Total Merchant Services (totalmerchantservices.com) 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. Total Merchant Services offers point-of-sale hardware and software under the name “Groovv.” The company is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Walnut Creek, California, with corporate headquarters located at 21650 Oxnard St Ste 1200, Woodland Hills, California 91367-7814. Joe Kaplan is listed as the CEO of Total Merchant Services.
- Sales & Marketing: Total Merchant Services hires independent sales agents and has received a moderate-to-high number of complaints about its sales practices.
- Costs & Contract: Total Merchant Services appears to offer a three-year contract through Global Payments that may or may not include 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 with the Better Business Bureau and has received 232 complaints in the last three years.
- Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With Total Merchant Services
Sales & Marketing
Key Points - Sales & Marketing
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
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.
At the time of our last 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. In other words, sales agents and merchants should both be wary of this new promotion for different reasons.
Costs & Contract
Key Points - Costs & Contract
|Early Termination Fee||$295+ Or None|
|PCI Compliance Fee||Variable|
|Equipment Lease Terms||Variable|
According to documentation available below and numerous online complaints, the standard Total Merchant Services contract is an automatically renewing three-year agreement through Global Payments that may or may not include a $295 early termination fee at the agent’s discretion. Merchants also report varying PCI compliance fees 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.
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 read 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.” See the Total Merchant Services Merchant Agreement.
Complaints & Service
Key Points - Complaints & Service
|Total Online Complaints||100+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Hidden Fees|
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. It is unclear at this time whether Total Merchant Services employs an in-house support staff or outsources its customer support to Global Payments, but its website lists dedicated phone numbers for merchant support.
Key Points - BBB
|Product & Service Complaints||74|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||94|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||63|
|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.
The Better Business Bureau currently awards Total Merchant Services accreditation and an “A+” rating. The company has received 232 complaints in the past three years. Seventy-four are due to problems with the product or service, 94 are attributed to billing or collection, and 63 have to do with advertising or sales issues. Total Merchant Services has resolved 68 of these complaints to the merchant’s satisfaction, while the remaining 164 either were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or did not receive a final response from the merchant.
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.
About Phillip Parker
Hi, I’m Phillip Parker and I believe that the merchant account industry has been overrun by people who engage in fraud and deception in order to steal from hard working business owners. I created this website to help you avoid the bad players, save money on fees, and get peace of mind with your merchant account. If you would like to help support my work, check out my cost analysis service. I can evaluate your statement and tell you exactly how much you're overpaying for your merchant account. Get more information here.Schedule a Consultation with Phillip
Related: Phillip’s Top All-Purpose Merchant Account Picks
Copyright & Disclaimer
Copyright © CardPaymentOptions.com, Inc. (Digital Fingerprint: 0d38c6720f0d78a701b74d58653af608). Getting paid to re-write this page? Click here to earn a reward.
Any unauthorized copying and reproduction of the content of this page, including all meta data and computer code, is strictly prohibited. While the information in the above article is believed to be accurate as of its publish date, the author and publisher make no representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness, or completeness of the contents. The author and publisher shall in no event be held liable to any party for any direct, indirect, punitive, special, incidental or other consequential damages arising directly or indirectly from any use of this material, which is provided “as is,” and without warranties. Any and all use of trade names and/or marks are for identification purposes only and shall not be construed as a claim of affiliation, or otherwise, with CardPaymentOptions.com, Inc. ("CPO") in any form. The sole purpose of the material presented herein is to alert, educate, and inform readers. It is not intended as legal or financial advice.