Elavon (elavon.com) is one of the largest merchant account providers in the United States. The company was formed from a merger of NOVA Information Systems and euroConex and is part of U.S. Bank’s (U.S. Bancorp’s) payment services division. Elavon is based out of Atlanta, Georgia, and has been in the credit card processing industry since 1991. Simon Haslam is the CEO of Elavon.
Elavon claims to serve over one million merchants worldwide, with a primary focus in North America and Europe. The company’s equipment lease subsidiary, Ladco Leasing, is a major supplier of credit card terminals and other payment processing equipment. Elavon also has its own online payment gateway called InternetSecure and can integrate with other gateways such as Authorize.net. For international businesses, the company offers settlement in 16 currencies and a platform that can provide authorization in 85+ currencies and can convert international credit card purchases into the cardholder’s home currency in 48 different currencies.
Sales & Marketing
Key Points - Sales & Marketing
|Uses Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Promotes Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Provisions||No|
Elavon relies heavily upon resellers, sub-ISOs, independent agents, and partnerships to market and sell its credit card processing services. This marketing strategy is common among large merchant account providers and can often prove harmful to a company’s reputation, as it appears to have done for Elavon. The company has received a large number of complaints related to undisclosed fees and leasing terms.
One of the company’s most notable resellers is the grocer and retailer, Costco. In fact, Costco Merchant Services is often mistaken as its own credit card processing company when it is simply acting as a sales agent of Elavon. Merchants who use Costco Merchant Services often complain that they expected to receive the usual wholesale costs that Costco is known for, and that they were surprised when they encountered Elavon’s industry-standard pricing.
Elavon itself does not appear to use any deceptive advertising or rate quoting tactics on its website. The company has recently added a pricing page that lists specific rate quotes, promising 2.65% plus $0.19 on swiped transactions and 3.5% plus $0.19 on keyed-in payments. These rates seem to apply to both credit card terminals and mobile processing. The company also lists a $10 monthly fee on this page. These rates and fees do not appear to be misleadingly quoted at this time.
Most of Elavon’s accounts are established by resellers who use their own sales and marketing strategies. In a few cases, it is apparent that some of Elavon’s resellers are using misleading tactics based on reports from merchants. The company and its resellers are also notorious for signing merchants up for expensive, non-cancellable equipment leases through Ladco Leasing as part of their merchant services packages. Elavon usually enforces the terms of the lease agreement even when merchants claim that they were deceived by an agent.
Elavon Marketing Example
Costs & Contract
Key Points - Costs & Contract
|Advertised Swipe Rate||2.65% + $0.19|
|Potential Early Termination Fees||Up to $295|
|PCI Compliance Fee||$29 to $59/mo.|
|Equipment Lease Terms||48 mos. / Non-cancellable|
Elavon’s pricing and contracts terms may vary from merchant to merchant based upon processing volumes, business types and risk variables. Not only that, but some Elavon resellers have the flexibility to adjust contract terms, rates, and fees within specific guidelines as set by the company. Elavon also appears to have made a number of changes to its contract terms in the past two years, so merchants are reporting many different rates and fees at this time.
Prior to February 2013, the company’s standard merchant account contract included a three-year service agreement with a $295 early termination fee if cancelled within the first year, or $195 if cancelled within the second or third year. Since February 2013, it appears that Elavon has ceased to include an early termination fee in its standard contract. It is unknown whether this policy change affects contracts signed or renewed under the company’s former terms. Merchants should also keep in mind that resellers may be able to adjust the service agreement to up to five years and add cancellation fees if they desire. Elavon also formerly charged PCI Compliance fees that varied from $59 to $29 per month; however, the company’s recent promises of no more “hidden fees” would seem to indicate that it has abandoned this practice. Elavon’s current monthly fee is listed as $10.
Although Elavon appears to be rebranding itself as a more transparent processor, the company continues to own and operate the equipment lease provider Ladco Leasing, which has a very poor reputation among merchants. The standard Ladco Leasing agreement is an expensive, non-cancellable 48-month equipment lease that often costs up to ten times the actual price of the equipment. Elavon seems to go to great lengths to conceal the relationship between Ladco and Elavon, probably due to the fact that there are very few positive reviews of Ladco to be found online.
Complaints & Service
Key Points - Complaints & Service
|Approximate Online Complaints||300+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Poor customer service|
It is important to keep in mind that Elavon is a huge processor and that the bigger a merchant service company becomes, the more complaints it will have. With that said, Elavon has over 300 complaints in the comment section of this review and over 40 on Ripoff Report, with many more filed against Ladco Leasing. This is an average amount of complaints compared to other processors of its size. Merchants primarily report problems with poor customer support, sudden holds and freezes, unexpected fees, billing disputes, and equipment lease problems. The common theme appears to be that the smaller a merchant’s business is, the harder it is to get problems resolved through Elavon. You can read actual merchant complaints in the comment section at the end of this review.
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Key Points - BBB
|Advertising Sales Complaints||14|
|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.
As of this update, the Better Business Bureau is awarding Elavon an “A+” rating despite the fact that the company has received 169 complaints in the last 36 months. Of the total complaints, 78 are due to billing and collection issues, 76 to problems regarding products and services, 14 to advertising and sales issues, and one is related to a delivery problem. The BBB report states that 47 complaints were resolved but that 122 left the merchant dissatisfied or did not receive a final evaluation from the merchant. We have adjusted the BBB’s rating to a “B-” for the purposes of this review based on how our criteria would have scored Elavon.
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About Phillip Parker
Phillip Parker is a former merchant services agent turned small business advocate and the author of "Fee Sweep," which teaches merchants how to dramatically lower their processing rates, eliminate junk fees, and avoid fine-print scams. He founded CardPaymentOptions.com to help merchants enact positive change in the credit card processing industry. Schedule a Consultation with PhillipSchedule a Consultation with Phillip
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