June 2017 Complaint Roundup: New Vantiv Fees, “Slamming,” 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 May and June. 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.

New Vantiv Chargeback Fees

Mr. Tom's June 13 comment on our Vantiv review states the following:

Now on my May statement, they have additional information at the end;

“Effective July 1, 2017, you will be assessed a $7.50 monthly chargeback service level fee. You will no longer be charged for chargebacks per occurrence. Your fee is subject to periodic review…”

I’ve NEVER had any chargebacks in the whole time I’ve been with these guys, about 5 years. Now I get to pay $7.50/mn to cover other people who get chargebacks. So I’m paying $90/yr now and get nothing but the possibility of it increasing.

Every month Vantiv is trying out some new scam to charge me for or auto opt me into something. Best scam on the planet, and they get away with it!!

Take $7.50 times the number of their customers and that’s how much extra money they’re going to get monthly as of July 1st.

Mr. Tom is right: this does sound like Vantiv may now be charging all customers according to their “chargeback service level,” even if, as in Mr. Tom's case, they have never had any chargebacks. If Mr. Tom is telling the truth, then the minimum amount that all merchants pay will be $7.50 per month, and it's likely that merchants who have had one or more chargebacks in the past will be charged even higher monthly “chargeback service level” fees. This is the first we have heard of such a fee because the industry standard is to charge $15 or $25 per chargeback occurrence.

Vantiv merchants are encouraged to get in touch with their representatives before this fee takes effect in July to determine what their “chargeback service level” might be.

Reputation Management: Is It Worth It?

Judy Brown's June 12 comment on our TRU Payment Processing review states the following:

They say they are a trusted partner of GOOGLE . But I seriously doubt this. They suggest they will increase your visibility on Google- for only $150.00 a month but they do nothing. The sales rep that sold me this scam came and went from tru360.com ! They say they will reimburse you for any contract fees you are currently in! They didn’t! They say they will reimburse you 110% if their processing fees are more than what you were paying! THEY DON’T. THEY SAY YOU HAVE FREE CLOVER SERVICES BUT the money you are actually paying goes to Clover which my small business cannot afford for the next 4 years unless I pay $4000. It hurts worse than being burglarized to be scammed.

Judy describes several issues she is having with TRU Payment Processing (also known as Truly360) here, but the most interesting claim she makes is that “they say they are a trusted partner of GOOGLE” and “will increase your visibility on Google- for only $150.00 a month.” We have seen an increase in payment processors that advertise web marketing or reputation management services alongside their credit card processing products. Usually, their pitch is similar to what Judy is describing: improve your Google search rank, receive preferred listings on Google, and track your marketing efforts alongside your payment processing.

We can't speak for TRU Payment Processing itself, but in general, merchants should think twice before paying for “better visibility” or “higher rankings” on Google. For one thing, there's no way to know how exactly a payment processor will try to influence Google or improve your ranking. They could employ a whole team to develop a custom Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy for your business, or they could simply add a few pictures to your company's profile and leave it at that. For another, you need to have a good grasp of how Google works before you pay a company to perform this service for you. Some widely-used tactics for improving Google search rankings are frowned upon by Google and could actually end up hurting your business's search position.

Close Call

Stephanie Steelman's June 8 comment on our Small Business Growth Alliance (SBGA) review states the following:

Individual name Austin called my business first he said he was affiliated with my processing company and first Data told us they were going to suspend my account because of my equipment. Called again. Said he was part of SBGA. Number he gives is8886421154 ext 2277. Now he claims he wanted us to get lower rates. This company hires people willing to lie

In the months immediately before and after October 2015, we saw a large influx of complaints from merchants who had been called from an unfamiliar number and told that their credit card processing equipment was “out of date” according to “Visa and MasterCard rules.” These mysterious callers were referring to the EMV shift deadline, an industry initiative that transferred liability for fraud from banks to business owners on October 1, 2015, unless the business owners updated their credit card terminals to accept EMV payments. As the deadline approached and faded, opportunistic telemarketers would call merchants and try to deceive the merchants into believing that they were being contacted by their existing credit card processors (a process known as “slamming“). They would then try to sell EMV terminals to “ensure compliance” with the new regulations, and it wasn't until later that the merchants found out they'd been locked into an equipment lease with a new company.

What Stephanie describes here seems very similar to those EMV deadline calls. It's surprising to see one of these complaints over a year after the EMV deadline has passed, but the truth is that a large number of merchants still haven't converted their POS systems to EMV-compatible terminals. Be on the lookout for calls like these, and do your own independent research. You can usually buy an EMV-compatible credit card reader for just a few hundred dollars, and you don't need a strange caller to arrange the purchase for you.

They're Always Watching

Mike's June 9 comment on our Square review states the following:

I totally agree. We were setting up our square account and my wife was trying to learn how to process payments…we had a couple of gift cards laying around with small balances (Under $9) and I did one to show her how it works, then she tried one and it was declined, we thought we were doing something wrong, so we kept trying different ways, keying it in manually, using a pin….always declined. As a result, Square deactivated our account, with no explanation, said it was final. I reached out to customer service and got a boilerplate response ” we already told you that you’ve been deactivated” a non answer, referring to terms of service, I can’t cour a hundred pages to find what their concern was so I asked them to explain….no response. They stink.

Although the cost to Mike in this case was minor compared to what some merchants have lost through Square, his example serves as a good reminder that processors monitor all of your payment activity. Merchant account aggregators like Square and PayPal use algorithms to track all user activity and identify unusual or suspicious transactions, and they won't hesitate to shut your account down even if you're just experimenting with a few dollars on a gift card. If you deviate from normal transaction patterns, you are at risk of a fund hold at the very least. Don't test the limits of your merchant account!

Some Things Never Change

Zulma's June 9 comment on our Direct Processors review states the following:

This company called me on a Friday after a 50 minutes phone conversation, I made the huge mistake to sign up with them. This is a non-cancelable contract for 48 month!!! I have not used my equipment yet nor even open the box with equipment yet,they promised me a $109.00. I’m just checking my bank account and they already took $ 35 Prorated fee that covers for 6 days. then also took 115.00 for monthly fee. Customer service Manager was very rude and stated that that is including taxes…
I ask her how much are the taxes. She said it goes by state and she wouldn’t be able to tell me what those are. She also said ” I been on the prone with you now for almost 30 minutes discussing about taxes man… What are you trying to get out of this conversation…?” then she said “I’m opening a request, and you are going to hear back from us in between 7 to 10 days about this tax charges, have a good day!”
I’m a customer and I have the right to know what am getting charge for. I don’t need customer service being rude and yelling.
This company is probably one of THE WORST lairs and RUDEST customer service.
I tried cancelling after 24 hours they say its non-cancelable so can’t do that

Sadly, there's nothing especially remarkable about this complaint. In fact, we get complaints like Zulma's all the time. The experience described here includes all of the things that merchants hate most about the industry: tedious, high-pressure telemarketing; unexpected fees; long-term, non-cancellable contracts; and extremely poor customer service. Credit card processors as a group have taken a huge leap forward over the past few years by starting to offer cheaper technology and low-commitment contracts, but the old ways of doing business die hard. Stay alert, do your research, and don't be afraid to hang up on strangers.

Currency Conversion Headaches

Geoff's June 8 comment on our Payza review states the following:

Recently, I deposited funds using my credit card into my Payza wallet, only to discover additional hidden fees from an un-announced merchant processor they are now using, which they failed to disclose prior to the transaction. Payza is now using a merchant processing outfit out of China called XTDSafeservice, and what they fail to disclose is that if you are NOT based on out of China, expect your credit card company to convert to their currency, and then convert back to your country’s currency, and YOU absorb the extra fees.

Not only are you paying Payza’s standard fees, but you will end up with a very shocking surprise when you find out that your credit card used in the loading(of your wallet) transaction just skyrocketed.

So I contacted Payza about this and they told me that it was my credit card company’s doing, not theirs. Well, that is WRONG! It is their doing because they chose this merchant processor, who happens to be out of China, instead of choosing a local merchant processor in the country where I live. I am not given any choice in this matter, and why would I pay Payza an already $25 fee, and then another $48 fee due to currency conversions, which all could have been avoided.

Besides, the transaction receipt from Payza showed one amount, but my credit card statement showed a much higher one.

WATCH OUT FOR PAYZA! They do not respect your or your money. They’re only in it to make money, NO MATTER what it costs you. BUYER BEWARE!!!!!!!

This is an issue we only hear about rarely because international money transfer services like Payza and Skrill are relatively new within the payment processing industry. However, conversion to and from multiple currencies is a very common source of unexpected fees with these services. In most cases, these services are happy to advertise their fee for transferring your money, but they place the information about additional conversion fees in the fine print. Keep in mind that international payment processing is still a very complicated service and that these companies must maintain a large number of banking relationships to make it possible. As a result, it's still not well-optimized for simple peer-to-peer money transfers, and 5% of a transaction should be considered a rock-bottom effective rate for a multi-currency money transfer.

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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