Flagship Merchant Services (otherwise known as Flagship Credit Card Processing) is a California-based payment processing company headquartered in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Founded in 2001, it was later acquired by iPayment (Currently known as Paysafe) in 2012 and has expanded as a large ISO over the years. The provider is a registered ISO of BBVA and a First Data reseller. Woodforest National Bank is the listed acquiring bank for the company.
Flagship Merchant Services mainly caters to small and medium-scale companies. Although it also caters to large enterprises, it is better recommended for medium-sized business owners who can negotiate aggressively to land an affordable deal. The provider is open to negotiating its processing fees, but it should be noted that it only does so when someone requests. Since most merchants are unaware of this facility, they end up signing up for much higher rates than they could get if they bargained.
The provider thrives at enabling its clients to offer the best services and a convenient experience to their customers. It promises to deliver cost-friendly solutions to make payment transactions successful and hassle-free. Catering to all in-store, mobile, and e-commerce businesses, Flagship claims to be always readily available for its consumers. It prides itself on providing consumer-friendly products equipped to handle tedious tasks.
However, since Paysafe is the parent company with overflowing negative reviews, the provider’s competency to deliver excellence can inevitably be compromised and questionable. Here is a Flagship Merchant Services review laying out its pros and cons to help merchants conclude if they should rely on it for handling their processing needs;
Products and Services
Even though the provider also offers credit card processing solutions to online businesses, brick-and-mortar retail companies are its target clients. Its partnership with Paysafe enables the company to be flexible and manage variable transaction volumes. Flagship has also partnered with Clover to provide efficient POS systems. Merchants are offered personalized gift cards, reward programs, and cash advances. They can access business management portals and set up NFC and EMV-compatible terminals.
It should be noted that the provider is not a direct payment processor. So, its merchant accounts are outsourced through Fiserv. Flagship Merchant Services does not exhaustively provide information about its features and services on the website. Yet, here is what the company has implied at offering so far;
Facilitating employee management tools, real-time analytics, and inventory tracking, Flagship Merchant Services offers the complete line of Clover POS systems with next-generational features. According to the Flagship Merchant Services reviews, users can choose between the Clover Flex, Clover Mini, Clover Station, and Clover Go according to their requirements. The POS purveys over 200 apps suitable for almost all business types and offers a customer database and valuable sales management features.
One drawback to remember is the additional monthly subscription charges and the incompatibility with any processing network other than Fiserv.
Online Payment Solutions
When reviewed, Flagship Merchant Services utilizes the payment gateway services of Authorize.Net to facilitate businesses processing online transactions. The virtual terminal enables users to track each transaction and manage permission levels. They can download the free mobile app to accept payments remotely and access user management and account configuration control.
Consumers can set up a ‘buy now’ or ‘donate’ button, allowing customers to navigate freely on the website, make donations, and buy limited-stock products. They can offer a recurring billing option and customize their payment page to match their brand’s theme. With shopping cart integrations, the provider implements order efficiency by allowing consumers to integrate compatible shopping carts into their system. This facilitates a convenient checkout experience leading to customer satisfaction.
Through iPayment, the company provides a feature-packed mobile payment app (MobilePay) with an updated, easy-to-operate user interface. It can process cash and credit card transactions and handle voids and refund payments.
Compatible with Apple and Android, the mobile card swiper connects through the headphone jack and can be synced with Swipe or iPayment mobile apps. It is PCI-compliant and accepts EMV magnetic strip cards. Users can manage tips, send digital receipts, and track transaction reports. They can utilize the auto device detection feature and a built-in barcode scanner to quick-start payment processing in no time.
Business Management Portal
According to Flagship Merchant Services reviews, merchants are provided with an online business management portal, iAccess 3.0, designed to contribute self-service customer support. Consumers can stay updated with the latest industry trends and compare their business to others. This gives them a better idea of the customers’ needs and what they can do to satisfy them.
With iAccess Insight, businesses can view customer activity, competitors’ behavior, and online reviews. They can be aware of their online reputation and protect it on multiple review websites. iAccess enables users to understand their competitors and improve themselves with the help of valuable insight. Depending on their affordability, merchants can choose between Insights Light or Essentials.
Digital Loyalty Program
Reward programs and gift cards are a great way to enhance sales and increase footfall. Merchants can promote their brand and impress new customers by offering customized or pre-designed gift cards. Flagship’s gift cards can be reloaded and used in multiple locations. This proves to be cost-effective and a convenient way to replace cash. Merchants can use these gift cards for product returns.
The digital loyalty reward app (Pirq) allows customers to keep punch cards on their phones and avoid the trouble of losing one. Merchants can offer VIP deals and strengthen their relationships with regular customers.
Merchant Cash Advances
Small and medium-sized companies are offered cash advances that can be used to cover multiple costs or to seek a beneficial opportunity. Flagship Merchant Services reviews suggest that the provider grants cash advances worth $150,000 as working capital, helping businesses invest in their growth. It facilitates quick approvals and deposits funds within one business day after that.
Rates and Contract
Apart from the fact that it offers variable rates, the company does not provide insight into its processing fees and contract intricacies. According to the Flagship Merchant Services reviews, the provider determines the rates by considering various factors, including a business’s processing volume, type, size, and the agent setting up the merchant account. To get a better insight, consumers need to consult a sales representative to discuss the pricing as per their processing volume.
Overall, Flagship’s rates are not cheap and far from affordable for most businesses. Although merchants are allowed to negotiate, the company does not highlight this option. It is suggested to read between the lines and fully discern the contract before signing.
The provider does not believe in binding clients in long-term, never-ending contracts and aims to offer the convenience and flexibility of a month-to-month agreement. New retail clients are provided a free credit card terminal but are charged a hefty sum of monthly charges to update and maintain it. Moreover, a free terminal usually means a long-term contract. Resultantly, merchants either buy the equipment, lease it, or get accustomed to high monthly billing for a long time.
The provider offers both interchange plus and tiered pricing models. However, as Flagship Merchant Services reviews suggest, the company’s initial rate quote is limited to the most expensive tiered pricing. Not realizing the possibility of requesting an alternate pricing structure, most businesses would generally accept what’s offered. Even if a service provider denies interchange rates, it is recommended to demand it anyways, as there is usually a high chance of this demand being fulfilled.
An average Flagship agreement costs 1.00% – 4.99%, but this is an estimated amount most service providers charge. The company does not offer price transparency. The list of fees gathered from the reviews is as follows;
- Merchants are charged a monthly account fee starting from $7.95.
- A monthly minimum fee of $25. Although it could be waived off or lowered in some cases, such as if the processing volume is too low or the merchant account is only being used for some of the months.
- An annual PCI compliance fee of $99. As the provider promotes month-to-month agreements, it would have been convenient if it charged the PCI fee on monthly bases.
- A per-month non-compliance fee of $19.95 for businesses unable to keep their account compliant with the PCI security standards.
- Estimated payment gateway charges of $7.95.
Merchants should know that these rates are mere estimates and can vary business-to-business. The company does not reveal its equipment lease terms for merchants not availing of the free terminal offer. In addition to most monthly charges, the provider’s virtual terminal rate, batch fee, and actual per-transaction cost are unrevealed. Moreover, Flagship Merchant Services reviews prove the company’s zero ETF claim to be unreliable in most cases.
Merchants are assisted by a dedicated account manager and offered phone and email support to reach out. There is an online form for support tickets and an FAQ page as self-service on the official website. Flagship Merchant Services reviews show that consumers are to address their complaints to Fiserv, Clover, or Authorize.Net in case of account or technical issues. These available options are inadequate to list the company as a reliable service provider for its consumer support.
Flagship does not count on independently hired sales agents and trains an in-house sales team to advertise its services. It also relies on telemarketing and referral programs as a marketing strategy. The sales agents fail to disclose the multiple hidden charges and significant clauses. The official website does not ease the confusion either. It is reserved for self-praise and unrealistic claims. Moreover, the provider keeps changing the statements and rate quotes on the website, causing visible confusion among new merchants.
Lawsuits and Allegations
When reviewed, Flagship Merchant Services was accused of trademark infringement in a 2019 lawsuit by Durango Merchant Services. According to the allegations, the provider was practicing unfair advertisement and promoting false statements about its expertise. Flagship used the plaintiff’s trademark without permission, damaging Durango’s reputation.
After a lengthy trial, the provider was found guilty of ‘false advertisement and unfair competition.’ Consequently, it was banned from using the claimant’s trademark in the future for its marketing stunts and was ordered to pay the damages. There are no other mentionable FTC reports or class-action lawsuits against Flagship.
Flagship Merchant Services Reviews and Complaints
There are over 200 complaints posted on the usual consumer protection websites, which is a moderate number for a company of this size. However, the tone and reason for these complaints suggest the severity of the matter. Business owners have accused the provider of lying about rates, hidden charges, unethical sales practices, unwarned fee increments, and problematic account cancelation policies.
The provider’s customer service is below average, and its sales agents lack common courtesy and deliberately keep information undisclosed. Even though Flagship has the resources to improve the situation and resolve the complaints, it won’t budge on its dishonest practices. Instead of reassuring the frustrated clients, the company threatens people for leaving negative comments.
This stubbornness to avoid correcting the wrong and bullying people into suppressing their words proves that the provider is not dependable. It can stoop to the lowest only to erase criticism.
Making untruthful claims and advancing false information is a commonly cited complaint in numerous Flagship Merchant Services reviews. The provider has mentioned Verifone terminals on the website, going on and on about it when infact, the equipment is discontinued. According to a complaint, the company lied about BBB accreditation and rating. Moreover, Flagship displays untrue rate quotes to lure merchants into signing up.
Flagship advertises the lowest processing rate calming to offer a $200 AMEX gift card if it fails to deliver what it promises. Instead of providing the details of this promotion, the company requests businesses to leave contact information and consult a sales representative. When consulted, consumers are excused as unqualified for the offer. It is one of the provider’s many sales tactics, wasting customers’ time.
According to the Flagship Merchant Services reviews, the company signs up its clients to a 60-day Womply trial without permission, forcing them to pay $29.99 monthly charges after the trial ends. The company misleads by advertising unrealistically low rates. What it fails to reveal is that the eligibility criteria are too tough to meet for most businesses.
The company lists various suspicious websites where it is ranked among the ‘top rated’ service providers. Upon digging, it was evident that most of these illegitimate websites are owned by the multiple DBAs of the parent company to scam new merchants.
Unreliable Sales Agents
Even though the practice of employing an in-house sales team is considered to receive positive reviews by merchants, it is not the case with Flagship. The company’s sales agents are always unavailable. They conceal necessary information and do not disclose the multiple hidden fees the company demands.
In some Flagship Merchant Services reviews, the provider’s clients have complained that the sales representatives offer confusing rate quotes to mislead new clients. They advertise appealing promotional deals but do not mention the terms and conditions, causing consumers to lose money instead of saving it.
Poor Customer Service
Since the provider outsources its consumer support facilities, it has limited control over this department. In case of an issue, merchants are supposed to figure out the related partner company and contact it themselves. The dedicated account manager is usually unavailable. Even when available, they lie and make fake excuses. Merchants are left hanging for months over a simple issue.
The consumer support offered by Flagship is unsatisfactory and lacks any self-service options. The company takes too long to call back (if it calls back) and fails to resolve complaints.
Deduced from several Flagship Merchant Services reviews, the provider does not offer transparency and complete disclosure. Singing its praises on the official website, the company only displays empty words. It facilitates free terminals but hides the fact that if a business accepts free equipment, it will not be allowed to avail of the ‘zero cancelation fee’ benefit. Giving up on a month-to-month agreement and agreeing to a long-term contract is another consequence of accepting a free terminal.
The company markets low processing fees but does not disclose the mid-qualified and unqualified rates. Furthermore, it fails to reveal the equipment lease terms and contract cancelation penalties.
Flagship does not focus on the potential of its employees and trains them to practice unethical tricks on clients. The company’s former sales agents have complained about being forced to lie to customers and achieve high turnover by hook or by crook. Since the sales agents are commissioned based on the clients they sign, they are pressured to take deceptive measures to meet their quota.
Many Flagship Merchant Services reviews suggest that the employees are poorly treated. They are overworked and lied to about the pay. The employer expects them to put in overtime for a minimal salary and pressurizes them to increase sales.
Better Business Bureau Ranking
The provider was accredited by Better Business Bureau in 2015 and rated A+ on the review website. There are over 18 complaints and 12 informal negative reviews on the company’s BBB profile, out of which 7 were resolved. It should be noted that Flagship lost its accreditation and regained it after years. The previous complaints, 98 in number, are not displayed on the updated profile. Merchants have a reason not to trust the BBB rating in this case.
The complaints posted against Flagship on BBB revolve around fund and account holds, difficulty in account cancelation, unexpected charges, terrible customer service, unwarned account closing, and deceitful sales practices. Here is an overview of the commonly cited negative Flagship Merchant Services reviews on BBB;
A Complete Scam
Depriving consumers of honest quotes and purveying untrue information is the most common complaint cited on BBB against Flagship. Multiple users have shown frustration about being scammed and misled by the payment facilitator. At the time of account opening, merchants are told about minimal or zero fees, which turns out to be a lie. There are countless examples of a sale representative convincing clients they only have to pay a certain amount, but the total charges are much higher.
Difficult Account Cancelation
Consumers have shown concern over the company’s account cancelation policies. They have claimed that the provider holds their account and does not offer an explanation or solution. After uncountable calls and emails, when a client gives up and tries closing the account, they are forced to wait for months. In BBB’s Flagship Merchant Services reviews, users have complained about hefty ETF charges when the provider promotes zero cancelation fees. They were also forced to pay annual PCI charges when the agreement was month-to-month.
Making excuses to keep clients stuck in an unwanted agreement without their will does not reflect well on the company’s reputation.
Clients have accused Flagship of wrongful fund holding and unwarned deductions. There are multiple instances where the provider promised refunds but never came through. Some merchants have stated that their account was put on hold a few days after setting up. After several requests, they ended the contract, yet the company was holding their money.
Flagship has no control over the matter. Funds withholdings are managed by the direct processor, not the reseller. Nevertheless, this drawback cannot be ignored as the company fails to assist in resolving the issues.
The complaints against the provider’s unethical and wrongful practices are widespread. There are multiple Flagship Merchant Services reviews to prove the company’s inability to gain its client’s trust and offer dependable support. Instead of clearing its reputation by resolving the complaints, Flagship continues to make the same mistakes to infuriate its customers. It does not prioritize clients’ requirements and is too relentless for changes.
Merchants are encouraged to look for an honest payment service provider open to understanding constructive criticism, hearing customers’ complaints, and taking the necessary measures to satisfy their needs.