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Unified Payments 2023: Card Processing Reviews & Complaints
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A subsidiary of Net Element, Inc., Unified Payments is a merchant account provider that specializes in mobile and tablet-based point-of-sale systems. Founded in 2010, the company claims to serve “over 1,000 sales agents, referral partners, and value-added resellers nationwide.”
Unified Payments Point of Sale
Unified Payments offers a large number of point-of-sale solutions, primarily focusing on their own proprietary Unified Payments mobile software. For this, they offer a mobile swiper to go along with their software, which is available for both Apple and Android. They also offer a variety of physical POS systems from Aptito, Restoactive, Clover, Aldelo, Verifone, PAX, and Poynt.
Oleg Firer Allegations
There appears to be some controversy over the business dealings of Oleg Firer, the CEO of Net Element. We previously found a website that was created by someone claiming to be a former business associate of Oleg Firer’s, but which is no longer operational. The site previously claimed the following: that Oleg Firer acquired Unified Payments’ custom POS solution, Aptito, but did not compensate its creator as agreed; that Oleg Firer has artificially manipulated Net Element’s stock value through unfunded acquisitions; that Oleg Firer has previously been charged with grand theft in a private real estate deal; and that a Russia-based subsidiary of Net Element called TOT Money has some sort of connection to Russian organized crime. These accusations are severe in nature, and the accuser seems to have posted them on several websites in an attempt to increase their visibility. We do not know whether these allegations are true or false, but we have independently found the following details that may be relevant to these claims:
- There is evidence that Oleg Firer (here) and Vlad Sadovskiy (here) have faced litigation that accuses them or their companies of defaulting on agreed-upon payments
- There is evidence that at least some investors in Net Element are dissatisfied with Oleg Firer’s leadership or feel that Oleg is a “scam artist”
- There is evidence that Oleg Firer agreed to purchase Aptito for 125,000 shares of Net Element stock
- There is evidence that Net Element has secured a court order prohibiting Gene Zell, the founder of Aptito, from posting any information about Oleg Firer on any website or contacting the company’s business partners and investors
Location & Ownership
Unified Payments is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Walnut Creek, California; Esquire Bank N.A., Garden City, New York; and Synovus Bank, N.A., Columbus, GA. John Perez is listed as CEO and Vlad Sadovskiy is the president of merchant services at Unified Payments, which is headquartered at 3363 NE 163rd Street Suite 606, North Miami Beach, Florida 33160.
Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: Offers a three-year contract with an early termination fee of $750 and…
- Complaints & Service: Has received fewer than 10 public complaints regarding…
- BBB Rating: Has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2017 with an “A+” rating but has received 7 complaints and 2 reviews in the past 3 years in regards to…
- Sales & Marketing: Appears to hire independent sales representatives and has received a few complaints about its…
Unified Payments Customer Reviews
Here's What Their Clients Say
|Total Online Complaints||<10|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||N/A|
Low Complaint Total
We have found only a few negative Unified Payments reviews outside of the Better Business Bureau, and two of these complaints are more focused on accusing Oleg Firer of being a scammer than they are on criticizing Unified Payments’ products. Both complaints appear to have been filed by Gene Zell, the founder of Aptito, and their contents have been addressed in the previous sections of this review. Although the allegations they make are worth noting, they have little bearing on the average merchant’s experience with Unified Payments.
Unified Payments Lawsuits and Fines
In November 2018, we were made aware of the existence of Discover Data LLC, a subsidiary of Unified Payments which claims to be headquartered at the same Florida address as Unified Payments. According to at least one publicly available profile, Albert Takhalov is the vice president of Discover Data, which may simply be a DBA of Unified Payments. In 2013, Albert Takhalov was sentenced to 12 years in prison for “directing a bunch of ‘bar girls’ to seduce and swindle customers at a string of Russian-style lounges” in his role as “a credit-card processor for [the] clubs.” In July 2016, however, the conviction was overturned by an appeals court due to a procedural error by the original judge.
One important detail of the reports surrounding Takhalov’s conviction is that the ringleader of the entire scheme, Alec Simchuk, was “an admitted Russian mafioso.” The possibility that the vice president of Discover Data may previously have had direct ties to the Russian mafia should be of interest to merchants and industry observers.
At this time, it is difficult to determine what the facts are in either case. However, merchants should be aware of the allegations that have been made against Unified Payments’ executive leadership team and subsidiaries. These allegations do not describe any issues that would have directly affected merchants, but they do claim that the executives in question have engaged in unethical conduct on multiple occasions and may have criminal ties. If you have any evidence that can either confirm or refute the claims posted about Oleg Firer or Albert Takhalov, please share that information in the comment section below this review.
The various civil and criminal suits filed against the principals of United Payments have been described elsewhere in this review, but we have not found any outstanding class-action lawsuits or FTC complaints filed against the company itself. Dissatisfied merchants who wish to pursue a non-litigious course of action against the company should consider reporting it to the relevant supervisory organizations.
Unreliable Public Reports
The other available complaints describe nondisclosure of fees, fund-holds, improper billing, and difficulty canceling service. They do not point to any single widespread issue with the company, but they do create a net impression that merchants may occasionally encounter unexpected withdrawals or delayed payments when dealing with Unified Payments. In addition, the allegations of falsified testimonials raise the possibility that much of the public feedback about Unified Payments is not trustworthy.
Unified Payments Customer Service Options
Unified Payments offers phone and email customer support contact information on its website. However, these channels are not enough to qualify it as a top-rated merchant account provider for customer service.
We have located a single Unified Payments customer service number:
(877) 621-9110 – Toll-Free Customer Support
The Unified Payments website also features a customer support form and a customer service email at [email protected].
There are enough red flags around the company’s ownership and operations to lower its score in this section to a “C.”
Unified Payments Online Ratings
Here's How They Rate Online
|Product & Service Complaints||1|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||5|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||1|
|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.
Under 10 Complaints
Unified Payments currently has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has been BBB-accredited since August 2017. The company has received 7 complaints in the past 36 months, with 5 related to billing and collection issues, 1 to do with the product or service, and 1 categorized as an advertising or sales issue. Only 2 of these 7 complaints were resolved by the company to the satisfaction of the merchant. The remaining 5 were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or received no final response.
What Merchants Say
Unified Payments has also received 2 informal reviews to its BBB profile, both of which were negative in tone. One negative review makes an accusation of fraud:
If there’s a negative star, I would give them negatice stars. This company is a crook. I had used this company more than 2 years, the first years was fine. We had no contract and they should follow their agreement “Not to increase any fees”. Then, they started to add fees and fees every month after one year. The salesman won’t answer the phone calls when they knew I wanted to discuss the unreasonable fees they added on my accoount. When customers disputed the payment, I did have approved for the payment, they wouldn’t help me out with the dispute and I lost $260. They charged me since the pandemic time started in April – September 2020. I had no income for our small business during the time. I had called them nuremeic times to stop charging my account, but they never stop it. The most irritation is they won’t answer the phone, When they answered my call, I asked for my money back otherwise I would like to cancel my account in July. They did refunded me from April – July in August, then they keep charging me August $65.95 and September $49.95. They finally sent me a cancelation form in September. I signd the cancelation in September, they still wanted me payment September fee. I finally had my bank to dispute August and September payment, then the processing company First Data put us to collection said that I owed them September fee $49.95 plus $100 collection fee. I have not got my August $65 back yet. How fun these crooks are! I am going to file BBB Complaint to against these company. Which includes Payment Club, Unified Payment and First Data.
Given the company’s troubling legal history this review may have merit. Merchants stuck in a similar situation can benefit from reporting suspicious activity to the relevant supervisory organizations.
A “B” Performance Overall
In light of the company’s complaint total and resolution ratio, we have slightly adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “B.”
Unified Payments Fees, Rates & Costs
A Closer Look at The Contract
|Visa/MC/Discover Rate||Interchange + 0.30%|
|American Express Rate||Interchange + 0.50% + $0.10|
|Virtual Terminal Rate||2.90% + $0.20|
|Payment Gateway Fee||Undisclosed|
|Monthly Statement Fee||$2|
|Monthly Minimum Fee||$25|
|Early Termination Fee||$750|
|PCI Non-Compliance Fee||$19.95 Per Month|
|Monthly PCI Compliance Fee||$3.95|
|Annual PCI Compliance Fee||$300|
|Equipment Lease Terms||48 Month (locked)|
According to the standard Unified Payments merchant agreement and the company’s website, Unified Payments typically offers a 3-year contract with automatic renewal for a 1-year term, an early termination fee of $750, an annual PCI compliance fee of up to $300, a monthly minimum fee of $25, a $3.95 monthly compliance fee, a monthly PCI non-compliance fee of $19.95, a monthly statement fee of $2, and a built-in, non-cancellable equipment lease through First Data Global Leasing. The company also charges interchange plus 0.30% on all transactions except American Express, which processes at interchange plus 0.50% plus $0.10.
Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing
In addition to its storefront payment processing services, Unified Payments also dedicates a portion of its website to advertising its virtual terminal and payment gateway services. The company advertises a rate of 2.90% plus $0.20 for online transactions. Additional fees, including gateway fees, technical support fees, batch fees, and additional transaction rates typically apply to these e-commerce services.
Overall, these terms are more expensive than industry averages. A multi-year contract with automatic renewal and a built-in equipment lease is basically an average deal, but the addition of a $750 early termination fee makes the company’s contract unfavorable by our standards. Unified’s per-transaction pricing of interchange plus 0.30% isn’t bad for the industry, but other providers can offer similar pricing without long-term commitments or large recurring fees. There aren’t many merchant complaints that describe dissatisfaction with Unified Payments’ pricing, but the hard numbers have lowered the company’s rating in this category to a “D.” Merchants are more likely to see savings with a top budget merchant account provider. We also encourage merchants to check out our list of the providers of the best merchant accounts.
Unified Payments Employee Reviews & Sales Tacitcs
Should You Work For Them?
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||Yes|
Outside Agents and Resellers
Unified Payments appears to market its services primarily via outside sales agents, independent resellers, and strategic partnerships. It is unclear at this time whether the company’s outside sales agents are independently contracted, W-2, or a mix of both. We have located 2 Unified Payments complaints that accuse the company or one of its resellers of nondisclosure of PCI compliance fees and annual fees, but these complaints appear to be isolated events. This does not compare favorably to our list of best credit card processors.
Fake Review Allegations
On January 30, 2018, a Facebook user name Vy Chantharasy posted the following review on the Unified Payments Facebook page:
Company uses fake paid reviews and paid fan likes. Very decieving practices. Scroll down their reviews and you will see all there reviews come on May 5th, 2017 within a couple of hours from foreign countries. Pretty slick…unethical practices. Exposed & Reported.
A Unified Payments representative responded to the commenter:
Hello, we wanted to take this opportunity to clarify. On May 5th 2017, we ran a marketing ad campaign asking people to like our page and provide us a review, which is why that day we got an above average amount of reviews.
And the commenter had the final word:
Right…I run 2 research and marketing firms. Asking for reviews on services they don’t use from you qualifies as a “Fake Review”. You can’t get reviews from people that’s never used your service. Comon’. And half the review are not even in the U.S. We reached out to 50 of reviewers to get the real story…in a specific timeframe…only 2 actually used Unified. Did you want us to post the responses here?
The commenter ultimately did not post their proof in this thread, but the overall conversation does suggest that Unified was caught manufacturing positive reviews. Merchants are therefore cautioned to regard all glowing testimonials about the company with some skepticism.
Public Contract Disclosure
As a point in the company’s favor, Unified Payments makes its merchant agreement available to the public on its website and appears to utilize interchange-plus pricing, which is the most transparent pricing structure available. Unified Payments appears to utilize a sales approach that is typical of the industry, but it performs at an above-average level in terms of disclosure. If you suspect that Unified Payments is charging you undisclosed fees, we recommend seeking a third-party statement audit to find and eliminate hidden charges.
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