|Sales & Marketing|
|Costs & Contract|
|Complaints & Service|
Harbortouch (harbortouch.com) is a merchant account provider based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Launched in 1999, the company provides card processing services, point-of-sale systems, electronic cash registers, and card processing terminals to U.S. merchants. It appears that Harbortouch at some point acquired, was acquired by, or is otherwise associated with United Bank Card. At this time, Harbortouch primarily promotes its proprietary tablet-based POS system. Harbortouch claims to handle merchant accounts for over 110,000 business locations and process in excess of $11 billion annually. The company is a registered ISO/MSP of First National Bank of Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska. Jared Isaacman is the founder and CEO of Harbortouch.
|Harbortouch Products and Services||Industries Served|
Response from Harbortouch:
With over 16 years in business, Harbortouch has received numerous awards and accolades for its growth, customer service and innovative products. This includes six appearances on Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 500/5000” list of fastest growing private companies in the nation, a Deloitte “Technology Fast 50” award, awards from the Best in Biz Awards, Golden Bridge Awards, and American Business Awards, and a top Customer Service award from industry publication Green Sheet, among many other accolades. Serving over 120,000 merchants across the country and processing in excess of $10 billion annually, Harbortouch is also ranked as one of the largest payment processors in the country by Nilson Report. Harbortouch values each merchant it serves, realizing that exceptional customer service is just as important as competitive pricing and innovative products. Our award-winning customer support is handled entirely in-house and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This focus on customer service is illustrated in our Mission Statement: “Harbortouch’s primary goal is to provide exceptional service and value to our customers. Our merchant customers are the lifeblood of the company and our success is completely dependent on their satisfaction. Every decision we make must reflect the importance of preserving these relationships. As a company, we must always strive to provide our customers with the best possible experience with both innovative technology and sincere personal attention.”
|Key Points – Sales & Marketing|
|Uses independent resellers?||Yes|
|Promotes deceptive rate quotes?||No|
|Discloses all important terms?||No|
Harbortouch hires independently contracted sales agents (ISAs) to resell its merchant account services. This is a standard practice within the industry that often results in unregulated or unsupervised agents reselling a provider’s services without effectively disclosing contract terms. On this website and elsewhere, reports are common of a Harbortouch sales representative promising to waive fees or provide month-to-month contracts only to fail to follow through, leaving the merchant on the hook for some unfavorable contract terms.
Online complaints seem to indicate that a common point of miscommunication has to do with Harbortouch’s heavily promoted deals for free equipment or a free POS system. Some merchants report that they agreed to receive free equipment or software but cancelled before receiving or implementing these services, only to be charged with a cancellation fee in the amount of the remaining cost of the multiyear contract. It is our policy to hold companies responsible for the conduct of their sales agents, and we therefore award Harbortouch an average grade of “C” in this category.
Response from Harbortouch:
As is standard practice in the industry, Harbortouch does use independent sales agents to sell our products and services. However, we pride ourselves on the extensive training we provide our sales agents to help minimize any negative experiences for our customers. This training program, which includes an entire training department and a 9,000 square foot training facility, goes well above and beyond what is standard in the industry. Any time we find out that a sales agent has been misleading customers or making false promises, we act swiftly to address these situations. It is also important to note that all of the key terms of our program are clearly outlined in the contract that each of our customers sign. As with any contract, we always encourage our customers to read the contract fully to make sure they understand the terms of the contract before they sign. Harbortouch also offers a 30 day trial on our point-of-sale equipment to provide an opportunity for customers to cancel the contract without penalty if they change their mind within 30 days, providing further protection to our customers from any misunderstandings during the sales process.
Harbortouch Marketing Example
|Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms|
|PCI compliance fee:||$99 per year|
|Equipment lease:||Variable (up to 5 years)|
The Harbortouch terms and conditions (available below) outline a three-year agreement with automatic renewal for two-year terms, a Liquidated Damages early termination fee of either $250 or the number of remaining months in the contract multiplied by $35 (whichever is greater), and transaction fees according to a tiered pricing schedule. Merchants who receive equipment from the company may also be subject to a $79 annual fee and an $89 annual security fee. Harbortouch’s “Elite” POS system costs $69 per month, while its “Echo” POS system costs $39 per month.
Although these are the company’s official terms, the company’s use of independent sales agents means that contract terms may vary from agent to agent. A representative of the company confirmed in the comment section of this review that many of the contract terms are liable to be altered by a given sales representative, so merchants are advised to review contracts carefully and only deal with agents they trust. Multiple complaints have described a situation in which a sales agent verbally agreed to waive or alter certain fees and then failed to follow through on those changes. Alternatively, there are multiple claims that agents failed to disclose the early termination fee associated with the company’s POS agreement.
It seems merchants should be aware that they will likely be on the hook for the actual language of the contract in some cases, rather than the specific deal reached with their agent.
Response from Harbortouch:
As stated above, any time we find out that a sales agent has been misleading customers or making false promises, we act swiftly to address these situations. We also provide extensive training to our sales agents to try to avoid these types of misrepresentation entirely. It is also important to note that all of the key terms of our program are clearly outlined in the contract that each of our customers sign. As with any contract, we always encourage our customers to read the contract fully to make sure they understand the terms of the contract before they sign. Harbortouch also offers a 30 day trial on our point-of-sale equipment to provide an opportunity for customers to cancel the contract without penalty if they change their mind within 30 days.
One of Harbortouch’s primary product offerings is a full-featured touch-screen point-of-sale system without any up-front costs. Our customers receive the hardware, software, training, installation and support without any up-front expense, a value of over $3,000 per system. The only cost to the merchant is a low monthly fee starting at $39 per month, which covers 24/7 support, software updates and free hardware replacements. In order for us to earn a return on this significant investment that we make in each of our customers, we need to ensure a minimum length of time for the relationship, which is why we require a 36 month contract for any new customers. We make this requirement very clear during the sales and paperwork process, and the 30 day trial period adds another level of protection for our customers.
|Key Points – Complaints & Service|
|Live customer support:||Yes|
|Most common complaint:||Undisclosed fees|
Harbortouch is showing a moderate-to-high number of complaints for a company of its size, almost all of which cite deceptive sales tactics or apathetic customer support. It appears that Harbortouch has paid Ripoff Report to be a part of that site’s corporate advocacy program, which allows Harbortouch to flood Ripoff Report with dozens of identical testimonials in an effort to obscure the details of merchant complaints. Researchers should note that the actual content of these Ripoff Report reviews can be found below each of Harbortouch’s testimonials.
We had previously given Harbortouch a “B-” in this category based on the fact that the company’s representatives seemed to actively respond to merchant complaints on other websites. Given the company’s attempt to cover up its reputation on Ripoff Report rather than respond to public complaints, we are inclined to lower Harbortouch’s rating at this time.
It should also be noted that two representatives of Harbortouch (including the company’s CEO) have directly addressed merchant complaints in the comment section of this review. Both representatives disputed merchants’ claims regarding nondisclosure of contract terms, stating that the company’s cancellation policy is clearly disclosed by Harbortouch sales reps and documentation at multiple points during the signup process. These representatives also stated that the company’s large early termination fee is justified by the upfront expense associated with providing POS equipment to merchants. Harbortouch offers email and phone support on its website in addition to equipment and software manuals.
Response from Harbortouch:
Harbortouch’s top priority is our customer, and we do everything in our power to provide exceptional customer service. This includes 24/7 customer service and technical support by phone and email, completely in-house. Regarding Harbortouch’s participation in Ripoff Report’s Corporate Advocacy Program, this program allows us to reach out directly to customers who post complaints in order to more quickly resolve their situations. Participation in this program is not an attempt to cover up complaints, but on the contrary, allows us to better address these issues in real-time. Regarding concerns related to our contract terms, all of these terms are clearly stated in the contract that each of our customers sign. As with any contract, we always encourage our customers to read the contract fully to make sure they understand the terms of the contract before they sign. Additionally, as mentioned above, our cancellation policy is clearly explained at multiple points during the sales and onboarding process. Harbortouch also offers a 30 day trial on our point-of-sale equipment to provide an opportunity for customers to cancel the contract without penalty if they change their mind within 30 days.
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|Key Points – BBB Report|
Harbortouch has been an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau since 2013. As of this review, the company currently holds an “A“ rating with the BBB and has had 219 complaints filed against it in the last 36 months. The bulk of these complaints (103) stemmed from problems with Harbortouch’s products and services. Eighty-eight complaints were filed regarding billing and collections issues, 27 involved problems with advertising or sales, and one was filed in regards to delivery issues. Of the total complaints, 179 were successfully resolved. Harbortouch responded to the remaining 40; however, these were not resolved to the customers’ satisfaction. Taking into account the company’s complaint total and resolution ratio, we have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “C-.” To better understand why we adjust BBB ratings, please see our Rating Criteria.
* Denotes CPO-adjusted BBB score
Response from Harbortouch:
Harbortouch is accredited with the Better Business Bureau and consistently maintains an A+ rating with this organization. It is important to note that BBB accreditation standards include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. Additionally, the A+ rating given to Harbortouch by the BBB is based on 13 different factors, including number of complaints filed with BBB for a business of this size, response to the complaints filed against business, and resolution of complaints filed against business. This accreditation and rating illustrates Harbortouch’s commitment to our customers.
This review was originally published on 2/18/13 and was last updated on 3/26/15.
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