Payment Alliance International
Last Updated: February 6, 2014
Payment Alliance International Overview
Payment Alliance International (gopai.com) is a merchant account provider located in Louisville, Kentucky. Founded in 2005, the company focuses primarily on providing credit card processing services through partnered banks and financial institutions and is also a major supplier of ATMs and ATM services. Payment Alliance International is also a major provider of high risk merchant accounts for firearm vendors. Payment Alliance International is a registered ISO/MSP of HSBC Bank, First National Bank of Omaha, Merrick Bank, MetaBank, and Wells Fargo, and the company appears to use Global Payments as its actual credit card processor. Payment Alliance International bought Netbank Payment Systems in 2007. The company is located at One Paragon Centre, 6060 Dutchmans Lane, Suite 320, Louisville, Kentucky 40205-3277.
PAI Sales & Marketing Tactics | B
Payment Alliance International partners with ISOs and independent sales agents to market its services. Although this “hiring mill” practice is a common strategy within the credit card industry that often results in elevated complaint rates, we are currently able to locate only one negative Payment Alliance International review that mentions problems with the company’s sales team. In this case, the agent incorrectly recorded the merchant’s phone number and disappeared immediately after setting up the account. This appears to be an isolated incident and will not lower the company’s score too severely.
One issue that is indirectly related to the company’s sales team seems to be confusion among many merchants about the company’s cash reserve policies. According to multiple merchant complaints, merchants are consistently signing up for merchant accounts through Payment Alliance International without fully understanding how their “high ticket” and “average ticket” figures should be calculated, and as a result, they are seeing holds placed on large transactions. This appears to especially affect gun vendors. While it is partially the responsibility of merchants to educate themselves on the terms of their agreements, it also seems as if many of these complaints could be avoided with proper education at the point of signing.
PAI Costs & Contract Terms | D
The standard Payment Alliance International contract (available above) is a three-year agreement through Global Payments with automatic one-year renewal, a Liquidated Damages early termination fee, and a variable PCI Compliance fee, monthly minimum fee, annual fee, and statement fee. The company’s ATM processing agreement (available here) also includes a Liquidated Damages early termination fee that is to cost no less than $650.
The company’s early termination fee is calculated in an uncommon way. According to the contract, “the following amount(s) shall be immediately due and payable to Global Direct and/or PAI: the lesser of (a) the maximum amount permitted by state law, and (b) all monthly fees assessed to Merchant under this Card Services Agreement and due to Global Direct and/or PAI for the remainder of the then existing term of the Card Services Agreement, including all minimum monthly fee commitments.” So, upon early termination, merchants can expect to either pay out the remainder of their contracts with Payment Alliance International or pay the maximum fee allowable by state law, but they will only pay the smaller amount of the two. This fee appears to have the potential to be either very large or very small, but at the very least, it does not appear to be tied to any real measurement of the company’s losses as a result of merchant termination. The company’s ATM agreement includes a similar early termination fee, but it takes the larger of the two terms listed.
These terms would normally merit an “F” rating in this category, but strangely, there do not appear to be any Payment Alliance International complaints online that mention the company’s early termination fees as a major issue. It may be that many of the complaints reporting large amounts withheld after cancellation are the result of the company pulling this early termination fee from the merchants’ reserve accounts, but it’s unclear at this time whether this is occurring. We cannot determine at this time why these fees have yet to impact merchants severely enough to prompt them to file a public complaint, but we will factor the lack of complaints into the company’s score. If you have any knowledge of how this liquidated damages clause is enforced, please share that information in the comment section of this review.
PAI Complaints & Service | B
We are currently able to locate approximately 25 Payment Alliance International complaints on this and other consumer protection websites, and some of these complaints accuse the company of being a scam or a ripoff. Common complaints include unauthorized or unexpected withholding of funds, difficulty cancelling the account, and poor customer service. Additionally, a handful of the company’s complaints appear to be the result of a mail scam in which a foreign entity was using the Payment Alliance International name without the company’s knowledge. The company has taken steps to alert merchants to this scam and appears to be blameless in the situation.
Overall, the most common issue among Payment Alliance International clients appears to be confusion over the company’s fraud prevention policies. Since Payment Alliance International offers high risk merchant accounts to businesses that otherwise might not qualify for merchant services, these complaints are to be expected to a certain degree. Still, it seems as if the company could prevent some of these complaints by explaining its reserve account policies to new merchants in greater detail. It should be noted that some complaints about Payment Alliance International may be redirected to Global Payments, which provides payment processing for the company.
PAI BBB Report | A (CPO Adjusted)
As of this review, Payment Alliance International has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with nine complaints filed in the last 36 months (up from seven complaints as of our last update). Of the complaints, four are due to problems with products or services, four with billing and collection and one for advertising or sales issues. All but two complaints were solved to the merchant’s satisfaction. There is also a second profile for an Elmhurst, Illinois office that has an “A+” BBB rating with one complaint. In light of these figures, we have slightly adjusted the BBB’s rating to an “A” for the purposes of this review.
Payment Alliance International rates as an average merchant account provider according to all available information. The company’s early termination fee is a major cause for concern, yet it does not appear to impact merchants as severely as it should. Similarly, the company’s hiring practices have a high potential for merchant complaints, but they appear to be yielding very few. The company’s overall rating is buoyed by its low complaint volume and high BBB score.
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