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Merchant Services, Inc. is an Irvine, California-based merchant account provider that claims to have been founded in 1995. According to multiple sources, the company is a DBA or subsidiary of National Payment Processing and is one of many DBAs utilized by its owner and his management team. Other alleged DBAs of Merchant Services include “Universal Card Inc.” and “Universal Merchant Services,” and it appears that the company is now doing business under the name “Small Business Growth Alliance.” Jason Moore has been named as the controller of several different business entities, including JWM Holdings, LLC; La Quinta Holdings LLC; 9012 Research Drive LLC; Dean Martin Drive LLC; Big Sky Court Holdings LLC; Camel Point Enterprises LLC; E Coast Highway Holdings LLC; Harbor Cove Holdings LLC; Calvados Holdings LLC; Camden Holdings LLC and Ladcom Group Inc.
Merchant Services, Inc. Payment Processing
Merchant Services, Inc. processes all major debit and credit cards for most business types. Their services include POS solutions, wireless processing, check and EBT processing, virtual terminals, e-commerce solutions, merchant clubs, gift and loyalty programs, online reporting, recurring billing, debit card networks, and health savings accounts.
Location & Ownership
Merchant Services, Inc. is a registered ISO of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Walnut Creek, California, while National Payment Processing, Inc. is a registered ISO of Synovus Bank, Columbus, Georgia. Merchant Services, Inc. is headquartered at 9012 Research Drive, Suite 200, Irvine, California 92618. Jason Moore is the CEO of Merchant Services, Inc.
Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Appears to offer a three-year contract with…
- Complaints & Service: Complaints number more than 40 on…
- BBB Rating: Has an “A+” rating and has received 3 complaints and 11 reviews in the past 3 years. The company has been accredited by…
- Sales & Marketing: Appears to hire independent sales agents and has received a moderate number of complaints about…
Should You Trust Merchant Services, Inc.?
Lawsuits, Reviews & Complaints
Here's Who We Trust.
Total Online Complaints
Live Customer Support
Most Common Complaint
Moderate Complaint Volume
We are currently able to locate over 40 negative Merchant Services, Inc. complaints, many of which accuse the company of being a ripoff or a scam. Common themes among complainants include nondisclosure of contract terms, improper billing, unexpected fees, persistent sales calls, poor customer service, and insufficient agent support. We are factoring the allegations made in the class-action lawsuit against the company into this section because they constitute valid merchant issues that were unsuccessfully resolved by Merchant Services. It is sometimes difficult to determine which complaints have been filed against Merchant Services and which complaints have simply been filed against general merchant services providers, but the known complaints are enough to form a clear assessment of the company’s service. If you have your own Merchant Services, Inc. review to make, please do so in the comments below.
Merchant Services, Inc. Lawsuits and Fines
Merchant Services was the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed in 2010 that contained the following allegations:
Plaintiffs allege that Settling Defendants misrepresented and omitted the costs, term, early termination penalties, and other provisions of the processing agreements and leases and unlawfully collected commissions, cancellation fees and other amounts via automatic withdrawals from merchant bank accounts. Plaintiffs also allege that Settling Defendants forged signatures and modified contracts and authorization forms for electronic debits after those contracts and forms had been signed. Plaintiffs additionally contend that Settling Defendants’ sales practices violated rules of MasterCard. Plaintiffs further assert that if customers defaulted on payment, Settling Defendants engaged in improper collection efforts by making unlawful credit inquiries on the personal credit reports of the personal guarantors who signed the agreements.
The claims against Merchant Services, Inc. were settled in 2013 with each member of the settling class receiving up to $350. Merchant Services, Inc. remains an active business, but the company agreed per the terms of the settlement to make the following changes:
By December 20, 2013, the Settling Defendants have agreed to make a variety of changes to their marketing materials to ensure future customers have additional disclosures. They agreed to register any fictitious business names that they intend to use, such as “Merchant Services.” In addition, if they continue to use cost comparison forms, such as the rate estimation comparison sheet, they agreed that document shall contain preprinted information listing or designated areas in which the following information shall be written: the name of the registered independent sales organization involved in the transaction; the entity through which bankcard processing services would be provided; the entity through which leasing services (if any) would be provided; the fact that processing rates are estimated and that higher rates may apply depending on the type of card, including mileage and rewards cards; the fact that equipment leasing is optional; and the fact that a cancellation fee will apply for early termination. Finally, the Settling Defendants agreed to have sales representatives leave with the prospective customer a copy of the above document and a current business card containing his or her current business address, phone number, and email address.
Merchant Services, Inc. Customer Service Options
We have assigned Merchant Services, Inc. a “D” rating in this section. The company offers 24/7 phone support to all merchants, but this channel is not sufficient to qualify the company as a top-rated payment processor for customer service at this time.
We have located multiple Merchant Services, Inc. customer service numbers:
(800) 660-7153 – Toll-Free New Account Advising
(949) 861-4000 – Customer Service
(949) 861-4000 – Technical Support
(866) 550-3815 – Supply Desk
Merchant Services, Inc. does not offer a dedicated email support address.
Is the BBB Rating for Merchant Services, Inc. Accurate?
Better Business Bureau Profile
See Which Processors Offer No Monthly Fees And No Contracts.
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.
Under 5 Complaints
Merchant Services, Inc. currently has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has been BBB-accredited since 2001. The company has received 3 complaints in the past 36 months. 1 of these 3 complaints was resolved by the company to the satisfaction of the merchant. 2 complaints were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or received no final response.
What Merchants Say
In addition to those 3 complaints, Merchant Services, Inc has also received 11 informal reviews on its BBB profile. All 11 reviews are negative, each giving the company the lowest possible rating. The most recent review appears to detail slamming:
This company called from 1800three481556. They misrepresented who they are and bluntly lied when I had a follow up question thinking they were my real merchant servicer saying they made a mistake on my billing. Very unethical. I was flagged when they wanted me to send my statement in an email to them and also wanted me to do it right away. Scam! Be advised!
Our guide on how to cancel a merchant account without paying a fee also details how to sever all ties between bank accounts and merchant service providers in an effort to prevent unauthorized charges following contract termination.
A “C” Rating
In light of the company’s complaint volume and resolution ratio, we have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “C.”
How Expensive is Merchant Services, Inc. Service?
Rates, Fees, and Contract Terms
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1.00% - 4.99%
1.00% - 4.99%
Virtual Terminal Rate
1.00% - 4.99%
Payment Gateway Fee
Early Termination Fee
$495 - $1000+
Monthly Minimum Fee
$10 - $75 Per Month
Clover Business Management Fee
Data Protection Fee
$7.50 Per Month
Equipment Lease Costs
PCI Compliance Fee
$19.95 - $29.95 Per Month
Equipment Lease Terms
48 Month (locked)
Merchant Services, Inc. Pricing
According to merchant complaints, the standard Merchant Services contract is a three-year agreement with a $495 early termination fee, a $134 “data protection” fee, a monthly minimum fee that can rise as high as $75 per month, a monthly PCI non-compliance fee of $19.95, a monthly statement fee of $7.50, and other various fees. Complainants also mention that their per-transaction rates are higher than the rates they were quoted before signing up, and recent complaints mention a $48 “Clover Business Management” fee that was added without advance notice in the last year.
Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing
In addition to its storefront payment processing services, Merchant Services, Inc. also dedicates a portion of its website to advertising its virtual terminal and payment gateway. However, pricing is not disclosed on either of those services. Additional Merchant Services, Inc. rates and fees, including gateway fees, technical support fees, batch fees, and additional transaction rates typically apply to these e-commerce services.
Avoid Equipment Leases
The class-action lawsuit filed against Merchant Services cited widespread instances of equipment leasing through Northern Leasing Systems and its various subsidiaries; there is no reason to believe that Merchant Services has stopped selling equipment leases through these providers. The standard Northern Leasing Systems lease is a 48-month, non-cancellable term that costs far more than the purchase price of the equipment over the course of the lease. Merchants are advised to purchase equipment outright whenever possible. We also encourage merchants to check out our list of the providers of the best merchant services.
Not Competitively Priced
The available information about Merchant Services, Inc.’s contract terms has lowered the company’s score in this section to a “D.” The company’s rates are not at all competitive with cheap merchant account providers. If you have any specific knowledge or documentation of the Merchant Services rates or contract, please share that information in the comment section below this review.
Does Merchant Services, Inc. Use Deceptive Marketing?
Advertising & Sales Strategy
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Employs Independent Resellers
Advertises Deceptive Rates
Discloses All Important Terms
Several Negative Reports
Merchant Services appears to utilize a large number of independent sales agents and telemarketers to sell its services. This practice has generated a high number of negative Merchant Services reviews, with the accusations made in the 2010 class-action suit being a prime example. Merchants who leave a Merchant Services complaint describe nondisclosure of the company’s contract length, hidden fees, and rude or aggressive telemarketing tactics, while employee complainants cite late or inadequate compensation. Another occasional Merchant Services complaint (and a central factor in the lawsuit) claims that the company’s representatives simply state that they are from “Merchant Services,” which leads unsuspecting merchants to believe that they are being contacted by their current processors. This practice is called “slamming” and is considered highly unethical. A number of new reviews detailing the same practice have popped up, meaning the company is continuing this behavior. This does not compare favorably to our list of best credit card processors.
Poor Sales Practices
To the company’s credit, there are no deceptive Merchant Services, Inc. rate quotes or unrealistic guarantees on its website. However, the known details of its hiring tactics and the available body of Merchant Services, Inc. complaints have lowered its score to a “C” at this time. If you suspect that you have had undisclosed fees added to your Merchant Services contract, we recommend seeking a third-party statement audit to eliminate hidden charges.