In late December 2017, a class action lawsuit was announced again processing company Merchant’s Choice Payment Solutions and Woodforest National Bank.
The lawsuit, Al’s Pals Pet Care, LLC, et al. v. Woodforest National Bank, N.A., et al., alleges that Merchant’s Choice trained its sales representatives to cold call businesses and indicate that they’re affiliated with the business’ current processor. The reps would then tell the business that their equipment is not in compliance and they need to upgrade, or that they need to reapply with the company to avoid increases in their processing fees. Merchant’s Choice would then send paperwork to the business that was actually a new contract with Merchant’s Choice, causing business owners to unknowingly enter into a new processing contract.
The lawsuit also alleges that Merchant’s Choice does not adhere to stated pricing in promotional materials and contracts, but rather charges excessive fees.
As mentioned, Merchant Services Partners/Merchants’ Choice Payment Solutions Partners has two websites, but both list the same services.
Merchant Services Partners provides credit and debit card processing and check acceptance for businesses in many different industries. You can take cards using traditional countertop credit card machines or using a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. If you need to take orders over the phone or by mail, you can use the virtual terminal option, allowing you to access a secure online portal through your computer. Ecommerce business? MSP can set you up with its proprietary Zoomgate gateway to allow you to accept payments through your ecommerce website.
MSP offers the ability to accept major credit and debit cards plus EBT cards, fleet cards like WEX and Voyager, and JCB.
Related Article: Accepting Fleet Cards.
The days of handwritten paper gift certificates are over. Electronic gift cards are more easily redeemed, trackable, and make popular gifts for occasions ranging from birthdays to graduations. MSP’s gift card program offers the option to customize cards, track balances and spending, or even provide a way to issue refunds without giving cash back.
In addition to credit card processing, Merchants’ Choice offers cash advances to qualifying businesses. To qualify, you’ll need a merchant account with Merchant Services Partners/Merchants’ Choice Payment Solutions, processing at least $3,500/month in credit card transactions. You’ll also need a minimum of 1 year in business, with at least 4 months processing cards, and no open bankruptcies, chargeoffs, or collections. MSP will also require trade references, two months’ worth of bank statements, and landlord references as well as a merchant interview and site inspection.
If you qualify, you can receive an advance on your credit card sales to be used for business expenses. Cash advances are different than traditional small business loans in that there’s no fixed monthly payment amount. Instead, you’ll repay the loan and fees through a deduction from your daily credit card sales.
Read more about Merchant Cash Advances.
Like many processors, Merchant Services Partners doesn’t publish rates and fees on its website. If you’d like to request a quote to review privately, with no sales calls, try CardFellow’s quote request tool.
Merchant Services Partners’ typical contract is for 3 years and automatically renews if not cancelled in the window specified. Many reviews reference a $495 cancellation fee.
Merchant Services Partners references partnerships with leading equipment companies like Verifone, but the company doesn’t appear to sell equipment, instead shuffling businesses to a 48-month equipment lease. In some cases, MCPS claims to offer free equipment but reviews claim that the free equipment is a bait-and-switch tactic to get the business signed up for the equipment lease.
Related Article: Beware of “Free” Credit Card Machines.
Unfortunately, we found more negative MCPS reviews than positive ones. Google Reviews, the Better Business Bureau, Ripoff Report, and the company’s own Facebook page include negative reviews that result in overall low star ratings.
MCPS gets a 1.2-star score (out of 5) from 25 reviews on Google.
Many reviewers complain that MCPS pretends to be the business’ current merchant services provider when really the business has no connection to MCPS. Other reviewers allege that salespeople make promises that the company doesn’t uphold, including charging a cancellation fee after being told there is no penalty for cancellation, and that it’s difficult to get in touch with customer service or cancel accounts. Many of the reviewers feel that the company’s practices border on fraud and harassment, and advise businesses to stay away from MCPS.
Some reviewers go into detail about the calls they receive, stating that MCPS will leave messages claiming your processing account has been flagged in order to trick you into calling them back for a sales pitch, or that there could be “serious consequences” to ignoring their calls about compliance with new laws.
The sole 5-star review simply says that the company offers great service and lowered the reviewer’s rates.
Merchants’ Choice Payment Solutions’ profile at the Better Business Bureau shows a C+ rating, with 73 customer complaints and 13 negative reviews. (There are no positive reviews.)
The official complaints lodged with the BBB allege that MCPS wouldn’t close accounts and that the company uses deceptive practices. As is common on all the review sites mentioned in this profile, many of the complaints state that Merchants’ Choice Payment Solutions claimed to be associated with the business’ current bank or credit card processor and that the business needed to upgrade equipment or take other steps to stay compliant.
The negative reviews echo the official complaints, stating that MCPS misleadingly claimed to be the business’ current processor to get them to switch, that MCPS told them there would be no cancellation fees or other penalties but there were, and that the business was locked into an equipment lease.
10 complaints on Ripoff Report follow the same lines as Google Reviews and the BBB, alleging that the company is unethical and fraudulent. One reviewer claims that their contract was automatically renewed despite MCPS being informed that the business was cancelling to work with another provider, while others write of difficulty cancelling accounts or reference phone calls where MCPS told the business that they needed to update equipment and pretended to be the business’ current processor.
Merchants’ Choice Payment Solutions’ Facebook page includes a reviews section where 13 reviews resulted in a 2.4-star rating out of 5. Once again, reviewers complain that MCPS calls frequently, charges hidden fees, and uses deceptive sales practices by pretending to be the business’ current processing company.
The company has several 5-star facebook ratings with no commentary; however, at least two of the reviewers who left 5-star reviews list MCPS as their employer.
CardFellow has experienced MCPS’ calls firsthand. In some sales calls to CardFellow, Merchants’ Choice Payment Solutions has referred to itself simply as “merchant services” and implied that they are our current processing company. It was only with a lot of prodding and a transfer to another rep that the caller identified the name of the company. Additionally, MCPS has left voicemails stating that we need to contact them to validate EMV status for our processing equipment. You can hear one such voicemail below:
Unfortunately, these tactics aren’t uncommon in credit card processing. For more information, be sure to read our articles on merchant services scams and EMV scams and sales tactics.
Have you used Merchant Services Partners/Merchants’ Choice Payment Solutions? Leave a review!
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Posted by Mike on Nov 20, 2018
The biggest scam ever. False advertising, costly hidden fees, horrible customer service,
Posted by CardFellow on Aug 29, 2017
Many businesses state that they've received calls from Merchant Services Partners/Merchants' Choice Payment Solutions pretending to be their processor, and we've even received these calls here at CardFellow. We find this practice to be unprofessional and misleading and hope that MSP/MCPS will reconsider this tactic.