Based in Durango, Colorado, Mercury Payment Systems (mercurypay.com) is a merchant account provider and independent sales organization that began operations in 2001. The company also has a Canadian headquarters in Toronto, Ontario. Mercury Payment Systems once existed as a sales channel for the direct processor Global Payments; however, the company was acquired by Vantiv in May 2014 and may now be an exclusive reseller of that processor. Mercury has recently managed to secure the role of backend processor for a number of industry-oriented POS systems, most notably SalesVu.
On January 30, 2014, Heartland Payment Systems announced that it was filing a federal lawsuit against Mercury Payment Systems for false advertising, unfair competition, intentional interference with contractual relations, and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. In the case, Heartland alleges that Mercury intentionally misrepresented interchange rates in order to convince Heartland customers to switch their service to Mercury. According to Heartland, Mercury would add its own markup to the interchange rates assigned by card networks without informing merchants, and then the company would falsely demonstrate that its markup above interchange was lower than that offered by Heartland. This case is unusual within the industry, as it involves one company suing another over deceptive sales tactics. Although this issue is far from being resolved, it bears mentioning so that merchants can monitor its progress.
Mercury Payment Systems is sponsored by HSBC Bank of Buffalo, New York, as its Acquiring Bank. Matt Taylor is listed as the company’s integrated payment president.
- Convenience store
Sales & Marketing
Key Points - Sales & Marketing
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
The reviewer found no uses of misleading advertising or rate quoting by Mercury Payment Systems. The company does, however, market its services heavily through the use of independent resellers/sales agents. This marketing practice often results in merchant complaints because it is hard to control the sales tactics of the resellers. In the case of Mercury Payment Systems, the majority of its complaints (covered below) can be traced back to the sales agent or reseller that set up the merchant account. However, in some cases, Mercury Payment Systems appears to enforce the terms of its agreement even when merchants report that an agent misrepresented the conditions of the contract.
These complaints, in addition to the allegations set forth by Heartland Payment Systems, have lowered Mercury’s grade to a “C” in this category.
Mercury Payment Systems Marketing Example
Costs & Contract
Key Points - Costs & Contract
|Early Termination Fee||$295-$495+|
|PCI Compliance Fee||$150 Per Year|
|Equipment Lease Terms||Variable|
Rates and fees of a Mercury Payment Systems merchant account will vary based on a merchant’s business type, processing volume, and the agent setting up the account. The company’s standard service agreement (available below) is a one- to three-year term that requires merchants to give 30 days’ notice before ceasing processing or switching to a new processor. Merchants who fail to abide by this requirement may be subject to an Early Termination Fee ranging from $295 to $495; however, a few complaints report cancellation fees of up to $900. These higher termination fees are likely to have been set by independent agents or by Mercury’s software partners. The company also charges an annual PCI Compliance fee reported to be $150, which is well above average. Several merchants have complained about experiencing other unexpected fees, so businesses considering Mercury Payment Systems are strongly encouraged to read and understand their merchant account agreements before signing any documents. See the Mercury Payment Systems Terms and Conditions.
Complaints & Service
Key Points - Complaints & Service
|Total Online Complaints||60+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Hidden Fees|
Mercury Payment Systems has a moderate volume of complaints filed online for its size and time in business, some of which accuse the company of being a ripoff. The majority of problems appear to originate with agents and resellers who failed to verbally disclose important terms of the merchant account agreement prior to setting up the account. Nearly all complainants report nondisclosure of the $295 cancellation fee, $150 annual PCI Compliance fee, or other additional fees. Many of these fees appear to be buried in the fine print of the contract, but Mercury Payment Systems is quick to point out the fact that they were technically disclosed in its public rebuttals.
Other common complaints that merchants have reported are of sudden rate increases without notice, deceptive rate quotes by agents, and hidden fees. Several reports indicate that agents regularly quote the Qualified Discount Rate without also stating the Downgrade Fees. Mercury’s grade has been lowered to a “C” in this section due to both the content and quantity of complaints. You can learn everything you need to know about rates and fees in “Fee Sweep.”
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Key Points - BBB
|Product & Service Complaints||21|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||49|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||3|
|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.
As of this update, the Better Business Bureau has awarded Mercury Payment Systems BBB accreditation as of December 2012. The BBB is giving the company an “A+” rating despite 73 complaints filed in the last 36 months, which is up from 54 complaints as of our last update. Of the total, 21 are regarding problems with service, 49 are due to billing and collection disputes, and three with advertising or sales issues. Twenty-seven of these complaints were resolved to the satisfaction of the merchant, while 46 either were not resolved to the merchant’s satisfaction or did not receive a final response from the merchant. In many of the unresolved complaints, Mercury has responded by quoting terms and conditions of the merchant account contract. Given the company’s complaint count and resolution efforts, we are adjusting its rating to a “B-” for the purposes of this review.
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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