Headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, Smart Choice Payments (smartchoicepayments.com) is a merchant account provider that offers credit card processing for most domestic business types. The company is a DBA of Wholesale Merchant Processing and of First Choice Payments, and it also appears to be a DBA of North American Processing Solutions. According to a complaint on our Payment Systems Corporation review, Smart Choice Payments, First Choice Payments, and North American Processing Solutions are subsidiaries of Payment Systems Corporation; however, other information suggests that the companies’ backend processor may instead be Federated Payments.
Todd McCartney is listed as the president of Wholesale Merchant Processing, Smart Choice Payments, and American Payment Systems. All three companies are headquartered at 11000 SW Stratus St., Ste. 150, Beaverton, Oregon 97008. Smart Choice Payments is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Walnut Creek, California.
Sales & Marketing
Key Points - Sales & Marketing
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
Like Wholesale Merchant Processing, Smart Choice Payments appears to sell its products and services through a combination of telemarketing and independently contracted sales agents. We have found a handful of Smart Choice Payments complaints that cite nondisclosure of contract terms, misrepresentation of rates, and difficulty contacting sales agents after the contract was signed. A number of complaints from former and current employees also describe a “hiring mill” type of environment.
These complaints generally mirror those filed against Wholesale Merchant Processing, and, in fact, many Smart Choice complaints also mention WMP as though they are the same company. In our opinion, this means that the dozens of complaints available online about Wholesale Merchant Processing are at least partially applicable to Smart Choice Payments.
Smart Choice Payments has paid Ripoff Report in order to participate in that website’s “Corporate Advocacy Program,” which enables Smart Choice to paste its own promotional copy above certain merchant complaints. It is our belief that this practice reflects poorly on any company, as it only makes it harder for merchants to see what other business owners have to say about the company. In addition, Smart Choice appears to be one of a number of DBAs and subsidiary entities that Wholesale Merchant Processing has established across the country. This strategy is commonly used by some providers to spread complaints across multiple brands or to escape the negative reputation of an existing brand.
Taking into account the complaints filed against both Wholesale Merchant Processing and Smart Choice, we have assigned Smart Choice a “D” in this section.
Costs & Contract
Key Points - Costs & Contract
|Early Termination Fee||$495 Plus|
|PCI Compliance Fee||$4.95 Per Month|
|Equipment Lease Terms||Non-Cancellable|
The standard Smart Choice Payments contract (available below) is a three-year agreement with an early termination fee of $495, a monthly PCI compliance fee of $4.95, a monthly minimum fee of $25, a monthly statement fee of $10, and an accompanying non-cancellable, four-year equipment lease through Northern Leasing Systems. In addition, we have found one report of an additional early termination fee of $900 that is charged upon cancellation. This sounds a lot like a similar $893.98 fee charged by Wholesale Merchant Processing, but we are unable to determine why the company charges it under either name.
As with Wholesale Merchant Processing, the company’s merchant account contract terms are more expensive than industry averages and would warrant a “C-” rating on their own. However, two other factors lower the company’s score in this section to an “F.” First, the company’s agents appear to commonly package their processing agreements with long-term equipment leases through Northern Leasing Systems. Northern Leasing Systems is notorious for selling non-cancellable four-year leases that charge thousands of dollars for equipment that can be purchased for under $500. Second, the regular complaints about nondisclosure of contract terms indicate that many merchants are signing up with the understanding that they will not face many of these fees. This makes the contract’s length and fee structure even more damaging for unsuspecting merchants. See the Smart Choice Payments Merchant Application and the Smart Choice Payments Program Guide.
Complaints & Service
Key Points - Complaints & Service
|Total Online Complaints||10 Plus|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Hidden Fees|
We are currently able to locate more than 10 negative Smart Choice Payments reviews, some of which accuse the company of being a scam. This total does not include the more than 50 complaints we have found regarding Wholesale Merchant Processing or the additional complaints filed against First Choice Payments and North American Processing Solutions. Common themes among complainants include nondisclosure of contract terms, poor customer service, expensive equipment leases, and an unprofessional work environment. Many complaints (and responses from company representatives) mention Smart Choice and Wholesale Merchant Processing as though they are the same company, so we will not differentiate between the two entities in this section.
As noted above, Smart Choice Payments has paid Ripoff Report in order to participate in that website’s “Corporate Advocacy Program.” This program makes it difficult to find the title and content of targeted complaints on Ripoff Report. Merchants are advised to scroll completely down the page to read the full details of each complaint.
Smart Choice has been assigned the same rating in this section as Wholesale Merchant Processing because there is no indication that the companies are different from each other. The company lists phone and email contact information on its website.
Key Points - BBB
|Product & Service Complaints||3|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||1|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||0|
|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.
Smart Choice Payments currently has an “A” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has been accredited since September 2015. This is curious because Wholesale Merchant Processing has an “F” rating with the BBB despite being listed at the same address and under the same ownership. It’s worth noting that Smart Choice Payments has paid to join the BBB’s accreditation program, while Wholesale Merchant Processing is not BBB-accredited.
Smart Choice Payments currently has four complaints on its BBB profile, with three related to product or service issues and one having to do with billing or collection. All four complaints either were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or did not receive a final response from the merchant. Despite the fact that Smart Choice’s BBB profile technically has a much lower complaint total than Wholesale Merchant Processing’s BBB profile, we do not differentiate between the two companies like the BBB. We will therefore apply Wholesale Merchant Processing’s 54 complaints to Smart Choice Payments’s profile for now and also transfer over Wholesale Merchant Processing’s “F” rating.
Related: EMV Terminal Recommendations
About Phillip Parker
Hi, I’m Phillip and I’m disgusted by the state of credit card processing in the U.S. and abroad. I believe that the industry has been overrun by people who engage in fraud and deception in order to steal money from hard working business owners. I’ve made it my mission to expose the companies and individuals who engage in predatory marketing, pricing, and contracts, or just provide terrible service. Along with uncovering the bad guys, I’ve also discovered the good guys who do stand out from the status quo. CPO is a website where you will find ratings and reviews of these companies along with advice on how to save money and which service providers consider. Together we can move the industry in a positive direction. If you would like to help support my work, please checkout “Fee Sweep” my eGuide to getting the lowest possible fees when accepting card payments. If you haven’t heard of “interchange” this advice will save you hundreds, even thousands, in processing fees.Schedule a Consultation with Phillip
Related: Phillip’s Top All-Purpose Merchant Account Picks
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