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Electronic Merchant Systems is an Ohio-based merchant account provider that first opened in 1987. The company specializes in providing a variety of merchant services to U.S. small businesses. Electronic Merchant Systems is owned by or appears to also do business as the Francis David Corporation, and it seems that one of the two entities is a direct processor. In 2018, EMS acquired Total Touch POS, and in 2022, they purchased a majority interest in Paysley.
EMS provides payment processing services that enable merchants to accept credit and debit card payments. They offer a range of processing options, including point-of-sale (POS) terminals, mobile payments, and online payment gateways. EMS supports a variety of payment types, including credit and debit cards, e-wallets, and gift cards.
EMS’s payment gateway is a secure platform that enables merchants to accept online payments. The gateway supports a range of payment types, including credit and debit cards, e-wallets, and ACH payments. Merchants can customize the gateway to match their branding and accept payments through their website or mobile app.
EMS offers a mobile payments solution that enables merchants to accept payments through a mobile device. The solution supports both iOS and Android devices and includes a mobile card reader that attaches to the device. Merchants can process payments securely and quickly, with funds deposited directly into their account.
Gift and Loyalty Card Programs
EMS offers gift and loyalty card programs that enable merchants to reward customers and increase loyalty. The programs include customizable gift cards and loyalty cards that can be branded with the merchant’s logo and design. Merchants can track card usage and offer promotions and discounts to customers.
Electronic Merchant Services Point of Sale
EMS offers POS solutions, including the Total Touch and MaxxPay countertop terminals. Total Touch is specifically for restaurants and bars and features open table management, online and mobile ordering, employee scheduling and timekeeping, cloud-based reporting, and tab management, while MaxxPay offers cloud-based software, inventory management, employee permissions and timekeeping, transaction reporting, EMV, and NFC.
Location & Ownership
Electronic Merchant Systems is a registered ISO/MSP of BMO Harris Bank, Chesapeake Bank, Esquire Bank, and Merrick Bank with headquarters relocated in 2018 to 250 W. Huron Rd., Suite 400, Cleveland, Ohio 44113. Previously, headquarters were located at 5005 Rockside Road, Penthouse 100, Independence, Ohio 44131. Dan Neistadt is listed as the company’s CEO.
Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Offers an 18-month contract with…
- Complaints & Service: Has received more than 70 public…
- BBB Rating: Has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau. It has received…
- Sales & Marketing: Hires independent sales agents and has received…
Electronic Merchant Systems Reviews and Complaints
Here's What Their Clients Say
Total Online Complaints
Live Customer Support
Most Common Complaint
Common Complaint Themes
We are currently able to locate over 70 negative Electronic Merchant Systems reviews, many of which outright accuse the company of being a ripoff or a scam. Common complaints among clients include misrepresentation of rates, expensive contracts and equipment leases, high-pressure sales tactics, poor customer service, high termination fees, and poor treatment of employees. Although the company is technically showing a moderate number of complaints for its size and time in business, the consistency of the issues noted by complainants has lowered its grade severely. If you have your own Electronic Merchant Systems review to make, please do so in the comments below.
Serious Cause For Concern
There are several complaints from merchants stating that Electronic Merchant Systems hiked their monthly fees without notification just as their contract renewed for another term of anywhere from one to four years. Businesses were forced to continue with the higher fees or cancel and incur a large cancellation penalty. One merchant also reported that he had to pay a $1,500 cancellation penalty for a terminal lease because Electronic Merchant Systems threatened to sue if he didn’t. In another complaint, an Electronic Merchant Systems representative responded publicly and condescendingly to a merchant complaint by accusing the business owner of being a liar.
Electronic Merchant Systems Lawsuits
In March 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed a complaint against Global Payments, Electronic Merchant Services, Frontline Processing, and Pathfinder Payment Solutions in connection with a “phantom debt” scheme that allegedly attempted to collect nonexistent debts from consumers. The CFPB’s complaint alleges that these four payment processors facilitated transactions for multiple debt collection companies owned by Marcus Brown and Mohan Bagga. According to the complaint, these debt collection companies used robocalls to target millions of consumers, who they then threatened in order to obtain debt payments that were not actually owed or that didn’t even exist. The CFPB further alleges that Global Payments “ignored numerous red flags of the debt collectors’ illegal conduct, including consumer disputes that described the scheme and communication problems with the debt collectors.” A federal judge dismissed the case in August 2017 due to the CFPB’s failure to adhere to his instructions.
2015 saw EMS involved in a lawsuit concerning the use of a third-party calling service to a small business, which alleged that the practice engaged in violated the Washington Automatic Dialing and Answering Devices Act. The judge ruled that the calling company was exempt from liability under the TCPA, ending the case.
EMS lost a lawsuit in 2019 that was brought against it by one of its selling agencies, Choice. The judge in the case ruled that EMS had broken its contract with Choice in regards to residuals owed to Choice and EMS was ordered to pay $5,527,791.29 to Choice.
In 2020, an additional lawsuit was brought against EMS by an individual over the alleged infringement of patents. The case seems to have been settled out of court.
OHVA, Inc. filed a 2022 lawsuit against Electronic Merchant Systems (EMS) for breach of contract and fraud in a dispute over credit card processing services. OHVA alleged that EMS violated their agreement by failing to provide certain services and charging excessive fees, among other claims. EMS denied the allegations and filed counterclaims for breach of contract and defamation. The court ultimately ruled in favor of EMS, finding that OHVA breached the contract by failing to pay for the services provided by EMS. The court also dismissed EMS’s counterclaims for defamation.
Electronic Merchant Systems Customer Support
The Electronic Merchant Systems website lists a dedicated phone support number, live chat, and support email all listed as available 24/7, but EMS clearly does not do an effective job of resolving merchant issues in-house.
Electronic Merchant Systems Customer Service Numbers
- (800) 615-1330 – Toll-Free General Customer Service
- (866) 472-2141 – Sales
- (800) 726-2117 – Information
Merchants can expect better assistance from a top-rated credit card processor for customer support.
Electronic Merchant Systems BBB Rating and Report
Our Better Business Bureau Profile Assessment
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.
Over 80 Complaints
As of this review, the Better Business Bureau is reporting an “A+” rating for Electronic Merchant Systems, with 84 complaints filed in the last 36 months. Only 36 of these 84 complaints were resolved by the company to the satisfaction of the merchant. The remaining 44 were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or received no final response.
What Merchants Say
There are also 115 informal reviews filed with the BBB, the majority of which are positive. One recent negative review mentions difficulties in canceling an account and poor customer service:
Very overprice! Automatic renew leased even I called and asked when my lease end and customer service didn’t know or won’t let me know until it renewed
Merchants who find themselves in this situation should research the proper steps to cancel their merchant account without paying a fee.
An Adjusted Rating
In our view, the company’s high number of complaints does not merit an “A+” rating. We have therefore adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “C.”
Electronic Merchant Systems Fees and Rates
A Closer Look at the Contract
Don't Fall Into An Expensive Trap. See Who The Worst Processors Are.
1.00% - 4.99%
Monthly & Annual Fees
Costly Contract Terms
The standard Electronic Merchant Systems contract is an 18-month agreement with automatic renewal for another 18 months, an early termination fee of $595, a monthly $50 PCI non-compliance fee, a semi-annual “technology upgrade and update” fee of $75, a monthly minimum fee of $25, and tiered pricing. The “technology upgrade and update” fee likely takes the place of a PCI Compliance fee, but it is poorly defined. Overall, these contract terms are very expensive when compared to industry averages and are far from competitive with the cheapest merchant accounts available.
Avoid Equipment Leases
We have also located a handful of business complaints indicating that Electronic Merchant Systems signed them up for expensive equipment leases through Lease Finance Group, a DBA of Northern Leasing. Although it may be that independent sales agents were responsible for this rather than the company itself, any partnership with Northern Leasing should be a red flag for business owners. Northern Leasing and its alternate names have a very poor reputation within the industry. It should be noted that most credit card terminals can be purchased for under $500. Non-cancellable, long-term leases mean a client can pay thousands for that same equipment making them a contract term to avoid.
We would encourage businesses to check out our list of the providers of the best merchant accounts.
Electronic Merchant Systems Jobs and Employment
Hiring Standards and Ethical Marketing Assessment
Audit Your Current Statement To Find Its Hidden Fees
Processing statements are intentionally complicated so that they can overcharge you. Get clarity before you switch.
Uses Independent Resellers
Discloses All Important Terms
Electronic Merchant Systems appears to utilize telemarketing and an ISO/Independent Agent program to advertise its services. These hiring practices tend to generate reports of poor training and a focus on high commissions, and EMS is no exception. We are able to locate numerous Electronic Merchant Systems reviews that accuse agents of neglecting to disclose important fees and contract provisions such as service agreement length, cancellation fees, and lease terms. Some clients also report aggressive or high-pressure sales tactics by agents.
This does not compare favorably to our list of best credit card processors.
What Agents Say
There are a few comments posted by current and former employees of the company who claim that these practices are allowed (if not encouraged) by the company. Taken as a whole, these factors warrant a “D” rating in our opinion. If you suspect that an EMS representative has snuck hidden fees into your contract, we recommend seeking a third-party statement audit.
Electronic Merchant Systems Review Summary
Our Final Thoughts and Opinions
Electronic Merchant Systems rates as a substandard credit card processing provider according to our rating criteria. The company has a moderate number of complaints outside of the BBB and a high number of complaints with the BBB, but its expensive contract terms are the largest factor lowering its score in this review. Business owners are advised to read their contracts with great care to ensure that they will not be paying excessive or bogus fees. As EMS is one of the lowest-rated payment processors on CPO, we advise signing up with a reputable provider to get the best service and rates.
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Customer & Employee ReviewsWhat Others Are Saying About Electronic Merchant Systems