Setting the record straight on the Xero POS software link

We have a competitor, POS Solutions, that has published a claim of constraints, barriers, on the Xero POS software link.

For the record, we note that no such constraints or barriers have been experienced by us in any of our retail businesses or in any Tower Systems client business using our direct Xero interface.

Footnote: the challenges for the competitor could be due to how they connect to Xero. Tower Systems is a Xero partner, listed on the Xero website. The competitor is not. They may be going through anther party.

Politicians in Australia to small business retailers: don’t do as I do, do as I say

The federal parliamentarian dual citizenship mess in which we have found ourselves here in Australia for months now shows how politicians treat themselves as elite, special, compared to common folk, the voters who vote them in.

While we in small business are highly regulated, subject to audit and penalised for even simple honest oversight, politicians refuse to permit themselves to be subject to the same.

While individuals are highly regulated, subject to audit and penalised for even simple honest oversight, politicians refuse to permit themselves to be subject to the same.

The moment the first dual citizenship question was raised, an ethical leader keen for democracy would have ordered an immediate full audit of the status of all politicians.

We are bereft of leadership for everyday Australians in Australia.

For months major party politicians have spun their wheels on the issue of dual citizenship and refused to agree to the type of audit that is regular for us in small business. For months they have said politicians should self regulate on this issue while at the same time imposing challenging and enforced regulation on small businesses and on individuals.

Shame on us for allowing your politicians to get away with them setting a standard for their own behaviour that is lower than standards they vote to impose on regular people.

The one party that has provided leadership on this issue is the Greens. From the outset they called for an audit. The are right. Yet their call has been mocked, especially by the government side of the parliament. This side of the parliament that is in control, in leadership, has eschewed leadership and instead engaged in puerile games.

They must think we are fools.

There ought be an audit of all federal politicians immediately, no matter the disruption or the cost.

Section 44 of the Constitution is not new. Its provision have been known for decades. It is easy for anyone to determine their status. Whether they do this comes down to how they see themselves compared to how they see the peril they serve.

We the people deserve honest leadership, leadership that is transparent and for all people, leadership that submits itself to the same standards and level of regulation as they impose on those they serve. We do not have this in Australia at the moment.

Every day, we see small business retailers squeezed by regulation, while at the same time right now seeing politicians refuse even basic regulation. This double standard has to stop, for the good of our country and democracy.

Oxipay and Tower Systems change LayBy forever

Tower Systems is proud to partner with Oxipay to bring interest free payment plans to high street retail, through our POS.

A competitor of ours has sought to denigrate Oxipay, saying this publicly yesterday: Oxipay (which I know little about other then it is in Tasmania).

This statement is untrue. Oxipay is national, generating excellent business for small and larger businesses.

Tower systems is an early adopter partner, delivering Oxipay transactions daily now for many months, in every state and territory.

Our competitor knows this.

Fid out more about Oxipay here.

Early engagement with regulators as new legislation is drafted

Tower Systems has been engaged with representatives of a federal government agency as it contemplates new legislation that could impact some areas of retail business operation in which our POS software serves.

We have been engaged in discussions, sharing insights and explaining how parts of our software work, so those drafting the legislation can be better informed about the practicalities in retail business operation.

This work with government departments is not new for us. We have been engaged previously in other areas of business operating, helping to inform legislators to their focus remains on a path appropriate to the needs of the small business retail community.

Our first engagement helping government regulators was mack in the early 1990s when several arms of government were investigating fraud facilitated by the use of POS software developed to make such fraud easy. While our software never had such facilities, we were aware of software that did.

Does your POS software have a mandatory weekly, monthly or annual fee?

We are welcoming another customer this week who is switching from another POS company because they were told, when they purchased the system several years ago, that there would never be a mandatory support fee.

Despite the promise, they have been hit with ever an increasing mandatory software support fee. This year, the fee approached $4,000.

The company has never responded to their complaint. It was only through a chance meeting with another business owner that they released they could switch software companies and not have a mandatory software support fee.

Tower Systems does not have a mandatory software support fee. Customers can continue to run the software if they are not covered by support. This has always been the case with us.

Any time a POS software sales rep makes a claim on which you rely, get it in writing on their letterhead with a person in authority signing. It is the only way.

While we are thrilled to welcome another customer, it is disappointing for them they have had such a bad experience.

Helping small business retailers deal with treatment by Tatts Group on capital expenditure demands

Tower Systems has been helping small business newsagents deal with pressure from tatts Group on shop fit and new tech requirements through blog posts like this where we publicly serve our small business retailer customers in a confrontation with a major supplier:

Newsagents scared to confront Tatts re small business capital investment demands

While comments on my post yesterday and other posts here about the demands rom Tatts Group re capital investment in a new fit out as well as a new in store digital marketing platform have been minimal, my phone has been running hot.

yesterday alone I received calls from six newsagents about this issue. One was in tears for what the additional cost will mean to their business.

Each caller said they are not responding publicly because of how threatened and vulnerable they feel.

In two cases there is a mental health impact from the pressure they are under that has no business case backing.

My core concerns are, as stated by me many times here:

  1. The tech requirement is, in my opinion, outside the re-fit provisions of the Tatts agreement.
  2. Tatts has provided no financial support or justification for the re-fit capital expenditure.
  3. Tatts has provided no financial justification for the new tech requirements imposed on businesses.
  4. From what I can tell, the main tatts pitch is one of threats to put Tatts into a local competitor business.
  5. Tatts appears to have double standards. One only has to look at what One The Run in Adelaide or the supermarket chains are permitted to do.
  6. Tatts is competing with retailers online in a way that disadvantages small business retailers and disrespects the capex demanded of small business retailers.

What should newsagents do? In my opinion, they should take their case to state based authorities: small business commissioner, small business advocate, VCAT / QCAT / CTTT or anything similar. They should do this without fear of Tatts as those forums exist to hear this type of dispute.

If you can’t afford to do what Tatts demands, tell them, in writing, prove it to them. 

If your mental health is impaired because of the manner in which Tatts and its representatives are dealing with you, write to Tatts about this, explain how it is affecting you personally.

The more informed the company is the better the record of how this massive public company is harming small businesses and those who own them. Your stories will / should ultimately matter.

How Tower Systems helped its customers save money on support fees

For the first time since 2014, Tower Systems is increasing its software support fees. The increase will be less than 7%. The 2014 increase was the first in four years.

Following the fee increase, Tower Sys6ems customers will be paying considerably less for software support in real terms than seven years ago.

This is an extraordinary saving for thousands of small business retailers.

We announced to our customers the plan to increase fees a month ago and provided them an opportunity to lock in the old fee prior to the increase taking effect at the end of this month.

This advance notice of a support fee increase is rare in the POS software marketplace. We did it out of respect and appreciation of our customers.

We are proud to be in a position to help our customers save money year on year on software support coverage.

What bothers me about politician entitlements as a small business owner

I am disgusted at the behaviour of politicians from all major parties and their spending of taxpayer money what appear to be non-work related trips.

As any small business owner who has been through the ATO audit wringer would know, the government has firm views on how we get to spend our money. It is frustrating the politicians have ensured a system where they are not under the same scrutiny.

Here is what I would like to see:

  1. Public transparency of all expense claims, on a readily accessible website, within thirty days of such expenses being incurred by politicians. Information on the public record to include all costs, the names of each person met and duration of such meeting.
  2. No use of private aircraft of any form except in exceptional circumstances.
  3. Travel to parties such as Christmas parties and NYE parties not permitted travel at public expense.
  4. Travel to meet any political party donor not permitted travel at public expense.
  5. Establishment of an independent politician expense review tribunal made up of members of the public with member rotation every 12 months to review spending and make cuts where appropriate.
  6. Rules established on what is acceptable politician business. For example, flying somewhere to make a spending announcement is, in my opinion, unacceptable. They should do a Facebook LiveStream or similar, from their office.
  7. The establishment of a federal ICAC to keep the bastards honest beyond travel roots.

Between company tax, payroll tax, fringe benefits tax and other statutory obligations small businesses in particular carry a heavy burden in Australia. It is our hard earned money being wasted by the people who preside over a system that is getting tougher and tougher to deal with.

Politicians claiming taxpayer funding to attend a polo match, wedding of a donor overseas, a colleague Christmas party – these all should be banned. However, they appear to be in the rules. It is time we elected politicians who did not act so entitled, who did not tell us to behave one way while they act another.

The best way to encourage fairness and engagement from any constituency is to lead by example. There are few politicians in Australia who lead by example in my opinion.

Mark Fletcher
January 11, 2017.

Actions do speak louder than words

A newsagent called us this morning out of desperation. They use software from another newsagency software company and have been unable to reach them for help – despite claims from this other company they offer support on the weekend. The experience of the newsagent is otherwise. Calls to the help number and a call to one of th owners resulted in no returned call.

We have helped them get their system up and running and business transacting. We have done this without obligation or pressure for them to switch to us.

Our marketing claiming we are open for business over the weekend is true. Customer service matters to us.

Fact checking POS software sales claims

A competitor of ours recently said that our newsagency software was not compliant with XchangeIT, an industry owned EDI gateway.

Our newsagency software is compliant with XchangeIT and always has been.

The claim helped us win a sale as it proved a lie and that led the prospect to us.

Every claim a representative of a POS software company makes about a competitor ought to be documented and fact-checked. Any claim about a competitor found to be unsupported by the facts should be a reason to not deal with that POS software company.

Salespeople lie about competitors and competitor products when they or the product they represent are inferior.

We are grateful when we are told of a competitor claim that is untrue and are given the opportunity to present facts that speak truth.

The process of selling software to newsagency businesses, or any small business for that matter, demands professionalism and a commitment to ethics. We are committed here at Tower Systems to be the company sales prospects and small business retailers using the software can trust. Trust comes from telling the truth and from acting in a way that is true to our words. Those who do not do this are found out.

Automatic POS software updates cause small business retailers to switch software

Several retailers at the Melbourne Gift Fair last week told us they will switch POS software to us because of the automatic updates in their current POS software.

Tower Systems does not do automatic POS software u0dates. We prefer our customers to decide which updates they want and to install them at a time of their choosing.

The complaints about automatic updates were specific. They reflect the challenges automatic updates present to small business retailers. Here are quotes from the retailers:

  1. You turn the computer on and a downloading message comes up. You have to wait for this to be done before you can use it. When I turn the computer on I want to use it right away.
  2. There is no advice what is in the update. You have to hope you pick up changes as you go.
  3. They mustn’t test the software because almost every time there is an update something goes wrong.
  4. It has been so bad I don’t trust the software any more. That’s why I am switching.
  5. I call them but usually have to wait a day or two for them to call me back.
  6. One update last year cost be a couple of hundred dollars because of mistakes they made.

Here at Tower Systems or software goes through a comprehensive multi-layered quality assurance process prior to us installing it in our shops. If it works fine there it goes to our opt-in beta sites. If it goes well with them it is slowly released for optional download by our customers at a time of their choosing.

POS software is critical to the successful operation of any business that uses it. This is why the business ownwr or manager has to have control about what updates are loaded and when. Otherwise, they do not have the control of their business they need.

Tower Systems invited to be part of an ATO working group

We have agreed to be part of a working group with the Australian taxation Office to help our customers meet compliance requirements. Here are the details of the ATO invitation:

You are invited you to be part of a working group for the Software Assurance project. The intent of the project is to provide your clients with transactional certainty prior to lodgment, reducing the burden and cost of compliance.
 
We want to work with you to co-design solutions for your software products that help to reduce or remove common errors that trigger our analytics and subsequent audit action.
 
Common errors can include:
  1. duplicated invoice or receipt numbers
  2. incorrect or misclassification of supplies
  3. reversal mistakes
  4. discount corrections.
We would also like to explore other opportunities to improve the internal governance and assurance processes your clients use, making it easier for them to get their tax and super obligations right.

How do you know can you trust a POS software company?

Trust is important in business. It is especially important in small and local business.

Trust is mission critical for POS software companies.

We say this because our software helps our customers engender trust in their local communities and with their customers. If our software fails, it challenges the trust local shoppers have in local businesses using our software.

Retailers rely on their POS software, they trust their POS software companies to provide software that works and that it is backed with professional assistance when they need … and that it is enhanced too meet the needs of businesses as they evolve.

This is why we say trust is vital in the choice of POS software for any small business.

So, how do you know you can trust a POS software company you are considering? Here is our advice, things to look for in assessing the trustworthiness of any POS software company you are considering:

  1. Talk to the owner. Most businesses will say this is not possible. Challenge them – see how they respond.
  2. Visit their office. This is essential to understand their capacity to serve you.
  3. Look at their website. Do they make it easy to contact them? Are the ottos real? Do the words make sense? Do you trust what they write? Are they on your level?
  4. Talk to their customers.
  5. Ask for access to their training website. See what their customer see.
  6. Ask for access to training videos. See the resources they offer for staff training.
  7. Do a Google search on them and see what comes up.
  8. Do a Google search on their owner and find out more about them.

POS software company relationships are long term so take your time, make sure the business you enter into a relationship with has the capacity, stamina and desire for an equally long term relationship.

POS software company relationships are personal. Ensure the POS software company you are talking to understands this. Too often POS software companies hide behind general email addresses and call centres where you do not know the name of the person you are speaking to. It is vital you know who they are because, yes, it is personal. Being personal is key to trust and trust is vital in this relationship.

A note on POS software and credit card access in small business retail

The Tower Systems POS software does not store credit card numbers of customers who use cards to pay in shops using our POS software.

The customer presents their card to the Tyro terminal connected to our software the processing of the card details is done 100% by Tyro with no details being shared with our POS software other than payment success or otherwise.

This approach – of us not storing credit card details for retail transactions – is vital in providing peace of mind for retailers and their customers around customer credit card access and fraud mitigation.

Our view is: storing a retail shopper credit card number in POS software is a big mistake. It puts the security of the card number at risk. Customers will not like it.

We suggest retailers not use POS software that stores customer credit card numbers.

Our Tyro and other bank EFTPOS integrations meet the high standards set in Australia and New Zealand for electronic transactions using credit and other banking cards. Our connections are tested and authorised. They are secure.

Tower Systems takes fraud mitigation seriously.

Update: The lone voice of POS Solutions, Bernard the owner of the business, is back from a long vacation and rather than discoing topics to write about for himself, he writes about what we write about it. You can see it today on their site. They don’t name us. They rarely do. Instead, the use terms like: One software company, I know well. Yes, that’s us. His post is a ramble whereas the facts we have presented here are focussed. The two posts speak to their respective companies.

HOW OUR POS SOFTWARE COMPANY HAS BEEN HANDLING THE WINDOWS 10 CUSTOMER SERVICE SURGE

With more than 3,500 small business retail customers using our POS software we have had to be on top of the push program engaged by Microsoft in the roll out of their Windows 10 upgrade.

The moment we saw the inevitability of the Microsoft roll out, we adjusted our customer service resource allocation to ensure the needs of our customers were well met.

Here is what we did to confront the Windows 10 challenge:

  1. We developed peer-reviewed consistent advice for the most common questions, to ensure that our customers had access to this advice in addition to personal one-on-one advice.
  2. We added to our help desk staffing resources.
  3. We re-allocated help desk time to ensure we had people at the emerging peak times of the day for Windows 10 specific calls.
  4. We doubled our Saturday office-based help desk staffing.
  5. We provided information to our customers via email and snail mail.
  6. We ensured we had Windows 10 knowledgeable escalation points for those with concerns outside those typical and that require management level insight.
  7. As a group we gathered to review progress regularly to take on bard any feedback and leverage any learning opportunities.

Even though many Windows 10 issues are outside providing support for our POS software, we have taken the calls and provided the advice, at no cost.

Indeed, we have processed close to 2,000 Windows 10 calls. That we have done this at no cost to our customers has collectively saved them a considerable sum.

We are proud of how we have handled this and are grateful to our customers for the opportunity to serve them in this Microsoft caused action.

Now if only Microsoft approached their own update roll out with the level of customer care we have shown through our actions.

WINDOWS 10 MALWARE REINFORCES IMPORTANCE OF POS SOFTWARE USER CONTOL

The part about the Windows 10 update (malware) that has angered people the most is that they have had little or no control over the timing.

Tower Systems does not use automatic updates nor will we do this. Indeed, this commitment to our users is a valuable selling feature for us.

We believe small business retailers need to be able to decide for themselves when to update based on the facts relevant to them.

HELPING SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS CUT EMPLOYEE THEFT

The theft reduction training video we produced in-house – How To Steal From A Retail Business – is being used by business groups to train their members on measures to take in retail shops to reduce the opportunity for employee theft.

In addition to the YouTube views, this video has been packaged and provided outside that platform for people to embed in conference presentations, one-on-one training and elsewhere.

Using your POS software small business retailers have excellent tools with which to reduce the opportunity for theft. These have existed for years. In addition to our software work, we act as expert witnesses in investigations and proceedings that successfully prosecute employee theft cases.

What matters is that theft can be reduced and even eliminated with good management oversight in any retail business using our POS software.

TOWER SYSTEMS LAUNCHES HP RP9 SLIM POS TERMINAL

As an authorised partner of respected hardware company, we are thrilled to have been able to show off the HP RP9 all in one POS terminal to prospects at several events recently.

While we have an RP9 exclusively for an event last week, we filmed this short clip showing it in all its glory.

HP RP9 from mark fletcher on Vimeo.

Not all POS software companies selling HP branded hardware are authorised resellers, not all sell new equipment backed by the respected HP warranty. At Tower Systems you ave access to the real thing.

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SOFTWARE COMPANIES THAT LOCK USERS OUT FROM THEIR DATA DESERVE TO LOSE CUSTOMERS

We are helping another retailer switch to our software and in the process the retailer has discovered their old software company is blocking their access to their own business data.

This is unethical in our view. Legal advice suggests it could be challenged in the courts.

Here we have a small business retailer who has cultivated business data for twenty years and now, when they want to change software, they are locked out.

We have seen this before and are sure we will see it again. It is appalling action by the software company reflecting badly on them in this instance and into the future.

UPDATE: 5:36PM APRIL 7, 2016.

Bernard Zimmermann, director of competitor POS Solutions Australia Pty Ltd has copied text from this post and posted it on their blog this afternoon. The post appears to be a response to what I have written. This following of Tower is not the first time he has done this:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 5.35.10 pm

For the record, Tower Systems does not lock users out, never has and never will. The claims by Zimmermann are false and he knows that.

SMALL BUSINESS RETAILERS: BEWARE CHEAP POS HARDWARE

Cheap POS hardware pitched to small business retailers rarely turns out to be cheap. While the initial purchase price may be lower, the breakdowns, slow speed and other issues along the way can make clean no-name brand computer hardware more expensive.

Our advice is to choose a brand name that backs its hardware with an on-site manufacturer’s warranty. This offers peace of mind. It demonstrates the brand itself standing behind what it sells.

In one business recently, we discovered computer hardware that was sold a new to a small business owner was, in fact, second hand, three years old. The unsuspecting retailer was ripped off by a POS software company through unethical representations. The quote and invoice indicated the computer was new when it was not.

We urge any retailer to do their homework, trust brands, get a second opinion from a professional. The risk to the business from cheap hardware is too great.

POS SOLUTIONS CONTINUES ITS OBSESSION WITH TOWER SYSTEMS

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 10.37.46 pmBernard Zimmermann one of the owners of newsagency software co POS Solutions has continued his company’s ‘attack’ on Tower in another blog post about us today. This post, like others before it, contains inaccuracies.

Zimmermann hones in on the issue of Windows 10 and our advice to customers in the early days of Windows 10 to not install it.

Zimmermann provided the same advice to his customers at the time.

While our software worked fine with Windows 10, installing Windows 10 triggered a hog of hard disk space. As our advice to clients at the time noted, this was the reason we recommended against not installing Windows 10 at that time. We were transparent in our reasons. From the information available to us we are unable to say the same about POS.

Not one Tower Systems user was ever locked out yet Zimmermann claims: The second claim is also false, clearly users in their software were locked out some clearly for some time. Clearly, their user running old versions of theirsoftware would be locked out and forced to ring their accountancy department to gain access to their system. I say this statement by Zimmermann has been published by him to harm the reputation of Tower Systems. he offers no evidence for there is no evidence. It did not happen.

Let me be clear: No user of the Tower Systems software has ever been locked out of their software by any actions of the company.

So I have to ask, why is Bernard Zimmermann so obsessed with Tower Systems now? I think it has to do with where his company is at compared to ours.

While we have launched a series of important partnerships such as our direct Xero integration, direct Magento integration, the new Visual deck BI product, a national user meeting tour, enhancements to our knowledge base, excellent user interaction through our Software Ideas portal, and other benefits for our 3,500+ customers, he has realised our businesses are very different. It appears to me that his decision is to attack rather than innovate.

I think innovation is one reason hundreds of newsagents have switched from using POS Solutions to Tower Systems.

Never one for an original thought in my opinion, Zimmermann uses statements first published here as if they are his own, statements such as: the best way to assess a company is to see how they interact with their customers and the world. This reads as puerile to me.

YOUR POS SOFTWARE SHOULD NOT STOP WORKING IF YOU CHOOSE TO NOT PAY AN ANNUAL SUPPORT FEE

We have competitors who install software with a lock or barrier that blocks access to the software unless an annual software support fee is paid. There are instances of retailers not being told that such a fee is payable, thus surprising retailers when they have no choice but to pay so they can use the software.

When we first heard of this we thought it was ransomware as access to business data was denied until a fee as paid, a fee not previously disclosed to the small business retailer.

Tower Systems does not do this. We think such action by any software company is unethical.

If you are considering POS software, ask the question: will the software stop working or my access be impeded in any way if I do not pay support? Get the answer in writing, on letterhead, from a director.

Retail management advice: beware web developer promises

There are some bad web development businesses out there, charging too much and delivering website solutions that are not what customers sought. Like anything in business, when it comes to web development – you get what you pay for. Caveat emptor.

Our advice when it comes to choosing a web developer is simple:

  • Take your time to work out exactly what you need / want.
  • Put in writing what you require.
  • Get a written contract that is specific as to what will be delivered and when.
  • Pay when you are satisfied.

For the record

POS Solutions, a small competitor of ours, published on their that an employee of a competitor had been found commenting on their blog. For the record we note the competitor is not Tower Systems and the person to whom they refer is not an employee of ours.

UPDATE: We note POS has permitted a comment on their post, a comment that seeks to link us to what the Director of POS has complained about. They are trying to spin an argument that is not supported by the facts. The commenter the post is about is/was not from Tower Systems, the actions the Director attributes to the ‘competitor’ later suggested to be us, are not true. Shame on them for this slur. To underscore this point – the same director vets every comment published. Comments are only on their company blog if he approves. This makes him and POS the publisher of the comment.

The tell of a software company struggling for relevance

A tell that a software company is challenged for relevance is when they respond to a competitor’s launch of innovative software by promoting software from other companies that they claim covers the same application areas.

Good software companies let their own software speak for them.

Innovation is expensive and time consuming. Promoting what someone else has done in order to spoil the innovation of a competitor takes a few minutes. It shows the operators of a business up for what they are and are not.