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Flagship Merchant Services / Abusive Business Practices

1 United States Review updated:
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Signed up for Merchant Services on February 4, 2009. I have a small internet business and wanted to be able to accept credit cards. I started using their services on February 10, 2009. On February 17, 2009 (seven days later), one of their departments called me to give me 30 days notice that they were terminating my merchant account contract due to the fact that they could not handle accounts like mine (ie, they don't want to work with online web businesses with the exception of web hosting).

Of course, I would prefer to work with a company that accepts and specializes in the type of business I am in... However, what was truly irritating was the fact that they were SO quick to sign me up, they spent so much time in the beginning trying to get my account. They had an entire department look over my credit, my business history (I had to turn over some sensitive information), they poured over my web site, they did "google"-type checks on my site (to see if I was selling anything on eBay, or selling anything illegal), etc. That's the process you have to go through in order to get approved for a merchant account, and I was fine with that. The horror was, after this week-long procedure, they approved me. A few days later, I find out that my business could not be supported by their services. They were "kind" enough to give me 30-days notice to find another merchant processor. Meanwhile, they placed me on some sort of "watchlist" - not the TMF (Terminated Merchant File), however, any watchlist of merchants is still a type of blacklist.

I haven't done anything wrong! Flagship went out of the their way to court our business and sign us up - without thoroughly checking if we were the right business type for their company. They seem to just sign EVERYBODY up, and then after they get their business, THEN they start asking questions. Although they can't put me on the TMF because I don't owe them any money - their poor and irresponsible business practices have made it difficult for me to find another merchant processor! Though I have done nothing wrong - my business is suffering! They have even told me that they would hold all of my money for six months ("just in case" - of what, I have no idea).

Be careful who you decide to work with when it comes to getting a Merchant Service account. Flagship Merchant Services, Merchant Warehouse, and about a hundred other different companies work under the umbrella of "First Data". The odds are stacked against the merchant - there is a TMF and about a dozen other types of blacklists of merchants, and YET THERE IS NO SIMILAR LIST warning of merchant processors who will damage your business and your credibility (and just because they're so anxious to make a few extra bucks!).

First Data is backed by Wells Fargo Bank.

If there is ever a blacklist of merchant processors for merchants out there - these banks/companies should be on the list:
- Wells Fargo
- First Data
- Flagship Merchant Services
- Merchant Warehouse
- Any other of the hundred companies that process through First Data.

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Comments

  • In
      13th of Apr, 2009
    -3 Votes

    Did you have specific complaints with First Data? Or are you just assuming that since Flagship Merchants was unsatisfactory, then its gateway must have been as well. I'm considering using First Data, but I wondered if you had any concrete reason to 'blacklist' First Data along with the unprofessional Flagship.

  • Da
      2nd of May, 2009
    +2 Votes

    It looks like Flagship Merchant Services is an ISO for First Data. The complaint appears to be against First Data as they do the risk, underwriting and funding for most ISO's like Flagship. Just my 2 cents.

  • Vi
      10th of May, 2009
    +1 Votes

    Check your credit report... First Data destroyed my credit!!! They might of done it to you too...
    Make sure you pull your credit report... If your situation is anything like what I experienced with First Data, then you should check your credit report. My story can be found on NewLawsNow.com ... Good luck...

  • Ne
      6th of Jun, 2009
    0 Votes

    First Data Merchant Services (former Linkpoint aka Cardservices International) is the BIGGEST fraudulent merchant service out there. I WARN anyone to ever sign up or deal with them. When I signed up with them, they promised to have the best and most competitive rates on the market and showed charts to compare their fees. I had incredibly stressful working days, sometimes with 18 hour work days and a lot of travels, so I was unable to have time to really check how true or false these statements were. I had many problems with First Data over the years I used their services. They would reverse charges (not my clients, but First Data would do this) and block access to money which had to be verified by them. Even after verification with customer signatures and approvals, this process would take nearly TWO MONTHS before First Data would release the money they had blocked from me - which meant I had no access to funds to pay for company expenses for two months!!! At one point First Data was holding over $28, 000 in transactions without releasing these for 6 weeks while I had expenses to pay for, towards goods and services for the payments customers had made. I had to argue and threaten them to get my money back while my customers had already received services and goods they paid for as an out of pocket expense I had to make.

    I have recently found that the average $175 per transaction in fees First Data has been charging me over the years - in addition to their monthly fees - with a string of excuses each time I inquiries into it - has actually been $150 IN EXCESS charges per transaction ticket than what is normal! The company has charged me over $25, 000 in fees in a year, while the normal amount for the same transaction amounts should have been around $4500 in the entire year. I only found this when I was unable to close an account with them, and refused to use them anymore and picked a random merchant service to deal with my transactions as a replacement.
    I tried to cancel the merchant accounts with First Data, and found it to be a complete nightmare. NO ONE will respond to your letters, faxes or emails. On the contrary, they neglected to cancel the account for MONTHS of my incessantly trying to close the merchant account with them while they continue to charge their base fees of $80-110 per month. And I have never come across a banking service that changes their phone numbers as often as First Data. Every few months their customer "support" number will be changed. Speaks volumes!

    First Data is PURE banking FRAUD.

  • Pu
      26th of Jun, 2009
    -1 Votes

    I am so frustrated trying to find a reputable merchant account! There are so many complaints about companies online, but almost no positive reviews. Can anyone recommend and reputable merchant accounts services please?!! I just don't know where to turn!

  • Ge
      23rd of Sep, 2009
    -1 Votes

    I know flagship merchant services all too well...about 2 years ago i used their services and had all the same problems everyone else is running into...They are driven by greed and sheer arrogance..They say their line is recorded for quality assurance but let's be honest it's to record their customers to us out on mistakes..I now work with a company based out of CT who was referred to be by a family friend...They are a joy to work with...I had one machine problem in the first couple of weeks I was with them and it was solved that same day..since then it has been smooth...

    They are actually an accounting firm who has many clients that shared the same frustrations as I experienced..They began offering merchant services because of the insane fees and horror stories their customers were experiencing.

    None the less quality companies are still around today you just have to look at them. If you are interested the website is www.fgmsusa.com tell them Gene sent you.

  • Go
      29th of Sep, 2009
    0 Votes

    This was helpful to me as a business owner who just went from 'referrals only' to a publicly listed phone.
    This company keeps calling my number, not leaving a message & when I call back to have them remove my number from their calling list - the mailbox is conveniently full!

    Those of you who have suffered from the scams perpetrated might consider this website: www.ic3.gov .
    It is to report internet fraud.

    Signed: GoodBusinessisaMust!

  • Pl
      7th of Oct, 2009
    +2 Votes

    We have been with Flagship Merchant Services for about 1 year now and have to say that they have been the best merchant service provider we have ever had. I found them at Top Ten Reviews, a 3rd party review site and they were ranked #1 over all their competitors. I am very surprised to see these negative complaints and hope they are not malicious competitors trying to bad mouth other companies. I would recommend Flagship Merchant Services to any business that needs to accept credit cards.

    On a side not, I found this blog by googling them to get their number to give to a business associate of mine!

    -Dennis

  • La
      18th of Jan, 2010
    +2 Votes

    We have had a merchant account with Flagship Merchant Services for over 2 years now and are extremely happy with the service. If you follow the rules on accepting credit cards, like most of the complaints above did not, you would not have any problems.

  • Tt
      2nd of Feb, 2010
    +1 Votes

    I dnt know how the flagship works in the past. I searched online and think that since it is rated the first, it should be the best. HOwever, after done the application and go through many things, i just think that their representatives are not doing well. I just set up the account like a day before i want to cancel it. But i have to go throuhg so mnay thing for just canceling the new services when the machine is not even ship out yet, and the application is not even completely. They arleady tie me with the contract of 1 year. The agent told me to call the customer sevices, and i called, they told me to call him back. And he said he cant do antyhing. I dont know how about their rates, but the customer servies keep me out of that #1 rating. I think all the mechant sercies are trying to get customer, all nice and stuff, but then after everything is signed, they just dont care what you want. So i suggest that everyone should look for the prgorams that w/o contract. Or if you are on the contract, just ask them for you to have 30 days trial before the contract is effected.

  • Pi
      13th of Feb, 2010
    +1 Votes

    I had a bad experience with them but fortunately it was before I ever signed up. Rebecca sales rep said that there was no contract or early termination fees. When I read the contract it said one year contract and early cancellation fee of monthly service fee times months remaining on contract. When I accused her of lying she said she didnt appreciate the tone of my email. I have read enough here to tell me to stay away from Flagship.

  • Bl
      16th of Feb, 2010
    0 Votes

    We just signed up for a merchant account with Flagship Merchant Services last month and are very satisfied. We just received our first statement and everything is exactly what was quoted to us. also, we have a month to month agreement with Flagship Merchant Services with no cancellation fees. I would recommend Flagship Merchant Services to any business owner.

  • Ed
      6th of Apr, 2010
    +1 Votes

    I agree as well. I went with EXS Credit Card Processing ( www.EXSCreditCardProcessing.com ) because they did now screw me with high processing and monthly fees. They also placed me in a free credit card terminal to minimize my upfront costs when i opened my new restaurant. I highly recommend EXS if you dont want hassles or unexpected high expenses with other providers.

  • Ro
      4th of May, 2010
    +1 Votes

    Merchant Warehouse is TERRIBLE! Problems any time I have had to call them. Megan opened my account - she said she was there for 5 years. Sadly she opened 2 accounts under my company name and couldn't stop double charging me for almost 3 months. Poor custerm service too, they really don't care about their customers. They won't listen, cut you off and point fingers to everyone but themselves for screwing up!

    Oh, they also don't even offfer a test card to use. This is important if you want to make sure you systems are working ... pray you don't have problems or you will have to charge your personal card a million times to make it work.

    Stay away.

  • Wt
      13th of Aug, 2010
    +1 Votes

    Worst company ever. Nivea (account rep.) canceled my service without my knowledge. why? because I asked her what the additional 15% fees per transaction fees were for. And she would not respond! attitude no response and no warning of the cancellation. I had over 1000 dollars in transaction and the machine still worked, but yet she took it upon her self to cancel me. now, I lost money and nobody will help me.

  • Wt
      23rd of Aug, 2010
    +1 Votes

    they also took an additional $250.00 out of my checking account without my knowledge. After my account was canceled. Flagship kept my info, to just charge me as they please without any warning. Nivea from lost prevention says, she has a right to do that and Tom from sales says they don't have to tell me the reason for taking any money out of my account. WT[censored]

  • Sh
      12th of Oct, 2010
    0 Votes

    First Data and West Cost Merchant Service are the most dishonest and biggest fraudulent businesses in merchant service industry. Back in 2009 i was referred to First Data for my new business. The Sales Rep Eric Anderus is the big fat lyre. He promised me the lowest rate in the market in addition of no cancelation fee at any time. he also said that i can keep my terminal after my contract is over if I wish to keep my contract, However, after two months i received a letter from First data stating that i have to pay extra money for insurance cost on the terminal. When i called them up they said, yes, you have to purchase a policy either from us or on your own. when i told them that why should i pay insurance if i am going to own this terminal they said that you have to return the terminal when your contract is over the original cost of terminal was $900 so i was agreed to pay $40 amount as a lease to own but now they are saying that even though i am paying more that the original amount i also have to return the terminal to them, what a scam
    Months went by and when i did not received my statements i started calling WEST COST MERCHANT SERIVCE and asked for my statement first they refused to send me statement after an hour of argument finally they agreed to send me statement. my first statement showed that i a fee of $350 was deducted from my account for a sale amount of almost $3600 when i called them to find out why they have charged my almost 10% instead of 1.7% for Visa, Master, Discover and 2.9 for AMX, they said that how your contract was set up and when i told them i want to cancel my contract they said that they will charge me $500 early termination fee where as Eric the Sales rep stated that there is no early termination fee. Anyway i called Eric almost every day but he would never return my call. FOR THOSE WHO WANT START A NEW BUSINESS, TAKE MY ADVICE AND DO NOT DEAL WITH FIRST DATA AND WEST COST MERCHANT SERVICE. THEY ARE THE BIGGEST SCAM.

  • Dr
      20th of Oct, 2010
    0 Votes

    "Did you have specific complaints with First Data? Or are you just assuming that since Flagship Merchants was unsatisfactory, then its gateway must have been as well. I'm considering using First Data, but I wondered if you had any concrete reason to 'blacklist' First Data along with the unprofessional Flagship."


    I had a run in with First Data. I thought it was a good deal and had a "saleman" who only want to sign me up process my application online. He had told me I was preapproved and would get a "start up kit" with my terminal within 48 hours. Once it was signed he stated it would have to go to the final approaval stage and I needed to call back in a few days to make sure it went through. I was a holiday weekend so I waited till the next week to call. When I did call the "jerk" salesperson said I was not approved. He treid to sell me on two or three other options. I asked that the new contract and terms be mailed to me, then were not! Long story long, I never got a new contract but was sent another DIFFERENT contract for what I had first signed. There were TWO contracts from the same joint! I closed out my account and they tried to charge me $700 for a contract that was never in place and for items i never recievced. It took a few phone calls and a month or two to get it all cleared up...at least I think it is..

    Bottom line there are below professionals and I will not work with them anytime soon.

  • Gr
      10th of Dec, 2010
    0 Votes

    First Data has been an absolute nightmare for me. Even supervisors cannot help. They dishonestly distribute your funds to you as they please. Even when they admit they are in the wrong and owe you thousands of dollars, you still have to wait until they find someone who knows how to release the funds back to you. This is a horrible company to work with. Nothing but problems from day one.

  • La
      21st of Jan, 2011
    0 Votes

    they are defenitly the most dishonest company I have found over the years. I signed up for their services and after the first five transactions they didn't release my funds and claim that my account "had been flagged for investigation". on the mean while they had the money from my services rendered to my customers and my customers account had already been drafted. it seems to me that that's a way for them to try to keep your money unless you raise hell about it. I filed a complaint with the NC general attourney office, federal trade comission and with the BBB (another nosy org anyways). after I e-mailed them about twenty times dayly and made about six phone calls per day for the past fourteen days I sent them the case number for all the complaints I had started with this agencies and I junst got a phone call from one of their departments that had never answer my calls, saying that my funds were going to be released today or monday. I'll wait and see if it happens and even after that happens I'm going to continue with this claims. 01/21/2011

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