Charge.com Overall Rating
Charge.com is a merchant account provider based in Plantation, Florida, that has been in business since 1995. The company was bought by Pipeline Data (possible affiliated with Cynergy Data) in 2005 and resells Authorize.net for its payment gateway services. Charge.com focuses primarily on supplying on credit card processing services and equipment but can also provide e-commerce solutions for merchants who require them. The company is a registered ISO of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Walnut Creek, California.
|Key Points – Sales & Marketing|
|Uses independent resellers?||No|
|Promotes deceptive rate quotes?||Yes|
|Discloses all important terms?||No|
It is not completely clear how Charge.com brings in new merchant accounts, but it appears that the company relies heavily on online marketing and referrals from its parent company and affiliates. Charge.com has received a low score in this section because the company promotes highly misleading pricing on its website.
For instance, the company lists a rate of 1.29% plus $0.10 for swiped sales and 2.25% plus $0.25 for web and phone orders on its homepage. Charge.com promotes these processing fees as though they are a flat rate but fails to disclose the Downgrade Fees for Mid-Qualified and Non-Qualified transactions. This is not only deceptive, but some may consider it as borderline false advertising. Additionally, the website claims that there is no service length commitment and no cancellation fee; however, there are numerous reports from merchants stating that they incurred a fee for cancelling service. It appears that Charge.com itself does not charge a fee, but its parent company, which handles the card processing service, does charge one.
|Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms|
|PCI compliance fee:||$185-$300 per year|
Charge.com’s pricing appears to vary from merchant to merchant based on business type and processing volume. As mentioned in the previous section of this review, the company promotes deceptive price quotes that could easily confuse merchants. A copy of the company’s standard contract terms (available below) includes a 36-month service agreement with an Early Termination Fee (ETF) of $495, a monthly statement fee of $25 (applied only in the event that Charge.com creates a reserve account for the merchant), a one-time fee of $35 if the merchant’s keyed-in transactions constitute more than 15% of its overall transactions in any given month, and a monthly fee of $25 for governmental compliance. The company also charges an annual PCI Compliance fee of up to $185 (but not in excess of $300), which is much higher than the industry average.
|Key Points – Complaints & Service|
|Live customer support:||Yes|
|Most common complaint:||Hidden fees|
Charge.com has a moderate amount of complaints filed online for a provider of its size and time in business; however, it should be noted that its parent company (Pipeline Data) and its processor (Cynergy Data) have very high complaint counts. Charge.com seems to have a consistent pattern of public complaints filed on Ripoff Report, although a handful of these complaints may be filed against other businesses with “-charge.com” in their names. The majority of the complaints report unexpected and hidden fees, nondisclosure of the PCI Compliance fee, high cancellation fees, and unauthorized debits from merchants’ checking accounts. As of this update, the company’s complaint volume appears to have slowed from previous years, which may be an indication of improved policies and customer service. It could also be a sign that the Charge.com’s business has slowed, or that the company is making use of a DBA.
|Key Points – BBB Report|
As of this update, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is reporting that Charge.com is not BBB accredited. The report shows a “B” rating for the company with 34 complaints filed in the last 36 months, which is down from 46 complaints as of our last update. Of the total, 16 are due to billing and collection disputes, 12 with service problems, and 6 due to advertising and sales issues. Charge.com has resolved 30 of the complaints to the merchant’s satisfaction.
Charge.com has been in the merchant services industry for nearly 20 years; however, the company is suffering from the typical types of complaints found with less reputable credit card processing companies. Additionally, Charge.com’s parent company and processor score poorly and suffer numerous complaints from merchants. The company can improve its rating by fully disclosing all fees and contract terms of its own services (as well as the ones it resells to merchants) and eliminating future complaints regarding deceptive sales tactics.
This review was originally published on 1/17/12 and was last updated on 7/7/14.
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