EVO Merchant Services Review
Founded by Ray Sidholm around 1990, Merchant Services Inc. began as a small provider of merchants accounts and POS terminals. It grew steadily over the next twenty years, following the trends of the industry, becoming EVO Merchant Services in 2003, and eventually utilizing a large salesforce of independent office and agents. In 2012, Sidholm stepped down as CEO and took on a chairman role, giving the position to James Kelley, former Chief Operating Office of the processing giant Global Payments. At this time EVO has rebranded itself as EVO Payments International, showing their plans to take on a larger international clientele. Currently, EVO services about 500,000 merchants processing over $50 billion per year.
As EVO expands, their direct-to-customer marketing shrinks. Most of the public information EVO provides involves recruitment of sales agents and sales offices, not gaining direct sales. This sort of thing confounds the review process. Since so many independent offices and agents resell EVO’s products and services, it’s nearly impossible to provide an accurate overall assessment. EVO does not seem to make a concerted effort to standardize its offerings across their many sales agents, so sales tactics and fees vary widely. Even the products and services themselves vary.
EVO offers services in the US, Canada and Europe, making the review process even more complicated. I’m yet to see any reviews coming from Europe, but I have noticed a definite negative trend when it comes to Canadian accounts. Looking at the comments on this page alone, you can see a disproportionate number of complaints coming from Canadian merchants. That said, EVO seems to have an average number of complaints overall for a processor of its size.
I can’t recommend that you do business with EVO. While I think that they get the job done as a processor, their salesforce has rubbed enough merchants the wrong way to take them off my list of qualified candidates. Not to mention they have a $295 early termination fee and no reviews listed on their site. They get a generous 3.5 stars for now, reflecting my hope for a brighter future for EVO.
Check out the full review for more information, or take a look at our comparison chart to see the account providers we consider the best of the best.
Products and Services:
EVO tries to do as much in-house as possible, so you’ll find a lot of proprietary products and services in their offerings, which include:
- Merchant accounts
- Payment gateway
- Accelerated funding program: For a fee, EVO can promise you next-day funding. While I think it’s kind of wrong to ask merchants to pay extra for fast processing, it’s also kind of nice to have the option instead of not offering it at all.
- Billing program: Called EVO eZpay, it offers everything you’d expect from a good quality billing service.
- Integrated payment platform: Called EVO Snap* (the asterisk is part of the typography, not an indication of a footnote). This software just recently made it out of beta, and is now available for full-fledged use. I haven’t reviewed it in-depth yet, but it looks neat.
- Check services
- Gift card/loyalty program
Fees and Rates:
While you won’t find any talk of rates or fees in the advertising on EVO’s main corporate site, you will find an inconspicuous link labeled “Pricing” on their sales agent recruiting site. When I clicked on this link, expected to find some asinine sales gimmick or outrageous pricing model. Well, I was pleasantly surprised.
If you click that link, you’ll see a really nice and understandable description of interchange-plus (cost plus) pricing. If you’ve read much on this site, you know that interchange-plus is our preferred pricing model for almost all businesses. So you can imagine how my heart skipped a beat when I saw these sentences:
Our pricing structure is a cost plus model. This is our only pricing model.
Uhh, yes please! Don’t you hate it when you’re all nice and primed to dislike someone, but then they go ahead and compliment your new haircut? That’s the feeling I was left with after reviewing their excellent copy on this pricing page. They go on to say that:
When comparing merchant accounts on an interchange plus pricing model, don’t become fixated on the provider’s interchange markup. There are many different ways that providers can make money from merchant accounts. Becoming fixated on the interchange markup can cause you to miss other inflated charges such as monthly fees, transaction fees and cancellation fees.
That’s pretty solid advice, really.
I was able to get in touch with a sales agent (it took some effort on my part, since they clearly don’t get many sales directly through their website), and the rep pitched me an interchange-plus plan that had fair rates and fees. Overall, I found the sale experience impressive. No high-pressure tactics, no gimmicks, just business.
While this is all good news, I’ve heard a wide variety of pricing experiences with EVO, so I’m not ready to give them a major endorsement. It depends entirely on your processing needs and the specific agent or office you get in touch with. I will say, though, that EVO is at least moving in a good direction. If only they could do something about that early termination fee.
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
Based on reviews I’ve read and my own sales experience, it seems that early termination fees and contract length vary depending on your agent and your business. There’s little standardization here.
I’ve seen a number of one-year contracts as well as the more standard three-year contracts. Both usually have auto-renewal clauses for one-year periods after the expiration of the initial contact. You will have to put in a request for cancellation about 90 days before your contract expires to avoid the early termination fee.
Cancellation fees seem to start at $295, but I’ve heard various fees from merchants. While I absolutely recommend finding a contract with no early termination fee (we’ve reviewed many processors offering month-to-month contracts), $295 is on the low end of the industry standard.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
Like most merchant account providers who rely on poorly regulated independent agents for the majority of their sales, EVO Payments suffers from a severe lack of sales transparency. Most of the complaints you’ll read about EVO highlight undisclosed contract terms and fees. This is the definition of poor sales transparency. Sure, corporate can always cry ignorance, but that doesn’t fix the problem.
As far as advertising transparency, EVO payments doesn’t really have a whole lot of advertising out there. They don’t advertise rate or fees, and they don’t have any sales gimmicks. So I guess you could say that they have good advertising transparency – but really they just have minimal advertising.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
EVO offers 24/7 customer support (and 24/7 agent support, if you were wondering). That said, I haven’t heard wonderful things about their support. As far as having a point of contact in your sales rep (“account executive”) after signing – well, that will depend on which rep signs you up.
If you’ve had a good experience with EVO’s support, let us know in the comment section at the end of this review. Let us know if you’ve had a bad experience too, of course!
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
EVO has a lot of complaints against them in relation to their size, but not a huge amount. It’s difficult to quantify the exact amount, however, since they’ve changed their corporate name a few times in the past decade and also because they employ so many sub-ISOs, many of which do not operate under the EVO name. I can tell you that they have about 44 complaints listed on Ripoff Reports, and 64 complaints listed on their main BBB profile – although they have several peripheral BBB profiles for sub-ISOs. This is actually a fairly reasonable number.
Of the complaints I’ve read, the follow seem to come up the most:
- Undisclosed contract terms: This includes a variety of fees (including the early termination fee), their auto-renewal clause, contract length, among other finer details. Unfortunately, we live in a world where you just can believe anything a salesperson tells you. If you let your guard down, you often end up paying for it – literally. On Merchant Maverick, we can point toward honest companies, but at the end of the day the only way to protect yourself is to carefully review your contract or have someone help you with it.
- Bad leasing agreements: I don’t think there is any such thing as a good lease agreement, but when these already crappy terms go undisclosed – it leads to some very unhappy customers. Check out this article before you decide to lease a terminal from anyone.
- Difficulty closing an account: This goes beyond the early termination fee and auto-renewal clause. A number of merchants have had their termination requests “lost” by EVO, and many others have closed their account only to continue being charged fees for months after. This is bad news.
I’m also very worried about reviews like this post on RipOffReport from former EVO sales agents claiming systemic use of unethical and illegal practices, including forging signatures.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
I couldn’t locate any positive reviews or official testimonials for EVO Payments International. If you know of any, please leave a comment for me!
EVO has a ways to go before I can recommend them. I do like their interchange-plus pricing model, but why don’t they put this kind of information on their main site? EVO needs to standardize its sales practices a little bit. I understand that diversity helps to make sure merchants have options, but they need to actively work to prevent complaints by removing bad agents from their salesforce and making it clear to new agents what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t.
Maybe their rebranding as EVO Payments International will give them a fresh start to build a new reputation. I really hope they do. I think EVO has good ideas – but their offerings might favor agents over merchants. They need to provide more useful resources and more meaningful marketing directly to their customers. Until I see some substantial changes to the EVO reputation, I can only give them 3.5 stars, and that’s being very generous I think. But I hope to revisit this with good news soon!
In the meantime, definitely check out some of our highest rated processors like CDGcommerce, Flagship or Dharma Merchant Services. You can also take a look at our credit card processor comparison chart!