Total Merchant Services Overview
A Global Payment Affiliate
Total Merchant Services is a mid-size merchant account provider that appears to have entered the credit card processing industry in 1996. Although Total Merchant Services serves its merchant customers directly, the company uses Global Payments for its actual card processing services. In May 2017, Total Merchant Services was fully acquired by North American Bancard. Total Merchant Services also offers point-of-sale hardware and software under the name Groovv.
Total Merchant Services Location and Ownership
The company is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Concord, California, with corporate headquarters located at 21650 Oxnard St Ste 1200, Woodland Hills, California 91367-7814. Joe Kaplan is the CEO of Total Merchant Services.
Total Merchant Services Review Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Total Merchant Services appears to offer a three-year contract through Global Payments that includes an early termination fee of $295.
- Complaints & Service: Total Merchant Services has received more than 100 public complaints.
- BBB Rating: Total Merchant Services has an “A+” rating and has received 97 complaints and 22 reviews in the last 3 years. The company has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2013.
- Sales & Marketing: Total Merchant Services hires independent sales agents and has received a moderate-to-high number of complaints about its sales practices.
- Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With Total Merchant Services
Types of Businesses Served
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Total Merchant Services Rates, Fees, and Costs
|Swiped Rate||1.00% - 4.99%|
|Keyed-in Rate||1.00% - 4.99%|
|Virtual Terminal Rate||1.00% - 4.99%|
|Payment Gateway Fee||Undisclosed|
|Early Termination Fee||$295|
|PCI Compliance Fee||Up to $95 Per Year|
|Equipment Lease Terms||48 Month (locked)|
According to available documentation and numerous online complaints, the standard Total Merchant Services contract is an automatically renewing three-year agreement through Global Payments that includes a $295 early termination fee at the agent’s discretion. This document mentions an annual fee of $75 among others.
Merchants also report varying PCI compliance fees off and other undisclosed fees and many complaints mention costly equipment leases with high termination fees. Although the company’s merchant account terms are basically unchanged Global Payments contracts, the added cost of leasing terminals and other equipment through the company appears to be the more distressing factor for merchants.
Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing
In addition to its storefront payment processing services, Total Merchant Services also dedicates a portion of its website that advertises its virtual terminal and payment gateway services. The company’s merchant agreement mentions some particulars of affecting its e-commerce rates and fees, such as a $0.25 batch fee. However, pricing on either of those services is not disclosed. Additional rates and fees, including gateway fees, technical support fees, and additional transaction rates typically apply to these e-commerce services.
Early Termination Fee Disputes
There is some confusion among the company’s own agents about whether it enforces a termination fee. On this and other consumer protection websites, sources have issued rebuttals to merchant complaints either insisting that there is no early termination fee in the Total Merchant Services contract or claiming that they were told during training that no such fee existed. The current consensus appears to be that the $295 termination fee is no longer standard, but that agents can either include it or not include it as they like.
Merchants are advised to carefully scan the trickiest parts of their contracts for any mention of a cancellation penalty of any amount. We have recently seen complaints that cite an early termination fee of $399, so it seems that such a fee still applies in some cases. The number of complaints related to the company’s pricing has lowered the company’s score in this section to a “C.”Are you happy with your Total Merchant Services fees? Tell us about them before your go!
Total Merchant Services Complaints & Customer Reviews
|Total Online Complaints||100+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Hidden Fees|
Moderate Complaint Total
There are over 100 Total Merchant Services complaints on this and other consumer protection websites, many of which accuse the company of being a scam or a ripoff. Consistent themes include deceptive sales tactics, difficulty cancelling accounts, poor customer service, and withholding of funds. Most of these complaints appear to be the result of conduct on the part of sales agents at the point of signing rather than rude or unhelpful customer service, but it is our belief that an effective customer service team resolves complaints before they are taken to public forums.
Total Merchant Services Lawsuits
In November of 2018, a U.S. District Court Judge approved a $7.5 million settlement resolving Naiman v. Total Merchant Services Inc.,Case No. 4:17-cv-03806, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, a class action lawsuit against the company. The suit alleged that Total Merchant Services partnered with Quality Merchant Services, Inc. to create a telemarketing scheme. Telephone numbers included in the automatic dialer database were purchased from an unknown source, violating the privacy of the individuals whose data was part of that transaction in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Total Merchant Services Customer Support Options
It is unclear at this time whether Total Merchant Services employs an in-house support staff or outsources its customer support to North American Bancard/Global Payments, but its website lists dedicated phone numbers and email addresses for merchant support. Despite these channels, the company does not currently rank among our top-rated payment processors for great customer service.
Total Merchant Services BBB Rating Summary
Key Points - BBB
|Product & Service Complaints||40|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||31|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||9|
|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.
Moderate Yet Declining Complaint Total
The Better Business Bureau currently awards Total Merchant Services accreditation and an “A+” rating. The company has received 81 complaints in the past 36 months. At the time of our last review, the company tallied 97 complaints in all. 40 are due to problems with the product or service, 31 are attributed to billing or collection, 9 have to do with advertising or sales issues, and 1 relates to a delivery issue. Total Merchant Services has resolved 18 of these complaints to the merchant’s satisfaction, while the remaining 63 were answered but have not received a final response from the merchant.
What Merchants Say
Total Merchant Services has also received 1 positive informal review and 22 negative informal reviews to its BBB profile. The most recent review describes difficulty resolving issues through customer service:
These people are the worse. They have been charging me for a lease on a new equipment since May (That’s 8 months) the amount of 68 dollars and change every month; and I have not received any equipment yet. When I ask to costumer service they don’y have a good explanation to convince me of the rightful of the charges. At this point, I’m going to contact my lawyer to resolve this. I do not recommend this company at all and I am giving one star because it is the lowest you can give, but they do not deserve any. BAD COMPANY.
Merchants review their options for companies with a reputation for excellent customer service to be able to resolve issues like these.
A “C” Performance
Given the number of complaints on Total’s BBB profile and the company’s resolution ratio, we have adjusted the BBB’s grade to a “C” for the purposes of this review.
Truth In Marketing & Advertising
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
Outside Sales Team
Total Merchant Services appears to employ independent sales agents and sub-ISOs to market its services. This hiring practice is common within the industry, and it is usually a major source of merchant frustration. In this case, we are currently able to locate over 50 negative Total Merchant Services reviews that describe deceptive sales strategies by sales agents across the country. The overwhelming majority of these complaints describe nondisclosure of terms, particularly with regard to early termination fees and equipment leases, and misrepresentation of rates or sudden changes in rates after signing up for the service.
Total Merchant Services Agent Bonuses
At the time of a previous update, Total Merchant Services was advertising a $100,000 progressive signing bonus for new sales partners. This bonus offered $100 per new account on top of the company’s existing bonus structure. Total Merchant Services stated that partners can “Earn up to an Extra $100,000 in Your First 90 Days,” but it wasn’t clear how many new accounts the sales partner would have to open in order to reach that amount. Under any circumstances, this seems to be an unrealistically lucrative promotion. If it pays marginally more than $100 per new account, then it’s possible that sales agents would need to open nearly 1,000 new accounts in 90 days to take full advantage of the bonus. But if the program is frequently paying out $100,000 to new partners on top of existing bonus structures, then it’s likely that the added revenue is coming in the form of lopsided contracts with merchants. If you suspect that you have been tricked into an unfavorable contract by a Total Merchant Services sales agent, you can double-check your pricing with a third-party statement audit.
Total Merchant Services 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.