|Sales & Marketing|
|Costs & Contract|
|Complaints & Service|
Commerce Payment Systems (commercepaymentsystems.com, commercepaymentgroup.com) is a merchant account provider serving small merchants in most industries. There is some evidence that Commerce Payment Systems is an ISO of North American Bancard. According to multiple complaints, however, the company also does business as Evolution Bankcard, which is a subsidiary of EVO Merchant Services. It is therefore possible that Commerce Payment Systems is somehow linked to EVO Merchant Services, but this relationship is unconfirmed at this time. Launched in 2006, Commerce Payment Systems is a registered ISO/MSP of Deutsche Bank AG in New York. Michael Mendlowitz is listed as the CEO of Commerce Payment Systems, which is located at 1465 Broadway, Hewlett, New York 11557.
|Commerce Payment Systems Products and Services||Industries Served|
|Key Points – Sales & Marketing|
|Uses independent resellers?||Yes|
|Promotes deceptive rate quotes?||Yes|
|Discloses all important terms?||No|
Commerce Payment Systems appears to utilize telemarketing, online advertisement, and independent sales entities to market its services. Many negative Commerce Payment Systems reviews accuse the company’s telemarketers and field agents of misrepresentation of rates and nondisclosure of fees. Additionally, Commerce Payment Systems appears to have paid other consumer websites for the privilege of posting positive reviews in an attempt to bury negative reviews. It is hard to find many verified reviews of this company that report a positive experience with its sales staff.
The Commerce Payment Systems website advertises debit card rates of 0.35% and credit swipe rates of 1.59%. These rates are likely the company’s “Qualified” rates for these transactions, and the website makes no mention of the higher “Mid-Qualified” and “Non-Qualified” rates that merchants will pay for the majority of their transactions. We consider this type of rate quoting to be deceptive, since it may give merchants an unrealistic expectation of the rates they will pay. We have also seen Commerce Payment Systems advertisements on various websites that promote these misleading rates. Below is a screenshot of such an advertisement:
The terms enclosed in red are textbook examples of misleading advertising in the credit card processing industry. It is unclear what the company means by “Unbeatable rates-.25%.” Is this the company’s only rate? Which transaction types will receive this rate? The answer, in all probability, is none of them, since it’s an absurdly low rate for any processor to offer. Merchants should not expect to pay an effective rate that low anywhere.
The “Free Credit Card Terminal” claim is a common one among merchant services providers. The terminal may be initially free on a monthly basis, but there are always strings attached. Usually, the free terminal is included as part of a merchant account contract, meaning that a merchant is required to keep and use the terminal for the entire duration of the service term. In addition, the monthly cost of the terminal may simply be included as part of the merchant’s overall processing fees rather than be totally free. Upon cancelling service, a merchant may be required to ship the terminal back at his or her own expense or to pay a termination fee of some kind–again, not exactly free.
“No locked-in contracts,” like the rate quote above, is a vague term that leaves a lot of wiggle room for the advertiser. Does this mean that there are still contracts, but that they just aren’t “locked-in”? How is “locked-in” defined? Are there termination fees associated? Or are there other penalties for cancellation that basically function as an early termination fee? Merchants should not trust a claim like this one without carefully reading the actual terms of service provided by the company.
|Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms|
|PCI compliance fee:||$99|
Numerous merchant complaints have described the standard Commerce Payment Systems contract as a three-year agreement with a high annual fee, a PCI compliance fee at or in excess of $99, a monthly statement fee of $10, an annual fee of $79, monthly minimums as high as $34.95, and other various fees. The company does not appear to charge an early termination fee (ETF), but merchants have reported total annual expenses that far exceed the one-time expense of a standard ETF. In addition, the company’s fraud prevention policies appear to be generating many merchant complaints, as complainants report receiving their funds only after an excessive delay and many complaints. Commerce Payment System’s apparent affiliations with North American Bancard and EVO Merchant Services are likely responsible for some of these complaints about its contract terms. If you have any knowledge of the standard Commerce Payment Systems contract, please leave that information in the comment section of this review.
|Key Points – Complaints & Service|
|Live customer support:||Yes|
|Most common complaint:||Hidden fees|
We are currently able to locate over 70 Commerce Payment Systems complaints that accuse the company of being a ripoff or a scam, and the bulk of these complaints have been posted to the comment section of this review within the last two years. Common themes among complainants include unexpected fees and rate increases, difficulty cancelling the service despite being charged for it, unavailable or unhelpful customer service representatives, misleading advertising, and expensive equipment leases. Many merchants report an average hold time in excess of 30 minutes when attempting to call Commerce Payment Systems customer support, and there are also reports of disconnected customer service lines. Some merchants report receiving letters in the mail from the company, selling a mystery shopper program. Once customers followed directions on the letter, they had lost anywhere from $1100 to $2700 of their own money.
The overwhelming consensus appears to be that Commerce Payment Systems does not have capable customer service to manage the many complaints stemming from its sales practices and contract terms. Additionally, as noted above, the company appears to have loaded some consumer protection sites with fabricated testimonials in an attempt to manipulate its reputation among merchants. These factors have lowered its grade in this section to a “D.”
|Key Points – BBB Report|
Commerce Payment Systems is not an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau. As of this review, the company holds a “B-” rating with the BBB and has had 301 complaints filed against it in the last 36 months. Of the total complaints, one was filed in regards to a guarantee or warranty issue, eight involved problems with delivery, 35 stemmed from advertising or sales issues, and 65 cited problems with the company’s products or services. The bulk of the complaints (192 of them) were filed in regards to billing or collections disputes. While 268 complaints have been resolved, 33 were not resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. In light of the company’s complaint rate and resolution ratio, we have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “D.”
* Denotes CPO-adjusted BBB score
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This review was originally published on 2/8/13 and was last updated on 4/10/15.
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