TransFirst Review


Overall Rating Breakdown
Sales & Marketing Tactics
Costs & Contract Terms
Complaints & Service
BBB Rating

Overall Rating

C- Credit Card Processor Rating

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Jump to: Sales & Marketing | Costs & Contract | Complaints & Service | BBB Complaints

Overview

TransFirst Logo

TransFirst Logo

TransFirst Merchant Services (transfirst.com) is one of the larger privately held merchant account providers in the credit card processing industry. The company boasts a processing volume upwards of $30 billion thanks to a relatively large merchant customer base. TransFirst not only markets merchant services under its own brand but also under Independent Sales Organizations (ISOs), one of which used to be called Merchant Express or Merchant Accounts Express.

The company was founded in 1995 and although its corporate headquarters is found in Hauppauge, NY, TransFirst operates another major office in Broomfield, Colorado. The company is sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank of Walnut Creek, California, and Columbus Bank and Trust Co., Columbus, Georgia, as its Acquiring Banks.

TransFirst Sales & Marketing Tactics | C-

Key Points – Sales & Marketing 
Uses independent resellers? Yes
Promotes deceptive rate quotes? Yes
Discloses all important terms? No

Evidence suggests that TransFirst relies heavily on recruiting independent agents in a “hiring mill” type fashion, and a few agents have reported receiving poor training. This is a common marketing strategy among merchant account providers that often results in a high number of complaints from merchants. This company does not appear to be an exception as evidenced by merchant complaints associated with the practice.

TransFirst no longer appears to use alternate business names (DBAs) in order to sell its services under unsoiled brand names. As mentioned earlier, one of these companies used to be “Merchant Express,” and another was reported to be “US Merchant Services.” The TransFirst website includes a page listing their mergers and acquisitions; the businesses on this list were once independent but appear to have been absorbed into the TransFirst brand name by now. The company’s services are also marketed by other independent companies (sub-ISOs) that operate under their own brand names.

The retail processing page on the TransFirst website quotes rates as low as 1.69% plus $0.19, and there are similar quotes on the company’s e-commerce, wireless, phone, and mobile processing pages. These are probably either the company’s rates for debit transactions or its “Qualified” rates for credit cards, but they are unrealistically low compared to what merchants will likely pay for the majority of their transactions. Since there is no mention of the much higher “Mid-Qualified” and “Non-Qualified” rates that the company charges, we consider this type of rate quote to be deceptive.

TransFirst Costs & Contract Terms | D

Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms
Swiped rate: Variable
Keyed-in rate: Variable
Termination fee: $250-$500
PCI compliance fee: Variable
Equipment lease: Variable

The pricing, rates and contract terms of a TransFirst merchant account will likely vary based on several factors including a merchant’s business type, processing volume, agent setting up the account, and the sub-ISO reselling the account. The standard TransFirst contract is available for review below, but there is no guarantee that the terms outlined therein will be the terms offered by a TransFirst sales rep. The agreement outlines a 36-month service term that automatically renews for one-year terms unless cancelled at least 90 days prior to the expiration of the initial term. The early termination fee is $250 for merchants who cancel with a year or less remaining in their contract and $500 for merchants who cancel with more than one year remaining. Some merchants also reported what sounds like a “Liquidated Damages” cancellation fee. Normally, a Liquidated Damages clause in combination with an automatically renewing contract would earn a provider an “F” in this section; however, reports of this fee remain unverified, and the fee may only be applicable when dealing with certain ISOs or agents.

Expand to see a copy of the standard TransFirst merchant agreement
TransFirstMerchantAgreement

TransFirst Complaints & Service | C

Key Points – Complaints & Service
Total complaints: 70+
Live customer support: Yes
Most common complaint: Hidden fees

There are a moderate amount of TransFirst merchant complaints for a provider of its size and time in business. The common themes in the complaints are merchants reporting unexpected and hidden fees, expensive terminal leases, poor customer service, and that agents failed to verbally disclose important contract terms such as the service length agreement and cancellation fees prior to setting up the account. As mentioned earlier, these are the types of complaints often found with providers that use independent agents and resellers to market their services. However, the ultimate responsibility rests with the company since it sets and enforces the service agreement policies.

TransFirst BBB Report | C (CPO Adjusted)

Key Points – BBB Report
Product/service: 46
Billing/collection: 34
Advertising/sales: 31
Guarantee/warranty: 0
Delivery: 2

As of this update, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is reporting that TransFirst has been “BBB accredited” since 2009 and is awarding the company an “A+” rating despite 113 complaints filed within the last 36 months, which is down from 124 complaints as of the last update. Of the complaints, 46 are due to problems with service, 34 with billing/collection, 31 with advertising and sales issues, and two with delivery issues. 93 of the complaints were resolved to the merchants’ satisfaction while 20 were not. The company also has six negative reviews posted to the BBB, but these reviews are not subject to verification.

It is our philosophy that “A+” ratings should be reserved for companies with zero complaints. Therefore, we have adjusted the rating of this section to a “C” for the purposes of this review. You can learn more about why we adjust BBB ratings in our rating criteria.

Bottom Line

TransFirst rates as an average merchant account provider in the credit card processing industry. Many of its business practices and policies are common and can be found among several of its competitors. The company can improve its rating by removing policies that allow merchants to be set up in expensive accounts, removing its cancellation penalty, and eliminating future complaints.

This review was originally published on 2/17/12 and was last updated on 8/22/14.

Leave your review of TransFirst in the comment section below:


TransFirst Review

Rated 2 Out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by Phillip Parker
Reviewed on 2014-08-22 15:18:59

TransFirst (transfirst.com) is a large merchant account provider with over 200 negative reviews… The company can improve its rating by removing policies that allow merchants to be set up in expensive… Learn more in this TransFirst review.

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About the author

Phillip Parker

Phillip Parker is a former merchant services agent turned small business advocate and the author of "Fee Sweep," which teaches merchants how to dramatically lower their processing rates, eliminate junk fees, and avoid fine-print scams. He founded CardPaymentOptions.com to help merchants enact positive change in the credit card processing industry.



 
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41 comments

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  1. sam

    by far, Transfirst is the worst merchant services company you can deal with. I have been with them now for a year but i can tell you that today is my last day. I had to call then every month now for the last five month to ask about fees they charge me with no explanation. today i spoke to Mr. James Who told me that he was not sure when or who authorized the approval of one of the fees that they applied to my account and was also unable to to explain to me why i am being charged a fee that was not suppose to be there in the first place. the list goes on and on annual fee and bi annual fees and monthly service fee and much more. close the account if you have one. i will make sure to file a consumer affairs complaint against them.
    the worst customer service ever.

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    1. sharon

      Be careful when you cancel your account. There are hidden fees for canceling early. Mine was $193.00 which was taken out of my checking account without notice. This notice for fees charged when canceling early, is divided in two places in your contract and written in very small print. This company gets you two ways: they overcharge with their fees and it gets worse. Then, when you cancel a month early, you get charged the extra early cancellation fee.

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  2. Robert Rowe

    The Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association has withdrawn its endorsement of Transfirst LLC
    following investigation of complaints from its members alleging unethical or illegal practces, including bait and switch, forging signatures, unauthorized charges, and double billing. The company declined to cooperate in this investigation, forcing the MVMA to withdraw their endosement. The MVMA has alerted its members to carefully check their records for any inconsistencies. The American Veterinary Medical Association has been notified, and will be conducting their own investigation.

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    4 / 9 found this review helpful.
  3. Mr. B

    VERY SATISFIED WITH THIS COMPANY

    I have been a Sales Agent in the Payment Processing Industry since 1999 and have worked with many processing companies until I signed up with this company, whom I couldn’t be happier with. Their customer service is among the best that I have encountered in nearly 15 years.

    I have read many of the complaints on this website about this company and I feel that they are unfairly judging this company. These fees mentioned are charged by all the other companies that I have worked with, so these inexperienced business owners that are throwing blows at TransFirst are only mad because there own companies have failed and they have gone out-of-business making them closing pay fees. Other company complaints about chargebacks are due to the company having CHARGEBACKS, WHICH ARE DONE BY THE CARD ISSUER NOT BY THE PROCESSING COMPANY, SO TRANSFIRST HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CHARGEBACKS. Chargebacks are done when the cardholder calls the card issuing bank and requests a refund because they felt ripped-off if the service was not done properly or done at all, or the product broke-down or failed. Let me reiterate that these complaints are given to the CARD ISSUING BANK not the processing company. That is, the credit card issuing bank listed on the back of the credit card is the company responsible for the chargeback, because they who requests the refund. And this is how it works for all the chargebacks with every payment processing company in The United States of America.

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    12 / 14 found this review helpful.
  4. Denise

    A TOTAL RIP-OFF COMPANY!!!!!
    Don’t EVER do business with this company!! They lie about hidden fees and will charge $500 to close your account! This year our business changed and didn’t do very many CC transactions. In fact, we made 3 transactions YTD totaling $1,254 and was charged $636 for the processing!!!! When I contacted manager Becky Unruh about cancelling the account, she was rude and steadfast about charging me the cancellation fee despite the outrageous fees already paid! NEVER DO BUSINESS WITH TRANSFIRST…you’ll regret it!

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    2 / 4 found this review helpful.
  5. Bruce Dunn

    I share everyone’s dismay. I had Transfirst for two years and it cost me so much just to pay them their little (or big rather) charges that I nearly lost my business. How they can still be in business, ripping people off, is totally amazing. They are unbelievable, lying crooks.

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    1 / 3 found this review helpful.
  6. Sherry

    Lies, Lies and more Lies!!! BEN GAFF Sales Representative. What a JOKE!!! Seemed like an honest guy. Wrong!! I was told this was a month 2 month deal & that I could get out of it at any time, never telling me about a 3 year contract. Also told me it was $10.00 a month plus the 0.25% for card swipes. Again LIED!! There’s a $99.95 Annual Fee too. Every time I turned around they were taking money from my account. Then a $37.00 quarterly PCI Compliance charge. What the hell, I was never told about that either. I have tried time after time to reach( BEN GAFF ) as he doesn’t ever return my phone calls! Imagine that! Next time I’m handed papers with fine print I will read every word before signing!! Lesson learned. BEWARE OF THIS COMPANY!!!!!
    In fact, I really don’t believe that all of the papers stating the terms where even attached to what I signed.

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    1 / 2 found this review helpful.

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