Electronic Payment Systems (EPS) Review
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- Date Established
- Englewood, CO
Electronic Payment Systems (EPS) is a mid-sized merchant account provider headquartered in Englewood, Colorado. The company was originally founded in 1994 by John Dorsey, who remains the company’s CEO. EPS offers a robust range of services, and they’re one of relatively few companies offering interchange-plus pricing plans for their merchant accounts. Unfortunately, they also continue to engage in many of the shady, misleading practices that the processing industry is notorious for, condemning them to a mediocre overall rating.
First impressions count for a lot, and in today’s internet-driven business world, that first impression is usually going to be made by a company’s website. In past review updates, we’ve criticized the EPS website heavily, describing it as looking like “a freshman HTML project gone wrong, crossed with a shady gambling website.” The good news is that they’ve completely re-designed their website since our last review update, and the new site design looks much better. The cheesy animations and corny graphics are gone, and the new site presents a simpler, more readable appearance.
Unfortunately, while the graphical elements have been improved, a lot of the hyperbolic claims and awkward advertising copy from the old site are still present. For example, on their About page EPS still claims to be “one of the nation’s oldest and largest privately held merchant service providers of electronic payment products to businesses and ISO’s.” This claim falls somewhere in between a significant exaggeration and an outright lie. FirstData, also privately owned, has been operating since 1969, meaning they were already in business for a quarter century when EPS started up. The ability to process payments electronically first became available in 1974, two decades before EPS came on the scene. And EPS’ $1.8 billion annual processing volume hardly makes them “one of the largest.” Chase Paymentech, in contrast, has an annual processing volume of $500 billion.
Based on my research, merchant accounts with Electronic Payment Systems are significantly more expensive than the industry average. The company also uses unethical sales practices and tries to push uneconomical terminal leases (among other things) on unsuspecting merchants. Their No Credit Check EZ Payment Plan service has also led to a high volume of complaints from merchants. Personally, I wouldn’t want anything to do with it.
They do, however, intentionally market themselves as an option for high-risk businesses (i.e., multi-level marketing, adult entertainment, nutraceuticals, travel companies, tobacco/cigarette, etc.), so that might be a draw for you. Be warned, however, that processors who market toward high-risk merchants generally won’t offer you a very good deal. Expect to pay higher rates and fees, and have less room to negotiate the details of your contract. If you’re looking for a processor that specializes in high-risk accounts, I recommend Durango Merchant Services (five stars) instead.
Overall, EPS isn’t the worst provider out there, but they’re far from being among the best, either. For now, they rate a mediocre 3 out of 5 stars. Check out the full review below for more details, or take a look at our comparison chart to see the best of the best in the processing industry.
Products and Services:
The EPS line of products and services has all of the usual offerings. Aside from the run-of-the-mill services, they also offer their No Credit Check EZ Payment Plan service. While this is something of a unique product, it’s also produced some major complaints. Products and services offered by EPS include the following:
- Merchant accounts: EPS offers standard merchant accounts for a variety of industries, including health care, eCommerce, hospitality, retail, and others. They also offer high-risk merchant accounts for businesses that fall in that category.
- Terminal sales/leases: For the best no-nonsense terminal experience, you’re almost always better off buying your own. Check out our article on credit card terminal leasing to learn why you should avoid it. Also, just like any product, be sure to shop around before you buy.
- Gateway/virtual terminal: A virtual terminal allows you to accept card payments from any internet-connected computer with a web browser. EPS offers virtual terminals through Authorize.Net.
- Payment plan services: EPS calls this their No Credit Check EZ Payment Plan. On the surface, this seems like a pretty unique offering. Basically, it allows your customers to pay in installments over the course of 90 days for sums as large as $5,000 by post-dating their checks. As you might expect, some merchants have experienced problems with this so-called “service.”
- Check processing: Most processors offer this. EPS does check processing in-house through their branded ElectCheck program. They claim ElectCheck is “not only the oldest and largest check processing service solution in the industry but … also the most aggressively priced.” Really? While it may seem like harmless boasting, exaggerated (and, most likely, false) claims like this really hurt EPS’ credibility.
- Mobile processing: EPS claims to accept mobile payments on their website. Unfortunately, their advertising copy is so poorly written that it fails to mention the name of the mobile app or include links to further information. I couldn’t find the app in either the iTunes Store or Google Play. Luckily, mobile payments are becoming common enough that you don’t need to use EPS to get this capability. Most processors now offer mobile apps and readers, or you could check out Square for a mobile-only option.
- Merchant cash advances: EPS goes out of their way to highlight the availability of merchant cash advances on their website. Why? Because they’re a good deal – for them. They’re usually not such a good deal for merchants, so be sure to check out our article on the subject before you consider using this option.
Fees and Rates:
Like most processors, Electronic Payment Systems provides little or no information about rates and fees on their website. While their old website used to disclose the availability of both interchange-plus and tiered pricing plans, their current Credit Card Processing page offers only some unintelligible puffery about how great their services are, but with no details whatsoever about them. They’ve actually taken a step backward in transparency here, and it suggests that they might be trying to push tiered pricing plans. If you want interchange-plus pricing (and you do), you’ll have to ask for it.
While you won’t find any information about fees on the EPS website, their contract does disclose an annual $99.50 PCI-DSS fee for each terminal you have. This fee is non-refundable and cannot be prorated for any reason. Merchants have also reported annual account fees, monthly minimums, and expensive terminal lease payments.
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
The standard EPS contract term is for two years and auto-renews for two-year periods after that unless the merchant cancels in writing at least 90 days before the term expires. This is a little different from the industry standard of a three-year initial term with one-year renewals, but I don’t think it’s any better.
If you don’t give a full 90 days’ written notice of cancellation prior to the expiration of your contract term, you’ll be hit with their early termination fee of $295 plus the “standard fees” associated with your account (monthly minimum, statement fee, etc.) multiplied by number of months remaining on your contract. This is a version of liquidated damages – a major no-no in my book.
The EPS contract term and termination fee seem to change often. I’ve also heard of one-year auto-renewing terms without the $295 fee, just the “standard fees” multiplied by the number of months remaining. Since they don’t have a standard “termination fee” in this case, EPS has been known to deceptively market this as a month-to-month contract. Make sure you check your unique contract, and always ask to have the fee waived. (FYI, I’m working from the most up-to-date contract they have posted here.)
If your rep says that he will “take care of it” when you make a fuss about the termination fee, don’t take his word for it. Everything has to be in writing. Here’s a few lines straight from the EPS Terms and Conditions:
6 (d) Representations made by the Independent Contractor or their employees, representative or any other persons associated with them that are not expressly contained in this Agreement ARE NOT VALID and do not apply. EZ Payment Plan makes no representations outside of this Agreement. If you rely on representations made by Contractor not contained in this Agreement you are doing so of your own free will and at your own risk and shall not place any claim of any sort on EZ Payment Plan for such reliance.
Got it? Good.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
In previous review updates, I’ve given EPS kudos for including their merchant agreement and merchant application on the Resources page of their website. Now I have to take those kudos back. With the complete re-design of their website, the Resources page is gone, and a much less informative FAQ has taken its place. Links to the merchant agreement and merchant application have been removed, although you can still find the merchant agreement at the old link. This agreement may be out-of-date, but it’s still worth taking a careful look at before contacting a sales agent about applying for an account. Be aware that this is only part of your contract – rates and fees will be specified in a separate document.
EPS used to advertise the availability of interchange-plus pricing, but with the redesigned website, this has also disappeared. Their FAQ provides a brief mention of interchange, but that’s about it. Whether this deletion was inadvertent or deliberate is hard to tell. Quite frankly, the new website may look nicer than the old one, but it’s still riddled with grammatical errors and dead links. There’s even a paragraph in the FAQ that includes a note to “insert hyperlink” – with no link. Maybe most people won’t notice, but to anyone trying to find concrete information, the site comes off as clumsy and amateurish.
I’ve previously criticized EPS for their Price Match Guarantee, which supposedly promises to provide merchants who switch to them with free processing for a year if EPS couldn’t match or beat whatever rates they were previously paying. This is a common sales gimmick in the processing industry, and it inevitably comes with a host of fine print that ensures that the processing company will never actually have to honor their so-called “guarantee.” This fine print isn’t disclosed, of course. Fortunately, EPS seems to have de-emphasized this gimmick on their website. While the term “Price Match Guarantee” can still be found on their website, it isn’t explained anywhere. Don’t be surprised if a sales agent still tries to dangle it in front of you, though.
EPS has a fairly active social media presence, with public contact forums on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Their blog on Blogspot hasn’t been updated since 2012, but you can find a few articles on their website under News & Articles.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
EPS offers in-house, 24/7 customer service – the best system you could ask for. Unfortunately, the quality of that service is seriously lacking. I’ve read dozens of responses to customers from EPS service representatives that were rude, unapologetic, condescending, and overall very unprofessional. So, be warned that you might be in for a bumpy ride with EPS’ customer service.
Of course, complaints about poor service are always more likely to be reported by customers than incidences of good, quality service. How well does EPS handle complex, account-specific issues? If you’ve had any experience with EPS’ customer service – good or bad – please let us know about it by leaving a review below. Don’t forget to read the user review and comment policy.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Electronic Payment Systems has been accredited by the BBB since 2012, and currently carries an A- rating. Given that the BBB seems to “grade on a curve,” especially with businesses they’ve accredited, anything less than an A+ might raise an eyebrow.
EPS currently has 93 complaints filed with the BBB in the past three years, with 18 of those complaints being filed within the past year. This is a significant decrease from our last review update, when they had 179 complaints within the past three years, and 45 in the past year. This is a good trend, and I hope it continues. However, only 13 out of those 93 complaints were resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. While that’s a pretty low batting average, it should be noted that EPS did respond to every single complaint, and in many cases the customer either didn’t accept their response or didn’t answer their response at all.
Ripoff Reports lists an additional 65 complaints, which is high for that site. A lot of these complaints have to do specifically with the “No Credit Check EZ Payment Plan” service, and not credit processing in general. I particularly liked this complaint, which very succinctly explains the pitfalls of EPS as of November 2013.
The most common complaints you’ll see for Electronic Payment Systems include:
- “No Credit Check EZ Payment Plan”: I’ve already mentioned EPS’s unique “No Credit Check EZ Payment Plan” service. The way this works (or is supposed to work) is that the customer pays for a purchase of up to $5000 by writing out a series of post-dated checks over a period of up to 90 days. What could possibly go wrong? Okay, post-dating checks isn’t illegal by itself, but the probability of fraud is pretty obvious. EPS claims that they’ll cover you for any checks that bounce, but in reality they only cover up to 5% of the total sum for payment plan checks processed. Guess who’s on the hook for the other 95%? Sales agents often “forget” to tell you about this limit when they’re trying to sign you up. Read this review for a good summary of what can go wrong. You also might want to check out this court document, if you need further convincing. This service is also known as EPS90, although EPS seems to be discontinuing the use of that name – probably due to all of the complaints associated with it.
- Bad leasing agreements: This is so common that I actually put my palm to my face when I read these complaints. Sales reps do a great job at selling merchants on terminal leasing agreements. They’ll tell you that you can write it off on your taxes, that it lowers your start-up cost, that you won’t have to worry about becoming obsolete. This is all garbage. Leasing terminals almost never makes financial sense. You get locked into a four-year agreement costing thousands of dollars for a machine that sells for a few hundred dollars brand new. Read this article, please!
- Deceptive sales tactics/non-disclosure of contract terms: Complaints like this come up with all processors that use independent sales agents. These often poorly-trained and poorly-regulated agents sometimes don’t even realize that they are lying to you, because they were never properly trained in the first place. Others are desperate to close a sale because of a lack of leads provided to them by EPS, leading them to neglect to mention potential deal-breakers. They aren’t bad people necessarily; just frantic to make the money they need to survive. Early termination fees, payment plan limitations, rate and fee structures, non-cancellable leasing agreements, and overall headache are some details agents neglect to disclose to merchants when it becomes inconvenient to do so. The only way to protect yourself is to read and understand the entirety of your merchant agreement. If this isn’t a task you are up to, we can help.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
You won’t find any testimonials on the new EPS website, but they do offer Thank You Letters From Our Merchants, a five-page PDF of undated and semi-anonymous positive comments from a variety of merchants. With no links or actual business names, it’s not very convincing. Glowing praise for the EPS90 “No Credit Check EZ Payment Plan” make it even more suspect.
EPS also offers a “testimonial” (actually just a commercial) on their YouTube channel from… a funeral home. Again, it focuses on the EPS90 “No Credit Check EZ Payment Plan” as a stand-out feature, so take it with a grain of salt.
Somewhat surprisingly, EPS has 29 positive reviews posted with the BBB (out of 40 reviews overall). Again, they’re pretty much anonymous, so it’s impossible to assess their veracity.
You should feel free to ask your individual sales agent for references – meaning other merchants he or she has personally signed up in the past. This kind of specific information will be much more meaningful for you than some vague testimonials on the internet. If he or she can give you references related to your own industry, that’s even better.
You could do worse than Electronic Payment Systems, but you could also do better. While EPS definitely has the tools and the experience to set you up with acceptable payment processing options, you might have to navigate bad contract terms and dishonest sales practices to get there. Even for high-risk merchants, I have little reason to direct you toward EPS. You’re better off with our five-star processor Durango Merchant Services, where they also cater to the high-risk demographic.
Since our last review update, EPS has taken a few steps forward… and a few steps back. Their complaint volume with the BBB continues to come down, which is a hopeful sign. At the same time, their re-designed website is a disappointment. While the old site was an unmitigated disaster, the new web site isn’t much better overall. Improvements in graphic design (the new site is much more pleasant to look at) are, unfortunately, counterbalanced with the disappearance of a lot of useful information. Dead links, grammatical errors, and content that isn’t linked to, but is still available on the server – it all adds up to an unsuccessful attempt to overhaul the site. EPS really needs to fork over the money and hire a competent, professional web developer to fix their website.
Better yet, they need to improve how they do business in a lot of other ways. I’d like to see better trained (and more honest) sales agents, true month-to-month contracts with no early termination fee, and an end to overpriced terminal leases. Other processors already offer all of these features, and EPS is going to be stuck with the mediocre 3 out of 5 stars I’m giving them now until they catch up. Be sure to check out our top-rated processors to see how much better you can do in finding a good credit card processor.