National Merchant Center 2023: Reviews & Complaints

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Company Overview

National Merchant Center is a merchant account provider headquartered in Irvine, California. National Merchant Center was formerly operated by the CEO of the now-defunct Lucrazon, Alex Pitt, and there is evidence that the company has also done business under the name Global Processing. According to multiple merchant complaints, National Merchant Center has had multiple DBAs including the Latino Coalition, National Payment Provider, and PayPro. However, these entities are more accurately described as affiliated businesses rather than DBAs. The Latino Coalition selected National Merchant Center as its preferred payment processing partner in 2007, and one National Merchant Center complaint states that the head of the Latino Coalition served on the board of National Merchant Center. Like National Merchant Center, another company named National Payment Provider was founded by Alex Pitt, and at least one merchant complaint states that “employees of National Payment Provider made calls on behalf of the Latino Coalition.” PayPro is another name mentioned in complaints as an affiliated business of National Merchant Center, and the PayPro homepage previously redirected visitors to the homepage for Lucrazon — another Alex Pitt venture.

Ponzi Scheme Allegations

In February 2016, the designated receiver for the victim class in a North Carolina-based Ponzi scheme called “Zeek Rewards” alleged that “Payment World“, another company owned by National Merchant Center’s CEO Roman Balanko, facilitated the transfer of more than $13.1 million earned in the Ponzi scheme to a bank in Moldova through a partnership with Payza. The receiver further alleged that it is “an open question” whether those funds are still in the account or have been transferred elsewhere. The receiver’s efforts to investigate the whereabouts of these funds are currently unresolved. Although National Merchant Center is not directly implicated in any of the designated receiver’s claims, the allegations are worth noting for a few reasons. First, the claim that the CEO of National Merchant Center may have funneled profits from a criminal Ponzi scheme into an international account raises ethical questions about National Merchant Center’s executive team. Second, Lucrazon, a company that shares a founding member with National Merchant Center, is the subject of numerous merchant complaints that accuse it of being a Ponzi scheme. Third, Payza is currently the subject of a federal investigation and an alleged partner with Payment World, who is also part of the investigation. Merchants should be aware of the allegations that have been made, and more can be read about the cases here and here.

National Merchant Center Payment Processing

National Merchant Center offers payment processing for most major debit and credit cards. They also offer gift and loyalty card solutions, a virtual terminal for phone and online payments, check processing, QuickBooks compatibility, POS systems from Clover, wireless terminals, ATM processing, online reporting, e-commerce solutions, PCI compliance, chargeback protection, data breach protection, and claim 24/7 365 customer service.

POS System Integration

National Merchant Center can integrate with various Point of Sale (POS) systems. This capability enables a seamless transaction process, consolidating payment acceptance, inventory management, and sales tracking. It’s a comprehensive solution that can streamline operations for many businesses.

High-Risk Merchant Services

National Merchant Center offers specialized services for businesses considered high-risk. These businesses may have trouble obtaining payment processing services due to the nature of their industry or a high rate of chargebacks. National Merchant Center works with these businesses to provide a secure, reliable payment solution.

Fraud Prevention and Data Security

To protect both businesses and their customers, National Merchant Center provides robust data security measures and fraud prevention tools. Their services include encryption and tokenization technologies to safeguard sensitive data. In addition, they offer tools for businesses to proactively monitor and combat fraudulent activities.

Merchant Cash Advance

For businesses that need cash quickly, National Merchant Center provides merchant cash advance services. This allows businesses to access a portion of their future credit card sales in exchange for a lump sum payment upfront. This can be a useful option for businesses that need to make a large purchase or cover unexpected expenses.

Gift and Loyalty Programs

National Merchant Center offers gift and loyalty program solutions that can help businesses attract and retain customers. These programs can be customized to fit the unique needs of any business and can include features such as custom branding, mobile compatibility, and analytics reporting.

Location & Ownership

National Merchant is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Concord, CA, and gives its current headquarters as 2955 E Main St, Suite 100 Irvine, California 92614. Roman Balanko is listed as the CEO of National Merchant Center.

Table of Contents

National Merchant Center payment processing
National Merchant Center offers standard payment processing services

National Merchant Center Customer Reviews

Here's What Their Clients Say

Customer Reviews Summary
Item Result
Total Online Complaints 15+
Live Customer Support Yes
Most Common Complaint Sales Tactics
Recent Lawsuits Yes

Low-to-Moderate Complaint Volume

We have found approximately 15 National Merchant Center reviews, many of which accuse the company of being a ripoff or a scam operation. There are also numerous additional National Merchant Center complaints filed against the credit card processor’s alleged DBAs. The majority of complainants cite deceptive or aggressive sales tactics, although other listed issues include poor customer service, excessive billing, and undisclosed fees. National Merchant Center has responded to many of these complaints and acquiesced to client demands in most cases. Although the company has a low-to-moderate complaint rate for a processor of its size, it is the content rather than the quantity of complaints that has lowered its rating to a “D” in this section. If you have your own National Merchant Center review to make, please do so in the comments below.

National Merchant Center Lawsuits and Fines

Research reveals that National Merchant Services has been involved in multiple lawsuits in the past, most alleging that the company engages in deceptive practices. Here is one suit brought by the Federal Trade Commission that involves NMC, and here is a post by a client on Ripoff Report that mentions a lawsuit that could not be brought to fruition in 2010 as NMC claimed to have filed bankruptcy. Dissatisfied clients who wish to pursue a non-litigious course of action against the company should consider reporting it to the relevant supervisory organizations.

In January 2021, NMS was involved in a bankruptcy court case that was settled out of court in August 2021, though the details are unavailable.

National Merchant Center Customer Support

National Merchant Center’s website lists general phone and email contact information, but it appears that these channels are lacking when compared to top payment processors for great customer service.

National Merchant Center Customer Service Numbers

  • (800) 662-8448 – Toll-Free General Customer Service
  • (949) 419-8400 – Local Office
  • (949) 861-6201 – General Fax
  • (949) 265-9053 – Fax for Merchant Applications

Other Support Options

National Merchant Center Online Ratings

Here's How They Rate Online

Online Ratings Summary
Item Result
BBB Rating N/A
Average Rating N/A

BBB Rating Analysis

National Merchant Center has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). There are no customer reviews on the BBB website for this business, but there is one customer complaint closed in the last 3 years. The complaint details issues with product/service and mentions ongoing charges despite service cancellation.

Negative Feedback

NMC has been providing credit card services to my business for about 10 years. NMC went up about $100 above contract rate, forcing me to look for cheaper service elsewhere. I found a cheaper credit card provider and called to cancel NMC services. They would not lower my service rate, so I switched to another company. I was no longer under contract with NMC. I filled out and signed all necessary paperwork that was sent to me by NMC to cancel my account services in June 2021. NMC is continuing to withdraw monthly fees of $101.00 for services that I have not used for the last **************************************** for services not being used and should have been cancelled over a year ago. The monthly invoices showing their withdrawals from my account stopped being sent about two months after cancellation. Now I am again receiving monthly invoices showing they are still collecting fees from my bank account.
– Complaint from August 21, 2022

Positive Feedback

There are no positive reviews published about National Merchant Center on the BBB website.

Source: BBB

National Merchant Center Fees, Rates & Costs

A Closer Look at The Contract

Cost & Fees Summary
Item Result
Cancellation Penalties Yes
Monthly & Annual Fees Yes
Processing Rates Variable
Equipment Leasing Yes

National Merchant Center Pricing

According to the National Merchant Center Application and the National Merchant Center First Data Program Guide, the standard National Merchant Center contract consists of a three-year agreement through First Data (now Fiserv) with automatic renewal for a one-year term. First Data (Fiserv) rates are 2.69% plus $0.19 or 3.69% plus $0.19 for swiped and keyed-in transactions, respectively. The contract also includes a Liquidated Damages early termination fee, a monthly minimum fee of $20, a service fee of $10, an annual fee of $75, a chargeback fee of $30 per incident (with an additional $50 chargeback research fee added in some cases), a PCI Compliance fee of $19.95 per month, a monthly regulatory fee of $4.95, and a tiered pricing structure. The company also provides equipment leases for up to 60 months through First Data Global Leasing.

Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing

In addition to its storefront payment processing services, National Merchant Center also dedicates a portion of its website to advertising its virtual terminal and payment gateway services. However, pricing is not disclosed on either of those services. Additional rates and fees, including gateway fees, technical support fees, batch fees, and additional transaction rates typically apply to these e-commerce services.

Costly Termination Fees

The company scores poorly in this section largely due to its early termination fee. In the event that a client cancels service with National Merchant Center before the initial three years are over, that client will owe the greater of a.) the average net monthly fees charged for the previous 12 months multiplied by the number of remaining months in the contract, or b.) $375. This National Merchant Center fee has the potential to be very expensive for business owners, and we do not advise business owners to sign a contract that includes these terms. Businesses should instead opt for a low-cost merchant account provider to get the best rates available. We also encourage business owners to check out our list of the providers of the best merchant accounts.

National Merchant Center offers access to virtual terminals

National Merchant Center Employee Reviews & Sales Tacitcs

Should You Work For Them?

Jobs & Marketing Summary
Item Result
Uses Independent Resellers Yes
Telemarketing Yes
Misleading Marketing Yes
Discloses All Important Terms No

Telemarketing and Outside Sales

According to merchant complaints, National Merchant Center appears to primarily market itself through telemarketing and independent sales agents. There are numerous negative National Merchant Center reviews from business owners and former employees that mention unethical conduct by National Merchant Center sales reps. This does not compare favorably to our list of best credit card processors.

“Slamming” Allegations

One National Merchant Center complaint includes documents faxed to clients by a company called “Global Processing.” These documents inform the business that “by removing the broker from your current account, any type of monthly commissions being generated and third-party hidden fees you were getting charged would get removed and that money would go back to your business instead,” and they’re signed by a Brett Winegardner with the Rate Review Department at Global Processing. Previously, we were able to identify a Brett Winegardner as an employee of the Rate Review Department at National Merchant Center, and Global Processing is cited as a DBA of National Merchant Center in numerous other client complaints. Based on this evidence, it seems likely that the documents included in the National Merchant Center complaint were in fact sent from someone at National Merchant Center.

Deceitful Sales Practices

The documents in question (available here) state in vague terms that the client can receive better pricing by removing “the broker” from his or her processing agreement. The business owner is supposed to do this by completing and returning the attached “Rate Reduction Form” (available here), which lists the new National Merchant Center rates and fees that the merchant will experience once the broker is removed from the picture. The complainant who supplied these documents stated on Ripoff Report that the forms were accompanied by calls and emails trying to get the complainant to switch his or her current payment processor to Global Processing. The complainant also felt that these documents and the other forms of communication received from National Merchant Center were intentionally constructed to convince the complainant that Global Processing was the complainant’s current processor and that completing the form was necessary for the complainant to continue processing payments.

Serious Red Flags

We agree with the complainant’s assessment, as the language of these documents does not seem to clearly outline that the submission of these forms will sign the merchant up for a new processor. If the client’s complaint is to be believed, it appears that National Merchant Center is engaging in a practice called “slamming,” which is generally considered to be an unethical business practice within the industry.

Previously Listed Rate Quotes

At the time of a previous update, National Merchant Center’s “Apply Online” page included a fee schedule that quoted a swiped rate of “1.7500%” and a keyed-in rate of “1.0000%.” A disclaimer at the bottom of the page explained that these rates are just the company’s “Qualified” rates, but its “Mid-Qualified” and “Non-Qualified” rates were not mentioned on the page at all. We consider this type of rate quoting to be deceptive because it may give clients an unrealistic expectation of the rates they will pay. Overall, the available information about NMC’s marketing tactics has compelled us to assign the company an “F” rating at this time. If you suspect that the company is charging you undisclosed fees, we recommend seeking a third-party statement audit to find and eliminate hidden charges.

Our National Merchant Center Review Summary

Our Final Thoughts

National Merchant Center rates as a substandard credit card processing provider according to our rating system. The company has received multiple complaints that detail deceptive sales practices, and its numerous DBAs help to spread complaints across multiple business names. Its contract terms are not especially competitive, and we have seen no evidence to indicate that the company has recently improved its policies. The company’s rating may be subject to change depending on how its BBB profile changes over time, but for now, businesses are encouraged to sign up with a highly-rated provider to get the best deal and service.

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Your Comments & Reviews

How Did National Merchant Center Treat You?

3 Responses

  • This company is a rip off. We used them from 2012 – 2016 as our credit card processor, after switch companies I was still getting small fees taken out of the business account, I had to go to the bank to sign a ACH stop payment request form. Yesterday, 10-12-2021, I was looking at our bank statement from September and there was a ACH debit for $14.99 from Merchant Services, I called the number beside the transaction 805-231-2371 and left a message to call me back regarding these charges. I also went to the bank yesterday and found out they took another $14.99 out on October 1, 2021. I have disputed the charges and signed another ACH stop payment. I got a call an hour ago and the caller ID said Brett Winegardner 805-231-2371 and I asked about the charges. He told me that our current processor was leasing the machines and that is what the charges were for. I then asked him to email me documentation and he said there isn’t anything to document. Just to let you know, my current processor owns their machines and does not charge me anything monthly. I pulled a file that has processors we have used in the past and low and behold in 2012 I have a letter from NMC when we started using them and the name at the bottom is Brett Winegardner. We have not used this company for over 5 years. I’m not sure if Brett is still with NMC or has branched out on his own but it explains how he had our bank account information. My question is why after over 5 years of not doing business he is taking money out of our account?

  • a high powered salesman showed me how my current agent had not applied discounts that were mandated by law and showed me better rates on transactions implying that i would save money. i followed for six months and processing fees increased considerately. i returned their machine and switched agents. i now have a threatening demand for 2800. $. there were even extra fees that i never contracted

  • Rick Johnson

    I had a merchant account with National Merchant Center for 2 years with a perfect processing record and no complaints from them at all. Until last week when their representative called our customer support line (instead of calling me directly) and started giving confidential information to customer support who isn’t authorized to have that info. NMC wanted to change our platform, which also requires updating our gateway. But the NMC representative insisted that no changes were needed at the gateway, which is absolutely false and proves how poor training their support staff has.

    Apparently NMC is no longer getting along with Wells Fargo because they are switching banks. Due to this switch they shut off my merchant account on Friday afternoon without telling me. It wasn’t until Monday morning that I got a response telling me that my account had been shutoff and would not be reinstated. If there was a problem with the account they could have simply called me and told me that, or emailed me. But instead they shut it off with no warning.

    I’ve been with them for 2 years, with a great processing record and never had a merchant account shutoff before so this was really surprising to me! Fortunately I have other merchant accounts to handle the transactions and I’ll never use NMC again after the way they treated me.

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