EVO Payments 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 among ISOs
- 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, giving the position to Jim Kelly, former Chief Operating Officer of the processing giant Global Payments.
EVO ultimately rebranded itself as EVO Payments, and set a goal to make their services global. The ever-expanding company now maintains partnerships, divisions, and/or subsidiaries in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe (Germany, the UK, Ireland, Spain, Poland, and the Czech Republic).
EVO Payments 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 — i.e., 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 asterisk 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 are quite independent from each other in terms of promoted features and overall marketing approach.
At this time, I can’t recommend that you do business with EVO. With no publicized costs, an early termination fee, and numerous user complaints, EVO doesn’t even come close to making the cut. Check out our merchant account comparison chart to see which companies do much better at delivering a great experience for merchants.
How does your own experience with EVO align with the rest of our review? Read on to find out.
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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 “Find EVO in your Region” portion of the main evopayments.com website (which by itself is vague, 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 independent sales organization (ISO), agent, or partner 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:
- Merchant Accounts: EVO Payments is a direct processor, meaning that EVO will handle your actual payment processing. They work in collaboration with two sponsoring banks: Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas and Wells Fargo.
- International Processing: EVO accepts payments in 50 markets and 150+ currencies.
- 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*. 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 Gateway: EVO also has 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 compatible with the most popular third-party gateways as well.
- Terminals & POS Solutions: The US page simply states that EVO works with the leading countertop, tablet-based, and mobile POS solutions. The Canada site has more hardware specifics, naming the specific terminals that support their services. Meanwhile, the EVO Snap* site references hardware partners Verifone, Dejavoo, Handpoint, 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 very little 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 vague references to an EVO mobile app. 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 marketing solutions, gift/loyalty cards, ACH/check acceptance, and merchant funding. 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. 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.
If you sign up for EVO through an agent, ISO, or integrated partner, your pricing will depend on the rates they offer as well as your processing needs.
I would recommend that if you choose to go with EVO payments, you sign up with EVO International Payments directly. Cutting out the middle man seems like the easiest way to guarantee lower rates, and you will likely be able to negotiate the type of pricing structure you prefer. EVO offers pricing in flat rate, tiered, and interchange-plus models. We always recommend interchange-plus pricing as its the easiest model to compare between providers.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
If you sign up for a merchant account directly through EVO Payments, you can expect a three-year contract. This is a standard contract length, although more and more merchant accounts are beginning to offer month-to-month agreements. In order to cancel your account, you will need to give written notice 60 days before the date you’d like to cancel. By providing this written notice, you’ll avoid the cancellation fees, which range up to $495. Keep in mind that I gathered this information directly from EVO Payments. Based on reviews I’ve read, early termination fees and contract length vary depending on your agent and your business.
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.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
EVO Payments 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 independent agents, ISOs, and integrated partners for the majority of their sales, EVO Payments suffers from a lack of consistency in customer experience. Customers who sign on through an EVO ISO may find that the sales agent they contacted was not forthcoming about the real costs of using the service. A large portion of complaints about EVO highlight undisclosed contract terms and fees. This is the definition of poor sales transparency.
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 EVO directly:
- 24/7 Technical Support, Available by phone
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 & technical 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 couldn’t find any support materials on the US site.
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. The EVO Snap* news section is less helpful; the latest article was published in 2016.
Social media is often a good place to check on the company’s current focus, or to try to make first contact. EVO Payments US regularly posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The EVO Snap* Youtube channel is very outdated; there’s only one video posted.
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 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 that complaints of EVO Payments at the BBB tally 191 in the last three years, down from 271 when we last checked in early 2018. Less than 27% 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 issues 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 can’t just believe anything a salesperson tells you. If you let your guard down and you don’t get agreements in writing, you often end up paying for it – literally.
- 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, but would you believe it’s not an atypical complaint for this kind of processor? (You should.)
- 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. In fact, when I called EVO the first time to ask about pricing, the representative I reached hung up on me. When I tried calling back, I was put on hold for thirty minutes before I gave up on the call. I did eventually get ahold of a few EVO representatives who were kind and helpful, but that first interaction left a bad taste in my mouth.
- Frozen Accounts & Held Funds: Many merchants complain that EVO Payments has held their funds for months at a time or frozen accounts without notice.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
In terms of positive reviews, I was only able to find one positive review at the BBB and a few positive comments scattered here and there on third-party review sites. EVO has a handful of client testimonials on their B2B site, although they are all B2B specific. Here’s what the few positive comments I’ve seen mention:
- Good Representatives Make Good Service: Customers report that when they partner with experienced resellers, they have a positive experience. These fortunate merchants report that they’ve used EVO Payments for years. In addition, merchants from the UK expressed gratitude for one particular EVO representative named Darren.
In EVO Payments, we have a giant company with countless partners, 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. Merchants end up suffering because of a lack of transparency in pricing and inconsistent experiences in sales practices.
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. While this is likely not the case with every ISO, I’ve seen so many complaints that I have reservations about EVO ISOs in general.
Setting aside independent sales organizations for the moment, there are steps EVO could take at its main site and country home pages to make us 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.
Ultimately, I’m left with pretty lukewarm feelings about this company. Complaints have slowed, 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*, 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.
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