Flagship Merchant Services Overview
Established in 2001
Flagship Merchant Services is a large merchant account sales organization based out of Charlestown, Massachusetts. The company was founded in 2001 and appears to have grown rapidly in the last 10 years. Flagship is a reseller of processing services primarily provided by First Data and Paysafe (formerly iPayment) but appears to handle the customer service of its accounts in-house. Flagship’s website and online advertising boast that it has been a top-rated credit card processor on TopTenReviews.com for 8 consecutive years, but it is unclear at this time how a business qualifies for that honor. The company also advertises Clover as its POS partner.
Flagship Merchant Services Location and Ownership
Flagship lists is an ISO of BBVA USA, Birmingham, Alabama. The company is located at 100 City Square, 4th Floor, Charlestown, Massachusetts. Nathaniel Short is the most recently listed director of operations of Flagship Merchant Services.
Flagship Merchant Services Review Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Flagship Merchant Services offers a month-to-month contract through First Data with no early termination fee.
- Complaints & Service: Flagship Merchant Services has received more than 200 public complaints.
- BBB Rating: Flagship Merchant Services has an “A” rating and has received 77 complaints and 42 reviews in the past 3 years. The company has been accredited by the BBB since 2015.
- Sales & Marketing: Flagship Merchant Services does not appear to hire independent sales representatives but has received a moderate-to-high number of complaints about its sales practices.
- Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With Flagship Merchant Services
Types of Businesses Served
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Flagship Merchant Services Rates, Fees, and Costs
|Swiped Rate||1.00% - 4.99%|
|Keyed-in Rate||1.00% - 4.99%|
|Virtual Terminal Rate||1.00% - 4.99%|
|Payment Gateway Fee||Undisclosed|
|Early Termination Fee||None|
|PCI Compliance Fee||$99 Per Year|
|Equipment Lease Terms||Undisclosed|
Flagship Merchant Services Contract Terms
Rates and fees of Flagship merchant accounts may vary for a variety of reasons including a merchant’s business type, processing volume, and the agent setting up the account. In most cases, the company offers month-to-month contracts with no cancellation fees but charges an annual PCI Compliance fee of around $99 in addition to several other monthly fees, which seem to vary in name and amount. Some merchant complaints have mentioned a $29.99 monthly fee for affiliate marketing through a company called Womply. Merchants are 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.
Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing
In addition to its storefront payment processing services, Flagship Merchant Services also dedicates a portion of its website that advertises its virtual terminal and payment gateway services. However, pricing on either of those services is not disclosed. 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
Merchants are encouraged to carefully read and understand Flagship’s merchant account agreement prior to signup, as 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 actively promote it. Be sure to read “Fee Sweep” to understand merchant account fees and how to negotiate them in your favor.Are you happy with your Flagship Merchant Services fees? Tell us about them before your go!
Flagship Merchant Services Complaints & Customer Reviews
|Total Online Complaints||200+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Hidden Fees|
Moderate Complaint Total
For a provider of Flagship’s size and time in business, there are a moderate number of negative Flagship Merchant Services reviews filed in the usual forums, as well as over 160 in our comment section below. Many of the complaints accuse the company of being a ripoff or scam operation and tend to follow a common theme, which is the reason Flagship is receiving a low rating in this section. Of the reports, numerous merchants complain of receiving higher than quoted fees after signing up, sudden increases in fees without notification, hidden/undisclosed fees, and difficulty cancelling service. One complaint, found here, outlines a typical negative experience: “When we signed uo 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 merchants 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.
Flagship Merchant Services Lawsuits
Flagship Merchant Services (AKA: iPayment) 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 at 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 Customer Service 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. Merchant reviews reflect constant frustration with customer service agents from the company. Those reviews leave Flagship Merchant Services far from providers who offer top quality customer services.
Flagship Merchant Services BBB Rating Summary
Key Points - BBB
|Product & Service Complaints||33|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||43|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||1|
|Guarantee & Warranty Complaints||0|
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.
Over 75 Complaints
As of this update, the Better Business Bureau is reporting that Flagship has been accredited since May 2015 and is assigning the company an “A” rating. Flagship has received 77 BBB complaints filed in the last 36 months. Of the 77 total complaints, 43 are regarding billing and collection disputes, 33 with service problems, and 1 with an advertising or sale issue. Flagship has resolved 32 of the complaints to the merchant’s satisfaction. The remaining 45 complaints were answered by the company but did not receive a final response from the merchant.
At the time of one of our previous updates, 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” despite an increase in total complaints.
What Merchants Say
In addition to the 77 complaints, the company’s BBB profile has received 42 informal reviews. All 42 of the reviews are negative, with 40 of them receiving the lowest possible rating. The most recent review detail an extraordinarily frustrating customer service experience when trying to establish a merchant account:
Gave them all of the info up front then they decided they didn’t like my business and declined my application. Not a big deal except the sales rep wouldn’t return my numerous calls and emails. I had to find another rep and he told me the application was declined. Very unprofessional. I wouldn’t refer these guys to anyone. Do yourself a favor and go to a real company not these jokers.
Great customer service is a hallmark of a top-ranked merchant account. Merchants should review their options for companies who offer superior customer service to avoid issues like this review chronicles.
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.”
Truth In Marketing & Advertising
|Employs Independent Resellers||No|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||Yes|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
Deceptive Rate Quote
This reviewer 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 merchant’s transactions will run at much higher rates. Flagship fails to mention that the merchant 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 has recently replaced it with the just as deceptive “rates start at 0.38%” currently visible on its homepage. Merchants may also encounter similar “teaser” quotes when speaking directly with Flagship representatives.
Numerous Sales Complaints
Flagship 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 of course assuming that the company doesn’t encourage deceptive sales practices, which may be an issue with Flagship due to numerous merchant complaints indicating that agents failed to fully disclose important fees and contract terms. On the surface, Flagship does not appear to engage in any egregiously deceptive practices at this time. 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.
About Phillip Parker
Thank you for reading my review. I hope that it has helped you with your research.
Why I'm Qualified to Write About Credit Card Processing and Merchant Account Services
I'm a former credit card processing sales director who left the industry because I didn't like how it takes advantage of small business owners. It feeds like a leech on businesses and thrives by imposing fees that are nearly impossible to comprehend. Seeing a need for change, I left and built this website help business owners better understand the industry, research merchant services providers, and get refunds of excessive merchant account fees. My experience of working "behind the curtain" in the industry, and using that knowledge for good, has resulted in millions of dollars returned to hard-working small business owners as well as enterprise-level companies.
From the time that I starting working in the merchant services industry to when I left to create this website, I've been on the pulse of payments for nearly 15 years. It didn't seem fair to keep this "insider" knowledge to myself. To lift the fog, I've reviewed hundreds of companies, read thousands of user reviews, and learned the pricing tricks of every provider. If you have questions about credit card processing, you can find the answers on this website.