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UPDATE 2/19/2019: TechStorm’s website has been significantly scaled back to a client portal that sells merchant cash advances under the i3 Verticals domain. The company does not appear to be structured as a full-service merchant account provider. We therefore will not update this review for the foreseeable future. See our i3 Verticals review for up-to-date information about this organization.
TechStorm (gotechstorm.com) is a merchant account provider that offers a tablet-based point-of-sale system for the retail and quick-service industries. The company appears to have been founded sometime in 2014 and is headquartered at 15725 North Dallas Parkway Suite 125 Addison, Texas 75001. TechStorm is a registered ISO/MSP of Merrick Bank Corporation, South Jordan, Utah, and its advisory board consists of Jon Frankel, Rony Batagower, Alan S. King, and Phil Taken.
Jon Frankel is the former director of a company called Certified Merchant Services, which reached a $23.5 settlement with the FTC in 2004. Following the FTC litigation and the subsequent sale of Certified Merchant Services, Jon’s brother Craig Frankel (who also was an executive at Certified Merchant Services) released a book and served as the executive producer of a film titled Chasing the Green, which tells the story of “two young brothers who become millionaires during the early 1990s. Their ambition and drive lead them into conflict with FTC officials, where an over-zealous bureaucrat attempts to destroy their company.” The Amazon book description also states that the brothers in the story (the “Franklins”) “were confident and bold, and thus ignored warnings by the government to ‘respond’ to numerous complaints regarding their practices. Ultimately, they were nearly destroyed by the FTC, who sought to demolish their company at the behest of their competitors in the industry.” This version of events—in which two reckless, money-hungry brothers fall victim to unreasonable federal regulators acting at the urging of jealous rivals—suggests a great deal about how Craig Frankel interprets his actions, his brother’s actions, and the FTC’s actions. It’s unclear whether and to what degree Jon Frankel contributed to Chasing the Green, although he is the basis for one of the main characters.
Jon Frankel is also a co-founder of Crescent Processing Company, which has a “D” rating on CPO. He is also the brother of Andrew Frankel, the former CEO of a Plano, Texas-based company called Apex Merchant Group, which reached a $550,000 settlement with the Minnesota Attorney General in March 2015. According to multiple sources, Andrew Frankel is now in charge of a Carrolton, Texas-based company called Certified Payment Processing. We are sharing these facts due to the close proximity of these businesses to one another and the personal history linking their owners. It is unclear as of this review’s publication whether TechStorm is formally affiliated with any of these other businesses.
Chasing the Green Trailer
- Sales & Marketing: TechStorm appears to hire independent sales agents and has received a few complaints about its sales practices.
- Costs & Contract: TechStorm appears to offer a three-year contract with a liquidated damages-style early termination fee.
- Complaints & Service: TechStorm has received more than 10 public complaints.
- BBB Rating: TechStorm has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has received seven complaints in the past three years.
- Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With TechStorm
TechStorm Customer Reviews
Here's What Their Clients Say
|Total Online Complaints||10+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Sales Tactics|
We are currently able to locate more than 10 negative TechStorm reviews, some of which accuse the company of being a scam. Merchant complaints mention rude sales tactics, inaccurate guarantees, nondisclosure of fees, and poor customer support. As noted above, the available employee reviews cite poor working conditions, insufficient training, deceptive sales practices, and a substandard product. TechStorm’s low overall complaint total may be due to its short time in business or its size, so we will continue monitoring the company’s reputation as it grows. The company’s website offers a customer service/tech support line, but it’s unclear whether this line is serviced by TechStorm or if it is available 24/7.
TechStorm Online Ratings
Here's How They Rate Online
|Product & Service Complaints||5|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||1|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||1|
|Guarantee & Warranty Complaints||0|
TechStorm currently has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau and is not showing accreditation at this time. The company has received seven complaints in the past three years, five of which were related to product or service issues, one of which was due to a billing dispute, and one of which was related to advertising or sales. TechStorm resolved four complaints successfully, while the remaining three either were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or did not receive a final response from the merchant. Considering TechStorm’s complaint total and its resolution ratio, we agree with the BBB‘s rating.
TechStorm Fees, Rates & Costs
A Closer Look at The Contract
|Early Termination Fee||Liquidated Damages|
|PCI Compliance Fee||Unknown|
|Equipment Lease Terms||Variable|
The standard TechStorm contract (available below) is a three-year agreement with a liquidated damages early termination fee, a variable monthly account fee, and an unspecified PCI compliance fee. The company’s monthly account fee increases depending on how much hardware a merchant receives from the company, and its early termination fee is calculated by multiplying this monthly fee by the remaining number of months in the contract. This type of termination fee has the potential to be very expensive, and it is the primary factor lowering TechStorm’s grade in this category. Merchants should also note that failure to return all equipment within seven days of account termination will cost them $100-$300 per unreturned item. We are currently able to locate a few TechStorm complaints that mention the company’s contract terms at this time, and the contract itself contains provisions that are highly unfavorable to merchants. See the Techstorm Merchant Service Agreement.
TechStorm Employee Reviews & Sales Tacitcs
Should You Work For Them?
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
TechStorm appears to utilize both in-house outbound marketing and independently contracted sales agents to market its products. The use of independent sales agents is commonly linked to elevated complaint rates in the credit card processing industry, and it is also the preferred model of companies like Apex Merchant Group, Crescent Processing Company, and Certified Payment Processing. We have found a few TechStorm merchant complaints related to the company’s sales practices, and complainants specifically report undisclosed fees and promises about features such as EMV compatibility that were never fulfilled. There are also a few complaints from former employees that mention insufficient training, a substandard product, high turnover, and unethical sales practices. To its credit, TechStorm does not advertise misleading rate quotes or unrealistic guarantees on its website, and it claims to offer interchange-plus pricing to all merchants. These factors in combination have earned it a “B” rating in this section.
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