Talus Payments Review
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- Date Established
- Dallas, Texas
- Professional-looking website
- Extensive use of telemarketers and independent sales agents
- Expensive tiered pricing rates
- Three-year contracts with automatic renewal clauses and early terminal fees
- Overpriced four-year terminal leases
- Many complaints alleging poor sales practices and customer support
Talus Payments — also known as Talus Pay — is a merchant account provider headquartered in Dallas, Texas. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s probably because the company has only been doing business under this name since late 2016. Its history goes back much further — back to 2006 when it first launched as Crescent Processing Company. Crescent and Park Central Company appear to have operated out of the same location (with the latter providing sales and marketing) until 2014. That’s when the two companies merged into a new entity, Future Payment Technologies (FPT). Later, in December of 2016, the company was purchased by A&M Capital Partners and Juna Equity Partners and rebranded — again — as Talus Pay.
A Talus representative has stated that the reason for the 2016 name change was a trademark dispute. Nevertheless, an effect of the name changes has been to dodge an unusually high volume of public criticism regarding its services and sales practices, deflecting attention away from brand names that have become toxic within the business community. In fact, Talus Pay has a page up on its website that seems to be an oblique acknowledgment of the problems with the company’s prior iterations:
I get it. This industry is opaque and constantly changing, making it confusing for merchants. Pricing structures are complex. It’s difficult to know who’s trying to run an honest business and who’s just trying to make a buck. Worst of all, it’s made up of faceless companies run by people who hide behind their anonymous websites and call centers.
Talus goes on to name the “entirely new management team” — including current CEO Scott Cruickshank — brought in by its new owners. A short video further showcases the latest rebranding by depicting Talus and its employees as a fun-loving, quirky, and personable bunch committed to transparency, honesty, and customer service. To quote the late former President George H.W. Bush, “Message: I care.”
Despite this marketing push, we have to remember that the underlying company is still the same one that racked up an extraordinary complaint volume with the BBB (and elsewhere) for a provider of its size. Claims consistently reflect an unmistakable pattern of opaque pricing, deceptive sales practices, and poor customer support. Given that the company remains headquartered in the same office it’s been in since first launching as Crescent Processing Company, the onus is on Talus to demonstrate that our initial assessment of it — that it’s shady and you should avoid it — is incorrect.
Talus Pay is a reseller for TSYS, one of the largest processors in the United States. TSYS Merchant Solutions, the company’s merchant services division, is a decent processor. There are also a large number of resellers on the market who use TSYS as their back-end processor. Some are good, while some are decidedly not.
Before we explore whether or not Talus has improved, it’s important to understand what made Talus rotten in the first place. Most complaints from merchants focused on Talus’s sales practices. The company became infamous for relying almost exclusively on a network of telemarketers and independent sales agents to market its services. The use of telemarketers is a major red flag just by itself, as it’s usually a strong indication of a company that’s having a hard time finding new victims clients. Independent sales agents also have a bad reputation in the industry in general. The agents Talus uses appear to have the same lack of training, experience, and ethics that have caused that bad reputation.
What’s more, the company’s sales agents use tablet computers to capture your digital signature, binding you to a three-year term without providing you a paper copy of your contract. It’s critically important with any provider that you thoroughly review your contract documents before you sign up for an account. By putting contracts on tablets for you to sign, Talus is deliberately making this all but impossible to do. Recent reports from disgruntled users indicate that Talus continues to do this.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the company also uses tiered pricing plans exclusively — guaranteeing that you’ll overpay for credit card processing. It also locks you into three-year contracts that include an automatic renewal clause for successive two-year periods, a narrow window of time to cancel your contract, and a hefty early termination fee. If you need a credit card terminal, Talus will set you up with a noncancelable, four-year terminal lease that will cost you many times the actual value of your equipment. The company’s agents disclose few, if any, of these terms. Lastly, a high volume of complaints from merchants indicates that customer service is poor to nonexistent.
If you’re looking for a merchant account and want to see what some of our top-rated providers can offer you, take a look at our Merchant Account Comparison Chart.
Table of Contents
Products & Services
Talus Pay’s services had been geared exclusively toward professional services, retail, restaurant, and automotive businesses. The company has since expanded its services to offer a POS system and support for eCommerce ventures. Here’s the full list of Talus’s offerings:
- Merchant Accounts: As we’ve noted, Talus Payments is not a direct processor. TSYS handles all transaction processing. This arrangement works just fine most of the time. However, if you have a transaction that gets held up for suspected fraud, don’t expect Talus to work very aggressively with TSYS to clear up the matter and help you get your funds.
- Countertop Terminals: Talus Payments currently offers several popular credit card terminals, including the Verifone Vx 520 and Vx 680 models. Both support EMV transactions, and the Vx 680 has built-in support for NFC-based payment methods, such as Apple Pay. In terms of cost, Talus claims that you’ll get “Equipment Included**” with your account. Double asterisks are a none-too-subtle indication that there are strings attached. You’ll probably be paying for the terminal through increased monthly account fees or a terminal lease. Talus doesn’t sell any equipment outright, so you can bet that any additional terminals will only be available through an overpriced leasing arrangement. Read our article on terminal leases for a complete explanation of why you’ll want to avoid using this method to get your equipment. You’ll save hundreds — maybe thousands — of dollars by buying your equipment from a third-party seller and paying Talus to reprogram it to work with its processing system.
- Virtual Terminal: The company offers a virtual terminal but doesn’t disclose any specific information about it, including pricing info. As a TSYS reseller, it’s probably the TSYS WebPASS virtual terminal. This software program will allow you to process card-not-present transactions on your computer, eliminating the need for a countertop terminal. Talus also offers a USB-connected magstripe card reader (the IDTech SecureMag Reader), which will enable card-present transactions as well.
- Mobile Payments: Like virtually every provider in the industry, Talus now offers a mobile payment solution through its back-end processor, TSYS. The system uses the TSYS Mobile Payment Acceptance app, which is available for both iOS and Android. You’ll also need a mobile card reader — in this case, the IDTech Shuttle Audio Jack Reader. Unfortunately, it’s magstripe-only. The company also offers the optional Woosim WSP-R240, a Bluetooth-enabled thermal printer. Again, Talus does not disclose any pricing information for these items. In addition to the TSYS mobile app, Talus also offers the CHARGE Anywhere QuickSale app for mobile payment processing. The QuickSale app works with the same devices as the TSYS app.
- Point Of Sale: Talus now provides its own POS system, Talus Pay Point Of Sale. Talus’s website has a video that lists this POS system’s features: real-time inventory tracking and reporting, detailed sales reports, product tracking, and team member transaction histories and scheduling. The hardware is included, and the software starts at $39/month (this is the only pricing information to be found on Talus’s entire website). Talus proclaims its POS to be an ideal system for managing consignment inventory while also offering enterprise-level business tools for businesses with multiple locations. Unfortunately, Talus’s knowledgebase does not currently contain any information about Talus Pay Point Of Sale.
- eCommerce: Talus has a page devoted to its eCommerce services but unfortunately provides no information about what its eCommerce entails. Nothing about a payment gateway, nothing about shopping cart integration, nothing about developer tools/APIs — just a statement that “With Talus, you could be ready to start accepting payments in as little as 48 hours.” Search for “eCommerce” in Talus’s knowledgebase, and you’ll find nothing.
- Merchant Cash Advance: If you need to take out a loan to help launch your business, Talus Payments also offers merchant cash advances. Given the company’s poor reputation, I’d be very leery of borrowing money from them. Check out our article about avoiding merchant cash advance scams before you commit to a cash advance from Talus or any other provider. You might be better off with a small business loan instead.
- Gift Cards: In addition to the above services, Talus also offers gift card processing.
Talus makes no mention of the availability of eCheck (ACH) processing services. While it may be available for an additional fee, I did come across a user complaint that stated that the company does not, in fact, offer any ACH processing services.
Fees & Rates
Aside from the POS software, which starts at $39/month, Talus Payments discloses no fee or rate information whatsoever on its website. This lack of disclosure isn’t that unusual in the processing industry, as fees and rates are highly variable and usually subject to some negotiation between the merchant and the sales agent. However, given Talus’s stated commitment to transparency, it’s disappointing that the company is not more forthcoming regarding fees and rates. What’s more, the bulk of feedback we’ve seen from merchants is that the company’s rates and fees are significantly higher than industry averages.
Based on the information we’ve managed to cobble together between merchant feedback and a 2017 merchant agreement we found, merchants may be subject to a broad assortment of fees. While not uncommon in the industry, these fees are generally not imposed by our preferred merchant services providers. Merchant feedback indicates that Talus charges both monthly and annual account fees, although the amount is not disclosed and is likely to vary from one merchant to another. You can also expect to pay a PCI compliance fee of around $9.95 per month. Contracts with Talus also include a monthly minimum, which doesn’t take effect until several months into your contract. While there’s no disclosure of the amount, it’s probably going to be the industry standard of $25 per month. Not good!
Other fees mentioned by merchants include a maintenance fee of $9.50 per month, a fee for using the TSYS mobile app, a “corporate fee” of $98 per year per location, an application fee of $99, and, as we will describe in the next section, early termination fees.
While merchants may be able to extract an interchange-plus pricing agreement from Talus, every indication is that all pricing plans offered, by default, appear to use the more expensive tiered pricing model. We’ve seen numerous complaints from merchants about paying 4% or even higher for processing under these plans.
If you make the mistake of leasing a credit card terminal, you can also expect to pay leasing fees of around $300 or more per month. Remember, terminal leases usually run for four years and are noncancelable under almost any circumstances. Do the math – that’s $1,440 over the life of your lease for a terminal that you can buy outright for less than $300. By the way, when your lease is up, you still won’t own your equipment! Terminal leases are a complete rip-off, and you should avoid them at all costs.
We should also warn you at this point that your sales agent is — in most cases — going to be a very poor source of accurate, honest information about pricing. The independent sales agents that Talus uses to sell its accounts have a bad reputation for failing to disclose accurate pricing information and sometimes even outright lying about it. Despite Talus’s attempts to hit the reset button regarding its public image, these complaints persist.
Insist on seeing a contract that fully discloses all rates and fees before you agree to sign anything. If you’re able to get a contract to examine, check out our Complete Guide To Credit Card Processing Rates & Fees to better assess the competitiveness of the deal offered.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
Talus Payments goes to great lengths to avoid revealing the terms of its contracts. Its sales agents have a poor reputation for disclosing relevant information during negotiations with merchants. Nonetheless, we’ve been able to gather that the standard Talus contract is for a three-year term. This term length is at the high end of what is considered industry standard, and we still consider that to be unreasonable. I suppose it’s an improvement over the four-year contracts Talus has previously offered!
The fact is that long-term contracts such as these are deeply unpopular with merchants (for obvious reasons). The industry has — sometimes begrudgingly — responded by reducing or even eliminating the length of its contracts. Many providers will waive the length of your contract entirely if you negotiate for it, although we’ve seen no evidence that Talus Payments will do so. Better yet, there are plenty of top-notch providers in the industry who will offer you true month-to-month billing without the need for any negotiation whatsoever.
Long-term contracts almost inevitably come with early termination fees if you close your account early, and Talus Payments is no exception. Reports from merchants indicate that you’ll have to pay a fee of $295 to as high as $495 to break your contract and close your account. While many merchants consider this money well spent to get away from an awful provider, you shouldn’t have to pay this kind of penalty in the first place. If your sales agent never disclosed this fee to you before you signed your contract, you might be able to get this particular fee waived. Unfortunately, it’s tough to prove a lack of disclosure. You’ll almost certainly have to file a complaint in a public forum (such as the BBB) to get the company’s attention on this issue. While we have seen instances in which Talus has waived the early termination fee for a disgruntled customer, you’ll have to put up a fight to get it waived. You shouldn’t have to do this.
Again, we can’t recommend strongly enough that you avoid doing business with any processor that charges an early termination fee, if at all possible. Providers that have month-to-month billing never charge this kind of fee.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
Many of the complaints against Talus Payments and its former DBAs center around the company’s marketing strategy. Talus uses both telemarketers and independent sales agents to sell accounts. The telemarketers set up “appointments” for the agents to make an in-person visit to the prospective client. As with any other business endeavor, the use of telemarketers is a strong indicator of a shady company that’s having trouble selling its products or services through more traditional means. We haven’t seen a reputable merchant account provider yet that relied on telemarketing to sell its services, and Talus Payments is no exception.
The company also has some serious problems with the way it trains and employs its sales agents. Feedback from former employees indicates that new agents have little or no prior sales experience. They receive only minimal training and then sent out on their own to try to sell the company’s accounts. This practice, of course, is a recipe for disaster. We’ve seen report after report of sales agents with little knowledge of the details of the contracts they’re trying to sell employing high-pressure tactics to get merchants to sign up for an account. Occasionally, they’re successful. However, in most cases, they aren’t, leading to very high turnover among agents and a good chance that you’ll never hear from the agent who signed you up again after you open your account.
As part of its efforts to “modernize” its sales practices, Talus Payments now sends its agents out into the field with iPads and other tablet devices. The tablets allow an agent to show a sales presentation — mostly an infomercial video — and then, hopefully, collect a digital signature from the merchant.
Don’t fall for this!
Once you provide your digital signature, you’re on the hook for a three-year contract — one you’re virtually guaranteed not to have had an opportunity to review. This deceptive practice is highly unethical, and possibly illegal in some jurisdictions. Some merchants even report signing an iPad contract that turned out to be a “generic” contract — one that does not include fees that the company tacked on later. “Shady” hardly seems an adequate term to describe this kind of outright deception.
Despite the numerous problems with the company’s sales agents, its website is not too bad. The current site has a clean, professional, and modern appearance that distinguishes it from the outdated style of many of its competitors. Unfortunately, the information presented falls very short in terms of both quantity and quality. It’s mostly marketing fluff, with no disclosures whatsoever about processing rates, account fees, or contract terms.
With so many business name changes over the years, the company’s social media presence is flimsy and insubstantial. On Facebook, you’ll find no useful information whatsoever. Meanwhile, its Future Payment Technologies page is still active, but it doesn’t contain any posts or useful information. All you’ll find there are posts from employees engaged in pie-throwing contests and other silliness. At least they’re having fun.
The company’s Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram accounts are similarly devoid of any meaningful content.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Talus Payments provides customer support primarily through its online Help Center, a Zendesk-based knowledgebase containing several articles with answers to common questions. If you need help setting up your credit card terminal, this resource might be able to help. Unfortunately, it looks like you might be out of luck for more complex problems. Furthermore, the knowledgebase is out of date. It offers no information about Talus Pay Point Of Sale, eCommerce, or any other recent additions to Talus’s advertised services.
The Help Center doesn’t offer the ability to contact a support representative through chat. Instead, you’ll have to use email or call them on the phone between the hours of 8 AM and 5 PM Central Time.
The quality of that phone support doesn’t appear to be very good, either. Of the many complaints filed against Talus/FPT/Crescent, poor customer service was among the most common. There are many complaints from merchants alleging they received unhelpful and even rude customer service from the company’s employees. Providing high-quality customer service is a challenge for even the best of companies. However, the overwhelmingly negative feedback about this issue from customers is yet another reason to avoid doing business with Talus Payments.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Talus Payments has been accredited by the BBB since April 2017 and currently has a B+ rating. The company currently has 43 complaints, 23 of which have been filed within the last twelve months. Many merchants complain of receiving repeated, unwanted calls from Talus. Sometimes, this goes on for years. The word “harassment” comes up again and again in the reviews. These are not tactics a healthy, responsible company resorts to.
Another recurring complaint comes from merchants hit with unexpected charges after signing a single page of a contract on a tablet without ever actually being able to read the whole document. They then find themselves unable to get out of the three-year deal they unwittingly signed without being charged a $295+ fee.
Talus’s previous DBA, Future Payment Technologies, had a similarly high complaint rate at last check. However, the FPT BBB profile is now gone, thus erasing this electronic paper trail of horrors.
On the positive side, the company appears to respond to most of the complaints filed against it and sometimes issues refunds where it agrees it’s warranted. Thirteen out of the 43 complaints posted have been resolved to the merchant’s satisfaction. That’s far from a great percentage, but I’ve seen worse.
There is, unfortunately, plenty of criticism of the company on other consumer protection sites. Ripoff Report currently shows three complaints against Talus Payments, 18 complaints against Future Payment Technologies, and 29 complaints against Crescent Processing Company. While some of these complaints are duplicates, it’s still a high volume (especially for a smaller company) and indicates some recurring problems with the company’s services. Common issues include deceptive sales practices, high (and often undisclosed) early termination fees, poor customer service, and difficulty in canceling an account.
You hate to see it, folks.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Amazingly, while the high complaint volume remains steady, the company has seen an uptick in positive reviews over the past year or so. Of the 330 reviews posted under the profile of Talus Payments, the vast majority are quite positive. The reviews often name a particular Talus representative who helped out the reviewer. It’s impossible to verify the legitimacy of these reviews from the information provided. However, assuming that they come from actual customers, it’s nice to know that the company is keeping at least a few of its merchants happy. Curiously enough, these positive reviews rarely touch on the quality of the actual merchant services offered by Talus — they tend only to mention the customer service.
Now, we can’t declare these positive reviews with the BBB to be false. Still, they are a bit suspect in light of the fact that of the few customer reviews posted to Talus’s Facebook page, all are very negative. Furthermore, I came across a review of Talus Pay that featured several positive user reviews in the comments (also praising individual Talus employees). When asked by the original reviewer to provide authenticating information about themselves and their businesses, however, none of these users responded.
As for testimonials, Talus features two video testimonials from satisfied merchants who have provided their names and the names of their businesses.
If you’ve had a positive experience with Talus Payments, please let us know in the comments!
There are a large number of merchant account providers working as resellers for the powerhouse direct processors, such as TSYS, Elavon, and First Data. Sometimes, this arrangement can yield genuine benefits for merchants. The big processors deal mainly with large, established businesses, and their services can be costly for a small business owner.
However, a reseller can sometimes offer you lower rates and more affordable fees than you’d get by signing up directly with one of the larger processors. Many of our favorite merchant account providers are resellers, offering a combination of proprietary features and services that come from the direct processor itself.
Unfortunately, resellers can also be some of the worst providers in the industry. The large processors will allow just about anyone to resell their services. Plus, it’s relatively easy to set up a merchant services company if all you want to do is resell the offerings of a larger, more established company. However, profits can be razor-thin. Most providers earn mere pennies on each transaction after they’ve paid the interchange fees to the credit card associations and issuing banks.
Unfortunately, some providers choose to use unsavory methods to increase their bottom line — at the expense of their merchants. Tiered pricing plans, for example, will cost you more for processing without providing any compensating benefit to your business. Being locked into a three-year contract with an expensive early termination fee discourages you from switching providers and makes it very costly to you if you do. Also, while it’s clear that Talus is now trying to center its brand around providing quality customer service, user experiences are quite mixed on this front.
The company’s sales practices, however, are probably the biggest strike against it. The use of telemarketers is always a strong indication that a company cannot adequately sell its services through traditional sales methods. Its treatment of sales agents, while certainly not unique in the merchant services industry, is also very poor. When a company will hire almost anyone to be a sales agent — regardless of qualifications or experience — and then send them out with inadequate training to try to sell accounts, it’s a recipe for disaster for both the agent and the merchants who have to deal with them.
If you’re looking for a merchant account and want to see what some of our top-rated providers can offer you, take a look at our Merchant Account Comparison Chart.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.