July 2017 Complaint Roundup: Class Action Settlement, Heartland Update, And More

What Are Other Merchants Saying?

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© Depositphotos – James Steidl
Here at CPO, we review every comment that we receive from our readers, and sometimes we see merchants mention a topic that isn't covered in our reviews. To help you stay on top of the trends and issues in the credit card processing industry, we've gathered the following merchant complaints posted to CPO during June and July. If you would like to respond or add your thoughts to any of these comments, please follow the links to the original comments and reply to them directly, or leave a comment of your own below the appropriate company's review.

You Could Be Entitled To A Class Action Settlement

James Dixon's July 4 comment on our Mercury Payment Systems review states the following:

Looks like a class action settlement is in the works. Am getting a small amount back, $80+ from these crooks! Doesn’t even come close to how much they will rip you off. This is the site to go to to see if you may be eligible: https://mpsprocessingsettlement.com. Good Luck!

Mercury was acquired by Vantiv in mid-2014 and has by now been fully absorbed into the Vantiv brand, but it looks like some of the company's former business practices have resulted in a $52 million class-action settlement. According to the class action settlement website, you are part of the affected class under these circumstances:

  • You contracted with or through Mercury or were referred by Mercury to Global to receive payment processing services from October 9, 2009, through May 16, 2017; and
  • You were charged: (a) a card association access fee exceeding the amount of the published fees current as of the date of the charge, and/or an interchange rate exceeding published interchange rates current as of the date of the charge for those whose contracts provided that such fees and rates would be passed through at cost; or
  • You were charged any of the following fees: Regulatory Fee, Data Security Fee, PCI Fee, Monthly Maintenance Fee, Batch Fee, Statement Fee, Annual Fee, Association Card Accept & License Fee, or MSA Breach Only Fee.

This is potentially a huge pool of claimants, which could limit the payout that each individual Mercury merchant ultimately receives. However, if you're eligible, you should still visit the site and see what you can get. Merchants who were Mercury customers as of May 16, 2017, are entitled to either a cash settlement or a company credit worth twice the amount of a cash settlement. Former Mercury customers may only obtain a cash settlement. If you are a member of the affected class, you have until October 13, 2017, to file your claim.

Checking In On Heartland

Former Relationship Manager's June 30 comment on our Heartland Payment Systems review states the following:

I worked for Heartland for over 5.5 years. I learned the hard way they are all smoke and mirrors. They started increasing customer monthly fees and swipe fees on some POS software in April 2017. I left in May 2017 and everything they promised when hired I found was also a lie. You are not building lifetime residuals. I priced business owners as low as I could because I wanted to keep them. I always said I depended on every business in my portfolio to make a paycheck and I truly did. In less than 2 weeks they have stolen from my commissions over $1700 and taken away over $3600 in residuals I have earned. I am hurt and ashamed at how much I trusted them. The Heart left Heartland when Bob Carr left. Shame on them and all those in management who are relishing in their power. The truth will come out.

Global Payments acquired Heartland in 2015 and formally completed the transaction in April 2016, and we have been waiting to see whether this acquisition has affected Heartland's performance. This comment is the first indication that prices may be going up under the new regime, and it also suggests that agents will have a harder time holding on to their existing residuals.

One employee comment should not be taken as a comprehensive summary of a company's inner workings. However, we will continue to monitor the situation with Heartland, which has traditionally emphasized its corporate ethics in its marketing.

Sekure Comes Clean?

We've received three comments on our SekureCard/Sekure Merchant Solutions review in the past month. The first two, from a merchant named Laurie, include the following communications from SekureCard representatives:

Has anyone else received this same information? Can anyone validate they work with these companies? (All but Starbucks are actually franchises)

As per our telephone conversation I’m including a few links concerning Sekure Merchant Solutions (Sekure), which is us, and North American Bancard (NAB), which would be your processing company.

North American Bancard (NAB) is a registered merchant services provider and is ISO of Global Payments Inc. with VISA and MasterCard for HSBC Bank USA, N.A., Buffalo, NY and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Walnut Creek, CA.

Founded in 1992 by CEO/President Marc Gardner, it is headquartered in Troy, Michigan. Its corporate office employs roughly 900 people. As a merchant services provider, NAB’s payment solutions include: credit, debit, EBT, check conversion and guarantee, ATM, gift and loyalty cards, and online payment solutions. The company currently processes over $34 billion per year in electronic transactions for over 300,000 merchants in all 50 states.

As of January 2017, Sekure Merchants has surpassed 20,000 merchant accounts signed up through our brokerage services, including Ace Hardware, YMCA/YWCA, Dunkin Donuts, Quality Inn, Econolodge, Roto-Rooter, Carl’s Jr. to mention a few.
starbucks logo 7 eleven BP KFC Dunkin Donuts Honda Burger King merchant services

Sekure Merchant Solutions has been providing merchant solutions since 2006. We are proud of our reputation and work with over 3,000 merchants each month with one goal in mind: to save you money!

Our alliances with 5 star processors and equipment manufacturers gives us the edge you need to compete in today’s complicated world of electronic transactions. Unlike many professionals in this industry, Sekure Merchant Solutions is in it for the long haul; your success equals our success.

Our dedication to you doesn’t end once you have plugged in. As your business evolves, often, so do your processing needs. Sekure Merchant Solutions is always one phone call away! Your dedicated rep will be with you from day one. There is never a need to call the processor, call us, we’ll handle everything! We recognize that your time is important, let us worry about your processing, so you can run your business efficiently.

I hope we can include you in our portfolio of satisfied customers; we take pride in our competitive pricing and excellent customer service.

I asked them if they were a US based company and asked them about some of the complaints. This was their reply:

We do have an office in Montreal as well !

I sent you links that you could look at to do your correct due diligence , most of the reviews you see online are from other processors . There is allot of competition out there.

We had to let go of some employees because they were dishonest and after we let them go this is what they go ahead and write , once again they are being dishonest . This is because they were unhappy we let them go .

What you saw online is false , NAB is one of the largest processing companies out there and our numbers speak for themselves . We switch 600 merchants every month.

Did you look at the links I sent you ?

I also attached a BBB listing from the New York times and our company is listed on there under credit card processing.

A SekureCard employee posting as “Annoynmous” also left the following comment:

I’ve worked there for over two years as a rep and let me tell you something,it’s getting old..our pitch has got to go, it doesn’t give lots of information and it’s very deceptive because we do work with one processor,that’s why everyone’s analysis comes back with the same results,that American bancard is the lowest. The managers are absolutely horrible over there and our weekly objectives are hard to obtain most days,can’t make the dough calling the same people all the time. A lot of us reps are actually usually nice like myself, our boss tells us to be more aggressive and to not take no for an answer. They need to change the work ethic over there.. don’t waste your time. We are based out of Montreal, you could even google the sekure cost review and find the address and street view with google maps. If this company wasn’t so full of bologna maybe their employees wouldn’t feel the need to come and post the truth.

As you can see, Laurie received a great deal of promotional language about North American Bancard as well as reassurances that “most of the reviews you see online are from other processors” and “[w]hat you saw online is false.” Annoynmous then came right out and said that “it’s very deceptive because we do work with one processor,that’s why everyone’s analysis comes back with the same results,that American bancard is the lowest.”

We have long suspected that SekureCard is nothing more than an exclusive reseller of North American Bancard, and these comments seem to strongly support (if not confirm) that suspicion. In general, merchants should always be wary of companies that pretend to be “merchant advocates” but do not outline their methodologies or disclose their affiliations. In Laurie's case, the representative's insistence on discrediting negative reviews of SekureCard appears to be an attempt to deflect attention from the fact that there is no other recommended option besides North American Bancard.

A Hidden “Partner”

Sheridan Eastman's June 21 comment on our YapStone review states the following:

We pay credit card fees with each booking. When a guest canceled without required 30 days notice, Yapstone requested information from me. They say they don’t have access to the correspondence or the cancellation policy. I had to contact Home Away to get their copy of their correspondence with the guest. Anyway, it was not sufficient to keep the deposit. So now what do we do? I paid $3000.00 in a illegal chargeback. Which includes an additional $500 to Yapstone. Anyone else have illegal chargebacks that benifits Yapstone? Why are we paying fees if we don’t have representation?

Sheridan describes a situation in which YapStone (the built-in payment processor for HomeAway's vacation booking service) charged Sheridan $3,000 following a customer chargeback that Sheridan claims violated HomeAway's cancellation policy. Unfortunately, although YapStone attempted to investigate the incident, it did not have access to the customer's correspondence or the cancellation policy in question. This is because YapStone is an entirely different company than HomeAway, which forced Sheridan to attempt to resolve the same dispute through two separate companies' customer service channels.

This convoluted scenario is one major drawback of selling products on online platforms (such as Airbnb, Etsy, or Kickstarter) that route all payments through third-party payment processors. Withheld payments and account closures must be resolved through the third-party processor, but the third-party processor will often require sales details that are contained within the original platform. This forces merchants to go back and forth between the two entities to resolve time-sensitive situations. Many online sellers do not realize at the time of signup that their payment processor is a completely independent organization from the marketplace they've chosen to sell their products on.

You should be sure that you understand what channels you will need to use to resolve a potential chargeback, fund hold, or account termination, and that you are comfortable with that process.

Your Personal Credit At Risk?

Chris Shackelford's June 26 comment on our First American Payment Systems review states the following:

For years I couldn’t figure out what was on my personal credit rating from this company. Turns out it was their $495 early termination fee. Their sales person lied about almost everything.

As for the early termination fee, nothing was ever sent to get their fee which I would have gladly paid. Instead straight to a collection company.

In most cases, if a credit card processor wants a fee from you, they'll simply withdraw it from your bank account without warning (whether you like it or not, this power is granted to them in every contract in the industry). However, if you close your bank account before the processor has recovered its fees, there is a chance that it will report the outstanding “debt” to credit bureaus under your name and sell the debt to a collection agency. If you think that your processor might simply let you walk away without collecting every last cent it is entitled to, then you must be new to this industry.

Chris has learned a valuable lesson: even when you think you've escaped their clutches, be vigilant and watch your personal credit reports for any fishy developments.

Insult To Injury

Nikki Wisdom's June 28 comment on our MBF Leasing review states the following:

I have completed the required 48 months contract paying $15,500 for $4,500 worth of equipment and they still want $1,600 to buy it out! Ridiculous! Other companies I have dealt with charged $1 for the buyout.

Sadly, this is a common clause within long-term equipment lease contracts. Most merchants assume that the lease is a rent-to-own agreement that will grant them ownership of the machine once the term concludes, but the contract simply grants merchants the option to purchase the machine at the end of the lease or ship it back. Usually, this purchase cost is calculated as some percentage of the lease's overall cost or the machine's retail value. In other words, these lucky merchants are blessed with the opportunity to pay for a four-year-old machine twice.

It goes without saying that this is not a competitive price for a piece of equipment that can usually be bought for less than $400. Nikki's story is just another reason to avoid long-term equipment leases whenever possible.

Have you had an experience that you would like to share with these commenters? Reply to their comments and you may be featured in next month's complaint roundup!

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