January 23, 2003, 12:00 AM

Ashford.com opts for check acceptance

Ashford.com will offer customers the option to pay by check under an agreement with Certegy.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Ashford.com will offer customers the option to pay by check under a new agreement with Certegy Inc. Ashford.com was acquired last month by Odimo, the parent of Diamond.com, DiamondDepot.com and 1-888-Watches.com, which has been accepting checks through Certegy’s PayNet Check Warranty platform since June 2001.

Before June 2001, Odimo’s properties accepted checks for payment, but only five customers a month chose to pay by check because the process was so cumbersome. Once Odimo received the check, it waited 15 business days to ship the goods to ensure that the check cleared, Barbara Klingsberg, project manager at Odimo, tells InternetRetailer.com. “When you’re talking about diamonds, jewelry and watches, people don’t want to wait,” she says.

Within the first month of accepting checks, check volume grew tenfold, she says. Klingsberg says Odimo believes that accepting checks has helped increase the number of layaways that Diamond.com and other properties receive, but since check acceptance coincided with a promotion for layaway, she is unable to say by how much.

The cost of accepting an e-check through Certegy is similar to the cost of accepting credit cards, she says, with the added benefit that the discount rate includes guaranteed payments, unlike with credit cards.

“By offering the option for consumers to pay by check across all sales channels, retailers increase sales, lower return rates and encourage repeat business,” said Jeff Carbiener, senior vice president and group executive, Certegy Check Services.



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