Headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, First Choice Payments (fcpayments.com) is a merchant account provider that primarily offers credit card processing for U.S.-based businesses. The company appears to be a DBA of Wholesale Merchant Processing, Smart Choice Payments, and North American Processing Solutions. According to a complaint on our Payment Systems Corporation review, Smart Choice Payments, First Choice Payments, and North American Processing Solutions are subsidiaries of Payment Systems Corporation; however, other information suggests that the companies’ backend processor may instead be Federated Payments.
Todd McCartney is listed as the president of Wholesale Merchant Processing, Smart Choice Payments, and American Payment Systems, and he is listed as the authorized representative for First Choice Payments. All of these companies are headquartered at 11000 SW Stratus St., Ste. 150, Beaverton, Oregon 97008, although the First Choice Payments website lists its address as 1350 E. Flamingo Rd., Suite 718, Las Vegas, Nevada 89119. First Choice Payments is indeed a registered corporation in Nevada, but its Nevada location appears to simply be a UPS Store. First Choice Payments does not list an acquiring bank on its website.
Sales & Marketing
Key Points - Sales & Marketing
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
As a DBA of Smart Choice Payments, First Choice Payments appears to sell its products and services through a combination of telemarketing and independently contracted sales agents. We have found one First Choice Payments complaint that describes nondisclosure of contract terms, misrepresentation of rates, and difficulty contacting the sales agent after the contract was signed. However, there are a large number of public complaints filed against Wholesale Merchant Processing and Smart Choice Payments that allege similar issues. In our opinion, there is no reason to assume that First Choice Payments utilizes a significantly different sales approach from Wholesale Merchant Processing and Smart Choice Payments.
The lone First Choice Payments complaint on Ripoff Report has been altered in accordance with that website’s “Corporate Advocacy Program,” which enables Smart Choice to paste its own promotional copy above certain merchant complaints. It is our belief that this practice reflects poorly on any company, as it only makes it harder for merchants to see what other business owners have to say about the company. In addition, First Choice Payments presents itself as a Nevada-based organization and does not mention its ties to Wholesale Merchant Processing, Smart Choice Payments, and North American Processing Solutions on its website. This strategy is commonly used by some providers to spread complaints across multiple brands or to escape the negative reputation of an existing brand.
Taking into account the complaints filed against all of First Choice Payments’s affiliated companies and DBAs, we have assigned First Choice a “D” in this section.
Costs & Contract
Key Points - Costs & Contract
|Early Termination Fee||$495+|
|PCI Compliance Fee||$4.95 Per Month|
|Equipment Lease Terms||Non-Cancellable|
Unlike Wholesale Merchant Processing and Smart Choice Payments, First Choice Payments does not provide its contract terms on its website. However, First Choice Payments’s contract terms are probably identical to those offered by Smart Choice Payments. The standard Smart Choice Payments contract (available below) is a three-year agreement with an early termination fee of $495, a monthly PCI compliance fee of $4.95, a monthly minimum fee of $25, a monthly statement fee of $10, and an accompanying non-cancellable, four-year equipment lease through Northern Leasing Systems. In addition, we have found one report of an additional early termination fee of $900 that the company charges upon cancellation. This sounds a lot like a similar $893.98 fee charged by Wholesale Merchant Processing, but we are unable to determine why the company charges it under either name.
These contract terms warrant a “C-” rating on their own. However, two other factors lower the company’s score in this section to an “F.” First, Smart Choice’s agents appear to commonly package their processing agreements with long-term equipment leases through Northern Leasing Systems. Northern Leasing Systems is notorious for selling non-cancellable four-year leases that charge thousands of dollars for equipment that can be purchased for under $500. Second, the contract’s length and fee structure are especially damaging when combined with the poor disclosure cited in many merchant complaints. See the Smart Choice Payments Merchant Application and the Smart Choice Payments Program Guide.
Complaints & Service
Key Points - Complaints & Service
|Total Online Complaints||<10|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||N/A|
We are currently able to locate only one negative First Choice Payments review, but this review does directly call the company a scam. As noted above, it describes a situation in which a sales agent misrepresented potential savings, signed the merchant up for a long-term equipment lease, and then became unreachable. We have also found more than 50 complaints filed against Wholesale Merchant Processing, Smart Choice Payments, and North American Processing Solutions. Common themes among complainants include nondisclosure of contract terms, poor customer service, expensive equipment leases, and an unprofessional work environment. Many complaints (and responses from company representatives) mention Smart Choice and Wholesale Merchant Processing as though they are the same company, and Smart Choice is a DBA of First Choice. We therefore will not differentiate between the four brands.
As also noted above, First Choice Payments has paid Ripoff Report in order to participate in that website’s “Corporate Advocacy Program.” This program makes it difficult to find the title and content of targeted complaints on Ripoff Report. Merchants are advised to scroll completely down the page to read the full details of each complaint.
First Choice has been assigned the same rating in this section as Smart Choice Payments and Wholesale Merchant Processing because there is no indication that the companies are different from each other. The company lists phone and email contact information on its website.
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.
The Better Business Bureau does not maintain a profile for First Choice Payments at this time. However, Smart Choice Payments currently has an “A” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has been accredited since September 2015. In addition, Wholesale Merchant Processing has an “F” rating with the BBB. The reason for the discrepancy between these two grades is unclear, as the BBB lists both companies at the same address and names Todd McCartney as the president of both companies.
Smart Choice Payments is a DBA of First Choice Payments, and we have assigned Smart Choice Payments the same “F” rating that the BBB gave to Wholesale Merchant Processing. We will therefore apply the same rating to First Choice Payments for the purposes of this review.
About Phillip Parker
Hi, I’m Phillip and I’m disgusted by the state of credit card processing in the U.S. and abroad. I believe that the industry has been overrun by people who engage in fraud and deception in order to steal money from hard working business owners. I’ve made it my mission to expose the companies and individuals who engage in predatory marketing, pricing, and contracts, or just provide terrible service. Along with uncovering the bad guys, I’ve also discovered the good guys who do stand out from the status quo. CPO is a website where you will find ratings and reviews of these companies along with advice on how to save money and which service providers consider. Together we can move the industry in a positive direction. If you would like to help support my work, please checkout “Fee Sweep” my eGuide to getting the lowest possible fees when accepting card payments. If you haven’t heard of “interchange” this advice will save you hundreds, even thousands, in processing fees.Schedule a Consultation with Phillip
Related: Phillip’s Top All-Purpose Merchant Account Picks
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