Talus Pay Review (Formerly Talus Payments)
- Professional-looking website
- Extensive use of telemarketers and independent sales agents
- Expensive tiered pricing rates
- Three-year contracts with automatic renewal clauses and early termination fees
- Overpriced four-year terminal leases
- Many complaints alleging poor sales practices and customer support
Talus Payments Overview
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 published a blog post in 2018 that seemed 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” brought in by its new owners. Unfortunately, most of these people appear to have left the company in the two years since this post was published. Despite this marketing push, 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 Merchant Solutions (now part of Global Payments), formerly one of the largest processors in the United States. TSYS was a decent processor prior to its acquisition by Global Payments. There are also a large number of resellers on the market that 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 it rotten in the first place. Most complaints from merchants focused on the company’s sales practices. Talus 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, 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 that Talus currently uses appear to have the same lack of training, experience, and ethics that caused the bad reputation in the first place.
What’s more, the company’s sales agents now 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, although we’ve also seen some indications that the company is now providing digital or paper copies of its contracts upon request.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the company also appears to use 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.
Obviously, we can’t recommend Talus Pay at this time. 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 Pay’s offerings:
- Merchant Accounts: As we’ve noted above, Talus Pay is not a direct processor. TSYS (now part of Global Payments) 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 Pay currently offers several popular credit card terminals, including the PAX A920, Poynt Smart Terminal, Verifone VX 520, and the wireless Verifone VX 680 models. All support EMV and NFC-based payment methods (such as Apple Pay and Google 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 only mentions it in passing and doesn’t provide any specific information about the product or its capabilities. Virtual terminals allow you to process card-not-present transactions on your computer, eliminating the need for a countertop terminal. To accept card-present transactions, however, you’ll need a card reader. Talus offers the same SwipeSimple Card Reader that’s used for its mobile processing system. The SwipeSimple reader connects via Bluetooth and accepts EMV, NFC-based, and magstripe payment methods.
- Mobile Payments: Like virtually every provider in the industry, Talus now offers a mobile payment solution that allows you to accept payments on your smartphone or tablet. As mentioned above, Talus partners with SwipeSimple, a third-party provider, to offer this capability. The SwipeSimple app is available for both iOS and Android. The proprietary SwipeSimple Card Reader connects to any device via Bluetooth and accepts EMV, NFC-based, and magstripe payment methods.
- Point Of Sale (POS) System: Talus now provides its own POS system, Talus Pay Point Of Sale. The company’s website has a video that lists this POS system’s features, including real-time inventory tracking and reporting, detailed sales reports, product tracking, and team member transaction histories and scheduling. Pricing information is no longer disclosed, but a software subscription fee starting at $39 per month was previously listed. Talus proclaims its POS to be an ideal system for managing consignment inventory while also offering enterprise-level tools for businesses with multiple locations. Unfortunately, the company’s knowledgebase has not been updated to include any information about this product.
- eCommerce Support: Talus has an entire page devoted to its eCommerce services. Unfortunately, it appears to have been written by marketers who’ve been in a coma for the last twenty years and have no idea what the term “eCommerce” actually means. There’s no information about a payment gateway, shopping cart integration, developer tools/APIs, or any of the other features needed to run an online business. There are a few vague references scattered throughout the website to a “landing page” (we assume that means a hosted payment page), but that’s about it. eCommerce merchants can stop reading right here and head on over to our article, The 6 Best Online Credit Card Processing Companies for Small Businesses, for some much better recommendations.
- Merchant Cash Advance: If you need to take out a loan to help launch your business, Talus Pay also offers merchant cash advances. Given the company’s poor reputation, I’d be very leery of borrowing money from it. 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: 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 the company does not, in fact, offer any ACH processing services.
Fees & Rates
Talus Pay currently 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. 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.
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 if you close your account early.
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 $30 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 the company’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 Merchant Account & Credit Card Transaction Fees to better assess the competitiveness of the deal offered.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
Talus goes to great lengths to avoid revealing the terms of its contracts. Its sales agents have a poor reputation for adequately disclosing relevant information during negotiations with merchants. Nonetheless, we’ve been able to gather that the standard Talus contract is for an initial three-year term, with an automatic renewal clause that extends it for one-year periods after that. While this is in line with the industry average for contract length, we recommend against accepting this provision.
The fact is that long-term contracts such as these are deeply unpopular with merchants. 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 will do so. Better yet, there are plenty of top-notch providers in the industry that 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 Pay 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 where Talus has waived the early termination fee for a disgruntled customer, you’ll have to put up a fight to get it waived.
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 Pay 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 Pay 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 are sent out on their own to try to sell the company’s accounts. This practice 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 Pay 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 Pay 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 the company’s advertised services.
The company has also recently expanded the hours for its telephone-based support and is now available 24/7. We’d caution you, though, that like most providers, you’ll have better luck reaching a properly trained Talus employee if you call during normal business hours. Off-hours support is probably outsourced and of significantly lesser quality.
Unfortunately, many of the complaints filed against Talus cite poor customer service as a common problem. 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 Pay.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Talus Pay has been accredited by the BBB since April 2017 and currently has an A+ rating. The company has 45 complaints, nine of which have been filed within the last 12 months. Overall complaint volume is very consistent with what we found at the time of our last review in August 2017, although there appears to be a downward trend in the number of complaints within the last year.
Many merchants complain of receiving repeated, unwanted calls from Talus and its network of independent sales agents. 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. Seventeen out of the 45 complaints posted have been resolved to the merchant’s satisfaction. That’s far from a great percentage, but we’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 Pay, 18 against Future Payment Technologies, and 29 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.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Amazingly, while the high complaint volume remains steady, Talus Pay has seen an uptick in positive reviews over the past two years or so. Of the 361 reviews posted on the company’s BBB profile, 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, most reviewers cite the helpfulness of the sales agent who set up their account, but they rarely mention the quality of the actual merchant services provided. We strongly suspect from this pattern that the company is actively encouraging new merchants to leave a positive review soon after they’ve opened their merchant account. This, of course, is before they’ve had a chance to experience any of the problems cited above or realize how much they’re really paying in extra fees and charges.
Likewise, Talus Pay’s Facebook page has been flooded with positive reviews, bringing them up to a score of 4.4 out of 5 among people who posted a review. At the time of our last review update, almost all of the reviews on the company’s Facebook page were very negative. Overall, this information suggests a clear pattern where the company is deliberately manipulating its online reputation rather than solving the underlying problems that caused the complaints in the first place. While Talus Pay is hardly the only provider in the industry to do this, it’s disappointing given that the company has plenty of room for improvement in how it prices and sells its services.
There are also several testimonials provided by the company itself. While you won’t find them on the Talus Pay website, the company’s YouTube channel includes several “Talus Tales,” featuring actual customers who’ve been sufficiently happy with the company’s services to put in a good word for them.
There are many merchant account providers working as resellers for the powerhouse direct processors, such as TSYS (now part of Global Payments), Elavon, and First Data (now Fiserv). 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.
At the same time, 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 processor. 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 their merchants’ expense. 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. While certainly not unique in the merchant services industry, its treatment of sales agents 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.
With long-term contracts, expensive pricing, a mediocre product lineup, poor sales practices, and a reputation for inadequate customer service, we have no choice but to award Talus Pay a below-average score of 2.5 out of 5 stars. Yes, there are even worse merchant services providers in the industry, and the company does appear to be trying to improve both its service and its public image. However, those efforts don’t seem to have born fruit yet, and until Talus Pay makes some significant changes in the way it does business, we cannot recommend it to any business owner. If you’re looking for a merchant account (or a better one than the one you have now), we recommend that you take a look at our Merchant Account Comparison Chart, which summarizes the features of the best providers we’ve found. Good luck!
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.