3.5

Wells Fargo Merchant Services Review

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  • Updated on:
  • Review by: Tom DeSimone

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Date Established
1862
Location
San Francisco, CA

Overview:

In addition to its regular banking wing, Wells Fargo (WF) has a credit card processing division as well. (If you’re reading this review, then you probably already knew that.) Unlike some big banks offering merchant services, Wells Fargo doesn’t have a separate company set up for this purpose (compared to businesses like Chase’s Chase Paymentech). They just have a division called Wells Fargo Merchant Services.

Wells Fargo Merchant Services (WFMS) shares the main Wells Fargo website. Unfortunately, I found the site difficult to navigate and generally lacking important information. The whole thing feels like an afterthought, which doesn’t tend to instill confidence. They don’t even have clear descriptions of their products and services, and all of the content is riddled with footnotes. When I’m checking out sales writing, I don’t want to feel like I’m reading a David Foster Wallace novel – but that’s just me.

They also fail to explain that when you sign up for a merchant account through Wells Fargo, you’re signing up for an account with First Data. First Data acts as the payment processor for Wells Fargo, and Wells Fargo acts as the acquiring bank. It all sounds pretty confusing, but if you read this article you’ll understand it a bit better.

Putting that aside, the most important thing for you to remember is that Wells Fargo and First Data go hand in hand. So chances are you’ll at some point have to deal with both companies during the lifespan of your contract. This means that many of the issues we addressed in the out First Data review may also crop up here.

I suggest you read the complaints section below. That’s where you’ll find the most important info about Wells Fargo – like the fact that they charge a $500 early termination fee, or that they have a tendency to push terminal leases and enhanced billback billing, all of which add up to a not-so-great experience for you. If you plan on getting an account through WF, then I highly recommend you consult us first. We’ll be able to make sure you get the best contract terms possible for your business.

One positive aspect to the Wells Fargo merchant account is that if you bank with them, then you can get your money deposited into your account the next day, rather than the usual 48 hours or more that it takes for most other providers. I also like that they don’t heavily rely on independent sales representatives, which – in theory – should mean that their salesforce is more carefully vetted has a higher level of training.

Unfortunately, I can only give Wells Fargo Merchant Services 3.5 out of 5 stars for now. They really need to make a better effort to build their reputation as a processor and offer competitive contract terms and rates for businesses of all sizes if they want to improve.

Please read the whole review for more information on WFMS. You should also check out our comparison chart to see the best merchant service providers around!

Products and Services:

You’ll find just the basics at Wells Fargo Merchant Services, with nothing that really sets them apart from the pack. WFMS doesn’t aim to be a one-stop shop for all things related to merchant services. If you’re looking for a bunch of value-added services, look elsewhere. Here’s a list of the products and services that they do offer:

  • Merchant accounts
  • Check processing
  • Terminal sales/leases: Before you even think about leasing a terminal, read this article!
  • Payment gateway/virtual terminal: A virtual terminal allows you to processes payments from any web browser. Basically all processors provide a virtual terminal.
  • Gift/loyalty card programs: WFMS gift and loyalty card services are pretty run of the mill. Minimum orders for “standard” cards (from predesigned template) start at 100 units. For custom cards, you’ll have to get at least 500. Check out the brochure for more information. Again, many processors these days offer this service.
  • Online reporting: Offers real-time information about your processing activity.
  • Recurring payments: Allows you to store billing information and initiate billing at set intervals.

Fees and Rates:

Unfortunately, Wells Fargo makes absolutely no disclosures of rates or fees in their corporate advertising or internet resources. No information of rate structures (such as interchange-plus or tiered models) appears anywhere. This isn’t exactly unusual – but it’s not ideal, either. While your discount rate will depend on a large number of factors, I really like to see some disclosure of monthly fees (PCI compliance fee, statement fee, etc.) alongside information about how rates are determined, including information on interchange-plus plans.

WFMS does offer a few brief notes on pricing in their FAQ, but basically just to say, “It depends.” They also claim to offer “relationship pricing,” but only give a vague definition of what this means:

A full-service relationship with Wells Fargo translates into relationship pricing that benefits your business. Our Wells Fargo Business Services® Packages are designed specifically for your business banking needs and can save you hundreds of dollars on frequently used financial products and banking services.

Basically they imply that if you use multiple Wells Fargo services, they can give you a discount (sort of like the cable/phone/internet companies do). They don’t make any specific claims, however.

Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:

With Wells Fargo Merchant Services, you’ll get the industry standard for contract length and early termination fees. This include a three-year agreement that auto-renews for one-year periods after it expires, alongside a $500 early termination fee. The exception to this is for businesses who do one million dollars per year or more. For merchants processing at that volume, the fee is $500 plus “six times the highest amount of Revenue in any single calendar month during the current or prior term.”

Please, do not accept this. The industry standard isn’t good enough. Many service providers don’t have any cancellation fees, making them ostensibly month-to-month providers.

As with many providers, Wells Fargo will “buy out” an existing contract to get your business. This means they will pay all or a portion of a cancellation fee from your current provider, up to $500. To qualify for this, you’ll have to be doing $100K annually in card processing (excluding pin-based debit) and meet a few other stipulations.

Sales and Advertising Transparency:

Wells Fargo doesn’t offer much advertising or sales copy on their website. No fees or rates are mentioned, and virtually no information on the costs of processing exist on the WFMS site. While this isn’t great for transparency, it’s better than making a bunch of empty or misleading promise using flashy sales gimmicks.

They do use at least one sales gimmick, which I mentioned in the “Contract Length and Early Termination Fee” section above. They say “Sign up for Merchant Services, get up to $500.” This is misleading, though. What they really mean is that they will pay for up to $500 of your costs incurred while switching from your current processor to WFMS. This includes two things:

Qualifying switching expenses include early contract and lease termination costs and non-Wells Fargo reprogramming costs required by WFMS.

Also, you’ll have to be processing at least $100,000 annually in Visa/Mastercard/Discover transactions, not including pin-based debit to qualify.

So not exactly the same thing as “Sign up for Merchant Services, get up to $500,” right?

On the good news side of things, they offer some useful information in their New Merchant Processing Guide. I also like their Cost Management Strategies Guide, although they kind of bury these resources and many others in their incredibly unbecoming website design.

Customer Service and Technical Support:

Existing customers get 24/7 service and support, which is what I like to see. The quality of that support, on the other hand, is questionable, based on remarks from our readers and from merchants on other complaints sites.

I gave their customer service a brief whirl and it was okay for me, although definitely a little cold. But 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 Wells Fargo? Feel free to leave us your review. Don’t forget to read the the user review and comment policy.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Since Wells Fargo Merchant Services doesn’t have it’s own BBB profile separate from Wells Fargo bank (which has an astounding 5,500 complaints), we don’t have that data to go on in this case. Many other complaints sites also seem to put all of the complaints for Wells Fargo under one main heading. Only 11 complaints come up when you search for “Wells Fargo Merchant” on Ripoff Reports, which is a very low number for a company of this size. We also have to remember, though, that First Data might be absorbing some of the complaints load as well, since they are the actual processor here.

Of the complaint available, these were the most common issues:

  • Expensive terminal lease contracts through First Data Global Leasing: Some merchants have complained about not being aware that they were signing into a 4-year terminal lease. The whole “not being aware” part can be chalked up to the merchant not fully understanding how leasing works. I personally think terminal leasing is unnecessary to begin with. If you’re a small merchant, and you only need a few terminals, then why not just buy them? They don’t cost much these days. Leases make sense for bigger organizations that need many terminals, and don’t have the upfront capital to invest in buying them.
  • Withholding of funds/termination of accounts: This can happen for a number of reasons. Chargebacks and/or suspicious charges can easily raise a red flag that will either get you suspended or shut down. Both First Data and Wells Fargo have been known to be a bit trigger happy when it comes to holding funds or terminating accounts. You’re going to want to learn how to avoid holds and minimize chargebacks if you plan on signing up with WFMS.
  • Enhanced Billback: Wells Fargo and First Data are also known for using a billing technique called enhanced billback, which isn’t the most transparent billing method, to say the least.
  • High Cancellation Fee: If you want to cancel before your contract is up (3-years), then Wells Fargo will charge you a $500 cancellation fee. That’s pretty steep considering there are plenty of other providers that don’t charge a fee at all.
  • Poor Customer Service: I really wouldn’t expect much from such a large bureaucratic organization like Wells Fargo. While a big processor doesn’t always have bad customer service, it does seem to be a strong trend based on my experience. A good account rep can help you avoid this pitfall. Get in touch with us and we can help you find a good rep to deal with.
  • Increasing of Fees After Sign-Up: Although Wells Fargo has a right to increase fees, it’s still a hard thing to swallow for any merchant. And judging by the number of complaints I’ve read about this matter, it seems WFMS likes to raise its rates frequently.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials:

While I wasn’t able to find any testimonials for Wells Fargo on their site, I did find a few on YouTube. Overall, I would have liked to see more effort put forth by WFMS to prove that their service are worthwhile to prospective clients.

If you’d like a little more endorsement than that, try to ask your sales rep for references, specifically for businesses that operate in your same industry. They should give you information for merchants who they have personally signed up.

Also, I hope some merchants who have good things to say will post their reviews at the bottom of this page. I know that people are more likely to complain that to praise, but we’re always really excited to hear positive experiences!

Final Verdict:

Overall, I’m not really impressed by the offerings at Wells Fargo Merchant Services. Sure, they’ve got the resources of a big player in the processing game, but those resources don’t seem to translate to a better experience for merchants. After browsing their standard contract, reading dozen of complaints and reviews, as well as contact their sales department, I’m left feeling disappointed by high rates and fees along with bad leasing agreements. While I’m sure WFMS could potentially set you up with a good agreement, fair rates and quality service, it seems this is often not the case.

In an industry as competitive as payment processing, no business, no matter how large, should be resting on their laurels. Wells Fargo seems to be doing just that. I’m sure they get a lot of business from name recognition alone, but that’s not enough to earn a good review from us. I do like that they seem to avoid independent sales agents, though, and I also like the next-day funding for Wells Fargo banking merchants. Unfortunately, that was only enough to get them to 3.5 out of 5 stars.

If you want to deal with a big, stable bank as your payment processor, try out Chase Paymentech. They have better contract terms and a better reputation for fairness. Otherwise, check out our processor comparison chart to see the best rated merchant service providers in the industry.

Tom DeSimone

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.
Tom DeSimone
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15 Comments

    Vista Morris

    We switched from Wells Fargo Merchant to Chase Paymentech at one of our restaurants after 2 years with Wells. Chase is MUCH better. Lower fees and no random fee changes.

    Wells Fargo is TERRIBLE. I used them because we use Wells Fargo bank. While we like the bank, merchant is terrible. We had interchange plus pricing with a 14/cents fee. After 5 months (on a 3 year contract) we noticed they doubled our rate to 28/cents. We called to complain and they said “we sent you a letter”.

    For our second restaurant, we stayed with Wells due to a 3 year contract. We just found out that they changed our interchange plus pricing on debit card to a “bundled rate” of 1.1% + 30 cents vs .05% + 21% interchange pricing!! This was $300+ extra a month savings we lost.

    We have now moved all locations to Chase. I recommend avoiding Wells Fargo.

    RatingNot Rated
    Alfred, Sonia, & Brian Cardozo

    We are Wells Fargo customers for nearly fifteen years. (Previously Wachovia/First Union days without a problem. Well I should say First Union, Wachovia, and now through acquisition we are deeply unhappy and horrified Wells Fargo customers, but not for long. To my point, we decided to close an amazing Merchant Warehouse credit card processing account to move our entire relationship to Wells Fargo. We were a Merchant Warehouse client for five years without one problem. We generated $2.5MM in sales the third year with Merchant Warehouse. With that being said, we decided to move our credit card processing to Wells Fargo considering their banking speacialists were always begging us to move our relationship. Well, we did and what a mistake we made. Lets get to the break down, within the first two months we processed 440 transactions (I.E 440 towing jobs) generating $88,000 dollars in revenue for their DDA account (Business Checking/General Ledger) not to mention the credit processing department. Consequently we called their customer service department to ask why we didnt see a deposit of $5,000 dollars on Monday morning from the work over the weekend. They stated that the risk department closed our account and will be holding our funds for up to 180 days. They also stated, “we will allow you to keep processing transactions with WF for the next 30 days until you find a new merchant account.” So I asked, “so will the funds be deposited into our account?” The representative said, “No those funds will also be held for 180 days.” What a horror story, they want me to give them more funds that they can hold? I asked the representative why they closed our account, they said its because 4 customers out of the 440 complained about our services and they were unhappy with the tow/price and/or dates it was completed. More over, because of this high risk towing business with less than a 1% dispute ratio they closed my business account/personal accounts, put a credit restraint on the account but not a debit restraint allowing all outstanding checks to go through causing the account to go negative. They even closed an employee account and held $1,400 dollars of her money even though she had nothing to do with the business. However, they left our very financial sound well over six figure mutual fund in their securities department, safe and sound. And my last little fact about them. On another note, we added our son Brian to our safety deposit box as a beneficiary. Not an owner, a beneficiary. He didn’t sign any safety deposit box agreement, know about it, he wasn’t present on the addition as a beneficiary. None of the above. Well, we decided to go on a cruise for 10 days a month ago. What do you know our safety deposit box was locked and we couldn’t access the box due to our son in a civil legal matter with a past landlord due to his mistake. Although we all make mistakes and he is learning his lesson which we do not ignore, his legal liability shouldn’t roll over to our box due to him as a POD. That would be like your neighbor getting into a legal matter with your homeowners association and you being held responsible because hes your neighbor. He isn’t on our accounts, he isnt a signer, he is only a POD/Beneficiary. Now we have missed our cruise cannot acccess our box and asked for help with the legal department regarding the frozen box which they have suggested to get an attorney because they cannot speak to me. So now, we are going to find the most aggressive attorney that can make this situation right. Our mission is to be vigilante for the rights of the American Citizen that is truly not doing anything wrong. And to stand up for all the other consumers that have been taken advantage of and put in financial distress. We have also wrote the Attorney General, FCC, and other governing bodies. To top it off its not finished.They added us to a TMF or MATCH list so we are unable to get a traditional merchant account because we are labeled as HIGH RISK on a shared list of companies, however, we didnt have a problem with the first merchant provider we were using for credit card processing. Consequently, we are still unable to get a new merchant account because they said im on a list and our account is labeled as fraud/high risk. Meanwhile, I have the four chargebacks that caused us to get “shut down” and they are customers that are complaining a vehicle being transported from Florida to California took an extra day to get to California. I mean that sounds like a Nigerian scam? Come on Wells Fargo, you didn’t have to have your cake and eat it too. I mean the driver drove 3,000 miles which is 7 days of driving to deliver the vehicle.And because the driver was a day late the customer wants his $1,000 dollars back? Friendly fraud was in the billions this year based on consumer reports. I am a victim, and I have been taken advantage of by Wells Fargo. We are unhappy, hopeless in what to do, and need others to see this message. We hope you can help. Please let us know your thoughts.

    The Cardozo Family

    RatingNot Rated
    richard hardsog

    wells fargo and first data are the worst of the worst. I had acustomere who gave me an order for a large commercial fan , sadly this was my first and last
    deal with this gang of thives. 15880.00 is floting around somewhere,, I never got it my customer stated the funds were removed from his account the same day. 12 days later I asked them to let me reverse the transaction I was told my account was closed anno longer has itd they could not refund the money as they could not verify funds were available.. they should have looked in their own account. .that has to be where the money is.as I never got the money, and my customer said it was gone from his master cards.

    RatingNot Rated
    Dian Clark

    Wells Fargo Merchant Services is a first class scammer. Do not do any business with them. I will never enter into any agreement with any of their representatives. They are cheaters and liars. Their rating deserves a
    –100

    Rating11111
    Sandra Kerr

    We are a small family business. We recently had our Wells Fargo Merchant Services account terminated for reasons we still do not understand. The determination was apparently made by one person in their security department who was not only totally unhelpful but extremely rude during this process. This entire experience has been not only embarrassing and stressful, but expensive. We were told we could use the account for 30 more days, but all funds would be “held”. Now we are left with the hassle of an ongoing battle with First Data to try to get the four year “uncancellable”contract cancelled on equipment we are no longer allowed to use. What a nightmare! We are in the complicated process of closing all Wells Fargo accounts and switching banks. Be VERY careful dealing with Wells Fargo and their business department.

    RatingNot Rated
    maria katsaros

    Wells Fargo is the WORST merchant service company! they give you the run around, you can’t talk to anyone on the phone and their rates are the worst in the business! they are thieves! Was with them for years and just changed merchant services, and now realized how many “Bill Back’s” and misc charges they were making! I am now saving almost an average of 500 dollars a month. They are a disgrace of a company!

    Rating11111
    Jennifer Poisson

    I think everyone should be aware that there is a clause in the contract (hard to see because it just has you initial i little box that says you went online and agree to the terms and conditions.) These terms and conditions are a 50page document online. Somewhere in that 50 pages… it says that you agree to a 3 year contract. I think this is completely deceptive and my sales rep said there was no contract. I closed down my business and got stuck paying the fees for two years. I would recommend checking out other companies….

    RatingNot Rated
    Jeff Wright

    Do not sign up with these guys at all for cc processing. I was with current company for 7 years. Wells Fargo made all sorts of promises about how they would save me money on cc processing. They had statements, etc. I sign on with them all of a sudden with ic rates my cc processing is 3 times what it was before. Now they are mad at me. I cancel my contract, They charge me 1350 to do so for lease, 500 for wells fargo, and 200 for the machine they lost. I saved this much not processing with them for the last six months so I am happy that I am once again saving money. The wells fargo banker was yelling at me because he told me to process a certain way that I cant do with my business. Now I am closing all of my wells fargo accounts which was over 40000 dollars and going banking elsewhere. They do a great job of getting rid of their customers. Never again will I bank with wells fargo.
    This is legal theft and a bunch of bs.

    RatingNot Rated
    Tracy

    Agree with all of you. Wish I had read this before I was pushed into getting WF Merchant Services by the CSR at the bank. Been on the phone with them 4 times today and no one can explain why I was charged 10% on last month’s cc transactions. So on the 5 time I told them to close the account, bc I was going back to Square. That’s when I was informed of the $500 early termination fee. I asked the lady if I never used the cc reader again, what would happen. She informed me I would be charged $20 a month regardless! They are scammers!!! When you purchase a cell phone, they let you know up front that there is a early termination fee. Why cant they!!!!

    RatingNot Rated
    Randy Thompson Jr.

    Wells Fargo Merchant Services is an absolute scam. I was conned into switching from my old merchant to Wells Fargo Merchant Services, under the claim that I was going to save a lot of money.

    The sales rep was high pressure and conned me into believing I was going to save money. Well, it’s been 2 years and I’m paying at least 50% more annually in fees than I was paying before. I barely process any transactions, maybe 1 every few months, but I’m locked into a 3 year contract. The rep did not tell me it’s a 3 year contract. But when I called back, he said “You signed the contract”. Somewhere in the dozens of pages of legal BS, it says 3 year contract with $500 early termination fee.

    Well, I wish I cancelled and just paid that $500 fee right away, because I’ve spent over $1000 in fees and I STILL have to pay $500 to get out of the contract, or else pay for another year of rising rates. Every month I’m charged a different amount. They won’t tell me the amount so some months it just randomly bills me twice what it was the previous month. They are the biggest scam artists in the merchant services industry.

    Save yourself a headache and process with someone else. Wells Fargo Merchant Services BLOWS and I’m cancelling ALL of my personal and business bank accounts because of their bull ****. Wells Fargo, you are hurting your loyal, innocent customers. There is no reason to treat your customers like dog crap. We are paying your bills!

    I foresee the end of Wells Fargo & all subsidiaries within the next 25 years. Mark my word.

    RatingNot Rated
    Lisa Bittan

    I completely agree with your assessment. I am 2 years away from the end. Do you think I should just pay the $500 fee and be done with them? Do you know of any other venue to warn people against Wells Fargo Merchant Services?

    RatingNot Rated
    Andy Newell

    Wow what a scam! I wish I had done more research but after 30 years of a successful banking relationship with WFB I guess I expected better. I was told clearly over the phone that my cost would be a $95 setup fee (for what I’m not sure), $5 per month and 3-4% of the transaction to accept credit cards over the phone “touch tone processing”. I used it a couple of times and it worked well and the money was transferred quickly. Then I got a statement and realized they were charging me the anticipated $5 per month, $.35 per transaction (not a big deal, they were big $) but also charging me $10 per month for a paper statement I never asked for. I got fed up with it and arranged to do CC transactions with another entity that I already do work with. I then called WFB Merchant Services to cancel. Surprise! on page 44 of a 56 page internet document of legalese that is briefly mentioned in the actual agreement is the only mention of a three year term with a $500 minimum cancellation fee. What a crock. If they had a competitive product they could keep customers with service but instead they punish them for leaving. I find it ironic that their phone tree has a specific selection for cancelling an account. It must be a really big revenue generator for them. When I finally got to someone who could actually cancel the account I told them there was no way I was going to pay $500 just to go away. I begrudgingly agreed to $250 just to get it over with but I feel like I need to take a shower after such a screwing. Don’t do business with these crooks, and if you do don’t let them charge you more than $250 to release you from their trap.

    $445 in fees and unexpected cancellation fees for 9 transactions over three months.

    That’s not the WFB I know and love!

    Rating11111
    Janet Opre-Mittendorf

    WFMS is horrible! I am a one person glass art small business. In April I registered for my business tax id, which somehow sleezy Wells Fargo retrieved my info, matching it with my mortgage info. What began with an email telling me I qualified for free accounts, has resulted in me losing hundreds of dollars in bank fees and mysterious charges, along with a lease that will cost me $700 to get out of. They totally scammed me, and had I not “known somebody” it would have cost me an additional $500 when I cancelled my business account. Why they chose to feed on a disabled person trying to earn a little money is beyond me. I am taking all our accounts elsewhere; this after over 10 years with Wells Fargo. Shameful

    RatingNot Rated
    Lisa Bittan

    I wish there were 0 stars possible. I would like to warn everyone about WELLS FARGO MERCHANT SERVICES. WELLS FARGO MERCHANT SERVICES should be prosecuted for fraudulent misrepresentation. They do not disclose anything negative when you sign up, including their termination fee of $500. After you sign up, you are basically captive for 3 years unless you want to pay that fee.
    For asmall business, with no experience in this sort of service (ie, taking credit card payments, etc), it is easy to fall in their trap, and this can be devastating. Their fees are exorbitant and their customer service is pitiful. If you want any specifics, please email me directly. I am going to find every possible outlet to warn again Wells Fargo
    Merchant Services. I am also a lawyer, and One day when I have the time, I may attempt to initiate a class action suit against them.

    Rating11111
    Dan Woodard

    I agree with the other reviews. There is no integration or even communication between the bank and the credit card merchant services. The application process was complicated and inefficient, it is difficult to tell what services are available, verification over the phone was tedious after all that they cannot help you. All in all, a nightmare.

    Rating11111

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