The Southern Institute Review

The Southern Institute Overview

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Powered by The Steward Group

Founded in June 2017, The Southern Institute is a merchant account provider that serves both standard and high risk businesses. The company is powered by The Steward Group, which is the organization behind two other payment processors named ASAP Merchant Services or ASAP Solutions Consulting and High Risk Merchant Solutions ( The Southern Institute and ASAP Merchant Services list the same contact phone number, which may indicate that they are the same company. The Southern Institute claims to offer CBD merchant accounts, hemp merchant accounts, and cannabis merchant accounts as well as credit card processing for travel, timeshare, continuity, document prep, nutraceuticals, and e-cigarettes.

The Southern Institute Location and Ownership

The Southern Institute is headquartered at 3876 Weller Run Ct, Addison, Texas. However, Carlos Anderson, a managing partner at Steward Group Merchant Processing, lists his location as Aspen, Colorado, while a person named “Jeff Keever” has uploaded some of The Southern Institute’s marketing resources to the internet.

The Southern Institute Review Table of Contents

  • Costs & Contract: The Southern Institute offers variable contract terms depending on each business’s type, location, and processing history.
  • Complaints & Service: The Southern Institute has received fewer than 10 public complaints.
  • BBB Rating: The Southern Institute currently does not have a profile with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Sales & Marketing: The Southern Institute does not appear to hire independent sales agents and has not received any complaints about its sales practices.
  • Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With The Southern Institute
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Products & Services Offered

  • Credit and debit card processing
  • Online payment gateway
  • Chargeback protection
  • Recurring billing

Types of Businesses Served

  • Retail
  • E-commerce
  • High risk
  • CBD
  • Marijuana

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The Southern Institute Rates, Fees, and Costs

Key Points

Swiped Rate 1.00% - 4.99%+
Keyed-In Rate 1.00% - 4.99%+
Early Termination Fee Undisclosed
PCI Compliance Fee Undisclosed
Equipment Lease Terms Undisclosed

Variable Contract Terms

The Southern Institute does not disclose its pricing to the public, and there are no complaints that mention specific rates or fees charged by the company. As a high risk payment processor, it’s likely that the company’s contract terms will vary dramatically depending on each merchant’s business type, location, and processing history. The Southern Institute offers payment processing equipment, but it is possible that this equipment may come with a long-term lease. Merchants are advised to purchase their own equipment whenever possible to avoid getting locked into long-term, non-cancellable equipment leases.

High Risk, High Fees

High risk merchants who sign up with The Southern Institute should expect to pay higher-than-average fees, and they may also be subject to cash reserves on their accounts. This is standard practice within the industry due to the elevated risk of chargebacks that many high risk merchants pose. High risk merchants can reduce their risk of fund holds and chargebacks by being open and transparent with The Southern Institute about their business type and product lineup from the start.

The Southern Institute CBD Pricing

High Risk Merchant Solutions, a partner company of The Southern Institute, has previously offered CBD payment processing with no contract or monthly minimum fee, and it is possible that The Southern Institute offers similar terms. However, given Elavon‘s recent purge of all of its CBD accounts, so The Southern Institute may offer different CBD contract terms at this time.

No Red Flags

We cannot find any The Southern Institute complaints related to the company’s pricing, and there’s no reason to believe that the company’s merchants are dissatisfied with their pricing at this time. It is possible that The Southern Institute offers a wide range of potential contract types, so merchants should understand how to spot undesirable terms in their contract.

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Response from The Southern Institute

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The Southern Institute Complaints & Customer Reviews

Key Points

Total Online Complaints <10
Live Customer Support No
Most Common Complaint N/A

No Public Complaints

We are unable to locate any negative The Southern Institute reviews, which is a good sign that the company isn’t a ripoff or a scam. The Southern Institute has only been active for under three years, but it is a positive sign to see that it has maintained such a clean complaint record. We will interpret this lack of merchant complaints as evidence that the company is operating ethically.

The Southern Institute Lawsuits

We have not found any outstanding class-action lawsuits or FTC complaints filed against The Southern Institute. Dissatisfied merchants who wish to pursue a non-litigious course of action against the company should consider reporting it to the relevant supervisory organizations.

The Southern Institute Customer Support Options

The Southern Institute does not list any customer support contact information on its website. This falls short of the minimum level of service that we expect from top-rated payment processors for great customer service, but it appears to serve the company’s merchants well.

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Response from The Southern Institute

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The Southern Institute BBB Rating Summary

No Profile Available

The Better Business Bureau does not maintain a profile for The Southern Institute at this time. We therefore will not factor a BBB rating into this review.

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Response from The Southern Institute

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Truth In Marketing & Advertising

Key Points

Employs Independent Resellers No
Advertises Deceptive Rates No
Discloses All Important Terms No

Inside Sales Team

The Southern Institute appears to rely on an in-house sales team and referral partners to market its services. Despite the fact that the company may employ independently contracted sales agents, we have not found any The Southern Institute sales complaints that mention deceptive conduct. We will therefore assume for the time being that the company’s sales approach is transparent and ethical.

No Deceptive Rate Quotes

The Southern Institute does not list any misleading rate quotes or unrealistic guarantees in its official marketing materials. If you suspect that a The Southern Institute sales agent has misled you about your rates, you can double-check your monthly bill with a third-party statement audit.

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Response from The Southern Institute

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The Southern Institute Logo

Our Opinion of The Southern Institute

A Solid Option for High Risk Merchants

The Southern Institute rates as a reliable merchant services provider according to our rating criteria. The company enjoys a clean complaint record and is able to serve both standard and high risk merchants. However, merchants should be aware that we have not found detailed information about the company’s pricing and fees. We will continue to monitor the company and update this review as needed. For now, merchants should be sure to compare The Southern Institute’s pricing to that offered by other top-rated high risk payment processors.

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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.

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