Is your Merchant Services Provider ripping you off?

Is YOUR Merchant services Provider ripping you off?The Merchant Services industry is very competitive, and I’ve known some savvy business owners here in Toronto who will often shop around for better rates and better service.

However, because we’re all so busy with running our businesses, little details may end up escaping our notice and costing us in the long run. That being said, I’d like to share a few tips with you that can help you to make sure you’re getting the best possible value for your hard-earned money.

1. Look for terms like ‘miscellaneous credit adjustment fee.’ Usually, something that sounds vague on your statement may very well be an extra fee that the Merchant Services Provider did not need to charge you. While this is against the Code of Conduct, it’s pretty common, and the authorities generally don’t do anything about it.

Other terms often used are ‘card brand fee,’ ‘assessment fee,’ ‘terminal maintenance fee,’ and similar terms. In some cases, these fees can ad up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year, depending on your volume. If you see these kinds of things on your statement, it might be time for you to look for other options. After all, has a Merchant Services Provider earned your loyalty when they’ve been dishonest with you?

2. ‘Teaser’ rates. A lot of times when a Merchant Services rep walks into a business, the business owner will ask what their rates are. The more insightful salesman will know that usually they’re probably looking to just call they’re current provider to get them to match those rates. Sometimes your current Merchant Services provider actually will match those rates. However, has your current provider earned your loyalty when, up to this point, they were deliberately charging you more than they really needed to?

Assuming that you’ve decided that they have earned your loyalty anyway, be sure to watch your statements, because it often happens that after they’ve matched their competitor’s rates, they’ll raise them again in a few months, or they’ll add on new fees or increase existing ones, leaving you back at square one in terms of your total cost. This doesn’t always happen, but it happens often enough to warrant a bit of due diligence on your part.

So, remember: a good rate doesn’t always mean the best overall cost.

3. Keep an eye on ‘monthly minimum’ charges. If this is more than $10, it’s excessive. The reason such a charge exists is that there are real costs involved in having your business in the system, but these costs don’t require a large amount to be covered. When someone’s volume is that low, an honest agent will advise them to remain with their current provider unless they’re having major service problems.


4. Cancellation fees. Nothing says ‘We don’t provide the best service’ more loudly than a cancellation fee. Some companies will actually try to charge you as much as the total cost of what you would have paid had you finished your contract. They actually have no legal standing on which to do this, but they may often try to get you to pay it. There was one merchant who had two years left on his contract, so he was told that he’d have to pay his average monthly statement times the remaining months. In his case, this was over $48,000. Fortunately, we informed him that this was a bluff on their part, and after notifying them that they were in violation of the Code of Conduct, they ceased in trying to get him to pay this absurd charge. Ideally, you should look for a company with no cancellation fees.


5. The human factor. Do they provide 24 hour, year-round support? Some Merchant Service Providers will offer lower rates, but then fail to provide a high level of service. Too often it happens that their customer service is from 9-5, which won’t help a bit if you have a problem or a question at 10 PM. Look for a provider that has 24 hour service, AND whose agents live in the area that they do business in. Companies with local agents are better positioned to provide service and support. If the agent for your current provider is never available after he’s made the sale, have he and his company earned your loyalty?


6. Search online for complaints about the company.¬† In today’s internet age, it’s fairly easy to see whether a company has a lot of complaints. For best results, use quotation marks. For example, a Google search for “Pivotal Payments complaints,” on May 2, 2013 yielded 610 results, with many of these individual results listing dozens or hundreds of complaints. Now, the presence of ¬†some complaints doesn’t always mean the company is rotten to the core, but when there’s a high number of them, it can mean trouble for you and your business.

Even if you’re sure that you’re happy with your current Merchant Services Provider, these simple tips may help you to keep them honest, or to decide it’s time to explore better options.

Sam Medina is a partner with Zomaron Merchant Services, the largest Merchant Services Provider in Canada, featuring 24/7 Support, local agents, no cancellation fees, no hidden charges, and the lowest cost in the industry. To find out how you can reduce your cost by as much as one whole statement per year, call 289-839-1905 or use the contact page.

Lowers costs. Better service. Guaranteed.