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. Central Payment Corporation (CPAY) is owned and operated 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.
Sales & Marketing
Key Points - Sales & Marketing
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
CPAY does not appear to use any deceptive advertising or rate quoting in its official materials. 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 below this review and elsewhere 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 plans.
Central Payment Corporation (CPAY) Marketing Example
Costs & Contract
Key Points - Costs & Contract
|Early Termination Fee||None|
|PCI Compliance Fee||$45-$75 per year|
|Equipment Lease Terms||Variable|
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.
As of January 2016, CPAY’s standard agreement (available below) has been amended to offer month-to-month terms with no early termination fee. Prior to this change, CPAY’s standard merchant account contract was a three-year service agreement with automatic renewal unless cancelled within a specified time frame. Merchants who cancelled within the first year of service were subject to a $550 cancellation fee; this fee decreased to $375 and then $300 after each subsequent year of the contract. The contract linked below also includes a setup fee of $195 (which can be waived at the agent’s discretion), 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. The company’s new month-to-month contract terms are a step in the right direction, and we will be monitoring merchant feedback to see how this new pricing system works for new merchants. See the Central Payment Corporation Merchant Agreement.
Complaints & Service
Key Points - Complaints & Service
|Total Online Complaints||160+|
|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, including 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 complainants also claim that their signatures were forged on pages of the contracts that they 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 concentrates the complaints on one business name. It is common practice in this industry for providers to use other DBAs in order to spread complaints across different names, resulting the false appearance of a low complaint count among several providers. CPAY does not appear to take part in this unethical strategy, which is a positive sign for the company.
CPAY has historically done a good 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.
The majority of CPAY merchants appear to be satisfied with the company’s service, but each merchant’s satisfaction 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 by removing policies and agents that cause complaints for the company.
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Key Points - BBB
|Product & Service Complaints||66|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||59|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||30|
|Guarantee & Warranty Complaints||1|
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.
As of this update, Better Business Bureau is showing an “A+” rating for CPAY despite 156 complaints filed in the past 36 months. Of these complaints, 66 are due to product and service problems, 59 with billing and collection, and 30 with advertising and sales. The company has resolved 34 of these complaints to the merchants’ satisfaction, while the remaining 122 either were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or did not receive a final response from the merchant. Based on the company’s complaint count and resolution ratio, we have adjusted the BBB‘s rating to a “C” for the purposes of this review.
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About Phillip Parker
Phillip Parker is a former merchant services agent turned small business advocate and the author of "Fee Sweep," which teaches merchants how to dramatically lower their processing rates, eliminate junk fees, and avoid fine-print scams. He founded CardPaymentOptions.com to help merchants enact positive change in the credit card processing industry. Schedule a Consultation with PhillipSchedule a Consultation with Phillip
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