Cancelling a Merchant Account Without Paying a Fee

Prepare For a Fight

If you read Part 1 on how to prevent getting into a bad merchant account contract, we’re now going to cover the process of canceling a merchant account that has an Early Termination Fee (ETF) — also sometimes called a “Deconversion Fee.”

Please note that the tactics below should not be construed as legal advice and that this author in no way endorses or encourages actions that may violate the law where your business is located. If you signed a contract, you may be under a legal obligation to fulfill it. If you are in a dispute with your provider regarding your fees, please consult an attorney for guidance.

Understand Your Termination Policy

If you are going out of business, Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance, notes that some contracts have conditions to waive the fee under such circumstances. Be sure to reference your agreement to find any provisions that allow you to terminate service without an ETF. Keep in mind that even if you find provisions that allow you to cancel without an ETF, it doesn’t mean that a processor will automatically waive your fee. Therefore, you may want to prepare for an ETF by taking the following steps before canceling your service.

Should You Close Your Attached Checking Account?

When you signed up for your merchant account you likely granted the processor access to your checking account. Most often this is done so that your sales can be deposited from your merchant account to your checking account, but once a provider has ACH access they can also make withdrawals without prior notice.

They May Charge You Instantly

Early Termination Fees are almost always automatically debited from a merchant’s attached checking account the moment they cancel service. The only way to prevent a processor from drafting a disputed fee from you is to cancel your checking account and notify the bank that you do not authorize any further transactions from it. Keep in mind that you should pay any legitimate outstanding fees owed to the provider, such as remaining processing fees, because the processor has a legal right to collect them.

There May Be Stiff Consequences

Closing your checking account will keep a provider from electronically collecting remaining fees while you fight an ETF, but doing so can set you up for other headaches. For instance, there are countless stories from business owners about being threatened with lawsuits, credit score damage, or getting sent to collections after closing a checking account and refusing to pay an ETF. Even worse some business owners report getting placed on the Terminated Merchant File (a highly unethical tactic) which can make it impossible to get a merchant account with another provider. It’s up to you to decide if the fight is worth the risk.

Build a Case For a Free Exit

First, check your last three months’ statements to see if any of your fees have been raised. Many state laws (and many contracts) say that if your fees have been raised during your service agreement, you can cancel with no penalty for a defined grace period (usually 30-90 days).

If you recently signed up with the provider and want to cancel because you were deceived by an agent regarding the costs of the services, gather any supporting evidence that proves that you were misled about pricing or cancellation terms.

Zen and the Art of Negotiation

Lastly, prepare to be courteous. The person on the other line is a human being and is more likely to help you if you are friendly and treat them with respect. Remember, you signed a contract and may have little to no “legal” leverage.

Get Your Sale Representative or Account Manager Involved

Getting the agent who set up your account involved can solve a lot of problems. In some cases, the agent actually makes the final call on whether or not the ETF should be charged. If the agent values your relationship and has any influence in the matter, they may be able to get it waived or reimbursed for you.

If the agent can’t or won’t help you, and is an independent contractor (most are), then you may have an additional legal route for recovering your fee if you believed that he or she intentionally misled you. As an independent contractor, an agent acts as his or her own business and can be held accountable for illegal sales and marketing tactics. If you believe you have a case, you may consider taking legal action directly against the agent.

Make a Case

Most providers require written notification of cancellation. If you have documentation that proves or suggests that your ETF should be waived, submit copies along with your cancellation notice. Be sure to get confirmation that your cancellation noticed has been received. Your cancellation letter should provide an explanation of why your ETF should be waived in reference to the supporting documents.

Reverse the Fee

If a disputed ETF has already been debited from your checking account, get your bank involved. Many banks will reverse the charge if you report it as unauthorized. However, if the bank where you keep your checking has also provided your merchant account, this tactic may be fruitless. Once you have successfully reversed a fee, it’s probably a good idea to close the checking account and open a new one.

Threaten Public Complaints and Official Reports?

If a processor is refusing to waive or reimburse a disputed ETF, there are a few places that you can file complaints that will get a merchant account provider’s attention. We’ve covered these places in another article titled “How to Report Bad Credit Card Processors” so check it out after you finish this article, but before you start filing reports be sure to speak with an upper-level manager and inform them that you plan to file reports and reviews about your grievance. Be specific about where you will file complaints as it will show them that are not making empty threats. If they still refuse to work with you, start filing reports and leaving reviews. You may be surprised how quickly they change their tune when a third party gets involved.

Bottom Line

Merchant account early termination fees often seem unethical but, despite their questionable nature, they are legal in most cases. Your best chance of avoiding an ETF is to eliminate it prior to setting up an account. For those who are already stuck in this unfortunate situation, preparation and courteous attitude can make all the difference. In the event that a processor will not budge, official reports, public complaints, and renegotiation may get the job done.

Do you have a horror story regarding an ETF? Tell us about it in the comment section below!

Thank you for reading my review. I hope that it has helped you with your research.

Why I'm Qualified to Write About Credit Card Processing and Merchant Account Services

I'm a former credit card processing sales director who left the industry because I didn't like how it takes advantage of small business owners. It feeds like a leech on businesses and thrives by imposing fees that are nearly impossible to comprehend. Seeing a need for change, I left and built this website help business owners better understand the industry, research merchant services providers, and get refunds of excessive merchant account fees. My experience of working "behind the curtain" in the industry, and using that knowledge for good, has resulted in millions of dollars returned to hard-working small business owners as well as enterprise-level companies.

From the time that I starting working in the merchant services industry to when I left to create this website, I've been on the pulse of payments for nearly 15 years. It didn't seem fair to keep this "insider" knowledge to myself. To lift the fog, I've reviewed hundreds of companies, read thousands of user reviews, and learned the pricing tricks of every provider. If you have questions about credit card processing, you can find the answers on this website.

How I Can Help You

I specialize in helping businesses get refunds of excessive fees and have recovered $1,567,184 this year alone! Submit a recent statement below to find out if you are getting overcharged. I'll take a look at it for free. If I find fees that can be refunded, hire me on contigency. I only get compensated if I put money back into your pocket.

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69 Reviews Leave Your Review Below

  1. Nhu Nguyen says:

    I signed contract with Merchant Bank Card Network through agent, i did pay agent Lynn Payment $2500 like getting good rate for my merchant services. But they lied to me, They promised charge 1.2% on my total profit and nothing else fee, no ETF, but they never had that rate. Now i found out if i don’t use i still have to pay over 200 for minimum monthly charge. Now, i want to cancel but MBN say i have to pay 2500 for ETF. I told them i paid already , and they said i paid for agent not for them. I call agent, they don’t pick up the phone, i text , email it seems like they vanished after get me in contract. Now what should i do. because i don’t want stuck with them for 3 years. And when i call them, it seems like I have to deal with one person over and over, i would like to talk with some body else but they don’t let me.
    Thank you

  2. Kenny says:

    I signed up with a merchant promising me lower monthly merchant fee with clover POS system for free included. After signing bunch of times on sales reps tablet, I also had to sign docusign that came to my email.
    Main reason I signed was to try out the Clover station, because I was told they have lots of 3rd party application that I was sure find loyalty feature I was looking for few months. After using the POS two weeks, I couldn’t find any 3rd party app that had loyalty feature I was looking for. So I went back to the pos system that I had.
    I was being charged about $80 by the new merchant service and $145 by company called ascentium capital, which was for the Clover station. When I asked why it is not free, merchant company told me if I was to process same amount with them for whole month, it would be cheaper with that $145 leasing fee that was being charged by ascentium capital.
    I regretted signing with them and paid both company for 8months. Then I sold the business.
    I continues to pay both company after I sold business for 3 more months and merchant service company let me off the hook. However Ascentium capital told me my contract was for 4 years, so I must pay all of it.
    I contacted them few more times asking anyways we can settle, but same answer. Must pay it all!
    told them the machine is practically new, since I only used it for few weeks, where can I send it back, but only reply with must pay rest of the months remaining.
    So total I’ve paid for 14 months, without using the Clover POS. I can’t even sell the machine, because it is leased, and I heard it is program to work with only one merchant service.
    I can’t close the old business checking account, because of Ascentium Capital. What can I do?

    1. JiMei says:

      I can’t believe it , this is my story , my situation right now. I recently went out of business and had to close down. I have to pay ETF for Riverside Payments and I have to pay of the clover for the remaining of the lease to Ascentium Capital. They won’t return my call to let me know what is my buyout amount. I regret every minute that I signed up with Riverside payments , they subtract out to 3rd party without mentioning to us. The agent never said anything to us we thought it was all through one merchant account Riverside Payments. What should I do?

  3. Sherry Sims says:

    First Data application wants a small LLC to give business EIN as well as the member owners personal social security number. Our business refused our personal social security information to be used. Because we completed the application even tho it wasn’t complete with social security numbers a application fee was charged of $149. Representative kept requesting social security numbers even after we refused and verbally canceled due to prolonged back and forth over the social and ending the year without resolving the social requirement or receiving equipment. First Data charged my bank because they had the account and routing number for the application. Had the representative informed me that business EIN wouldn’t be enough I would not have done an application in the first place.

  4. Samantha stevens says:

    I just found out that my account has been debited from Worldpay from another account through them that was never used. This has been going on since 2014. I have called several times, trying to speak to supervisor, promised call backs and still have not had any callbacks.

  5. Steve Owen says:

    I just made the mistake of signing up with First Data because I didn’t do my homework. I have not yet been processing for 30 days and it turns out there are extra fees they are charging that were not listed in the contract. I’d like to go ahead and simply close the account and use these hidden fees as the reason. This contract also came with a non-cancellable equipment lease from First Data Global Leasing that I’d like to close as well. I got the equipment, not because I needed it, but as a result of the merchant contract. On top of that, the equipment doesn’t do everything I need it to do and it’s not necessary that I have it to run my business. So, I’d like to get out of both agreements. Since I’ve processed for such a short time and the charges do not agree with the contract and the lease was opened because of the contract, can I still get out of both? How would this affect ETF’s and their lost “income”?

  6. Karina Leyva says:

    I’m a current dissatisfied customer with First Data Merchant Services. I to was sucked into a 48month contract promising low rates and discounts etc. They were great the first 16 months then, little by little rates starting going up. I’m paying more for credit services than I did with my previous company and was under no contract. They even took money from my clients and shorted me a deposit saying they don’t know where the money is but the money has been taken out of my client’s account. I’m in the process of filing a complaint. I cant wait for this nightmare to be over. You can tell they get a lot of complaints by their receptionist mannerisms. Stay away from this company, very untruthful, they hire a third party call company to set up these contracts. They sound wonderful at first – “but if its to good to be true, than it is.” This was a good learning lesson for me. DON’T EVER SIGN A CONTRACT WITH A PROCESSING?CREDIT CARD COMPANY EVER.

    This post will help: Best Payment Processors With Month-to-Month Contracts


    1. graziano says:


      I’m in the same situation with FirstData. How can I cancel my firstdata merchant account ?!

      There is nothing in the site which explain how to cancel account

      How can I cancel it please?

      Thank you

  7. Nancy says:

    I just sign a new contract with east payment solution and they promised to pay for my cancellation fee and buy over my old contract for leasing the machine , I still have about 25 months left but after I signed with them they didn’t pay for anything after I called so many time and argue they said they will pay me back but I have to sign for another contact that I was not said how much they paid me back , the letter is not clear and I don’t want to be trap in another contract with them now I am stuck with two leasing machine what can I do now

  8. Vlad says:

    I have switched companies, my company that i swtched from keeps on giving me a run around and does not cancel my services, so i am paying a fee for both. I am not under contract with the first one. Any suggestions how to cancel. Everytime i call they transfer me and nothing gets done. I am waisting my time and money. Should be some form of organization that could help. Thanks in advance.

  9. Angie says:

    Warning- If you get approached by Future Pay Tech run! I highly recommend you check yelp and other review sites for everyone before signing. Read the Contract and sleep on it.

  10. Liko says:

    Oh, I hope my review can help people and small businesses who are trying to do some good in their communities.
    1. Don’t sign up with Merchant Account Solutions. There are so many hidden fees, it’s not even funny. ETF can be $625, $350, or $250 within the first year depends on who you talk to. Crazy, right?! After filing a complain via BBB, I was able to close my account without ETF. It took me 9 months to do so after long negotiation with the company.
    2. Don’t sign up with Worldpay Inc. I’ve read some people stated the same thing, so I should have listened to them. The sales agent who signed me up, Shane Setser, totally lied to me saying that NO Monthly Fee and I could cancel any time without ETF even though there was an 1-year Contract. He told me “Just ignore the contract.” What do you know!?There was $18.20 monthly fee and I couldn’t even close my account without the fee since he totally went MIA after he signed me up because he didn’t want to take responsibilities of what he promised to me about the contract terms. They all said “Sorry, your agent is the only one who can deactivate your account without ETF.” For over 4 months, I’ve tried to reach the agent via emails, texts, phone calls, and letters. He totally ignored me to avoid the situation/issues. Do NOT sign the contract no matter what an agent tells you! If you don’t like what’s said in the contract, just walk away!! Finally, today, with a customer service representative’s help, since he was able to talk to the agent’s manager, I was able to close my account without ETF and he even refunded me for this month’s fee. Thank you, Gervon Mesidor! Gervon is my life saver.

  11. Sabrina says:

    I am canceling the service from Merchant Services, the rate are extremely high and the customer service is awful, they trying to charge me $495 for early termination but I as look at the contract the line that says “accepted by Merchant Services Inc.” was not signed by anyone …. can I use this with them to show that it was never accepted therefore void ?

    1. tina says:

      did you ever get an answer or get this resolved? i’m in the same boat

  12. Lois Williams says:

    The internal collections agent at Trans Tech Services said that she can see that I’m making payments on other credit cards so I should just charge what I owe for an early termination fee to one of those cards. Can she actually see my payment history on current credit cards in my name? And if she can is that legal? Also she says the reason they have to charge the $495 early termination fee is because MasterCard charges them. That doesn’t sound right. Is it true?

  13. Word to the wise. DO NOT EVER sign a lease for an equipment contract. The merchant equipment they send you is the same thing you can purchase yourself and own for $500, and they will charge you $99 per month for 5 YEARS! You could purchase several pieces of equipment for what they charge. Instead, ask the merchant services provider what equipment you need and just purchase it, then have them update the software when that is needed. The equipment is a scam too.

  14. Ann says:

    I find it crazy how many “business” owners do not read agreements before signing. As good business practice advice READ before signing anything. Card processing companies have access to all of your confidential information including every card transaction swiped at your business and your bank account. How is it that anyone is on these sites complaining that they are stuck in paying fees or locked into a lease, there should be no surprises if, as a business owner, you take the time to read what your signing your business in to. Remember this is not business to consumer, it’s business to business so many laws and/or public and state sites are not going to be of much help and some may even turn you away indicating they only advocate for consumers. The reasons you pay so much in “fees” and rates is due to the amount of fraud in card processing, every transaction that is swiped is a potential risk for a card processor and as easy as it is for you to go and say you didn’t authorize a transaction so can every customer who pays you with a credit card. So thank the people who make fake credit cards, steal people’s identity and information, say they didn’t authorize a transaction (even if they did), merchants who close their bank accounts and don’t pay their processing fees, merchants not checking IDs and getting signatures on receipts, excessive chargebacks, fraud, etc for the reason why your on this site trying to get out of your agreement. Good luck finding a card processor your actually happy with but as long as you have to pay for a service that takes a percentage of your profit you will never be happy.

    1. Mark says:

      Ann, what credit card merchant processor do you work for? It is clear you work for or own one. I think what you stated is obvious however wake up to the fact that this industry is clearly one that has many bad characters! It’s sad that the many abuses the perpetrator are legal….

  15. Jin says:

    Hello. My merchant service didn’t provide us statement and they have changed our online account password so we have terminated early this year but they never send us bill for the account and now we just got call from collection agency for ETF. Is there any thing I can try, if they who’s charging ETF to me has different signature with my name on the contract they provided?

  16. John Lee says:

    I signed a contract with the sales guy who came through the door promising lower rates for the credit card processing, just like everyone here. But when I got my first statement, I realized it was more than what I was paying than my last company. I asked them for a copy of the contract. They emailed it to me and I realized whited out and hand written some of the terms and rates that I originally signed( I made a copy of the contract when I initially signed it). Since they made changes to the contract after it was signed, would that void the contract? I complained to them but they just brush it off and told me they don’t know what happened there. and said this has passed 2 and half years ago, it doesn’t matter anymore and since I have 5 year contract.

    1. c says:

      Forgery is illegal. call a lawyer for free advise man.

  17. Stacie says:

    We were contacted by a company that offered better rates than our current processor. We went through all the paperwork and then I discovered we had a ETF with our current processor, so I asked the new processor to cancel. He claims that we have already signed the agreement and at minimum would be charged $25 a month for the next 3 years (the term of the new agreement) if we didn’t switch. But I spoke with a local processor and they stated that we are not obligated to the agreement until we actually begin processing payments. Our terminal has not been reprogrammed to the new processor.

    Any help or insight on who is actually right in this instance?

    1. Hiroshi says:

      Hi Stacie, if your terminal hasn’t been reprogrammed to process with the new merchant service provider, then you haven’t been processing through that company. Therefore you have no obligation to the new merchant service provider.

  18. Chase says:

    I have a company (Coastal Pay) that wanted me to switch to their merchant processing, I fell for the high pressure tactic and signed, then tried to cancel the next day. They said no way and wanted me to pay 1500.00 before they would cancel my account. I paid 500 and couldn’t afford the rest yet but I am getting a monthly statement from them where they have essentially been taking from 50 to 100 dollars out of my account for “processing fees” since then without actually providing any type of service. When I talked to him about 8 months ago he was very snarky and said bring it , that the money meant nothing to him and he had enough attorneys that I would just spend more to try and get out. When I mentioned that they were collecting money from me monthly and that it should apply to the cancellation fee, they replied that it would not and is just considered their minimum monthly fee. Thoughts, suggestions? I need to find someone to help me with this

    1. Carrie says:

      I thought there was a three-day window on any signed contract where you can legally cancel, no matter what industry. You might want to do some research/ask an online lawyer–if you have any way to show you tried to cancel immediately, maybe the entire thing could be thrown out.

    2. Josefina Navarro says:

      I had the same problem with Coastal Pay. They are scammers, and they like to do that. Please stay away from this company.

      1. Vy Nguyen says:

        Can someone please help me? My Credit Machine is not working since March 3, 2017 but I can not cancel the contract. I called the LFG to cancel but they told me I have to pay more than $2000.00 for my early termination fee. Please help!

        1. Hiroshi says:

          Are you leasing your terminal?

  19. Carrie Snyder says:

    When we decided to switch merchants one year into a three-year contract, I was not aware of their $500 ETF. It was assessed, but when I did the math I saw that our minimum monthly charge was $12.50. It made more sense to just pay $12.50/month and keep the account open than to pay $500. So I called the company and had them reinstate our account. They continued billing the $12.50 monthly but the $500 was not refunded. After several months I called them back to complain. They finally refunded the money, and I think actually made a mistake in our favor because at that time they also stopped billing us the monthly $12.50. When the contract end date passed, I called to formally cancel without any penalties. I actually wish we had never switched away from this account (FirstData through Huntington Bank) because they next processor, AdvoPay, just lied to us about everything. Some lessons are learned the hard way, I guess!

  20. Channie Nak says:

    I was deceived my a salesman by the name of KEVIN DAVIS from Direct Connect. He walked in to my shop talking to me about Clover (pos) and asked me who I was processing with. He asked to see my merchant statement from Heartland, the company I processed with before First Data. He said that I would be paying less with First Data even with the cost of leasing one Clover. He talked about getting me really good rates. I told him that I don’t understand what the rates translate to in dollar amount, I just understand the final amount on the statement. He assured me not to worry because if the fees come out high, he had the power to adjust the rates to make sure the charges low. I was shocked by the first statement! I processed less that month with First Data but was charged twice as much as Heartland. I informed him about it. He asked for a copy of my statement from Direct Connect and my one from Heartland and sid that hw would help me with it. Also, said that I would get credit for being over charged. A few weeks passed by, I heard nothing else from him. Every time I called him, he kept on lying about when he was stopping by my shop to go over the new statement when it comes out. A few weeks later, he never stopped by. Eventually over the phone I was told that there’s nothing that he could do for me and that he never said that he could get me credit.

    Not only that, he took $20 from me because he said that he needed the money to ship my old equipment back. The company said that they did not receive the equipment. Now I am stuck with paying monthly fees for a tablet that I don’t have. He also took $100 claiming to pay for gift cards that cost $99 with Clover that needed to be purchased quickly to get a good deal. The same day,he took $100 from me, a man came to install a kitchen printer. He wrote me a receipt that said “installation” on it. He gave me a wierd reason why. I never received gift cards for that money and had to purchase the myself. He was supposed to refund me another $199 for a website/menu service that was not completed. Never got my refund and I am stuck with a merchant that has outrageous charges! Stay away from Kevin Davis and Direct Connect. They would not work with me to lower the charges nor waive the cancelation fees. What should I do?

  21. Jerry Pratt says:

    My 3 year contract with NSA Financial Bankcard services in VA ended on 12/28/2015, and I called to cancel. They told me it has been automatically renewed when they changed out the new machine to accept EMV chips. The person came by, changed it out, and didn’t say anything. My lease for my buiness ends on 9/2017. I would never sign another contract with NSA for another 3 years. They told me if I cancel, they will charge me a ETF. Is this legal?

  22. jose nieves says:

    Do not use summit merchants…..Bobby at summit merchants told me that they would be less for my credit card processing. …turns out that they are actually higher then the previous company I used…now I no longer own the business that the merchant company signed me up for and they said that I can cancel my lease as long as I did not have any affiliation with the company anymore….guess what they lied and now they want me to pay 595.00 dollar cancellation fee and 3899.00 for the terminal….these people must be out of there minds…I don’t own that company anymore butt I still have to pay them over 4300.00 dollars…..that’s just ridiculous. ….and they want me to send the terminal back too….then why do I have to pay for a terminal there going to give someone else anyways…..really unsatisfied with this merchant……

  23. Bea says:

    We sold our business in 2012, on 2013 I noticed that we never close the merchant account so I contacted them and ask to close the account…They never did it. A week ago I contacted them again and sent proves about my attempt to close the account. Now they told me that can only get a refund for 90 days, because although I faxed a letter about my business being sold, they do not have this letter documented in our system but they accept that they got my correspondence via fax. What do I suppose to do?

    1. Hi Bea, which provider are you referring to? If you have proof that you faxed the cancellation letter and that you followed their policies for cancelling, you could probably win a judgement in a small claims court. I recommend contacting an attorney for legal advice.

      1. Bea says:

        Aliant Payment. I have the fax and the accept that they got it, but the person in charge never uploaded to the system

  24. Derrick says:

    My client is being forced to pay for a lease on a credit card machine that will not work by First Data. The contract is a non cancelable contract. Question, if the bank can’t provide a credit card machine that works at his business location. Can he opt out of this contract on the grounds that the bank and First Data can’t provide a service to my client.

    1. Hi Derrick, that is question best directed to an attorney in the state where your client resides.

    2. Michelle Snider-Smith says:

      As to being forced to pay for equipment that isn’t working with FDGL (First Data Global Leasing), other factors must be at play here. Depending on what alliance you signed up under will determine how the equipment is replaced. That’s one of the benefits of leasing with FDGL, your malfunctioning equipment will be replaced. Depending on other factors, if it’s replaced for free or if you must pay shipping or not. If this is an EMV issue that’s a different story. A pin pad can be added and that’s not an equipment malfunction. Because they will replace malfunctioning equipment immediately, this will not release someone from their lease obligation.

    3. Lupe Lane says:

      Hello! I have two problems. When I opened my business in 2011 I signed up for merchant services through a friend of a friend, he represented a company called Powerhouse. Everything was going good until all of the sudden fees started going up. Another rep had come into my business with Harbortouch and promised me the moon. I had already fulfilled my initial 3 year term (which I had no idea auto renewed) so I thought I was a “free agent”. He said that they (Harbortouch) would cancel my agreement with the other company. Well they never did (my mistake for being so naive) and they (Powerhouse) have been charging me a $71.90 monthly fee ever since. I finally called to try to get that terminated myself after paying this stupid fee for over two years and low and behold, Powerhouse is out of business. Whoever is sending my statements and withdrawing the money from my account is telling me that in order to cancel I have to get ahold of Powerhouse. The phone number, website and email all are disconnected and no longer exist. The number that I call on my statements won’t give me any other options than to call Powerhouse. They wouldn’t even transfer me to a supervisor or let me escalate the claim until I have heard back from Powerhouse. Which is obviously not going to happen if they are closed. What the heck should I do?

      To make matters worse, the slimy guy from Harbortouch that promised me the moon (be annual fees, no contacts, lower rates) has also fallen off the face of the earth and I now know why. Apparently he forged my initials to all of the pages that I signed with his cross outs, promises of no fees (because I asked for them in writing) and he sent in clean copies with my forged initials and my actual true signature on the last page. Of course when I asked for a copy he said that he would bring me one because he had to make a copy and never did. I am livid! I am trying to close out my business and have been told I would have a $600 ETF. I have no idea what to do here either. Why do these companies have the right to automatically renew you? Do they even have a cancellation window? What is the minimum allowed to charge to avoid the service fee? Can I just call in a charge for $1 every month to avoid the non usage fee? It would be cheaper than $600?

      This post will help: Harbortouch Review


  25. Renay says:

    I called in after hearing an ad on the radio or online, I don’t recall now. The company Total Merchant Services was to send out equipment for me to view and decide if I would like to keep or not. The sales person said he wanted to go over what the terms of the contract would be if I were to keep the equipment and go on with a contract for services. The numbers of income and revenue form my company that I gave them were TOTALLY made up and obviously never verified, as I have never in the total of 3 years made what they wanted me to run on the machines in a month. I paid $16 dollars in sales tax last year if that gives you any indication of my business revenue! I wasn’t worried, as I was told I was being sent equipment to view and could return it or keep it and go on with the terms discussed in the initial sales inquiry conversation. When I called to tell them that it wasn’t feasible for me to keep and I couldn’t even begin to attain the sales numbers they required, I was informed of my “contract” being iron clad and if I cancelled the said contact I would be subject to an ETF of $300. As I stated I was told there was no contract, only a sales inquiry call I placed and was told I could view the equipment make my decision at that time. I sent the equipment back unopened, unused and unactivated. I had also spoken to an attorney who told me to close the associated account, which I did prior to sending a letter to them stating that I had no contract, I never activated the equipment, let alone opened it. Also what I was told by the sales person and figured that would be the last of it. The other day I received an email for “collections notification” brought forth by the sales person at Proxy Payments. What is my next step, how do I fight this deceptive sales person that out and out lied to me. My business has since closed and doesn’t even exist. I can’t afford to have this fee throw off my family budget, let alone wreck my credit like they are threatening to do.

    1. Eric says:

      Hi, did you get your issue resolved? I’m in the same situation now, I would like to know how you solved yours. Thanks.

  26. gina says:

    If one company acquires the company I signed the contract with, can I fight the ETF based on the fact that I have nothing signed with the new company?

    1. Hi Gina,

      This is a technicality that probably varies by state. An attorney in your would be better able to answer your question.

  27. Debbie says:

    I have a worldpay account and the STATE put a lien on my account which led to them cancelling my agreement — now they want $195 in cancellation and monthly feess. I contacted them several times and they never responded. I’ve asked them to waive the fees since I didn’t cancel it — waiting to hear from them. any suggestions?

  28. Cynthia Ingram says:

    My contract with my merchant processing company just expired ( praise God), but I have another year to go with the equipment lease contract that was tied to the processor’s agreement (Lease finance group) who quoted me $1,500 ETF. Do the same techniques work for getting out of a contract with Equipment such as state limits on eft fees , etc.?

    1. Cynthia, I can’t guarantee that the techniques will work, but I recommend checking with your Secretary of State. If the ETF is illegal in your state you should be able to get out of it.

  29. Was told by a walk in salesman that he would save me money and there would not be any interchange fees.
    Yes I did sign some paperwork which he faxed after he was going back and forth getting rates with someone on the phone. In the end I have not received a copy of any type of contract? I am being charged 220.00 per month rental fee for 4 years. So with this fee I am not saving any money. I tried to contact this company thru email and phone right after I felt I was taken for a ride.Less than a week. All I get is a run around,there is no one to communicate with. Even the BBB did not get any response from this company. So I cannot even try to get out of this one.
    I am just a small business owner that likes people and trusted this salesman to save me some money He did leave his phone number which I called. He stated he quit this job,but would call his old boss to help me out.It never happened.
    I have not given up,and will get out of this. In the end I think it might be best to stick with your business bank even if it cost a little bit more money.

    1. Dan says:

      I’m in the exact same situation. Did you pay the early cancellation fee and get out?

  30. Stacey Jaudon says:

    Hi. I was diagnosed with two forms of cancer in December 2013 and was out of work for months. Having a solo private practice meant no income and no business done through Worldpay since I was not seeing clients. After having a second surgery, it became clear to me that I wanted/needed to close my practice so I called a rep with Worldpay asking to close my account of over three years. I was told that I needed to have notified them during a renewal period which was already passed, and would either need to wait until next years renewal window or pay $500 for early termination. My contract had nothing about renewal periods or ETF–what it had was one tiny printed line saying I agreed to basically anything Worldpay required/or instituted without them informing me. Gee whiz I feel stupid, taken advantage of, and really angry. I even explained that I had been diagnosed with a deadly cancer which after all treatment left me unable to continue to practice. I got nothing from the rep but those two options–plus the renewal time window has weird requirements around the dates making the whole process such an ugly quagmire!

  31. Kevin Cram says:

    I cancelled my service with Anovia because Elavon had lower fees. i was told to remember there is a $495 ETF. I had never been told about the fee and asked if it could be waived. The response I received was”Unfortunately, due to the cost of acquisition we incur when opening an account we are not able to waive the $495.00 Early Termination fee.”
    What does it really cost a processing company to open an account and am I being told the truth? Any information would help.

    1. Hi Kevin,

      The cost of “acquisition” is almost always the commission that is paid to the agent or company that sent you up with the account. Typical commissions range from $200 – $1500, with the average being around $300.

  32. Jake W says:


    I had/have a small ownership in an online business that did not work out due to high rates of fraud with many customer charge backs. The last purchase on our website was made in March. My partner has the majority stake in company and therefore dealt with all financial aspects of the business. I assume he closed the merchant account sometime in March or April. He is now telling me the merchant can hold us liable for customer charge backs up to a year after they make their purchase. Could this be true? In the meantime my investment into the company is being held hostage and I’m getting little information from him.

    1. Hi Jake,

      Generally, the chargeback time limit with Visa and MasterCard is 180 days while American Express has been known to allow chargebacks of 12 to 18 months. Each state has different laws regarding chargeback time limits and it can also vary by the bank that issued the customer’s credit card. Since you had an online business and were likely taking payments from all over the country, the rules get even more complicated. It would be wise to plan to deal with potential chargebacks for at least a year.

  33. Kel says:

    I work for a highly ethical direct processor and do all my homework BEFORE transitioning a new merchant onto our platform as I do not like surprises. In this case, I was extra careful as the owner of this particular business is a friend of mine and has sent a lot of business my way. The old merchant account was written under Bank of America. They told my merchant ‘NO EARLY TERMINATION FEES’ and they also confirmed the terminals were not leased. The day after canceling the Bank of American merchant account this business was hit with nearly an $11,000 ETF based on ‘LOSS OF PROFITS OVER REMAINDER OF AGREEMENT’.

    This company has banked with them for literally over 30 years. AFTER Bank of America hit them with this outrageous early termination fee, they had the nerve to call and say they would reverse the fee if the business came back. The owner was outraged, just on sheer principle they will not go back. I cannot absorb the fee charged. They even hired an attorney to see if there were any ‘holes’ they could find in order to recoup the lost funds. The attorney said they had about a 30% chance of getting any money back and the business owner pulled the plug on fighting this, spent another $3,000 on the attorney.

    I feel guilty, had I known they would be charged I would’ve recommended they wait out the agreement. I’m at my wits end with coming up with any new ideas to recoup some of this money. The owner asked that I pay $5,000. I pleaded with our company but they do not pay ‘termination fees’. And this one is simply ridiculous, doesn’t even seem legal.

    Any ideas for me here??

  34. Bryan says:

    We’re nearing the end of our merchant agreement with Electronic Merchant Services. The fine print of our agreement says that written notice must be presented 90 days before the end of the contract term in order to terminate the 24 month agreement and avoid automatic renewal for consecutive 18 month terms. We had submitted the application on 8-15-2012 and our agent got back to us and completed the lease agreement on 9-26-2012. He wrote on the agreement that the commencement date was 9-26. We submitted the written notice on 6-9-2014, which we interpreted as being before the 90 day deadline. Our retention agent informed us that they interpret the commencement date to be the same as the application date and that his copy of the agreement does not have a commencement date written-in. That would be true because the agent wrote in that information 7 weeks after he had torn the triplicate forms apart. I realized that we would have a difficult time winning this argument as I believe that the misdirection was intended to produce just this result. Having accepted that we will need to suffer though another 18 months of poor service and high fees, I instructed him to submit our termination letter now for the end of the renewal term. He said that he could not accept the termination letter now and that we should send it in the fist week of May 2016. If you have been keeping a time line, you will see that the actual deadline date for the termination letter for the fist renewal period would 11-15-2015. He instructed us to submit it 6 months too late. After several phone conversations and emails he is sticking to that date, even after I reminded him that the automatic renewal term is for 18 months and not 24. I believe that this is a tactic to get us to miss the deadline again at the end of the fist renewal period. I really feel like EMS is purposefully giving us wrong dates to confuse us and make it difficult to terminate the agreement. Is there anything we can do?

    1. Phillip Parker says:

      Hi Bryan,

      Other than following the suggestions in this article, I would consider contacting an attorney. Best of luck you!

  35. Roberta York says:

    I signed a contract and about 1 1/2 weeks later, changed my mind. I didn’t use the equipment or even take it out of the box. Wells Fargo has said there’s nothing they can do and I’ll have to pay the early cancellation fee. Is this true? And will I still have to buy the equipment?

    1. Phillip Parker says:

      Hi Roberta,

      Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to get out of these commitments as they are part of the contract that you signed. However, it is very common for sales agent to fail in disclosing such terms verbally hoping that you will miss them in the fine print. I would suggest reading the following article for tip on getting out of such a predicaments: Cancelling a Merchant Account Without Paying a Fee

      1. Michelle says:

        If you haven’t accepted or processed any payments, transactions they will not charge you a ETF. Ask for upper management, client specialist. The first person that answers more than likely will transfer you to the appropriate department. This same exact situation with WF happened to my customer 1 1/2 years later. Be very polite and stand your ground. ” You cannot charge me the ETF because I have not processed any transactions. ” this is only for the merchant account. Equipment is always separate.

  36. Val says:

    I wish I had read this before. I am having to go through this with Future Payment Technologies. The rep lied about what would happen if I wasn’t happy with their company, no mention of EFT at all. The rep came on a busy, hectic day and had an iPad and I tried to read the contract but somehow missed the EFT. Grrr. Now I am stuck with their outrageous charges each month and I sent the card machine back. I haven’t even been been able to access my account online since day one, they keep saying they sent me an access code via email…nope. I need to see my account so I can proof that they are not the lowest fees. This hopefully will get me out of my contract as well as my partner.

  37. Kim says:

    I have to say I wish I would have read this article earlier. We are a gun store and due to some unfortunate events, our sales sky rocketed and Payment Alliance started withholding funds. We then rushed into several other contracts set up by a third party who ultimately lied/ and still is … we are now dealing with Meritus and Global Payments and we did sign the contracts in haste – believing our agent and trusting him. We never ever used Meritus – don’t have an account set up even if we wanted to use them, don’t even have the account number to call them about – but now they want close to $700 bucks to close the account and we never processed one single sale through them as I DON’T HAVE AN ACCOUNT TO PROCESS THROUGH. I have no such numbers and no such terminal to connect too. We notified our agent within 30 days to say we were with Chase and to close the Meritus account and he now claims we never did this, he also said he would cover the original $43 in fees .. which again he is saying he never said. I’m not making this up … but now I want to get out of Meritus and am having a hard time and I don’t think it is fair to pay the $700 for a service I never ever used or even received. I don’t have an account number for peet’s sake!!! It is dirty dirty dirty and they should be ashamed of themselves!! At the end of the day, I would stay away from BOTH companies …. we actually are going through Chase and it has not been a problem at all. And I’m cancelling my bank account that PAI has access to but I just need to know how much they are holding before I do so cause I certainly don’t want them to steal the money. A business owner should never have to go through this … high way robbery in a white collar …. just absolutely pathetic!!! Sad to see the employees though that work for these companies and the agents that represent them almost driving a business under … what satisfaction do they get … oh wait they get a paycheck … what has humanity come too??

  38. Dwayne says:

    Now that I have closed my bank account to prevent Summit Merchant and LFG from helping there self to my money I have many calls with demands for payment, along with letter demanding payment or sueing me. I never signed a contract, once this all started I dug out paper work that was sent to me by summit after there rep installed equipment. I was told I didn’t have to sign contract, once I looked at paper work my name had been forged. How do I prevent Summit from hurting my credit report?

    1. Phillip says:

      Hi Dwayne,

      If your signature was forged on an application, you should file a fraud report with your local police station. If your application included a “personal guarantee” and they have your social security number, they have all they tools they need to use your credit as leverage against you. The best course of action would be to get law enforcement involved if someone fraudulently forged your signature and to supply your police reports to the credit agencies if Summit files a claim against you.

  39. Manju says:

    I have an appointment with the agent and am preparing for the meeting.
    1. Initial Agreement maybe outdated or a wrong version of the agreement was presented at the time of application. The actual agreement could be a more recent date. Signed 7-13-12
    2. Amendment to the agreement is dated 2006 which do not cross-reference any of the sections on the initial agreement. This document has grammatical, redundant mistakes causing confusion. There is no letter head, not signed by a bank official but has a date at the bottom. It doesn’t look legal. signed 7-16-12
    3. Equipment: FDD Gateway, virtual terminal, purchased. This means I don’t incur any rental fees.
    4. Monthly fees, maintenance fees and processing fees $0/- as signed and initialed by me. Wireless access fee also $0. BUT, I am being charged a minimum $15 fee from the month I signed up. I was told, when I use the services, only discount fees and other transaction fees would apply and no other fees.
    5. EFT: I asked for early termination because the whole thing is questionable. Fees are “$25 times each month for the life of the contract after termination”, applies to existing current term whether 1 yr or 3 yr.

    In the amendment, EFT clause, in 5 above, has been deleted in it’s entirety and replaced with “in the event the client terminates this agreement at any time prior to the end of the initial one (1) year term of this Agreement, Client shall be liable for EFT $175 effective date of termination. In the event that Client fails to pay the EFT, we may debit such amount from your account in accordance with the provisions of section 24 above.” Section 24 does not exist on my initial agreement.

    By deleting and replacing the clause with the above wording, the penalty of $25 X remaining months is deleted, the EFT only applies to 1 yr contract and no other term. Which agreement does this apply to the one I signed or the one they failed to give me? Has the bank shot themselves in their foot??

    6. Monthly and transaction fees have climbed to 6.5 +/-%.

    I definitely have a case. I have involved the bank manager because the agent has been giving me a run around since Aug 2012 and today is Oct 2013, I can’t sleep anymore. I don’t want to come back with any more excuses, they are extremely clever in evading and may do something else to have me sign other papers so everything is reversed in their favor. How do I avoid more hassles, I want out of this situation before it gets worse.

  40. Aaron says:

    Avoid Data-Link!!! 4 year contract – $495 ETF. The rep told me, “No early termination fee.”, but in the contract there is one.

  41. Having a similar problem. Was promised the world and now that I have to cancel 6 month early they want $595. Trying to work this out nicely at first…

  42. Sue says:

    I was very busy that day and signed an agreement. However, while having coffee the next day I read through the agreement and sent them a letter to cancel the agreement. Some of the flashy stuff the sales rep. talked about was not in the contract.

    They said to bad even though I sent the letter to them within 24 hours. The other thing is that I told them (before signing the agreement) I do not want any new equipment I wanted to use my existing equipment. They did send me a very nice letter signed by a manager stating they would program my existing equipment. They called and stated that they could not program my existing equipment and wanted me to sign for new equipment. I told them I’m not signing for any equipment I don’t trust them. They have been charging my account $30 monthly for 4 months and then $159. for PCI compliance fee. Now they want $480 for ETF.

    To date I have not processed any cards through that company. I sure would like them out of my life and out of my bank account.

    1. Sharon says:

      Mr. Parker, Our case is a little different in that we never signed a contract, yet the main office says they have one. Evidently the sales rep for this company forged a signature. Now they are telling us we signed a 3 year contract. We are closing the bank account today and I’ve already called our Sheriff’s department. They are sending me a copy of the contract to compare signatures. We’ve never met with anyone from this company, it was all done over the phone and then they mailed our two card readers to us. Any advice?

      1. Hi Sharon, it sounds like you are taking all the right steps. You should probably consult an attorney familiar with your states service-contract laws if the provider is still attempting to enforce it.

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