|Sales & Marketing|
|Costs & Contract|
|Complaints & Service|
Element Payment Services (elementps.com) is a merchant account provider based on Phoenix, Arizona, that entered the credit card processing industry in 2001. Element announced that it had been acquired by Vantiv in July 2013. Element Payment Services primarily focuses on providing payment solutions to large enterprises and software makers that need PCI DSS-compliant payment applications. Despite this focus, it appears that the company will serve merchants of just about any size. Element also has its own branded payment gateway called the “Element Express Processing Platform.” Element Payment Services is a registered ISO/MSP of First National Bank of Omaha and is located at 500 North Juniper Drive, Suite 100, Chandler, Arizona. Sean Kramer is listed as the president and CEO of Element Payment Services.
|Element Products and Services||Industries Served|
|Key Points – Sales & Marketing|
|Uses independent resellers?||No|
|Promotes deceptive rate quotes?||No|
|Discloses all important terms?||No|
Element Payment Services appears to rely on telemarketing, strategic partnerships, and an in-house sales team to market its services. There is no indication at this time that the company employs independent sales agents, and we are currently able to locate only one Element Payment Services review that describes unethical behavior by the company’s sales staff. The merchant in this case was led to believe over the phone that she would not be signing a contract, only to later learn that she had in fact agreed to three years of service. Despite the merchant’s confusion, Element Payment Services enforced the terms of the contract in full. To the company’s credit, Element Payment Services does not appear to engage in deceptive advertising strategies in its official materials.
Element Payment Services Marketing Example
|Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms|
|Termination fee:||Liquidated damages|
|PCI compliance fee:||Variable|
The standard Element Payment Services contract (available below) is a three-year agreement through Vantiv with automatic renewal for two-year terms, a Liquidated Damages early termination fee, and either Interchange-plus or tiered pricing. At this time, we cannot confirm specifics regarding other fees, such as PCI Compliance fees, monthly minimum fees, or rate structures. However, some merchants have reported that the company added a $199 annual fee in August of 2014.
The Liquidated Damages clause found in this contract is uncommonly complex, and it charges two different amounts upon termination depending on whether the merchant is on an Interchange-plus or tiered pricing plan. For Interchange-plus merchants, the company takes the average monthly fees assessed during the merchant’s three most expensive months of service and multiplies that amount by the number of remaining months in the merchant’s contract. For merchants who are on a tiered pricing schedule, the company takes the same three-month average, subtracts 2% of the merchant’s average monthly sales dollar volume, and then multiplies that amount by the number of remaining months in the merchant’s contract.
In light of the company’s complicated termination penalty and long-term agreement, we have scored Element’s contract terms a “D.” See the Element Payment Services Terms and Conditions.
|Key Points – Complaints & Service|
|Live customer support:||Yes|
|Most common complaint:||N/A|
We are currently able to locate five Element Payment Services negative reviews, although none of these refer to the company as a ripoff or a scam. Nearly all of the complaints report billing errors, unexpected fees, poor customer service, and difficulty cancelling service. Element’s decision to add an annual fee of $199 for all merchants in August 2014 also seems to have resulted in a moderate uptick in complaints since our last review. The Element Payment Services website provides dedicated phone and email support contact information, but these channels may be partially serviced by Vantiv.
|Key Points – BBB Report|
Element Payment Services is showing Better Business Bureau accreditation since 2005 and currently boasts an “A+” BBB rating. The company has had 14 complaints filed in the last 36 months. Ten were related to billing and collection, while four were related to problems with the product or service. All of these complaints were resolved with BBB assistance. Element has also received one negative review and one neutral review, although it should be noted that these reviews are not subject to verification by the BBB. Since it is our philosophy that “A+” ratings should be reserved for companies with zero complaints, we have slightly adjusted the BBB’s grade to a “B+.”
* Denotes CPO-adjusted BBB score
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This review was originally published on 6/23/11 and was last updated on 4/29/15.
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