying more bullets with a solicitation for over 141,00 rounds of sniper ammunition.
According to a solicitation posted on FedBizOpps, the federal agency is looking to procure 141,160 rounds of Hornady .308 Winchester 168gr A-MAX TAP ammunition.
Such ammunition is sometimes retailed as “Zombie Max,” a marketing gimmick alluding to its power.
“What makes the .308 ammunition so deadly is the long range capability of the round,” notes James Smith. “The ability is called ballistic coefficient, or the efficiency of a projectile in overcoming air resistance as it travels to its target. According to Speer Reloading Manual Number 13, the .308 165 grain has the highest coefficient of any hunting rifle.”
The latest purchase further illustrates the fallacy of the DHS’ excuse that it is buying bullets in bulk in order to save money.
There is some coverage of this number, which varies quite a bit from year to year. The number being shown is 33, but that appears to include one accident. The trend is down, though not as much as the homicide rate in general. It is clear that the number of citizen owned guns is not linked to the number of police killed with guns. While the number of guns in the hands of the public has soared, and the number of people legally carrying firearms has skyrocketed, crime is down, homicides are down, and then number of police murdered with guns is down.
The public has been on a buying binge for semi-automatic rifles, such as the AR-15, which has become the most popular rifle in America after the “assault weapon ban” lapsed in 2004, and especially since 2008. From 1995 to 2004, during the “ban”, the number of police murdered with guns averaged 58.1 officers per year, from 2005 to 2013, after the “ban” lapsed, the number averaged 51.6 per year.
Hornady, a major U.S. ammunition manufacturer, is doing everything it can to meet the high demand for bullets that it says has been “all fueled by rumors and conjecture” and has put pressure on gun stores across the country.
“The current political climate has caused extremely high demand on all shooting industry products, including ours,” according to Hornady. “Empty retail shelves, long backorders, and exaggerated price increases on online auction sites – all fueled by rumors and conjecture – have amplified concerns about the availability of ammunition and firearms-related items.”
Ammunition manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the run on ammunition that began in the wake of President Barack Obama’s re-election and the deadly shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut that left 20 children and six adults dead.
“Every time there’s a comment about some sort of gun control… that triggers a negative response among firearms owners, because they see it as a limiting factor,” Paul Erhardt, an editor for the Shooting Wire, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The demand breeds demand in a lot of ways,” Erhardt said, adding that the uncertainty over supply caused by the media and political conditions has firearms owners rushing to purchase what ammo is available.
“Remington is in a large backorder position at this time,” said Remington spokeswoman Jessica Kallam. “We are at full capacity with a majority of categories of ammunition. We are continuing to look at how to increase capacity and supplying ammo products to the various channels of distribution/sales that we support.”
The ammunition shortage has gun store owners shocked at the persistent lack of bullets in their stores.
“We absolutely are in uncharted territory,” said Larry Hyatt, whose family owns Hyatt Gun Shop in Charlotte, N.C.. “Our store is 53 years old, and we have never seen anything like this. We have had some spot shortages and busy gun times in the past. This is a level (of demand) never before seen.”
There are quite a few credit card processing companies now pushing Interchange Plus Pricing to merchants. We’ve all seen the ads that say process for “.5%” and that’s all you pay. The fact of matter is that NOBODY will only pay .50%
An interchange plus quote will sound like “interchange PLUS 0.50% – that’s why it’s called interchange plus. The PLUS part is the markup that the processor is making on top of interchange. It will usually be less than 0.50% of your volume. What they are quoting you is the markup. On average interchange rates are about 1.63% for retail and for e-commerce the interchange rate is higher at around 2.05%.
So, if you take a retail swiped transaction and add all the fees together you’ll have 1.63% PLUS .50% which gives you a rate of 2.13% for retail transactions or an e-commerce rate of 2.55%. What about rewards cards or corporate cards? For these types of cards the interchange is about another 1% – 1.5% on top of the qualified rate depending on the card type.
With Tiered pricing usually just one price is quoted (called a qualified rate) for each category type. For example, they will quote 1.69% for retail transactions or 2.2% for e-commerce. Most tiered pricing programs have one tier for qualified cards, another for rewards cards and another one for all other card types.
With tiered pricing you’ll get the quoted rate on most of the transactions then get charged Non-qualified charges on the transactions that don’t meet certain requirements. Some of the requirements to get a qualified transaction can be Address Verification, CVV/CVV2, or Zip Code Matches.
It is very hard to compare one tiered pricing plan to another, because even if the qualified rate, non-qualified rate and the mid-qualified rate are the same, the rules of each credit card processing company which transactions fall into each category can be different from one company to the next. For example, company “A” may charge a qualified rate when the address and zip code matches but company “B” may classify the same transaction as un-qualified if the address doesn’t match exactly.
So which is better – Interchange Plus Pricing or Tiered Pricing?
The first way to answer this is to look at which one is being pushed by the people making the money. They will push the pricing that will make them the most profit from and this is currently interchange plus pricing.
Most interchange plus pricing plans we see are not true interchange plus programs and they find some way to add hidden fees on top of the interchange or they add fees and call them interchange when they are not.
The second answer to the question is “it depends”.
If you know that most of your transactions will be “qualified” then it’s probably correct to say that interchange plus is NOT a good deal. As referenced above the average qualified rate on an interchange plus retail transaction is 2.13% or 2.55% for e-commerce so a tiered rate of 1.69% or 2.2% would save you about 45%. Yes this goes against what quite a few interchange plus sales reps say but it’s how it works.
Now what about all those “Non-Qualified” transactions?
On interchange plus pricing sales reps will tell you they still only charge .50% or whatever they charge but here’s the real deal. Many companies will have “qualified interchange plus” and ‘non qualified interchange plus” pricing which basically becomes tiered pricing anyway. Here’s how this works: on your transactions if the address, zip, name and CVV/CVV2 all match they’ll give you interchange plus their .50% but if anything doesn’t match they tack on another 3%. The way they make their money on this is to set the requirement on their processing system for everything to match (which it almost always doesn’t) then charge you interchange plus the surcharges. What we’ve seen is that most of the interchange plus pricing actually being charged to merchants is much higher then anyone thought it would be.
Non Qualified Tiered Pricing: Tiered pricing will usually have a set rate for all the non qualified transactions. The average rate runs about 3.5% which seems high but may not be. With tiered pricing you will know the highest rate but on what cards you get this rate is very hard to figure out until you process for a few months.
So which one is better?
What we’ve found is that for most merchants a tiered pricing plan will be better if most of the transactions are qualified transactions. Tiered pricing can actually be about 20%-45% cheaper for most retail merchants. For merchants who are retail and key in some of their transactions then interchange plus pricing is usually better.
The bottom line is it takes someone with experience to analyse merchant processing statements to make the best determination so if a merchant services sales rep automatically tells you they will save you money with interchange plus pricing watch out!
A new regulation just went into effect allowing stores and restaurants to charge customers who use plastic a credit card surcharge checkout fee. Not many stores are passing the fee along to customers yet, but experts say that could change.
Even the idea of a checkout fee is certain to generate a certain emotion from customers.
“I’m really irritated by the whole thing,” said Julie Kleiman of Indianapolis. “Especially since the taxes have gone up. You know the economy is in a crunch now anyway. I don’t see how this is going to help anybody.”
Checkout fees are now possible because of a settlement with credit card companies that gave retailers the ability to pass on credit card processing fees to customers. The fees typically range from 1.5 to 3 percent.
“We have discussed the settlement with many, many merchants, and not a single merchant we have spoken to plans to surcharge,” Craig Shearman, spokesman for the National Retail Federation (NRF), said in a statement. “The bottom line is that very few retailers would be able to surcharge under the settlement, and that the vast majority don’t want to surcharge even if they could.”
Still, retailers have the dilemma in choosing whether to take the burden upon themselves or charge customers the new tax.
Worse yet, others are afraid retailers will begin to charge consumers twice for the fee, since typically merchants build in costs into their regular pricing.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. The surcharge can’t be applied in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, or Texas. It also won’t apply to anyone using an American Express card regardless of where you are in the US. And the surcharge is limited to credit cards, so you can pay with a debit card or cash to avoid it.
“We’re always evaluating our credit card expenses,” said Sam Carpenter, Executive Director of Global Gifts in Indianapolis. “You know, trying to negotiate those down, whatever we can do to do that.”
But even though retailers like Global Gifts spend a lot on processing fees, don’t look for them to pass them on to you any time soon. Customers here use credit cards about 85 percent of the time and they don’t want to scare off that business.
“It’s a quick and easy decision for Global Gifts that we would not do something like that,” Carpenter said.
Fox59 News found that retailers throughout Indianapolis said the same thing. Checkout fees don’t make sense in the short-term.
Businesses that do decide to charge the checkout fee are required to post a notice either on the door or in the store. The charge is also required to be posted on each receipt, so you can see it for yourself.
“I think businesses will be slow to react to this because they don’t want to be the first one to look cheap,” said financial expert Peter Dunn, also known as Pete the Planner.
According to the National Retail Federation the checkout fees won’t be implemented by major national stores either, but Dunn says all it takes is a few businesses to start.
“I would look for restaurants and very small gift shops to start,” Dunn said. “I think once it happens there potentially you could see like a chain restaurant react or national business.”
As a Fair Trade store Sam says the charge doesn’t fit with Global Gifts’ philosophy.
“We like to be fair to our customers all up and down the line, from the artisan to the customer,” Carpenter said.
If that thinking changes at Global Gifts or any other stores, Kleiman said her habits will likely change too.
“Just look for another way to cut back,” she said. “If there is a another way to cut back.”
If business do begin charging the fees, customers can avoid them by paying with cash or debit card.
Below is a list of states that will allow the new credit card surcharge “checkout” fee for credit card transactions.
ust as credit card holders begin mending the wounds of their holiday purchases, they could be sideswiped by a new fee.
The consumer advocacy group Consumer Action is urging people to be on alert for so-called checkout fees that some retailers could begin to impose on credit card transactions starting Jan. 27.
Merchant trade groups contend most retailers, fearing customer backlash, will not charge the fee. But Consumer Action wants cardholders to be aware of the possibility and options for fighting back.
“We’re not sure whether retailers are going to charge these fees,” said Ruth Susswein, deputy director of national priorities at Consumer Action in Washington, D.C. “They may not for competitive reasons. Some of it will depend on whether the other guy does it.”
She noted that the practice is banned in 10 states, including California, Florida and New York. There is no such ban in Pennsylvania.
Consumers who encounter the fees should voice their displeasure, which may persuade merchants to drop them, Ms. Susswein said.
Merchants won the right to charge the fees under a class action settlement with Visa, MasterCard and big banks reached last summer and tentatively approved by a judge in November.
The fee allows merchants to recoup the swipe fees they pay to process credit card transactions, which typically range between 1.5 percent and 3 percent of the purchase amount. Checkout fees are capped at 4 percent, meaning a cardholder buying $100 in merchandise could face up to a $4 surcharge.
Visa and the other defendants also agreed to pay merchants just over $6 billion and temporarily reduce swipe fees to settle allegations that they engaged in anti-competitive practices and price fixing when processing credit card payments.
To avoid blindsiding customers, merchants that impose checkout fees must disclose the surcharge at store entrances, at the register and on customer receipts. Online businesses must put a notice on their homepage.
Checkout fees don’t apply to debit card transactions, whose swipe fees were reduced by the federal government in 2011.
Ms. Susswein emphasized that credit card holders could be charged different checkout fees depending on which card they use. For example, customers with reward cards could be charged more because they typically cost merchants more to process.
Before the class action settlement, Visa and MasterCard had prohibited retailers from surcharging customers who use credit cards. They also had barred merchants from offering discounts for cash purchases, but that prohibition was lifted in 2011 under a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. (Some businesses had side deals with Visa and MasterCard allowing cash discounts even before that settlement.)
Although a judge gave the class action settlement preliminary approval, some major retailers involved in the case aren’t happy with the deal and are pushing hard to get it scuttled, saying it does not fundamentally alter the anti-competitive swipe fee structure.
“An overwhelming portion of the retail community [including plaintiffs in the case] oppose the settlement and are committed to fighting its final OK,” Retail Industry Leaders Association spokesman Brian Dodge said in an email.
As for checkout fees, he said, “Retailers don’t want to surcharge customers, and I know of none that intend to.”
Meanwhile, Visa and MasterCard have said they are making preparations for checkout fees, including changing back-office systems to handle the record keeping.
Terms of the class action settlement take effect 60 days after preliminary approval. That will give retailers the option of charging checkout fees starting the end of this month even though the deal hasn’t received final court approval.
Retail Credit Card Processing – If you are doing business face to face, accepting credit cards has become required. Whether you have a store, restaurant or kiosk, Web Credit Card Processing can help your business set up a merchant account and accept credit cards for less money than you ever thought possible. Online Credit Card Processing – A Payment Gateway account allows you to accept credit cards and electronic checks from websites and Internet auction sites. Our solutions are designed to save time and money and provide secure transactions for businesses who need to accept payments on the phone, web or their website.
Mobile Credit Card Processing – The free Mobile Application allows merchants to securely accept payments anywhere they want using an Apple iOS device or Android phone app. Increase your sales by providing an easy way to accept payments on the go using a Payment Gateway account.
Merchant Account – A merchant account is a type of bank account that allows businesses to accept payments by payment cards, typically debit or credit cards. A merchant account is established under an agreement between an acceptor and a merchant acquiring bank for the settlement of payment card transactions. In some cases a payment processor, independent sales organization (ISO), or merchant service provider (MSP) is also a party to the merchant agreement. Whether a merchant enters into a merchant agreement directly with an acquiring bank or through an aggregator such as PayPal, the agreement contractually binds the merchant to obey the operating regulations established by the card associations.
Payment Gateway – A payment gateway is an e-commerce application service provider service that authorizes payments for e-businesses, online retailers, bricks and clicks, or traditional brick and mortar. It is the equivalent of a physical point of sale terminal located in most retail outlets. Payment gateways protect credit card details by encrypting sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, to ensure that information is passed securely between the customer and the merchant and also between merchant and the payment processor.
Credit Card Terminal – A credit card terminal is a type of a Point of sale (POS) terminal that can do transactions with a credit card. A couple of types of credit card terminals are available to merchants. Most have the same basic purpose and functions. They allow a merchant to insert, swipe, or key in manually the required credit card information and transmit such data to the merchant service provider for authorization and then later on the transfer the fund to the merchant.
Credit Card Payment Network – First Data (Omaha), FDMS Nashville, FDMS North, World Pay, Check 21 Payment (CKSV), CyBrCollect Payment, ECHO, EFSNet, E-NETS, EPay, Flying J, Global e Telecom, Global Payments East, Global Payments Central (Mapp), IPCommerce Host Capture, Jack Henry, Network One, Nova, Paymentech-Tampa, RBSLynk, TSYS/Vital and WireCard Asia Pacific…
Debit Card – A debit card (also known as a bank card or check card) is a plastic card that provides the cardholder electronic access to his or her bank account(s) at a financial institution. Some cards have a stored value with which a payment is made, while most relay a message to the cardholder’s bank to withdraw funds from a designated account in favor of the payee’s designated bank account. The card can be used as an alternative payment method to cash when making purchases. In some cases, the primary account number is assigned exclusively for use on the Internet and there is no physical card.
Credit Card Reader – A card reader is a data input device that reads data from a card-shaped storage medium. The first were punched card readers, which read the paper or cardboard punched cards that were used during the first several decades of the computer industry to store information and programs for computer systems. Modern card readers are electronic devices that can read plastic cards embedded with either a barcode, magnetic strip, computer chip or another storage medium.
Credit Card – A credit card is a payment card issued to users as a system of payment. It allows the cardholder to pay for goods and services based on the holder’s promise to pay for them. The issuer of the card creates a revolving account and grants a line of credit to the consumer (or the user) from which the user can borrow money for payment to a merchant or as a cash advance to the user.
A credit card is different from a charge card: a charge card requires the balance to be paid in full each month. In contrast, credit cards allow the consumers a continuing balance of debt, subject to interest being charged. A credit card also differs from a cash card, which can be used like currency by the owner of the card.
President Obama’s re-election has sent Americans running to the gun stores. Sales of firearms and ammunition are way up in reaction to Mr. Obama saying during the debates he wants to ban everything from “cheap handguns” to common hunting rifles with scary-looking features.
The two publicly traded U.S. gunmakers have seen investors flock to their stock since Nov. 6. Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Smith & Wesson are both up over 15 percent, while the broader markets were down over the same period.
Gun dealers are seeing the same rush at their counters. In the past week, gun sales surged 70 percent at Sprague Sports in Yuma, Ariz., evenly split between handguns and long guns. “Since the election, it’s been very, very busy — stronger than this same time frame in ‘08,” said owner Richard Sprague, who runs the 56-year-old family business. “People don’t want to wait and see selection and availability if there are more government regulations.”
Gun sales at H & H Shooting Sports Complex in Oklahoma City, Okla., have risen 105 percent in the past week, with handguns outselling long guns 3 to 1. The new guns are being put to use. Miles Hall, founder of the 32-year-old company, said he finds his 55-position shooting range is now at capacity 30 minutes after the 9 a.m. opening bell.
Industry insiders expect gun sales to continue to rise based on recent patterns leading up to the election. According to a report by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), imports in arms and ammunition increased 59 percent in September compared to a year earlier.
NSSF also reported gun-related background checks, adjusted by the organization to give a more accurate reflection of firearms sales, showed an 18 percent increase in October over the same month in 2011.
“The increase in firearms and ammunition sales as a result of election reflects the ongoing concern among law-abiding gun owners that this administration will pursue anti-gun policies during its second term,” said NSSF general counsel Lawrence Keane. “If past is prologue, when we see a push for gun control often comes during a second term. For example, the Clinton administration in its second term orchestrated a coordinated attack on the firearms industry and the fundamental civil liberties of law-abiding Americans protected by the Second Amendment.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein authored President Clinton’s gun ban and is apparently working on a sequel. The California Democrat’s legal staff requested a meeting with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives the Friday before the election to discuss strengthening gun bans in a second Obama term.
At the gathering in West Virginia, the government gun grabbers discussed ways to reinstate the so-called “assault weapons ban,” expand it to close perceived “loopholes” and prevent grandfathering of existing guns. Spokesmen for Mrs. Feinstein did not respond to request for comment.
Mr. Obama has four years in which he is likely to appoint Supreme Court justices and use the regulatory apparatus at his disposal to fulfill his mission to restrict firearms, even if Congress doesn’t go along. Americans are smart to stock up now.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.
The largest US bookseller, Barnes and Noble, says shoppers may have had credit card data stolen after keypads in 63 stores were tampered with.
The chain said that a “sophisticated criminal effort” had planted bugs on one pad in each store.
By 14 September, Barnes and Noble had disconnected all keypads in its almost 700 stores.
The firm says purchases made on its website and on Nook, its e-reader device, were not affected.
An anonymous Barnes and Noble official told the New York Times that it did not immediately alert customers, at the request of US investogators.
The FBI had asked the book store not to make any announcement until the agency could determine who was behind the attacks.
Unauthorised purchases were made on some credit cards in September, according to the New York Times.
Barnes and Noble said it was continuing to work with the investigation and recommended that customers change their card pin numbers.
If you are concerned that your card information may have been compromised, you should take the following steps:
Debit Card Users:
Change the PIN numbers on your debit cards
Review your accounts for unauthorized transactions
Notify your banks immediately if you discover any unauthorized purchases or withdrawals
Credit Card Users:
Review your statements for any unauthorized transactions
Notify your card-issuing banks if you discover any unauthorized purchases or cash advances
We recommend that you remain vigilant even if you do not find any suspicious activity at this time and that you monitor your credit reports. You are entitled under U.S. law to one free credit report annually from each of the three national credit bureaus. A guide with further steps you can take to protect your personal information is attached for your reference.
Barnes & Noble is cooperating with federal law enforcement in this matter. In addition, the company is working with banks, payment card brands and issuers to identify accounts that may have been compromised, so banks and issuers can employ enhanced fraud security measures on potentially impacted accounts. B&N is also implementing additional security measures designed to prevent a recurrence of such PIN pad tampering and to protect the privacy of our customers. For example, we have removed all PIN pads from our retail stores.
American Express Co. said Wednesday that its net income rose 1 percent in the third quarter, aided by lower expenses and increased spending by the credit card issuer’s customers.
Spending by the company’s cardholders rose 8 percent in the U.S. during the July-to-September quarter versus a year earlier. It increased 6 percent globally.
The increased spending helped boost revenue 4 percent. The company also benefited from lower operating costs.
Even so, the rate of growth in spending by the New York company’s cardholders actually slowed compared to a few months ago, reflecting a trend among major card issuers this year, CEO Kenneth Chenault said.
In the second quarter, American Express’ revenue grew 5 percent from a year earlier.
“Spending growth continues to be healthy despite the uneven economy,” said Dan Henry, American Express’ chief financial officer, during a conference call with Wall Street analysts.
Even as its customers spent more, some on charge cards that carry balances, they got better about keeping up with their debt payments.
Credit quality — an industry term for how well borrowers are keeping up with debt payments — remained at historically strong levels, the company said.
American Express’ delinquency rate was flat compared to the second quarter, and it continued to see declines in the rate of write-offs, Henry said.
Cards with no set spending limit and other high-end perks have helped American Express draw customers who are about a third more affluent than other credit card holders.
Those affluent shoppers have spent more freely in the years following the recession. They also have been less prone to let their balances go unpaid. The combination has helped drive American Express’ earnings.
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