SPECIALIZES IN B-TO-B
DEDICATED CARDFELLOW REP
ACCEPTS HIGH RISK
First Data, Vantiv/NPC, TSYS
HSBC /(First Data/), Wells Fargo, Woodforest National Bank, Fifth Third Bank
The company has been in business since 2004. Has it been living up to this aspiration? In this Avant-Garde Marketing Solutions review and profile, we’ll discuss that and more. With details about services, equipment, and pricing, along with helpful industry insights, we’ll help you determine if AGMS is the processor you’ve been looking for.
No matter what option you click on Avant-Garde Marketing Solutions’ website, you are bombarded with information about pricing. It’s almost as though the company is being purposely vague so that you feel the need to call. We’ll discuss the pricing in another section, but here we’ll provide you with details about the processing services in case you want to avoid getting trapped into listening to a representative’s sale pitch.
AGMS claims to be a full service processing company, which means it can help your business accept all major brands of credit and debit cards.
The company also indicates it can process electronic checks, converting a paper check into an electronic transaction with a check scanner. The check is then approved and funds are directly deposited into your account.
ACH processing is also an advertised option. This is when the customer gives you their bank account information, and much like an electronic check, the funds are directly extracted from the customer’s account.
Having more payment options for your customers can lead to easier sales. With Avant-Garde Marketing Solutions you can accept swiped payment cards, EMV/smartcards, and next generation contactless payments. You will need the proper equipment in order for AGMS to be able to process your transactions, so be sure to look into appropriate equipment features for your needs.
Avant-Garde Marketing Solutions offers the AGMS Gateway with virtual terminal. The gateway will allow you to accept payments through your website or mobile app with “buy now” and donation buttons, or through the use of a shopping cart. With the virtual terminal, you can use your own internet-connected computer or smartphone to facilitate transactions. Both options allow you to set up recurring billing and scheduled payments. Another benefit is QuickBooks integration for easier accounting.
Whether you travel to different tradeshows, make deliveries, or perform services at various locations, having a portable means of taking card payments can be a great convenience. Avant-Garde Marketing Solutions says it can provide mobile processing with options that can assist even when there is no internet available.
Services at AGMS go beyond being able to process payments; the company also has a gift card and loyalty program service as well as a range of partner services. Web design, payroll, marketing, IT services, and more can be provided.
Purchasing equipment through AGMS is an option, but the company does not disclose what equipment is available. The “SmartChoice Program” sounds suspiciously like a leasing agreement, and if it is a lease it would not be a smart choice at all. Be sure to get the full details on equipment and read any contracts before signing up for equipment.
Avant-Garde’s published pricing is strange on a couple different levels. The information AGMS publishes is in the form of a comparison chart, but not the typical charts that list starting rates. Instead, the company lists the cost that an average business processing 500 transactions/month totaling $20,000 could expect to pay. Avant-Garde says the business would pay them $620 vs. $729 for a “flat rate” processor or $940 to “other companies.” Perhaps the company is hoping that businesses will not look further, and assume the math is correct and the pricing competitive. It’s not, and that’s the second part that’s strange. Avant-Garde is plainly posting a high-priced solution, even though it claims the costs are competitive. Normally, processors with high costs try to hide it a little better.
In processing, a figure known as the effective rate (the total fees paid for processing in a month divided by the total credit card volume for that month) is the most accurate way to compare costs across different companies. Effective rate is expressed as a percentage and includes all of the costs to process. Going by the pricing AGMS publishes, you could expect an effective rate of 3.1%, and that’s assuming that you have the same pricing as the example business without additional fees. 3.1% is not a very competitive effective rate, and if extra costs are applied beyond the published pricing, you’re looking at an even higher total.
The comparisons AGMS offers claim that flat rate processors would charge the example business $729 on $20,000 and “other” processors would charge $940. Doing the math indicates effective rates of 3.6% for the flat rate (729 / 20000) and 4.7% for “other” processors (940 / 20000).
While exaggerating your competitors’ costs is a common tactic in processing, the way that AGMS has chosen to do it makes it pretty easy to debunk. Popular flat rate company Square, for example, charges 2.75% for processing, not 3.6%, which would equate to $550 in fees on $20k – less than the “better deal” AGMS offers. Here at CardFellow, we work with lots of those “other” processors, and effective rates are often half (or more) of the 4.7% AGMS claims others charge.
So Avant-Garde doesn’t publish details about what rates and fees (or pricing model) a business can expect, but instead offers an example…and the example details an expensive option. Since published examples are often the “best case scenario”, it’s strange and a little worrying that the effective rate is so high.
Along with the example, AGMS claims no hidden fees, $0 early termination fees, and no artificial rate increases, but information from the complaints and reviews online directly counters what the company proclaims. (We’ll discuss this in the AGMS review section below.)
It’s worth exercising some caution with regards to pricing if you’re interested in Avant-Garde Marketing Solutions. We highly suggest that you request a fully-disclosed quote through CardFellow. Our free quote request tools will give you a better picture of what you’ll be paying, and you can review your quotes in private since we don’t share your contact info. Sign up here!
While there is not a lot in the way of online reviews, the ones that exist raise some questions about Avant-Garde Marketing Solutions’ defiant stance against industry corruption.
Let’s dig right in to what you need to know. According to complaints at the Better Business Bureau, AGMS may have a $0 early termination fee, but that won’t stop you from getting hit with a $250-$300 cancellation fee if you want to end your contract. Is this just semantics? Not exactly.
After sifting through a tiresomely long response from AGMS in regards to one of the complaints, it is indicated that AGMS offers contracts through another processor called NPC (National Processing Company.) So while AGMS is not charging a fee for ending the contract, you are still on the hook through NPC. Rather sneaky for a company purporting honesty.
There are only 3 complaints closed with the BBB in the last 3 years on the Avant-Garde Marketing Solutions profile, but NPC has 177 complaints under its accredited National Processing Company profile with the BBB. Don’t be misled by the NPC profile that is not accredited and has no complaints.
It’s unclear how many of the complaints for NPC were from clients that were signed up by AGMS, so we’ll stick to the direct Avant-Garde Marketing Solution reviews. Also indicated by the reviews at the BBB is that contract is for 3 years and auto-renews in 2 year increments. One reviews claims that increasing rates and fees drove them to want to cancel. Another review claims that AGMS was extremely unhelpful with a defective equipment issue.
When looking into Avant-Garde Marketing Solutions reviews, you might come across the website AGMSfacts.com from 2008, in which the company accuses Ripoff Report of extortion and simultaneously attempts to debunk an alleged scandal. When researching the reviews on Ripoff Report there is some indication that a company calling itself Avant-Garde LLC was extracting small sums of money from credit card accounts. Avant-Garde Marketing Solutions denies having anything to do with this, but offers to repay individuals that still believe that the fraudulent charges came from it.
Also on Ripoff Report, some complaints warn of Bill Gouldd’s involvement with AGMS. Bill Gouldd headed Equinox International, a company that received a $40,000,000 penalty in a court case for the victims of its pyramid scheme. How does Bill Gouldd connect to AGMS? He’s married to the CEO and founder of Avant-Garde Marketing Solutions, Teresa Madrigal.
Even when interpreting the Ripoff Report allegations as gossip, it is good to know that this company might not be entirely forthcoming with information. If you choose to process with AGMS, be sure you know what you are agreeing to in any contracts.
If you have experience working with AGMS, we want to hear about it! Leave a review!
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Posted by John S on Oct 28, 2016
Do your research on these con-artists. We signed up with a rep who promised all this new better way of doing things and then noticed that we were paying more and fees increased without notice. When trying to call we just get a run around and the avant-garde sales pitch and told you signed a contract. It is a set up. They make you feel like you are going to be taken care of but instead you are just taken. Then I go and do some research on the founders and find out that avant garde marketing solutions is owned buy people who defrauded thousands of people in a multi-level marketing business called Equinox that the FTC shut down! These people should be in jail! Teresa Madrigal (President and CEO of AGMS) is Bill Gouldd's wife - the kingpin of the pyramid scheme that broke people's lives apart and stole their money. No wonder she doesn't use his name. I feel like a fool for not researching and now I am locked into a contract with these crooks.
Posted by Bill Whitley on Oct 18, 2016
After reviewing my statements from my previous processing company, my Avant Grade rep said your company could save each of my 2 businesses approximately $200 per month in processing. After two months of processing with Avant Garde my processing costs have increased $200-300 per month. The opposite of what was promised. I met with my rep 3 weeks ago and was promised someone would get back to me to resolve this matter. I have not heard from anyone. I emailed my rep 5 days ago to again express my dissatisfaction. I called him today and left a voicemail. Still not one bit of response from him or anyone at AGMS. Am now looking to find another processing company.