Appstar Financial Overview
Association with Several Low-Rated Processors
Appstar Financial (appstar.net) is a U.S.-based merchant account provider that primarily targets its services to small and mid-sized businesses. Although we have not been able to verify it independently, Appstar Financial may be under the same ownership, or affiliated with, the following companies (as indicated by third-party reviews and information): Apex Merchant Group, Eliot Management Group, Trans Tech Merchant Group, Summit Merchant Solutions, First American Payment Systems and Certified Payment Processing.
Location and Ownership
AppStar Financial is a registered ISO/MSP of Fifth Third Bank, Cincinnati, Ohio, with corporate headquarters located at 4619 Viewridge Ave., Ste. C, San Diego, California 92123. Mark Leibowitz is listed as the founder and CEO of Appstar Financial.
Appstar Financial Review Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Appstar Financial appears to offer a three-year contract with a $495 early termination fee.
- Complaints & Service: Appstar Financial has received more than 100 public complaints.
- BBB Rating: Appstar Financial has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has received 64 complaints in the past three years.
- Sales & Marketing: Appstar Financial appears to hire independently contracted agents and has received a high volume of complaints about its sales team.
- Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With Appstar Financial
Advertising Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews are supported in part by helping you find highly reviewed merchant accounts. You can learn more here.
Types of Businesses Served
Appstar Financial Rates, Fees, and Costs
|Early Termination Fee||$495|
|PCI Compliance Fee||$125 Per Year|
|Equipment Lease Terms||None|
Variable Contract Terms
Appstar Financial merchant account costs and fees will likely vary from one merchant to the next based on the merchant’s business type and the agent setting up the account. Numerous merchants are reporting that they were charged high fees and were misled to believe that Appstar would be less expensive than their current provider, only to experience much higher costs once activated.
Appstar Financial Pricing
The company’s standard agreement appears to include a three-year service agreement with a $495 Early Termination Fee (ETF) and an annual PCI compliance fee of $125, both of which are automatically deducted from a merchant’s checking account. Additionally, the contract appears to automatically renew for successive one-year terms and is only cancellable within a small window of time before it renews. Merchants who choose to lease equipment may be subject to additional conditions and fees, including long-term, non-cancellable contracts. Merchants are advised to opt for a cheap merchant account provider, instead.
Appstar Financial Complaints & Customer Reviews
|Total Online Complaints||100+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Hidden Fees|
High Complaint Total
We are currently able to locate over 100 negative Appstar Financial reviews, many of which accuse the company of being a ripoff or a scam. The most common types of complaints that merchants have reported are uses of deceptive sales tactics by agents, constant telemarketing calls, nondisclosure of important fees prior to account setup (such as the ETF and PCI compliance fee), and holding of merchant funds. There are also complaints from former agents claiming mistreatment and being sent to bogus appointments with merchants.
Appstar Financial Support Options
Appstar Financial provides a contact phone number on its website, but it’s unclear whether this is a sales or support line. In any case, the company’s customer service department capabilities fall way short of what we expect from top-rated credit card processors for customer service.
Appstar Financial BBB Rating Summary
Key Points - BBB
|Product & Service Complaints||30|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||24|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||10|
|Guarantee & Warranty Complaints||0|
Note: We have adjusted this company’s BBB rating according to our own standards. To better understand why we adjust BBB ratings, please see our Rating Criteria.
Over 60 Complaints
As of this review, Appstar Financial has maintained Better Business Bureau accreditation since 2002 and an “A+” rating despite having 64 complaints filed within the last 36 months. Of the total, 30 are regarding problems with products and services, 10 with advertising and sales issues, and 24 with billing and collection. Twenty-four of the complaints have been resolved to the merchant’s satisfaction, while the remaining 40 Appstar Financial complaints either were resolved to the merchant’s dissatisfaction or did not receive a final response from the merchant.
What Merchants Say
This complainant describes aggressive sales tactics in the form of relentless telephone calls:
This company contacted us in April 2018 and sent someone to our office, they were told we were not interested in their services or products. The in-person salesman then called his supervisor who contacted us via phone, he was told we were not interested and wanted him to stop contacting our company. He was argumentative and would not agree to stop calling. He was hung up on. He proceeded to call back several times and even called my cell number. He was aggressive and was harassing me and was told again never to call back and to remove us from his calling list. We received a follow up call from this company again in May 2018. They were told again, we are not interested in your services, do not call us, remove us from your calling list. The telemarketer was argumentative insisting that I “requested” a follow up call because I was “too busy” last time. I repeatedly told him I did NOT request any follow up call, we do not want to be contacted by their company ever again and to remove us from their calling list. He would not confirm or agree to this and just kept aggressively arguing with me that I “wanted” them to call. This morning, July 17, 2018 at approximately 9:00am, I received another call from this company. I told the telemarketer that I have repeatedly told them not to call here anymore, we are not interested in their services and want them to stop calling. He continued to argue “that his notes show I requested a follow up call because I was too busy” previously. He literally sat there arguing. I told him I have told them multiple times to stop calling me and that I would file a complaint if he did not stop. He did not agree to stop contacting us or remove us from their call list. He continued to argue that I’d only been contacted twice, once in April, once in May, and that his “notes” clearly show I wanted a return call. Clearly, this company is harassing our company and purposely putting us back on their call list with false notation. This company needs to stop contacting us, we do not want their clearly terrible services and we want them to stop harassing us.
Merchants stuck in similar situations would benefit from knowing how to shut down sales calls.
A “C” Performance Overall
We have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “C” for the purposes of this review based on how our criteria would score the number and content of complaints.
Truth In Marketing & Advertising
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
Independent Sales Agents
Based on merchant reviews, it’s apparent that Appstar Financial relies heavily on telemarketing and independently contracted outside sales agents to market and sell its credit card processing services. Like most providers that use these tactics and score poorly in merchant reviews, Appstar appears to incentivize agents by linking higher commissions with higher rates and fees for merchants, including fees and lease terms on equipment. Due to this practice, agents are often focused on setting up expensive merchant accounts and long service agreements in exchange for higher payouts.
Deceptive Sales Practices
It is unclear if Appstar management condones aggressive sales tactics or encourages high pricing, but some complaints from former and current employees express disbelief at the deplorable sales strategies in practice by the company. It appears that, at minimum, there is a lack of oversight and education of many of its agents. Additionally, it looks as if Appstar enforces agreements even when merchants describe the use of deceptive sales tactics by an agent. Other than problems regarding Appstar’s telemarketing and sales agents, we found no other obvious examples of deceptive marketing, but if you suspect that the company is charging you undisclosed fees, we recommend seeking a free, third-party statement audit.
Appstar Financial Marketing Example
About Phillip Parker
Phillip Parker is a former merchant services sales agent who believes the industry has been overrun by people who engage in fraud and deception in order to steal from hard working business owners. He created this website to help you avoid the bad players, save money on fees, and to get peace of mind with your merchant account. If you would like to help support his work, learn more about our cost reduction service. We can evaluate your statement, tell you exactly how much you're overpaying, and then help you dramatically reduce your fees with your current credit card processor. Looking to switch instead? See our list of the best merchant account providers.Schedule a Consultation with Phillip