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Flagship Merchant Services is a large credit card processor based out of Charlestown, Massachusetts. The company was founded in 2001 and has become large super-ISO over the last two decades. Flagship is a reseller of credit card processing services provided by First Data (now Fiserv) and and subsidiary of Paysafe (formerly iPayment). Despite being a reseller, the company handles customer service of its accounts in-house. The company also advertises Clover as its POS partner. It should also be noted that Flagship’s parent company, PaySafe, owns some of the worst rated credit card processors that we have reviewed, including Leaders Merchant Services.
Flagship Merchant Services Payment Processing Services
Flagship Merchant Services processes all major credit and debit cards for small to medium-sized businesses. Services include EMV and NFC-compliant terminals, Clover POS, mobile card readers, e-commerce payments, phone and mail order capability, cash advances, gift cards, loyalty solutions, and a business management portal.
Flagship Merchant Services offers a payment gateway that allows businesses to securely process online transactions. Their payment gateway is compatible with a variety of e-commerce platforms and offers a range of features, including fraud detection and prevention, recurring billing, and customizable payment pages.
Point of Sale Systems
Flagship Merchant Services offers a range of point-of-sale (POS) systems that allow businesses to manage their payments and inventory in one place. Their POS systems are designed to be easy to use and offer features such as inventory tracking, employee management, and customizable reporting.
Gift and Loyalty Programs
Flagship Merchant Services offers gift and loyalty programs that allow businesses to incentivize customer loyalty and drive sales. Their programs are customizable and offer features such as gift card management, customer data tracking, and promotional tools.
Merchant Cash Advance
Flagship Merchant Services offers a merchant cash advance program that provides businesses with a lump sum of cash in exchange for a percentage of their future sales. This program is designed to help businesses with cash flow issues and can be a good option for businesses that need quick access to funds.
Location & Ownership
Flagship lists its acquiring bank as Woodforest National Bank, The Woodlands Texas and is an ISO of BBVA USA, Birmingham, Alabama. We previously located the company at 100 City Square, 4th Floor, Charlestown, Massachusetts. However, the company has somehow acquired a partially wiped BBB profile that now lists it at 30721 Russell Ranch Rd Ste 200, Westlake Village, CA 91362, which is the same address that we found during our iPayment review. Bruce Lowthers is listed as the CEO of PaySafe and Nathaniel Short is list as the SVP of Direct Sales for U.S. Acquiring at Paysafe and appears to oversee operations for Flagship.
Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Claims to offer month-to-month contracts but customers have complained of termination fees ranging from…
- Complaints & Service: Has received more than 200 public complaints regarding…
- BBB Rating: Has an “A+” rating and but has received 18 complaints and 11 reviews about…
- Sales & Marketing: Does not appear to hire independent sales representatives but has received a moderate-to-high number of complaints about its…
Flagship Merchant Services Customer Complaints & Reviews
Here's What Users Think
Total Online Complaints
Live Customer Support
Most Common Complaint
Moderate Complaint Total
For a provider of Flagship’s size and time in business, there is a moderate number of negative Flagship Merchant Services reviews filed in the usual forums, as well as over 180 complaints in our comment section below. Many of the complaints follow a common theme, which is the reason Flagship is receiving a low rating in this section. Of the reports, numerous business owners complain of receiving higher than quoted fees after signing up, sudden increases in fees without notification, hidden and undisclosed fees, difficulty canceling service, and fees continuing after cancellation. The following quote outlines a typical negative experience: “When we signed up with this nightmare of a company, they advertised that they were BBB accredited and A rated. Once we started having issues with them I checked BBB and they were not even accredited! […] They charged my account 7 times more than what they said they would charge me per month and when I called they said that they can only credit my account if I do not cancle my service.”
A Need For Better Disclosure
These types of complaints usually indicate systemic problems in which sales agents often fail to disclose fees and instead rely on business owners to find them within the contract. It can also be an indication of problems with the billing system. Either way, Flagship can improve its rating in this section by revising its sales and billing methods so as to prevent future complaints of this nature. The company has a customer service contact form on its website but appears to be lacking the support channels necessary to qualify it as a top-rated credit card processor for customer service.
Threats and Bullying
Flagship Merchant Services has repeatedly made hostile attempts to force the removal of this review. These have included intimidation through bullying and threats of litigation under false pretenses as well as an illegitimate DMCA claim filed with our host, which was rejected on the grounds that it was a “guise” to suppress fair use of a trademark. It is our opinion that such actions reveal the depths to which Flagship’s executives will stoop in an attempt to suppress constitutionally protected free speech that is critical of their business practices. We view these actions as not only highly unethical, but as a demonstration of their unwillingness to correct the problems that cause merchant complaints and, instead, a preference for aggressive strong-arm retribution tactics. If you have been a victim of such threats or bullying, please detail your experience in the comment section below.
Flagship Merchant Services Lawsuits and Fines
Durango Merch. Servs., LLC v. Flagship Merch. Servs., LLC was a legal case in which Durango, a payment processing company, sued Flagship Merchant Services, LLC for unfair competition and false advertising. The case centered around Flagship’s alleged use of false and misleading statements about their services, as well as their use of Durango’s trademarks in marketing materials without permission.
The court found that Flagship had engaged in false advertising and unfair competition, and ordered them to pay damages to Durango. In addition, the court issued an injunction prohibiting Flagship from using Durango’s trademarks in any marketing or advertising materials.
Flagship Merchant Services Customer Support Options
The company provides a dedicated customer service phone number. Additionally, the Flagship Merchant Services website offers an online form for customers to submit a support ticket. Numerous Flagship Merchant Services reviews reflect constant frustration with customer service agents from the company.
Flagship Merchant Services Customer Service Number
- (866) 732-8146 – Toll-Free Customer Service
Flagship Merchant Services BBB Rating and Report
Our Better Business Bureau Profile Assessment
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.
A Partially Wiped Profile
As of this update, the Better Business Bureau has given Flagship a new profile that contains only some of its previous complaints and reviews. Previously, the BBB reported that Flagship had received 98 BBB complaints filed in the last 36 months. On the current profile, the BBB gives Flagship an “A+” and states they have been accredited since 2015. Inexplicably, the complaint total is now showing only 18 Flagship Merchant Services complaints in the last 36 months. Additionally, there are 12 negative “customer reviews” bringing the total complaints to 29. The company has responded to 100% of the formal complaints and resolved 7 of them.
During one of our previous updates to this review, the BBB had posted a notice containing the following information:
According to BBB files this business has a pattern of complaint concerning non disclosure of “required” charges. Specifically for PCI*. Consumers state that the business charges for PCI compliance or Noncompliance but that was not disclosed in the original agreement made.Consumers state that the business claims notification was sent however consumers claim this is an additional charge not disclosed to them. Consumers indicate that they want refund or cancellation of service. BBB sent a written notice on 7/28/14 and 9/8/14 to identifying the potential pattern of complaint with a request for a business response. As of 10/14/14 the business did not respond to BBB’s request.
*The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a proprietary information security standard for organizations that handle cardholder information for the major debit credit prepaid, e-purse ATM, and POS cards
This notice has been removed from the company’s BBB profile since that update. In that time, Flagship has also paid the BBB to join its accreditation program and seen its grade rise from a “C” to a “B+” and now an “A+” rating.
What The Complaints Say
A recent review complained of deceptive sales practices and bad customer service:
I was contacted by Alex regarding a request for information on the use of a credit card machine for our Church. My biggest concern was the fee’s associated with the use of a machine vs our current fee’s through PayPal. I made it very clear that our thrift store has about $1000 in credit card sales. He told me the per transaction fee’s were much lower then PayPal but there was a $4.95 monthly fee for use of the credit card machine which would be provided free of charge if we kept it for a year. If we kept it less then a year there would be an early termination fee of $250. We got our machine and began using it in December of 2020 but unfortunately our Thrift store had to shut down due to increasing Covid cases in our area. Expecting to only be charged the $4.95 monthly fee I was shocked to see there was a charge to our bank for $44 on Jan 2nd. I called my representative Alex and he said there was noting he could do because it was Martin Luther King Day but that he would call me back the next day. After a week and numerous messages I decided to call Pay Safe, the company that is billing us. After bouncing between people I finally got someone who said they would call Alex and have him give me a call back. Ales called me back immediately after getting off the phone from PaySafe. He apologized for what was going on and said he look into it and make things right. I was again very specific with him on what the fees would be and he assured me we would not be charged more then $4.95 and month plus the small per transaction fee. After 48hrs with no call back I gave him a call and he said I needed to and amended agreement. I am not an attorney but it looked straight forward that the extra fee’s they had charged would not be charged going forward and there was no mention of refunding the excess fee’s already taken. I figured I would give it a billing cycle to see if we got our credit. We balanced the Church checking account on the Feb 1st. When we balanced the account on Mar 5th we saw $44 dollars in fee’s against $10 in sales, they took $34 dollars out of out our checking account on Feb 2nd and charged us $45 in fee’s against $83 in sales on Mar 2nd. To date we have been charged over $100 in fee’s for $93 in credit card sales. As a non-profit we count on our Thrift store sales to support our Church and our ministries. We also provide 10% of all Thrift store proceeds to Ronald McDonald House Charities. I am not sure why Alex lied to us and refuses to return calls but personally I think it speaks volumes to his character and his employers integrity. I would not do business with Flagship Merchant Services or Paysafe.
An Adjusted Rating
Given the company’s complaint total, resolution ratio, and former BBB notice, we have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “C” rating for the purposes of our own scoring.
Flagship Merchant Services Fees and Rates
A Closer Look at the Contract
Monthly & Annual Fees
1.00% - 4.99+%
Flagship Merchant Services Contract
Rates and fees of Flagship merchant accounts may vary for a variety of reasons, including a client’s business type, processing volume, and the agent setting up the account. In most cases, the company appears to offer a month-to-month contract with no cancellation fees. However, we have located a few Flagship Merchant Services reviews that mention cancellation fees being charged. The company also appears to charge an annual PCI Compliance fee of$99 in addition to several other monthly fees. Some Flagship Merchant Services complaints have mentioned a $29.99 monthly fee for affiliate marketing through a company called Womply. Some business owners are also reporting that Flagship automatically enrolled them in a free 60-day Womply trial in late 2016. They further state that anyone who failed to opt-out before the trial expired is now being charged $29.99 per month. Additionally, several customer reviews state that Flagship continued to bill them monthly fees for extended periods after canceling service.
Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing
In addition to its storefront payment processing services, Flagship Merchant Services also dedicates a portion of its website to advertising its virtual terminal and payment gateway services. However, pricing is not disclosed on either of those services. Additional rates and fees, including gateway fees, technical support fees, batch fees, and additional transaction rates typically apply to these e-commerce services.
Negotiate Your Rates
Business owners are encouraged to carefully read and understand Flagship’s merchant account agreement prior to signup. Many of the complaints about the company describe undisclosed fees or higher-than-expected rates. Flagship is capable of offering interchange-plus pricing, but it does not appear to actively promote it.
Flagship Merchant Services Jobs and Employment
Hiring Standards and Ethical Marketing Assessment
Uses Independent Resellers
Discloses All Important Terms
Deceptive Rate Quote
We have previously located one use of deceptive marketing by Flagship in which the company advertised on its homepage and in Google Adsense ads that “rates start at 0.38% plus $0.19 per transaction.” This rate quote is misleading because it only applies to a particular transaction type, but the majority of a client’s transactions will run at much higher rates. Flagship fails to mention that the business owner will experience other rates and fees in addition to the unrealistically low rate quote. As you can imagine, these types of quotes can lead to confusion. Flagship has removed this specific rate quote from its website in the past few years, but replaced it with the just as deceptive “rates start at 0.38%” on its homepage. As of this review update, the homepage no longer advertises this rate. Businesses may also encounter similar “teaser” quotes when speaking directly with Flagship representatives. This type of marketing disqualifies the company from being added to our list of best credit card processors.
Questionable Review Website Ranking
Flagship Merchant Services is listed as a top pick with numerous questionably ethical review websites. Many of these websites appear to be in parternship with PaySafe group or possibly owned by PaySafe through a web of alternate DBAs. These websites consistently list the same “top rated” providers, almost of of whom have a poor rating with legitimate review websites. A few examples of these shady review sites, according to our opinion, are:
However, there are numerous such websites that appear at the top of search results as advertisements when researching credit card processors. Business owners are advised to proceed with caution when reviewing credit card processors from websites that resemble the ones listed above.
Gift Card Promotion
Flagship’s homepage currently advertises a “Meet-or-Beat” Processing Rate promotion, offering a $200 AMEX gift card if Flagship does not provide the lowest total processing cost. The terms and conditions of this promotion are not found on the website. Instead, business owners must submit contact information and speak with a representative in order to learn more information about this promotion. In general, these types of promotions are a sales gimmick because the company only has to be a penny cheaper to avoid paying out the $200 gift card.
If you are seeking an ethical way to substantially and permanently lower your processing costs, consider getting an independent merchant account statement audit.
Numerous Sales Complaints
Flagship Merchant Services appears to primarily use inside sales staff to market its services instead of using outside independent sales agents. Inside sales personnel are the preferred marketing strategy for this reviewer because the sales tactics of these agents can be better controlled. This is assuming that the company doesn’t encourage deceptive sales practices, which may be an issue with with this processor. Numerous Flagship Merchant Services reviews indicate that agents fail to fully disclose important fees and contract terms. On the surface, Flagship does not appear to engage in any egregiously deceptive practices such as bait-and-switch rate quotes. However, the consistent Flagship Merchant Services complaints about undisclosed fees have lowered its score to an average grade of “C” in this section. If you suspect that Flagship is charging you hidden fees, we recommend seeking a free third-party statement audit.