National Processing Company Review
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- Date Established
- Louisville, KY
National Processing Company (NPC) is a large merchant account provider, currently serving over 240,000 merchants nation-wide. The company is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, and was originally established back in 1979. It has since gone through a complicated series of mergers and acquisitions, and since 2010 has been a subsidiary of Vantiv.
Unfortunately, NPC seems to suffer many of the same service problems that we noted in our review of Vantiv. Expensive non-cancellable leases, poorly disclosed contract terms, and expensive account fees are all popular complaints against NPC. While the company offer a range of products and services that will fit in with just about any small or medium-sized business, most of them don’t really stand out from what their competitors offer. Their one fairly unique offering is NPC Secure, an internet-based virtual terminal that supports eCommerce and also serves as a basic POS system when connected to a card swiper.
NPC has hundreds of Independent Sales Offices (ISOs) and agents across the country. Many of them use the National Processing Company brand, but many others do not. Here is a partial list of DBAs (Doing Business As) for National Processing:
- National Processing Company, NPC, NPC Check Inc., NPC Select Services
- Retriever Payment System, Retriever Check, Retriever Leasing
- Best Payment Solutions, Inc.
- RPSI, Inc.
- Lease Capital Group
- Iron Triangle Payment Systems (ITPS)
It’s interesting to note that while Vantiv has only 76 complaints filed with the BBB in the last three years, NPC has 177 complaints in the same period of time. Usually it’s a good thing to surpass your parent, but…
National Processing Company is, at best, inconsistent. This is what happens when one brand is used by so many ISOs and sub-ISOs and independent agents. Yes, some of them are setting up great accounts and have a ton of satisfied merchants. But many others are providing horrifically bad customer experiences. Since we are in the business of reviewing the brand and company at large – and NOT individual sales reps or offices – I have no choice but to give NPC a less-than-stellar review. I’m giving them three stars, and I think that’s generous.
For a more predictable experience, check out one of our preferred providers.
Products and Services:
- NPC Secure – This is a web-based virtual terminal, but with a number of added features that really bring it into the realm of being a virtual point-of-sale (POS) system. For instance, you can attach a credit card reader for swiped transactions, add custom input fields, and email customer receipts.
- Mobile processing – NPC still advertises their proprietary NPC Mobile app on their website, but the app is no longer available on either the iTunes Store or the Google Play Store. As an alternative, you should be able to use either Vantiv Mobile Checkout (iOS) or Vantiv Mobile Accept (Android) with NPC.
- Check processing services – NPC offers their NPC Check 21 Plus service for check processing and verification. Fees and charges for this service are not disclosed on their website.
- Merchant cash advances – NPC offers a Merchant Cash Advance program, but you should consider it carefully before signing up for one. In many cases providers will take advantage of merchants through this type of program.
- Equipment leasing – NPC’s website includes information about the various check readers, card readers, wireless terminals, and POS terminals that they offer. Unfortunately, like a lot of older processing companies, they’re still pushing you to lease your terminals rather than buy them outright. Don’t do it! NPC’s claim on their website that leasing will save you money over buying your equipment up front is, in almost all circumstances, simply not true. While you may save money for a few months, their leases tend to run for years, and are non-cancellable. You’ll end up paying thousands of dollars for a terminal that’s only worth a few hundred dollars, at best.
Fees and Rates:
NPC does not disclose any rate or fee information on their website – a strike against them, in my opinion. Rate quotes can vary dramatically depending not only on the nature and scale of your business, but also on which particular agent you end up dealing with. The company offers both tiered pricing models and interchange-plus pricing, but unfortunately, they seem to push the more expensive tiered-pricing plans. If you want an interchange-plus plan, you’ll have to ask for it. Be aware that interchange-plus pricing is frequently offered to high-volume businesses, and a smaller business might not qualify for it.
- Account fee – $20 per month
- Monthly minimum – $25
- PCI non-compliance fee – $19.95 per month
- Annual fee – $99 per year
- PCI compliance fee – $90 per year
While your plan through NPC might be different, this standard pricing information is very, very expensive compared to any of our preferred providers.
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
Unless you specifically and clearly negotiate something else, NPC will sign you up for their standard contract term of three years. The standard contract also includes an automatic renewal clause that will automatically – and without notice to you – renew the contract for successive two-year periods. You can only terminate your contract by giving the company at least 30 days’ written notice. If you decide to terminate your agreement, my advice is to send written notice well in advance of the 30-day deadline and confirm that it’s been received. I’ve seen a lot of complaints from merchants who were still charged monthly fees long after they thought they’d formally terminated their contract.
Getting out of your contract early is going to cost you, as NPC will charge you an early termination fee under their standard contract. The exact amount seems to vary, with reports of as low as $250 to as high as $700 being charged. Be aware that NPC does include a liquidated damages clause in their standard contract, although it’s either not vigorously enforced or is charged under the guise of an early termination fee. NPC’s parent company, Vantiv, is notorious for charging exorbitant liquidated damages, so be on the lookout for this when reviewing your contract.
If you want a better idea of what you’re getting into before talking to a sales agent, you owe it to yourself to review NPC’s standard Merchant Agreement. Be aware, however, that this document is only one part of your contract. You’ll also have to fill out a Merchant Application, which will also become part of your agreement with NPC. Since your sales agent usually fills out most of this for you, and customizes it for your particular account, you’ll want to be especially careful in reviewing it before committing yourself to a contract.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
Like most big processing companies, NPC’s marketing materials (including their website) are long on vague promises to give you the “best service” and “lowest rates,” but short on concrete disclosures about what you’ll actually pay. To get the details, you’ll have to talk to a sales agent, and that experience will depend on which particular agent you talk to.
After hearing from dozens of merchants who processed with National Processing Company, one thing is clear: the sales experience is best characterized as unpredictable. Most NPC merchants are signed on with ISOs (Independent Sales Offices) or independent agents, who are free to adjust sales practices and fees with minimal standardization and corporate oversight. So, you might get a good agent who’ll help you get the best possible deal, or you might get an agent who withholds information about contract terms and tries to steer you into a contract that’s best for the company’s bottom line.
Regardless of which agent you get, you’ll likely be pressured into signing up for a credit card terminal lease. As I’ve noted above, they even recommend leasing on their website, claiming (falsely) that leasing will save you money. It won’t! Terminal leases are almost never a good deal for merchants. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. Unless you need a huge number of terminals and don’t have the capital to buy them all (a very unlikely scenario), you’ll save money in the long run by just buying the machines you need.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
Like so many other aspects of this review, the customer service evaluation is confounded by the fact that many merchants processing with NPC receive customer service directly from the ISO or sales agent they initially signed on with. There is corporate-level NPC support, which – based on complaints and reviews – does not seem to be performing all that well. There seems to be a lot of issues with communication between sales offices and the corporate office.
Let us know your experience in the comments section at the bottom of this review.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
National Processing Company currently has an A+ rating with the BBB, despite having 177 complaints filed within the last three years (66 of which were in the last twelve months). At the time of our last review update, the company had 230 complaints within the last three years, so this is actually a notable improvement. Nonetheless, it’s still a pretty high number for a company of NPC’s size. It’s also disconcerting to see so many complaints about the same issues, as we’ll see below.
There are also many additional complaints scattered throughout independently-operating, alternately-branded sales offices like Retriever Merchant Solutions, Retriever Payment Systems, Lease Capital Group, and many others. Many of these DBAs (Doing Business As) have multiple BBB profiles. In fact, the National Processing Company brand alone has 8 separate BBB profiles, each with a unique office address. When they say “National” Processing Company, they’re not kidding. With this many businesses operating with such a level of autonomy, it’s no wonder that merchant experiences vary so greatly. You’ll also find a number of other comprehensive complaints at Ripoff Reports.
Complaints that came up frequently included the following issues:
- Expensive non-cancellable leasing contracts – These leasing agreements are horrific. BBB complaints cite leasing fees up to $89 per month, plus $4.95 per month for insurance. Given that these leases are for 48 months and are non-cancellable (i.e., you have to buy out the remaining months if you want to cancel), merchants end up paying over $4000 for a machine worth no more than $700 (if it’s a fancy one). While the words “Non-Cancellable” do appear in bold in the contracts, it seems that many salespeople are intentionally misleading merchants to avoid disclosing this point.
- Undisclosed early termination fees – If you cancel before your standard, three-year contract is up, NPC will charge you between $250 and $700 in early termination fees. Unless your processor is doing something really special for you, there is no good reason to sign a contract with an early termination fee. There are plenty of competing providers who will not require this of you.
- Other undisclosed fees – A few of NPC’s merchants are having an issue with the PCI compliance fees that NPC charges. Although PCI compliance is necessary for anyone who plans on accepting credit cards for their business, NPC is not required to charge their merchants any type of fee for that compliance. So, contrary to what you may have heard, processors are not required to pass that charge on to you, nor are they required to charge non-compliance fees. Other merchants complain that the monthly minimum was either not disclosed or not sufficiently explained.
- Difficulty canceling the account – This was an issue with Vantiv as well. What’s worse than paying an early termination fee? Being billed – unknown to you – monthly for years after you thought your account was closed. I’d encourage you to follow up aggressively and check your bank statements carefully to be sure that you are not being billed for the service after you cancel. Also be aware that unless you submit a cancellation request in writing, your account will not be closed.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Here’s the thing you need to realize: NPC corporate is not selling to you. NPC corporate is selling to the independent sales offices who will then try to sell to you. Case in point: NPC’s so-called Customer Testimonial Video. On their homepage, National Processing says, “Hear what our customers have to say about us,” and implores you to watch the linked video. In it, you will hear from NPC’s customers – but all of these customers are actually managers or owners at other merchant services companies who utilize NPC’s payment processing service – and sometimes brand name – to sell you, the merchant, a payment processing account.
National Processing Company’s prerogative is to provide support to their independent sales offices, who then, in turn, will be able to provide support to you. Their direct sales seem to be minimal. This makes my job a whole lot harder because we are trying to assess the corporate brand as a whole. I was unable to find any positive testimonials from actual merchants using NPC’s service, direct sales or otherwise. If you’re a merchant who’s a current (or former) customer of National Processing Service, please tell us about your experience in the Comment section below.
The bottom line is this: if I can’t confidently say that you’ll have a good experience with National Processing Company, then I can’t recommend them to you. Sure, some of the sales offices might operate impeccably. From the volume of complaints and the consistency of issues raised by those complaints, however, it’s clear that many other offices are not providing good service. Given this inconsistency and the perceived outlook from the corporate level, I don’t have any real reason to recommend this company.
With so many complaints across so many business locations and few (if any) positive reviews to be found, this is a fairly easy call. Yes, NPC has a lot of merchant clients, and the vast majority of these merchants must be at least somewhat satisfied. However, that’s just not good enough in a market that’s as competitive as the processing industry is. With so many providers going above and beyond to give merchants a fair and predictable sales experience, NPC’s lack of consistency is hard to justify. Why go to them when there are so many better options?
In order to get a higher rating, NPC is going to have to address the problems I’ve outlined above. Switching to an in-house sales team, or at least providing better training and oversight to its independent sales agents, would be a good first step. Eliminating early termination fees and liquidated damages clauses – something many of their competitors have already done – would also improve their overall rating. Finally, I’d like to see a shift away from terminal leasing, which almost always ends up being a huge rip-off for the consumer.
As it stands, National Processing Company only rates a very average 3 out of 5 stars at this time. If you’re considering signing up with NPC, read your contract carefully, and look over the complaints other merchants have raised about the company. Better yet, check out some of our preferred providers for the best experience possible.