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13Apr/1462

Flagship Merchant Services Review

Merchant Maverick's Rating: (4 out of 5)
four-stars

Last Updated: April 13th, 2014.

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Overview:

I’ve had a complicated relationship with Flagship Merchant Services (aka, CardServ Inc.) in recent months. I go back and forth between hitting myself on the forehead with frustration and grinning with delight. They’re still hanging on and providing good bang for your buck, but I’m not completely satisfied with their services in 2013.

I like Flagship well enough overall. They take care of most of my essential concerns, with no setup fees and no early termination fees and a ton of other great discounts. They’ll also waive your Authorize.Net gateway setup fees (usually about $100), which is really nice for ecommerce businesses along with their free shopping cart setup. A free mobile swiper and app could also come in handy. You can definitely find good value with Flagship’s value-added services. Unfortunately I’m not entirely convinced that their basic (and essential) processing services live up to this value.

When visiting the Flagship homepage, you’ll be impressed to see that they were rated the number one merchant account provider in the industry for seven straight years by Top Ten Reviews. That’s a pretty big deal, you might think. While I certainly see it as a commendable achievement, I can also tell you that Top Ten doesn’t take many important factors into consideration. For instance, they completely ignore the $99 annual PCI compliance fee charged by Flagship, as well as the $20 monthly non-compliance fee. They also ignore important considerations like customer satisfaction and sales/advertising transparency. Interchange-plus pricing? I don’t think that Top Ten even knows what that is.

Still, all said and done, Flagship makes the grade as a 4-star provider at the moment. I love that they have no early termination fee, and that they do their best to add value to your processing account. They’re doing better than average.

To raise their rating, Flagship could:

  • Publically and personally address more complaints, including those in our comments section
  • Disclose commonly misunderstood fees more clearly during sales consultations, as well as on their website
  • Advertise an interchange-plus option, and provide information about this transparency-enhancing pricing model
  • Keep better tabs on inactive accounts, and follow up with non-seasonal merchants when they have not been processing for extended periods of time
  • Make the cancellation process simpler, more reliable, and easier to track
  • Include PCI compliance fees as part of the advertised monthly cost, and actively work (or work harder) to ensure merchants avoid PCI non-compliance fees
  • Stop advertising deceptively low rates (“Rates start at 0.38% + $0.19”)

Check out the full review below  for more details.

Date Established:

2001.

Location:

Charlestown, Massachusetts.

Domain Name(s):

Products and Services:

Flagship Merchant Services offers a pretty limited number of products and service, which is actually a good sign in my mind. I like to see a provider add value to your account without trying to shove the kitchen sink down your throat. While I’m not particularly impressed here – and I had a hard time locating much useful information – they offer everything you’d need to get started. Offerings include:

  • Merchant accounts: Flagship Merchant Services is not a direct processor. They use a third-party for processing services. These seem to come mostly through iPayment, but have also come through First Data in the past.
  • Gateway/virtual terminal: Gateways come from Authorize.Net, with no set up fee. This could save you about $100 in some cases.
  • Mobile processing: Offered through iPayment’s MobilePay. They’ll even hook you up with a free swiper.
  • Terminal sales
  • Online reporting
  • Simple checkout
  • Shopping cart setup

Fees and Rates:

While they may set you up with interchange-plus pricing if you ask for it, by default they’ll set you up with a tiered system. Other fees include:

  • PCI compliance fee: $99 annually
  • PCI non-compliance fee: Additional $20 monthly
  • Statement fee: $7.95
  • Gateway fee: $8-10
  • Their monthly minimum varies and is negotiable, but it seems like the industry standard $25 monthly minimum is used most commonly. Please note that your other fees do not count toward your monthly minimum – only your processing fees do.

So if you do not process any transactions on a given month, you will be responsible for about $33 in fees, not including PCI compliance fees. If we prorate the PCI compliance fee and include it (as we should), then your baseline monthly payment for a retail account, just for having the service (even if you don't use it) is about $42 per month minimum. That’s pretty steep when you compare it to Dharma Merchant Services, who charges only $15 as a baseline monthly payment for retail. CDGcommerce charges only $10 per month in baseline fees for a retail account.

For low-volume or sporadic processing, this makes a huge difference. But if you’re processing enough to exceed your monthly minimum every month, then it won’t make any difference to your bottom line whatsoever.

Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:

Flagship Merchant Services has no early termination fee, making your account with them a month-to-month agreement (which is awesome). Make sure to cancel your account as per the instructions in your contract, though, or else they’ll continue taking monthly fees from your bank account.

You should note that some merchant have reported difficulty closing their accounts, a problem that Flagship blames the processor for. The good news is that if this occurs and you are charged monthly fees when your account should have already been cancelled, Flagship will generally reimburse you that fee.

Sales and Advertising Transparency:

Flagship makes very few fee disclosures on their website, offering visitors little initial guidance or education material. I was disappointed to see them using the oldest deceptive gimmick in the book, quoting the lowest possible rate as a representation of their fees. It is, in fact, one of the only hard numbers that Flagship provides:

Rates start at 0.38% + $0.19 per transaction with Free Account Set up!

They don’t even offer a footnote explaining that this rate will only apply to some debit transaction, nor do they go on to explain how rates are decided anywhere on the Flagship site. I would rather they didn’t provide any rate quote than a single deceptively low number that is likely to cause at least some confusion.

Furthermore, although they advertise their credit card terminals with some vigor, Flagship fails to disclose any pricing information. While most providers don’t disclose any pricing information, the best ones do (Merchant Warehouse and Dharma Merchant Service, to name a couple).

While I’m thrilled to see that Flagship Merchant Services uses an in-house sales team for most of their accounts, but that fact makes many merchant complaints I’ve read even more disappointing. Independent sales reps are known for unregulated activities and overall poor training. When in-house reps are failing to make important disclosure – that is a bit worrisome.

While I don’t have evidence that this problem is systemic at Flagship, you should proceed with some caution (as always).

Customer Service and Technical Support:

While Flagship Merchant Services advertises 24/7 customer support (thumbs up), many merchants have reported a lack of overall quality. During business hours you are likely to get in touch with an in-house representative to help you (which is ideal!), but outside of regular business hours you may see a decline in the quality of service.

I really love that Flagship makes the person who sold you their services your continuing point of contact as a dedicated account manager. Unfortunately, this means that if you get an unresponsive account rep, you could be in for a bumpy ride. While I have every reason to believe that most Flagship reps do a great job, it’s obvious to me that some are missing the mark. If this happens, I’d encourage you to escalate the matter to his or her manager, and even ask to have your account transferred to a different representative if you simply can’t make it work. At the end of the day, Flagship wants you to be happy. Sometimes you just need to be aggressive to make that happen.

One merchant on the BBB review page says that:

Although customer service was great the billing was not, nor was the contract discussed in full.

Another puts it more bluntly:

They are helpful at first but when you don’t receive the funds in your account it’s like talking to a brick wall.

And this one more colorfully:

The customer service department was like a box of chocolates….you never know what you’re gonna get.

Furthermore, the Flagship FAQ leaves a lot to be desired, and it’s the only self-service customer support available.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Flagship’s internet reputation had a rough year in 2013. You can currently find 40 complaints on RipoffReports, as well as almost 60 complaints in our own comments section. They have an unfavorable C+ rating with the BBB, with 92 complaints in the past three years. 54 of those complaints came in over the past 12 months, demonstrating a rapid rise in complaint volume. In addition to the 92 complaints, Flagship has been reviewed 31 times on the BBB, with 28 of those being negative, three neutral, and zero positive. You can find an additional 42 complaints on ConsumerAffairs.com.

Some of the most common complaints with Flagship Merchant Services include:

  • Non-disclosure of important contract terms: For instance, a number of merchants complained that they filled out an the application and signed the Merchant Agreement believing that it was part of the application process and not actually signing up for service to begin. Many merchants also complain that various fees (such as monthly minimums).

One commenter says:

After signing an application online, my next email was with instructions on how to reprogram the terminal. I’m like, wait a minute, where’s the MPA?? They forwarded me a copy of the agreement, which had my digital signature placed on pages I’d never seen. Seems to be in order, but I’m not happy about that. How hard is it for me to review each page online and place the signature myself? We’ll see when I get the first statement.

  • PCI non-compliance fee: While I don’t really like to see this fee at all, especially when you’re already paying a PCI compliance fee of $99 with Flagship – the fee itself is not my problem here. The problem is that account representatives fail to clearly disclose this fee in many cases. The cost is an additional $19.95 per month for non-compliance.
  • Difficulty cancelling service: This comes up over and over and over again, so I know something is up over there. Having no early termination fee starts to lose its meaning when you’re paying $50+ per month for a service you’re not using and that you wanted to get rid of.

To quote one reviewer on the BBB site:

Oh, what anguish to get my account cancelled. 3 times! I sent a written statement to the company to cancel our account with them and they do nothing. Don't respond to my emails or phone calls just continue to charge me the minimum amount every month which was like $75 this past month. I hope to get this resolved soon but it looks pretty bleak.

  • Poor customer service after signing: Having your salesperson as a continuing point of contact can make for an overall excellent support experience. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. When your account representative becomes unresponsive, it can be a nightmare.
  • Billing issues: In these instances, Flagships points the finger at their processor iPayment (and perhaps rightfully so). After all, these mistakes often do come directly from the processor. In my opinion, though, Flagship had ought to provide intensive arbitration and mediation on the merchant’s behalf. This includes account holds/freezes, which you can do your part to avoid by reading this article.

The good news here: Flagship is generally willing to provide at least partial refunds and make things right.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials:

You can find a couple of merchant testimonials on the Flagship homepage, as well as a small list of logos for companies they provide services for.

The most substantial recommendation for Flagship Merchant Services comes from the popular review site Top Ten Reviews, which reviews everything from consumer products to career choices. While Top Ten may honestly and unbiasedly believe that Flagship is the best merchant account provider out there, I have to firmly disagree with them.

Unlike Top Ten Reviews, we only review merchant services and software here. It seems to me that Top Ten misses some very important aspects of the review process. They completely ignore the $99 annual PCI compliance fee charged by Flagship, as well as the $20 monthly non-compliance fee. They also ignore important considerations like customer satisfaction and sales/advertising transparency. Interchange-plus pricing doesn’t seem to be a phrase in their vocabulary. To be frank, I think that the merchant account reviews from Top Ten are driven by arbitrary data and superficial appearances. So while Flagship has indeed won their top spot seven years running, I question the meaningfulness of this award – and so should you.

Final Verdict:

There’s a lot to love about Flagship, to be sure. They generally provide good value, deal with almost all sales in-house as far as I know, and let you leave at any time without penalty (in theory). I love the freebies they offer, even if they’re presented in a gimmicky way. Unfortunately, it’s not all good news.

Without a doubt, some complaints that come in under the Flagship name are actually criticisms of their processors, namely iPayment. In my mind, however, it’s Flagship’s responsibility to provide excellent arbitration, mediation, and prevention when it comes to processing issue. It seems like they fall short here in many cases. Their advertising transparency needs work, and their online reputation isn’t fairing well. Flagship has to make some serious changes – more than the facelift they gave their homepage recently – to keep up in this industry.

They get 4 out of 5 stars for the moment. They perform better than the industry standard, but I don’t know how much longer this will be true. More and more providers are dropping their early termination fees and disclosing incidental fees more clearly. I’m still comfortable recommending Flagship to you, but you should proceed with some level of caution. I’m hoping to revisit this review with good news in 2014. Time will tell…

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Tom DeSimone

Tom loves asking tough questions and getting straight answers, so he has a lot of fun calling payment processors for Merchant Maverick to cut through their smoke and mirrors and find the real deals. He has run a full-time editorial business from his home in New York’s Hudson Valley since 2010 and could not imagine a better job. When not busy writing and keeping credit processors honest, Tom enjoys backpacking in the mountains.

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  1. Beware of this company (flagship merchants) this company is terrible. I have a very successful small appliance business and i went online and found out that flagship is number one . I don’t understand how in the world they were one unless this is there website claiming this. Because after using them for only four months they are on the bottom of my list. When i sign up with Nick of flagship merchants he tells me that make sure i have plenty of money in my checking account. This should of send red flags up.THIS COMPANY NICKLE AND DIMES YOU WITH FEES. NOT small fees but BIG FEES. It cost me alot with this company and i’m a little guy and just want to save you the time and the fees . STAY AWAY FROM COMPANY.

    • 11111
  2. Dear Tom,

    How can you give Flagship Merchant Services 4 stars? I’m confused…most of the reviews are scathingly bad. My own experience was similar…undisclosed and almost random fees that have no explanation and poor justification. I terminated my agreement with them in Oct 2013 and was charged the $99 compliance fee on 12-31-13 to an account we thought was finished…thus causing an overdraft situation and an additional $32 fee. When terminating with Flagship, I expressly asked if there were any other fees or charges and they said no and that they would take care of everything. My mistake…hopefully it won’t be ongoing. I suggest you reconsider your 4 star rating of Flagship Merchant Services….a very undeserved ranking in my opinion. Have you actually used their service?

    • Not Rated
    • Hi Peter,

      I absolutely understand your frustration and confusion here. Very recently (a few days ago), I gave our Flagship review a long overdue update. At that point, I lowered the rating from 4.5 to 4 stars, citing a number of recurring complaints that came up with alarming regularity in 2013 especially. If you check out my introduction to this review, you’ll see my list of qualms and the overall ambivalence and hopefulness with which I lowered their rating by only half a star instead of by more. The main reason I decided to do this comes from Flagship’s formerly good reputation and reliable service, which is clearly in serious jeopardy at this point. You can bet that their rating will continue to sink in the coming weeks and months if their business practices do not improve. We have personally contacted Flagship to let them know how we’d like to see them improve, and we anxiously await their implementation (hopefully) of these changes. I will be taking your comment and the many other comments here and elsewhere on the web under careful consideration over the coming weeks.

      Thank you so much for your time and your input, Peter. It has not reached deaf ears.

      All the best,
      Tom

      • Not Rated
  3. These guys are awful if you are in consulting or high dollar low volume sales. I am a consultant and get paid via relatively few transactions per year. Occasionally I’ve been asked if I take credit cards. As an effort at customer service I opened this account to try it out.

    To start I was approved for a relatively low max transaction value making it of limited use for my business. The agent I spoke to was a good salesperson and convinced me to try it out any way even though I saw it of little use. When the bills started arriving, the charges ping ponged all over the place and included a statement fee of $7.95 which I had not been informed of. A few months in the annual PCI fee of $99. Then a mysterious $30 fee was added on.

    I had never actually logged into set up the account and decided to cancel. When I called customer service person offered me $75 refund on the PCI fee and a lower monthly fee of $7.95, no statement fee. I thought this was reasonable for a potential value to customers.

    Three months later they were still charging me $37.95 a month. I called to cancel and they claimed it was a PCI non compliance fee because I had not filled out a form on their website. I asked them to suspend service immediately.

    They never did and claimed they needed my signature first and had sent me an email requesting this. The next time I checked my account I see they have continued to charge me $37.95/month for a service I have never used.

    Today I spoke to [Name Removed] in customer service and he told me it was reasonable for them to charge us the PCI non compliance fee as I was advised monthly on my statement.

    Folks – in the middle of the bill is a “Reminder” that merchants must be PCI compliant. It does not say anywhere that my account is NOT compliant. In the fees section it posts a $30 fee which is described as **Additional Fees.

    When I complained that this is not clear and poor practice, Brian told me I was properly charged and “declined” to offer a refund. He said it was part of the fees for having an account. When I asked what they do with these PCI fees he said it simply goes to them. His attitude was well, that’s too bad for you, its in the fine print. They were so solicitous and helpful in the sales process and so dismissive in the customer service process.

    Talk about a rip off – $7.95 for a service and $30 additional FEES per month totaling over $500 in 10 months for processing exactly 0 transaction. I’m sure this works better if you run a pizza shop or in retail, but think carefully and don’t believe the sales hype. They get you in the fees.

    • 11111
  4. I’ve never taken the time before to write a complaint about a company. First time for everything!

    I don’t think I’ve ever dealt with a company with such terrible customer service. They don’t care about you as a customer… in my experience. I called to complain about the surprising items on my bill – which were NEVER mentioned to me by the sales guy who reviewed what I would be paying each month. They’re response? “It’s in the contract sir. You signed the contract!” I explained that I may not have read all the fine print – and that’s clearly my fault… but I gave some credence to what the sales guy said – and just accepted it as accurate. Boy was I wrong! One item was a fee they told me I had to pay because the IRS required it. I found out by a big bank I called that this is a flat LIE.

    So, after getting nowhere with her, I asked to just speak to the manager. When I got to her – without hearing my story she said “it was clearly in the contract and you signed it.” I tried to share my story – nicely – and she just talked right over me. I stopped, she finished, I started again and she talked right over me. It was unbelievable.
    So, I canceled my service. I was told it would be canceled in 30 days after I filled out some paperwork. Believing I had through Jan to still use the service…I didn’t get around to setting up the next one. I tried to run a few transactions and it didn’t work. I called t hem back and said “I though I had through January??” She said, “Nope. We canceled your account on the 8th.” I explained the last person said I could use it through the month, etc. and she just said NOTHING. Like the “cold hearted Orb that rules the night” (Moody Blues). I swear these people, the training, the policies, the service is seriously pathetic. I hope they lose all their customers because no one should be allowed to conduct business this way.

    There. I got it off my chest.

    Pffft.

    • 11111
  5. I enlisted Flagship Merchant Services to set-up credit card processing for a charity event where 100% of monies raised go directly to needy children. As such, credit card processing fees would be paid separately so fees were critical. Being a lawyer, I knew what questions to ask and attempted to have ALL fees clearly deliniated. Every single statement made to me regarding fees was a lie. The fees were higher, there were undisclosed fees such a “monthly report fee,” and then a $125 charge described simply as an “additional fee.” The company also created “security issues” and refused to deposit credit card charges for more than 20 days. I am sure they float other merchant’s money in a similar fashion and collect interest on the withheld money. No merchant who reviews and understands their statements could EVER recommend this company.

    • 11111
  6. In August I discovered that Flagship Merchant Services had set up an account in my name that was fraudulent. My business name and EIN had been stolen and combined with the SSN of an 83 year old woman. I notified them immediately and received in return copies of the application. Numerous red flags, as in the birth date was 1929 and the names for the signature and typed names were different. Over $3600 was run through this fraudulent account that I notified them about. Now they are trying to collect that money from me and have sent the account to Collections. They knew it was fraudulent because I had told them and sent them the Police Report I had made…and now, to cover their incompetence in setting up without verifying , they are trying to collect from me. Fail. I don’t think there is a low enough rating. I question their ethics, if they even know what the word means.

    • 11111
  7. Flagship was terrible for me. They kept my first payment of $2300 for a month to confirm that it was a legitimate transaction. They wouldn’t call the person that was trying to pay and they wouldn’t call their bank – they would only use a fax and wait for a response. Additionally I was promised a $7.95 monthly fee plus the usual transaction fee. I had set up the account clearly explaining that I would rarely use the service. Last month I paid $62.95 and I didn’t use it at all. They wouldn’t refund the charges.

    • 11111
  8. First transaction is taking over 5 business days and still ‘processing’. Authorize.net went without a hitch, ipayments halted processing demanding documentation of the transaction. I had to send them my customers PO and my company’s Invoice. Now they want 3 months of bank statements! It is not uncommon for us to have a contract requiring start-up funds, draws at milestone completions, and final payment. Now they are saying they won’t allow the same customer to charge more than 5K per month!. Peanuts for construction jobs. As a construction company I am not sure they are the provider for us. Am shopping for a better solution.

    • Not Rated
  9. I just cancelled my service with Flagship Merchant Services and Roam Pay. When I signed up for the service, about 5 months ago, the salesman quoted me a $7.95 per month fee (acceptable) with a 1.5% processing fee per transaction (also acceptable) and no lock in long contract (very attractive). I let the salesman know that I was just starting up and that I wanted the ability to take charge cards, but sales would likely be sporadic and small. There was no mention of a minimum volume for transactions… Surprise! Over the past two months I have paid $25 per month in “Minimum Discount” fees PLUS the $7.95, and this month another $7.95 was added for an Internet Access (Gateway) Fee (notification received Sept 6 regarding this addition to my bill. I called customer service (on hold for 10+ minutes) last month and the service rep explained that the “Minimum Discount Fee” would be charged any month that I didn’t use the service. So I figured with two transactions over the past 30 days, I wouldn’t be subject to the minimum $25 fee… I guess it just doesn’t really work that way! SO, for my $55 in transactions over the past two months, I have paid $73.65 in fees to Flagship Merchant Services. Needless to say, the economics just didn’t make sense… I’d be ahead if I had just given those services away for free. Subscriber beware! Especially if you are not going to be doing a huge amount of transactions.

    • Not Rated
  10. I am a non-profit with very little funds. I closed my account in 12/12. I get my bank statement today and I have been charged three separate fees totaling $150.00 I am told that I had two accounts with them and only one was closed. They are refusing to refund me of the charges. If you want to be taken advantage of this is the kind of company you want to do business with. Who is going to explain to a burn survivor that is requesting medical help? Not Flagship Merchants.

    • 11111
  11. TERRIBLE experience with FLAGSHIP MERCHANT SERVICES!! I am a farmer and I have a sporting goods store that I opened a few years ago that I work when I have slowed down after the harvest season which sells everything from camping supplies to firearms. I had done some internet research and came across Flagship because of their high rating. I am extremely busy with the farm and had my girlfriend call them to ask several question and get some information for me. Well, they seemed very helpful with her as she explained what business I had and made sure to let them know that firearm sales were part of the business. They told her “no problem” and she returned with lots of fees, transaction percentages, etc.. for me to study. After I had decided to go through with them, I contacted the representative via email to further discuss opening an account with them, which I explained that I was very busy working from dusk till dawn and didn’t have time to sit on a phone going through an application and speaking with someone at that time. I requested that he send me written documentation of their policies, and an application form or a list of needed/required info for their application process so that I could jot down everything when I could and then call them back after I had all the info needed to speed up the process. I received a quick reply with NO policy attachment or information on what was needed for the application! I was just told the application was “easily” done over the phone and only took “10 minutes”. Well, that didn’t sit well with me because I just explained that I couldn’t speak over the phone at that time! (It’s hard to talk on a phone when you are covered in sweat, dirt, oil, mud, grease and the sounds of loud diesel tractor motors and pumps running around you!) So, I sent a quick text message to my girlfriend to find out what was needed. Apparently they do not like to put ANYTHING in writing because they told her over the phone what was needed for the application. She emailed what they said to me and I jotted down all info later that evening and returned it to her. She called them back and did the application process and was “APPROVED”, they just needed a voided business check for the account info to link to. Now this is where it gets good! I immediately started getting telemarketer calls for credit card machines, etc! I got several after the application process and the next day! During this time, I had a guy building my website and trying to post item for sale. I had my girlfriend call Flagship to let them know she had a copy of the voided check and to let them know I was unhappy about the selling on my info to telemarketers and to take me off any lists that I may have been on. They LIED to her saying that they do not do that. (REALLY!? Maybe that’s why they wont give you any written documentation of their policies!) Well apparently she pissed them off. They called her back and claimed they went to my website, which is “under construction” being rebuilt and since they saw “guns” they could not “approve” me and would not do business with me!! (Wait, what!? I explained to them up-front, guns were part of my business. I was APPROVED the day before! And now since I expressed they were not allowed to sell my information to telemarketers, they are denying their services now!? WOW!) As stated before me, DO NOT USE FLAGSHIP MERCHANT SERVICES!!!! They are a joke and complete waste of time! I hope my experience helps save someone else this same hassle and headache!

    • Not Rated
  12. BEWARE. Flagship Merchant Services is TERRIBLE. They misrepresented their fees, until the final contract. Then, they did not wait for approval.

    They signed me up without my final consent and would not let me retract their mistake. It took me 4 phone calls and over 50 minutes on hold to find out that I needed to fax a form to withdraw from their service. Then, they withdrew $32.95 simply because they “cannot cancel my account until month’s end.” Then, they sent a threating letter about PCI Compliance where they want to withdraw $129.00 from my account.

    When I tried to speak with a manager, they refused. I finally had to cancel my bank account to prevent further withdrawals from theim. DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY. It cost much more than the $14.95 they advertise.

    I am surprised that Top Ten REviews endorses this company. It makes me wonder how these reviews are set.

    • 11111
  13. Please beware of this company, as James Nielson states in his accurate and pointiest description of Flagship Merchant Service. I too have been a victim of the deceitful practices of this company. In short misrepresentation of fees from Account Representative [edited: name removed], lies about the time to post to my account from the same account representative and the fact that they are not the producer of merchant service at all that they use a poorly organized and miss directed servicer iPayment to carry forth the lies and thievery. To give this company 1 star is generous but provided because there is no contract knowing that I could get out and did in 2 weeks! Do not use Flagship Merchant Services or iPayment as your Credit Card service. Fore Warned Is Fore Told.

    • 11111
  14. First, let me point out that Flagship’s rating with the BBB has dropped (and will continue to, if you ask me). It’s not that easy for us “little people” to get ourselves heard, and corporations DO have their ways of keeping their image nice and shiny, but when you get on the wrong side of customers like me…

    I’ll spare everyone the maddening details, but I’d like to offer my experience with Flagship/iPayment. Basically, they double-billed me for MONTHS via my personal account as well as my business account. It took a while for ME (not them) to figure it out, so by the time I realized what was going on I was out $400+, and they were content to keep it. My credit union changed my account numbers to finally end the charges, but Flagship has fought the reversal of funds, and has not done anything to remedy the “error”, so they really are scum in my book.

    Regardless of how well researched any positive reviews of them might be, the truth is that “on-paper” research and journalism, although useful, does not equate to real-world experience.

    James Nielson
    The Fix, LLC
    Portland Oregon

    • Not Rated
  15. Talk about gouging. These people are liars! I went through 4 months and was wondering where all these extra debits (ACH payments) were coming from. They were taking from 20% to 30% out of my sales (and that didn’t even include Authorize.Net’s fees which were reasonable). I made a commitment with them based on this website and am extremely disappointed. In a month, I had ~$550 in charges and their bill was ~$160 (~$120 was marked as “Additional Fees”)!! (the other months were similar 20%-30% munched from these jerks!)
    I was told I was low risk and no chargebacks were ever made. When I began to do my year-end accounting, I was scratching my head as to where all my money went. What am I paying for? Why the HIDDEN charges? Geez!

    • 11111
  16. I would not recommend this company. I went with Flagship based on your review and was very happy with how easy the set up process was and how friendly the customer service was at first, but it all went south from there very quickly. I have actually never dealt with a more frusterating company.

    My issues all started with my “account manager.” I had a trunk show the following week and needed my Roam Data swiper before then. In order to do this, he put my account at very low monthly maximum transacation amount, which I went over on my first day of sales. I would have told him that I needed a higher amount, had he ever told me I had this maximum. He was also suppossed to send me the Roam Pay swiper before my show, but it was late and arrived 2 days after my trunk show. Because I did not have my swiper, he told me to manually enter in my charges to my authorize.net account, and everything woudl be fine. NOT TRUE. Immediately following my trunk show my account was flagged for fraud and my funds were frozen. It was flagged because all my charges were the same (I ONLY HAVE ONE PRODUCT) and because I manually entered in data (Which was an order from my manager). At this point, my contact manager literally fell off the face of the earth. Over two weeks later, I STILL have not heard back from him after sending countless emails and leaving voicemails. The woman working in the risk department on my account also never returned my calls, ever. It took me calling probally 15 times in one day until I could speak to a supervisor, for them to get a hold of my contact in the Risk Department.

    At this point, the risk department explained that the hold up was because there were not phone numbers on the invoicse (WHICH WAS NOT TRUE), so she had to look these people up in the phone book. Are you crazy!? So I sent through a very neat and detailed excel with all of the necessary information. Still did not hear anything.

    At the same time, my account funds were being held becasue I went over my maximum, so I was trying to up my minimum. I recieved an email from the supervisor I was working with last week, that I was apprvoed. Only to find out yesterday that actually, no, he was wrong. Two weeks later, I still have not been approved.

    I have called and called and called to speak wtih supervisors trying to get my funds released. Finally last night the Risk deparmtent confirmed they were releasing my funds. (I will believe that when I see it).

    I have never dealt with a company that a)had such bad customer services and b) the employees had no idea what was going on, everyone told me different things and told me to speak with different departments.

    Needless to say, I am canceling my account as soon as the funds go into my bank and I am signing up for Chase Paymentech.

    I would not recommend this company to anyone. Had they been responsive and kept me up to date with the status of my funds, I would be okay with this. But they were not. They were quite the opposite.

    • Not Rated
  17. I would not recommend this company. I cancelled my merchant account after two months. I was not happy with their customer service at all. I process large amount of foreign credit cards and for some reason most of them would not go through. And I’ve tried different cards, lowering the amount swiped, have my customer call their bank in front of me to “unfreeze” a US transaction. Nothing worked…until they walk across the sweet and swipe the card at another merchant office.

    I had given my customer service representative the benefit of the doubt after emailing and leaving voicemail that he had a reason for not responding to a customer. But come to think of it, why would anybody want to having any dealings with me if I ignore request/inquiry for a week. But in the mean time, I did not hesitate to contact iPayment and Roam Data X to figure out the issue. iPayment representative was cordial and helpful. Roam Data X representative basically told me to go back to Flagship to get my answer.

    I am a reasonable person. If my representative had responded to me and frankly told me he doesn’t have an answer, referred me to somebody else, or just plain “tough”…I think I would have still given them a little more time so I can sort the issue out. But being un-responsive is not what anybody expect from a company who rely on continuation and referral of business.

    • Not Rated
  18. I would not recommend this company at all. They are helpful at first but when you don’t receive the funds in your account it’s like talking to a brick wall. I was also told at the beginning that my monthly fee would be $15.00 but it turned out to be $32.95. After I complained they told me it would drop to $20.00, of course it never did and they had excuses every time. This company is a joke! Oh and I still have money that wasn’t funded to my account. They are working really hard to figure out why(I’m sure of it). DON’T USE THEM!!

    • Not Rated
  19. I would not recommend Flagship Merchant Services. I woud definitely charcterize this as a “BUYER BEWARE” company. The salesman I originally spoke with is exactly that…a stereotypical SALESMAN. He never outright lied to me, but he lied by omission which caused a problem for me and for my customer. The customer service department was like a box of chocolates….you never know what you’re gonna get. The only person who seemed to know what he was doing was Anthony in the risk department. So now I have no choice but to cancel my account and go to another company.

    • Not Rated
  20. Just signed an application with flagship after painstaking month comparing processsors. I didn’t like that they wouldn’t send me a MPA up front like other company, but they had the best rates and seemed to be rated good on this site and others. I’m concerned about making a bad decision, but since they are month to month I figure I can always cancel. They claim they will use my PCI compliant certificate, no problem, no fees.

    • Not Rated
    • After signing an application online, my next email was with instructions on how to reprogram the terminal. I’m like, wait a minute, where’s the MPA?? They forwarded me a copy of the agreement, which had my digital signature placed on pages I’d never seen. Seems to be in order, but I’m not happy about that. How hard is it for me to review each page online and place the signature myself? We’ll see when I get the first statement..

      • Not Rated
  21. Flagship is so bad, I don’t where and what to say. Since I open account with them in May I am on the phone most of the time, no statement monthly fee so high, this is unreal it is night mare, customer service is joke, they hang up on me several times, [edited: name removed] so many names I don’t know all of those Crazy people I am dealing every day, what a mistake. I had Elavon for 15 yrs and I switch it to Flagship what the mistake. Guys Please believe and stay far a-way as far as you can because those are thief’s sick people. Each time I do the transaction I have to call them on the phone, it is phone line, some numbers I am typing going through my credit card machine each time. Do not repeat my mistake do not do any king of the business with them.

    • Not Rated
  22. Account reps do not know what they are doing. I switched over from another company, and then was told, after the fact, that it would take 24 hours for my account to be activated. I was not told this in advance. Otherwise I could have gotten around this problem. They created a problem for me, but could not come up with a solution

    • Not Rated
    • At this time, I withdraw any complaints I have had with Flagship. Most of my complaints were caused by a misunderstanding on my part. Since I am a new customer, I will monitor their performance.

      • Not Rated
  23. This is a scam just stole 5300 out of my account STAY AWAY REPORT THEM TO THE FTC OR FDIC

    • 11111
    • Scam they are. Some people liked to be scammed, used, and stolen from. I am guessing that is the kind of people that are leaving such positive reviews for Flagship Merchants. The “little people” are the ones paying the price for companies like Flagship Merchants to take advantage and steal from others.

      • Not Rated
  24. My first transaction with this company has been a Night Mare!! The customer service is terrible. I will be reporting them to the Better Business Bureau! If I did business like this company, I would not be in business anymore!

    • Not Rated
  25. I love flagship, and all they have done for me. Been with them for about 9months. Had a wireless credit card terminal with them for the first 3 months, and had an authorize.net gateway since month 3. My rep, [edited: name removed], is awesome.

    I have been happy with everything…except their use of ipayment as the processor. I HATE them so far. They don’t inform you about much. I have to call them on almost a monthly basis. They charge my bank account before I get the statement…and its never what I expect. After two months of goofiness, I called to see why it cost so much. I was informed of some pci compliance things. wasted a bunch of time getting compliant and getting monthly charges back to normal. Then, this month, they charged like $120. $100 more that “usual”. So, I call about a week after this change (waited a week cause that how long it took to get the statement in mail after they charged me). Their statements make NO sense to me until I get to the summary section: $20.xx in processing fees (the breakdown of “processing” fees I can’t understand cause that’s in the body of the statement which just looks like babble to me) and the $99 for additional fees*. that asterisk led me to a note saying “for an explanation of additional fees, call us at xxxxxxxxx”

    flagship: awesome
    authorize: nothing special. have called multiples times, and on 2 occasions my rep had no idea what she was saying, and I was transferred to someone who did (had problems accepting amex a few times).
    ipayment: customer service is awesome. you call, someone picks up, they ask for merchant id, they confirm your id, then ask what’s up. but that’s it…everything else sucks. what I don’t like about ipayment is their crappy statements that seem to be generated in excel1982 and their general lacking of the pertinent information. From what I’ve learned and gathered, ipayment is for bigdawg businesses processing more than the “measly” couple grand that I do each month…often less than a grand on bad months. it takes up way to much of my time just to make sure I save the $30 non-compliance fee. ipayment control panel has a login, the pci compliance has a whole other login, then there is another one that you need a login for. Can it just be built it?

    • Not Rated
  26. Worst company you could ever possibly deal with. Absolutely horrible customer service. Hidden fees. They do not care about you as a client at all. DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY. FIND SOMEONE ELSE and save yourself a lot of frustration, time, and money.

    • 11111
  27. I used this merchant for our credit card processing and only after losing my business (and home) in a fire, including both retail and virtual terminal merchant account numbers, did I find out I wish I had gone with a different vendor. I didn’t have the contact info for the gentleman (a great guy) who handled the account setup and that I usually called with general questions, so when I needed to call to shut down the accounts after deciding to close the business, I called the 800 number listed at the top of the website. I figured that would at least get me in and they could re-direct my call to the appropriate department from there.

    The only information available to give was my name, social security number, and business info. The man I spoke with couldn’t have cared less about trying to help. When I said I didn’t have the merchant account numbers his first reaction was to tell me I didn’t have an account with them. After explaining that I must still have the account because I was still being charged, he disagreed because the charge wouldn’t show up as ‘Flagship,’ which was a ridiculous argument! I asked if he could at least get me contact info for authorize.net to help in some way and after saying they don’t do business with them, he gave me the number to call to cancel their virtual terminal linked to the Flagship account. If they don’t to business with them why did he have the number right in front of him?!?

    I hung up after bursting into tears. All I wanted was some help. I scoured old emails and found the application number from when we first applied for the accounts. I called back, got someone different who brought the accounts right up, without the application numbers mind you, and directed me to exactly who I needed to talk to.

    Overall, the service we’ve received from this company was good, but one bad apple ruins the bunch. We just lost our house, all our memories, and our business in a fire. The last thing I needed was a poor attitude from someone who’s job it is to help paying customers, and by poor attitude I mean flat out rude and unkind. It reflects poorly on the employee and on the company, because of that, I can’t recommend Flagship Merchant Service. If you’re considering them, keep looking.

    • 11111
  28. Horrible!!! I have received so many extra fees, that all my profit is going to them. They forgot to mention a $99.95 yearly fee that they charge plus a security service you have to take and if you do not they charge you $19.95 every month until you do. Stay away for your own good.

    • Not Rated
    • I do also get $99 fee (they didn’t tell at first) for annual compliance fee, plus $19.95 additional fee if you are not pci-compliance, means you don’t pass the security questionaire. I am relieved to switch to [name removed] now since they offer lower rates and no hidden/pci fees.

      • Not Rated
      • I found out that this PCI-Compliance fee of $99 is charged by every credit card processing company. The $19.95 fee they charged was for not filling out the form. When I did fill out they returned that $19.95 back to me.

        I called them today and they were actually very nice. Since my business is very small i was able to negotiate a better rates for myself. They were very helpful.

        I retract my previous statement that they are Horrible. They are actually not so bad :)

        • Not Rated
  29. Flagship does NOT provide 24/7 customer service and technical support. They are 9-7 Eastern Time Mon-Fri. Much of their literature states that they will provide a 24/7 phone number, but the number they provide is for a 3rd party card processing center that has NOTHING to do with Flagship.

    They are in the business of signing up merchants and abandoning them after the sign-up process.

    I couldn’t be more UNHAPPY with the service they promise, but don’t deliver.

    • Not Rated
  30. Flagship does not care about the service they provide. They sell you a package and your bank statement reflects something different. They are not good in responding to emails. They prefer to do sales and after you locked in with them, they brush you aside and tell you something different and explain that the additional charges, is due to when you activated the account, you did not check off some of the boxes. They do provide the best rates, but the best rates dont give you the best service. And when you get that additional charges, they have some way of telling you is protection program that just come into effect. There is always a story behind the additional charges.

    I have emails back and forth with them since I started my account, at this point, I am going with my own bank even the charges are higher, so I dont deal with the middle man

    • Not Rated
  31. I am talking to flagship rep and he says no contract that i can go month to month is that true

    • Not Rated
  32. I have been going back and forth comparing Flagship with Chase PaymentTech. The service reps at both have been very helpful and surprisingly accomodating to all my questions. And both have dropped fees/rates to match the other. The big issue for me is that I have no experience in this part of business and tend to be skeptical of larger businesses like Chase – especially when they require such a lengthy contract. Flagship seems like they’ll treat you as less of a number and has no contract but can’t quite meet Chase’s lower monthly fees. They both rate rather high. How do you weigh the impact of the types of complaints each get? How often would you expect to need customer service contact? Should the First Data complaints be a big concern? And is a 3-year contract with Chase excessive?

    • Not Rated
  33. I just signed up for a merchant account with flagship, and they did sent me a welcome letter via post to my address, including a CD (for Guide) and some other papers confirming my processing rates etc…

    The strange part is that i find “iPayment” logo on their welcome papers, Because actually i was thinking that they are a FirstData company.

    Anyways, I am still confused about if i should go with them or no. they just have some bad reviews (with no good reviews at all), and moreover “iPayment” have TONS of bad reviews.

    I do web hosting, i don’t want to get suspended by them like Seth said. and freezing my money for 6 month.

    Anybody can help? is there some more reviews about them? what do you guys recommend me? go with them or no?

    Thank a lot!

    • Not Rated
  34. I had the same question. Searching iPayment seems to produce just as many complaints as for First Data. I also see iPayment in fact purchased a large portion of business from First Data. So it is not clear that there is any real difference between them.

    • Not Rated
  35. I’m told that by the Flagship rep that I have been in contact with that they also use iPayment as a processor in addition to First Data. As many reviews state, many users have had all sorts of horror stories with First Data and I want to stay as far away from them as possible. That being said, do you know about iPayment as a processor? I haven’t been able to dig too much up on them.

    Thanks for the great resource Mav!

    • Not Rated
  36. First of all they started taking money early…of course they blame that on me even though I told them we would not actually be operating for weeks and I was just wanting to be prepared. Secondly they take more than they are supposed to out of my bank ( extra debit card fee and minimum balace fee even when minimum reached and a CD fee?) and then on what they do admit to being wrong about take several weeks to refund or rather it has been weeks and I am still waiting.

    • Not Rated
  37. Do not use flagship or first data who handles the backend processing for flagship. They will shut down your merchant account over any miniscule excuse they come up with (not knowing the last four digits of your new business’s tin). They will then keep your money for six months. Look up flagship and/or first data merchant services on ripoffreport.Com or just google them. Stay away!

    • 11111
    • Thanks for the review Seth. I did the honor of removing the caps lock from your comments. I’m not a big fan of all caps. :)

      Out of curiosity, the account that Flagship shut down, is it the Child Custody site that you have as your web address? If so, I can tell you that those types of industry’s are always being scrutinized. Especially, by processor’s like FD. You may have some more luck going with a high risk provider. They’re used to dealing with your business model, and won’t freak out at the drop of a hat.

      • Not Rated
  38. I wanted to comment on the ripoffreport.com complaint. I started a correspondence with Flagship, but I got cold feet after reading the ripoffreport. I was asked why not go through with the application, and I thought Ross at flagship was worth an explanation as he did handle himself professionally.

    I wrote very bluntly about how the ripoffreport made me feel as a potential costumer. I mentioned that not responding to the complaint made me feel uneasy. I treated the info as “unchallenged allegations.” I stated that if the allegations were true, it made me worry for the type of treatment described.

    Moreover I pointed out that the complainant is allegedly unemployed.

    Ross pointed out that the claims made are not congruent with the BBB rating and the lack of complaints. He also cited our brief conversation where the non-charging of fees thing was not mentioned. To which, I must confess is a valid point (or if he did mention it, I don’t recall it).

    With that said, I would like to see flagship offer this guy a chance to produce a W-2 to show that he was unemployed. If so, I know that it is not Christmas, but I just feel for unemployed people. Because some unemployed people are entrepreneurs with no funding, I think that everyone with an interest in this website can relate to him.

    • Not Rated
    • As a business-owner, I know that there are PLENTY of people who just complain about anything, and that satisfied customers hardly ever bother to comment. Flagship/iPayment must have SOME satisfied customers, but I highly recommend that people pay attention to what ACTUAL customers are posting about them. I fell for “Top 10 Reviews” GLOWING review of them, and it cost me over $400 in duplicate charges that Flagship refused to refund, even when my credit union got involved.

      James Nielson
      The Fix, LLC
      Portland OR

      • Not Rated
  39. Hi,
    Now I concerned. In good faith, I just gave all my info to this company to get credit card processing ability, since the Top Ten Reviews website had such rave stats for them. Do I have reason to be concerned??? I can’t have this become a nightmare in my life. I am very anxious now.

    • Not Rated
    • Hi Cindy,

      I don’t think you should be worried. Just because they’re not a 5 star provider on my site, doesn’t mean that they are bad. I gave them a 4 out of 5, which is still pretty good. So long as you do your own due diligence, then you should be fine.

      From my experience, the two most important areas that you want to focus on are:

      1. What are all of my fees? Be sure to verify them on your contract.
      2. What is the contract duration, and cancellation fee? Usually found in the “Termination” section of your contract.

      Feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions.

      • Not Rated
      • Merchant Maverick,
        Thanks for your very quick response and helpful, I might add! I just called my bank and asked them if the information I gave earlier today to Flagship Merchant (without naming any names) is legit and what they would require in order to get the processing started and they said yes. My bank might have a few different ways to get the account approved initially, she said, but what was asked of me wasn’t out the ordinary.
        I am feeling somewhat better so I can rest easier thru the weekend til Monday.
        Thanks much!

        • Not Rated
  40. Thanks for posting this review (I asked about them a month ago)! I actually went with CDG but I had talks with Flagship and they were very helpful. Either one seems good.

    • Not Rated
    • Hi Guy!

      Sorry about the delay. Who would’ve thought gathering and researching data on the internet would be so time consuming. :)

      I also had a few other requests in the pipeline, so I couldn’t get to Flagship sooner. I hope everything works out with you and CDG. It’s a bit early right now, but at some point, I’d love to hear how your experience with them plays out.
      http://www.merchantmaverick.com/reviews/cdg-commerce-review/

      • Not Rated
      • With all the bed experiences with Flagship Merchants why are their reviews good? Clearly the reviews are not coming from people like us that have actually tried to do business with them. This is why they can continue to steal from people!!! This is not acceptable and should not continue because small businesses are paying the price for people to get “kickbacks” by giving fraudulent companies like this great reviews.

        • Not Rated
        • Thank you for the input A. McDaniel. Let me give an explanation of our rating that might help clarify things. We’ve read thousands of user complaints just like yours. We’ve also spent hours researching and reviewing most of the major credit card processors on the market today. Flagship is a very large processor so they will naturally have more complaints than the others. However, considering their size, their complaint count is much smaller than other processors of their same size. The important lesson in all of this is that it’s not just the sheer number of complaints that matters. It’s the number of complaints in relation to the size of the company.

          Additionally, Flagship is one of the only processors that does not charge an early termination fee which is a huge benefit, especially when most processors do charge one.

          With that said, we always monitor user reviews on our site, and if they get out of control, then we will adjust the Flagship rating accordingly.

          • Not Rated

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