Shift4 Payments Overview
Harbortouch’s Parent Company
Shift4 Payments is a merchant account provider that currently functions as the parent company of Harbortouch. Shift4 Payments was created in January 2018 when Lighthouse Network (Harbortouch’s former parent organization) acquired Shift4 Corporation, a payment gateway provider based in Nevada. In February, Shift4 Payments proceeded to acquire three POS providers focused on the hospitality industry called Restaurant Manager, POS itouch, and Future POS. It appears that all of these products will be absorbed into the Shift4 brand. In fact, it’s possible that Harbortouch itself could rebrand as Shift4 in the future.
Shift4 Payments Location and Ownership
Shift4 Payments is headquartered at 2202 N. Irving St., Allentown, PA, but it’s possible that the company will merge its operations with Harbortouch’s facilities at 2202 N Irving St, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Shift4 Payments is a registered ISO/MSP of Citizens Bank, N.A., Providence, Rhode Island. Jared Isaacman is the CEO of Shift4 Payment.
Shift4 Payments Review Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Shift4 Payments offers a three-year contract with an early termination fee of $35 multiplied by the remaining months in the contract.
- Complaints & Service: Shift4 Payments has received more than 100 public complaints.
- BBB Rating: Shift4 Payments has an “A+” and has received 106 complaints and 32 reviews in the past 3 years. The company has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2013.
- Sales & Marketing: Shift4 Payments hires independent sales agents and has received a moderate number of complaints about its sales practices.
- Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With Shift4 Payments
Products & Services Offered
- Debit and credit card processing
- POS system
- Online payment gateway
- Gift and loyalty programs
- Check conversion and guarantee
- Merchant cash advance
- ATM placement
Types of Businesses Served
- Convenience store
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Shift4 Payments Rates, Fees, and Costs
|Swiped Rate||1.00% - 4.99%|
|Keyed-in Rate||1.00% - 4.99%|
|Virtual Terminal Rate||1.00% - 4.99%|
|Payment Gateway Fee||Undisclosed|
|Early Termination Fee||$1,000+|
|Echo POS Monthly Fee||$39|
|Echo POS Annual Fee||$79|
|Elite POS Monthly Fee||$69|
|Elite Support Fee||$60 Per Quarter|
|Inactivity Fee||$75 Per Month|
|PCI Compliance Fee||$99 Per Year|
|Equipment Lease Terms||60 Month (locked)|
Pricing Varies By Service
Shift4’s contract terms will depend on the product or service purchased. Any pre-existing Harbortouch product can be expected to receive Harbortouch’s established pricing. The company’s “Lighthouse Transaction Manager” gateway may come with its own pricing. Shift4 does not disclose this pricing on its website, and it’s possible that rates and fees may vary depending on the specific configuration of the gateway.
The Harbortouch service agreement outlines a three-year agreement with automatic renewal for two-year terms unless canceled thirty days prior to the expiration of the initial term; an early termination fee equal to the number of remaining months in the Merchant Agreement multiplied by $35 plus the number of remaining months in the POS Service Agreement multiplied by the merchant’s monthly service fee; a quarterly $60 support fee for Elite POS users; an annual fee of $79 for Echo POS users; a $99 PCI Compliance Fee; and transaction fees according to a tiered or interchange-plus pricing schedule. Harbortouch will also charge merchants $75 per month if they stop using their Harbortouch system during the contract term. Harbortouch’s “Elite” POS system costs $69 per month, while its “Echo” POS system costs $39 per month.
Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing
In addition to its storefront payment processing services, Shift4 Payments also dedicates a portion of its website that advertises its virtual terminal and payment gateway services. However, pricing on either of those services is not disclosed. Additional rates and fees, including gateway fees, technical support fees, batch fees, and additional transaction rates typically apply to these e-commerce services.
Agents Can Alter Pricing
Although these are the company’s official terms, the company’s use of independent sales agents means that transaction rates and fees may vary from agent to agent. A representative of the company confirmed in the comment section of this review that any verbal guarantees made by sales agents will not overrule the language in the company’s contract, so merchants are advised to trust the documentation above an agent’s word. Multiple merchants have described a situation in which a sales agent verbally agreed to waive or alter certain fees and then failed to follow through on those changes. Alternatively, there are multiple claims that agents failed to disclose the contract length and early termination fee associated with the company’s POS agreement.
Harbortouch’s contract structure is unusual for the industry in the sense that the company does not specifically charge for the equipment that each merchant receives at the start of the contract. The company defends this practice as a long-term investment in the well-being of each merchant, but it also has the effect of locking merchants into a costly multi-year agreement, even if they decide to cancel service while under contract. Merchants will need to consider this lack of flexibility before they sign up for service through Harbortouch, as the initial savings may or may not be worth a long-term commitment.
High Termination Fees
The company’s peculiar POS service model has received both positive and negative reviews from merchants, but the negative reviews predictably cite very severe early termination fees. As a general rule, CPO advises merchants against long-term contracts with high early termination fees because these types of contracts limit a merchant’s choices. There are plenty of merchant account providers that offer month-to-month contracts, one-time equipment purchases, payment plans, or rental programs.
High Commitment and High Cost
Considering that Harbortouch’s approach to POS sales has received mixed reviews, coupled with the fact that it requires a long-term financial commitment from merchants, we have assigned it a “C” at this time. Shift4 Payments includes the entire Harbortouch family of products, so we see no reason to give Shift4 Payments a different rating at this time.Are you happy with your Shift4 Payments fees? Tell us about them before your go!
Shift4 Payments Complaints & Customer Reviews
|Total Online Complaints||10+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Long-Term Contracts|
New Name, Clean Record
We can locate more than 10 negative Shift4 Payments reviews at this time. Shift4 Payments is a relatively new organization, so it’s to be expected that there isn’t much positive or negative feedback about it on the usual forums. It is more useful at this time to consult merchant reviews of Shift4’s constituent companies.
Shift4 Corporation Complaints
Shift4 Corporation has a very low complaint total despite the fact that it has been active since 1994. This is common for payment gateway providers, as they typically do not receive the blame for issues with the merchant accounts that are linked to their product. Predictably, the few complaints that we have found about Shift4 Corporation mention minor technical issues and software glitches.
Harbortouch, on the other hand, is showing a moderate-to-high number of online complaints for a company of its size, most of which cite deceptive sales tactics, equipment issues, exorbitant cancellation fees, or poor customer support. It appears that Harbortouch has paid Ripoff Report to be a part of that site’s corporate advocacy program, which allows Harbortouch to reach out to dissatisfied complainants. This program also allows Harbortouch to flood Ripoff Report with dozens of identical testimonials that obscure the details of merchant complaints. Researchers should note that the actual content of these Ripoff Report reviews can be found below each of Harbortouch’s testimonials.
False Review Allegations
A blog post on the Harbortouch website authored by the company’s CEO addresses the growing number of negative reviews that have been posted about Harbortouch. This post speculates that a significant number of negative Harbortouch merchant reviews are actually “from competitors that are unhappy with our free POS business model,” adding that “[i]t is not surprising that many of them would go online to write these anonymous and frankly false representations of our service. It is important to note that most of the complaints do not have any real contact information associated with them.” By our own independent assessment, the majority of public complaints filed against Harbortouch do indeed seem to come from actual merchants. It does not reflect positively on the company that its official stance appears to be dismissive of negative reviews in general.
Direct Harbortouch Replies
It should also be noted that two representatives of Harbortouch (including the company’s CEO) have directly addressed merchant complaints in the comment section of that company’s review. Both representatives disputed merchants’ claims regarding nondisclosure of contract terms, stating that the company’s cancellation policy is clearly disclosed by Harbortouch sales reps and documentation at multiple points during the signup process. These representatives also stated that the company’s large early termination fee is justified by the upfront expense associated with providing POS equipment to merchants.
Complaint Resolution Efforts
Harbortouch is currently an active participant in CPO’s complaint resolution program. This program enables merchant account providers to directly contact merchants who post negative comments beneath their review in an attempt to resolve their complaints. The company’s participation in this program is a positive indication that Harbortouch is interested in providing a satisfactory outcome for dissatisfied merchants.
Shift4 Payments Lawsuits
We have not found any outstanding class-action lawsuits or FTC complaints filed against Shift4. Dissatisfied merchants who wish to pursue a non-litigious course of action against the company should consider reporting it to the relevant supervisory organizations.
Shift4 Payments Customer Support Options
Shift4 offers email and phone support on its website in addition to equipment and software manuals. Although Harbortouch is taking steps to improve its reputation among business owners, its complaint rate has been consistent since its last review. In addition, the content of these complaints has remained more or less unchanged. We do not have any reason to believe that this will change now that the company operates under the Shift4 Payments brand. Merchants who are concerned about quality customer support should consider working with a top-rated provider for great customer service.
Shift4 Payments BBB Rating Summary
Key Points - BBB
|Product & Service Complaints||62|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||41|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||1|
|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.
Over 110 Complaints
The Better Business Bureau has changed Harbortouch’s name to Shift4 Payments, LLC and is using the same profile it previously used for Harbortouch. As a result, Shift4 Payments has been an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau since 2013. As of this review, the company currently holds an “A+“ rating with the BBB and has had 106 complaints filed against it in the last 36 months. 62 of these complaints were related to product or service issues, 41 had to do with billing and collection, 1 was classified as an advertising issue, and 2 were delivery problems. Of the 106 total complaints, 19 were successfully resolved. The remaining 87 complaints either were resolved to the merchant’s dissatisfaction or did not receive a final response from the merchant.
What Merchants Say
Shift4 has also received 35 informal reviews to its BBB profile. 32 of the reviews are negative while only 3 are positive. The most recent review describes unfavorable contract terms and a costly early termination fee:
My background: Business Manager with AS, BA, and MBA in Finance. Awful company. Avoid at all costs! But, if you manage to get locked into a contract make sure that you threaten to end the contract and talk them out of any and all fees that you can. When you threaten to leave, they will bend over backwards and reduce fees. Wait until your contract runs out and then get out as fast as you can. They have random fees that pop up without your knowing and you either have to pay them or you can pay the cancellation fee which is typically ridiculously high. I have no idea how they have an A+ BBB rating when they are such an awful company.
Early termination fees are often the most expensive facets of a merchant account contract. Fortunately, merchants can take measures to cancel their account without paying a fee.
A “C” Performance
Taking into account the company’s complaint total and resolution ratio, we have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “C.”
Truth In Marketing & Advertising
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
Same Organization As Harbortouch
Shift4 is simply a combination of Harbortouch, Shift4 Corporation, and a few smaller POS companies. As a result, the sales experience for merchants who sell their products should be similar to the standard Harbortouch experience.
Independent Sales Team
Harbortouch hires independently contracted sales agents (ISAs) to resell its merchant account services. This is a standard practice within the industry that often results in unregulated or unsupervised agents reselling a provider’s services without effectively disclosing contract terms. On this website and elsewhere, reports are common of a Harbortouch sales representative promising to waive fees or provide month-to-month contracts only to fail to follow through, leaving the merchant on the hook for some unfavorable contract terms.
“Free” Equipment Promises
Online complaints seem to indicate that a common point of miscommunication has to do with Harbortouch’s heavily promoted deals for free equipment or a free POS system. Harbortouch likes to phrase its promotion so that the equipment itself is technically free, but it requires the merchant to sign an automatically renewing, three-year service commitment so that Harbortouch can recover its upfront costs. In this way, the merchant still has to pay for at least three years of access to the equipment, which to some merchants may seem indistinguishable from having a long-term equipment lease.
30-Day Trial Period
Some merchants also report that they agreed to receive free equipment or software but cancelled before receiving or implementing these services, only to be charged with a cancellation fee in the amount of the remaining cost of the multiyear contract. Merchants who cancel before the Install Date should only owe a $250 restocking fee. After the Install Date, Harbortouch offers a 30-day trial period. If merchants cancel after this 30-day period has concluded, then they will be responsible for the full cost of the service agreement, despite the claims of any sales agent. If merchants cancel within the trial period, they are still responsible for fees incurred during the trial period as well as the costs of shipping equipment back to Harbortouch.
Contract Survives Your Business
A smaller number of merchants claim that they were not made aware of the fact that they are responsible for the full cost of the service agreement regardless of whether or not their business closes permanently. It appears to be Harbortouch’s policy to enforce the terms of its agreement even in the event that a merchant goes out of business.
Continued Complaints Despite Training
A Harbortouch representative has stated on multiple occasions that the company offers rigorous agent training and has procedures in place to discipline ISOs that act unethically. The company also clearly discloses its service agreement terms in its paperwork and requires follow-up communication with merchants after they open an account. However, Harbortouch still routinely receives complaints that describe misrepresentation or nondisclosure by its independent sales agents. This indicates that despite the company’s admirable efforts, a significant number of merchants are still having a negative experience with Harbortouch’s sales team.
A Precautionary “C”
Shift4 Corporation enjoyed a very low complaint total before its acquisition by the Harbortouch team. It’s therefore possible that Shift4 Payments will adopt the practices that minimized complaints at Shift4 Corporation. However, Harbortouch’s management team is still at the helm. As a cautionary measure, we will therefore assign Shift4 Payments the average grade of “C” that we assign Harbortouch in this category. If you believe that you were deceived about the terms of your Shift4 Payments contract, you can find and eliminate hidden fees with a third-party statement audit.
Shift4 Payments Marketing Example
About Phillip Parker
Thank you for reading my review. I hope that it has helped you with your research.
Why I'm Qualified to Write About Credit Card Processing and Merchant Account Services
I'm a former credit card processing sales director who left the industry because I didn't like how it takes advantage of small business owners. It feeds like a leech on businesses and thrives by imposing fees that are nearly impossible to comprehend. Seeing a need for change, I left and built this website help business owners better understand the industry, research merchant services providers, and get refunds of excessive merchant account fees. My experience of working "behind the curtain" in the industry, and using that knowledge for good, has resulted in millions of dollars returned to hard-working small business owners as well as enterprise-level companies.
From the time that I starting working in the merchant services industry to when I left to create this website, I've been on the pulse of payments for nearly 15 years. It didn't seem fair to keep this "insider" knowledge to myself. To lift the fog, I've reviewed hundreds of companies, read thousands of user reviews, and learned the pricing tricks of every provider. If you have questions about credit card processing, you can find the answers on this website.