Clearent Reviews & Complaints

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2.5
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How did they treat you? ▼

Pros & Cons
Pros: Cons:
Interchange-plus pricing. Non-transparent pricing.
Low complaint rate. Early termination fee.
Responsive to criticism. High regulatory fee.
Inconsistent sales rep information.
Annual fee increases.

Overview

In this article, we offer an insightful overview of Clearent. We'll examine key aspects of the company, including their rates and fees, contract terms, and the nature of customer and industry complaints. Our analysis extends to Clearent's acquisition history, particularly its transformation into Xplor after merging with TSG, and a close look at its diverse payment processing capabilities, including its unique features and data protection services.

We also shed light on Clearent's approach to customer onboarding, embedded payments, and their focus on transparency and partner collaboration. This article includes an assessment of Clearent's customer support, along with a review of customer feedback and legal challenges faced by the company. Our aim is to provide a concise yet comprehensive understanding of Clearent's services, helping readers navigate the complexities of their offerings and industry standing.

About Clearent

Headquartered in Clayton, Missouri, Clearent is a merchant account provider that offers its own proprietary payment gateway and virtual terminal. Clearent claims to be a direct processor, but TSYS provides after-hours customer support for Clearent's credit card processing equipment. Founded in 2005, the company offers services for ISOs, financial institutions, and merchants.

Clearent Acquisitions and Mergers

In January 2017, Clearent acquired Payment Alliance International‘s merchant services division, which was a primarily high-risk portfolio focused on firearm merchant accounts. In March 2018, a private equity firm named Advent International acquired Clearent and merged it with an independent software vendor named FieldEdge. In July 2018, Clearent acquired a POS provider for the dry cleaning industry named Compassmax. The Compassmax acquisition shored up Clearent's offerings for dry cleaning merchants by pairing Compassmax's software with previously acquired assets from SPOT Business Systems. 2020 brought the acquisition of Wintac, and 2021 saw Clearent merge with Advent's TSG to create a new brand called Xplor, though they are currently still running Clearent under its own name.

Clearent Payment Processing

Clearent is a payment processor that offers processing for most major forms of payments, including credit and debit cards and touchless payments to most business types. They boast such features as DataGuardian data-breach protection, OptBlue for American Express processing, PayTrace to reduce B2B processing fees, Compass online reporting, next-day funding, the “Empower” program to share processing costs with customers, cash advances, small business loans, loyalty programs for customers, and ACH and check processing.

Payment Onboarding and Underwriting

Clearent offers automated onboarding and underwriting for SaaS platforms. They provide boarding APIs that allow for a seamless experience for users and flexibility for the platform.

Embedded Payments

The company goes beyond just payment technology and focuses on building relationships with partners. They aim to provide effective payment solutions that drive results for small businesses.

Transparency and Collaboration

Clearent emphasizes transparency and collaboration with their partners. They offer detailed residual reports and easy access to various support teams.

Sales and Marketing Support

Clearent provides sales and marketing support to help meet business goals. They act as an extension of your team to drive adoption and usage of the product.

Payment Monetization

The company aims to build consistent annual recurring revenue streams for their partners while lowering churn and cost of acquisition.

Video Summary

Clearent Customer Reviews

Here's What Their Clients Say

Customer Reviews Summary
Total Online Complaints 15+
Live Customer Support Yes
Most Common Complaint Fund-Holds
Recent Lawsuits Yes

Rising Complaint Total

Currently, we have identified more than 20 negative Clearent reviews outside of the BBB, with some customers alleging the company’s involvement in fraudulent activities. Many older Clearent reviews highlight issues such as nondisclosure of early termination fees and cancellation policies. Recent complaints, possibly stemming from Clearent’s acquisition of Payment Alliance International, mention withheld funds and denied applications. In contrast, there is a significant number of unverified positive testimonials, praising Clearent’s transparent pricing and affordable contract terms. It’s worth noting that several reviews misspell Clearent as “Clearant,” indicating potential confusion among customers. If you have your own Clearent review, feel free to share it in the comments below.

Clearent Lawsuits

In 2015, Clearent faced a lawsuit in Federal District Court filed by Eastward Capital Partners for breach of contract, which was later remanded to state court.

Another lawsuit, Mr. JJ, LLC v. Clearent, LLC, emerged in 2022. The plaintiff accused Clearent of breaching its contract and engaging in deceptive trade practices by misrepresenting fees and failing to disclose additional charges. Allegations included violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Texas Business and Commerce Code. While Clearent denied any wrongdoing, the lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount. As part of the settlement, Clearent agreed to refund fees to affected businesses and enhance its disclosures and billing practices.

Clearent Customer Support Options

Clearent provides live phone and email support during business hours, supplemented by TSYS for after-hours assistance with payment terminals. While this meets basic expectations for customer service, it falls short of the standards set by top-rated payment processors.

Clearent Customer Service Information

  • (866) 435-0666 – Sales and Support
  • (866) 617-6079 – Activations Support
  • (314) 732-0515 – Headquarters Office
  • (314) 721-7300 – Fax

Other Support Options

Clearent Online Ratings

Here's How They Rate Online

Online Ratings Summary
BBB Rating 1
Our Rating 2.5
Average Rating 1.75

BBB Rating Analysis for Clearent

Clearent based in Creve Coeur, MO, is not BBB accredited and has an “A+” rating. The company has an average customer review rating of 1/5 stars based on 6 customer reviews. Additionally, there are 38 complaints closed in the last 3 years, with 21 complaints closed in the last 12 months. Common themes in the reviews and complaints include issues with billing and collection, problems with product/service, and dissatisfaction with customer support. Customers frequently express frustration over unexpected fees, poor communication, and challenges in resolving disputes or canceling services.

Negative Feedback

I have been using Clearent for my companies C/C processing since March 2019. After repeated instances of being charged fees for anything and everything it became necessary in November 2023 to sever ties with this company. Originally the *** I used said no monthly service fees. That changed this year and they started charging me. When my contract was done I asked not to be auto renewing and was told that would be no problem. It must have been because I just got charged $395.00 for early termination after 3 years and 6 months of using them. In November of this year when rules changed about cash discount and debit card/credit card fees, my company was left at risk because as of the date I terminated Clearent they still hadn’t resolved or even contacted me about changes that needed to be made. I found these out through research. I contacted Clearent about the latest fee and the phone rep. just said nothing could be done and cut the call short. Be very careful using this company. Stay diligent. – Review from Billy R., November 29, 2023

I’ve been a loyal customer of Clearent for eight years. Throughout my time with them, I’ve encountered various charges, including annual fees, monthly fees, and statement fees, PCI fee, etc. However, there was never any disclosure or mention of an early termination fee. When I decided to close my account on 9/28/23, I was explicitly assured that I wouldn’t be charged an early termination fee by Clearent. In fact, it was conveyed that if such a fee were to be incurred, I would receive a refund. To my disappointment, when I initiated the account closure process, I faced significant challenges in dealing with different departments within Clearent. Despite my initial understanding, I was subsequently notified that they were unwilling to refund the $395 early termination fee. – Complaint from October 17, 2023

Positive Feedback

There are no positive reviews published about Clearent LLC on the BBB website.

Source: BBB

Clearent Fees, Rates & Costs

A Closer Look at The Contract

Cost & Fees Summary
Cancellation Penalties Yes
Monthly & Annual Fees Yes
Processing Rates Interchange-Plus
Equipment Leasing Unclear

Three-Year Contract

The standard Clearent contract spans three years through TSYS and includes an early termination fee of $395 per location or the maximum amount allowed by state law. Additionally, merchants are subject to a PCI non-compliance fee of $24.99 monthly, an initial annual fee of $29.95, which increases to $59.95 thereafter, and an interchange-plus pricing model.

Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing

Apart from its in-store payment processing services, Clearent promotes its virtual terminal and payment gateway without disclosing pricing. According to the terms and conditions, merchants can opt for a third-party service for online payment gateway needs. Typically, additional charges such as gateway fees, technical support fees, batch fees, and extra transaction rates are applicable to these e-commerce services.

Clearent Cancellation Policy

Multiple sources suggest that the Clearent early termination fee is $295 if not canceled with a 30-day notice. However, recent reports from company representatives indicate that Clearent’s contract can be canceled free of charge with a 30-day notice. Some representatives state that the company’s annual fee is actually a $49.95 regulatory fee.

Clearent Regulatory Fee

Contrary to industry standards, “regulatory fees” are typically imposed by processors to cover mandatory IRS reporting costs. In most cases, these fees do not approach $49.95 per account, warranting caution regarding any “IRS reporting” or “regulatory” fee. According to a company representative, Clearent’s regulatory fee can be waived by the company’s agents, and business owners should request its removal whenever possible.

Industry-Average Pricing

Clearent’s three-year contract with automatic renewal and a $49.99 regulatory fee may not be competitive compared to terms offered by the most affordable merchant accounts. For updated information on the standard Clearent contract, please share your insights in the comment section below.

Clearent Employee Reviews & Sales Tacitcs

Should You Work For Them?

Jobs & Marketing Summary
Uses Independent Resellers Yes
Telemarketing Unclear
Misleading Marketing No
Discloses All Important Terms No

Inside/Outside Sales Team

Clearent appears to employ both in-house and independently contracted sales agents to market its services. As a general rule, the use of independent sales agents is usually tied to high complaint rates for a company because these agents tend to receive less training and oversight than W2-employed reps. Clearent appears to be no exception, as we are currently able to locate a handful of client complaints alleging nondisclosure or misrepresentation of rates and fees by the company’s agents. If you suspect that Clearent is overcharging you, you can get an in-depth analysis of your rates and fees with a third-party statement audit.

Positive Response to Criticism

One area where Clearent distinguishes itself is in its response to these complaints. Rather than holding clients accountable for contract terms that they didn’t fully understand at the point of signing, Clearent consistently apologizes for agents’ failure to fully explain contract terms. The company usually attempts to resolve issues to the satisfaction of the client. This practice indicates that any negative experiences with Clearent agents are not consistent with the company’s official policy, which has raised the company’s grade in this section.

Our Clearent Review Summary

Our Final Thoughts

Clearent ranks as a reliable credit card processing provider. The company’s relatively low complaint rate is commendable, given its size and tenure in the industry, indicating a level of consistency and customer satisfaction that surpasses some competitors. However, its contract terms could be more competitive. The annual $49.95 regulatory fee and less client-friendly cancellation policy diminish its appeal to prospective merchants, leaving room for improvement. By eliminating these charges and reworking its cancellation terms to better serve clients, Clearent has the potential to enhance its standing among processing providers.

Despite these shortcomings, Clearent remains a viable option for businesses seeking reliable payment solutions, particularly those who value transparency and responsiveness. Nevertheless, prospective clients should carefully compare Clearent’s offerings with those of top-rated virtual terminal providers to ensure they secure the best pricing and features for their specific needs. A thorough evaluation of all available options will help businesses understand how Clearent aligns with their operational goals and whether it offers the right balance of cost-effectiveness and flexibility for their payment processing needs.

Location & Ownership

Clearent LLC is a registered agent for Central Bank of St. Louis, MO, and Wells Fargo Bank, Concord, CA. The company is headquartered at 11330 Olive Blvd Ste 200 Creve Coeur, MO 63141. Pamela Joseph is the CEO of Clearent.

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Which is Most Important for You?

If you had to pick one, which quality would you say will be the most important with your next credit card processor? Tap or click your selection to register your vote:

  1. Low Transaction Fees
  2. No Monthly Fees
  3. No Contract
  4. Reliable Customer Support
  5. Quick Signup

Testimonials & Complaints

How Did Clearent Treat You?

50 User Reviews

  • Chris Rietmann

    Clearent never worked for us from the beginning. Unfortunately the “account maintenance fee” was miscategorized by our accountant, and we paid $69.95 monthly after the end of our contract. I contacted them when this came to my attention on 11/2/2024. I spoke with a representative on the phone, they detailed a very clear account termination process and emailed me forms that I docusigned per their instructions and returned it to the email address provided. It is now February 2024 and they are still billing me $69.95 each month. In an email today they informed me that the termination didn’t go into affect until February, but would no refund any of the months after I submitted it after I terminated the agreement. This isn’t me using their service, just an $70 a month fee for having an unused account. Unreal.

  • Edith

    Rj's Auto Body

    I kept getting phone calls trying to get me to switch over to their platform as they are intertwined with our software company for our business. I finally gave in and decided to give it a try… Once I got the machine, I never heard from anyone anymore… I finally was able to hook up the machine to find out it is not compatible with the way my vendors pay me. So I emailed my rep and told him and he said he would send me a return box and cancel… but he never did. So after a few months of continuously getting charged I finally got someone else to reach back out to me and low and behold I have to complete a cancellation form which was never told to me the few months prior. I asked for a refund and was told no… but they would waive the early termination fee…. Seriously? I never used the machine… I never heard back from my sales rep… I would stay away.. Its funny how they hound you to get you and then leave you high and dry once they do have you. Its a Shame.

  • Lynn Leiter

    Mane Event

    Do not use this company!
    After I sent in the cancellation papers and then called the company they said there would be no further fees.
    The first month after we gave them notification they drew $400 off my account and then another 89$. Now they are charging me $69 every month and I don’t even have the machine hooked up. I have had to sign stop payment vouchers at the bank to get these blood suckers to quit robbing me.

  • Jason Bron

    ENH and Conference Center

    Clearent will charge the maximum early termination fee. We were a customer for 5 years well beyond the 3 year initial term. The sales rep told us we would not be charged the fee. When we found out the fee was going to be charged we decided to keep the service for a period of time to avoid the early termination fee. Clearent said it was too late. Clearent continued to charge monthly fees after charging the early termination fee. When Clearent was questioned about the Sales Rep’s conversation, they indicated the Sales Rep lied.

  • Jody

    Arch Electrical Construction LLC

    SCAM! This company is not worth it. Quick to sign on people and companies looking to take card payment, money into account takes multiple days to show up. They charge a percentage in addition to the monthly fees. ZERO STARS/RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Bob Mabesoone

    Full Mag Firearms

    We are a very small company. We have been with Clearent for about 4 years. Recently, their fees have increased, and we were being nickel and dimed to death. I called to cancel my two merchant accounts with them I was told to just fill out the Close Merchant Account Request Form and they would take care of it. I did that and they closed my accounts within an hour. Seven days later, there were charges to my checking account for $395.00 for each merchant account. Total of $790.00 to close the accounts. No one told me about charging me to close my account when I expressed interest in closing them. In their defense, I have reached out to them to see why this happened and they are looking into it. I suggest that if you do not have a team of lawyers, that you think twice before going with Clearent.

  • Q Ill Dvlment

    E Nst Conference Center

    The rates they quote will go up after you’ve been a customer. You’re trapped forever unless you play the game of cancelling within short time window they dictate. The contract renews automatically forever. Was a customer for several years after the 3 years in the contract and they charged an early termination fee. The sales rep indicated there would not be an early temination fee after the 3 year term and since we went out of business. Clearent said the rep did not get us the truth.

  • Andrew Neyman

    T2 Armory LLC

    I originally signed up for credit card processing through PAI. Clearent took over PAI so my account transferred. They quickly increased my monthly costs almost doubling them. Then earlier this year they increased my fees again almost doubling them again. I was upset and called them. They originally told me they would fix it. Then they never did so I called again and they said the new fees would stay so I asked to close my account. They said I could email the cancelation form to [email protected]. I sent that cancelation request in June. I never received a response. I sent several follow-up emails and still no response. They have since charged me two more monthly fees and another annual fee. They will not respond and I have done what they said I needed in order to close this account. I have not used their services for several months and the need to refund the charges that they applied after my cancelation request. They are ripping businesses off.

  • Qill Development

    ENHCC Hotel

    Thanks for the summary. We understood an early termination fee for the first 3 years which you indicate in your article. However, Clearent’s early termination fee never stops. We were a customer for 5 years and they charged us an early termination fee when our business was forced to close. The company’s representative indicated that we would not be charged this fee. When we called Clearent’s customer (no) service, they indicated the representative lied.

  • LAS

    I can’t even begin to tell you all the shady things I have experienced with Clearent. First, their support is awful. I had an interchange issue and the “Account Manager” just wouldn’t return my calls. When I escalated I was told he was their top sales person and didn’t have time for support. Next, they had me sign a contract and then raised my fees more than 1000% (that is not a typo). The contract had a flat fee per transaction and they upped it to .015% – .025% per transaction. When I questioned it they said directly that they weren’t making enough money on me, and refused to change it back to the contract price (this was within the first couple of months). They were never able to fix our problems. We finally just left for another processor. Run… don’t walk… run from these guys.

  • Virginia Moser

    This company will not let you close your account. Even after closing it they still charge you and make up excuses to say you never closed it. Very rude and unprofessional company. Still harassing me to close my account when it is closed! And threatening to keep charging my bank account.

  • dawn jewell

    Was happy, now changing my mind. Batch was inadvertently closed out early, called tech support to reopen batch so that I could enter tips. This has happened once or twice but this time I was told that they couldn’t even reprint the batch ticket so that I could pinpoint which items had not been entered. Don’t want a credit card processing company that is unable or unwilling to help when help is needed. Goodness knows I send plenty of money their way.

  • Eagles Nest

    Been using carnet since 2016, Our hotel recent forced to shut down due to covid and other reasons. Clearent hit us with early termination fee even though we were 2 years past the 3 year contract. They said contract automatically renewed for 3 more years. Our sales rep indicated we would not get early termination fee. The Clearent customer no-service representative said our sales rep was lying.

  • Karim

    This company are very strange..they work on the 1950 application..they have no technology experience they need to stop lying to merchant and employees alike, they processing so slow, you feel that you are dealing we underground fake company I am so surprised they are in business and the feds have not closed them down.

    • Jan

      Clearent just lunched an on line application November 4, 2019. Ask your self this question. How much time do you have to spend with a rep when doing the application portion. Do you have internet for the sales rep? It seems to me, doing a paper application with the merchant is better time management for you and the sales rep.

  • Juan

    Unfortunately, I cannot give less than a star otherwise I would give them a zero!
    My experience with Clearent Payment Processing was highly unprofessional! Adam Wagoner District Manager came to my place of business number of times asking to switch from my current provider to Clearent so I did but before hand he promised/agreed to payout the early termination fee. As time went by he did not follow through with his word so now I’m stuck paying the fee which I find very unprofessional and untrustworthy and secondly he presented a false statement of low pricing for the service I was signing up for which in fact I am paying full price rather than the price I was promised. We contacted headquarters and they we unable to help us with our problem, customer satisfaction isn’t their top priority at Clearent Payment Processing.
    Future reference watch out for Adam Wagoner he is a liar!!


    This post will help: Best Payment Processors for Great Customer Service

    -Phillip

  • Michael Lifsey

    Be careful dealing with this company. We used Clearant for our credit card services for a while then switched to another for a lower rate. Clearant, unbeknown to us, continued to deduct its service charges from our account for the better part of a year. When called on this, they ceased and acquiesced to reimburse us for some of the money, but we had to pull it out of them in stages. Finally, when attempting to get the last of our money, they refused saying the account was permanently closed. My advice, find yourself another company for your needs.


    This post will help: Cancelling a Merchant Account Without Paying a Fee

    -Phillip

  • Cory Vergara

    I would not suggest using the services provided by Clearent unless you don’t mind being overcharged and underwhelmed by the quality of service. When I canceled my service they did not cancel the add-on service with e-processing network and they are still charging me two months later and my work schedule prevents me from calling them during their working hours. Not tech support, they are open but they cannot help with anything that you ever need help within my experience. Just avoid them, please…

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  • Mary B.

    I lost my business, and everything else I sent back my terminal after I let this company know. And they charged me 395.00 for an ETF. I didn’t have a choice in the matter of loosing my business, yet they hit me for 395.00 when I am already down an out. Don’t do business with these guys, since you never know when it might happen to you. With all the other choices on CC machines. Choice one that doesn’t already kick you when you are down.

    From The Editor
    This Post Might Help: Cancelling a Merchant Account Without Paying a Fee

    • anita collarile

      Same thing happened to us. No notice about the charge. After we canceled, no reply that the cancelation was processed, just a notice that our business account was overdrawn due to them steeling that money.

  • Laurie Gross

    I used the company that is now Clearent for 10 years for credit card processing at my Antique Store. For most of those years I was very satisfied with the service. Then Clearent purchased the original company.

    Since March I have been attempting to close my account because I found a processor that costs less for my small business. I sent in signed papers per their requirement only to have them say they never received them. They continued charging my account throughout all those months despite repeated phone conversations with account executives assuring me they would refund the bogus charges.

    Finally, they decided to accept my closing paperwork on June 14. They charged me for June service fees, and now I just got a charge dated June, which they say is for May, despite May charges already having been deducted from my account. The amount is double what I have been charged in the past.

    When I called Clearent the customer service person with whom I spoke was rude and challenging.

    I recommend avoiding this company at all costs. You will be sorry when you attempt to sever your relationship. Clearent has not brought a better option to the table.

    Customer Beware!
    Laurie Gross


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  • Paul Snapp

    Actual business practices were not as they were defined by the sales rep. There are multiple companies involved not just Clearent. Transaction charges turned out to be higher than presented. After becoming a customer, sales will not answer phone or return calls. Very difficult engagement and still not right.

    • Michael H Wilson

      Horrible customer service. Rude customer service representatives, one in particular. When I told her I was disappointed with the service I was receiving, she rudely asked if I wanted to cancel my account. When Clearent took over my merchant account, I was inadvertently assigned two different accounts and they have been charging me fees for both accounts. I have asked to speak with someone in management to resolve my issue and no one will return my call. No one is taking the initiative to resolve my issue and are slow to respond with a hollow email follow up. I am currently trying to get my funds back that they took out of my account. I wish I would have read reviews before they took over my account.


      This post will help: Best Merchant Accounts for Great Customer Service

      -Phillip

  • D Jacobs

    I would like to know how to cancel Clearent? We have called their “customer service” number numerous times to try and cancel. Notice I put customer service in quotation marks because it sounds like someone working out of their home. They always tell us that in order to cancel we need to send a clearent provided cancellation letter. In order to receive this letter I have to speak to a woman that is magically at lunch or away from her desk. We leave numbers for this fictitious person to call us back and never receive a call back. We’ve been charged BS fees now since last July because this woman has been on lunch since then. Stay away from this company.

    • Laurie Gross

      You have exactly described my experience with attempting to cancel Clearent. Same bogus person, although I finally got her, received the appropriate paperwork, dutifully filled it out and sent it in…only to have them say they never received it. This happened multiple times!

      They have deducted over $100 in service fees since they assured me that my account was closed.


      From The Editor
      This Post Might Help: How to Get Out of a Merchant Account Contract

  • Theodore Frick

    WOW, I am amazed at how backward this company is. I have an FFL, two auction companies, an antique store and have over a MILLION in sales per year. I can sell guns, I can sell antiques, cars, toys, silver gold, but this goofball company prohibits ANY type of homeopathic sales. I say WHAT? A bottle of Kamboochu is prohibited? I sell FDA approved and am licensed by the Dept of AG, but the NAZI’s will not let me sell ANY of these products. Somehow I think this is beyond pale. I have enough insurance to buy a small country, but NO sales as determined by the overbearing loss control specialists. Thank goodness, I am self-employed. STAY AWAY! Please, run the other direction. I will take my business elsewhere.

  • Kelly Sutten

    The company as a whole is a good company. James was assisting me set up my account and was very diligent and helpful. The rates the company has for merchants is also great. However, the underwriters is the downfall of that company. They claimed to be NRA endorsed but the liberal underwriters will not approve you for an account if you carry weapons. I have less lethal grenades & 40mm launchers which are not sold online and only available to Law enforcement. On there for information only. Don’t waste your time with company and the NRA should not endorse them!!!!

  • Lyubov

    Ripoff! Horrible and stressful experience. They will get you into a 3 year contract without telling you. They will charge you $400 if you want to change provider. They will hold your money for months if they “think” that some of your transactions posess a risk for them. The will charge you tons of some compliance and “minimum” fees, which will sum up in hundreds $$ at the end of every month.
    Just avoid! Thee is many much more modern services, like PayPal, Shopify, Stripe, Squere and more. Clearent company doesn’t to fit into a modern commerce world and needs to be gone!

  • Dena

    TSYS is only the support for the Clearent front end (machines are through TSYS). Clearent is a direct processor with a direct relationship with all card brands, At night, support will roll over to TSYS since they provide front end support for Clearent, but during the day support is provided by Clearent unless it’s concerning one of the credit card terminals. Clearent has their own payment gateway and back end, and does NOT resell merchant services for TSYS. Also, the $395 fee is DEFINITELY WAIVED with 45 days’ written notice, and all Clearent asks is that the notice be submitted in writing, and that the merchant continue to process with Clearent during that time.

  • Tom

    Phillip,
    I’m a fan of your website, simply because I find your reviews pretty accurate.
    However, I’d like to point out a few items regarding this review.

    Clearent does have an etf, but the merchant can cancel with 45 days written notice to avoid any etf. There is no ‘window’ that the merchant has to cancel in. Most processors have an automatic renewal, simply because there has to some form of agreement between the merchant and the processor. Your advice to merchants is to ask for any etf fee to be waived, whoever they chose as their processor. Having reviewed hundreds of contracts and statements, I have only seen a handful of instances where the processor has waived this fee. Normally the eft fees are $275 and up. I think that a 45 day notice is more than reasonable.

    16.2 Bank or Clearent may terminate this Merchant Agreement, without cause, upon 30 days prior written notice to the other parties. Merchant may terminate this Merchant Agreement, without cause, upon 45 days prior written notice to the other parties

    Secondly, you were not happy with the regulatory fee of $49.95/year. This is the only annual fee and is considerably less than most annual fee’s I encounter. For example, Vantiv has a $99 annual fee and a $50 annual PCI fee. Heartland is also charging a $25/month regulatory fee, which is considerably more than Clearent’s $49.95, but that is not mentioned in your review of Heartland.

    If you’d like, I can send you a copy of a statement showing Heartland’s regulatory fee.

    3.1 Merchant will comply with this Merchant Agreement (including the terms of the Card Acceptance Guide), the Association Rules and all applicable federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations (collectively “Laws”), including but not limited to laws and regulations regarding anti-money laundering compliance, as they may be modified and
    amended from time to time, for submitting and processing Transactions with Bank and Clearent, performing its obligations under this Merchant Agreement, and otherwise conducting its business. In the event of any inconsistency between this Merchant Agreement and the Association Rules, the Association Rules will govern. Merchant shall be charged a fee of $49.95 per year, beginning in the fourth month, for each Merchant account for governmental and Association compliance in support of programs developed by Clearent to ensure compliance with all federal regulations
    as mandated, inclusive of, but not limited to annual income reporting, Tax ID Number (TIN) and legal name matching. Notwithstanding the foregoing, additional fees may be assessed for a non-matching TIN and legal name, and Merchant may be subject to back up withholding as mandated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

  • Louis Norbeck

    I was told I had to pay a $395.00 cancellation fee when the representative who initiated the agreement told me there was no cancellation fee and I could cancel at any time. I disputed the cancellation fee and was told by Mike (Clearent rep) that I would be charged the fee. He could not locate my agreement and was unwilling to comply with my request to cancel without paying a fee. all I WANT IS TO CANCEL MY AGREEMENT WITH CLEARENT as of NOVEMBER 17, 2014 and NOT PAY A CANCELLATION FEE.

    • Jan Osburn

      I am a W-2 Employee of Clearent LLC. You can cancel any Clearent Contract with 45 days notice. You have to continue to process thru the 45 days, or you will receive a minimum fee statement. All you have to do is send Clearent a letter stating you wish to cancel.

  • JC

    This review needs updating. The Agreement clearly states the cancellation policy is $395 UNLESS the merchant provides a 45 day written notice. This policy is in place “with” or “without” cause, meaning the merchant can cancel for any reason with written notice. This is virtual unheard of in this industry. The PCI non-compliance fee is ONLY to encourage the merchant to complete the PCI Compliance Survey which takes less than 10 minutes on-line. Most reps activity assist with this process. The goal is to encourage the merchant to protect himself and his clients by being compliant. Lastly, the $49.95 annual regulatory fee is to provide for IRS reporting and is common practice in this industry. Unlike many competitors this too is clearly stated in the agreement and is also included in proposals when making comparisons. This is generally lower than competitors and the merchant is provided an with the annual report in exchange for this charge.

    • Phillip CPO

      Hi JC,

      Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Forcing a merchant to provide a 45 day notice to cancel 3-year contract and then obligating them into another year of service if they do not meet this arbitrary condition is not favorable to the merchant. Having “cause” is irrelevant to cancelling a service at the end of a agreed upon term. If this practice is “unheard of,” it’s because most providers don’t do it (we’ve reviewed over 400 providers, so we know this to be true). Most providers that include such a cancellation policy seem to do so because they know merchants will either miss it in the fine print or forget to cancel before 45 days, causing them to miss the window of opportunity. In our view, there is no other valid reason to have such a condition other than making it difficult to cancel service.

      The “annual regulatory fee” you mention is not a common practice in the industry. In fact, it is a way for a provider to profit from filing 1099-K forms for each of it merchant customers. The IRS does not charge fees for this requirement, so it is questionable legally for providers to charge merchants for it. It is also questionable ethically to promote the fee as some sort of “regulatory” fee that the provider is required to pass onto the merchant. It is a “junk” fee in every sense of the word.

      • Chris

        I spoke to Clearent about becoming a sales agent. They told me that as long as the merchant provides a 45 days notice to cancel then there is no early termination fee. If the merchant decides to cancel on day #1 of the 3 year contract as long as it’s a 45 day notice then they will not be charged an early termination fee. This type of information should be verified by the reviewer before publishing the review. This is very rare in the industry and Clearent should win awards for it. Also they don’t charge PCI fees if the merchant is PCI compliant. So when stating they are wrong for charging a regulatory fee you might want to mention they don’t charge PCI fees. Most other processors PCI fees are way more than their regulatory fee anyways!

        • Phillip CPO

          Chris, there are conflicting accounts from all sides regarding how cancellation is handled. This suggests that there may be a lack of consistency in the way the policies are enforced; however, the review covers the examples we’ve located. It may be rare to see such a policy, but that is because it is arbitrary and confusing to many merchants. The common policy among highly rated providers is that they have month-to-month agreements which can be cancelled anytime, no prior notice required. This type of cancellation policy is far more desirable for merchants.

          It’s stated quite clearly that there is a fee for PCI non-compliance; however, there is an “annual” fee that could easily be interpreted as an PCI compliance fee. Additionally, most other processors do not charge a “regulatory fee.” In fact, I have only seen it in a handful of cases out of the 400+ providers we have thoroughly reviewed.

          • Ed Burris

            How many Clearent sales reps have bought your courses or whatever it’s called? How many of these un-named companies that we seem to never run into that has no contract, no regulatory fee, & no ETF, buy into your product? I’ve worked for an ISO, Heartland and now Clearent over the past 13 years. I’ve only competed against a small handful that did not have a cancellation fee in their contracts. Regulatory fees are a real cost as they do not get completed without a companies employees time and resources. If a company does not have it on a line item, its most likely built into the transactional markups. Now with the mandate from the card brands for all CC processors to have a Merchant Protection Plan (MPP) in place, Non-PCI Fees will become more prevalent. There are a few good Acquirers out here and we all seem to have a contract. Do you have a pre-paid cell phone or a real cell phone account? If you have a cell phone account that requires you be good for the account long term, you will be in a contract, especially if you want good coverage, right? There’s very little difference.

            • Phillip CPO

              Ed,

              Next time do your homework before you try to attack my credibility. It’s painfully obvious that you don’t know what you are talking about. What course? I don’t offer any courses to agents. There are numerous (ethical) providers that don’t push those bogus fees and contract provisions. If you would have actually done any research, whatsoever, you would have found many of these so called “un-named” companies. Honestly, it is people like you that give this industry a bad name. Cell phone companies go out of their way to make sure that their customers know that they will be under a term agreement. This is often not the case with merchant account providers because they know that mentioning it during a potential sale might cost them a big, fat, slimy earned commission when the merchant backs out of the deal. People like you love to fall back on the old “it’s standard practice in the industry” excuse. Well, guess what? Stealing is standard practice in the mugging industry, but that doesn’t make it right. Does it?

          • Ed Burris

            This is the second time I have written this, the other did not show up on this chain of replies.
            First I will apologize, you do not offer courses. You do offer an “Agent Accredited Program” for a fee. This program seems to ask us to agree to your doctrine for a fee to be promoted in a positive light. I agree with the line items you request each person agree to but the fee to do so seems a little in the gray area. I guess there is nothing wrong with agents wanting to pay for good words spoken of them, it is their money. But it kind of messes up the theory you are only looking out for the “Good Guys”.

            I have been in this industry for 13 years fighting the bad actors most of that time in the field. When I was deciding to leave Heartland, I looked at several companies that I knew have good reputations in the industry. I knew this not by what some no name person said but by what I experienced in the field. Clearents contract is not a secret and if you would like another one sent to you, I can oblige. Contracts are not always bad as you seem to make them. Clearents review you currently post is not based on facts but by what “several sources” have relayed to you and needs updated to reflect the positive changes made since last review and I think a sit down with the CEO or another officer of Clearent would yield you a better understanding of the goals of this wonderful company. Is it perfect, heck no! There is no perfect company. But we are headed in that direction. I cannot speak to the ISO’s of Clearent but the Direct Sales team is striving to make a positive impact in the business community in the US. ISO’s are typically where most if not all complaints arise from, they are independent and do their own thing.
            I would love to have a conversation with you by phone about these things. I bet we agree on much more than we disagree.
            Disclosure: I want nothing from you in the way of endorsement, favor or referrals. I will not pay a fee for these items. My desire is to allow my company, Clearent the ability to make a case for itself based on merit and reality, nothing more and nothing less. Wouldn’t you want the same thing for your company?

            • Phillip CPO

              Ed, these comments don’t go up until they are moderated internally. We’re not publishing your other two responses since it looks like you re-wrote them into this one.

              My response may have seemed a little harsh but if you attack me by trying to put my credibility into question, you better be ready to defend your claims with actual evidence and facts. Not with half-baked and unsubstantiated conjecture. Where in the world do you get that signing up for CPO’s Accreditation Program is agreeing to a “doctrine for a fee to be promoted in a positive light”? It’s about agreeing to sell and market merchant services ethically and with full transparency, which is literally what the page and agreement states. You and I both know that Interchange-plus is the only way to get full transparency with processing fees. Sure, there are fringe cases where providers manipulate a tiered-pricing scheme to make it more affordable than Interchange-plus, but it’s not transparent and not even remotely common among all merchant accounts.

              Again you attempt to put my credibility into question by implying that the fee for the accreditation program “messes up the theory you are only looking out for the “Good Guys.” How? Do you think running the accreditation program costs me nothing in my own time and resources? Don’t you think people who are wiling to put some skin in the game by paying the fee are more likely to honor their promise? In general, people do not value what they receive for free. The small fee for the accreditation provides that value and covers the costs of the program.

              You you don’t believe our review of Clearent is accurate, email [email protected] to request information on how request updates. However, if you want to make philosophical pleas on how Early Termination Fees, tiered pricing, PCI fees, etc, are good for a business owner, it is unlikely that you see any changes in our content.

  • ryan

    The ETF is 395 but if the merchant provides a 45 day written notice, then the fee is waived. I feel like this is a very fair way to handle business. Also, the PCI fee is 15$ until they complete the questionair and after its complete there is no fee charged to the merchant for pci. They do have annual regulatory product fee of 49.95 that is either charged to the merchant or can be picked up by the agent. The annual fee is optional and up to the agent or iso discretion.

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