Harbortouch Overall Rating
Harbortouch (harbortouch.com) is a merchant account provider based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Launched in 1999, the company provides card processing services, point-of-sale systems, electronic cash registers, and card processing terminals to U.S. merchants. It appears that Harbortouch acquired, was acquired by, or is otherwise associated with United Bank Card. Harbortouch also provides and online payment gateway through Authorize.net, gift and loyalty cards, check services, cash advances and more.
Harbortouch claims to handle merchant accounts for over 110,000 business locations and process in excess of $9 billion annually. The company is a registered ISO/MSP of First National Bank of Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska.
|Key Points – Sales & Marketing|
|Uses independent resellers?||Yes|
|Promotes deceptive rate quotes?||No|
|Discloses all important terms?||No|
Harbortouch hires independently contracted sales agents (ISAs) to resell its merchant account services. This is a standard practice within the industry that often results in unregulated or unsupervised agents reselling a provider’s services without effectively disclosing contract terms. On this website and elsewhere, reports are common of a Harbortouch sales representative promising to waive fees or provide month-to-month contracts only to fail to follow through, leaving the merchant on the hook for some unfavorable contract terms.
Online complaints seem to indicate that a common point of miscommunication has to do with Harbortouch’s heavily promoted deals for free equipment or a free POS system. Some merchants report that they agreed to receive free equipment or software but cancelled before receiving or implementing these services, only to be charged with a cancellation fee. It is our policy to hold companies responsible for the conduct of their sales agents, and we therefore award Harbortouch an average grade of “C” in this category.
Harbortouch Marketing Example
|Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms|
|PCI compliance fee:||$99 per year|
|Equipment lease:||Variable (up to 5 years)|
The Harbortouch terms and conditions (available below) outline a three-year agreement with automatic renewal for two-year terms, a Liquidated Damages early termination fee of either $250 or the number of remaining months in the contract multiplied by $35 (whichever is greater), and transaction fees according to a tiered pricing schedule. Merchants who receive equipment from the company will be subject to a $79 annual fee and a $99 annual security fee.
Despite these official terms, the company’s use of independent sales agents means that contract terms may vary from agent to agent. A representative of the company confirmed in the comment section of this review that many of the contract terms are liable to be altered by a given sales representative, so merchants are advised to review contracts carefully and only deal with agents they trust. Multiple complaints have described a situation in which a sales agent agreed to waive or alter certain fees and then failed to follow through on those changes. It seems merchants should be aware that they will likely be on the hook for the actual language of the contract in some cases, rather than the specific deal reached with their agent.
|Key Points – Complaints & Service|
|Live customer support:||Yes|
|Most common complaint:||Undisclosed fees|
Harbortouch is showing a moderate-to-high number of complaints for a company of its size, almost all of which cite deceptive sales tactics and apathetic customer support. It appears that Harbortouch has paid Ripoff Report to be a part of that site’s corporate advocacy program, which allows Harbortouch to flood Ripoff Report with dozens of identical testimonials in an effort to obscure the details of merchant complaints.
We had previously given Harbortouch a “B-” in this category based on the fact that the company’s representatives seemed to actively respond to merchant complaints on many websites. Given the company’s attempt to cover up its reputation on Ripoff Report rather than respond to public complaints, we are inclined to lower Harbortouch’s rating at this time. Harbortouch offers email and phone support on its website in addition to equipment and software manuals.
|Key Points – BBB Report|
Harbortouch has been an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 2013. As of this review, the company currently holds an “A“ rating with the BBB and has had 232 complaints filed against it in the last 36 months. The bulk of these complaints (121) stemmed from problems with Harbortouch’s products and services. Eighty-six complaints were filed regarding billing and collections issues, 23 involved problems with advertising or sales, and two were filed in regards to delivery issues. Of the total complaints, 195 were successfully resolved. Harbortouch responded to the remaining 37; however, these were not resolved to the customers’ satisfaction.
Outside of the BBB, we located approximately 70 other complaints. Many of the complaints noted that unauthorized fees were charged to customers’ accounts and that several were charged annual fees multiple times a year. Additionally, several customers cited poor customer service and deceptive selling practices. Because of these factors, we have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “C-.” To better understand why we adjust BBB ratings, please see our Rating Criteria.
Harbortouch rates as slightly below average in almost every section of this review because its practices are roughly standard for the industry. Harbortouch’s use of independent sales agents appears to be generating a high number of complaints about the company, and the contract terms they offer vary from agent to agent. Of additional note is Harbortouch’s unclear affiliation with United Bank Card, a company with similarly average ratings from our site.
This review was originally published on 2/18/13 and was last updated on 7/16/14.
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