Smart Card Merchant Services Overview
Established in 2015
Active since 2015, Smart Card Merchant Services is a merchant account provider that appears to be a DBA or related business of Eschelon Merchant Services and a now-defunct company called EMV Payment Systems. Eschelon Merchant Services registered the Smart Card Merchant Services trade name in the state of Arizona in August 2015, and the vice president of business development at Eschelon Merchant Services registered “Smartcard Merchant Services” with the Arizona Corporations Commission in 2013. Furthermore, the president of Eschelon Merchant Services is listed as the registrant of the “smartcardms.com” web domain.
Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona
Smart Card Merchant Services is a reseller of First Data, TSYS, and Worldpay contracts and a registered ISO/MSP of Fifth Third Bank. It is headquartered at 3320 W Cheryl Dr, Ste A-160, Phoenix, Arizona 85051-9594, although other addresses in the Phoenix area have also been associated with it. The company does not disclose the identities of its owners on its website, but, as noted above, it appears to share ownership with Eschelon Merchant Services and EMV Payment Systems.
Smart Card Merchant Services Review Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Smart Card Merchant Services appears to offer variable contract terms that are commonly paired with long-term equipment leases.
- Complaints & Service: Smart Card Merchant Services has received more than 20 public complaints.
- BBB Rating: Smart Card Merchant Services has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has received 12 complaints and 8 reviews in the last 3 years.
- Sales & Marketing: Smart Card Merchant Services hires independent sales agents and has received a high number of complaints about its sales practices.
- Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With Smart Card Merchant Services
Smart Card Merchant Services Statement Analyzer
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Types of Businesses Served
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Smart Card Merchant Services Rates, Fees, and Costs
|Early Termination Fee||Undisclosed|
|PCI Compliance Fee||Undisclosed|
|Equipment Lease Terms||48 Months (locked)|
Potentially Costly Terms
There is very little information available regarding the actual terms of the standard Smart Card Merchant Services contract. The company gives a detailed explanation on how their customized pricing involved 3 tiers for qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified rates but does not disclose any information. Merchants have not filed complaints that specifically mention transaction fees, early termination fees, PCI Compliance fees, monthly minimums, or other fees. Some merchants do express a general sense of surprise at how high their monthly costs are, but it seems that the rates and fees charged by Smart Card for its credit card processing services are not the biggest issue facing the company.
Beware Long-Term Equipment Leases
Smart Card’s tendency to package its merchant accounts with equipment leases through First Data Global Leasing, on the other hand, is a major problem for merchants. As one of the lowest-rated providers, First Data Global Leasing is notorious for providing long-term, non-cancellable, expensive equipment leases, and most complaints filed against Smart Card refer to the equipment lease as the primary problem. The company’s equipment lease policy in combination with accusations of incomplete sales disclosure have lowered Smart Card’s score in this section more than the terms of its merchant agreement.Are you happy with your Smart Card Merchant Services fees? Tell us about them before your go!
Smart Card Merchant Services Complaints & Customer Reviews
|Total Online Complaints||20+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Equipment Lease|
Widespread Negative Reports
We are currently able to locate nearly 25 negative Smart Card Merchant Services reviews, some of which accuse the company of being a ripoff or a scam. Common complaints include improperly advertised equipment leases, undisclosed fees, misrepresented rates, unreachable customer service, and a poor work environment for the company’s employees. This complaint total is fairly high for a company that is only two years old, and it doesn’t even include a much larger number of EMV Payment Systems and Eschelon Merchant Services complaints that could potentially be connected to Smart Card staff members.
Both Eschelon Merchant Services and EMV Payment Systems are the subjects of multiple merchant complaints describing very similar “slamming” tactics, particularly with regard to equipment leased through First Data Global Leasing and Northern Leasing Systems. We have received Smart Card Merchant Services complaints that describe this same issue, indicating that Smart Card shares those companies’ business approach.
Serious Red Flags
Moreover, many of these complaints describe severe issues such as exorbitantly expensive lease costs, outright deception by sales agents, and totally indifferent replies from sales agents and company representatives. Smart Card therefore rates poorly both in the quantity and content of its available complaints.
Smart Card Merchant Services Lawsuits
We have not found any outstanding class-action lawsuits or FTC complaints filed against Smart Card Merchant Services. Dissatisfied merchants who wish to pursue a non-litigious course of action against the company should consider reporting it to the relevant supervisory organizations.
Smart Card Merchant Services Customer Support Options
The company advertises that its customer service center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST Monday through Friday, but 24/7/365 technical support is available for all merchants. However, the company’s options and performance do not earn it a place among the top-rated payment processors for great customer service at this time.
Smart Card Merchant Services BBB Rating Summary
Key Points - BBB
|Product & Service Complaints||8|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||2|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||1|
|Guarantee & Warranty Complaints||0|
Poor Company Responsiveness
Smart Card Merchant Services currently has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau and is not BBB-accredited. The company has received 12 complaints since its profile was created in January 2017, along with 2 that have been closed in the last 12 months. 8 of the complaints related to product or service problems, 1 related to an advertising or sales issue, 2 due to billing or collection disputes, and 1 due to a delivery issue. Smart Card Merchant Services has only responded to one of these complaints and has not resolved any, which is the primary reason for its low rating.
What Merchants Say
In addition to the 11 complaints filed with the BBB, Smart Card Merchant Services’ profile has also received 8 informal reviews. While 1 review is positive, the remaining 7 are negative. One complainant mentions deceptive sales practices:
This company was the worst experience I’ve ever had as a small business owner dealing with a credit card processing company. I was using another popular processing company, when i received sales calls from Smart Card that they could save me money on my fees since we had a clean record of no chargebacks. I was skeptical and said I liked the way my current company had their online services setup and didn’t want to give that up (including invoicing). They claimed none of that would change, that I would just be getting a better rate through them. That was the first lie, turned out they had to set me up with a totally different processing system, I couldn’t remain through my previous one with just a lower rate (as I’d asked the phone rep over and over to confirm I could). I agreed to meet with a local sales rep, who offered me what sounded like a better deal that what I had been paying, though only by a few hundred in savings a year. I figured it was worth changing for the savings. That was my first mistake, and my second was not reading the contract because I trusted what the sales person said I was getting was on the contract and she had to go to another meeting so we were rushed getting the paperwork done before she had to go. It wasn’t what we had agreed to. It was all verbal promises up front but once they had my business they charged me fees that I never agreed to with the sales person, but later found out she had never adjusted on the contract to reflect what she said I was getting (I wasn’t given a copy of until months later, after I had requested it). I had to call their customer support over and over, trying to get the services and fees as they had told me I would get. They made some, but not all the adjustments to get the fees and services as agreed too by my conversation with the sales rep. Then after 6 months of sales, I added up the fees and realized I’d paid hundreds more than if I’d kept my old “more expensive” (big lie) processing company. To top it off, a $99 “annual fee” appeared on my statement, and I couldn’t reach anyone by phone to have that fixed, as I’d never agreed to that. I finally reached someone and just told them to cancel it. I was told to send a letter and a rep would call me to review everything and make sure I wanted it canceled, Instead of getting the call, they just charged me a $375 cancellation fee. But that wasn’t the end of it. I then found out they had signed me up for an equipment lease that is non-cancellable, and was a big part of why they are more expensive. That was something I had agreed to, but didn’t realize that such an expensive lease would be for a cheap little reader that works with my phone and which the previous company I used had provided for free! This piece of equipment probably would retail for about $25, yet I pay more for that per month in a 3 year lease that I’m now locked into with no service! Not only that, the equipment doesn’t work (battery dies) and I was never able to get the customer service to replace it. Stay away, stay far away…my recommendation if they call is just hang up. This is the worst experience I’ve ever had with a company like this. Not a real service company from what I can tell, just selling services from other companies it seems like, and doing so by adding in all the markups and fees they can, even when they said they wouldn’t.
This complainant could benefit from understanding what fees to be on the look out for when signing up for a merchant account.
An “F” Performance
In light of the company’s complaint total and resolution ratio over the past eight months, we see no reason to alter the BBB’s rating.
Truth In Marketing & Advertising
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
Deceptive Sales Tactics
Smart Card Merchant Services utilizes a combination of telephone appointment setters and independent agents to market its services. In general, this hiring strategy can create a team of unsupervised or untrained sales agents and is commonly linked to merchant complaints. In this case, we have located a large number complaints about Smart Card Merchant Services, Eschelon Merchant Services, and EMV Payment Systems that consistently cite issues with nondisclosure or misrepresentation. In particular, many negative reviews describe aggressive telemarketing and deceptive tactics with regard to the company’s equipment leases.
Multiple merchants allege that Smart Card sales agents failed to disclose the 36- to 48-month non-cancellable leases that came with their merchant accounts or claimed that the equipment was “free.” Some complaints also describe tactics that closely resemble “slamming” scams, in which a Smart Card Merchant Services agent will call and claim to be with “Merchant Services” in order to persuade a merchant to purchase new equipment. A few complaints from the company’s employees back this up with descriptions of a high-pressure “hiring mill” environment. All of these claims are corroborated by an account mistakenly posted in the comment section below our CardSmart Merchant Services review:
Smart Card Merchant Services cold called me and said our business rating had changed and wanted to know whether I wanted to accept an upgrade to our account for better credit card processing fees.
The telesales agent made it seem like we had a relationship with them, but when I asked they said we did not. I asked them to put the upgrade offer in writing but she said she could not, but could schedule an in-person interview. We scheduled a date and time and I asked her to send email confirmation, but it never appeared. Strike 1.
On the date in question, I called the number on the website and reached someone who confirmed there was an appointment and they had my email address wrong. So obviously they don’t know much about my business, and when I said it was a cold sales call, they insisted it was not since they knew our credit rating had improved.
I told her I would be a little late for the meeting since it wasn’t confirmed. I was five minutes late – the rep was 45 minutes late. Strike 2.
During the meeting, the rep would not put anything in writing and proceeded with a number of hard sell / hard close sales gambits. He was vague about details and said I have to commit, they only review accounts once a year and I have to decide now. I told him I needed to talk to my partners and he continued to try to close the sale.
He finally wrote some things on his business card with a *not guaranteed* on it. He said he was not selling me, but rather his goal was to screen me out.
I called the next day and told him we were interested and whether he could send me the contract so we can review the terms and sign. He told me he can only meet in person. Since my partner is in another state, I told him we would be happy to do that but he would have to fly across the country. He said he can’t do that. Strike 3.
We decided the sales process and business practices are too sketchy for us to engage with them. They promise great rates, but won’t put anything in writing and keep saying “it depends”.
While we have not done business with them, they managed to waste a lot of my time and proved to be incompetent with sketchy business practices at best. At least as far as we are concerned, they are out.
It’s strange they behave so unprofessionally. We are currently paying sky-high rates for credit card processing and it appears they can save us a lot of money. But we can’t risk a core part of our business dealing with a vendor who:
1) Has deceptive sales techniques
2) Insists on meeting in person and is 45 minutes late
3) Won’t send a contract to review
Specific Sales Agent Issue
In addition to merchant complaints, we have located a news story from December 2016 that actively warns business owners about the conduct of some Smart Card Merchant Services sales reps. One rep in the story, Michael Lee, is named in numerous Smart Card complaints across the web. As of that article’s publication, he was still selling for the company, but it is unknown whether he is still an active salesman.
Supposedly Transparent Pricing
The Smart Card Merchant Services website actively promotes interchange-plus pricing, which is the most transparent pricing model available. Although there is no indication that this pricing structure is misleadingly promoted, the company’s reputation with regard to its equipment lease sales inclines us to warn merchants against taking the company’s word on this. Business owners should be sure to confirm that the rate structure they will receive is true Interchange-plus rather than a tiered model that has been misrepresented. If you suspect that Smart Card is charging you undisclosed fees, we recommend seeking an independent statement audit to spot hidden charges.
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
I'm a former credit card processing sales director who left the industry to start my own a small business. From the time that I starting working in the merchant services industry to when I left to write about it, I've been on the pulse of payments for nearly 15 years. It didn't seem fair to keep this insider knowledge to myself, so built this website to help small business owners research which service providers to use and how to save money on rates and fees. 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 here. I can help you save money with your current merchant account or help you find a new one. Message me here to get started.
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