The Complete Guide To Switching From Worldpay To A Better Credit Card Processing Company
Worldpay is one of the largest merchant services providers in the industry and also a direct processor with a worldwide presence. Recent acquisitions have made the company even bigger, with an estimated $1.5 trillion in annual processing volume. Because of Worldpay’s commanding market share, many merchants eagerly sign up for an account with the company, thinking that “bigger is better.” After all, most of us do business with industry-leading companies all the time. We buy our smartphones from Apple, our cars from recognizable brand names such as Toyota or General Motors, and just about everything else from Amazon. Big-name brands can offer better selection, better customer service, and more competitive prices, right?
Well, no. Unfortunately, the merchant services industry doesn’t work the same way as the technology, automotive, or retail sectors. Huge direct processors such as Worldpay can be a good deal for a large, well-established business that has the leverage and the negotiating expertise to hammer out a deal that’s beneficial to both parties. However, small business owners frequently get stuck with the worst possible terms, including tiered pricing plans, long-term contracts with expensive early termination fees (ETFs), and sometimes outrageously overpriced processing equipment leases. Make no mistake — Worldpay and other large processors aggressively market to small businesses. The collective market share is simply too big to ignore. However, as an individual small business owner, you won’t get the kind of favorable terms and competitive prices that a large business can get. You’ll also struggle to get the company’s customer service department to pay any attention to you.
For these reasons, many small business owners have quickly soured on the idea of having Worldpay as their merchant account provider. We’ve seen dozens of complaints against the company, both on consumer protection sites, such as the BBB, and in the Comments section of our Worldpay review. Unfortunately, closing a merchant account is never a simple process. Providers such as Worldpay go out of their way to make it as difficult as possible in the hopes of discouraging you from terminating your business relationship with them. In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s so difficult to get out of a Worldpay merchant account contract and lay out the specific steps that you’ll need to follow to do so successfully. We’ll also show you how to find a better provider and give you a few recommendations for you to check out.
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The Trouble With Cancelling A Worldpay Merchant Account
In addition to the usual problems with high prices, long-term contracts, and poor customer service, one of the most persistent complaints that merchants have about Worldpay is that it is extraordinarily difficult and frustrating to get out of your contract and close your account once you’ve decided to do so. Worldpay — and most other traditional processors, for that matter — seems to go out of its way to make it as difficult and inconvenient as possible to close a merchant account once you’ve signed up, regardless of the circumstances. The company is counting on a steady stream of income from your business, and it doesn’t want to give it up for any reason.
The following is a brief (and incomplete) list of problems that merchants have had in trying to close their accounts:
- Missing Paperwork: The merchant submits a written request to close the account, but Worldpay claims it never received the request. The account remains open — often for many months after the closure request was submitted — and monthly fees continue to be deducted from the merchant’s bank account, even though the account is obviously no longer being used.
- Disappearing Equipment: Merchants know that they have to return processing equipment, such as credit card terminals and POS systems, at the end of their contract unless they originally purchased them outright. Somehow, Worldpay frequently “loses” returned equipment in transit, giving the company an excuse to charge the full price for the missing equipment. If you leased the equipment, lease payments would continue for the entire length of the original leasing agreement, regardless of when your merchant account was closed.
- Inability To Reach Customer Service: Once you’re on Worldpay’s radar as wanting to close your account (often through a voicemail or email requesting help in closing your account), you can be virtually assured that the company will never return your calls or respond to your emails again.
- Closing Your Account By Telephone: Even if you do manage to reach a real person at customer service, be very wary if they allow you to close your account over the phone. Worldpay requires a written notice, which must be submitted within the required notice period to take effect. If a customer service representative offers to close your account over the phone without that notice, you’ll likely find that your account was never really closed, and you’ll continue to be charged all of your monthly account fees indefinitely until you figure out that this is happening.
- Being Erroneously Charged An Early Termination Fee (ETF): Let’s be clear here: If you agreed to an early termination fee (ETF) as part of your contract when you opened your account, and you end up closing your account before the end of your current contract term, you will be charged an ETF as soon as your account is closed. However, if you obtained a written waiver to the ETF when you negotiated your initial contract, or you’re closing your account at the end of the current contract term, you should not be charged an ETF at all.
How To Cancel Your Worldpay Merchant Account In 4 Steps
So how do you properly go about closing your merchant account with Worldpay? Despite what you might think, the company can’t legally keep you bound to your contract forever. It has to provide a procedure for terminating your contract and closing your account, and Worldpay has to honor it if you follow this procedure to the letter. Like most providers, instructions for closing your account are contained in your contract documents, usually in very fine print buried somewhere in the middle of the document, where Worldpay is hoping you’ll never find them.
Believe it or not, Worldpay is actually a little more transparent than many other providers in this respect. An FAQ on the Worldpay website contains the following instructions:
In order to cancel your account, WorldPay requires that a 30-day written notice be submitted via fax or US mail. On the cancellation notice please verify the purpose of the account cancellation, along with the company name, 5 digit Account ID, signature of the primary contact on record, and an email address to which a confirmation can be sent. Please do not assume your account is cancelled until you receive confirmation via email.
While this information is accurate, it doesn’t cover everything you need to consider before closing your account. You’ll want to review your merchant agreement carefully to find the full details of how to close your account. One key takeaway here is that you cannot close your account over the telephone. Worldpay, like most providers, requires that you submit your request in writing. While the company knows full well that this requirement makes it more inconvenient and time-consuming to close your account, having a written record of your request protects you as well. If you find that you’re still getting charged monthly account fees after you thought your account was closed, you’ll have a written record of when your request was sent as well as proof that you provided all of the required information.
We’d also note that the 30-day notice requirement is more or less the industry standard for account closures. Like most financial organizations, processors work on a 30-day billing cycle. You should expect that you might be billed for the month after you submit a request to close your account. However, you should protest any charges beyond that. We’ve seen other providers require a minimum notice of 60 or even 90 days before closing your account, which makes it that much harder to get your notice in before your contract automatically renews for another year. We strongly suggest that you pad the minimum notice period by as much time as you can to minimize any possible delays in mailing your written notice to Worldpay. For example, there’s no reason why you can’t send in the notice 45 days (or even earlier) before the end of your current contract term.
You also need to consider the reasons why you’re closing your account and whether you’re shutting it down at the end of a contract term or in the middle of one. Ideally, you’ll want to time your account closure so that it occurs at the end of your contract term. Doing this prevents the contract from automatically renewing and absolves you of any responsibility to pay an early termination fee. However, if you’ve decided to close your account before the end of your current contract term, you will probably have to pay the full ETF. If you’re closing your account to switch to a competing provider, there’s no point in protesting the ETF. However, if you’re closing your business for good (as opposed to selling it or transferring ownership) and no longer need the account, you might be able to convince Worldpay to waive the ETF.
With these considerations out of the way, let’s examine the step-by-step approach you’ll need to follow to close your account successfully:
1) Find Your Merchant Agreement
Contract documents relating to your merchant account are critically important, and we recommend that you keep both digital and written copies of all of them. Most contracts usually consist of a Merchant Account Application (which spells out pricing and terms unique to your account) and a Terms and Conditions section (which lays out the boilerplate provisions that apply to all merchants). You might also have separate documents for equipment leases and third-party services (e.g., payment gateways). You should also keep copies of any waivers granted by your sales representative when you initially set up your account.
2) Review Merchant Agreement For Termination & Account Closure Provisions
While the quote above from Worldpay’s FAQ gives a good overview of the account closure process, it’s not legally binding. You’ll want to review the full closure requirements contained in your original contract documents. Worldpay, like most providers, uses a variety of standard contract documents that change over time. Don’t assume that a blank contract document you found on the internet is identical to the one that applies to your account.
In addition to identifying specific account closure procedures and requirements, you’ll also want to determine your account’s anniversary date. That is the date when your current contract term expires, and a new term will automatically begin if you haven’t initiated the process to close your account. This date can be either the day you signed your contract, the day you first started using your account, or some other date as defined in your contract. Unfortunately, while providers go to great lengths to spell out how your anniversary date is determined in your contract, they’re not so forthcoming about what date they’re actually using for your account. A customer service representative should be able to provide this information for you, as your provider uses your anniversary date to determine when your contract automatically renews and when any annual fees are due.
We’d also note that if you intend to continue in business with a new provider after you’ve closed your Worldpay merchant account, the transition will be much smoother if you can have the new account set up and ready for use before your current account closes. That will prevent the unfortunate possibility of being unable to process any credit or debit card transactions while waiting for the new account to activate.
3) Follow Account Closure Provisions To The Letter
Once you’ve nailed down your account closure requirements and determined your anniversary date, you need to follow those instructions to the letter. This is not the time to get sloppy. A missing signature, incorrect merchant account number, or any other errors on your part will almost certainly result in your closure request being rejected (or delayed just long enough for the automatic renewal clause to kick in).
We highly recommend that you contact customer service before initiating a closure request, even though they’re not likely to be very helpful. While Worldpay appears to accept any form of a written request that contains the required information, many other providers will insist that you submit your request on a special form. This form won’t be included as part of your contract and won’t be available from the provider’s website. Instead, you’ll have to ask for a copy and hope that the company sends it to you in time.
We also recommend that you print out your account closure request and submit it via Certified Mail. Emails can get lost or “accidentally” deleted all too easily, but using Certified Mail gives you a record of when your letter was mailed as well as when it was received and who signed for it. You might need this information if the company later tries to claim that it never received your request.
Besides a written request, you might also need to return any processing equipment that doesn’t belong to you. This mostly applies if you received a “free” terminal as part of your initial merchant account setup. These terminals are provided for your use for as long as you keep your account open, but they remain under Worldpay’s ownership. You’ll need to send any such equipment back to Worldpay as soon as your account is closed to avoid getting charged the full value of the hardware.
Unfortunately, it isn’t so easy to get rid of leased equipment. If you made the mistake of leasing your processing hardware, you’re pretty much stuck with both the equipment and the monthly lease payments for the duration of your leasing contract. If you’re switching to a new provider, you might be able to have the equipment reprogrammed to work with their processing system.
4) Monitor Account Statements & Any Additional Charges
Unfortunately, we’ve received way too many complaints from merchants whose problems with Worldpay didn’t end when they closed their accounts. As we’ve discussed above, there’s a possibility that you’ll continue to be charged monthly (and possibly annual) account fees long after you thought your account was closed. The burden is definitely on you to monitor your account statements and your business bank account to catch any of these charges. While it’s normal to be charged fees during the month after your account is closed, anything beyond that should be brought to the company’s attention immediately.
Worldpay promises to notify you by email when your account is closed, but you shouldn’t assume that this is the final word. Any number of hiccups can occur that might prevent your account from actually closing. If this happens to you, your first course of action is to notify Worldpay immediately and provide all documentation related to your account closure request. If the unauthorized charges continue, we highly recommend that you file a complaint against the company with the BBB. Believe it or not, even huge companies such as Worldpay care about their online reputation, and they’ll usually be a lot more helpful in trying to resolve the situation once you’ve gone public with your grievances. As a last result, if none of the above actions have worked, you may have to close your business bank account to stop the automatic withdrawals. We realize that this is a tremendous inconvenience, but it’s better than being charged every month for an account that you’re not using.
How To Find Alternatives To Worldpay Credit Card Processing
As we’ve discussed above, merchants have found many reasons to leave Worldpay for a better (and more affordable) provider. The processing industry is extremely competitive, and providers are always trying to convince established businesses to switch to them from their current provider. Some companies will even offer to pay your early termination fee from your current provider if you sign up with them. While this might sound like a terrific deal, it usually is not. Why? Because nothing is ever truly “free” in the processing industry, and any provider that will pay your ETF for you is almost always going to require you to agree to another long-term contract with them in exchange for this benefit.
So how do you find a better provider than Worldpay? We can help! Our article on how to choose a merchant service provider can guide you through the fundamentals of evaluating pricing, contract terms, and other considerations in selecting the best provider for your business. We recommend that you narrow your choices down to several of the best providers you can find and obtain quotes from each of them. Armed with this information, you can make an informed decision as to which one will (hopefully) offer you the best combination of fair pricing, flexible contract terms, and top-notch customer service for your business. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution that works best for everyone, so bear in mind that a company that’s good for a large, established business often won’t be a good choice at all for a small business. Once you’ve decided on a provider, our article, How To Negotiate The Perfect Credit Card Processing Deal, can show you how to get the best terms from your chosen provider. Finally, if you have no idea where to start, our Merchant Account Comparison Chart provides a head-to-head comparison of some of the best merchant services providers in the industry.
Switching From Worldpay To Another Processor Isn’t Easy, But It Is Possible
As we’ve emphasized above, closing your merchant account is never an easy process, and providers deliberately make it as difficult as possible to discourage you from switching to a competitor. In this regard, Worldpay is no different from any other traditional provider that relies on long-term contracts to keep merchants on the hook for as long as possible. In fact, Worldpay’s willingness to accept a simple written request and offering to confirm your account closure via email puts the company slightly ahead of its competition.
However, you won’t have these kinds of problems in the first place if you sign up with a provider that offers true month-to-month billing with no long-term contracts to all their merchants. Many of our top-rated providers don’t use long-term contracts or early termination fees at all, so closing your account is simply a matter of making a phone call or submitting a written request. You won’t have to worry about expensive cancellation penalties or continuing to be charged fees for months after you’ve shut down your account.
If you’re unhappy with Worldpay — or any other provider — we recommend that you take a close look at your contract and see what it will really take to get out of it. We’ve outlined the steps above that you’ll need to follow to put a bad provider behind you, hopefully without having to pay an exorbitant amount of money to do so. Good luck!