Durango Merchant Services Review
Merchant Maverick's Rating: (5 out of 5)
Last Updated: January 30th, 2014.
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Usually when I see a provider advertising a specialization in “high-risk” accounts, it sends up a red flag for me. Many such providers cling to the shady underbelly of the merchant market, alongside their clients who often traffic in pyramid schemes, snake oil, rigged gambling and prostitution, among other unsavory and unfair business endeavors defined as “high-risk.” Durango Merchant Services (DMS) is one of the only completely reputable, honest, fair merchant services providers who advertise as high-risk specialists. I began this review ready to denounce them, but ended up loving Durango. (They're based in Durango, Colorado, as you might have guessed.)
Truth be told, many high-risk merchants don’t even realize that they're high-risk until they begin to pursue a merchant account. But then, after a string of rejections, they get desperate and willing to work with whoever will take them. This is a huge mistake. If you’re running an honest business that just so happens to be high-risk, you deserve to work with a dedicated partner, not some processor looking to take advantage of your desperation. Durango will deliver the kind of exceptional service our other 5-star processors do, with the added benefit of expertise in high-risk accounts.
You’re rates and fees will depend on your business and your risk level (higher-risk equal higher rates), but overall I can say that Durango will act with integrity and treat you fairly regardless of your business type. They have zero complaints with the BBB in the past three years, and very few elsewhere. I recommend them not only to merchants with higher than average risk, but to any merchant looking for quality service and industry excellence, especially ecommerce merchants. Durango has earned a perfect 5 stars from me as a high-risk merchant account provider, and they’re not too far off from being 5 stars all around.
Read on below for more details, or get started with Durango.
Products and Services:
Durango offers the basics when it comes to products and services, including:
- Merchant accounts: With an emphasis on high-risk and international businesses. They use about a dozen different processors from across the globe, depending on your needs.
- Gateway service: Durango has an in-house gateway that they’ll give you a good deal on. If you want something like Authorize.Net instead, they have no trouble getting you set up with that either.
- Check processing: This includes a number of services to reduce and even eliminate the chance of bounced checks, and a number of additional services to allow check acceptance via web or phone.
- Equipment sales: Yes, that’s right. SALES. Instead of trying to rope you into an expensive and aggravating lease, Durango fully discloses the cost of every single credit card machine they offer and, encourages you to make the smart decision and buy it outright. Check out our article to learn why to buy instead of lease.
- Fraud protection services: Including Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode, among other services. For high-risk merchants, fraud protection should be high on your priority list.
Fees and Rates:
Durango doesn’t disclose rates or fees. With so many different processors and business types, these numbers are simply impossible to standardize for a provider like this. My advice to you: Call and negotiate. Durango Merchant will treat you fairly and do their best to win your business. See if you can get interchange-plus pricing and your early termination fee waived. It’s worth a shot. But for high-risk merchants, expect higher than average rates alongside a standard early termination fee ($300-500).
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to pin this down for a provider like Durango Merchant Services. In some cases, you can get a month-to-month contract with no termination fee. But for most, expect two to three year contracts and at least some early termination fee. Negotiate as much as you can, and for the love of all that is holy, ask to have the auto-renewal clause removed if an early termination fee is present! You'll thank yourself later, I promise.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
While Durango Merchant doesn’t disclose any hard numbers on their website, they don’t make any outlandish claims either. On the DMS site, you’ll find a lot of useful, descriptive, earnest information and sales copy that will actually help you to make an informed decision. For me, that’s the bottom line. Spouting a bunch of arbitrary numbers and calling it “disclosure” is actually pretty useless, so I’m okay with the lack of number present here.
Of course, I’d like to see some better disclosure of the types of fees a merchant would expect to see (PCI compliance, early termination, monthly fee, etc.) as well as billing models (such as interchange-plus and tiered).
Customer Service and Technical Support:
We personally know of a few merchants that we’ve sent to Durango, and all of them are happy with the customer service thus far. Aside from that, many merchants and reviewers across the web have joyously heralded Durango’s customer service as completely unlike any other high-risk-focused provider. Dealing with high-risk accounts is a lot more work than a standard account, especially on the customer service end. Complex questions and obstacles come up frequently. That Durango has such an outstanding reputation for customer service is truly extraordinary, and boosts my confidence in them big-time.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
The Durango BBB profile is sporting an "A+" as of this review, with 0 complaints in the last 36 months. We've been following them for about four years now, and have yet to see a single BBB complaint!
One commenter on this page complained that he was denied by Durango, which is bound to happen in some instances. But even here, a service rep took the time to respond to the complaint and invite the merchant to reach out directly to see if they could find a way to resolve the problem. This level of attention and responsiveness speaks volumes, and is a sure sign of a quality provider.
In some cases, merchants have complained about a processor used by Durango, Intabill, as seen in this confusing and misleading thread on Scam.com. Even there, a service rep for Durango chimes in with an eloquent and professional response, setting the record straight.
Aside from that, you’ll have a hard time finding any complaints. In general merchants and independent reviewers alike have praised Durango as a remarkable provider, especially given their focus on high-risk.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
You’ll find an impressive 20+ reviews of Durango Merchant Services on the Better Business Bureau’s TrustLink website, with every single one at 5 stars. They draw from some of these reviews in their official testimonials page.
Of the positive reviews I read, these qualities come up most often:
- High approval rate: Even when a merchant has been previously denied multiple times by other providers, Durango can usually find a solution for almost any business type, US-based or international.
- Quick, reliable setup: While you might expect a ton of delays for setting up a high-risk account – and it certainly can take longer than a standard one – Durango won’t leave you hanging.
- Excellent customer service: This is, without a doubt, the most important feature to my mind, especially with high-risk merchant accounts. They’re high-risk for a reason, namely increased possibility for chargebacks and fraud. Given this, a high-risk merchant will need more support (and more competent support) than a standard account holder would. Durango passes this test with flying colors, according to the reviews I’ve seen.
When it comes to high-risk merchant accounts, I’m yet to find a service that even comes close to what the people at Durango Merchant Services are doing. They invariably provide excellent solutions to complex merchant situations. And if they can’t work with you for whatever reason, they’ll be straightforward and honest about it. Durango has customer service that far exceeds the industry standard, and a sales team that features honest, knowledgeable staff. They provide the expertise needed to set up international merchants from basically any country in the world, and to deal with fraud proactively and effectively.
While I’m primarily reviewing and recommending this service as a high-risk option – held to a different set of standards than an average account provider – I also believe that traditional merchants, especially ecommerce merchants, can expect outstanding service and support from Durango Merchant Services. I like this business very much, enough to give them our coveted 5-star seal of approval. Check them out!