Small Business Growth Alliance 2023: Reviews & Complaints
The Small Business Growth Alliance (SBGA) is a merchant account provider that claims to be headquartered in Henderson, Nevada. The company lists Merchant Services, Inc. as a partner/product and there is a great deal of evidence indicating that the SBGA is simply a DBA or subsidiary of Merchant Services, Inc. Vanguard Web Management, MCA, FedEx, and QuickBooks are listed as other partners or products of SBGA. In addition to providing merchant accounts, the company advertises Clover as a POS solution.
Small Business Growth Alliance Payment Processing
Small Business Growth Alliance offers payment processing solutions that allow businesses to accept payments from their customers securely. The company provides a range of payment processing options, including credit card, debit card, and ACH payments. The payment processing solutions come with robust security features, including PCI compliance, fraud prevention, and tokenization. They also offer discounted shipping services to clients.
Point of Sale Systems
Small Business Growth Alliance also offers point of sale (POS) systems that help businesses streamline their operations. The POS systems come with a range of features, including inventory management, employee management, and real-time reporting. The company offers both traditional and mobile POS systems to meet the needs of different businesses. POS systems from SBGA are Clover devices.
mall Business Growth Alliance (SBGA) provides capital funding solutions for businesses needing quick access to funds for expansion. These funds can be used to pay off business debt, purchase new equipment, increase inventory, launch advertising campaigns, or expand facilities. The funding process is straightforward, with funds deposited into your business account within 7 to 10 business days, and repayment occurring through future credit card sales.
Small Business Growth Alliance provides comprehensive payroll services to assist businesses in effectively managing their payroll responsibilities. The program automatically calculates various deductions such as medical, 401(k), wage garnishments, and tracks accrued time off. It integrates with multiple time clock services to avoid manual keying in of employee hours and provides direct deposit to employees at no extra cost. SBGA’s payroll service also handles calculations, filing, and payment of federal, state, and local payroll taxes, guaranteeing timely submissions. It provides access to various reports and allows payroll data to be imported into most accounting software. Additionally, the service provides complimentary state and county-specific labor law posters and offers compliance fine coverage.
SBGA Accounting Services
Small Business Growth Alliance (SBGA) offers an accounting solution that integrates with QuickBooks®, allowing for direct payment acceptance and sales transaction import, thereby eliminating manual recording errors. This service enables businesses to send ‘click to pay’ invoices, set automated payment plans, and consolidate nightly reporting from various processing devices including countertop terminals, website gateways, and smartphone apps.
SBGA Web Management
Small Business Growth Alliance (SBGA) offers a comprehensive web management program called Vanguard. The program aims to help businesses enhance their online presence and increase profitability. It includes features such as securing organic search results, building online profile pages, managing online reputation, and providing a real-time client dashboard for monitoring online presence and advertising results. It also incorporates location mapping to improve visibility on search maps and GPS systems, uses QR codes to steer customers towards specific messages, and integrates social media tools to enhance online presence. Additionally, Vanguard provides tools to build and distribute custom coupons to incentivize new customers and reward loyal ones. SBGA’s Vanguard program aims to handle all the elements of a business’s online presence, allowing business owners to focus more on other critical aspects of their business operations.
Location & Ownership
Merchant Services, Inc., is a registered ISO of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Concord, and the SBGA is located at 10624 S Eastern Ave #360, Henderson, NV. It should be noted that this address appears to be a UPS Store, which means that the physical company is probably located elsewhere. The SBGA website states that its electronic payments are provided by Merchant Services, Inc., and 2 executive-level employees of Merchant Services, Inc.— Jason Moore and Robert Parisi — were previously reported as the president and director, respectively, of SBGA. LinkedIn lists Jesse Garcia as owner and Will Evans as President and CEO of SBGA.
Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Appears to offer a three-year contract with…
- Complaints & Service: Complaints number more than 50 on…
- BBB Rating: Has an “A+” rating and has received 29 complaints and 19 reviews in the past 3 years. The company has been…
- Sales & Marketing: Appears to hire independent sales agents and has received…
Small Business Growth Alliance Customer Reviews
Here's What Their Clients Say
|Total Online Complaints||50+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Sales Tactics|
Many Severe Complaints
There are currently over 50 negative Small Business Growth Alliance reviews online, many of which accuse the company of being a scam. Common SBGA complaints include deceptive telesales practices, nondisclosure of contract terms, expensive contract terms, and poor customer service. These Small Business Growth Alliance complaints are more or less identical to the complaints that we have seen filed against Merchant Services, Inc. If you have your own Small Business Growth Alliance review to make, please do so in the comments below.
One especially illuminating comment from an employee can be seen in this comment thread. The appointment setter’s comments include the following:
“Owners like you give us ‘telemarketers’ a bad rap, what aren’t you interested in? why are you hanging up on me when i introduce myself? I was taught proper telephone etiquette, did you miss that day in class? if this is the way you handle your business with a customer perhaps you should consider the estimated life of said business.”
SBGA Complaint Response
The SBGA has responded to two of its complaints on Ripoff Report by paying Ripoff Report for arbitration, which essentially expunges parts of the complaints deemed to be untruthful. It does not appear to have directly responded to the other complaints. Business owners who are unable to obtain relief through the company’s customer service team are encouraged to cancel their merchant accounts without paying a fee.
Small Business Growth Alliance Lawsuits and Fines
The Small Business Growth Alliance’s parent company, Merchant Services, Inc. was the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed in 2010 that contained the following allegations:
Plaintiffs allege that Settling Defendants misrepresented and omitted the costs, term, early termination penalties, and other provisions of the processing agreements and leases and unlawfully collected commissions, cancellation fees and other amounts via automatic withdrawals from merchant bank accounts. Plaintiffs also allege that Settling Defendants forged signatures and modified contracts and authorization forms for electronic debits after those contracts and forms had been signed. Plaintiffs additionally contend that Settling Defendants’ sales practices violated rules of MasterCard. Plaintiffs further assert that if customers defaulted on payment, Settling Defendants engaged in improper collection efforts by making unlawful credit inquiries on the personal credit reports of the personal guarantors who signed the agreements.
The claims against Merchant Services, Inc. were settled in 2013, with each member of the settling class receiving up to $350. Merchant Services, Inc. remains an active business, but the company agreed per the terms of the settlement to make the following changes:
By December 20, 2013, the Settling Defendants have agreed to make a variety of changes to their marketing materials to ensure future customers have additional disclosures. They agreed to register any fictitious business names that they intend to use, such as “Merchant Services.” In addition, if they continue to use cost comparison forms, such as the rate estimation comparison sheet, they agreed that document shall contain preprinted information listing or designated areas in which the following information shall be written: the name of the registered independent sales organization involved in the transaction; the entity through which bankcard processing services would be provided; the entity through which leasing services (if any) would be provided; the fact that processing rates are estimated and that higher rates may apply depending on the type of card, including mileage and rewards cards; the fact that equipment leasing is optional; and the fact that a cancellation fee will apply for early termination. Finally, the Settling Defendants agreed to have sales representatives leave with the prospective customer a copy of the above document and a current business card containing his or her current business address, phone number, and email address.
Small Business Growth Alliance Customer Support Options
The company’s website does not specify whether it offers direct phone support on its website.
Small Business Growth Alliance Customer Service Number
- (800) 889-7242 – General Support
Businesses reviewing their options for payment processing services would be better served by a company that offers great customer service.
Small Business Growth Alliance Online Ratings
Here's How They Rate Online
Online Ratings Summary
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.
Nearly 30 Complaints
Small Business Growth Alliance is listed as SBGA Inc with the Better Business Bureau and currently has an “A+” rating and has been accredited by the BBB since 2013. The company has received 29 complaints to its BBB profile in the past 36 months. Only 12 of these 29 complaints were resolved by the company to the satisfaction of the merchant. The remaining 17 were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or received no final response.
What Merchants Say
The SBGA has also received 19 informal reviews, 5 of which are positive and 14 of which are negative. The most recent negative review describes aggressive telemarketing:
Constant cold calling 2-3 times a day, sometimes within minutes of each other. I’d block the number but it’s a different number every time. I also asked to be put on their do not call list, and they said there wasn’t one. The level of harassing calls is ludicrous and takes me away from taking care of guests.
Clients can learn the best ways to negotiate their fees upfront to avoid these issues.
A “C” Performance Overall
In light of the company’s complaint total and resolution ratio, and taking into account the BBB profile for Merchant Services, Inc., we have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “C” for our purposes.
Small Business Growth Alliance Fees, Rates & Costs
A Closer Look at The Contract
|Monthly & Annual Fees||Yes|
|Processing Rates||1.00% - 4.99%|
According to the SBGA website, the company’s electronic payments are provided by Merchant Services, Inc. Merchant complaints indicate that the standard Merchant Services, Inc. rates and contract involve a three-year agreement with a $495 early termination fee, a $134 “data protection” fee, a monthly minimum fee that can rise as high as $75 per month, a monthly PCI non-compliance fee of $19.95, a monthly statement fee of $7.50, and other various fees. Clients (and employees) also mention long-term equipment leases through Northern Leasing Systems that ultimately cost thousands of dollars over the life of the lease. Business owners are advised to purchase equipment rather than lease whenever possible. We also encourage Businesses to check out our list of the providers of the best merchant accounts.
Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing
In addition to its storefront payment processing services, SBGA also dedicates a portion of its website to advertising its virtual terminal and payment gateway. However, like Merchant Services, Inc., Small Business Growth Alliance fees and pricing are 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.
SBGA’s contract terms appear to lock clients into long-term agreements that overcharge them for the products and services they receive. In general, the knowledge we have about SBGA’s contract terms prevents us from classifying the company as a low-cost merchant account provider.
Small Business Growth Alliance Employee Reviews & Sales Tacitcs
Should You Work For Them?
|Uses Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
Not What It Appears To Be
The Small Business Growth Alliance presents itself as a membership-based organization that “provide[s] our members with essential products, services and educational resources that allow you to successfully address your most essential business needs.” However, Small Business Growth Alliance reviews from both employees and clients strongly suggest that the SBGA is primarily in the business of selling merchant services and that it uses its name and branding to convince businesses that it serves in some kind of merchant advocacy role. Unlike a true fee-reduction service, SBGA’s first priority is to switch business owners over to one of its merchant account contracts. This does not compare favorably to our list of best merchant services providers.
SBGA Telemarketing Complaints
This 800notes thread details an instance in which an SBGA representative “called and told my customer service rep that they were ‘confirming’ an appt for tomorrow at 10am with me (the owner) to review our credit card charges and determine the amount of a refund we were due for overcharges for our merchant services […] Only problem is, I didn’t call SBGA for any merchant services help or consultation and I am angry that they used a lie to gain access to me and my time through my company customer service rep who would not have known any better.” Another Small Business Growth Alliance review states that “Jennifer called on my work line acting like it was urgent for me to return call. Said she was from ‘Merchant Services’ (what business????) and that we may have had some increases in our fees and she needed to speak to me immediately about that.” These types of sales calls, which verge on “slamming,” are cited repeatedly in Small Business Growth Alliance complaints.
Insiders Speak Out
Complaints from employees only confirm the client reports. One such Small Business Growth Alliance review claims that “the recruiters lie like hell, they tell you it is a ‘business consulting’ job working with small businesses, but in truth you’re selling and pushing one thing, payment card processing and all the other things in your bag are just total BS products and services.” Another SBGA review from a recruiter at the company states that “we as recruiters tell [the agents] that they receive ‘lead generation support’ which comes in the form of a call center rep setting up bogus appointment s that most of the time the store owner didn’t agree upon […] It’s a bait n switch scenario, they get customers signed up for multiple services, lease them hardware and make the merchant pay ridiculous fee for getting out of s processing contract.” These reports seem to describe a standard hiring mill within the credit card industry.
Poor Hiring Practices
SBGA employs a large team of telephone appointment setters and independent sales agents (called “independent business consultants” within the organization), which may explain why agents would resort to less-than-straightforward tactics to land accounts. Considering the reports we have found and the history of Merchant Services, Inc., we have assigned the SBGA a “D” rating in this section.
Copyright © 2023 CardPaymentOptions.com, Inc. (Digital Fingerprint: 0d38c6720f0d78a701b74d58653af608). Getting paid to re-write this page? Click here to earn a reward.
Any unauthorized copying and reproduction of the content of this page, including all meta data and computer code, is strictly prohibited. While the information in the above article is believed to be accurate as of its publish date, the author and publisher make no representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness, or completeness of the contents. The author and publisher shall in no event be held liable to any party for any direct, indirect, punitive, special, incidental or other consequential damages arising directly or indirectly from any use of this material, which is provided “as is,” and without warranties. Any and all use of trade names and/or marks are for identification purposes only and shall not be construed as a claim of affiliation, or otherwise, with CardPaymentOptions.com, Inc. ("CPO") in any form. The sole purpose of the material presented herein is to alert, educate, and inform readers. It is not intended as legal or financial advice. We may earn revenue if you obtain services from a provider that we recommend. See this page to learn how we support our operations.