Merchant Focus Processing Review: Fees & Complaints

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Merchant Focus
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Merchant Focus

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Merchant Focus Credit Card Processor Overview

Merchant Focus, also known as “Established Merchant Focus,” is a small to mid-sized merchant account provider based out of Dublin, Ohio. The company was established in 2004 and appears to focus solely on providing credit card processing services. Merchant Focus also has a sister company called “Established Merchants Only” that serves businesses with over $250,000 in credit card sales per year. Merchant Focus was founded by the two co-founders of e-onlinedata, which they sold in 2007 to PowerPay (now EVO Payments International). The founder of PowerPay, Steve Goodrich, is now a partner at Merchant Focus. Merchant Focus also acts as the processor for the mobile credit card processing services Inner Fence and AppNinja’s Swipe.

Card Processing & Merchant Services

Merchant Focus offers merchant accounts for most business types and industries. Their services include e-commerce credit card processing, an online payment gateway, POS solutions, and mobile card acceptance hardware. Merchant Focus utilizes Authorize.net for its payment gateway and e-commerce processing services.

Location & Ownership

Merchant Focus is an ISO/MSP of  Deutsche Bank AG, New York. John Waldron is listed as the CEO and Jason McLeod as the president. The company maintains its headquarters at 105 North Riverview, #314, Dublin, Ohio 43017. They also have an office at 400 Riverside St. Suite A-1 Portland, ME 04103.

Table of Contents

  • Costs & Contract: Appears to offer a month-to-month agreement with no early termination fee.
  • Complaints & Service: Has received fewer than 10 public complaints.
  • BBB Rating: “A+” rating and has received 1 complaint and 0 reviews in the past 3 years. The company has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2006.
  • Sales & Marketing: Appears to hire independent sales representatives but has not received any complaints related to its sales team.
Merchant Focus payment processing
Merchant Focus processes payments for most business types

Should You Trust Merchant Focus?

Lawsuits, Reviews & Complaints

Here's Who We Trust.

Complaint Summary

Total Online Complaints
<10
Live Customer Support
Yes
Most Common Complaint
N/A

Low Number of Merchant Focus Complaints

There are fewer than 10 negative Merchant Focus reviews in the usual online forums. Commonly cited issues among complainants include unhelpful customer service, difficulty canceling an account, and fund-holds. The only other real strike against Merchant Focus is in regards to our experience reaching a sales agent over the phone, which was difficult. After repeated calls and only reaching a voicemail service, an agent was finally reached by using the site’s “Live Chat” feature.

Lawsuits & Government Actions

We have not found any outstanding class-action lawsuits or FTC complaints filed. Dissatisfied merchants who wish to pursue a non-litigious course of action against the company should consider reporting it to the relevant supervisory organizations.

Customer Service Options

Although not a worrisome problem, the difficulty in reaching the company’s staff could pose an issue for some merchants. The company offers phone and email support to all of its merchants, but this channel is apparently lacking in comparison to top payment processors for customer service.

We have located a single Merchant Focus customer service number:

  •  800-895-4085 – Customer Support

 The company also has live chat support, a customer service form, and an email address, which is: [email protected]

Is the BBB Rating for Merchant Focus Accurate?

Better Business Bureau Profile

See Which Processors Offer No Monthly Fees And No Contracts.

BBB Summary

Product & Service Complaints
1
Billing & Collection Complaints
0
Advertising & Sales Complaints
0
Guarantee & Warranty Complaints
0
Delivery Complaints
0

A Single BBB Complaint

As of this update, the Better Business Bureau maintains a profile for Merchant Focus under the name “Established Merchant Focus” and is reporting that the company has been accredited since 2006. The BBB is awarding an “A+” rating based upon one complaint being filed in the last 36 months. The single complaint related to a product or service. The complaint was resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or received no final response.

What Customers Say

Merchant Focus has received no informal reviews in the past 36 months. Prior to that period, we documented one negative review. That review expresses a merchant concerned with being unable to resolve an issue with customer service:

This business is a scam, don’t ever use them. They take advantage of small business owners with no regard for proper customer service. They charged me month upon month for a service I wasn’t even using. I had spoken once with a salesperson to see if I was eligible for their payment processing app, was told my business was under review, and then charged monthly without any warning. A good business would have called me to confirm my business was approved, reached out when they saw I wasn’t using the service (yet still being charged), and provided a full refund when I finally realized who they were (the charges were labeled non-descriptively in my bank statements so I had no idea what it even was. Do not do business with these guys!!

Merchants seeking to avoid issues such as this could benefit from choosing a provider that offers excellent customer service.

An “A” Performance Overall

Given the company’s complaint total and resolution ratio, we agree with the BBB’s rating at this time.

How Expensive is Merchant Focus Service?

Rates, Fees, and Contract Terms

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Cost Summary

Swiped Rate
2.29% + $0.25
Keyed-in Rate
2.89% + $0.29
eCommerce Rate
2.9% + $0.30
Gateway Fee
$25 Per Month
Batch Fee
$0.15
Early Termination Fee
None
PCI Compliance Fee
Undisclosed
Equipment Lease Terms
None

Merchant Focus’ Merchant Account Contract

According to an agent of the company, Merchant Focus has month-to-month contracts and no cancellation fee. The company requires written notice if a merchant wants to cancel service without a penalty, and this notice can be submitted at any time. As for pricing, Merchant Focus’ rates and fees appear to vary based on processing needs, transaction volume, business type, and possibly by the agent setting up the account.

Merchant Account Pricing, Rates and Fees

The company’s website lists its qualified credit card processing rate for retail merchants as 1.69% plus $0.25 while mid-qualified rates are as high as 2.29% plus $0.25, its qualified rate for internet and MOTO transactions as 2.19% plus $0.24, its statement fee as $10, and its monthly minimum fee of $15. Keyed-in transactions are processed at a rate of 2.89% + $0.29. We have found some evidence that interchange-plus pricing is offered for large merchants, but this does not appear to be actively promoted on the company’s website.

Merchant Focus utilizes Authorize.net for its payment gateway and e-commerce processing services. The company charges a $0.15 batch fee, $25 monthly gateway fee, and a 2.9% plus $0.30 per-transaction fee.

The company also provides a cash discount program. A cash discount program adds a fixed surcharge to the price of every product in a merchant’s store and then waives that surcharge for customers who pay with cash. In other words, all non-cash transactions will come with an extra surcharge, usually between 1% and 4%, and the revenues generated by this surcharge are used to offset the merchant’s costs for accepting electronic payments. Customers who pay with cash receive the discount, while customers who pay with any non-cash method effectively have the cost of processing their payments passed down to them.

Additionally, the company advertises that it serves high-risk merchants. These merchants are likely to receive a rate that differs from the qualified and mid-qualified rates referenced in this review. Overall, there does not appear to be much cause for concern with the company’s pricing, but merchants should still compare Merchant Focus’ terms to cheaper merchant accounts.

Merchant Focus surcharge program

The Merchant Focus surcharge program

Does Merchant Focus Use Deceptive Marketing?

Advertising & Sales Strategy

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Key Points

Employs Independent Resellers
Yes
Advertises Deceptive Rates
Yes
Discloses All Important Terms
No

Merchant Focus Jobs and Employment

Merchant Focus seems to rely heavily upon the use of independent resellers and sales agents, a practice which would normally lower a company’s rating; however, there are no Merchant Focus complaints that accuse the company’s sales agents of unethical conduct. The only factor negatively affecting the company’s rating in this section is its promotion of “Qualified” rate quotes on some of its pricing pages. These pages often do not make any mention of the higher “Mid-Qualified” and “Non-Qualified” rates that merchants will pay on the majority of transactions, which could give merchants an unrealistic expectation of the rates they will pay. However, on a few of its pricing pages, the company does list Mid-Qualified and Non-Qualified rates and also appears to promote interchange-plus pricing, in some cases.

No Widespread Sales Issues

To its credit, Merchant Focus has not suffered the usual complaints associated with this marketing strategy and therefore will maintain a high rating in this section until evidence surfaces to the contrary.  If you suspect that you are being charged undisclosed fees, we recommend seeking a third-party statement audit to find and eliminate hidden charges.

Does Merchant Focus Deserve Your Business?

Review Summary & Our Thoughts

A Decent Option for Most Merchants

Overall, the company scores quite well in this review. This merchant services provider offers month-to-month contracts as a standard practice and has no cancellation fee. Merchant Focus also appears to offer competitive pricing and decent service, even when compared to some of the best overall credit card processors. One minor area of improvement in our experience would be to make the company’s sales staff more accessible for phone calls.

Customer & Employee Reviews

What Others Are Saying About Merchant Focus

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7 Responses

  • Manning

    Stay away from Merchant Focus. Its a Scam operation run by complete idiots who only want to take advantage of small businesses. I was with Merchant focus for about 3 months and I have all regrets from first to last day. I’m an idiot for staying this long but am glad I can cut my losses. The chargeback dept is so atrocious and incompetent. They will run your company to the ground. Beware!!

  • AS

    This business is a scam, don’t ever use them. They take advantage of small business owners with no regard for proper customer service. They charged me month upon month for a service I wasn’t even using. I had spoken once with a salesperson to see if I was eligible for their payment processing app, was told my business was under review, and then charged monthly without any warning. A good business would have called me to confirm my business was approved, reached out when they saw I wasn’t using the service (yet still being charged), and provided a full refund when I finally realized who they were (the charges were labeled non-descriptively in my bank statements so I had no idea what it even was. Do not do business with these guys!!

  • Karen

    Terrible customer service us led us to cancel their service.

    We are a PTA, which means that account ownership changes frequently. During our account transition, I called the customer service organization to clarify the Personal Guarantee in their paperwork (something typically waived for a 501c3 organization). What a nightmare! The rep actually said, “Is there a question in there? … You need to sign whatever the paperwork says.” When I asked for copies of our previously signed agreements, he wouldn’t help because I was not yet on the account. Forward to the next day, the former Treasurer call to access our paperwork. Took him over an hour on the phone just to procure this documentation.

    Decided to try another channel, one which might actually care about their customers. Their business development department put me in touch with our account manager, who immediately waived the Personal Guarantee due to our nonprofit status.

    After submitting the required paperwork to transfer the account, we requested verification of the transfer several times. Never heard back from them. Only after we canceled the account did we hear anything.

    Maybe they had decent customer service at some point. Unfortunately, my organization only encountered untrained, unhelpful phone jockeys. Their message of being a “full service” provider is a joke.

  • Konrad

    I wish I could give a negative star rating instead! This company ripped me off. I had terminated with them using the form they provided by Drew (account manager), and for some reason there has been charges every single month after that. I had to close out my bank account because they didn’t stop this. I called and emailed and all he could say was that they received the termination form, that does not explain these charges. I advice you to use another payment processor.

  • Terence Samlson

    The issue I had with merchant focus is they were not truthful upfront. Signed up and got approved for account. After transaction were deposited I notice they were much smaller than the actual transaction amount. I called in and was told my account had a 10% reserve and reserved will be return to me in 6 months. I didn’t like it because we were not told this upfront. We continued processing for a few weeks until the deposits stopped. After calling in we were told our account was on 100% reserved until I submit requested information. After submitting information that was requested they then requested more information, then after submitting more information, they then wanted more information. They could have asked for everything at once but the string you along for weeks and weeks while the review submitted info. Well, I got tired and I called and cancelled my account.

  • Brigette Leach

    I was very unhappy with Merchant Focus in the process of trying to close an account through AppNinja/Swipe.

    • Phillip CPO

      Can you explain the problem you had?

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