July 2018 Complaint Roundup: It Sure Looks Like BB&T Is Padding Its Fees

What Are Other Merchants Saying?

Negotiation image
© 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.

Another Warning About Hidden Fees From BB&T

TW's June 14 comment on our BB&T Merchant Services review states the following:

Please know that no matter how big or small you are, BB&T will add .50% to all interchange rates over 2.2%. It’s called enhanced interchange, and it is totally unethical. Check your statements! Interchange is posted online on the card brand sites. For instance, VS Signature Electronic interchange rate is 2.4% and $.10. If you check your statement, chances are you are paying 2.9% and $.10. You will notice, if you know where to look, that all the other card brand fees are inflated, and on top of all of that, there is a clearing and settlement fee of up to .15%! As of June 2018, there is a new fee of $.07 for every $100 processed. Go to Visa.com and see the most up to date Visa interchange rates, then match to your statement. You will get a shock! To the merchant who is waiting for a call back, don’t hold your breath! I would start looking for another processor. No contract, no Early termination fee, and make them sign a statement that they will never “pad” or “enhance” interchange. If they won’t sign, don’t walk away, run!

If you think because you have been a loyal customer of BB&T that they will be loyal to you, think again. They are in the business of making money, and that is exactly what they are great at doing

We've Seen This Before From BB&T

TW's complaint echoes Michhael Ilsemann's March 1 complaint about BB&T padding interchange. Now that we have more details, it appears that BB&T really is sneaking a massive hike of 0.5% into all interchange rates above 2.2%. If it isn't properly disclosed, this is highly unethical.

If you are a BB&T merchant, we recommend getting your statements analyzed and your rates renegotiated by an independent professional.

Stripe Bending Its Own Rules?

Josh Brandon's July 2 comment on our Stripe review states the following:

Stripe processing over $30MM for Porn Websites Onlyfans.com?
[REDACTED – ed.]

Wondering if anyone on this forum cares about this considering many of you have your accounts shut down with Stripe for WAY LESS. Stripe is CURRENTLY processing millions of dollars per month for a trending porn site, OnlyFans.com.

Onlyfans.com is fronting as a social media network, but in reality is a pornographic marketplace, where amateurs and professional porn stars sell “selfie-style” porn content via a monthly subscription paywall.

A hashtag search of ‘onlyfans’ on Instagram or Twitter reveals the NSFW community described above. This really gives you a good sense of what this community is about: [REDACTED – ed.]

Onlyfans.com’s landing page presents their platform as a diverse ecosystem offering content from various categories of social media entertainers(singers, fitness trainers, photographers), but in reality, the only content being sold on Onlyfans.com is porn. They have over 1 million users buying and selling porn all supported by Stripes payment infrastructure. Onlyfans boasts about paying out more than $30MM to their “creators”, which based on their 20% commission business, means they must have processed at least $37MM? [REDACTED – ed.]
Here are example pages on Onlyfans.com. (NSFW) [REDACTED – ed.]

Onlyfans.com actually state in their Terms and Conditions ([REDACTED – ed.]) that they use Stripe as both their payments and payout processor.

OnlyFans.com Payments URL and view source, you can see Stripe’s API being invoked.

“For Research” I subscribed to a couple of the Onlyfans.com adult “Creators” and Stripe was listed on my Banking Statement w/ Merchant Info
Stripe prohibits ANY porn/adult businesses/services per their Terms & Conditions.

The following categories of businesses and business practices are prohibited from using the Stripe Service (“Prohibited Businesses”).Pornography and other obscene materials (including literature, imagery and other media); sites offering any sexually-related services such as prostitution, escorts, pay-per view, adult live chat features

If Stripe is going to prohibit high risk businesses such as Gambling,illicit drug paraphernalia, pyramid schemes, shouldn’t Stripe aim to underwrite all of their supported businesses equally and with rigor. However, if they are making exceptions for pornography, shouldn’t the world know about this?

Please feel free to email me back with any questions. Looking forward to some feedback.

An Uneven Playing Field

CPO fully supports adult-oriented businesses that wish to obtain merchant accounts, but it does seem that Josh has identified a double standard at Stripe. Although his comment seems to suggest that OnlyFans.com shouldn't be allowed to use Stripe, we would argue the opposite: Stripe should expand and clarify its prohibited activities list so that adult- and adult-adjacent merchants like OnlyFans know precisely how they are allowed to use Stripe's service. This situation makes it seem like Stripe is willing to look the other way for clients that process millions of dollars per month, which must be infuriating for smaller merchants who have had their accounts terminated.

More Tricks From Main Street

Molly's June 15 complaint on our Main Street Processing review states the following:

I got a call from a man asking for the person who is in charge of the merchant services. I said “I’m sorry, we’re not interested,” and hung up. I get at least two of these calls a week.

I get a call IMMEDIATELY back, saying, “Can I just speak to *my boss’s name*? This isn’t a sales call.” I asked him his name and where he was calling from.

Damien, “My name is Damien, I’m calling from your merchant service. My number is 1 855 409…”

Me, “Okay Damien *writes down numbers as he says them.”

Damien, “Can you just repeat those numbers back to me?” (In a VERY rude tone, I assumed to make sure I’m actually writing it down.”

Me, “Uhhh 1 855 409…”

And then he finished off the number. I then asked, “So what, exactly, is this call in regards to?”

Damien *growing increasingly impatient and rude*, “I have on record that you were charged too much, so I wanted to call to make sure that your account was credited. There should be something marked as ‘adjusted’ or ‘credited’ in your May statement.”

I came online and googled the phone number and read all of these comments.

I will update you if he calls back, but clearly it’s just an aggressive sales call.

It's Just Shameful at This Point

When we first warned merchants about “slamming” attempts from Main Street Processing four years ago, we expected the company to switch names to escape its bad reputation. Amazingly, though, Main Street continues to call merchants under its established name and phone number to pose as their current provider. Smart business owners like Molly are able to sniff out their tactics from the start, but we've shared this so that all business owners can see the current language that Main Street's reps are using.

Reports like this are a huge reason why Main Street is considered one of the worst merchant account providers in the industry.

When Hurrying Leads To Holds

James Westerfield's June 19 comment on our Merchant One review states the following:

We are SO incredibly dissatisfied with the poor service and lack of professionalism from Merchant One. We were told we would be set up to run credit cards within days. It took well over a week as we had credit card charges piling up to run. A week later, I still did not have anything set up with a card swiper not online and I had to keep hounding them. I had to end up paying $40 for overnight shipment of the card readers as we couldnt not keep waiting to run the card numbers we had. So I ran the initial cards online telling them that I had to do this now, but from then on, they would mostly be run as a “swiped” transactions. The representative said okay and that he would notify risk services of the situation. So, AFTER I paid for the card readers and was finally set up online, they canceled my account and all the transactions I ran the week before! No real reason, just that they were uncomfortable with us running high charges online (even though we had told them why) now, we are in a jam having to wait to get set up with someone else. STAY CLEAR OF THE MERCHANT ONE HASSLE AND HEADACHES!!!

Lipa's June 24 comment on our WorldPay review describes a similar situation:

i have a new contract set up, i waited for my terminal for over 3 weeks, and once i received it, i was bombarded with payments that my clients were owing, after worldpay had seen that there was too many transactions coming through in a short time they immediately terminated the contract and froze the money for 120 days. after calling and explaining to them the situation and saying that all the transactions can be verified and all was legit, all i was told sorry we can’t help you, YOU OFF THE SYSTEM!
i have also applied to different suppliers, but was refused!! STUCK.

Don't Bombard Your Account With Payments

Both James and Lipa didn't receive their processing equipment for weeks after setting up their accounts, which is a huge failure by their processors. However, in their hurry to get up and running, both merchants started processing a huge backlog of transactions through their brand-new merchant accounts, which is the fastest way to attract the attention of a processor's risk department. Sure enough, both merchants had their funds frozen and their accounts terminated. In James's case, even contacting Merchant One beforehand couldn't prevent the hold.

It's clear that both merchants were victims of slow service and unreasonable policies. However, they may have been able to avoid this outcome by understanding why credit card processors hold funds.

CCNow's Issues Continue

Malcolm Dalglish's May 26 comment on our CCNow review states the following:

I am a composer / musician selling scores and CDs. CCNow has been our reliable online retailer for 18 years, paying us monthly by check and now, recently by direct deposit. But now… we’ve not been paid for 7 months. Our last payment was Nov 2017, an un-arranged and un-announced cumulative payment covering 4 months. Meanwhile they continue to charge our customers, send us orders that we fulfill…report on their website our monthly “direct deposits to our bank” But..They don’t make those deposits. They owe us $2650. Nor do they respond to our telephone calls or emails. It seems we are not alone. Are they paying the big accounts while scamming the small ones? What do we do? Have they gone rogue? Criminal?

It's Time to Switch

We've been receiving reports of this nature about CCNow for a year now despite comments from some merchants claiming that the company has gotten its affairs in order. Malcolm's comment makes it clear: CCNow isn't paying its merchants in a reasonable timeframe. If you are a current or potential CCNow user, it's time to take your business to a reputable high risk specialist.

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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