Central Payment Corporation
Central Payment Overview
Founded in 2005 in Larkspur, California, but currently based in San Rafael, Central Payment Corporation (cpay.com) is a merchant account provider that operates as a joint venture with TSYS as its card processor. TSYS is one of the biggest credit card processors in the industry.
In addition to supplying credit card processing services, CPAY also offers check conversion & guarantee, POS systems, mobile processing, e-commerce processing, payment gateways, and virtual terminals. Many of the additional services that CPAY offers come from third-party providers such as Authorize.net and PayJunction. Central Payment Corporation (CPAY) is headed up by brothers Zachary and Matthew Hyman and is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Walnut Creek, California, and of First National Bank of Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska.
|Key Points – Sales & Marketing|
|Uses independent resellers?||Yes|
|Promotes deceptive rate quotes?||No|
|Discloses all important terms?||No|
CPAY does not appear to use any deceptive advertising or online rate quoting that are apparent to this reviewer. However, the company relies heavily on independent outside sales agents which has resulted in damage to its reputation.
Based upon merchant complaints, CPAY either encourages agents to use deceptive quotes and omit contract details during the sales process, or management turns a blind eye to the practice. The complaints may also indicate that CPAY needs to improve its training program to better educate agents about the details of the contract.
CPAY could improve its rating in this section by reducing its complaint count regarding deceptive sales tactics and by removing the ability for agents to set expensive pricing.
CPAY Marketing Example
|Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms|
|PCI compliance fee:||$45-$75 per year|
CPAY agents appear to be able to set rates and pricing within certain guidelines as set by the company, so rates and fees may vary. With that said, it appears that CPAY encourages agents to set high pricing and rates in exchange for large commissions.
CPAY’s standard merchant account contract (available below) has a three-year service agreement with automatic renewal if not cancelled within a specified time frame. Merchants that cancel within the first year of service are subject to a $550 cancellation fee that is automatically debited from a merchant’s attached checking account; this fee decreases to $375 and then $300 after each subsequent year of the contract. The contract linked below also includes a setup fee of $195, an annual PCI compliance fee of $45 that can increase to $75 under certain conditions, a monthly minimum fee of $25, a statement fee of $9.50, and a tiered pricing schedule. Merchants are encouraged to fully read and understand their contracts before signing in order to avoid unexpected costs.
[spoiler title=”Expand to see a copy of the standard CPAY merchant account contract”]
Central Payment Corporation Merchant Agreement
|Key Points – Complaints & Service|
|Live customer support:||Yes|
|Most common complaint:||Hidden fees|
When you sign up for a merchant account with Central Payment there are a few things you should understand. One, Central Payment is acting as a reseller for TSYS, and two, while your payments are actually being processed by TSYS, you will be dealing with Central Payment Corporation exclusively for customer service.
For a provider of CPAY’s size and time in business, the company has an average-to-high number of complaints in comparison to similar providers. The complaints share a common theme with reports of agents quoting misleading processing rates, actual rates that were much higher than the original rate quotes, and that agents failed to disclose other important fees and contract terms. A few also claimed that their signatures were forged on pages of the contracts that the merchant was never supplied.
Central Payment does not use any sub-ISOs or other business names, and the company claims to manage over 140,000 merchant accounts directly, which concentrate the complaints on one business name. It is common practice in this industry for providers to use other DBAs in order to spread complaint count across different names, resulting the false appearance of a low complaint count among the different names. CPAY does not appear to take part in this unethical strategy, which is a positive sign for the company.
CPAY does a great job of reaching out to complainants in the comment section of this review, but it is unclear how many of these attempts at complaint resolution are ultimately successful.
As a ratio, the majority of CPAY merchants are likely satisfied with the company’s service, but it seems to be greatly determined by the agent setting up the account. Central Payment can improve its rating in this section by reducing the amount of future complaints and removing policies and agents that cause complaints for the company.
|Key Points – BBB Report|
As of this update, the CPAY Better Business Bureau (BBB) report is showing an “A+” rating despite 142 complaints filed in the past 36 months. Of these complaints, 69 are due to product and service problems, 58 with billing and collection, and 15 with advertising and sales. One positive sign is that 77% of the complaints have been resolved to the merchants’ satisfaction. Based on the complaint count and resolution ratio, we adjusted the rating to a “C+” for the purposes of this review. You can learn more about why we adjust BBB ratings in our rating criteria.
CPAY’s sales strategy, rate pricing, and contract terms seem to be causing most of the complaints about the company. CPAY can improve its rating in this review by setting tighter pricing controls, removing commission incentives that encourage agents to deceive merchants, improving agent training about its contract terms and fees, removing the automatic contract renewal clause, and significantly lowering or removing its early cancellation fee.
This review was originally published on 12/30/10 and was last updated on 7/7/14.
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