Elavon Overall Rating
Elavon (elavon.com) is a large merchant account provider and credit card processor that also supplies e-commerce solutions, hosted gateways, gift & pre-paid card services, electronic check services, and PCI compliance programs. The company was formed from a merger of NOVA Information Systems and euroConex and is part of U.S. Bank’s (U.S. Bancorp’s) payment services division. Elavon is based out of Atlanta, Georgia, and has been in the credit card processing industry since 1991.
Elavon claims to serve over one million merchants worldwide, with a primary focus in North America and Europe. The company’s equipment lease subsidiary, Ladco Leasing, is a major supplier of credit card terminals and other payment processing equipment. Elavon also has its own online payment gateway called InternetSecure and can integrate with other gateways such as Authorize.net. For international businesses, the company offers settlement in 16 currencies and a platform that can provide authorization in 85+ currencies and can convert international credit card purchases into the cardholder’s home currency in 48 different currencies.
|Key Points – Sales & Marketing|
|Uses independent resellers?||Yes|
|Promotes deceptive rate quotes?||No|
|Discloses all important terms?||No|
Elavon relies heavily upon resellers, sub-ISOs, independent agents, and partnerships to market and sell its credit card processing services. This marketing strategy is common among large merchant account providers and can often prove harmful to a company’s reputation, as it appears to have done for Elavon. One of the company’s most notable resellers is the grocer and retailer, Costco. In fact, Costco Merchant Services is often mistaken as its own credit card processing company when, in fact, Costco is simply acting as a sales agent of Elavon.
Elavon itself does not appear to use any deceptive advertising or rate quoting tactics on its website. The company has recently added a pricing page that lists specific rate quotes, promising 2.65% plus $0.19 on swiped transactions and 3.5% plus $0.19 on keyed-in payments. These rates seem to apply to both credit card terminals and mobile processing. The company also lists a $10 monthly fee on this page. These rates and fees do not appear to be misleadingly quoted at this time.
Most of Elavon’s accounts are established by resellers who use their own sales and marketing strategies. In a few cases, it is apparent that some of Elavon’s resellers are using misleading tactics based on reports from merchants. The company and its resellers are also notorious for signing merchants up for expensive, non-cancellable equipment leases through Ladco Leasing as part of their merchant services packages. Elavon usually enforces the terms of the agreement even when merchants claim that they were deceived by an agent.
|Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms|
|Swiped rate:||2.65% + $0.19|
|Keyed-in rate:||3.5% + $0.19|
|Termination fee:||$195-$295 or none|
|PCI compliance fee:||$29-$59 per month|
|Equipment lease:||48 mos./non-cancellable|
Elavon’s pricing and contracts terms may vary by merchant based upon processing volumes, business types and risk variables. Not only that, but some Elavon resellers have the flexibility to adjust contract terms, rates, and fees within specific guidelines as set by the company. As if these two factors weren’t complicated enough, Elavon appears to have made a number of recent changes to its contract terms, so merchants are reporting many different rates and fees at this time.
Prior to February 2013, the company’s standard merchant account contract included a three-year service agreement with a $295 early termination fee if cancelled within the first year, or $195 if cancelled within the second or third year. Since February 2013, it appears that Elavon has ceased to include an early termination fee in its standard contract. It is unknown whether this policy change affects contracts signed or renewed under the former terms. Merchants should also keep in mind that resellers may be able to adjust the service agreement to up to five years and add cancellation fees if they desire. Elavon also formerly charged PCI Compliance fees that varied from $59 to $29 per month; however, the company’s recent promises of no more “hidden fees” would seem to indicate that it has abandoned this practice.
Although Elavon appears to be rebranding itself as a more transparent processor, the company continues to own and operate the equipment lease provider Ladco Leasing, which has a very poor reputation among merchants. The standard Ladco Leasing agreement is an expensive, non-cancellable 48-month equipment lease that often costs up to ten times the actual price of the equipment. Elavon seems to go to great lengths to conceal the relationship between Ladco and Elavon, probably due to the fact that there are very few positive reviews of Ladco to be found online.
|Key Points – Complaints & Service|
|Live customer support:||Yes|
|Most common complaint:||Hidden fees|
It is important to keep in mind that Elavon is a huge processor and that the bigger a merchant service company becomes, the more complaints it will have. With that said, Elavon has over 200 complaints in the comment section of this review and over 40 on Ripoff Report, with many more filed against Ladco Leasing. This is an average amount of complaints compared to other processors of its size. Merchants primarily report problems with sudden holds and freezes, unexpected fees, billing disputes, equipment lease problems, and poor customer service. The common theme appears to be that the smaller a merchant’s business, the harder it is to get problems resolved. You can read actual merchant complaints in the comment section at the end of this review.
|Key Points – BBB Report|
As of this update, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is awarding Elavon an “A+” rating despite having 247 complaints filed in the last 36 months. Of the total complaints, 128 are due to billing and collection issues, 90 with problems regarding products and services, 25 with advertising and sales issues, three related to delivery problems, and one due to a warranty issue. The BBB report states that 189 complaints were resolved but that 58 left the merchant dissatisfied with Elavon’s response. We have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “C” for the purposes of this review based on how our criteria would have scored it. You can learn more about why we adjust BBB ratings in our rating criteria.
Elavon is one of the largest credit card processors in the world. Due to this fact, this processor seems to be a better fit for businesses with high processing volumes ($100,000+ per month) and/or ones that need international payment acceptance. Although the company has numerous complaints, it serves over one million merchants globally and is bound to have a few unhappy customers. Due to this processor’s large size, we have set Elavon’s rating to a “C” since most businesses processing less than $100k per month would be better served by smaller providers that are able to supply better customer service to these types of merchants. Elavon can improve its score by enacting more favorable contract and pricing policies and by resolving complaints before they become public.
This review was originally published on 8/27/2010 and last updated on 6/12/2014.
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