SalonSwipe (salonswipe.com) is a mobile payment processing service designed specifically for individuals and businesses in the salon industry. The company is not a direct processor, and it appears to be partnered with multiple credit card processing networks, including North American Bancard, First Data, and Vantiv. Launched in 2005, SalonSwipe offers a mobile processing solution consisting of a free card-reading device plugged into the headphone jack of a user’s mobile device, similar to Square’s hardware. SalonSwipe charges on a per-transaction basis and does not require any contracts or monthly minimums. Isaac Lay is listed as the CEO of SalonSwipe, which is headquartered at 411 W Lambert Rd #404, Brea, California 92821.
SalonSwipe Products and Services
- Debit and credit card processing
- POS equipment
- Custom tip amounts
- Receipts that include “after” pictures
- Sales reporting
- Social media integration
- Skin care specialists
- Massage therapists
- Nail techs
- Makeup artists
Sales & Marketing
Key Points - Sales & Marketing
|Employs Independent Resellers||No|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
SalonSwipe appears to market itself primarily through its website. There is no indication at this time that the company partners with ISOs or independent agents, which is a factor in its favor. SalonSwipe’s website lists specific rates and pricing for swiped and keyed transactions and states that there are no annual or setup fees, but according to merchant complaints, these aren’t the full costs charged by SalonSwipe. Beginning in early 2016, we have seen a large number of complaints posted that specifically mention a $16.95 fee and a $3.95 fee suddenly being charged after months or years of inactivity. These fees are not mentioned on the SalonSwipe website, which leaves open the possibility that still other potential fees may be charged by the company. In light of this recent rash of complaints, we have lowered SalonSwipe’s rating to a “B” in this section.
SalonSwipe Marketing Example
Costs & Contract
Key Points - Costs & Contract
|Keyed-in Rate||3.49% + $0.15|
|Early Termination Fee||None|
|PCI Compliance Fee||Variable|
|Equipment Lease Terms||None|
The standard SalonSwipe contract (available below) does not include a long-term service agreement, early termination fee, or monthly minimum, just as the company advertises. In addition, there are no complaints online that dispute the company’s advertised swipe rates of 2.69% (swiped) or 3.49% plus $0.15 (keyed). However, as noted above, it appears that some inactive accounts are suddenly being charged monthly fees as of early 2016. It is unclear whether these fees are being charged in error, or whether the company has suddenly introduced an inactivity fee or PCI compliance fee.
Another major issue appears to be related to the company’s reserve policy from merchant to merchant. Similar to Square, SalonSwipe claims the right to establish a reserve account at any time, in any amount, and at its own discretion in order to protect itself in the case of fraudulent transactions. Additionally, in the case that a merchant processes over $1,000 in card-not-present amounts in a given week, SalonSwipe reserves the right to defer payout of the amount exceeding $1,000 for 30 days. The establishment of a cash reserve is a common practice within the industry, but in the case of SalonSwipe, it appears that multiple merchants are experiencing frustration with this policy. Specifically, it seems that SalonSwipe does not openly disclose this policy or offer available customer support staff to assist merchants with unexpected holds, leaving business owners wondering when their funds will be returned. This factor has lowered the company’s grade in this category somewhat. See the SalonSwipe User Agreement.
Complaints & Service
Key Points - Complaints & Service
|Total Online Complaints||40+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Unauthorized Charges|
We are currently able to locate over 40 SalonSwipe complaints, some of which accuse the company of being a ripoff or a scam. The overwhelming majority of complaints mention some combination of missing funds that have yet to be deposited in the merchant’s bank account and an inability to reach a SalonSwipe customer service representative to resolve the issue. Other complaints cite unexpected fees, difficulty cancelling service, and miscommunications regarding banking info. Generally speaking, it seems that SalonSwipe’s customer service phone line and email address do not provide responses to merchants in a timely fashion, which results in a great deal of frustration for merchants.
It is also worth noting that approximately half of these publicly available SalonSwipe complaints received rebuttals from company representatives. These rebuttals were sometimes unprofessional in tone and attempted to shift blame onto SalonSwipe’s processors or affiliated banks rather than resolve the merchant’s problem. After we mentioned this in our review, the tone of the responses improved somewhat. In general, though, SalonSwipe’s customer service appears to be one of the major drawbacks of the service.
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Key Points - BBB
|Product & Service Complaints||10|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||6|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||0|
|Guarantee & Warranty Complaints||0|
SalonSwipe is not an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau and is currently showing a “B+” rating. The company has received 16 complaints in the past three years, with 10 due to product or service issues and six related to billing or collection disputes. SalonSwipe has successfully resolved eight of the complaints, while the remaining eight either were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or did not receive a final response from the merchant. It’s worth mentioning that SalonSwipe’s BBB profile was deactivated for a brief period of time in 2013 following the shutdown of the BBB’s Los Angeles-area branch, so it’s possible that the company’s current profile only dates back to March 2013. Considering the company’s complaint total, its resolution ratio through the BBB, and the content of the complaints, we agree with the BBB’s rating at this time.
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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
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