Our practice is a member of an
organization (PECAA) that represents and
supports private practice physicians. As
a member we have access to Vendor
Partners affiliated with and endorsed by
the organization. We had recently been
introduced to a few new Partner Vendors,
including a merchant proc3essing
company. We make every effort to support
PECAA, and with our current contract
coming to an end, we wanted to move
ahead with a change in merchant service
I received a phone call to schedule an appointment with a new merchant service provider shortly after our decision to go ahead with the new PECAA Partnered Vendor. I thought the call was in response to our interest in the PECAA Vendor. I scheduled the appointment and moved forward.
During our first and second meetings both I and the doctor mentioned his "PECAA Affiliation" and our desire in supporting them. At no time did Mike Stone, their sales person query about, or disclose, that he wasn't who we thought he was. There were a number of opportunities to do so.
With our perception of who he was, and our trust in his hands ...
He mislead us to believe our current machine was going to be non-PCI compliant as it's (software?) wasn't keeping up with the continual updates of compliance requirements. Falsely advised IP/Ethernet connection more secure than phone line connection. Promised security service would be included in the "All inclusive HO package" to ensure we are protected. I was informed pin pads were required in order that a patient could use debit (for the keypad), and that they would provide additional security. Promised grand savings and when I asked directly and very specifically if I would see any additional charges or hidden fees outside of what he proposed on his "Merchant Analysis" sheet, he said that there would be nothing more than what was noted - the HO plan was "all inclusive" - what I saw was what we would be paying.
Confident in PECAA's endorsement, we trustingly signed a contract with them.
A few days later we realized our error. We called Mike Stone of Expect Payment Solutions (EPS) first thing the following morning to cancel our contract with them. We had numerous discussions over the phone with Mike Stone and Brandon Skinner, and made it explicitly clear we wanted to CANCEL the contract. During the time we were also preparing for a personal trip to Mexico - our first ever non-'long weekend' vacation together as a married couple - long overdue after 8 years.
Days after we returned from Mexico I opened a package that revealed the equipment and lease information. It was a shock to learn that we were locked into a $10K "NON-CANCELABLE" lease for equipment valued @ $1.5K brand new. When we queried them on it, they advised that the lease includes (or bundles) the security services into the lease so we could take advantage of the new small business tax deduction from Section 179 (a tax deduction to encourage small businesses to purchase equipment).
At this point red flags were flying about in my conscience - I began looking into their claims/promises:
• I contacted the lease company | First Data Global Leasing (FDGL): Only the serial numbers for the two machines we received, and the two pin pads were the subject of the lease. She very confidently advised that there was nothing more & definitely no services. The lease mentioned that it was submitted to them by "Omaha ISO" - When I asked about Omaha ISO and how they fit in, she said something about a private arrangement between them and their agent. She declined to give me any information about this agent, advising FDGL did not know who or how to contact, and could not help me with that. It didn't make much sense to me. What was implied at some point in the conversation was that EPS was paid out by the lease company in one form or another, and we were now required to pay FDGL. - dead end there.
• I called the security company | SecurityMetrics: They couldn't locate any client of theirs with the name Expect Payment Solutions, nor any client of theirs that had and affiliation with that name. I asked for a ball-park figure based on a few bits of information (small business, phone line connection, CC usage/policy, number of machines) and was told it would run approx. +/- $75-$100/Year. He also advised:
o Phone line is much more secure that IP/Ethernet.
o The only advantage of IP/Ethernet over phone is speed - and only by a few seconds.
o PCI risk factor of IP = SAQ-D (High Risk)
o PCI risk factor of Phone = SAQ-B (Low Risk)
o PCI requires additional security to be compliant for IP/Ethernet.
• I reviewed online reviews - not very promising - a lot of upset folks.
• I checked BBB for info: A- rating, and 13 complaints (as of today it was B+ rating and 15 complaints)
• I called the following resources (may not be in this order):
o Federal Trade Commission 877.382.4357 who forwarded me to,
o Consumer Finance Protection 855.411.2372 who forwarded me to,
o State Attorney General 888.877.4894 who forwarded me to,
o Department of Justice 877.877.9392 who recommended I call,
o Attorney Reference ($35.00 initial consultation) 800.452.7363
• I spoke with the PECAA Partnered Vendor: After a few conversation and email correspondence with him, he was unable to track down EPS, he asked if it was ok to forward the info to his contact (I think ISO?), and the last information I got from him was that his contact also was unsuccessful in locating EPS.
Calculating a 48 month lease @ $200/mo is significantly different than a $100/year PCI compliance security requirement + $1,500 of equipment divided into 48 months = 40/month. That's a 500% profit. On April 1st we received a letter addressed to "Dear Valued Merchant".
We are now being billed an annual $199 Compliance Service Fee.
Throughout this unpleasant awakening I made a number of attempts trying to get answers for the loopholes of their promises. They were given many opportunities to explain exactly what we were paying for. Instead I got fish-danced around with reflective questions that did not answer the questions I was asking. I feel we have been seriously mislead, misrepresented and violated.
We are seeking a complete non-chargeable release from all contracts & agreements entered into both directly with them and to all third parties involved.
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