Encore Payment Systems Review
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- Date Established
- Addison, TX
NOTE: Encore Payment Systems appears to be out of business. This review is archived and will no longer be updated. Check out our Merchant Account Comparison Chart to find the best credit card processing company for your business.
Encore Payment Systems Overview
Well, they can’t all be winners…
Founded in 2004, Encore Payment Systems (EPS) is a merchant services provider based out of Addison, Texas. They also do business as Prodigy Payment Systems and Momentum Payment Systems – which is always a red flag for me. When a provider uses multiple business names to market very similar services, it’s usually a sign of trouble. This case, as it turns out, is no exception. The Encore Payment Systems “family” of businesses all have the same pitfalls.
Simply put, EPS is not competing at the same level as the best in the business, not even the same level as the average providers. Just look at their website. It’s difficult to use, has little useful information, and overall it does not provide the initial sales experience I consider appropriate for 2016. No important disclosures are made, and it seems there is little standardization across the sales experience. Mix that with poorly regulated outside sales reps and aggressively marketed terminal leases – and you have a recipe for sub-par service.
EPS likes to push a 4-year terminal non-cancellable lease, which can lock you into paying a ridiculous amount of money over the course of your contract. And what’s worse – sales agents will generally gloss over this information, leading to very surprised (and very angry) merchants down the line.
Another problem: They have a pretty aggressive recruiting program for outside sales reps. From my experience, the ISOs and MSPs that rely heavily on outside reps have a lot of customer satisfaction issues due to a lack of standardization and regulation. Don’t get me wrong – there are probably a few great sales reps at EPS, but do you really want to roll the dice on it? I wouldn’t, especially not when there are so many other great providers offering consistently good sales experiences.
Encore Payment Systems needs to update their sales practices, web presence, and contract terms if they want to seriously compete in this industry in the coming years. Smooth-talking salespeople will only get them so far. Any merchant who takes the time to shop around will almost certainly choose a different provider. I’m going to leave EPS at 2.5 stars for now, but – as always – I sincerely hope to come back to this review with good news.
If you can get a trustworthy local agent willing to modify any low-quality contract terms, then I don’t want to scare you away from that. It could work. But please – proceed with caution! And while you’re at it, take a moment to check out their competition.
Check out the full Encore Payment Systems review below for more information, and please leave your review as a comment!
Table of Contents
Products & Services
Based on all of the Encore Payment Systems sales information I’ve reviewed, the following brief list of services marks their core offerings:
- Merchant accounts: While the rep I reached out to told me that Encore is a direct processor, I’ve heard otherwise. At least one report cites Chase Paymentech as a possible processor for the Encore family of companies. If you have insight about this, please leave me a comment.
- Credit card terminal leasing: Specifically, their proprietary “Clear Advantage” terminal packages. These terminals tend to come with expensive 4-year, non-cancellable leases. While I don’t think terminal leasing makes a whole lot of sense for most merchants (read this), if you’re set on leasing make sure you understand all of the terms involved. For those who don’t want to lease their hardware, check out our recommendations.
- Check processing: They will lease you the necessary check scanning equipment.
- Gift card/loyalty programs
It’s a brief list, further illustrating the minimal amount of added value you’ll find with Encore.
Fees & Rates
Absolutely no standardized fees, rates, or contract terms are disclosed publicly by Encore Payment Systems. While it’s true that your rates will vary depending on your business type and processing habits, I would really like to see at least a few standard disclosures in the public sphere.
I can tell you that they charge a “security fee” (probably PCI) of about $100 annually. I don’t like PCI-compliance fees in general, and I would advise you to avoid them or at least set your max at $80 annually.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
They like to call this a “deconversion fee” at Encore Payment Systems. But make no mistake: This IS an early termination fee, and it seems to usually be about $400-500. Contract length is usually three years and auto-renews for one-year periods thereafter, with a 60-day window for cancellation.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
An overall lack of consistency and standardization is the main issue in terms of sales and advertising transparency. Because Encore relies so heavily on outside sales agents who appear to be poorly regulated, you’re left rolling the dice. So while they don’t use overtly deceitful advertising online, at some point it becomes lying by omission. In terms of how Encore’s salespeople conduct themselves, I’ve heard mixed reviews.
I’d like to note here that you should always demand a complete copy of your merchant agreement and application for you to keep, and never sign on the same day as a sales meeting. Always take the paperwork home and look it over for a couple of days. Don’t succumb to high-pressure, limited-time sales pitches.
Also, for the record, you should be aware of the other domains that Encore sells through:
Customer Service & Technical Support
Encore does not advertise much about its support systems. While merchants from the testimonials page seem satisfied (of course), their reputation around the web is less encouraging. A few merchants have reported developing satisfactory relationships with local account managers, but this doesn’t seem to be the standard experience.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
The public complaints volume against EPS has increased subtantially since our last update, with 105 formal complaints in the past three years. But despite this and the fact EPS isn’t BBB accredited, it still has an A rating.
The most common complaints include:
- Expensive terminal leases: Here’s how it happens: A rep enters your store. They tell you that they can save you money on your merchant account. They tell you that they’ll also throw in a terminal that will cost you X amount per month. They also tell you that you have 60-days to cancel without any repercussions. What they don’t tell you is that there are actually two contracts. The merchant account itself (provided by EPS) is cancellable within 60-days, but the terminal that you’re paying that X amount for, carries a 4-year non-cancellable agreement. So you’re stuck, and EPS makes a nice profit. Many merchants have complained about getting stuck in lengthy terminal leases, which are very expensive to get out of. My recommendation is that you never lease a terminal unless absolutely necessary. Terminals are very cheap to purchase these days.
- Unsatisfactory customer service: A noteworthy percentage of reviews currently circulating cite poor customer support. If you have a serious complaint and can’t seem to get it settled over the phone, go to the BBB with it. Based on complaints I’ve read through the BBB, Encore is usually willing to compromise when you involve a third party.
- Poorly disclosed contract terms: This comes up a lot in regard to processing rates as well as early termination fees. Many BBB complaints cite inexperienced and fumbling sales reps who do not disclose many important contract terms, or even intentionally mislead merchants. Don’t take your sales rep’s word for anything. If you want to protect yourself, you have to read your entire contract and application, paying special attention to the fee schedule which is included as part of the application.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Encore does offer a brief testimonials page, but it is of little use. The reviews do not contain business names or last names for the owners, so it is impossible to verify their legitimacy. You can find a few sales agents and merchant chiming in around the web to defend Encore, but they are relatively few and far between.
If Encore Payment Systems wants to be taken seriously, they need to take a look around at the market. These days standardization, honesty and fair options are key, alongside excellent support and dedicated account managers. Terminal leases, expensive early termination fees, wild-west-style independent sales reps, laughable websites, and multiple DBAs are hallmarks of providers doomed to fail. So my advice to you: Don’t get on a sinking ship.
With all of this said, I don’t think that EPS is among the worst of the worst. They have a good-sized pool of satisfied clients, I’m sure. Some of their sales reps are probably very honest and dedicated. But there are no guarantees. So if you’re considering Encore I’d urge you to very carefully review your contract and to ask your sales rep for references. Otherwise, I’d advise you to look elsewhere. Encore only earns 2.5 stars today. Hopefully I’ll have better news next time.
Until then, check out our comparison chart to see the best in the biz, and don’t forget to comment!
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