First Financial Merchant Services 2023: Reviews & Complaints

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First Financial Merchant Services
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First Financial Merchant Services

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Company Overview

First Financial Merchant Services is a merchant account provider based in Medina, Minnesota. Founded in 1995, the company appears to be a reseller of First Data (now Fiserv) merchant services. In recent years, First Financial appears to have shifted its marketing approach so that it targets associations, organizations, and influencers rather than selling directly to merchants.

In 2022, First Financial Merchant Services released a statement that there was a data breach “resulting in the names, credit, and debit card numbers of certain consumers being compromised.” Despite extensive research, we have been unable to determine whether this is the same First Financial Merchant Services or if it is the “merchant services” branch of First Financial Bank.

First Financial Merchant Services Payment Processing

First Financial Merchant Services processes all major debit and credit cards for most business types. Their services include EMV card readers and swipers, POS systems, and mobile solutions.

Online Payment Processing

Among the key offerings of First Financial Merchant Services is online payment processing. This essential service enables businesses to accept payments via the internet. As more businesses shift to the digital space, this feature allows for the safe and efficient handling of transactions online.

Mobile Payment Solutions

First Financial Merchant Services also acknowledges the importance of mobile commerce and offers mobile payment solutions. Businesses can now accept and process payments through mobile devices, providing a convenient solution for on-the-go operations and modern consumer preferences.

Point of Sale Systems

The Point of Sale (POS) systems offered by First Financial Merchant Services provide more than just payment processing. These comprehensive systems help businesses manage their operations more efficiently, including inventory management, sales tracking, and insightful reporting for business analytics.

Gift Card and Loyalty Programs

To aid businesses in customer retention and building brand loyalty, First Financial Merchant Services offers custom gift card and loyalty programs. These solutions are designed to incentivize repeat purchases and increase overall customer engagement.

Security and Compliance Measures

First Financial Merchant Services takes the security of transactions seriously. Their payment processing systems adhere to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) to ensure all customer data is secure. They also have robust fraud prevention measures in place, providing businesses with confidence in their transaction safety.

Location & Ownership

First Financial Merchant Services is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Concord, California, and is headquartered at 829 Meander Ct., Medina MN 55340. John Eliason is listed as the founder and CEO of First Financial Merchant Services.

Table of Contents

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First Financial Merchant Services Reviews and Complaints

Here's What Their Clients Say

Complaint Summary

Total Online Complaints
30+
Live Customer Support
Yes
Most Common Complaint
Hiring Practices
Recent Lawsuits
Yes

Moderate Complaint Volume

There are currently over 30 negative First Financial Merchant Services reviews across various consumer protection websites, and many of these reviews outright accuse the company of being a scam or a ripoff. The overwhelming majority of First Financial Merchant Services complaints are from current, former, and prospective sales employees of the company who describe misleading residual guarantees, poor employee support, very high turnover, and failure to pay independently contracted employees. Several of these First Financial complaints have received rebuttals from the company’s current staff, who usually state that the complainant had an unrealistic expectation of what the job could offer or suggest that the complainant simply underperformed in his or her role. Although these aren’t merchant-facing issues, it is possible that an unhappy, poorly compensated, minimally trained sales agent will not provide quality service or will employ deceptive sales tactics to their clients. If you have your own First Financial Merchant Services review to make, please do so below.

First Financial Merchant Services Lawsuits and Fines

In 2016, FFMS was named in a suit alleging a violation of the TCPA. It is unclear what the result of this suit was. Clients who wish to pursue a non-litigious course of action against the company should consider reporting it to the relevant supervisory organizations.

First Financial Merchant Services Customer Support Options

The few merchant complaints about First Financial Merchant Services cite undisclosed or unexpected fees, rate increases, and difficulty canceling service. The company lists a dedicated phone number and contact form for customer support, but it is unclear whether this line is serviced by First Financial or by First Data (Fiserv).

First Financial Merchant Services Customer Service Numbers

  • (888) 416-4720 – Toll-Free Customer Support
  • (763) 231-8120 – Local Office
  • (763) 231-8129 – Fax

Other Support Options

At this time, we consider First Financial to fall short of what we expect from the best payment processors for great customer service.

First Financial Merchant Services BBB Rating and Report

Our Better Business Bureau Profile Assessment

BBB Summary

BBB Reports
3

No Complaints

First Financial Merchant Services is currently accredited with the Better Business Bureau and is showing an “A+” rating based on 0 merchant complaints in the last 36 months.

What Merchants Say

First Financial Merchant Services has also received 3 informal reviews against its BBB profile, all of which are negative in tone. The most recent review cites unexpected fees and poor customer service:

My story is the same as the post 4/18/21. They are rude as hell!!! I too was on hold for 20 minutes before getting connected. The kept charging me long after I canceled my contract! The lady was one of the rudest Ive ever talked to in customer service. She must be married to the owner?

It appears that this client may have better luck working with a top-rated e-commerce platform.

An “A” Performance Overall

In light of First Financial’s complaint total, we agree with the BBB’s rating.

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First Financial Merchant Services Fees and Rates

A Closer Look at the Contract

Don't Fall Into An Expensive Trap. See Who The Worst Processors Are.

Cost Summary

Cancellation Penalties
Yes
Monthly & Annual Fees
Yes
Processing Rates
Variable
Equipment Leasing
Yes

Potentially Variable Terms

According to multiple client complaints, the standard First Financial Merchant Services contract is a three-year agreement through First Data (Fiserv) with an early termination fee of up to $695, an annual fee of $89, a PCI Compliance fee that exceeds $100, various monthly fees, and a costly tiered pricing structure. Given the credit card processor’s use of independent sales agents, it is likely that these contract terms may vary somewhat from business to business but likely resemble First Data (Fiserv) rates.

Under a typical First Data (Fiserv) contract, businesses that process up to $50,000 each month will receive a swiped rate of 2.69% plus $0.19 and a keyed-in rate of 3.69% plus $0.19. Businesses whose monthly charges exceed $50,000 will receive a swiped rate of 2.29% plus $0.19 and a keyed-in rate of 3.29% plus $0.19. However, as a reseller of First Data (Fiserv), First Financial does reserve the right to alter the terms and conditions of these agreements.

Avoid Equipment Leases

We have not located any reports of costly equipment leases through First Financial, but the company’s apparent affiliation with First Data (Fiserv) indicates that it may resell equipment leases through First Data Global Leasing. First Data (Fiserv) leases can be long-term, non-cancellable, expensive agreements. Although we do not have access to the actual First Financial Merchant Services contract at this time, the reported figures associated with the company’s services are more or less in line with industry averages. First Financial’s reported contract terms are not competitive with the cheapest merchant accounts available. We are therefore awarding the company an average grade of “C” for this category.

We also encourage business owners to check out our list of the providers of the best merchant accounts.

First Financial Merchant Services Jobs and Employment

Hiring Standards and Ethical Marketing Assessment

Audit Your Current Statement To Find Its Hidden Fees

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Key Points

Uses Independent Resellers
Yes
Telemarketing
Likely
Misleading Marketing
No
Discloses All Important Terms
No

Independent Sales Agents

First Financial appears to employ a sales team composed mostly of outside sales agents, many of whom are independent contractors. This hiring practice is generally linked to high complaint volumes within the credit card processing industry, as independent sales agents do not usually receive the training and oversight that full employees do. In this case, we have located over 20 First Financial Merchant Services reviews that accuse the company of deceptive marketing, but the complainants in these cases are largely former or prospective employees of the company.

This does not compare favorably to our list of best credit card processors.

Employee Complaints

Negative First Financial Merchant Services reviews from employees consistently report exaggerated claims of potential wealth, aggressive recruiting campaigns, and failure to pay residuals. Although these reviews describe difficulties that merchants may not experience directly, it is possible that a dissatisfied sales team at a company might not provide the best service to its merchants. Business owners are encouraged to take this “hiring mill” practice into account when interacting with an independent sales agent.

Seek An Independent Audit

First Financial’s recent decision to market to organizations rather than businesses may help isolate business owners from any poor sales practices. This remains to be seen, but we will continue monitoring merchant feedback under the company’s new approach. If you suspect that First Financial is charging you undisclosed fees, we recommend seeking a third-party statement audit to find and eliminate hidden charges.

First Financial Merchant Services Review Summary

Our Final Thoughts and Opinions

First Financial Merchant Services rates as an average credit card processing provider according to our rating system. The company has a high number of complaints filed publicly by its current and former employees, indicating that it may utilize “hiring mill” tactics that may have repercussions for merchants. Additionally, the few confirmed details of the company’s contract indicate that it may charge slightly higher rates and fees than industry averages. It should be noted that the company also may do business under the names “First Financial USA” and “Ideal Payment Solutions.” Business owners should compare the company’s offerings to top overall providers to get the best deal.


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Customer & Employee Reviews

What Others Are Saying About First Financial Merchant Services

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2 Responses

  • Ryan

    Hello I am interviewing with FFMS as a sales director and wanted to find out what you thought of the company as a whole and if you recommend working for them?

    Thank you

    • Phillip CPO

      Hi Ryan, the article above summarizes everything we could find as of the last update of the First Financial Merchant Services review.

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About The Author

Phillip Parker is the creator and author behind this website. He has over 15 years of experience in the credit card processing industry as a journalist, consultant, and former merchant account sales professional. He started this project as a blog to expose merchant services providers that engage in predatory business practices, such as deceptive marketing, misleading pricing, and high-pressure sales tactics. His goal is to help business owners find merchant account providers who serve their industry well while offering fair rates with no junk fees and no long-term commitments.

Phillip has researched over 1,000 payment processors and been quoted in numerous high-profile publications, including the Los Angeles Time, INC Magazine, The Atlantic, and the Miami Herald among others.

Need advice on card acceptance? Schedule a consultation with Phillip.

Phillip’s Top Processor Picks:
Retail, restaurant, e-commerce, mobile, professional services, and invoicing, Phillip recommends Helcim and CDG Commerce.

High-risk businesses, Phillip recommends PaymentCloud and Host Merchant Services.

How Our Ratings Work

Please note that our rating system was overhauled on April 26th, 2023. Reviews dated before this date may not score in accordance with the following.

Star Rating Criteria:

At the start of our research, all processors are awarded five stars. We deduct stars if the processor engages in any of the following:

– One star deduction if the processor has any junk fees.

– One star deduction if the processor does not post its pricing clearly on its website.

– One Star deduction if the processor is suffering from moderate client complaints.

– Multiple Star deductions if a processor is suffering from severe complaints, imposes unjust cancellation fees, markets non-cancellable equipment leases, engages in predatory rate pricing, or may be engaged in illegal activities.

Get all of the details regarding out rating criteria here.

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