Electronic Merchant Systems 2023: Reviews & Complaints
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.
Online Payment Processing by Electronic Merchant Solutions
EMS offers payment gateways for e-commerce businesses, enabling them to securely process credit and debit card transactions online. The service is designed to work seamlessly with many popular e-commerce platforms.
Virtual Terminal Service
For businesses that operate over the phone or via mail order, EMS’s virtual terminal service allows them to process card payments without the need for physical equipment. This service involves manually entering card details into a secure online system.
Mobile Payment Processing
EMS provides mobile payment processing solutions. This enables businesses to accept payments on the go using a mobile device, which can be particularly beneficial for businesses that often operate outside of traditional retail environments.
Customer Loyalty Programs
Apart from payment processing, EMS also offers customer loyalty and gift card programs. These are designed to help businesses increase customer engagement and loyalty, potentially boosting overall revenue.
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 Customer Reviews
Here's What Their Clients Say
|Total Online Complaints||70+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Hidden Fees|
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 client 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
Businesses can expect better assistance from a top-rated credit card processor for customer support.
Electronic Merchant Systems Online Ratings
Here's How They Rate Online
Online Ratings Summary
BBB Rating Analysis
Electronic Merchant Systems has an average customer review rating of 4.32/5 stars on Better Business Bureau based on 82 customer reviews. The company has received 90 complaints closed in the last 3 years, with 34 complaints closed in the last 12 months. Common themes in the reviews and complaints include issues with billing and collection, as well as some customers expressing dissatisfaction with the company’s response to their concerns.
Risk department turned my account off after 2 months. This is crazy. We are a brand-new company. We were just getting started. We didn’t know the rules. They do not help small businesses. The issue is/was we have 2 chargebacks in 2+ months – less than 1 a month. They both were erroneous chargebacks. The risk department refused to listen. We have turned in the paperwork both chargebacks. Details: Chargeback #1 was for: $922.16 – August. This is a customer of mine. He was one of the first charges of our new account. We had REFUNDED this chargeback 10 days before the chargeback. The customer knew he had a refund and the bank knew this and EMS certainly knew this. The reason for the chargebacks/refund is your Risk Department called him(with out letting me know) and scared him. He did not know who EMS was and did not know the charges because of EMS. I am not sure what they said to him. We refunded the charges the next day after speaking with risk. Then 10 days later his bank charged back the charge. EMS has records of this. Obviously we won the chargeback. This chargeback NEVER should have happened. We still speak with this customer and he will pay us again. Business to business charge. We turned the paper work in showing this was a good charge. The Risk Department caused this. Our money was returned from the bank. Chargeback #2 for: $746.16 – September. This was a good charge as well. The issue is the company’s Office Manager/Account did not recognize the charge on my customer card. She charged back the fees without confirming/asking about the charge. This is a good charge. We turned in the paperwork. We will win the chargeback. All we are asking is you give us another chance. This is highly unfair. I know we need to get our rate down – however it’s 2 chargeback in 2 months – both were initially good charges. This company does NOT help small businesses. We want our account or new account and given a second chance. These we two erroneous chargebacks – the risk depratment refused to listen. We want to hear from the corporate offices – they need to know what their risk department is doing.
– Complaint from September 28, 2023
I had an issue with with the service and they had takin care of it.
– Review from September 1, 2023
Source: Better Business Bureau
Trustpilot Rating Analysis
Electronic Merchant Systems (EMS) has a 2.1 rating on Trustpilot, with a majority of the 21 reviews being negative. The common themes in these reviews include complaints about poor service, bad communication, undisclosed fees, and issues with fund holds and payment processing. Many reviewers express frustration with the company’s practices and customer service.
I wish I was more educated on worst payment providers in USA as EMS made the top 10 in many lists, and I surely know why. Pathetic service, bad communication, cancellation fee undisclosed, payment scrutiny, money on hold, late payment fulfillment… You keep naming it. They are working out of a boiler room and have only got a few reps. Only person I spoke from risk ever, Patrick, who is an unreliable, dishonest, and extremely narcissist, and will not care if your business is bled dry…They never funded any one of my payments for months. After requesting to cancel immediately, they waited a week to send an email to me asking $575 to cancel. This happened at the end of the month, so you are sure they just did it to charge you the monthly fee as you go. What a good bye and a good rip off. I can’t believe banks such as these are allowed to operate. They are worst than scammers. Don’t choose them, go with your local bank instead. – Review from November 1, 2023
Not worth it. They charge some pretty absurd fees that are random, and they also charge a massive contract cancellation fee. Of course, this fee is written in very tiny fine print at the bottom of page 5 of the contract, so that you won’t actually know about it until the time comes. Very disappointed with the company. – Review from October 17, 2023
Thank you, Joy. I had some negative experiences, but after talking with a woman named Joy from Nigeria, I have to say that she turned it all around. – Review from July 26, 2023
ComplaintsBoard Rating Analysis
The complaints page for Electronic Merchant Systems on ComplaintsBoard.com features several customer complaints. These complaints highlight issues such as poor customer service, difficulties in resolving account problems, and dissatisfaction with fees and contract terms.
Today, on 4/19/2022, I attempted to resolve an alleged balance with Electronic Payment Solutions. The representative was rude, cutting me off multiple times. I offered to pay $150 of the $250 balance, but the representative questioned why I wouldn’t pay the full amount. Previously, this representative had been disrespectful, doubting my intention to call back and complaining about his efforts to reach me. This lack of professionalism and customer service is unacceptable.
– Complaint from K. Kulas
My business has struggled to resolve an issue with Electronic Merchant Systems for weeks. We’ve been ignored by the retention department and customer service. We wanted to end our relationship with EMS due to poor service and high fees, but faced an early contract termination fee of around $700 and were told a new credit card company would have to pay approximately $1400 to take over our account. The fees are outrageous, and the service has been terrible. I will never work with this company again.
– Complaint from J. Howell
There are no positive reviews published about Electronic Merchant Systems on the ComplaintsBoard.com website.
Electronic Merchant Systems Fees, Rates & Costs
A Closer Look at The Contract
|Processing Rates||1.00% - 4.99%|
|Monthly & Annual Fees||Yes|
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 Employee Reviews & Sales Tacitcs
Should You Work For Them?
|Uses Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
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.
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