EVO Payments International Review
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- Date Established
- Melville, NY
- Canadian merchant accounts offered
- Good for international merchants
- Good developer tools
- No pricing disclosed online (US or Canada)
- Early termination fee
- Deceptive sales tactics
- Expensive hardware leases
- Numerous public complaints
Founded by Ray Sidhom in 1989, Merchant Services Inc. began as a small provider of merchant accounts and POS terminals for US-based merchants. The company grew steadily over the next twenty years — tracking with industry trends, becoming EVO Merchant Services in 2003, and eventually amassing a large sales force of independent offices and agents. In 2012, Sidhom stepped down as CEO and took on a chairman role, giving the position to James Kelley, former Chief Operating Officer of the processing giant Global Payments.
EVO ultimately rebranded itself as EVO Payments International and set to work living up to its new name. The ever-expanding company now maintains partnerships, divisions, and/or subsidiaries in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe (Germany, UK, Ireland, Spain, Poland, and the Czech Republic).
In the company’s own words, EVO “provides direct acquiring and end-to-end transaction processing services that support merchants from payment acceptance at the point-of-sale through settlement of funds into the merchant’s bank account.” Basically, EVO operates in multiple levels of the credit card processing chain — from merchant acquiring, to card processing technology, to providing general merchant services.
As EVO expands — the more acquisitions and partnerships under its belt — the more vague its list of product offerings becomes. Correspondingly, direct-to-customer marketing has also shuffled down the priority list. The whole “Merchants” section of the US website is a glorified place-holder at this point, with little detail beyond a perfunctory list of generic features. If anything, the US division has shifted focus toward developers who build software applications for merchants and would like to integrate payment processing capability into these systems. You can check out the dedicated EVO Snap* website for more on this (and note that the asterisks on Snap* is part of its name, not an indication of a footnote!).
On the one hand, it’s quite common for large processors to favor flexibility over standardization. EVO’s partners and resellers benefit from a wide array of features to offer merchants. On the other hand, this means merchants have mixed experiences with EVO. Sales tactics, pricing structures, contract terms, and even product offerings all vary widely. Not to mention, the individual countries appear quite independent from each other in terms of promoted features and overall marketing approach.
I’ve yet to see many reviews coming from Europe, but I have noticed a definite negative trend regarding Canadian accounts. Reading the comments at the end of this review alone, you’ll see a disproportionate number of complaints from Canadian merchants. That said, EVO has an average number of complaints overall for a processor of its size, and the total number is declining (albeit slowly). I’ve taken this into account when maintaining EVO’s rating at 3.5 stars for this update.
I still can’t heartily recommend that you do business with EVO. With an inconsistent salesforce, no publicized costs, a likely early termination fee, and a severe lack of positive testimonials (even on its own websites), EVO doesn’t make of our list of qualified candidates.
How does your own experience with EVO align with the rest of our review? You may be especially interested to read on if you’ve indirectly ended up with an EVO account through one of its many recent acquisitions. If you’re ready to look elsewhere, check out our merchant account finder tool.
Table of Contents
Products & Services
To understand EVO’s products and services, your best bet is to visit the website specific to your country or region. These separate sites are currently accessed under the Global Reach portion of the main evopayments.com website (which by itself is extremely vague, likely out-of-date, and not very useful).
Content, specificity, and overall approach vary a great deal between country pages. Which features you’re offered also depends on which reseller you happen to encounter. Overall, EVO is compatible with merchants who process in-store, online, and in-app transactions. I’ll mainly highlight the features promoted at the US and Canadian websites below, along with a few other details I’ve pieced together. Frankly, I have reservations about the age (and resulting accuracy) of much of the information I encountered, but here it goes:
- Merchant Accounts: While conducting a significant portion of operations in-house, I’ve seen evidence that EVO and its sales partners also rely on other large processors behind the scenes, including First Data, TSYS, Global Payments, Chase Paymentech.
- International Processing: EVO accepts payments in 50 markets and 130 currencies, with settlement in 13 international currencies. Here is its cosmopolitan list of accepted payment methods.
- Payment Integration Platform: The integrated payments division of EVO is called EVO Snap*, and is the primary focus of the US website (under the Developers section). You can also click through to a separate website dedicated entirely to EVO Snap*. I wouldn’t be surprised if the product information at this site takes precedence over what’s listed on other sites, and EVO has obviously invested a lot of effort in this area recently. Essentially, EVO Snap* provides a single integration for card-present and card-not-present payment processing through its API. If you’re wondering what on Earth that means, this feature is geared toward developers of software platforms, apps, and online marketplaces, as well as integrated software vendors — not necessarily merchants. These are folks who are building and/or selling software and hardware for merchant use, and want payment acceptance capability and merchant on-boarding built into their products. Developers can check out the EVO Snap* FAQ for a quick overview.
- Payment Gateways: EVO also has (or at least had) a proprietary gateway called EVO EPay. The Canada site currently contains more detail on the gateway’s features, including recurring billing, fraud protection, electronic invoicing, and integration with shopping carts. EVO accounts are likely compatible with common third-party gateways as well. Sales reps have mentioned Authorize.Net, USAePay, and PayTrace, for example.
- Terminals & POS Solutions: You’ll undoubtedly have access to a variety of countertop, tablet-based, and mobile POS solutions. Again, the Canada site has more hardware specifics, but that’s partly to due the fact that the field of options is wider in the US. Meanwhile, the EVO Snap* site references various hardware partners such as Verifone, Ingenico, and Poynt. Note that EVO Canada mentions leasing equipment, which we don’t recommend under most circumstances. Canada does have stricter regulations about transferring hardware between providers, but definitely run a careful cost comparison and understand all contract terms when comparing lease, rental, and purchase options.
- Mobile Payments: There’s sparse detail on this topic, probably because EVO now focuses on getting developers to integrate their own apps with EVO payments instead of promoting its own mobile payment app. I only find tertiary references to an EVO mobile app and Charge ‘N Go by EVO, and virtually no card reader specifics. The Canada site briefly mentions the iProcess app for mobile payments.
- Additional Services: Several other features are briefly listed at the US, Canadian, and global sites. These include an accelerated funding program, gift/loyalty cards, ACH/check acceptance, and cash advances. EVO hasn’t bothered to elaborate much on them, so neither will I! Just be sure to inquire about extra fees for any of these features.
Fees & Rates
Speaking of fees, you won’t find any pricing information on EVO’s main corporate site, nor on its US or Canadian pages. I did encounter some standardized numbers on the EU page, which makes sense — there’s probably more standardization and fewer resellers muddying the pricing waters in places like Germany. In any case, we’re dealing with too many countries and independent sales offices around the world to provide one clear, unified picture of EVO’s pricing.
Once upon a time, we located an inconspicuous link labeled “Pricing” tucked away at one of EVO’s sales partner sites. This particular sales branch operates out of the same location as EVO’s New York headquarters and is called EVO Platinum Services Group (EPSG). We appreciated the excellent description of interchange-plus (cost plus) pricing, and that this was apparently the only pricing model offered by this office. Unfortunately, while the EPSG pricing page still technically exists, the link to it has vanished, along with the last glimmer of hope for humanity.
Wait, too dramatic? Well, if you’ve read much of Merchant Maverick’s material, you know that interchange-plus is our preferred pricing model for almost all businesses. We often warn merchants about the dangers of tiered pricing, and there’s evidence that merchants have encountered the pitfalls of this pricing model with EVO.
We were able to get in touch with an EVO-associated sales agent (it took some effort since they clearly don’t get many sales directly through their website), and the rep pitched us an interchange-plus plan that had fair rates and fees. Overall, the sale experience was impressive. No high-pressure tactics, no gimmicks — just business. There’s that darn glimmer of hope again!
I’ve still observed a wide variety of pricing set-ups with EVO, so I’m not giving them a major endorsement in this area. Besides of which, I’d hoped to see that lovely interchange-plus pricing page rise to prominence, not all but disappear! All I can say at this point is that your pricing with EVO depends entirely on your processing needs and the specific agent or office you reach.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
Based on reviews I’ve read and my own sales experience, early termination fees and contract length vary depending on your agent and your business. Once again, there’s little standardization here.
I’ve seen a number of one-year contracts, as well as the more standard three-year contracts. Both typically have auto-renewal clauses for one-year periods after the expiration of the initial contact. Cancellation fees appear to start at around $295, but I’ve heard various amounts (such as $395 and $495) from both merchants and EVO itself. Note that we don’t hand out 5-star ratings around here without a guarantee of month-to-month agreements and no early termination fees.
Finally, I should mention that EVO’s European subsidiary, based in Germany, links to a PDF of merchant terms and conditions. This document indicates a two-year contract with one-year auto-renewals, along with discussions of reserve accounts (“securities”), specific chargeback ratios that cause account freezes and terminations, and more. While this document is enlightening, we can’t assume the same stipulations apply on both sides of the Atlantic. If a corresponding document is available at the Canadian or US sites, it’s well-hidden.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
EVO-proper doesn’t have lot of advertising out there. The pluses and minuses of this setup basically cancel each other out: they don’t advertise rates or fees, but they also don’t have any sales gimmicks. You could say that they have good advertising transparency, but really they just have minimal advertising.
The bigger problem is the sales experience out in the field. Like most merchant account providers that rely on poorly regulated independent agents for the majority of their sales, EVO Payments suffers from a severe lack of agent standardization and transparency. A large portion of complaints about EVO highlight undisclosed contract terms and fees. This is the definition of poor sales transparency. Sure, corporate can always cry ignorance, but that doesn’t fix the problem.
Customer Service & Technical Support
EVO offers 24/7 technical support, while general customer service hours vary by country. As far as having a good primary point of contact goes – well, that will depend on which sales organization and rep signs you up.
The US site doesn’t clearly outline support hours, but here’s what I gathered by calling the number I found at EVO Snap*:
- Primary support office in Dallas, TX
- Tech Support Desk: 24/7
- Customer Service: Monday-Friday 6 AM-9 PM CST, Saturday 8 AM-5 PM CST, Sunday none
EVO Canada outlines support hours in more detail:
- Primary support office in Montréal, Québec
- Customer Service: Monday-Friday 8 AM-9 PM EST, Weekends 9 AM-9 PM EST.
- Remaining hours: calls automatically roll to 24/7 point-of-sale/tech support help desk.
- Repair services available, including terminal components, firmware, and memory.
Canadian support pages are sparse, with a handful of FAQs, troubleshooting tips, and hardware guides posted. I know I’m overusing the word “sparse” in this review, but the US site’s support materials are even more sparse than Canada’s. You will, however, find a developer support page at EVO Snap*, along with some PDFs that elaborate on features and technical specifications of the platform. My admittedly untrained, non-techy eye tells me it’s enough to at least wrap your mind around what’s possible with this gateway. The latest news section rounds out EVO’s support materials.
In situations when you’re not sure how up-to-date the main websites are (I’m still looking at you, EVO), social media is often a good place to check on the company’s current focus, or to try to make first contact. EVO only joined Twitter (at least in its current iteration) in January 2017, but this account is actually more active than @CanYouSnap for EVO Snap*. LinkedIn and Facebook posts track fairly closely with Twitter.
Lastly, I couldn’t resist a screen grab of the EVO Snap* Youtube channel, because it was kind of precious.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
There’s no shortage of complaints against EVO, but the overall number is not terribly shocking relative to its size. Determining the exact number is tough, however. EVO’s name has changed a few times, and many of its sub-ISOs may not operate in obvious connection with the EVO name anyway. You’ll want to check online reviews and BBB profiles of any associated companies.
I can tell you EVO has 54 complaints listed on Ripoff Reports, but that most of them are several years old at this point. Complaints at the BBB tally 271 in the last three years, down from 301 when we last checked in mid-2017. Less than 20% of these are from the last 12 months, and the overall resolution ratio is over 40% (not counting for complaints that may still be in limbo). At any rate, EVO proudly links to its A-rated profile, so is apparently not ashamed of how it’s handled complaints over the years. EVO’s responses do come across as reasonable, with admission of fault and waiving of early termination fees in several cases.
Of the complaints I’ve read, the following surface the most:
- Undisclosed Contract Terms: This includes a variety of fees (including the early termination fee), the auto-renewal clause, and the contract length, as well conditions for possible reserve accounts or held funds. Unfortunately, we live in a world where you just can believe anything a salesperson tells you. If you let your guard down, you often end up paying for it – literally.
- Bad Lease Agreements: I don’t think there is any such thing as a good lease agreement, but when already-crappy terms go undisclosed, it leads to some very unhappy customers. Check out our leasing article before you decide to lease a terminal from anyone.
- Difficulty Closing Accounts: This goes beyond the early termination fee and auto-renewal clause. Some merchants have had their termination requests “lost” by EVO, and many others have closed their accounts only to continue to incur charges for months after. This is bad news.
- Poor Customer Service: In addition to laments about incompetence or unresponsiveness, merchants complain that sales and customer service reps were actively rude or simply hung up. “Rude” is subjective, but there are enough of these remarks that it looks like a pattern.
We’ve also seen a few former EVO sales agents claiming a systemic use of unethical and illegal practices, including forging signatures. A couple of similar accusations may be found in our own review comments.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Aside from one positive review at the BBB and a rare floating comment here and there, I couldn’t find official testimonials for EVO Payments International. You’d think by now they’d have posted a few merchant (or even partner) testimonials — over at EVO Snap* especially. But, you’d be wrong. For all we know, they’re still just testing the platform. I’ll grant that gathering authentic, high-quality positive feedback is tricky, but I’m pretty shocked EVO hasn’t shown the initiative to rustle up a testimonial or two. Case studies would be welcomed as well. I need to see EVO in action, people!
In EVO Payments International, we have a giant company with countless subsidiaries, partners, sub-ISOs and independent agents — and now on an international scale. As such, your experience with EVO depends entirely on which branch of the sprawling tree you encounter. We always hope against hope that a large processor draws some public lines in the sand as it continues to grow. What defines this company at its core? Sadly, this rarely happens, and EVO isn’t an exception. Merchants end up suffering from a lack of standardization and the freedom of resellers to basically do what they want to close deals.
Since so many different entities resell EVO’s products and services, it’s nearly impossible to provide an accurate overall assessment. By the same token, I have a hard time recommending EVO when I have no idea what type of account package will come across your plate, nor the quality of the sales experience you’ll face. I’ve also seen too many long-term contracts and early termination fees, as well as evidence of less-than-forthright sales practices. At some point I stop caring whether these negatives always happen.
Setting aside independent resellers for the moment, there are steps EVO could take at its main site and country home pages to make us all more confident in the sales process. Outlining pricing models, posting merchant terms and conditions on all the sites, and unifying the overall online approach would be welcome improvements. The point is, there are ways to offer some consistency and transparency while providing decent flexibility at the same time.
I’m still holding out hope for EVO Snap*. I appreciate that this platform handles multiple sales channels and back-office functions via one system. There are some tough competitors in the “software platform integrated payments” space, however, so we need some case studies or testimonials demonstrating exactly how Snap* stands out from the crowd. How about throwing in some testimonials of great interchange-plus plans with month-to-month agreements while they’re at it?
Ultimately, I’m left with pretty lukewarm feelings about this company. Complaints have slowed and even stabilized in some cases, and that’s just enough to keep the rating static at 3.5 stars for now. Along with monitoring EVO’s reputation, I’ll be keeping an eye on Snap* and its annoying little asterisk, as well as watching for meaningful improvements in the network of international websites. In the meantime, definitely check out some of our highest rated processors. Canadian merchants should read our review of Helcim in particular.