Bluefin Payment Systems (bluefin.com) is a merchant account provider headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The company was launched in 2007 and formerly operated under the name Capital Payments, but has grown rapidly under its new Bluefin name since mid-2012. The company offers a proprietary payment gateway called PayConex. Bluefin Payment Systems is a registered ISO/MSP of Deutsche Bank AG in New York and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., in Walnut Creek, California. John Perry is listed as the CEO of Bluefin.
In February 2016, Bluefin reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission following charges that it enabled a telemarketing scheme called The Tax Club to use merchant accounts to process consumers’ credit card payments. The Tax Club allegedly scammed consumers who were trying to start home-based businesses, and Bluefin (then operating as Capital Payments) was accused of processing payments for The Tax Club despite numerous red flags that the company was engaging in fraudulent activity. As a condition of the settlement, Bluefin “is banned from payment processing or acting as an ISO for several categories of clients and prohibited from assisting or facilitating any merchant it knows, or should know, is violating the FTC Act or the TSR. In addition, Bluefin must screen prospective clients that meet certain criteria, monitor their sales activity to detect indications of deceptive conduct, and terminate contracts with those engaged in deceptive conduct.”
- Sales & Marketing: Bluefin does not appear to hire independent sales representatives and has not received any merchant complaints about its sales team.
- Costs & Contract: Bluefin appears to offer a three-year contract through First Data with a variable early termination fee.
- Complaints & Service: Bluefin has received fewer than 10 public complaints.
- BBB Rating: Bluefin has an “A-” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has received one complaint in the past three years.
- Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With Bluefin
Sales & Marketing
Key Points - Sales & Marketing
|Employs Independent Resellers||No|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
Bluefin’s website is easy to navigate and generally much more informative than the average industry website. The company markets its proprietary PayConex gateway and clearly explains the terms of PCI compliance, for which it offers its clients a free reporting tool. Bluefin does not appear to use independent sales agents or practice deceptive marketing strategies, and there are currently no complaints that accuse the company’s sales team of nondisclosure or misrepresentation of costs.
Bluefin’s 2016 FTC settlement does suggest that the company may have improperly processed payments for a company that was bilking customers out of their hard-earned money. However, this type of conduct doesn’t negatively impact the experience that other Bluefin customers may have. While we would normally condemn any company’s efforts to intentionally scam other business owners, we don’t see the 2016 settlement as a red flag about Bluefin’s merchant-facing sales team. We have accordingly given the company an “A” rating in this category.
Costs & Contract
Key Points - Costs & Contract
|Early Termination Fee||Variable|
|PCI Compliance Fee||Variable|
|Equipment Lease Terms||Variable|
Bluefin doesn’t appear to have any publicly listed complaints about its contract terms, but we were able to locate one complaint filed under the Capital Payments name regarding unauthorized fees. Since it has been some time since Capital Payments completed its rebranding, this older complaint will not negatively impact Bluefin’s score in this category. Aside from this lone complaint, there is very little publicly available information regarding the specifics of Bluefin’s contract terms. The company’s program guide through First Data is available below, but it does not outline any specific costs or terms except for the fact that the contract lasts for three years and includes an undisclosed termination fee. We have found one or two complaints related to fund holds, but given Bluefin’s 2016 settlement, it’s reasonable to assume that the company is now hyper-aggressive with respect to potentially fraudulent payments. Merchants in borderline-high risk industries should be aware of this possibility.
Given the absence of complaints about this company, Bluefin will be awarded an “A” rating. See the Bluefin Program Guide.
Complaints & Service
Key Points - Complaints & Service
|Total Online Complaints||<10|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||N/A|
We have located nearly 10 negative Bluefin reviews, most of which can be found in the comment section of this review. Complainants cite delayed payouts, unreachable customer service, and difficulties with delays or fees upon cancelling service. These complaints have primarily been filed in the past two years with some consistency, but they do not paint an especially troubling picture of the company’s operations. Bluefin’s website does not appear to offer a direct customer support line, instead providing an email template, live chat, and an 800 number for general inquiries.
Key Points - BBB
|Product & Service Complaints||0|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||1|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||0|
|Guarantee & Warranty Complaints||0|
The Better Business Bureau report for Bluefin appears to be filed under a different address than the company’s Atlanta, Georgia, headquarters. The BBB awards Bluefin BBB accreditation and an “A-” rating for its Melville, New York, location, citing one complaint filed in the last 36 months. This lone complaint was related to a billing or collection dispute and either was resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or did not receive a final assessment from the merchant. Given the fact that the company has received only one complaint, we agree with the BBB’s rating at this time.
Related: EMV Terminal Recommendations
About Phillip Parker
Hi, I’m Phillip and I’m disgusted by the state of credit card processing in the U.S. and abroad. I believe that the industry has been overrun by people who engage in fraud and deception in order to steal money from hard working business owners. I’ve made it my mission to expose the companies and individuals who engage in predatory marketing, pricing, and contracts, or just provide terrible service. Along with uncovering the bad guys, I’ve also discovered the good guys who do stand out from the status quo. CPO is a website where you will find ratings and reviews of these companies along with advice on how to save money and which service providers consider. Together we can move the industry in a positive direction. If you would like to help support my work, please checkout “Fee Sweep” my eGuide to getting the lowest possible fees when accepting card payments. If you haven’t heard of “interchange” this advice will save you hundreds, even thousands, in processing fees.Schedule a Consultation with Phillip
Related: Phillip’s Top All-Purpose Merchant Account Picks
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