|Sales & Marketing|
|Costs & Contract|
|Complaints & Service|
Eliot Management Group (e-mg.com) is a mid-size merchant account provider based in Fort Worth, Texas, that appears to have opened its doors in 1999. Eliot Management Group is an ISO/MSP of Fifth Third Bank and may be under the same ownership as, or have ties to, Appstar Financial, Apex Merchant Group, Trans Tech Merchant Group, Summit Merchant Solutions, First American Payment Systems, and Certified Payment Processing, as suggested in several merchant reports. Although no public information exists to verify these claims, most of the mentioned companies share very similar complaints and contract details. Eliot Management Group’s headquarters can be found at 100 Throckmorton Street, Ste. 250, Ft. Worth, Texas 76102. Brady Harris is listed as the president of Eliot Management Group.
|Eliot Products and Services||Industries Served|
|Key Points – Sales & Marketing|
|Uses independent resellers?||Yes|
|Promotes deceptive rate quotes?||No|
|Discloses all important terms?||No|
Eliot Management Group seems to rely primarily on an “agent hiring mill” marketing strategy wherein the company actively recruits and hires both independently contracted sales agents and internally employed sales representatives. Additionally, the company engages heavily in telemarketing and appointment setting by telephone.
Based on merchant complaints, it appears that agents are either poorly trained in the terms and conditions of Eliot’s merchant account agreement or are encouraged to omit important details during the account setup process. This is evidenced by numerous merchant reports claiming surprise over fees and service commitments, and complaints of misleading sales tactics. At minimum, the complaints suggest a lack of oversight that allows many agents to engage in deceptive sales practices. It also appears that Eliot often enforces the contracts even when merchants claim that an agent misled them.
Eliot Management Group Marketing Example
|Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms|
|PCI compliance fee:||$125/year|
Costs and fees of an Eliot merchant account will likely vary based on the agent setting up the account as well as a merchant’s business type. Numerous merchants report that actual fees are much higher than what they were originally quoted and that they experienced several fees that were never disclosed prior to account setup.
In addition to processing fees and other monthly fees that can vary, Eliot’s standard merchant account agreement includes an annual PCI Compliance fee reported to be $125 per year, a three-year service agreement that automatically renews for one-year terms, and a $495 Early Termination Fee (ETF). Both of the fees are automatically debited from a merchant’s attached checking account and there is only a small window of opportunity to cancel service before the service agreement renews. Eliot Management Group also appears to partner with Northern Leasing to sell equipment leases.
|Key Points – Complaints & Service|
|Live customer support:||Yes|
|Most common complaint:||Hidden fees|
We are currently able to locate over 180 Eliot Management Group complaints on this and other consumer protection websites, and many of these complaints outright allege that EMG is a scam or a ripoff. This is a high number of complaints in comparison to similar-sized providers. The overwhelming themes of the complaints are reports of hidden and undisclosed fees, unauthorized debits from checking accounts, inability to resolve problems, difficulty cancelling service, and poor customer support. Many of these problems seem to be traceable to deceptive sales tactics used by agents and failure to verbally disclose important fees and conditions prior to setting up accounts, instead relying on merchants to read the fine print. With the exception of complaints to the Better Business Bureau, it appears that, in many cases, Eliot’s management chooses to enforce contracts rather than satisfy merchant grievances.
|Key Points – BBB Report|
As of this review, the Better Business Bureau is giving Eliot Management Group an “A+” rating based on 124 complaints filed within the last 36 months. The complaints are divided into 93 regarding problems with products and services, 15 with advertising and sales issues, and 15 with collection and billing disputes. Forty-one of the complaints have been resolved to the merchant’s satisfaction, while the remaining 83 either were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or did not receive a final response from the merchant. It is unclear why the BBB has assigned the company an “A+” when it has received 124 complaints in the past three years and has only successfully resolved about a third of them. We have therefore adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “D” for the purposes of this review according to our own rating criteria.
* Denotes CPO-adjusted BBB score
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This review was originally published on 6/16/2011 and was last updated on 1/19/16.
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