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. Harbortouch previously operated under the name “United Bank Card.” At this time, Harbortouch primarily promotes its custom POS systems. Harbortouch claims to operate merchant accounts for over 120,000 business locations and to process in excess of $10 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
- Debit and credit card processing
- POS system
- Online reporting
- Gift and loyalty programs
- Check conversion and guarantee
- Merchant cash advance
- ATM placement
- Convenience store
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.”
Sales & Marketing
Key Points - Sales & Marketing
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||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. Harbortouch likes to phrase its promotion so that the equipment itself is technically free, but it requires the merchant to sign an automatically renewing, three-year service commitment so that Harbortouch can recover its upfront costs. In this way, the merchant still has to pay for at least three years of access to the equipment, which to some merchants may seem indistinguishable from having a long-term equipment lease.
Some merchants also 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. Merchants who cancel before the Install Date should only owe a $250 restocking fee. After the Install Date, Harbortouch offers a 30-day trial period. If merchants cancel after this 30-day period has concluded, then they will be responsible for the full cost of the service agreement, despite the claims of any sales agent. If merchants cancel within the trial period, they are still responsible for fees incurred during the trial period as well as the costs of shipping equipment back to Harbortouch.
A smaller number of merchants claim that they were not made aware of the fact that they are responsible for the full cost of the service agreement regardless of whether or not their business closes permanently. It appears to be Harbortouch’s policy to enforce the terms of its agreement even in the event that a merchant goes out of business.
A Harbortouch representative has stated on multiple occasions that the company offers rigorous agent training and has procedures in place to discipline ISOs that act unethically. The company also clearly discloses its service agreement terms in its paperwork and requires follow-up communication with merchants after they open an account. However, Harbortouch still routinely receives complaints that describe misrepresentation or nondisclosure by its independent sales agents. This indicates that despite the company’s admirable efforts, a significant number of merchants are still having a negative experience with Harbortouch’s sales team. We therefore assign 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
Costs & Contract
Key Points - Costs & Contract
|Early Termination Fee||$250+|
|PCI Compliance Fee||$99 per year|
|Equipment Lease Terms||Variable (up to 5 years)|
The Harbortouch terms and conditions (available below) outline a three-year agreement with automatic renewal for two-year terms unless cancelled thirty days prior to the expiration of the initial term; an early termination fee equal to the number of remaining months in the Merchant Agreement multiplied by $35 plus the number of remaining months in the POS Service Agreement multiplied by the merchant’s monthly service fee; a quarterly $60 support fee for Elite POS users; an annual fee of $79 for Echo POS users; a $99 PCI Compliance Fee; and transaction fees according to a tiered or interchange-plus pricing schedule. Harbortouch will also charge merchants $75 per month if they stop using their Harbortouch system during the contract term. 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 transaction rates and fees may vary from agent to agent. A representative of the company confirmed in the comment section of this review that any verbal guarantees made by sales agents will not overrule the language in the company’s contract, so merchants are advised to trust the documentation above an agent’s word. Multiple merchants 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 contract length and early termination fee associated with the company’s POS agreement.
Harbortouch’s contract structure is unusual for the industry in the sense that the company does not specifically charge for the equipment that each merchant receives at the start of the contract. The company defends this practice as a long-term investment in the well-being of each merchant, but it also has the effect of locking merchants into a costly multi-year agreement, even if they decide to cancel service while under contract. Merchants will need to consider this lack of flexibility before they sign up for service through Harbortouch, as the initial savings may or may not be worth a long-term commitment.
The company’s peculiar POS service model has received both positive and negative reviews from merchants, but the negative reviews predictably cite very severe early termination fees. As a general rule, CPO advises merchants against long-term contracts with high early termination fees because these types of contracts limit a merchant’s choices. There are plenty of merchant account providers that offer month-to-month contracts, one-time equipment purchases, payment plans, or rental programs. Considering that Harbortouch’s approach to POS sales has received mixed reviews, coupled with the fact that it requires a long-term financial commitment from merchants, we have assigned it a “C” at this time. See the Harbortouch Elite Service Agreement.
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.
Complaints & Service
Key Points - Complaints & Service
|Total Online Complaints||100+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Long-Term Contracts|
Harbortouch is showing a moderate-to-high number of online complaints for a company of its size, most of which cite deceptive sales tactics, equipment issues, exorbitant cancellation fees, or poor 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 reach out to dissatisfied complainants. This program also allows Harbortouch to flood Ripoff Report with dozens of identical testimonials that 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.
A blog post on the Harbortouch website authored by the company’s CEO addresses the growing number of negative reviews that have been posted about Harbortouch. This post speculates that a significant number of negative Harbortouch merchant reviews are actually “from competitors that are unhappy with our free POS business model,” adding that “[i]t is not surprising that many of them would go online to write these anonymous and frankly false representations of our service. It is important to note that most of the complaints do not have any real contact information associated with them.” By our own independent assessment, the majority of public complaints filed against Harbortouch do indeed seem to come from actual merchants. It does not reflect positively on the company that its official stance appears to be dismissive of negative reviews in general.
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.
Harbortouch is currently an active participant in CPO’s complaint resolution program. This program enables merchant account providers to directly contact merchants who post negative comments beneath their review in an attempt to resolve their complaints. The company’s participation in this program is a positive indication that Harbortouch is interested in providing a satisfactory outcome for dissatisfied merchants.
Although Harbortouch is taking steps to improve its reputation among business owners, its complaint rate has been consistent since its last review. In addition, the content of these complaints has remained more or less unchanged. We have given the company a “C” grade as a result.
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
|Product & Service Complaints||89|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||85|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||20|
|Guarantee & Warranty Complaints||2|
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.
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 197 complaints filed against it in the last 36 months. Eighty-nine of these complaints were related to product or service issues, 85 had to do with billing and collection, 20 were classified as advertising issues, two were due to guarantee or warranty disputes, and one was a delivery problem. Of the total complaints, 37 were successfully resolved. The remaining 160 complaints either were resolved to the merchant’s dissatisfaction or did not receive a final response from the merchant. Taking into account the company’s complaint total and resolution ratio, we have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “C.”
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.
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About Phillip Parker
Phillip Parker is a former merchant services agent turned small business advocate and the author of "Fee Sweep," which teaches merchants how to dramatically lower their processing rates, eliminate junk fees, and avoid fine-print scams. He founded CardPaymentOptions.com to help merchants enact positive change in the credit card processing industry. Schedule a Consultation with PhillipSchedule a Consultation with Phillip
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