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National Merchants Association 2023: Reviews & Complaints
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Established in 2004, National Merchants Association is a merchant account provider that operates under a membership group structure based in Temecula, California, though it appears they are now also operating out of Las Vegas, Nevada. The company offers membership terms through Merrick Bank, Commercial Bank of California, and itself. However, due to the recent lawsuit against CBC, it is likely the two companies are no longer partnered. The company often markets itself as a “merchant advocacy group,” which may give some clients the impression that it is a non-profit organization or a third-party entity. However, it is a for-profit credit card processor. There is some evidence that the company is an ISO of Global Payments and First Data (now Fiserv).
Before we dive in, here’s a short summary of what we’ll cover:
- National Merchants Association’s various payment processing services.
- The company received a number of complaints before 2020 but has not seen many since.
- The company’s contract apparently features a number of costly fees that are not applied consistently.
National Merchants Association Payment Processing
National Merchants Association processes all major debit and credit cards for most business types including high-risk. Their services include EMV card readers and swipers, POS solutions, EBT, NFC processing, e-check processing, e-commerce solutions, fraud protection, access to payment gateways, QuickBooks integration, and recurring billing.
National Merchants Association provides solutions for in-store payments. They focus on processing customer payments with ease while keeping costs low.
The organization positions itself as an advocate for merchants. They offer account optimizers who individually evaluate and maintain merchant accounts, looking for ways to improve profitability.
As a member of National Merchants Association, businesses gain a partner in business development. The organization works on behalf of businesses to reduce costs associated with accepting credit cards.
In The Spotlight:
This Processor Eliminated All Monthly and Annual Fees
Only Pay When You Process, No Contract.
Location & Ownership
National Merchants Association formerly listed its address as 43620 Ridge Park Dr Ste 310, Temecula, California 92590-5520, though its website now gives 10100 W Charleston Blvd, Ste 210, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89135. It is a registered ISO/MSP of Evolve Bank & Trust, Memphis, Tennessee. Heather Altepeter is listed as the CEO of National Merchants Association.
Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Appears to offer variable contract terms that may…
- Complaints & Service: Has received more than 10 public complaints regarding…
- BBB Rating: NMA currently is showing a nearly…
- Sales & Marketing: Hires independent sales representatives and has received…
National Merchants Association Customer Reviews
Here's What Their Clients Say
|Total Online Complaints||10+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Hidden Fees|
Moderate Complaint Total
For its size and time in business, there are fewer negative National Merchants Association reviews than expected, but a couple of these describe the company as a scam or a ripoff. Commonly cited issues include nondisclosure of the three-year service length or $395 early termination fee, other hidden fees, difficulty canceling service, unavailable or unhelpful customer service representatives, and disputes over which documents the merchant had actually signed. If you have your own National Merchants Association review to make, please do so in the comments below.
Some of these complaints have received rebuttals from company representatives. These rebuttals sometimes carry a tone that borders on unprofessional. Additionally, we were able to find one rebuttal that provides false information in the company’s defense. This rebuttal claims that “Card Brands require a 36 month contract for all merchant services accounts” and that there is “no such thing as a ONE year contract in merchant services.” This is untrue, and it’s not the sort of claim we’d expect to see from a “merchant advocate.” The same rebuttal claims that the company representatives “cannot and do not have the authority to waive an early termination fee.” However, in a rebuttal posted beneath a separate complaint, the company claimed to have waived the ETF for the client. While this misinformed rebuttal appears to be an isolated incident, it seems possible that the few complaints about the company’s customer support are a product of responses like this one.
National Merchants Association Lawsuits and Fines
We have not found any outstanding class-action lawsuits or FTC complaints filed against National Merchants Association. However, NMA has been involved in a suit against the Commercial Bank of California since 2022. In the National Merchants Association lawsuit against the Commercial Bank of California, National Merchants Association claimed that the bank unlawfully froze its accounts, causing it to lose revenue and damage its reputation. National Merchants Association alleged that the bank acted without cause or notice and in violation of the California Uniform Commercial Code. The lawsuit sought damages and injunctive relief.
In 2022, Merchant X LLC filed a complaint against National Merchants Association (NMA), Heather Petersen, Altepeter, Ms. Altepeter, and Evolve Bank & Trust. The complaint, filed on January 14, 2022, alleges three causes of action: 1) breach of contract, 2) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and 3) violation of California’s unfair competition law. It’s currently unclear what the results of this case were.
Dissatisfied clients who wish to pursue a non-litigious course of action against the company should consider reporting it to the relevant supervisory organizations.
National Merchants Association Customer Support Options
The National Merchants Association website lists a dedicated support email address and a general phone line, but it appears to offer additional support via a merchant login section.
National Merchants Association Customer Service Number
- (866) 509-7199 – Toll-Free Customer Support
Other Support Options
- Customer support form on its website
- Customer service email address at [email protected]
National Merchants Association does not qualify as a top-rated processor for customer service at this time.
National Merchants Association Online Ratings
Here's How They Rate Online
Under 5 Complaints
Currently, the NMA profile shows an “F” rating with 2 complaints filed in the last 3 years. The 2 complaints were resolved to the satisfaction of the client.
What Merchants Say
National Merchants currently has no informal reviews, though previously it had also received 4 negative informal reviews on its BBB profile. The most recent review described undisclosed fees:
National Merchants Association by heather a******** is a scam. They charge undisclosed set up fees and don’t refund once caught red handed.
Clients stuck in similar situations can benefit from learning which contract terms to avoid in order to escape charges like setup fees and the like. In the event those fees are unauthorized, businesses can pursue a statement audit to reconcile billing inconsistencies.
An “A” Rating
In light of the company’s rebooted profile and the information available, we have adgusted the BBB’s rating to an “A”.
National Merchants Association Fees, Rates & Costs
A Closer Look at The Contract
|Monthly & Annual Fees||Yes|
|Processing Rates||1.00% - 4.99%|
National Merchants Association Pricing
The standard National Merchants Association membership agreement describes a one-year contract with renewal for one-year terms, an early termination fee of $99, and a monthly minimum fee of $25. Additionally, the company’s website advertises a “flat rate” pricing plan of 2.65% per transaction that does not appear to be the same as the pricing plan outlined in the agreement below. National Merchants Association collects a monthly membership fee from all clients, and this membership fee can be either $19.95, $34.95, or $69.95 depending on the services a client wishes to add.
Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing
In addition to its storefront payment processing services, National Merchants Association 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.
According to complaints filed on other consumer protection websites, some business owners report that the National Merchants Association contract is a 36-month agreement with an early termination fee of $395 or more. A former complaint with the BBB stated that the company has a liquidated damages fee that can be calculated as follows: “the greater of Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250) or ******* average monthly volume derived from processing Merchant’s transactions (based on an average of the highest three  months of processing volume during the previous or current term of the Agreement, whichever is greater, multiplied by .003, multiplied by the number of full and partial months remaining in the term of the Agreement).”
Variety of Contract Complaints
Another complainant mentions that a client was led to believe that they were in a one-year agreement outlined in the company’s contract only to find out upon cancellation that their term was for three years. Still another complaint in the comment section below describes an annual fee of $99, a website monitoring fee of $150 per URL per month, a Fraudcast fee of $19.95 per month, a termination fee of $395, a membership fee of $19.95 per month, an application fee of $250, a high-risk app processing fee of $79 per month, a risk management fee of $25 per month, and a site survey fee of $100.
Conflicting Contract Terms
Generally speaking, there appears to be some inconsistency with how the company charges its clients. This may be due to its use of several different pricing plans or its partnerships with multiple acquiring banks. National Merchants Association also provides high-risk merchant accounts, which typically receive higher-than-average rates and more stringent chargeback policies. We encourage business owners to check out our list of the providers of the best merchant services.
Potentially Expensive Terms
On the whole, National Merchants Association’s contract terms aren’t competitive with the cheapest merchant accounts. In light of the conflicting accounts regarding the company’s contract terms, we are assigning it a “D” rating for the time being.
National Merchants Association Employee Reviews & Sales Tacitcs
Should You Work For Them?
|Uses Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
Outside Sales Agents
National Merchants Association appears to partner with ISOs and independently contracted agents to market its services. This is a common practice within the industry that often is linked to high complaint volumes among businesses, as it is difficult for a company to regulate the conduct of independent sales entities. We are currently able to locate several negative National Merchants Association reviews that mention nondisclosure or misrepresentation of contract terms by sales agents, specifically when it comes to contract length and an early termination fee. This does not compare favorably to our list of best credit card processors.
Merchant Membership Program
As noted above, National Merchants Association markets itself as a “merchant advocacy group” with language on its website asking businesses to join “the only organization in the U.S. that works on behalf of businesses to eliminate the unnecessary and unreasonable costs associated with accepting credit cards.” However, the company’s membership program simply provides additional credit card processing services such as POS supplies, loyalty programs, marketing tools, and e-commerce software for a fixed monthly fee. It is unclear what tangible results the company has achieved through its “advocacy” besides signing more clients up for its products.
High-Risk Merchant Service
The company promotes itself as an option for high-risk merchant accounts. National Merchants Association dedicates a section of its website to explaining the complexity of dealing with high-risk businesses. Business type, business model, product types, and processing history are a few of the factors they consider when determining the risk of a merchant account. This section of their website determines how businesses can be designated as “low-risk.” The criteria they present state that clients with fewer than 85% of their transactions being keyed in constitute a “high-risk” account. However, the company does not disclose any rates or fees that are uniquely applicable to high-risk businesses that use their services.
“Flat Rate” Pricing
As of this update, the company’s website is currently advertising a zero-fee surcharge pricing plan without any specific pricing disclosures. At the time of our previous update, it promoted a flat-rate pricing plan that charges 2.65% per transaction for businesses that average over $25 per transaction (2.65% plus $0.10 per transaction for merchants who average less than $25). This plan was advertised to come with no statement fees, annual fees, application fees, or Non-Qualified fees. It made no mention of any other monthly fees. We have no reason to believe that the terms quoted on this page were misleading, but given that it is common for “flat rate” programs to include hidden costs, business owners are encouraged to ask questions regarding this program before signing up for it. If you suspect that National Merchants Association is charging you undisclosed fees, we recommend seeking a third-party statement audit to eliminate hidden costs.
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