May 2019 Complaint Roundup: More Unified Payments Allegations

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 April and May. 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.

Oleg Firer Criminal Activity Claims

Alexei Goncharov's May 9 comment on our Unified Payments review shares an article that he wrote:

More in depth information about the CEO:

Alexei's article provides a detailed overview of Unified Payments CEO Oleg Firer's professional history as well as a large number of his political and personal connections. The article also alleges that Firer himself has forged signatures, lied to the SEC, and taken compensation of $13.6 million in Net Element’s stock while the company's shares plummeted in value. Although we cannot verify that all of the information presented is factual, some of it does align with the research we've presented in our own review of Unified Payments.

It is our opinion that there are enough questions about the ownership of Unified Payments to advise merchants to steer entirely clear of the company for the time being. Merchants who are aware of any concerning information should consider reporting the company to the proper authorities.

Elavon Drops CBD Merchants

Shaun's May 7 comment on our Elavon review states the following:

Where do I begin. I have only had this processor for around 5-6 months then one day was notified that any cbd related products accounts only had 30 days to process and we were terminated after that. So since day 1 they knew what we were processing but months later they are terminating all accounts processing for cbd products. On top of that they have charged me a non pci compliant charge to my already over priced fees. We had 1 sale for the months and in return they charged us 107.00 in fees! So they also charged us a fee for only 1 charge for the months. A minimum monthly fee they call it. Biggest corrupt sh*t I ever have seen. This is why other companies are putting these guys out business due to their fees! I am and still waiting on a call from their customer service department. Wasted a lot of my time and it makes me sick. Stay away from these sharks

Elavon's decision has sent shock waves throughout the CBD payment processing sector, as many high risk merchant account providers began boarding merchants through Elavon after the company quietly began approving CBD merchants earlier this year. This setback indicates that even large financial institutions like U.S. Bank still operate in fear of regulatory crackdowns related to processing payments for CBD, hemp, and marijuana merchants. In the wake of Elavon's decision, high risk specialists are scrambling to find new domestic and offshore options to ensure that CBD vendors can continue processing payments. To see the latest list of CBD-friendly merchant account providers, check out our list of the top-rated CBD merchant accounts.

Square Cash's Limitations

Tee's April 28 comment on our Square Cash review states the following:

I have 1802.44 in my cash app account. My checks from my job we’re getting deposited into my account and cash app closed my account without warning. They canceled my card so I can’t use it. I’ve been trying to get access to my money for over a month now. There is no customer support. I keep getting the same generic response every time I reach out to them. I linked a bank account and it will not let me cash out. I tried to link my debit card from the same bank account and it will not even let me add it. I have seen so many bad reviews about cash app. I think they are scammers and are taking people money. I have reached out to the bbb to try to get this issue resolved. That’s too much money to just let them have.

Square Cash presents itself as the easiest way to transfer money from one bank account to another, but it is not recommended for commercial or payroll deposits for this reason. Mobile apps such as Square Cash and Venmo are intended for informal peer-to-peer transactions only, and some of them explicitly ban the use of the basic app for formal trade purposes. If you are a contractor or an employee, you should not accept payment via these apps because your risk of a fund hold is exceedingly high. And with Square's lacking customer support department, there is a serious possibility that you will be targeted by a Square customer support scam.

Strange Interchange Quotes

Aden's April 24 complaint on our Leap Payments review states the following:

Our entire experience with Leap Payments was awful, a classic bait and switch. We dealt with Cliff Zone and he used a series of shady tactics and we got ripped off as a result.

We signed on with them in January of 2019. After speaking with him on the phone we were excited about the low rate he promised us of 2.99%. We repeatedly asked him through email and recorded phone calls if 2.99% was the ONLY percentage we would be charged and have multiple confirmations from him that we would not be charged anything other than 2.99%, plus the small transaction fees we also agreed to. He was responsive and helpful in getting us on board and that is where it all went downhill.

After about 2 months we started noticing that the fees they were billing us were unusually high, far above the 2.99 that we agreed to, and that Cliff promised us we would be paying. We asked him where our transaction statements were and he started ignoring our emails. After 10 days, I emailed him again and demanded access to our statements and he finally responded that he would ask someone to help us get set up to access to the statement portal. I was shocked when I logged in and saw that we were being charged more than 6% per transaction, and not the 2.99% that Cliff assured us we would be paying. I knew that his ignoring my emails asking for statements was because there was something shady going on and I was right.

I immediately emailed Cliff and demanded an explaination and he ignored the email. After my second email he replied that he would order a “rate review” which I assumed was because they made an error and would be fixing and refunding the extra % fees they were charging us.

When I didn’t hear back for 8 days, I emailed again asking what the status of our fee refunds was and that is when my phone started ringing. On the call he explained to me that the rate he signed us up with was 2.99% ABOVE INTERCHANGE, and the above 6% we were being charged was correct, and that there would be no refund. I explained to him that looking back on the emails and calls I can see that he assured me repeatedly that we wouldn’t be charged any percentages more than 2.99%.

Cliff lied his way into making the sale, and then became evasive in order to keep us from finding out what was going on. He apologized and explained that it must have been a miscommunication. Fortunately for us, we have every phone call and email with him recorded (including him talking about slimy tactics to get around regulations with the credit card companies). Again, looking back on everything, and having an attorney as one of the owners of our business it is clear that Cliff used fraud and deceptive tactics to gain our business, costing us hundreds of dollars in additional fees we did not agree to. We will be pursuing legal action against Leap Payments (and also sending all the emails and recordings to Elavon) and possibly a class action as we are obviously not the first people they have done this to based on the other reviews.

As longtime advocates for interchange-plus pricing, we believe that payment processors who advertise interchange-plus rather than tiered pricing are more likely to be ethical actors. However, this tactic give us pause. Disclosing only the interchange markup without mentioning base interchange costs seems like an easy way to confuse merchants, and it enabled the agent in this example to obtain a massive markup on each transaction (for comparison, standard interchange-plus markups usually do not exceed 0.75%). This is yet another reason why merchants should educate themselves about pricing trends in the credit card processing industry. Merchants who suspect that they've fallen prey to this trick are encouraged to seek a third-party statement audit to spot hidden markups.

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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