It’s Time to File a Report
So you’ve exhausted all options and your provider is unwilling to resolve your grievance. Sometimes taking actions and filing reports with third party review websites and agencies can get the job done. How your report is filed and what you say in it will greatly affect the outcome of your complaint. Follow the tips below to give yours an effective punch.
What To Do Before You File Complaints
Do keep track of everything. Before you jump straight to reporting a merchant account provider, be sure you have exhausted all of your options with the company itself. Take notes and record the names of people with whom you spoke, their titles and what they told you. This is important because most agencies will not get involved unless you have made a good faith effort to settle the disagreement directly. Remember that you signed a contract and that failing to have read it will not help your case unless you can prove that you were intentionally misled, that the terms of the contract are unenforceable in your state, or that something unlawful has occurred. If you signed without reading, you may have to settle with your circumstances. But, does that mean you should give up? Not necessarily.
Do your homework. Often, disputes arise because of fees that the business owner did not expect. This problem often happens because the agent did not verbally disclose all of the fees and the business owner did not read the service agreement. Although an agent not telling a business owner about a certain fee is sneaky and bad business, it is not illegal in most states. Even the faintest ink is stronger than the loudest voice in a court of law, so legal action will likely be a waste of your time if you choose to pursue it under those circumstances. However, most cancellation fees are in place to protect the merchant account provider from loss against accounts that they were not able to profit from. If you can show that your other processing and monthly fees have generated substantial revenue for the provider, you may be able to persuade a manager of the company to waive or refund the disputed fees.
Do your research. If you can prove that something unlawful is taking place and that there are numerous similar complaints filed against the provider, be sure to report it to the agencies listed below. Nearly all providers will have a few complaints, but there are definitely some bad apples that actively use unethical tactics in the name of quick profits. Your reports will help identify and shut them down.
What Not To Do Before You File Complaints
Do not get emotional. You feel like you have been ripped off and you are mad as hell. You want retribution and you want your voice heard. As tempting as it is to shout at customer service representatives and write nasty comments in ALL CAPS on websites, do not do it. Stay calm. Stay collected. Stay cool and speak to everyone with respect. It will get you much farther with the people who can help you and will raise your chances of getting what you want.
Do not lie. This seems obvious, but when it comes to complaining about credit card processors many people will say anything to get their money back. Lying compromises your integrity and will kill your momentum.
Do not attack. Whether you are speaking with a customer service representative, leaving comments on websites, or filing an official report, stick to the facts. Many websites, including this one, will not publish your complaint if it attacks or uses offensive language. You may want to call people “dumb” or “thieves,” but it will not help your case. The content of your complaint should detail your circumstances without injecting personal opinion, attacks, or unrelated information. This is especially true when filing official complaints.
Where to File Reports
As mentioned earlier, these options should only be utilized if you have exhausted all of your options with the merchant account provider or you can prove unethical, unlawful, or misleading business practices. It is also wise to make the provider aware of your intention to file complaints with the organizations in this list. You may be surprised how quickly they change their tune once they realize you have some knowledge in this area. The methods listed below are primarily useful for U.S.-based merchants. If you are a non-U.S. business and know of methods for your country, please leave them in the comment section below.
1) Leave a Comment on Our Review of the Provider
Although this website is not an agency and we do not guarantee resolution, many providers monitor their reviews and comments on this website. In many cases, a complaint left on our review of a processor has lead to a satisfactory outcome for the merchant. Not only that, but your comments help other merchants avoid bad merchant services providers.
Keep in mind that we only publish complaints that stick to the facts and do not attack. You can leave a comment on our review of a processor by using the search bar in the upper-right of this web page to search for the processor. Once you reach our review, you can scroll to the bottom of the page to leave your comment.
2) File a Report with the Better Business Bureau
Despite the common belief that the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a government agency (or non-profit), it is actually a privately held C-corporation. The BBB is not as powerful as most people think it is and cannot fine or shut down companies. Despite the BBB’s limited power, most providers care greatly about their BBB rating and will usually work harder to resolve complaints filed through the bureau.
Visit the Better Business Bureau website for more information.
3) Call or Write the Acquiring Bank
If the provider is unwilling to budge after filing a BBB report against it, you may want to try this next option. Nearly all merchant account providers are sponsored by an “Acquiring Bank” that underwrites the provider’s accounts. Not only is it difficult and expensive for a provider to become sponsored, their business depends on maintaining the sponsorship. Too many complaints filed directly with a provider’s Acquiring Bank could mean trouble. If the Acquiring Bank is willing to get involved in your case, the provider will most likely acquiesce to your demands.
To find a provider’s acquiring bank, simply go to the provider’s website and scroll to the bottom of the page. Most will list it in the footer looking something like “XYZ provider is a registered ISO/MSP of ABC Bank.” The acquiring bank should also stated in your service agreement.
4) Call or Write the State Attorney General
Like the rest of the methods following this one, your State’s Attorney General has a lot of power but will only get involved if they believe something unlawful is taking place. If you choose to file a complaint with your Attorney General, be ready to provide evidence that something unjust is happening with your case. You can find your State Attorney General by searching your state’s name and “Attorney General” in any major search engine.
5) File a Report with the Federal Trade Commission
If you believe your merchant account provider is engaging in financial scams, be sure to report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) through the contact channels below:
FTC Complaint Assistant
1 (877) FTC-HELP
6) Write to Your Government Representatives
Some might argue that the biggest problem with the credit processing industry is a lack of direct regulation. By writing your representatives in the Senate and House, you can bring awareness to government officials that can enact laws to protect merchants from predatory merchant account providers.
Write or Call the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C)
The NW3C has no actual authority to enforce any actions against a processor, but it assists law enforcement in the prevention of economic and cyber crimes. By informing the NW3C of a credit card processing or merchant account scam, you help make law enforcement aware of the offenders.
File a Report with the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
If an unscrupulous merchant account provider is conducting business through the Internet, you may want to consider also reporting it to the IC3. The IC3 is a partnership between the FBI and NW3C and forwards complaints to the appropriate state, federal, local or international law enforcement or regulatory agency. Keep in mind that this is for reporting providers that primarily market through websites, email, etc.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Should you need legal or other counsel, please contact an attorney or other professional advisor.