Swipe4Free May Have Overcharged You
If you accepted credit cards through Swipe4Free or any other credit card processing company between 2017 and 2019, recent changes to the law may entitle you to refunds of certain debit card and credit card processing errors and overcharges. See this post to find out if your were among the businesses affected and to learn how you can get your money back.
A DBA of Merchant Industry
Launched in May 2017, Swipe4Free is a merchant account provider that specializes in “cash discount” pricing. The company is a DBA of Merchant Industry, a New York-based credit card processor that has been in business since 2007. Like other cash discount payment processors, Swipe4Free enables merchants to pass the costs of accepting credit cards directly to customers by adding a 4% per-transaction surcharge to all non-cash purchases. The company claims that this eliminates credit card processing fees for its merchants, which would make it one of the cheapest merchant account providers in the industry.
Headquartered in New York
Swipe4Free is a reseller of TSYS and First Data‘s products and is a registered ISO of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Walnut Creek, California, and of Esquire Bank N.A., Jericho, New York. The company is headquartered at 3636 33rd Street Suite 306 Long Island City, New York 11106, which is an address that it shares with Merchant Industry. Leo Vartanov is the CEO of Merchant Industry but is not publicly listed as the CEO of Swipe4Free. The COO of Swipe4Free, Chris Benabu, is also the CEO of Merchant Industry.
Swipe4Free Review Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Swipe4Free offers a long-term contract with cash discount pricing and an early termination fee of $750 or more.
- Complaints & Service: Swipe4Free has received fewer than 10 public complaints.
- BBB Rating: Swipe4Free currently has an “A+” rating and has received 39 complaints and 12 reviews in the last 3 years. The company has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2015.
- Sales & Marketing: Swipe4Free hires independent sales agents and has received some complaints about its sales practices.
- Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With Swipe4Free
Types of Businesses Served
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Swipe4Free Rates, Fees, and Costs
|Early Termination Fee||$750+|
|PCI Non-Compliance Fee||$19.95|
|PCI Compliance Fee||$119.99 Per Year|
|Equipment Lease Cost||$30 Per Month|
|Equipment Lease Terms||48 Month (locked)|
Swipe4Free’s Full Pricing
The standard Swipe4Free contract is an agreement of undetermined length with a monthly fee of $49.99, an annual PCI compliance fee of $119.99, a PCI non-compliance fee of $19.95 per month, and an early termination fee of $750 or liquidated damages, whichever is greater. Merchants have also reported that the company will lease credit card terminals for $30 per month, and these leasing agreements are non-cancellable, four-year terms. Swipe4Free’s per-transaction pricing will be covered in greater detail below.
Swipe4Free’s Cancellation Policy
Swipe4Free’s termination fee is very large for the industry, and it has the potential to balloon into much more than merchants are expecting to pay. Here is the exact language from the Swipe4Free merchant agreement:
In the event that MERCHANT terminates this Agreement MERCHANT shall be liable to pay to ISO an EARLY TERMINATION FEE. The EARLY TERMINATION FEE shall be equivalent to the greater of (a) $750; or (b) number of whole months remaining in the TERM hereof at the time of termination multiplied by the amount of FEES paid or payable by the MERCHANT during the month preceding that during which this AGREEMENT was terminated.
Merchant Industry is known to have a similar fee, and merchants have reported frustration over having to pay it. If you are planning to cancel your contract with Swipe4Free, we recommend taking steps to cancel your merchant account without paying a fee.
Swipe4Free’s Per-Transaction Pricing
Swipe4Free’s pricing plan has technically been legal for at least a decade, but it has attracted new interest from merchants as merchant account providers have found savvy ways to market it. Essentially, Swipe4Free provides its merchants with credit card processing equipment that automatically adds a 4% “service fee” to all products in the merchant’s store. This means that any customer who pays with a credit or debit card will be charged an additional 4% on their purchase. This service fee is plainly disclosed on the receipt. Customers who pay with cash will not be charged the service fee. The 4% fee is collected by Swipe4Free in place of conventional per-transaction fees, which saves the merchant the full cost of per-transaction fees.
Some Good, Some Bad
At first glance, passing your costs on to your customers seems like a great way to avoid worrying about transaction fees. We feel that Swipe4Free does provide some value by offering that as a pricing option. However, the company’s PCI compliance costs, early termination fee, and equipment lease policies are average or worse-than-average for the industry. Moreover, the switch to a cash discount plan requires a major shift in how you conduct business. Your customers may balk at paying an extra 4% that isn’t being charged by your competitors, and it will be up to you to sell them on this idea. This type of change should only be made if you know that you will save massive amounts of money without losing business in the long run, which is unfortunately not a guarantee. The company’s massive termination fee makes it hard to experiment with this pricing plan because you can’t cancel for free if it doesn’t work. In short, there are some good reasons to steer clear of Swipe4Free’s contract terms at this time.Are you happy with your Swipe4Free fees? Tell us about them before your go!
Swipe4Free Complaints & Customer Reviews
|Total Online Complaints||<10|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||N/A|
We are currently able to locate only a few negative Swipe4Free reviews, none of which accuse the company of being a scam or a ripoff. The available complaints describe higher-than-expected rates, undisclosed equipment lease costs, poor customer service, and difficulty cancelling service. These are similar to the much larger body of Merchant Industry complaints that have been publicly filed. There is also a large volume of unverified positive Swipe4Free testimonials posted online, but we have not factored these into our rating due to their unknown origin.
We have not found any outstanding class-action lawsuits or FTC complaints filed against Swipe4Free. Dissatisfied merchants who wish to pursue a non-litigious course of action against the company should consider reporting it to the relevant supervisory organizations.
Swipe4Free Customer Support Options
Swipe4Free offers direct phone and email support, although it is possible that some of these lines are serviced by Merchant Industry. It’s a good sign that the company offers live support, but the few complaints that Swipe4Free has amassed in a short period of time are enough to prevent it from being considered a top merchant account for great customer service at this time.
Swipe4Free BBB Rating Summary
Key Points - BBB
|Product & Service Complaints||17|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||22|
|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.
Over 30 Complaints
The Better Business Bureau currently groups Swipe4Free’s BBB profile with Merchant Industry’s profile. The combined organization has an “A+” rating and has been BBB-accredited since May 2015. It has received 38 complaints in the past 36 months, with 17 related to product or service problems and 22 due to billing or collection disputes. The company has successfully resolved 13 of these complaints to the merchant’s satisfaction, while 26 either were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or received no response from the merchant.
What Merchants Say
Swipe4Free has also received 12 informal reviews from merchants, 4 of which were positive and 8 of which were negative in tone. The most recent negative review cites unauthorized withdrawals:
This company is a complete sham. Do not trust your credit card processing with them and make sure you understand their practices. I was told by the salesman that I could cancel without any fees if the service proved not to be suitable for my business. I tried them out for about a year and half and decided it wasn’t a good match for my business. I cancelled and the next day they took an unauthorized withdrawal from my bank of $2500. I was told, the only way to get a refund was to agree to not cancel and pay the monthly fees until the end of the contract which I did. The contract was up last week and I called to let them know I was not RENEWING. They took another unauthorized withdrawal from my bank over this weekend of $2500. This is an unscrupulous, predatory, unprofessional company. I will be reporting them to the appropriate agencies. Be warned. Also, when you check out the abysmal reviews from other companies they have scammed the response from Bradhy Guerrero, the Account Manager is a canned, form letter and in no way addresses the consumers concerns. Tells you a lot about the character and professionalism of the people you’re dealing with when they address REAL and SIGNIFICANT customer service complaints with a canned, copy and paste response. Please note, if you are using Quickbooks online, the gateway processor that Merchant Services uses, epn network, has an app that Merchant Services sold to me, THAT DOES NOT WORK OR SYNC WITH QUICKBOOKS ONLINE. When I contacted epn network they told me that Merchant Services was responsible for supporting and providing training for customers who were migrating from QBs desktop to QBs online. Merchant Services had no idea, or even basic understanding of the app and how it needed to integrate with QBs for credit card processing. This was just another in a long list of mis-cues, misinformation and abysmal customer service I have experienced with this company.
Merchants experiencing instances of fraud should report merchants to the relevant supervisory organizations.
A “B” Performance Overall
The fact that Swipe4Free shares its BBB profile with Merchant Industry makes it difficult to separate complaints about the two businesses. However, this may not be necessary because they both share personnel and a location. We therefore feel that the BBB’s rating should be adjusted to a “B” given Swipe4Free’s complaint total.
Truth In Marketing & Advertising
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||Yes|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
Outside Sales Team
Like Merchant Industry, Swipe4Free utilizes in-house telephone appointment setters and independently contracted outside sales agents to sell its services. This approach has generated a large number of sales complaints for Merchant Industry, with merchants reporting unfulfilled promises, misrepresentation of the agent’s identity, and undisclosed fees. However, we have found only a few Swipe4Free complaints that specifically mention the company’s sales team at this time. These reports describe higher-than-expected fees and undisclosed costs. Swipe4Free’s low sales complaint total may simply be due to the short amount of the time that the company has been active so far.
Swipe4Free Marketing Tactics
The Swipe4Free website goes to great lengths to explain how its cash discount pricing plan works, but it fails to highlight other details of its pricing. For instance, a calculator on the Swipe4Free website shows merchants how much they could save by replacing the current total amount of their monthly merchant statement with Swipe4Free’s $49.99 monthly fee and no other costs. However, this estimate does not factor in the company’s $119.99 annual PCI compliance fee, inactivity fees, equipment lease costs, or the company’s $0.10 per-transaction fee for EBT payments.
A “B” For Now
Swipe4Free’s affiliation with Merchant Industry, its organizational approach to sales, and the advertising language on its website are enough to lower its grade slightly in this section. However, the lack of merchant complaints that directly mention the company’s sales team has kept it at a “B” rating for now. If you suspect that Swipe4Free is charging you undisclosed fees, we recommend seeking a free third-party statement audit.
Swipe4Free Marketing Example
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 and Merchant Account Services
I'm a former credit card processing sales director who left the industry because I didn't like how it takes advantage of small business owners. It feeds like a leech on businesses and thrives by imposing fees that are nearly impossible to comprehend. Seeing a need for change, I left and built this website help business owners better understand the industry, research merchant services providers, and get refunds of excessive merchant account fees. My experience of working "behind the curtain" in the industry, and using that knowledge for good, has resulted in millions of dollars returned to hard-working small business owners as well as enterprise-level companies.
From the time that I starting working in the merchant services industry to when I left to create this website, I've been on the pulse of payments for nearly 15 years. It didn't seem fair to keep this "insider" knowledge to myself. To lift the fog, 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 on this website.