Trinity Merchant Group Review

Overview

Trinity Merchant Group (TMG – trinitymerchantgroup.com) is a merchant account provider based in Fort Worth, Texas. It appears that Trinity Merchant Group is either a sub-ISO or a subsidiary of First American Payment Systems, a company with a long list of similar aliases. Like other members of the First American network of companies, Trinity appears to offer merchants equipment leases with Merimac Capital, which may simply be the equipment leasing arm of First American Payment Systems. Trinity Merchant Group is a registered ISO/MSP of Fifth Third Bank, Cincinnati, Ohio. Clay Farrell is listed as the owner of Trinity Merchant Group. Nathan Randel has also been listed as the owner of Trinity Merchant Group, but his public profiles now state that he is a managing partner at Clientvine, LLC. Clientvine appears to be a software company that sells sales lead management software for ISOs and independent agents, but it is headquartered at the same location as Trinity Merchant Group. Therefore, the two entities may simply be one and the same.

Key Points

  • Sales & Marketing: Trinity Merchant Group appears to hire independent sales agents and has received a low-to-moderate number of complaints about its sales practices.
  • Costs & Contract: Trinity Merchant Group appears to offer a three-year contract through First American Payment Systems with a Liquidated Damages-style early termination fee.
  • Complaints & Service: Trinity Merchant Group has received more than 15 public complaints.
  • BBB Rating: Trinity Merchant Group has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has received two complaints in the past three years.
  • Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With Trinity Merchant Group

Trinity Merchant Group Products and Services

  • Debit and credit card processing
  • Check acceptance
  • Online payment gateway
  • Web hosting
  • Gift and loyalty programs
  • POS equipment

Industries

  • Retail
  • Mobile
  • E-commerce
  • Non-profit

Response from Trinity Merchant Group

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c

Sales & Marketing

Key Points - Sales & Marketing

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

Trinity Merchant Group appears to utilize independent sales agents and telemarketing to market its services. This is a common practice within the industry that can often result in an unregulated or untrained sales team. In the comment section of the First American Payment Systems review on our website, two merchants report encounters with TMG agents who failed to fully disclose undesirable terms at the point of signing and did not adequately follow up on agreements they had previously made. There are also report from merchants in the comment section of this review regarding nondisclosure of contract terms, but at least one merchant has retracted his complaint following a good faith effort by TMG.

Unfortunately, these complaints are typical of companies that hire independent sales agents, but this sales strategy appears to be the method of choice among companies within the First American Payment Systems corporate family. Trinity Merchant Group enjoys a lower complaint total than its counterparts, but its approach does not appear to differ in any appreciable way. We have therefore assigned it a “C” rating.

Response from Trinity Merchant Group

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Trinity Merchant Group Marketing Example

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Costs & Contract

Key Points - Costs & Contract

Swiped Rate Variable
Keyed-in Rate Variable
Early Termination Fee $495+
PCI Compliance Fee $124.75 Per Year
Equipment Lease Terms 48 Months, Non-Cancellable

TMG appears to offer a standard contract of three years that automatically renews for a one-year term after its expiration date. There are numerous reports of an early termination fee of $495, which is higher than average but may vary from agent to agent. Additionally, the Better Business Bureau report for TMG has previously shown language from the company’s standard contract that specifies a three-year agreement with automatic renewal after 30 days, a $495 early termination fee, and a liquidated damages clause. A liquidated damages clause can inflate a merchant’s cancellation fees to a significant and unpredictable degree, and merchants are advised to never sign a contract that includes such a clause. One complaint filed with the BBB previously mentioned an early termination fee of over $20,000. There are also reports of a statement fee, an annual PCI compliance fee of $124.75,  and other annual fees of $150 in addition to transaction rates that are not especially competitive. A company representative has stated that merchants on a standard pricing plan will pay either a $25 monthly minimum fee or a $90 annual fee, but not both.

At the time of our previous update, TMG’s website was advertising a service called “TMG Flat” that promised one flat monthly rate and no hidden fees, but this service is no longer mentioned on the company’s site. A TMG representative confirmed that merchants on the TMG Flat plan will pay a recurring annual fee of $124.75 for PCI Compliance, but will not face fees for PCI non-compliance. It is also worth noting that some TMG clients are reporting that their contracts bear the name “Merimac Capital,” although it is more likely that these are simply the equipment lease portions of their contracts.

Response from Trinity Merchant Group

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b

Complaints & Service

Key Points - Complaints & Service

Total Online Complaints 15+
Live Customer Support Yes
Most Common Complaint Undisclosed Terms

TMG is showing only five complaints on our site and roughly twice that amount on other non-BBB consumer protection sites. Despite this low complaint total, we are not inclined to make a favorable assumption about TMG’s customer support track record. Most complaints filed publicly against the company cite some difficulty reaching a company representative. The company’s website provides a dedicated support number and an email address, but it is possible that another member of the First American network of companies, including First American itself, is responsible for providing TMG’s customer support. None of these companies are rated favorably in the customer service category on our site. We therefore award TMG a “B” in this category in consideration of its low complaint total and the nature of the available complaints.

Response from Trinity Merchant Group

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a

BBB

Key Points - BBB

Product & Service Complaints 1
Billing & Collection Complaints 1
Advertising & Sales Complaints 0
Guarantee & Warranty Complaints 0
Delivery Complaints 0

As of this review, the BBB awards an “A+” rating to Trinity Merchant Group and does not show accreditation for the company. Trinity has had two complaints filed against it in the last 36 months. One complaint was due to a problem with the product or service and one had to do with billing and collection. Both were resolved to the merchants’ satisfaction. At the time of our previous update, the BBB also included language from the company’s standard contract on its main report page, which indicated that the cancellation fee is a source of confusion for many BBB complainants. This notice has since been removed. Trinity also has one informal negative review. Considering these figures and the company’s time in business, we agree with the BBB’s rating at this time.

Response from Trinity Merchant Group

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Trinity Merchant Group Logo

Trinity Merchant Group Bottom Line

Trinity Merchant Group rates as an average processor according to our standards, which is consistent with the ratings we’ve assigned to other apparent subsidiaries and sub-ISOs of First American Payment Systems. The company can improve its rating by better regulating its independent agents, improving its customer support, and removing undesirable terms from its standard contract. As with any other processor, merchants are advised to carefully examine any contract they are given by TMG.

Phillip Parker is a former merchant services sales agent who believes the industry has been overrun by people who engage in fraud and deception in order to steal from hard working business owners. He created this website to help you avoid the bad players, save money on fees, and to get peace of mind with your merchant account. If you would like to help support his work, learn more about our cost reduction service. We can evaluate your statement, tell you exactly how much you're overpaying, and then help you dramatically reduce your fees with your current credit card processor. Looking to switch instead? See our list of the best merchant account providers.

Schedule a Consultation with Phillip

10 Reviews Leave Your Review for Trinity Merchant Group Below

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  1. Craig says:

    BEWARE of doing business with Trinity Merchant Group. I cancelled our services with the Trinity in the “small window” that you have, had all the paperwork to show we were done, and sent the equipment back as requested. Thought we were done, but we kept getting billed by Merimac for equipment lease. This is the catch, Trinity has a 3 year contract, Merimac is a 5 year contract. Now I’m getting charged for equipment that is no longer even in my possession. Very underhanded way of doing business

  2. JD says:

    There are lots of hidden fees contract with third party and fine print that was not disclosed by their independent sales representative. I was unaware I was entered into a 5 yr agreement with a merchant called Merimac for equipment lease and a 3 year contract with automatic renewal without a written cancellation notice. I question the legality of the auto renewal into a new contract once the old contract is up or get hit with a $495 fee for early termination. This is bad business and very deceptive. I fulfill my 3 year contract and the window to auto renewal is small especially you have many other things to about running a business to worry about. Now I’m stuck with another year of renewal contract or pay the termination fee. I’m currently not with Trinity but was unaware about this policy. I have never run into a business that does not care to make things right with from the independent sales contractor giving their customers misleading or not disclosing information and to continue to charge fees regardless.

  3. Eliminate hidden fees and mistakes without switching merchant accounts. Get a free statement audit today to see how much you are overpaying.

  4. Jacob Lee says:

    I would not do business with Trinity Merchant Group again. In 2013, we signed up with them because they had amazing rates. The processing was fine and the customer service agents seemed friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. The first problem was the rates. They went up dramatically over the course of 2 years, and we still had a year left in the contract, which worried us. we called up to complain about the ever increasing rates. The person on the line asked if we would like to request a fee review and possibly lower our rates. We said sure, and they did a fee review and did lower our rates, which mollified us. Then in October 2015, they made us buy a new overpriced credit card machine to meet the EMV compliance. After we got it, we tried to use the machine with the chipped credit cards. It didn’t work. We called up Trinity and they told us they didn’t have the new programming or software yet to use in the machines to accept the chipped cards. So why did we have to get the new machine? They never did get the software for the machine as far as I know. We decided to cancel at the end of our 3 year contract instead of renewing. Four months before our contract terminated, we called and asked what date we needed to cancel by. The representative told us we had 2 years left on the contract. We were incredulous. They said that we had requested a fee review, and anytime a fee review was requested, you automatically got a 2 year contract extension! No one ever told us that! The rep said to read the contract, and sure enough. In the 16 page contract made of 8 point print, the 3 lines dealing with fee reduction and contract extension were squirreled away on page 5, section 27, paragraph 5. We were very upset and Trinity would not listen to our “no one told us” complaint, so we decided to pay the $499 fee to terminate our contract early. They said we still needed to cancel in writing, so we put in writing that we were canceling services the following week, so we would have time to find a new merchant processing company. They charged us the $499 immediately and canceled us the next day. We called them and they said they would fix it as soon as possible, but it took 2 days to get us back online, which was very stressful. I would NOT recommend any other merchants use Trinity.

  5. Kason Wang says:

    After my 3 year-contract expired, I decided to switch to Sam’s Club Merchant Service for much lower rate and no annual fee. When i called the Trinity customer service dept to cancel today, I was told that there is a 90-day advance notice before contract ending date in January, and must be IN WRITING to cancel, and only a 90-day window out of a year to do so, otherwise will be penalized $495 just to cancel this agreement now, otherwise it is automatically renewed for another year with $90 annual fee and $50 monthly fee continuously being charged to my account until I see anther 90-day window to cancel next year.
    In other words, even after the initial contract expires, not only I don’t have the freedom to cancel it any time, but also I have only a 90-day window out of a year to HAND WRITE a letter to them to cancel, or will be penalized. The small fine print of this obvious extra revenue on the original contract is very very deceptive and unfair. I am not even sure if this is legal since the sales person told me I can cancel anytime after 3 years without penalty and pretty much just flip through the contract ask me to sign. Very high pressure sale at the time.
    I feel victimized by this company and now have to pay $495 to cancel the contract or wait for 10 months to cancel at $50 a month extra cost.
    Not sure if Trinity will make it right, this is unfair business with deceptive small fine print on contract of large penalty. Beware!

  6. Eliminate hidden fees and mistakes without switching merchant accounts. Get a free statement audit today to see how much you are overpaying.

  7. Paul Lyons says:

    I changed credit card services a year ago and waited until my service was good and expired. Upon contacting the service provider ” Trinity Merchant Group” to discontinue my service I learned that in the fine print I authorized an automatic renewal for the term of one year if I did not cancel my service within 90 days prior to the end of my contract. I do recall in a phone conversation last year that I was told that my contract ended at the end of August 2014. This was clearly an intentional deception on the part of the employee of the service provider to see the contract renewed for an additional year. This was very deceptive on the part of the service provider furthermore it lends to reason that if a customer wants to terminate after the contract has ended it should be within their right to do so and not be subject to an auto renewal that was not explained at the signing of the contract and was hidden in the fine print. “again more deceptive trade” I will be conducting further research to determine the legality of this “auto renewal” and ask for your assistance on this matter as well.

    1. Paul Lyons says:

      Due to Trinity Merchant Group’s good faith efforts I would like to retract my previous critical post of their business practices.

  8. Phillip,

    Hey man, I wanted to introduce myself to you. I am one of the two managing partners of Trinity Merchant Group. I recently discovered this site and I want to commend you for you efforts to provide information to merchants so that they don’t make mistakes in selecting their provider.

    In reading your synopsis of my company, I am very troubled by your research into how we do things. The most glaring mistake that you have made is assuming that for the past 7 years that we have been in business, we have been promising our merchants a “flat rate” with one line item. The reality of the situation is that we started the flat rate program back in August because we didn’t want to be associated with all an industry that bills their customers a thousand line items in a statement and hides fees left and right. Have a flat rate program does so much for the merchant. It reduces the time that they spend reconciling their statements and it also provides an added layer of accountability that we are charging exactly what we said we are going to charge.

    You also talk about how we charge monthly for PCI Compliance as well as an annual PCI Compliance fee. That is completely untrue. We charge a one-time annual fee of $124.75 precisely 90 days from the time that their account is activated. Nothing else. Ever.

    I’m sure that there are other items on your site that you have stated that I probably disagree with but these are two factual statements in which there is no room for interpretation on. Please remove them immediately. I know it’s not hard for you to do that.

    Today, your site is on page one of google search results for my company. Like I said at the beginning, I have no problem with your site as a whole, as long as it’s accurate. I think what you are doing has very admirable intentions but your research is very wreckless and distructive to our sales efforts.

    Phillip, you and I would probably get along great as both colleagues and friends because anyone that looks out for others is a guy I want to be associated with. Unfortunately, we are communicating under these circumstances and so we will probably never have that chance.

    Please respond to let me know that you have received this and please provide any feedback you feel is necessary.

    Best Regards,

    Nathan Randel

    1. Phillip Parker says:

      Hi Nathan,

      Thank you for the comment. To address your concerns:

      • Nowhere in the review do we state that you have been marketing a flat rate pricing model for seven years. You mentioned that this pricing began in August of 2013, which also happens to be when we published the review.
      • Your “annual fee” of $124.75 sounds like a PCI Compliance fee under a guise of another name. Why do you charge such an expensive annual fee and to what does it apply? Also, what is a “one-time annual fee”? Your statement implies that it is charged once per year, not once over the life of the account.
      • You state that our review is inaccurate but you have not supplied any evidence to the contrary. Our review only summarizes what others have reported about Trinity Merchant Group, which is entirely accurate.

      We update our reviews as often as possible (usually every eight to twelve months). So long as you are providing great service to your merchant customers and maintaining merchant friendly policies, your score will improve. If you are willing to supply us with your standard merchant account contract, that can also help us determine if your rating should increase.

      1. Phillip,

        You are correct in that you do not explicitly state that we have been marketing a flat rate program for 7 years, however the way in which it is worded implies just that. You are telling merchants to be skeptical of what we are marketing on the front page of our website and delivering on consistently. The customers that we have on the flat rate program absolutely rave about it. It’s simple and easy to reconcile. It raises the level of trust that we have with our customers.

        Secondly, we have two types of pricing structures for merchants. Traditionally priced merchants have a monthly minimum of $25 OR a $95 annual fee. Those two options DO NOT apply to our new TMG flat program.

        On the topic of PCI Compliance: I see your confusion with the way that I worded it. Let me clarify. We charge a one-time fee of $124.75, 90 days after an account is approved for a merchant account and then the same $124.75 is charged on the anniversary date every year after that. That is not expensive when you take into account that we DO NOT charge for non-compliance like so many other companies charge. I see competitors statements all the time where the merchant is getting charged a $19.95 non-compliance fee every month on top of an annual PCI fee of $50-$75.

        Obviously you and I both know that not everything that you read on the internet is “entirely accurate” as you stated in your reply to me. Unfortunately, there are customers that are unhappy about certain circumstances and are going to complain no matter how hard we try to please them. In no way am I claiming a perfect record. We are certainly human and make human mistakes. We always respond quickly to correct the issue and if it is a personnel issue, we address that as well. Remember that when your organization makes claims like this that are based on internet chatter (by your own admission), you are hurting the efforts of many hard working people with the highest levels of integrity that are trying to provide for their families. If I’m making it too personal, I apologize. I am just very passionate about our people and our company and what we are trying to build. We have big plans for the organization and are trying to get better every day and a site like yours, although well-intentioned, has unfairly labeled every one of our representatives as someone to be skeptical about.

        One thing that you have not discussed is how our organization supports noble causes like World Vision and also a local food bank here in the DFW area. The support that we provide to those organizations comes from the revenue that we generate from customers. It’s our way of giving back to both the local community as well as to those who are less fortunate than we are in other parts of the world.

        Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you take it to heart. If I can provide anything to help you review our account, please let me know and I am happy to assist you.

        Best Regards,

        Nathan Randel

        1. Phillip Parker says:

          Hi Nathan,

          To be clear, I did not state that what others are saying about Trinity Merchant Group is “entirely accurate.” I said that our summation of what others are saying about Trinity Merchant Group is entirely accurate.

          As for our statement about your “Flat Rate” pricing; due to contradictions we found from your marketing claims and that of user reviews, we suggested that merchants inquire about the specific details of the program. There are no statements implying that this program has been around for seven years. Would you not agree that it is wise to inquire about your program if user reviews are conflicting with your marketing materials?

          Although your charitable causes are noble, we do not factor such things into our reviews because they have little to no bearing on a merchant’s actual experience with a merchant services provider.

          If you would like to provide us with your standard merchant account agreements, this will help with assessing your company.

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