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We’ve had our eyes on Fattmerchant (not Fat Merchant or Fatt Merchant, and definitely not Phat Merchant) since they launched. At the time, we had just reviewed a couple of other subscription-based credit card processing companies and were cautiously optimistic about this new and innovative pricing model. As of mid-2015, we’re pretty sure that this type of pricing is here to stay, and we’ve seen consistent saving and quality service for a wide variety of merchant using these plans. And in that time, Fattmerchant has grown into a real contender in the industry – certainly worthy of an in-depth review. So here we are!
You may have heard of Fattmerchant and its founder Suneera Madhani in a couple of articles published by Fast Company. Both she and the company at large seem to be very active and public, which I find refreshing. A lot of merchant services companies are only active in their pavement-pounding and telephone marketing (read: harassment) to drum up sales. Fattmerchant seems to be making a really solid effort to build a good reputation without force feeding business owners. Over the last year, representatives from the company politely reached out to us a number of times with updates and to inquire about the possibility of being reviewed. We declined to do the review until now because the company was too new and we weren’t seeing enough interest at the time, but I respect the energy and honest initiative they’ve shown. The company and its representatives seem to truly believe in the value of its services, which is a hugely positive sign. Believe it or not, many merchant services provider don’t want us to review them…
Fattmerchant (aka, Sunshine Payment Services, LLC) appears to use National Processing Company (NPC) as its primary processor. (NPC is owned by Vantiv, so you might see that name as well.) So you can expect any integration that works with NPC to work with Fattmerchant. Don’t worry about complaints you see regarding NPC. Fattmerchant has pre-negotiated your contract terms for you, so you don’t have to worry about getting a bad deal or dealing with a poorly trained sales rep. While I might not always recommend that you sign up with NPC directly, I have much more confidence in accounts set up via Fattmerchant because of the company’s transparency and standards.
There’s no doubt that this company is part of an interesting and growing trend in payment processing pricing, and while it’s not the oldest subscription-based flat-rate payments company, Fattmerchant appears to provide competitive value and service. In some cases, Fattmerchant may even be the less expensive and/or more valuable option. I like the software and services, although the quality of customer support and long-term effectiveness are yet to be seen. I’m really optimistic, though. This company has all the markings of an honest provider and a future success. Give it a shot. There’s no commitment, so you have nothing to lose. And I’m pretty confident that you’ll really like it.
Read the full review below for all the nitty-gritty details on Fattmerchant’s credit card processing services! This is a five-star company, and I predict it will hold this rating into the foreseeable future.
Products and Services:
Fattmerchant offers several solutions, all of which you can find here, but I’ll give you a quick rundown as well.
- Virtual terminal: The Fattmerchant virtual terminal is part of a full online payments hub that includes online reporting, analytics, card processing, ACH processing, and pre-authorizations. I really believe that this kind of online software will make or break the processing companies of the future, so I’m glad to see that it’s a cornerstone of the Fattmerchant service. While it’s certainly not as advanced as services like Swipely (yet!), it’s also less expensive and has room to grow in the future. For more on virtual terminals, check this out. This terminal is mobile-responsive, which means you can use it on your smartphone or tablet with no loss of functionality.
- Pre-authorization: If your business needs the ability to pre-auth a payment (to ensure that the customer has the available credit balance to be charged at a later date, such as with rentals and deposits), Fattmerchant allows you to do this from the virtual terminal.
- ACH e-check processing: Again, this is intuitively integrated into the virtual terminal. To learn more about ACH, check this out.
- API: For developers or businesses that would like to use Fattmerchant for processing, but have their own custom software needs, the API allows for easy integration. Note that web development skills will be needed for many tasks, so you will likely have to hire someone to help. Fattmerchant just provides the documentation.
- Online reporting and analytics: This is compatible with QuickBooks! The reports seem fairly basic, but well-organized and easily searchable and sortable. Many processing companies have ancient an borderline unusable online reporting software, so I’m thrilled to see this sleek, attractive, intuitive interface.
- Mobile processing: This is offered primarily through NPC’s mobile processing app. We haven’t formally reviewed this app yet, but it looks pretty useable. Let us know what you think in the comments.
- EMV-compliant chip card machines: I’m super glad to see Fattmerchant advertising EMV-compliant credit card terminals. Learn more about this technology and why it matter here.
- Terminal reprogramming: If you already have an up-to-date credit card machine, no problem! Fattmerchant will reprogram it free of charge.
- Gateway/Shopping cart: While you can use a different gateway if you choose to, Fattmerchant has primarily partnered with Authorize.Net (the industry leader), and all fee and rate information reflects this. If you just need the virtual terminal, this won’t be necessary.
Fees and Rates:
Fattmerchant has three standard pricing tiers:
Coin (entry level/mobile)
- $69 per month
- $0.25 per transaction
- Plus interchange fees
- Includes headphone jack card reader
Stacks (mid level/e-commerce)
- $79 per month
- $0.15 per transaction
- Plus interchange fees
- Includes payment gateway
Grand (high level/retail)
- $99 per month
- $0.08 per transaction
- Plus interchange fees
- Include EMV terminal or POS integration
I honestly find this sort of structure very confusing and overall not optimal. The problem is that this structure makes it seem like your business type will dictate the best plan for you. In fact, this is not true. Your business’s average transaction size and transaction volume will dictate the value you will receive. Fattmerchant even says as much in its FAQ:
Which plan is right for my business?
This is up to you, however we recommend our plans based on the number of transactions your business runs. If you run 5 transactions per day, we recommend the Coins Plan. 15 transactions per day, Stacks. 30 transactions per day, Grand plan. And you are always welcome to call us to help you figure out which plan best fits your specific needs.
So why do they present the plans based on business type on the pricing page? Ideally, all add-ons (mobile reader, gateway, terminal. etc.) should be offered on an as-needed basis for a standardized additional cost instead of arbitrarily bundled with the plans. If the listed plans don’t suit you, give Fattmerchant a call to talk about a custom plan.
Again, although this is not advertised, if none of these plans suit your needs Fattmerchant can work up a custom plan for you. Just give them a call and explain your situation. You can also bring a quote from another provider to the table for negotiating power if needed.
Fees NOT Charged:
Fattmerchant advertises compatibility with the following services:
- Future POS
- Radiant Systems
- Revel Systems
This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s nice to see these names mentioned. Be sure to ask your sales rep about compatibility with your software before signing up.
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
No long-term contractual commitments, no early termination fees. If you don’t like the service offered by Fattmerchant, you are free to leave without penalty. Good deal!
As a testament to Fattmerchant’s transparency, the company’s homepage links to a complete copy, including peripheral documents, of the NPC processing agreement and service terms. While it is very dense legalese for the most part (as all contracts are), I’m really thrilled to see it linked here. A lot of providers just sort of spring it on you at the last minute. At least Fattmerchant gives you the time to review the contract in-depth if you’d like to before feeling any pressure to sign. Of course, the fee page and application are not included there as they will vary from merchant to merchant.
(If you need assistance understanding your contract, we can help.)
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
As touched on above, Fattmerchant appears to have decent transparency. Aside from providing a copy of the contract on its homepage, you can find some useful basic information on the FAQ page and Blog page. It’s not comprehensive by any stretch of the imagination, but it offers solid introductory information.
Overall, Fattmerchant does not make any outlandish claims or unkeepable promises. The company’s marketing is honest and straightforward and includes explanations for interchange and interchange-plus pricing. This is far above and beyond the industry average.
The one semi-complaint I have was already touched on in the pricing section above. The different plans offered suggest that you had ought to make your selection based on business type rather than volume, which is not true. Since many accounts are boarded entirely online without the assistance of a sales rep, I would really like to see this improved. The truth is that your add-ons (such as a mobile reader, gateway, or EMV terminal) will be dictated by your business type, while your payment plan should be decided based on the number of transactions you complete monthly. If none of the plans suit your needs, definitely give Fattmerchant a call to work out a customized plan.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
I absolutely love how active Fattmerchant is on social media. You can find a lot of useful content on both Facebook and Twitter from the company. If you have a quick question, you can use social media to get a public answer.
The Fattmerchant website also offers live chat during business hour. <They also promise “you’ll always get a voice to the phone and will always have someone ready and willing to help you” as well as a 24/7 support line.> Aside from that, few promises are made in terms of customer support. If you’ve had experience with Fattmerchant’s customer service, please leave us a comment! Be sure to include your name, business name, or other identifying information so that we can verify that your review is authentic.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Fattmerchant has an A+ rating with the BBB, with only one minor complaint that the company responded to in-depth, and is currently a 4.5-star company on Yelp. Other independent reviewers do not appear to have appraised Fattmerchant’s service yet. You can see for yourself that Googling things like Fattmerchant scam, ripoff, complaints, reviews, etc., doesn’t provide a ton of useful results.
While no reputation is better than a bad reputation, it’s certainly not as good as a positive reputation. The company has only been in business since 2014, and it has a very limited track record and online reputation currently. I think Fattmerchant has a ton of potential, let me be clear about that. And I don’t see any red flags whatsoever.
Some have criticized the sustainability of this pricing model, voicing the same concerns I did when I first reviewed this type of company. Here’s a comment from the Fast Company article:
If a merchant processes transactions in the size (ATS) of $2000+ and monthly volumes of $200,000 what Fattmerchant is making is 200 x 6 cents + $99 = $111 and what her exposure to the company going down and fraud is too high. She is sitting on a time bomb.
This is an interesting point. For users with large transaction, service like Fattmerchant offer enormous savings since no extra percentage markup is assessed. But is this fair or foolish for Fattmerchant? Are they exposed to additional risk? The company’s reply to the above comment was as follows:
We appreciate the feedback. However the concept of Fattmerchant is that we, unlike most all other providers, are not trying to make a ton of money off of each individual customer – for us it is a scalable model.
We are backed by NPC/Vantiv, so no transactions are actually run at the Fattmerchant office – they are handled by NPC/Vantiv; all transactions are safe and secured, along with a strong underwriting and risk team.
So, yes, Fattmerchant misses out on potential profits by neglecting to charge a percentage fee on large transactions. But – contrary to popular belief – that money is not necessary to mitigate risk. Companies like Fattmerchant are proving that merchant services can be profitable without a percentage markup. Be aware, however, that low-volume users or users with small transactions might end up paying a little bit more than they would elsewhere, which could serve to make up for lost profits on the larger transactions. Even so, the predictability and transparency could still make this pricing model worth it for these lower volume users.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Like the negative reviews section above, Fattmerchant doesn’t have many positive reviews yet. You’ll find a few very short reviews on the company’s Facebook page, but it’s not much to go off of. No positive reviews or testimonials are including on the Fattmerchant site.
So once again: If you’ve had experience with Fattmerchant, please leave us a comment! Be sure to include your name, business name, or other identifying information so that we can verify that your review is authentic.
Actual verifiable customer experiences mean a lot to us. So, good or bad, please chime in with your insights.
The bottom line? I really like Fattmerchant. For me, this company’s approach really is the future of the merchant services industry. And I don’t just mean it’s pricing model. Fattmerchant seems honest, open, innovative, and responsive to the needs of its users. The days of success built on deception and overcharging are on the way out. The time for fresh and fair providers like Fattmerchant is here.
There are some areas Fattmerchant could improve. I’d like to see more information that communicates what interchange and assessments are likely to cost for a given merchant so that they can get a better idea of the total cost. I’d also like to see add-on services offered on an as-needed basis, with the different pricing tiers serving only to prove added value based on transaction volume. As it stands, the bundles don’t really make a lot of sense, and since merchants may be boarded without any help from a representative, it would be nice if it was all more intuitive and logical. Beyond that, the customer support center is functional but, could be more comprehensive.
I’m super excited to see Fattmerchant continue to innovate and grow in the coming year. The company earns a perfect five-star rating, and I predict we’ll see more good things from the Fattmerchant team and that they will continue to build a solid reputation and track record in the industry.
If you’ve tried Fattmerchant out, please leave your thoughts below along with your name and business information. Your testimonials help us a lot. Otherwise, definitely give this company a shot. They’re doing good things for the industry!