Founded in 2008, WePay, Inc. (wepay.com) is a merchant account alternative similar to ProPay, Stripe, and PayPal. The company provides an online payment service that primarily serves peer-to-peer money transfers, but can be used by businesses and organizations to collect payments from customers and charity donors (through websites like GoFundMe.com). WePay allows virtually anyone to set up an account to collect payments via ACH bank transfers and credit card. The service has no setup fees, no monthly fees, and no service length requirement.
Recently, WePay has shifted its branding to present itself as more of a white-label payment platform that can be integrated into an existing e-commerce store or utilized as the backend platform for an online marketplace or fundraising system. This makes it less of a peer-to-peer or business-to-consumer service and more of a software solution for payment-oriented businesses and startups. This newly emphasized function does not especially apply to small business owners, so we will not factor it heavily into the review.
WePay collects a fee of 2.9% plus $0.30 for credit card payments and 1% plus $0.30 for bank transfer payments, and it also provides several tools for collecting payments. WePay’s headquarters can be found at 380 Portage Ave, Palo Alto, California, 94306. The company’s CEO is Bill Clerico.
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Sales & Marketing | C+
|Key Points – Sales & Marketing
|Uses independent resellers?
|Promotes deceptive rate quotes?
|Fails to disclose all terms?
WePay appears to primarily use its website to market itself as a peer-to-peer payment processing option. The website quotes two rates: 2.9% + $0.30 for credit card payments or 1% + $0.30 for direct payments from bank accounts. By and large, merchants do not dispute whether these rates are the company’s effective rates. Additionally, the company does not appear to engage in any deceptive advertising strategies in its official materials.
By far the most common complaints about WePay are related to its policies regarding reserves and high-risk businesses. This is a problem that can be characterized as either a sales issue or a service issue. To the extent that this problem is related to sales and marketing, it seems that the company’s application/setup process does not do an adequate job of screening out merchants who will ultimately have their account terminated after they have been allowed to process transactions. We were able to locate numerous WePay reviews by merchants who were told by either the company’s website or one of its representatives that their business type qualified for processing through WePay, only to find out after processing large payments that their accounts had been cancelled and their funds returned to customers. It seems that this common issue could be more easily avoided if the process for signing up for a WePay account were a more thorough and guided one.
For the benefit of merchants, we have included a link to WePay’s “Prohibited Activities” list here (see item 7); if your business type is one of these industries or is similar to one of these industries, be aware that you may be subject to sudden cancellation of your account even after fully completing the account setup process.
WePay Marketing Example
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Costs & Contract | C+
|Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms
|Credit card rate:
||2.9% + $0.30
|Bank transfer rate:
||1.0% + $0.30
|PCI compliance fee:
In addition to its flat processing rates, WePay’s website lists a $15 chargeback fee, which is standard for the industry. The company’s most contentious policies, however, are not clearly listed, and they have to do with reserves and prohibited activities. As a fraud prevention measure, WePay has previously been known to enforce a standard withdrawal limit of $2,500 per business per seven days, with payments above that figure being placed in a rolling 30-day reserve. This means that a merchant who routinely does over $2,500 per week in business might be unable to access more than that amount in any given seven-day span, and it also means that a variable amount beyond the initial $2,500 could be withheld in a reserve for up to 30 days. This policy is no longer mentioned in WePay’s terms and conditions, but the company does reserve the right to impose transaction limits at its discretion.
The amount placed in reserve is based on a number of factors, including “the transaction history in your account as well as the information you provide in your profile, your industry, and how you’re using WePay,” according to language formerly found on the company’s website. Although the withholding of reserves is a common fraud prevention tactic in the industry (Square makes extensive use of a similar policy), WePay does not appear to properly notify merchants that their withdrawal limit is approaching or has been exceeded, and merchants express frustration with an inability to recover the funds they are expecting to receive.
Also, as outlined in the section above, WePay does not appear to aggressively screen out merchants who fall within its “prohibited” industries until well after they have signed up and processed with WePay. It appears to be standard policy for WePay to cancel these accounts without much warning and return payments to customers or donors. This policy, coupled with what appears to be very poor customer service, seems to be leaving merchants out in the cold for engaging in what they thought to be approved transactions.
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Complaints & Service | D
|Key Points – Complaints & Service
|Live customer support?
|Most common complaint:
In the comment section of this review alone, we are currently able to find over 70 WePay complaints, many of which describe the company as a scam or a ripoff. We are also able to find roughly 20 complaints on other consumer protection websites. The common themes among nearly all of these complaints include the company’s reserve policy, its “prohibited activities” policy, and unreachable or unhelpful customer support. Many merchants describe waiting the full 30 days to receive substantial portions of large payments due to a reserve.
While we don’t tend to penalize processors for engaging in what is a common fraud prevention measure, it appears that there is very little warning or communication between WePay and merchants in these cases. Similarly, merchants who have had their accounts cancelled and their pending payments returned seem to only find out about these developments after contacting WePay to ask why they can’t find their money. Merchants commonly express frustration when dealing with WePay customer support, which is available by phone or by live chat, reporting a lack of meaningful assistance and a policy of deflection. A company representative has been very active in responding to many of the complaints in the comment section of this review, but in the majority of cases, it does not appear as if the merchants’ complaints can be resolved to their satisfaction. Generally speaking, most negative WePay reviews do not speak highly of the company’s customer service.
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