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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.
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.
Small Business Growth Alliance provides businesses with virtual terminals that allow them to accept payments through their computer or mobile device. The virtual terminals come with a range of features, including customizable checkout pages, fraud prevention tools, and recurring billing. The company’s virtual terminals also integrate with a variety of popular e-commerce platforms.
Online Payment Gateway
Small Business Growth Alliance offers an online payment gateway that allows businesses to accept payments through their website. The online payment gateway comes with a range of features, including customizable checkout pages, fraud prevention tools, and recurring billing. The company’s online payment gateway also integrates with a variety of popular e-commerce platforms.
Small Business Growth Alliance offers merchant services that help businesses manage their payment processing needs. The company provides a range of merchant services, including chargeback management, dispute resolution, and fraud prevention. The merchant services also come with a dedicated account manager who provides personalized support to businesses.
Cash Advance and Loans
Small Business Growth Alliance offers cash advance and loan services to help small businesses secure the funding they need to grow. The company provides various types of loans, including merchant cash advances, small business loans, and equipment financing. The application process is straightforward, and the company offers quick funding.
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 26 complaints and 16 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 Reviews and Complaints
Here's What Their Clients Say
Total Online Complaints
Live Customer Support
Most Common Complaint
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.
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. 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.”
Small Business Growth Alliance Customer Service Number
- (800) 889-7242 – General Support
Merchants reviewing their options for payment processing services would be better served by a company that offers great customer service.
Small Business Growth Alliance BBB Rating and Report
Our Better Business Bureau Profile Assessment
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 26 complaints to its BBB profile in the past 36 months. Only 10 of these 26 complaints were resolved by the company to the satisfaction of the merchant. The remaining 16 were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or received no final response.
What Merchants Say
The SBGA has also received 16 informal reviews, 5 of which are positive and 11 of which are negative. The most recent negative review describes excessive equipment leasing prices:
This company has lied about their contracts. They promised an equipment lease could be cancelled by their sales person ISSAC when I asked three times about the lease that said it couldn’t be cancelled – He said “as long as the equipment is returned in proper working condition, the lease can be cancelled”. Now they are saying I must pay for 48 months of the equipment that will not work with any other company and refuse to take back the equipment. THIS COMPANY IS CHARGING 8x as much for teh same equipment that the actual developer of the equipment is charging – my fault for buying into it – but all customer service help I was promised is not happening. PLUS their merchant rate charges are lies – they said they would only charge me $836 for the equipment and I would have no other charges, but then they started taking money out of my account for merchant fees – they have mislead the entire process and I regret ever doing business with them! DON”T MAKE MY MISTAKE – THIS COMPANY IS A SCAM ARTIST
Merchants 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 and Rates
A Closer Look at the Contract
Don't Fall Into An Expensive Trap. See Who The Worst Processors Are.
Monthly & Annual Fees
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 Jobs and Employment
Hiring Standards and Ethical Marketing Assessment
Audit Your Current Statement To Find Its Hidden Fees
Processing statements are intentionally complicated so that they can overcharge you. Get clarity before you switch.
Uses Independent Resellers
Discloses All Important Terms
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 merchants 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.
Small Business Growth Alliance Review Summary
Our Final Thoughts and Opinions
Small Business Growth Alliance rates as a substandard credit card processing services provider according to our rating criteria. The company appears to have a lot in common with Merchant Services, Inc., and the client feedback that we have located raises some serious concerns about SGBA’s sales tactics and contract terms. Some businesses report being confused by the company’s name and mistaking it for the Small Business Administration (SBA). SBGA is not a government entity. If you feel that you’ve been deceived by SBGA, we encourage you to renegotiate your rates as soon as possible.
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