Shift4 Payments 2023: Card Processing Reviews & Complaints
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 2018, Shift4 Payments proceeded to acquire three POS providers focused on the hospitality industry: Restaurant Manager, POSitouch, and Future POS. Shift4 Payments added Merchant Link to their stable in 2019, 3dcart in 2020, and VenueNext in 2021. 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. In 2022/2023 Shift4 acquired Online Payments Group, The Giving Block, and Finaro.
Shift4 Payments Payment Processing
Shift4 Payments processes all major debit and credit cards for most business types. Their services include end-to-end processing, their own payment gateway, gift and loyalty programs, PCI-validated encryption, contactless pay, the SkyTab restaurant ordering and mobile payment system, e-commerce solutions, QR codes, and multiple POS solutions, including HarborTouch.
Payment Gateway Services
Shift4 Payments’ payment gateway services enable businesses to accept credit and debit card payments securely and easily via their website. The payment gateway is fully customizable and integrates with major e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, and more.
Virtual Terminal Services
Shift4 Payments’ virtual terminal services allow businesses to process credit and debit card payments over the phone or via email, without the need for a physical card reader. This is ideal for businesses that don’t have a storefront or need to process payments remotely.
Shift4 Payments offers a variety of POS systems that are designed to meet the needs of businesses in various industries. Whether you’re looking for a traditional countertop terminal or a mobile POS, Shift4 Payments has a solution that can help you process payments quickly and securely.
Mobile Payment Solutions
Shift4 Payments’ mobile payment solutions allow businesses to accept payments on-the-go using a smartphone or tablet. This is ideal for businesses that operate in remote locations or attend trade shows, farmers markets, or other events.
Gift and Loyalty Card Programs
Shift4 Payments offers gift and loyalty card programs that can help businesses increase customer loyalty and drive sales. These programs are fully customizable and can be integrated with POS systems and e-commerce platforms.
Online Ordering and Delivery
Shift4 Payments offers online ordering and delivery services that enable businesses to accept orders online and deliver products or services to customers. This includes restaurant ordering and delivery, as well as online ordering for retail businesses.
Fraud Prevention Services
Shift4 Payments offers a suite of fraud prevention services that can help businesses reduce the risk of fraud and chargebacks. These services include address verification, card security code (CVV2) verification, and fraud screening.
Shift4 Mergers & Acquisitions
Shift4 has been acquiring several companies in the last few years. Often, the company has stated that it will move the merchant clients of the the acquired companies to Shift4’s own processing and POS services, such as Harbortouch POS and SkyTab. As of our last update of this review, we are aware of Shift4 buying the following companies:
Shift4 Acquired Companies
- Focus POS
- The Giving Block
- Restaurant Management POS
- Lighthouse Network
- Online Payments Group
If you have any further information regarding any mergers or acquisitions, please leave it in the comment section below.
Location & Ownership
Shift4 Payments is headquartered at 2202 N. Irving St., Allentown, PA. Shift4 Payments is a registered ISO/MSP of Citizens Bank, N.A., Providence, RI, and Merrick Bank, South Jordan, UT., and Jared Isaacman is the CEO and Don Isaacman is the president of Shift4 Payment and of Harbortouch.
Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Offers a one-year contract with no early termination fee and options between interchange-plus, tiered pricing and…
- Complaints & Service: Has received more than 10 public complaints regarding…
- BBB Rating: Has been accredited since 2013 and has an “A+” but has received 173 complaints and 22 reviews in regards to…
- Sales & Marketing: Hires independent sales agents and has received a moderate number of complaints about its…
Shift4 Payments Customer Reviews
Here's What Their Clients Say
|Total Online Complaints||10+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Long-Term Contracts|
New Name, Clean Record
We can locate nearly 15 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 client 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 business owners’ 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 clients’ 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 businesses.
Complaint Resolution Efforts
Harbortouch is currently an active participant in CPO’s complaint resolution program. This program enables merchant account providers to directly contact business owners 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 clients.
Shift4 Payments Lawsuits and Fines
In 2018, Shift4 Payments became the target of an antitrust lawsuit that accuses the company of monopolizing the payment interface and merchant account services market for mid-sized table service restaurants by cutting out other independent payment processors. It appears this case was terminated in 2019, but was shortly after reopened with few details going forward. This case is yet to reach a resolution.
In 2021, Labaton Sucharow announced it was looking into Shift4 for potential breaches of duty and security violations.
2022 saw Smelson v. Shift4 Payments LLC, which was a class-action lawsuit filed against Shift4 Payments LLC, a payment processing company. The lawsuit alleged that Shift4 Payments LLC violated California law by charging businesses unauthorized fees for credit card transactions. The plaintiffs claimed that Shift4 Payments LLC misled them about the fees and failed to disclose the additional charges. The lawsuit sought damages and injunctive relief on behalf of the class of businesses affected. The case was settled for an undisclosed amount, with Shift4 Payments LLC agreeing to refund the unauthorized fees and improve its disclosures and billing practices in the future.
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 chat 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 Customer Service Number
- (888) 276-2108 – Toll-Free Customer Service
Other Support Options
- Customer support form
- Chat support on its website
Shift4 Payments Online Ratings
Here's How They Rate Online
Online Ratings Summary
|Product & Service Complaints||79|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||64|
|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 140 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 145 complaints filed against it in the last 36 months. 64 of these complaints had to do with a billing or collections issue, 79 were problems with a product or service, and 1 was an issue with advertising or sales. Only 70 of these 145 complaints were resolved by the company to the satisfaction of the merchant. The remaining 75 were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or received no final response.
What Merchants Say
Shift4 has also received 27 informal reviews to its BBB profile. All of the reviews are negative. One recent review describes issues with equipment and expensive rates:
Whatever you do, do NOT sign up with Shift4 or ***********. They are a total nightmare from A to Z! Shop around and get plenty of quotes; you will find many other companies that give better service for much cheaper rates; this type of service does not have to be local to get great service. I also used ************* POS system; again, a nightmare and had to return it. I don’t know how they stay in business. Seriously… take my advice and save yourself a lot of money and a lot of headaches.
Merchants looking for a cheap option should take a look at our guide to the cheapest providers in the industry.
A “C” Performance
Taking into account the company’s complaint total and resolution ratio, we have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “C.”
Shift4 Payments Fees, Rates & Costs
A Closer Look at The Contract
|Monthly & Annual Fees||Yes|
|Processing Rates||Interchange-plus or variable|
New Contract Terms in Response to Client Dissatisfaction
At the time of previous reviews, Shift4 Payments’ terms and conditions imposed a three-year contract term with a costly early termination fee. This was the basis of most of the Shift4 Payments reviews left by businesses on this and many other consumer review websites. However, Shift4 Payments has revised its terms and conditions in response to this outcry from clients.
Shift4 Payments’ current terms and conditions convey a one-year contract with a tiered pricing structure. Businesses are charged either an interchange-plus model or tiered rates of 1.39% plus $0.10 for swiped transactions, while keyed-in transactions are charged 1.79% plus $0.10. Shift4 Payments does not charge an early termination fee any longer, which was the most costly fee from its old contract terms. However, Shift4 Payments does require businesses to return equipment within 15 days of the end of a contract, or else it imposes costly equipment fees. Businesses that do not return standard credit card terminals within that period are charged $200, contactless terminals are charged a $300 fee, and POS systems are charged a $500 fee. However, the lack of an early termination fee provides clients with much more flexible contract terms, and its transaction rates are much more affordable as well.
Shift4 Payments is also the owner of a handful of different POS system companies: Harbortouch, Restuarant Manager, Future POS, VenueNext, 3dcart, Merchant Link, and POSitouch. The company also serves as a partner to over 300 other POS and PMS companies, providing businesses across different industries with tailor-made options for the unique needs of their business.
One of Shift4 Payments’ more notable companies, Harbortouch, previously provided clients with the option between 2 different POS systems: Echo POS and Elite POS, though it appears they are shifting to the new Onyx model and each merchant agreement conveys some pretty basic pricing. Echo POS charges a monthly fee of $29 per system, while Elite POS has a $39 monthly fee for each. Echo POS charges an installation fee of $150 for the first system and $100 for any additional system. While the Elite POS merchant agreement does not include an installation fee per se, there is a $250 fee for additional wiring needed to install a POS system. Though neither agreement includes an early termination fee, clients that cancel their contracts must return any POS equipment within the prescribed period in their merchant agreement or risk being charged an equipment return fee of $500.
In addition to those fees, each POS agreement details a range of products and services and their additional monthly costs. These products and services are categorized as optional add-ons and come with additional monthly fees, though they can be purchased outright at a one-time cost as well. Other, less expensive items — from employee authorization cards to printers and scanners — are billed as one-time purchases.
Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing
In addition to its storefront payment processing services, Shift4 Payments’ terms and conditions also disclose the cost of its virtual terminal and payment gateway services. Shift4 Payments charges 1.79% plus $0.10 per transaction and a batch fee of $0.35.
Your Agent’s Word Is Not The Final Word
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 clients are advised to trust the documentation above an agent’s word. Multiple business owners 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. There are also multiple claims that agents failed to disclose the contract length and early termination fee associated with the company’s POS agreement. If you suspect that you may be paying too many hidden fees, we recommend obtaining a cost analysis from an independent fee reduction service.
A New Grade for New Contract Terms
Shift4 Payments’ approach to POS sales has received mixed reviews. The basis of most complaints concerns issues with the company’s previous terms and conditions; primarily the costly early termination fees. Since Shift4 Payments has revised its terms and conditions for its merchant agreements and POS systems, we award the company a “B” in this category. Though there are many monthly charges and some one-time fees that come with the Echo and Elite POS systems, the flexibility clients have with no early termination fees and shorter one-year contracts mitigates the expense of those costs drastically from the company’s previous policies. We always encourage merchants to check out our list of the providers of the best merchant accounts.
Shift4 Payments Employee Reviews & Sales Tacitcs
Should You Work For Them?
|Uses Independent Resellers||Yes|
|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 businesses that 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 client on the hook for some unfavorable contract terms. This does not compare favorably to our list of best credit card processors.
“Free” Equipment Promises
Online Shift4 Payments reviews 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 business to sign an automatically renewing, three-year service commitment so that Harbortouch can recover its upfront costs. In this way, the business owner still has to pay for at least three years of access to the equipment, which to some clients may seem indistinguishable from having a long-term equipment lease.
30-Day Trial Period
Some clients also report that they agreed to receive free equipment or software but canceled 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. Business owners 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 clients 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 clients 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 businesses 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 business 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 clients 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.
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