Electronic Payment Systems (EPS) Review
I went into this review really wanting to like Electronic Payment Systems, LLC (EPS). I’d heard that they offer some unique services and even advertise interchange-plus pricing (usually the best model to work with), so I had a good feeling as I Googled their corporate website. Unfortunately, that good feeling didn’t last long.
When I clicked the link, I was met with a bizarre homepage featuring a dizzying odometer supposedly tracking the year-to-date savings EPS has produced for merchants, alongside an image of disembodied hands fanning out hundred dollar bills. And lets not overlook the tiny digital clock in the upper left hand corner. The page looks like a freshman HTML project gone wrong, crossed with a shady gambling website.
Okay, okay. Don’t judge a book by its cover, right? So I began to make my rounds, first stopping at their About page. Unfortunately, the interior is as bad as the cover:
Electronic Payment Systems (EPS) is one of the nations’ oldest and largest, privately held merchant service providers of electronic payment products to businesses and ISO’s.
This is not only riddled with grammatical errors – it’s also full of bold-faced lies. EPS was founded in 1994 by John Dorsey, making it mature, certainly, but quite far from the oldest payment processor in the US (First Data, also privately owned, has been at it since 1969, and the ability to make electronic payments goes back to the ‘70s). Furthermore, EPS only processes about $1.8 billion annually according to their site. Chase Paymentech handles about $500 billion per year. If a company is this full of BS in their corporate profile, can you trust anything they say? (Answer: probably not.)
Based on my research, Electronic Payment Systems is expensive, uses unethical sales practices, and tries to push uneconomical terminal leases, among other things, on unsuspecting merchants. Their EPS90 “No Credit Check Payment Plan” service also garners a pretty hefty load of negative attention from merchants. Personally, I wouldn’t want anything to do with it.
They do, however, market themselves as an option for high-risk businesses (multi-level marketing, adult entertainment, nutraceuticals, travel companies, tobacco/cigarette, etc.), so that might be a draw for you. For me, however, seeing a processor marketing toward high-risk merchants generally means trouble. I’d recommend Durango Merchant Services (five stars) for high-risk payment processing.
EPS is not among the worst of the worst – but they’re not great, either. I’m giving three stars for their efforts, but they really need to clean up their act or EPS can expect to fall even lower on my next update.
Check out the full review for more details, or take a look at our comparison chart to see the best of the best in the processing industry.
Products and Services:
The EPS line of products and services has all of the usual offerings. Aside from the run of the mill stuff, they also provide a no credit check payment plan service, which is a sort of unique product. Unfortunately, it’s produced some major complaints. The products and services offered by EPS include:
- Merchant accounts: Including for high-risk business such as “e-commerce, online dating, health and beauty, multilevel marketing, adult entertainment, nutraceuticals, travel companies, tobacco/cigarette products and business opportunities.”
- Terminal sales/leases: For the best no-nonsense terminal experience, you’re probably better off buying your own. Check out our article on credit card machine leasing to learn why to avoid it. Also, just like any product, make sure to shop around before you buy.
- Gateway/virtual terminal: A virtual terminal allows you to accept card payments from any internet connected computer with a web browser. EPS offers gateways through Authorize.Net.
- Payment plan services: They call this the “No Credit Check 90 Day EZ Payment Plan.” On the surface, this seems like a pretty unique offering. Basically, this allows your customers to pay in installments over the course of 90 days for sums as large as $5,000 by post dating checks. Unfortunately, some merchants have experienced problems with this. (See Complaints.)
- Check processing: Most processors offer this. EPS does check processing in-house through their branded “ElectCheck” program, which they claim is “the oldest and largest check services program in the nation as well as the most aggressively priced.” While I don’t have the numbers in front of me, I’m not sure this is accurate.
- Mobile processing: This is another proprietary service, called EZ Pay Mobile. Mobile payments are getting more and more common, so you really don’t need to use EPS to get this option. The majority of processors offer mobile options. (Check out Square for a mobile-only option.)
- Gift cards
- Cash advances
Fees and Rates:
While Electronic Payment Systems doesn’t provide any specific numbers for rates or fees, they do disclose a little information on their credit card processing page. There, they state that they offer:
I’d love to see some more substantial disclosures made here, including more information of fees and pricing plans.
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
The EPS term is for two years and auto-renews for two-year periods after that unless the merchant cancels in writing 90 days before the term expires. This is a little different from the industry standard of a three-year initial term with one-year renewals, but I don’t think it’s any better.
If you don’t give a full 90 days written notice of cancellation prior to the expiration of your contract term, you’ll be hit with their early termination fee of $295 plus the “standard fees” associated with your account (monthly minimum, statement fee, etc.) multiplied by number of months remaining on your contract. This is a version of liquidated damages – a major no-no in my book.
The EPS contract term and termination fee seem to change often. I’ve also heard of one-year auto-renewing terms without the $295 fee, just the “standard fees” multiplied by the number of months remaining. Since they don’t have a standard “termination fee” in this case, EPS has been known to deceptively market this as a month-to-month contract. Make sure you check your unique contract, and always ask to have the fee waived. (FYI, I’m working from the most up to date contract they have posted here.)
If your rep says that he will “take care of it” when you make a fuss about the termination fee, don’t take his word for it. Everything has to be in writing. Here’s a few lines straight from the EPS Terms and Conditions:
Representations made by Independent Sales Organizations, Member Service Providers, contractors or their employees, coworkers, assigns, contractors or any other persons associated with them that are not expressly contained in this Agreement ARE NOT VALID and do not apply. Acquirer makes no representations outside of this Agreement. If you rely on representations that are not contained in this Agreement then you are doing so of your own free will and WILL NOT in anyway have any recourse, right or claim whatsoever against EPS, Acquirer, any Card Association or any of their affiliates or entities.
Got it? Good.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
Lets start with some good things here. I like how they list their merchant agreement and merchant application in plain sight on their Resources page. They even mention that you can get interchange-plus pricing through EPS, although they don’t give any explanation as to what this means (click here and I’ll explain it to you). I wish they’d give a little more disclosure when it comes to their standard fees, and maybe some clearer info on rate structure (i.e., the difference between cost-plus and tiered models).
On the downside, they use one of my least favorite gimmicks – the dreaded “lowest rate guarantee.” Most companies will make this promise and say that if they can be beat, they’ll give you $500 or $1,000. EPS takes it a step further:
For merchants who already have existing credit card processing accounts with other merchant service providers, switching to EPS is GUARANTEED to beat or meet your rates or get FREE processing for one full year!
How many people do you think they give free processing to each year? I’d guess pretty close to zero. Do you think that’s because they actually have the absolute lowest rates in the entire processing industry in all instances and for all merchants? That’s not it, I promise. They just have loopholes and tactics to make sure they can give you a quote that looks lower, or that they can call lower in accordance to whatever fine print is attached to this guarantee. Notice they don’t provide you with the stipulations in plain sight.
On the other hand, I do like that they have a bunch of public contact forums including facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and a public blog through Blogspot. Having these modes of contact increases sales and advertising transparency.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
If the tone that representative use for complaint responses is any indication of customer service, you’re in for a bumpy ride with EPS. I’ve read dozens of rude responses from EPS reps – totally unapologetic, condescending, and sometimes outright unprofessional.
The good news is that they offer 24/7 customer service in-house, which is the best type of system you could ask for.
As a reviewer, it’s difficult for me to ascertain the quality of customer service when it comes to complex, account-specific issues. But that’s where you come in! Have you worked with Electronic Payment Systems? Have a complaint, rip off report, or even a positive testimonial? Please leave us your review! Don’t forget to read the user review and comment policy.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
I have some good news and bad news. Which do you want first? Okay, good news it is. For EPS, their complaints are on the downtrend. They have 179 complaints posted with the BBB in the past three years, but only 45 in the past year. Also, they have responded to each and every complaint that came in, and resolved them to the merchant’s satisfaction about 80% of the time (146 out of 179). Those aren’t bad numbers. The complaint volume is fairly high for a business of this size, but it’s not outrageous. Also, they have BBB accreditation and an A+ rating, if that means anything to you.
Ripoff Reports lists an additional 56 complaints, which is high for that site. A lot of these complaints have to do specifically with the EPS90 “No Credit Check 90 Day Payment Plan” service, and not credit processing in general. I particularly liked this complaint, which very succinctly explains the pitfalls of EPS as of November 2013.
The most common complaints you’ll see for Electronic Payment Systems include:
- Bad payment plan service: This review sums it up pretty well. Basically the way EPS does this, via their EPS90 service, is to have a customer post-date checks to be processed at a later date. Sounds ridiculous? It is! EPS says they’ll guarantee these checks so you won’t have any risk. Sounds good, right? WRONG. Agents will often “forget” to tell you that EPS only guarantees check volume under 5% of the total sum for payment plan checks processed. Anything above that, and it’s your problem. In some cases this might work out for you. It might even be an asset. But make sure you have all of the terms and stipulations before you sign up for the EPS90 “EZ-Pay” payment plan services. (Also, you might want to check out this court document for more info.)
- Bad leasing agreements: This is so common that I actually put my palm to my face when I read these complaints. Sales reps do a great job at selling merchants on terminal leasing agreements. They’ll tell you that you can write it off on your taxes, that it lowers your start up cost, that you won’t have to worry about becoming obsolete. This is all garbage. Leasing terminals almost never makes financial sense. You get locked into a four-year agreement costing thousands of dollars for a machine that sells for a few hundred dollars brand new. Read this article, please!
- Deceptive sales tactics/non-disclosure of contract terms: These kinds of complaints come up with all processors that use independent sales agents. These often poorly trained and poorly regulated agents sometimes don’t even realize that they are lying to you, because they were never properly trained in the first place. Others are desperate to close a sale because of a lack of leads provided to them by EPS, leading them to neglect to mention potential deal-breakers. They aren’t bad people necessarily; just frantic to make the money they need to survive. Early termination fees, payment plan stipulations, rate and fee structures, non-cancellable leasing agreements, and overall headache are some details agents neglect to disclose to merchants when it becomes inconvenient to do so. The only way to protect yourself is to read and understand the entirety of your merchant agreement. If this isn’t a task you are up to, we can help.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Electronic Payment Systems offers a bunch written testimonials as a PDF, all saying nice things about the service (especially the payment plan service). They also have one strange video commercial for a funeral home that they call a “testimonial,” but it’s really just a kind of creepy commercial. (No offense to funeral homes, but maybe not the most invigorating business to chose as the standout client for EPS.)
You should feel free to ask your individual sales rep for references – meaning other merchants he or she has personally signed up in the past. This kind of specific information will be much more meaningful for you than some vague testimonials on the corporate site. If he or she can give you references related to your own industry, even better.
You could do worse than Electronic Payment Systems, but you could also do better. While EPS definitely has the tools and the experience to set you up with acceptable payment processing options, you might have to navigate bad contract terms and dishonest sales practices to get there. Even for high-risk merchants, I have little reason to direct you toward EPS. You’re better off with our five-star processor Durango Merchant Services, where they also cater to the high-risk demographic.
I hope to update this review with good news soon. EPS has the potential to be a viable option for payment processing, and I really like that they advertise interchange-plus plans and that they offer 24/7 in-house customer service. Fewer and fewer complaints are coming in for them, so maybe in another six month they’ll have their act together and I can recommend Electronic Payment Systems. But in the meantime, I’d recommend you check out one of our other processors. EPS only gets three stars for now.