Leaders Merchant Services Overview
An iPayment/Paysafe Group Subsidiary
Established in 2000, Leaders Merchant Services (leadersmerchantservices.com) 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 iPayment (now Paysafe Group) in November 2017.
Leaders Merchant Services Location and Ownership
Leaders is located at 725 Via Alondra, Camarillo, California 93012, and is a registered ISO/MSP of Compass Bank, an Alabama State Chartered Bank. Brandon Wolfe is the president and CEO of Leaders Merchant Services.
Leaders Merchant Services Review Table of Contents
- Sales & Marketing: Leaders Merchant Services hires independent sales agents and has received a moderate number of complaints about its sales practices.
- Costs & Contract: Leaders Merchant Services offers a three-year contract with an early termination fee of up to $350.
- Complaints & Service: Leaders Merchant Services has received more than 250 public complaints.
- BBB Rating: Leaders Merchant Services has an “A” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has received 200 complaints in the past three years.
- Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With Leaders Merchant Services
Advertising Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews are supported in part by helping you find highly reviewed merchant accounts. You can learn more here.
Types of Businesses Served
Leaders Merchant Services Rates, Fees, and Costs
|Early Termination Fee||$250-$350|
|PCI Compliance Fee||$129 Per Year|
|Equipment Lease Terms||Variable|
The standard Leaders Merchant Services contract (available in part below) 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, often in excess of 5%.
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. See the Leaders Merchant Services Program Guide.
Leaders Merchant Services Complaints & Customer Reviews
|Total Online Complaints||250+|
|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 175 comments, the overwhelming majority of which are complaints about Leaders Merchant Services. In addition, we were able to locate over 100 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 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||95|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||87|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||16|
|Guarantee & Warranty Complaints||1|
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 175 Complaints
Leaders has been an accredited business of the Better Business Bureau since 2004 and has an “A” grade despite the fact that the company’s BBB page is showing 200 complaints in the last 36 months. Sixteen of these complaints were related to advertising or sales, 87 were due to billing or collection, and 95 had to do with product or service problems. The complaint resolution log shows 40 complaints as satisfactorily resolved and 159 complaints as having been resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant. One complaint received no answer from Leaders.
What Merchants Say
The company also has 42 negative reviews and 63 positive testimonials filed with the BBB. The most recent informal review describes hidden fees:
The company is a *********! Beware! They use your signature after you sign the contract and start adding charges to you account and changing the contract in their favor ! Banks cannot do anything about since they have a special contract! They are nice to you and leak you b*t until they get you sign in ! Two months later the S*it starts! Banks cannot do anything the only you can do is take them to small Court and that`s what they counting on nobody does it since no one want`s to spend extra time and money over 500$ and i guess that`s how they stay in business
Merchants in this position can benefit from statement monitoring to catch any newly added fees.
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
Phillip Parker is a former merchant services sales agent who believes the industry has been overrun by people who engage in fraud and deception in order to steal from hard working business owners. He created this website to help you avoid the bad players, save money on fees, and to get peace of mind with your merchant account. If you would like to help support his work, learn more about our cost reduction service. We can evaluate your statement, tell you exactly how much you're overpaying, and then help you dramatically reduce your fees with your current credit card processor. Looking to switch instead? See our list of the best merchant account providers.Schedule a Consultation with Phillip