Moneris Solutions Review
My first experience with Moneris was through research into Dharma Merchant Services, one of our few five-star providers. Dharma provides merchant accounts through Moneris and three other processors. As you may already know, we have all the respect in the world for Dharma Merchant Services. We thoroughly reviewed their practices and found nothing bad to say about them, which is a not-so-tiny miracle in this industry. So the first reason I like Moneris is because any friend of Dharma is a friend of mine.
A Canadian provider first and foremost, Moneris came about as a sort of super-group resulting from the Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Montreal combining their payment processing services into a single entity, which included Harris Bank in Chicago. Thus Moneris has some serious infrastructure and experience in the industry, and I like to see that. They have more investment capital and wider margins than a small processor, which could work in your favor.
Their Canadian website is a contender for the most thorough, polished, and generally good-looking payment processor website out there. They have article-sized testimonials from big businesses, beautifully designed catalogs, brochures, manuals, guides and just about every other resource you could ever want. Any information about interchange-plus pricing is conspicuously missing from these resources, so that’s not ideal. But still, they have a really great set up. Their US-based site doesn’t quite hit this same level of usefulness.
It’s not all good news with Moneris (is it ever?). Since our last update, a number of new complaints came in from Merchant Maverick readers regarding termination fees, technical issues and billing problems. Most alarmingly, a large percentage of complaints from our readers over the past year say that Moneris is taking liquidated damages upon early termination, which, frankly, sucks big time. They also have a handful of complaints on Ripoff Reports and through the BBB, all along the same lines. Moneris failed to address many of these complaints, and didn’t address a single complaint publicly. This sort of practice really chips away at my confidence in Moneris.
I wish I could more easily differentiate between complaints from merchants in Canada and from merchants in the US. While Moneris claims that all merchants across North America get the same level of service, I don’t believe that. I think merchants in the US have a better chance of dealing with an independent sales agent further away from corporate oversight, and I think this leads to poor and/or inconsistent practices. I’m rating Moneris 3.5 stars for now (although they’re probably a solid four-star processor if we’re just looking at their Canadian business). I really like a lot of things about this processor, but having liquidated damages AND failing to disclose this ETF consistently – thats a major screw up in my eyes.
Check out the rest of my review for more details. I hope to revisit this review with good news soon, because I really want to like this company. If you’d rather cut to the chase, take a look at our better processors.
Products and Services:
Moneris truly shines in this category. They offer an enormous number of products and services ranging from merchant accounts to office supplies, which you can browse via their online store ShopMoneris.com. If you can name a service or product related to merchant accounts, chances are Moneris can provide you with it, often in-house.
- Merchant Accounts
- Terminal Sales and Leasing
- In-House Payment Gateway
- Mobile Payment App and Swiper: With services like Square offering flat-rate processing and a free card reader (really free), most processors are trying to compete by putting out quality payment apps and mobile readers, all bundled in with their POS software.
- Merchant Supplies: See ShopMoneris.com.
- Online Sales Services: This includes a virtual terminal, shopping cart integration from these providers, in-house gateway service, recurring payment and a number of other features.
- Quick Service Options: This included no-signature swipes and contactless payment.
- POS Software: Their web-based POS system called Morris has all the features you’d expect and seems well-designed. Since Moneris has begun marketing their POS system as a front-running vehicle for their merchant account sales, maybe we’ll have an opportunity to review it in the future. You should note, though, that it is proprietary, meaning you can’t use Morris outside of Moneris. They don’t make this very clear in the advertisements.
Fees and Rates:
First, the good news. I like Moneris because they’re Canadian. There, I said it. What does that matter, you ask? Well for starters a few years ago the Canadian government released an official “Code of Conduct” for the credit and debit card industry. While this code doesn’t currently have legally binding status, if the industry doesn’t kindly acquiesce to the simple guidelines of conduct the Canadian government will step in more forcefully, or so they claim. Under this code, merchants can expect:
- Clear information regarding fees and rates
- Advance notice of any new fees and fee increases
- The ability to cancel contracts without penalty should fees rise or new fees be introduced
- New tools to promote competition, and in particular, the freedom to accept credit payments from a particular network without the obligation to accept debit payments and vice versa
…among other provisions. Sounds pretty good, right? Well Moneris states its commitment to this Code of Conduct in many places through their website, and I’m inclined to believe them. Unfortunately, it’s not clear if these practices extend to their American customers.
Moneris does not disclose any fees or rates whatsoever. I’m kind of disappointed by this, since many processors, even big processors (like TransFirst) have begin to make at least some disclosures on their websites. On one level it doesn’t really matter, since everything will be negotiated depending on your business type and you will want an interchange-plus plan. Still, I see it as a step toward transparency in the industry. Eventually I believe that sites without any disclosure will seem outdated.
I’ve seen Moneris try to hit some merchants with big setup fees, up to $300. Don’t accept this. While a gateway setup fee makes sense, other account setup costs are generally junk fees.
On a brighter note, seasonal downtime is also offered by Moneris Solutions. You’ll be able to shut your account down for up to 6-months without fee. As always, make sure you verify those terms on your application before signing.
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
By default, Moneris will set you up with the industry standard for contract length. Expect your sales rep to pitch you a three-year agreement that auto-renews for one year intervals thereafter unless you submit a written cancellation request about 60 day before the end of the agreement.
They will also hit you with an early termination fee if you want to leave before the contract expires. I’ve seen a lot of merchants stating $250-300 for early termination, while others have been charge thousands of dollars to buy out the remaining time. We call this liquidated damages, since they are cashing in on the money they predict they’ve lost by losing your business. It’s asinine, but it really does happen.
The sales rep I spoke to about this promised me that I would have no such terms in my contract, and furthermore denied that any “average” merchant with Moneris would see these kinds of terms. He told me the usually ETF comes in at $300. He did say, however, that in rare cases larger merchants might expect to see those kinds of terms, but that they would be fully disclosed.
So I’m left with a “he said, she said” situation. Personally, I believe that Moneris is including liquidated damages in a fair number of their contracts, and that at least some of those cases involve non-disclosure of these terms. For this, I have to deduct serious points from Moneris. For practical purposes, however, you can protect yourself from this by simply reading your contract and paying close attention to the termination section, usually located toward the end of the document. Always go into negotiations assuming you can’t trust your sales rep. It’s sad to say that, but it’s what you have to do to protect yourself. As friendly as they may seem, salespeople are not your friends and sometimes do not have your best interest in mind.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
Moneris does okay in this category, but not great. They don’t disclose much about fees or pricing in their sales copy, as I mentioned in the Fees and Rates section above. They also have a reputation for failing to disclose their early termination fees, as mentioned in the Contract Length and Early Termination Fee section above. The sales rep I spoke to also didn’t do a very thorough job of explaining fees and rates to me during our pre-application consultation. On the bright side, Moneris does provide copious information about the features associated with their products and services via their Canadian website, as well as the difference between various machines and plans.
Moneris also employs various sales gimmicks, which is a big turn off for me. These ploys are always designed to work in their favor, not yours. Nothing in this industry comes free, so when they say they’ll “give you” $300, know that it’s coming from somewhere – and that somewhere is probably your own pocket. This kind of thing doesn’t foster transparency. Let me walk you through a few of the central gimmicks currently advertised by Moneris.
First, they have a “90-Day Satisfaction Guarantee.” Three months seems like a sufficient amount of time to decide whether Moneris will work out, so initially I like this offer. But what does it entail? Will they provide any refunds? Well…
The promotional offer…is available from September 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013 and is available only to new merchants located in Canada that enter into Visa®, MasterCard®, Discover® and Interac® processing agreements with Moneris and that rent or buy terminal(s) from Moneris. […]
The 90-day satisfaction guarantee is limited to a waiver of the cancellation or deactivation fee if the merchant cancels any of the Agreements within 90 days from the date of the Agreement. All other fees, charges and terms and conditions in the Agreements apply.
Okay, so basically if you want to cancel within the first three months – that is, within 90 days of signing – you won’t have to pay a cancellation fee (as long as you also buy or lease your terminal through them). Well, I guess I like this, but I’d really prefer to see an affordable cancelation fee that extends the life of the contract. They meet you half way here, though. Maybe a quarter of the way.
Next, they advertise that you will get a $300 gift card for signing up with their service. Awesome! Right? Well, the aforementioned terms apply to this offer as well, and…
The gift card will be provided in the form of a GIFTPASS® from giftcertificates.ca delivered approximately 150 days after the merchant begins processing credit and debit transactions with Moneris, provided that:
1. at such time the merchant continues to be an active Moneris merchant processing transactions under valid Agreements; and
2. the merchant has processed at least $2,500.00 in Visa, MasterCard and/or Discover volume with Moneris within the first 60 days following the date that the merchant processes the first credit or debit card transaction, provided that such first transaction is processed within the first 30 days of the Agreements. [I added bolding]
Okay, well that’s something. So if you process $2,500 in the two months following your first transaction and buy or rent a terminal through Moneris, you will get a gift card credit five months after signing up. That is, of course, assuming you remain an active user of Moneris in good standing for the entirety of those five months.
Advice to Moneris: To increase transparency, nix the gimmicks and list your fees on the web. Thank you.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
Moneris offers 24/7 customer support by phone or through their Merchant Direct Secure Message Center. You’ll also find a number of manuals, troubleshooting guides, installation instructions and so on though the Merchant Support page. Not all processors offer this kind of information at your fingertips.
They also have a strange but nice sounding customer service practice called the Ambassador Program. One article describes it as:
A more unique and impressive customer service is what Moneris calls its Ambassador Program. All 1,000 employees of Moneris receive a card they can present to any merchant they meet who either has a complaint about Moneris or a question about its service. The employee gives the merchant a designated phone number, and, in turn, a dedicated team at Moneris’ call center exclusively handles those Ambassador Program calls. […] Responses to those initial conversations are guaranteed within 24 hours. Even if the merchant does not place a call, the dedicated team still will make contact. The result: A happy merchant who believes someone out there is listening.
While this seems a little haphazard, it’s a nice idea. I’d like to do business with a company that thinks outside of the box for customer support. I just hope that their non-Ambassador Program service can provide a good solution for the average customer as well.
Have you worked with Moneris Solutions? Feel free to leave us your review. Don’t forget to read the user review and comment policy.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
While you’ll find more good press about Moneris than you will for an average processor, a fair number of negative reviews populate review sites as well as our comments section. What’s particularly alarming is that these complaints seem to come in more and more as time goes on.
Overall, Moneris has a relatively small volume of complaints on the BBB site and Ripoff Reports considering the size of the company. Their Illinois-based offices and Toronto-based offices have separate BBB profiles, with C- and A+ ratings, respectively. Altogether they have only 52 BBB complaints in the past three years, three of which were never resolved. Few specific details for any complaints are published. A handful of predominately negative reviews also came in via their Google page. For a processor of this size, 52 BBB complaints split between two countries is way better than average, so that’s something to consider. Because remember this:
Moneris processes more than 3 billion credit and debit card transactions a year, for over 350,000 merchant locations across North America.
That’s a lot. Since they serve hundreds of thousands of merchants, it’s not such a bad track record. A single bad sales office could easily create that volume of complaints. Most commonly, complaints include the following:
- Nondisclosure of early termination fees and liquidated damages: As with most payment processors, the number one complaint you’ll see has to do with allegedly undisclosed early termination fees. You don’t have to worry about this, of course, since you will make sure to bring this up in negotiations and you will not sign the contract until their ETF clause is amended to your satisfaction (right?). Many merchants have complained in our comments section and on other review sites about liquidated damages as a part of their early termination fee. For some merchants, this translates to thousands of dollars owed upon closing, which Moneris automatically takes from their accounts. A number of complaints assert that these damages are equal to the three highest months of processing fees combined, with a bottom limit of $250. I find this troubling. While you can ultimately prevent these terms by carefully reviewing the termination section of the contract, Moneris loses points with me for having ever offered this kind of fee.
- Undisclosed automatic renewal of contract: Again, this comes up with a ton of processors. It happens for two reasons. First, it happens because auto-renewal is the industry standard and 95% of processors have this as part of their stand merchant agreements. Next, it happens because many sales agents just want to get you signed up while disclosing as few potential sticking points as possible. The problem is that unsatisfied merchants are waiting patiently for the three-year contract to be up so they won’t have to pay the termination fee. They wait and wait and then when it’s time for the contract to expire they call to cancel only to find out they are stuck for another year! In case you were wondering, this makes merchants very angry. While I understand why they do the auto-renewal (it saves them money and makes them money), Moneris needs to do a much better job of informing their merchants about it.
- Poor customer service: A few merchants have complained about dealing with rude customer service reps, especially when it comes to handling more complex problems. I’d like to hear some more opinions on this, as it’s difficult to tell based on a few anonymous complaints. If you’ve dealt with their customer service reps, please let us know how it’s been. Authenticated reviews will, as always, be heavily considered in future updates.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Moneris has a pretty nice section dedicated to “Success Stories.” They’re basically case studies of past merchants that have had success using Moneris as their payment processor. This includes some big clients like McDonalds Canada as well as smaller merchants. You can look through them and see if your business is similar to any of them. If so, then it’s possible that you’ll have the same success.
While this content of course comes through the controlled filter of Moneris’s own words and selection, I think they’re a great forum to showcase the real-world value and potential of their line of products and services. Aside from the Success Stories page, you’ll find a variety of these case studies scattered throughout their site. Just do a simple search for “testimonials” on the site to see what I mean. It’s pretty impressive.
The US-based site, on the other hand, has a less impressive offering in this category (and basically every category). But you can check out a couple-few short reviews here.
I went into this update hoping to bump Moneris up a notch, but unfortunately their hefty termination fees and failure to disclose important contract terms verbally before signing prevented me from doing that. I think their products and services are actually fairly good, especially for Canadian merchants, so I’m disappointed that this lack of sales transparency – probably from just a select few independent resellers – has made it so difficult for me to trust Moneris overall.
Unfortunately Moneris decided to have both sectors under one company name, so for the purposes of this review I must take all practices into consideration. I’d love it if readers could help me out here. In your reviews, please make a note to let me know if you have your have your contract in Canada or in the US. This information would allow me to give a more accurate picture of Moneris’s practices in future updates. Thank you! Until then, I can only offer 3.5 out of 5 stars.
In the meantime, I’d recommend checking out some of our better-rated processors, especially for US-based merchants.