Mercury Payment Systems
Mercury Payment Systems Overview
Based in Durango, Colorado, Mercury Payment Systems (mercurypay.com) is a merchant account provider and independent sales organization that began operations in 2001. The company also has a Canadian headquarters in Toronto, Ontario. Mercury Payment Systems once existed as a sales channel for the direct processor Global Payments; however, the company was acquired by Vantiv in May 2014 and may now be an exclusive reseller of that processor.
Mercury Payment Systems offers a comprehensive set of business financial services, including electronic payment processing for gift/loyalty cards and checks. Additionally, the company has partnered with several other service providers, such as Authorize.net, to serve different processing requirements. Mercury has recently managed to secure the role of backend processor for a number of industry-oriented POS systems, most notably SalesVu.
On January 30, 2014, Heartland Payment Systems announced that it was filing a federal lawsuit against Mercury Payment Systems for false advertising, unfair competition, intentional interference with contractual relations, and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. In the case, Heartland alleges that Mercury intentionally misrepresented interchange rates in order to convince Heartland customers to switch their service to Mercury. According to Heartland, Mercury would add its own markup to the interchange rates assigned by card networks without informing merchants, and then the company would falsely demonstrate that its markup above interchange was lower than that offered by Heartland. This case is unusual within the industry, as it involves one company suing another over deceptive sales tactics. Although this issue is far from being resolved, it bears mentioning so that merchants can monitor its progress.
Mercury Payment Systems is sponsored by HSBC Bank of Buffalo, New York, as its Acquiring Bank.
|Key Points – Sales & Marketing|
|Uses independent resellers?||Yes|
|Promotes deceptive rate quotes?||No|
|Discloses all important terms?||No|
The reviewer found no uses of misleading advertising or rate quoting by Mercury Payment Systems. The company does, however, market its services heavily through the use of independent resellers/sales agents. This marketing practice often results in merchant complaints because it is hard to control the sales tactics of the resellers. In the case of Mercury Payment Systems, the majority of its complaints (covered below) can be traced back to the sales agent or reseller that set up the merchant account. However, in some cases, Mercury Payment Systems appears to enforce the terms of its agreement even when merchants report that an agent misrepresented the conditions of the contract.
These complaints, in addition to the allegations set forth by Heartland Payment Systems, have lowered Mercury’s grade to a “C” in this category.
|Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms|
|PCI compliance fee:||$150 per year|
Rates and fees of a Mercury Payment Systems merchant account will vary based on a merchant’s business type, processing volume, and the agent setting up the account. The company’s standard service agreement (available below) is a one- to three-year term that requires merchants to give 30 days’ notice before ceasing processing or switching to a new processor. Merchants who fail to abide by this requirement may be subject to an Early Termination Fee ranging from $295 to $495; however, a few complaints report cancellation fees of up to $900. The reason for the varying cancellation fee could not be determined as of this review. The company also charges an annual PCI Compliance fee reported to be $150, which is well above average. Several merchants have complained about experiencing other unexpected fees. so businesses considering Mercury Payment Systems are strongly encouraged to read and understand their merchant account agreements before signing any documents.
|Key Points – Complaints & Service|
|Live customer support:||Yes|
|Most common complaint:||Hidden fees|
Mercury Payment Systems has a fairly low volume of complaints filed online for its size and time in business. The majority of problems appear to originate with agents and resellers who failed to verbally disclose important terms of the merchant account agreement prior to setting up the account. Nearly all complaints report nondisclosure of the $295 cancellation fee, $150 annual PCI Compliance fee, and other additional fees. Many of the fees appear to be buried in the fine print of the contract, and Mercury Payment Systems is quick to point out this fact in its rebuttals.
Other common complaints that merchants have reported are of sudden rate increases without notice, deceptive rate quotes by agents, and hidden fees. Several reports indicate that agents regularly quote the Qualified Discount Rate without also stating the Downgrade Fees. Learn everything you need to know about rates and fees in “Fee Sweep.”
|Key Points – BBB Report|
As of this update, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has awarded Mercury Payment Systems BBB accreditation as of December 2012. The BBB is awarding the company an “A+” rating despite 40 complaints filed in the last 36 months, which is up from 33 complaints as of our last update. Of the total, 18 are regarding problems with service, 19 due to billing and collection disputes, and three with advertising or sales issues. Of the complaints, 29 were successfully resolved, while 11 left the merchant dissatisfied despite a good faith effort by Mercury Payments. In many of the unresolved complaints, Mercury responded by quoting terms and conditions of the merchant account contract. Given the company’s complaint count and resolution efforts, we are adjusting the rating to a “B” for the purposes of this review. You can learn more about why we adjust BBB ratings in our rating criteria.
Overall, Mercury Payment Systems scores as an average merchant services provider. The company can improve its rating in this review by drastically lowering or eliminating its PCI Compliance fee, eliminating its cancellation fee, and preventing future complaints about hidden and undisclosed fees.
This review was originally published on 12/22/11 and was last updated on 7/3/2014.
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