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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 (now Fiserv) and Paysafe (formerly iPayment) but appears to handle the customer service of its accounts in-house. However, the recent update to the Flagship BBB profile now lists their address as the same as Paysafe/iPayment, and we have found reviews claiming that Flagship is essentially a subsidiary of iPayment. Considering that iPayment has a long history of questionable practices, this is cause for concern. 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 Payment Processing
Flagship Merchant Services processes all major credit and debit cards for small to medium-sized businesses. Their services include EMV and NFC-compliant terminals, Clover POS and mobile solutions, e-commerce solutions, phone and mail order capability, cash advances, gift cards, loyalty solutions, and a business management portal.
Flagship Merchant Services 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 as iPayment, Inc. Nathaniel Short is the most recently listed director of operations of Flagship Merchant Services. However, the BBB lists a Janet Guicho as the contact point for Flagship, a person who is also listed as the contact point for Paysafe/iPayment.
Flagship Merchant Services Review 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 31 complaints and 16 reviews about…
- Sales & Marketing: Does not appear to hire independent sales representatives but has received a moderate-to-high number of complaints about its…
Should You Trust Flagship Merchant Services?
Lawsuits, Reviews & Complaints
Here's Who We Trust.
Total Online Complaints
Live Customer Support
Most Common Complaint
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 180 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 canceling 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 and Fines
Flagship Merchant Services (AKA: Paysafe/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 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 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.
We have located a single Flagship Merchant Services customer service phone number:
(866) 732-8146 – Toll-Free Customer Service
The Flagship Merchant Services also offers a customer support form on its website.
Is the BBB Rating for Flagship Merchant Services Accurate?
Better Business Bureau Profile
See Which Processors Offer No Monthly Fees And No Contracts.
Product & Service Complaints
Billing & Collection Complaints
Advertising & Sales Complaints
Guarantee & Warranty Complaints
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. We are not sure why this is, but the new profile makes it even more clear that Flagship is merely a part of the larger Paysafe organization. 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 31 complaints in the last 36 months. 13 of the complaints were due to a problem with a product or service, 17 were billing or collections issues, and 1 was an issue with delivery. Only 6 of these 31 complaints were resolved by the company to the satisfaction of the merchant. The remaining 25 were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or received no final response.
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 31 complaints, the company’s BBB profile has received 16 informal reviews. This is, again, an inexplicable drop from the 37 on the old profile. Of those reviews, all are negative. The most recent review detail 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.
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.”
How Expensive is Flagship Merchant Services Service?
Rates, Fees, and Contract Terms
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1.00% - 4.99%
1.00% - 4.99%
Virtual Terminal Rate
1.00% - 4.99%
Payment Gateway Fee
Early Termination Fee
PCI Compliance Fee
$99 Per Year
Equipment Lease Terms
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 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
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.
Does Flagship Merchant Services Use Deceptive Marketing?
Advertising & Sales Strategy
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Employs Independent Resellers
Advertises Deceptive Rates
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 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 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. Merchants may also encounter similar “teaser” quotes when speaking directly with Flagship representatives. This does not compare favorably to our list of best credit card processors.
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, merchants must submit contact information and speak with a representative in order to learn more information about this promotion.
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.