|Sales & Marketing|
|Costs & Contract|
|Complaints & Service|
ElitePay Global’s grade has been lowered to an “F” following egregious unethical behavior towards CPO and a recent surge of serious merchant complaints against the company. If you have experienced deceptive business practices by ElitePay Global, see these instructions on how to report the company to the proper authorities.
***Business Name Update***
A commenter has stated in the comment section below this review that ElitePay Global is now also operating under the name of “Ironwood.” After conducting our own independent research, we have found evidence that supports this commenter’s claim. Our research also indicates that the full name of the company may be “Ironwood Payments” or “Ironwood Financial,” and it may be based out of Naperville, Illinois, incorporated in Mississippi, and operating its principal office located Providence, Utah. The registering agent appears to be a corporate service company based in Henderson, Nevada. See our recently published Ironwood Payments Review for the most recent information. If you have any information about Ironwood Payments, or if you know of any other alternate business names used by ElitePay Global or its founders, please share that information in the comment section below this review.
Another commenter has claimed that ElitePay Global’s founders have also launched a company called “One For Merchants.” As with Ironwood Payments, we have investigated the commenter’s claims and have found a great deal of evidence to support them. See our One For Merchants review for the latest updates regarding the company, and if you have any details to add, please share them here or in the comment section of that review.
ElitePay Global (elitepayglobal.com), formerly known as PrimePay Global and also known as International Payment Services, LLC, is a merchant account provider headquartered in Henderson, Nevada. ElitePay Global no longer sells under the name of PrimePay Global and should not be confused with PrimePay, an unrelated merchant services company. In fact, International Payment Services was sued by PrimePay for trademark infringement in 2012 and lost, resulting in the switch to the ElitePay Global name. ElitePay Global resells the payment processing services of First Data. Founded in 2005, ElitePay Global is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., in Walnut Creek, California, and lists its headquarters as 2850 W Horizon Ridge Pkwy Ste 200, Henderson, Nevada 89052-4395. Although the company is incorporated in Nevada and lists a Nevada headquarters, its owners primarily reside in and operate out of Salt Lake City, Utah, and surrounding communities.
ElitePay Global Management Concerns
According to public records, Brian Bentley is the principal of International Payment Services (and, by extension, ElitePay Global). However, Brian Bentley’s three brothers also work for the company or hold prominent leadership positions at ElitePay Global. According to a former employee of ElitePay Global who commented beneath this review, Andrew Bentley acts as the president of sales at ElitePay Global, while Matt and Adam Bentley serve in lesser management roles.
Official Idaho court documents and multiple news sources name Adam Bentley as a defendant in a 2009 civil action filed by the state of Idaho regarding a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme conducted in 2007. These sources state that Adam Bentley was found by the state of Idaho to have violated the registration and anti-fraud provisions of Idaho’s Uniform Securities Act by selling insurance investments without a license. Bentley and his co-defendants were also shown to have made fraudulent presentations to their investors in order to obtain funding. Following its investigation, the state of Idaho ordered Bentley to pay a civil penalty of $200,000 and restitution to his investors totaling $5,373,464. More significantly, he was also permanently prohibited from selling securities in the state of Idaho. Although these circumstances raise serious questions regarding Adam Bentley’s character, the judgment does not appear to have affected his ability to gain a management role with a merchant services company – a role that grants him access to sensitive data including processing volumes, account numbers, and social security numbers of business owners. Brian Bentley appears to believe his brother deserves such a role with ElitePay Global despite knowing of his less-than-ethical history, which, in this author’s opinion, reveals much about his character as well.
Attempt to Suppress Critical Reviews
Without any prior communications or use of our dispute resolution channels, in April 2014, ElitePay Global filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in federal court against this website (CardPaymentOptions.com). The official claims in the case were related to the use of the ElitePay Global name in a search engine advertisement promoting our review of the company. It is our firm opinion that ElitePay Global filed this suit in bad faith in an attempt to suppress the contents of this review and intimidate its author into compliance with its demands using the threat of exorbitant legal fees. In accordance with our litigation policy, CardPaymentOptions.com refused to accept any settlement that would have limited our rights under U.S. law or forced the removal of this review. On June 5, 2015, the United States District Court for the Central District of California issued a summary judgment in favor of CardPaymentOption.com’s, denying ElitePay Global’s trademark infringement claim based on our nominative fair use defense.
Rise in Complaints
In the last year, there has been an unprecedented increase in the number and severity of complaints filed against ElitePay Global. In the comment section of this review alone, the company more than doubled its complaint total from approximately 30 complaints to over 75 complaints in less than twelve months. Most of these complainants specifically mention deceptive sales tactics and unfavorable contract terms through ElitePay Global. According to multiple complaints, sales agents promise a flat processing rate of 1% on credit card payments and 0% on debit card payments without explaining that the 1% rate only applies to “Qualified” transactions, while the 0% rate only applies to PIN Debit transactions. Some merchants also claim that they did not receive the full contract at the time of signing, or that agents altered the terms of contracts after the merchant signed up.
Another commonly cited issue is ElitePay Global’s habit of leasing equipment through First Data Global Leasing and Northern Leasing Systems. According to complainants, sales agents will commonly offer the 1% credit rate and the 0% debit rate on the condition that merchants sign a 48-month, non-cancellable equipment lease, often at a cost of up to $149 per month (even though most credit card terminals can be purchased for $400 or less). Upon cancelling the equipment lease that ElitePay Global provided, merchants often discover that the leasing provider will try to collect the full cost of the lease (often over $10,000) as one lump payment. To make these complaints even more troubling, the content of many complaints indicates that the confused merchants seem to have limited proficiency in the English language.
Judgements Against Similar Companies
If these reports are accurate, then ElitePay Global’s sales team appears to be engaging in conduct that has landed other merchant account providers in significant legal trouble. The FTC and various state attorneys general have begun to crack down on deceptive sales practices and predatory lease terms in recent years, so merchants who feel they have been deceived by ElitePay Global may benefit from familiarizing themselves with the following relevant cases:
- In January 2004, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) secured a $23.5 million settlement with Certified Merchant Services (CMS) following the forced sale of the company’s assets. The FTC’s complaint alleged that CMS modified customer contracts, made unauthorized debits from merchants’ accounts, misrepresented the products and services it was providing, and failed to disclose various charges and fees.
- In March 2013, the New York State Attorney General’s office reached a settlement with Northern Leasing Systems concerning over $11 million in unauthorized debits made from merchants’ bank accounts. To justify these withdrawals, Northern Leasing Systems cited a clause in its contract requiring customers to reimburse it for property taxes and “administrative fees,” even though many of the merchants it took money from had terminated their leases with Northern Leasing years earlier. Northern Leasing was unable to show that the collected amounts ever went to pay property taxes or administrative fees. The company was ordered to return all disputed amounts and pay a $575,000 penalty to the State of New York.
- In October 2014, the FTC and the Washington State Attorney General’s office reached separate settlements with Sphyra (dba Merchant Services Direct) regarding allegations that the company failed to disclose complete pricing information, altered contract terms, and misrepresented the cost and duration of equipment leases. Sphyra was ordered to pay $175,000 in damages to federal regulators and the state of Washington and was prohibited from utilizing the sales techniques in question ever again.
- In October 2014, the Minnesota State Attorney General’s office filed a complaint against Apex Merchant Group alleging that the company uses “bait-and-switch” pricing quotes and alters customer contracts by adding previously undisclosed cancellation penalties and term lengths. Interestingly, the CEO of Apex Merchant Group is Andrew Frankel, brother to Craig and Jonathan Frankel, the former owners of Certified Merchant Services. The Attorney General’s press release regarding the case goes out of its way to highlight the shared history of deceptive business practices among the brothers, one of whom is an investor in Apex Merchant Group. The outcome of the case is still pending.
Where to File Complaints
If you believe that you have been a victim of “bait-and-switch” rate quotes, nondisclosure of fees, unlawful contract alteration, unauthorized debits, or predatory sales tactics at the hands of ElitePay Global or one of its business partners, you may be able to obtain some relief by engaging in the following actions:
- Leave a detailed comment describing your experience in the comment section below this review. Be specific, provide as much factual information as you can, and, if possible, publicly authenticate your comment by including a link to your business’s website. This review and its comment section will contain the most current information regarding ElitePay Global’s sales practices and merchant complaint record.
- File a complaint with the Nevada Attorney General and the Utah Attorney General.
- File a complaint with your state’s attorney general (directory available here).
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
- If you believe your agent knowingly defrauded you, consider filing a police report and a lawsuit against him/her in small claims court for your losses.
- File a complaint with ElitePay Global’s Processors:
- File a complaint with the District Attorney of your county.
- File a complaint with ElitePay Global’s acquiring bank, Wells Fargo.
For other solutions, see our article on How to Report Bad Credit Card Processors.
|ElitePay Global Products and Services||Industries Served|
|Key Points – Sales & Marketing|
|Uses independent resellers?||Yes|
|Promotes deceptive rate quotes?||No|
|Discloses all important terms?||No|
ElitePay Global primarily utilizes independent sales agents to market its services. Generally speaking, independent contractors receive little training or oversight while in the field and are motivated to increase their commissions by signing merchants up for expensive contracts. This hiring practice usually results in elevated complaints among merchants. ElitePay is no exception, as we are currently able to locate dozens of ElitePay Global complaints filed by merchants and employees that describe unethical behavior by the company’s sales agents. Common complaints include misrepresentation of rates, nondisclosure of expensive contract terms (especially those attached to equipment leases), and poor training/support for employees.
One complainant who claims to be a former sales agent of ElitePay has stated that the company intentionally misinforms its agents about its rates and fees. According to this source, it is ElitePay Global policy to not allow sales reps to service the accounts they have brought in, which means that these agents never hear reports from dissatisfied merchants that could contradict what the agents were taught by the company. Another complaint from a merchant also stated that sales reps are removed from the accounts they sign. These claims are confirmed by multiple complainants stating that they are unable to reach their sales reps after they’ve signed the application.
|Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms|
|Qualified rate:||1% (credit)/0% (PIN debit)|
|PCI compliance fee:||Variable|
|Equipment lease:||48 mos/non-cancellable|
The ElitePay Global program guide (available below) describes a three-year agreement with automatic renewal and a tiered pricing structure through First Data. It appears that merchants who use ElitePay are subject to variable early termination fees, PCI Compliance fees, PCI non-compliance fees, and monthly minimum fees. Additionally, merchants are reporting very expensive 48-month leases through First Data Global Leasing and Northern Leasing Systems. These leases appear to be packaged with the company’s credit card processing services and, according to complainants, are not always properly disclosed by sales representatives.
There are currently many complaints about the cost of an ElitePay Global contract. Most merchants express frustration over the company’s non-cancellable, long-term equipment leases that cost thousands of dollars for equipment that is usually less than $400. Merchants also notice sudden rate increases several months into their contracts in addition to undisclosed fees. The merchants in these cases may be seeing the company’s “Non-Qualified” rate of 2.99%, which is charged on all cards that do not meet its criteria for the 1% “Qualified” rate. Overall, the consistent theme among complainants at this time is that ElitePay Global does not offer competitive or even average contract terms. See the ElitePay Global/First Data Program Guide for more details.
|Key Points – Complaints & Service|
|Live customer support:||Yes|
|Most common complaint:||Undisclosed terms|
We are currently able to locate over 80 negative ElitePay Global reviews, many of which accuse the company of being a scam or a ripoff. Major themes among complainants include expensive equipment leases, deceptive sales practices, poor customer service, and undisclosed contract terms. Since the initial publication of this review in March 2013, the company’s complaint rate has seen a dramatic increase, which is a concerning trend. Some complainants have been filed against PrimePay Global rather than ElitePay Global, but the PrimePay Global brand no longer appears to be active. We are currently unable to locate any rebuttals to these complaints from company representatives, but we have found some complaints from former and prospective employees. Overall, ElitePay does not appear to offer especially responsive or capable customer service. The company offers live chat and an email form on its website.
|Key Points – BBB Report|
ElitePay Global has been an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau since 2011. As of this review, the company holds a “A-” rating with the BBB and has 66 complaints filed against it in the last 36 months (up from 33 at the time of our last review). Thirty-one of these complaints are related to delivery issues, 26 are due to product or service problems, five have to do with billing and collection, three are related to advertising issues, and one is due to a guarantee or warranty problem. ElitePay Global has successfully resolved three of the complaints, while the remainder were either resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or did not receive a final assessment from the merchant. Given the company’s complaint total, resolution ratio, and performance in other categories of this review, we have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “D” for the time being.
* Denotes CPO-adjusted BBB score
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This review was originally published on 3/26/13 and was last updated on 4/5/16.
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