Leaders Merchant Services Overview
An iPayment/Paysafe Group Subsidiary
Established in 2000, Leaders Merchant Services is a merchant account provider that serves businesses of most sizes. The company specializes in retail, home-based, mail-order, and e-commerce merchant accounts, enabling merchants to process “swiped” card-present transactions as well as “keyed” card-not-present transactions. Leaders was acquired by Paysafe (formerly iPayment) in November 2017. The company prominently advertises that it is a contracted reseller of First Data and Clover as a POS solution.
Leaders Merchant Services Location and Ownership
Leaders Merchant Services Review Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Leaders Merchant Services offers a three-year contract with an early termination fee of up to $350. The company also relies upon Authorize.Net for its payment gateway
- Complaints & Service: Leaders Merchant Services has received more than 500 public complaints.
- BBB Rating: Leaders Merchant Services has no rating with the Better Business Bureau and has received 254 complaints and 114 reviews in the past 3 years.
- Sales & Marketing: Leaders Merchant Services hires independent sales agents and has received a moderate number of complaints about its sales practices.
- Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With Leaders Merchant Services
Types of Businesses Served
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Leaders Merchant Services Rates, Fees, and Costs
|Swiped Rate||1.00% - 4.99%|
|Keyed-in Rate||1.00% - 4.99%|
|Virtual Terminal Rate||2.90% + $0.30|
|Payment Gateway Fee||$25 Per Month|
|Monthly Service Fee||$7.95|
|Monthly Minimum Fee||$25|
|Early Termination Fee||$350|
|PCI Compliance Fee||$129 Per Year|
The standard Leaders Merchant Services contract is a three-year agreement with a yearly PCI compliance fee of $129, a monthly service charge of $7.95, a $40 monthly non-compliance charge, and an early termination fee of either $350 or $250 depending on when a merchant cancels. Some Leaders Merchant Services fees appear to vary—a few merchants report a monthly minimum between $20-$25—but most of these figures are consistent across all complaints. As noted above, merchants also report paying higher rates on their swiped transactions than they were originally quoted. While the company advertises rates as low as 0.15% plus $0.18 for transactions, many merchant complaints reflect those figures as being deceptive and being charged as high as 11%. The company also advertises a multitude of payment processing equipment options, include Clover POS systems. However, it is not disclosed whether the company sells these terminals or leases them.
Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing
In addition to its storefront payment processing services, Leaders Merchant Services also dedicates a portion of its website that advertises its virtual terminal and payment gateway services, provided by Authorize.Net. A typical merchant agreement through Authorize.Net includes a transaction rate of 2.90% plus $0.30, a gateway fee of $25 per month, and a batch fee of $0.15. However, as a reseller of its services, Leaders Merchant Services reserves the right to alter these terms and conditions.
Negotiate for Better Pricing
Because the company relies on an independent team of sales agents, it is likely that some contract terms are negotiable depending on the agent servicing the account. Leaders’s standard pricing is about average for the industry, which prevents it from competing with the cheapest merchant accounts. The company also appears to do a poor job of communicating these terms to its clients, so we assign Leaders a “C” in this section.Are you happy with your Leaders Merchant Services fees? Tell us about them before your go!
Leaders Merchant Services Complaints & Customer Reviews
|Total Online Complaints||500+|
|Live Customer Support||Unknown|
|Most Common Complaint||Hidden Fees|
High Complaint Total
In the time since this review’s original publication in April 2012, it has received over 200 comments, the overwhelming majority of which are complaints about Leaders Merchant Services. In addition, we were able to locate more than another 450 complaints filed against the company on other consumer protection websites. These complaints have been posted with regularity over the past three years. Common themes expressed by complainants include misrepresentation of rates, nondisclosure of fees, unreachable customer service representatives, unauthorized debiting of accounts, and funds held without notification. Even for a large company, this is a higher-than-average complaint rate.
Leaders Merchant Services Lawsuits
We have not found any outstanding class-action lawsuits or FTC complaints filed against Leaders Merchant Services. Dissatisfied merchants who wish to pursue a non-litigious course of action against the company should consider reporting it to the relevant supervisory organizations.
Leaders Merchant Services Customer Support Options
The company’s website lists a dedicated phone line and an email form, although it’s unclear whether the phone number goes to customer support or to sales. This falls short of our expectations of the top-rated merchant accounts for great customer service.
Leaders Merchant Services BBB Rating Summary
Key Points - BBB
|Product & Service Complaints||129|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||104|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||17|
|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 250 Complaints
Leaders Merchant Services is not currently accredited by but has a “B” rating with the BBB. The company’s profile is currently showing 254 complaints in the last 36 months. The company had been accredited by the BBB since 2004 at one point but no longer holds that distinction. 17 of the complaints relate to advertising or sales, 104 were due to billing or collection, 129 had to do with product or service problems, and 4 had to do with delivery complaints The complaint resolution log shows 40 complaints as satisfactorily resolved and 214 complaints that have been answered but have not received a final response from the merchant.
What Merchants Say
The company also has 114 informal reviews, 50 of which are negative and 64 positive testimonials filed with the BBB. The most recent negative review is from a merchant shocked at the cost of their fees:
Wish I could leave a negative review! Also wish I would have checked here for reviews before I became a victim! Josh **** and the rest of them should be in jail! Extremely misrepresenting fees. Those low fee’s might happen if you can jump through a bunch of hoops that a small business would never be able to pull off! Steer clear.
Merchants in this position can benefit from statement monitoring to be sure they are being charged fees commensurate with what they were quoted.
A “D” Performance
In light of these figures, we are adjusting the BBB’s rating to a “D.”
Truth In Marketing & Advertising
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||Yes|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
Outside/Inside Sales Agents
Leaders Merchant Services appears to utilize telemarketing and independent sales agents to market its services. The company likely also maintains an inside sales staff and engages in traditional advertising, but most merchant complaints describe a telemarketing/independent agent approach. This practice seems to have resulted in numerous complaints (on this website and elsewhere) citing nondisclosure of fees and aggressive sales tactics by agents. The primary source of complaints, though, appears to be the use of deceptive rate quoting by agents and in the company’s official marketing materials.
Deceptive Rate Quotes
At the time of an earlier update, the home page for Leaders Merchant Services prominently quoted “rates as low as 0.35%.” As of this update, the company is advertising “rates as low as 0.15%” on its rate quote page and in Google search results. These advertisements make no mention of the higher “Mid-Qualified” and “Non-Qualified” rates that merchants will pay for the vast majority of their transactions. In addition, the company’s “Rates” page previously offered an explanation of Qualified, Mid-Qualified, and Non-Qualified rates and stated that “the rate you should receive most frequently” is the Qualified rate. For most merchants, this is simply not true.
Don’t Blindly Trust Your Agent
We consider this type of rate quoting to be deceptive because it is likely to give merchants an unrealistic expectation of the rates they will actually pay. Many publicly available complaints confirm this to be precisely the case, as merchants report their sales agents quoting them the Qualified rate and never mentioning other possible rates before signing. If you suspect that your sales agent snuck extra fees into your account, we recommend seeking a third-party statement audit to find and eliminate hidden fees.
Suspicious Positive Reviews
Finally, there is some evidence that positive reviews of Leaders Merchant Services have been copied-and-pasted on this site and elsewhere, possibly by fake accounts or reputation management firms. Merchants are advised to take this into consideration when searching for Leaders Merchant Services reviews.
Leaders Merchant Services Marketing Example
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.