Fifth Third Bank / bad service
I advise anyone considering using Fifth Third Merchant Services for Procesing their credit card charges to reconsider. I handle all the banking/accounting for my non-profit employers. Since 2001 I have used 5/3 for credit card processing, and though I was lured in by promises of no reprogramming fees, no annual fees, no service fee, no statement fees, the reality is since then I have seen all of those and more.
Apparently, in their contract buried somewhere in fine print is a clause which says they have the right to change their fees at anytime, but apparently you don't have the right to cancel it should the fees increase, without yet again accruing another fee! Case in point, last year an annual fee of $45 was taken from my bank account (without my authorization). I was told we received notice in last month's statement that annual fees would start being charged. After speaking to and getting authorization to have the fee waived, two days later they call back and say it's not possible to waive it. Not two months later a $5 per month fee starts being withdrawn as well. When I inquire about it, it's a "monthly dial up fee" so that my terminal can call into the center. (I didn't get any statement message about that one). Within two months we were charged another $40 to "reprogram" the machine--still incurring those monthly dial up fees. I get another letter two months later wanting to "upgrade" the program but will have to pay $50 to do so. Since I had just paid the $40 to do that earlier, I want an explanation of what exactly is being upgraded. No one could tell me. After attempting on five separate occassions to get fees removed (at least partially) I gave up and unplugged the machine, called & wrote to them to cancel and didn't run any charges for a month. (By they way, we own this machine not rent). Yesterday January 2009, I get the bank statements and $55 has been removed for an annual fee by Fifth Third. I cancelled their services in writing in November 2008! Called today, and their response is it is legit because they bill in arrears. Since I used their services at all in 2008 I would have paid it regardless of when I canceled. Then she adds, well at least we didn't charge you the normal cancellation fee. Since I never agreed to any of the fees to begin with, we already spent $200 in un-budgeted "credit card processing fees" (without merchant fees) of hard to come by funds.
If they wanted to keep our business they would have reversed the charges for at least one of the three non-budgeted items as a courtesy. One would think in today's economy keeping customers is important. I was promised in 2007 I would see a new contract which outlined these fees but never received it. Should you be in the market for merchant services, be sure that promises not only be in writing as mine were (in a cover correspondence) but also attached or written on the actual contract, and that it states specific dates that they will be waived. Though I was diligent in following through, in the end their help line is geared to educate you about their fees and services, not really to service the customer. Good luck if you are in the market for credit card processing, and please take the time necessary to calculate all the little fees that will be in play. If you already have low price (as we do), if a charge card is used you might consider passing on fees to your consumers so they will pay by cash or check in the future. Most people don't realize that is costs the merchant money for them to use credit cards. Yes, it's convenient for the buyers, but if it only drives costs up perhaps people will start rethinking how they pay for their purchases.
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