|Sales & Marketing|
|Costs & Contract|
|Complaints & Service|
Merchant Advocate (merchantadvocate.com, creditcardservicesnj.com) is a merchant account contract negotiation service headquartered in Jersey City, New Jersey. Founded in 2007, the company negotiates on behalf of U.S. merchants to guarantee lower rates and higher quality service with payment processing providers. Merchant Advocate does not appear to be affiliated with any specific merchant services provider or acquiring bank. The company is located at 100 Town Square, Suite 203, Jersey City, New Jersey 07310. Eric Cohen is listed as the CEO and founder of Merchant Advocate.
|Key Points – Sales & Marketing|
|Uses independent resellers?||No|
|Promotes deceptive rate quotes?||No|
|Discloses all important terms?||No|
Merchant Advocate appears to primarily market its services through its website, through partnerships with various professional associations, and through traditional advertising. The company does not list specific details of its assessment or negotiation practices in its official materials, but it also does not appear to be misrepresenting itself in any way. There is no indication at this time that Merchant Advocate uses high-pressure or deceptive sales tactics to sell its services. We will therefore award the company an “A” rating in this section for the time being.
|Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms|
|PCI compliance fee:||Variable|
Merchant Advocate pledges to only make money as a percentage of the monthly amount it saves each merchant. The company states that it is willing to negotiate lower terms with a merchant’s current provider rather than require a merchant to switch to a new company, which indicates that it isn’t simply trying to sign merchants up for an undisclosed parent company. Merchant Advocate also claims to monitor a merchant’s rates for the duration of the contract in order to ensure that the merchant’s credit card processor does not raise the merchant’s expenses. There are no reliable complaints online that indicate that the company doesn’t adhere to these claims.
Merchant Advocate’s services may be appealing to merchants who do not feel capable of handling negotiations themselves. Merchants should understand, however, that a portion of the amount saved by partnering with Merchant Advocate will be paid out to Merchant Advocate. Merchants who feel comfortable negotiating but do not feel as though they have enough knowledge about the industry may be better served by reading “Fee Sweep” and retaining 100% of the savings they negotiate.
|Key Points – Complaints & Service|
|Live customer support:||Yes|
|Most common complaint:||N/A|
There appears to be only one negative Merchant Advocate review available online at this time, and this complaint directly accuses the company of being a scam. It is unclear whether the complainant in this case is actually referring to Merchant Advocate, as the complaint mentions a company called “Merchants Advocates Group” based in Dallas, Texas. The merchant does state that their representative came from New Jersey and signed the merchant up for a contract through EVO Merchant Services, but we are unable to find any other evidence online that Merchant Advocate is partnered with EVO in any way. We are discounting this isolated incident at this time. The Merchant Advocate website lists phone and email contact information and appears to be directly serviced by the company.
|Key Points – BBB Report|
Merchant Advocate is an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau. As of this review, the company has an “A+” rating with the BBB and has had zero complaints filed against it in the last 36 months. The company has also not received any informal reviews on its BBB profile, although it should be noted that these reviews are not subject to verification by the BBB. Since it is our philosophy that “A+” ratings should be reserved for companies with zero complaints, we agree with the BBB’s rating in this case.
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This review was originally published on 4/15/13 and was last updated on 5/6/15.
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