Complaint Category: Unauthorized changes to the contract or agreement
Complaint: An early termination fee of $395 was withdrawn from our checking account on 4/8/2013 when we closed our account which was opened in September 2008.
During our retail sales period in both 2009 and 2012 we found ourselves suddenly unable to process debit card transactions with a company supplied terminal. In both instances we found Bancard Payment Systems inability to resolve these problems unacceptable and the proffered solutions to be inadequate.
Now I'm not shy about saying so and while I was not profane, clearly I offended someone that day in 2009 because I received a call that evening from an employee named Omar telling me he intended to close our merchant account the following day right in the middle of our retail sales season.
That kind of threatened retaliation against a dissatisfied customer is unacceptable by any professional standard. As unsettling as that threatened retaliation was I wrote it off as a human resources guy being overzealous in rising to the defense of his staff and continued to do business with this company.
But this past December 2012, when a new wireless terminal that I had purchased less than two years earlier through Bancard Payment Systems again failed to process debit charges, I was in no mood to accept that the best their company really could do for us was a replacement machine in 5 to 7 days. We chose instead to close our account with Bancard Payment Systems at the end of the business cycle.
So in April of this year I see a charge of $395 on my bank account statement for an "early termination fee" even though this account was opened in September 2008. Requests to have this outrageous fee removed were met only with a reply from, guess who Omar, stating that I may request that the fee be reviewed. Repeated telephone calls about this placed over a three day period were directed to a Mr. ******* *********, who refused to take or return our calls, or to even return an e-mail.
Hence our complaint with the BBB
Initial Business Response
The merchant's recollections of the facts of the past and present are egregiously distorted. Over the past 4 plus years, the technical support staff at Bancard Payment Systems has given Mr. ****** company excellent service or someone with his attitude would have not stayed with BPS. In December 2009 and 2012, the situations were exactly the same. ****'s terminal took a power surge and lost its PIN encryption. Both times after the encryption loss the terminals were still able to accept all cards and even Check/debit cards through signature capture; just not PIN. In 2009, **** was told by our support rep Eloisa that we would send a new encrypted terminal overnight, second day or ground, but according to the terms of the agreement which he signed and were clearly explained about, he would need to pay for the encryption fee and the shipping, we would cover the cost of the new terminal replacement. **** proceeded to curse at Eloisa profusely and berate her until she broke down crying. She escalated the call to her supervisor, ******* who **** told that he wanted Bancard to pay for the cost of the terminal, the encryption, and the $90.00 cost of shipping the terminal overnight. ******* mentioned that Bancard Payment did not cause the loss of encryption, the merchant's environment did, and when he reiterated the more than fair offer that was completely in line with the agreement; **** proceeded to yell at him using all sorts of profanity and called him "a f@#$%ing idiot". ******* then escalated the call to ******* (Operations Mgr.) who told **** that we were doing our best to help, but if he continued to curse that we could close his account immediately. He finally settled down because the notes in the CRM show that we ended up shipping a terminal second day. Telling the merchant that we would be happy to close his account is not retaliation, it is what any other processing company would have done after the merchant cursed at and berated their staff. The exact same thing happened three years later and **** called BPS the day before he was opening for the season instead of calling in advance so there would be no need for an expedited shipping cost. **** then acted in the same manner when he was told again what the procedure was and that we would ship a new encrypted terminal to him but the encryption and shipping cost would be billed to him. Again, **** used profanity against ******* and Omar, and again refused to accept the terms of our service agreement or the cost of encryption and shipping which is the merchant's responsibility; especially when BPS did not cause the encryption loss. The merchant agreement term would have ended in September 2013 and in the agreement it states that a 90 day written notice prior to the end of the term will be needed to cancel or the ETF will be billed. Once again, **** refused to abide by the terms of the agreement so the Early Termination Fee which is clearly stated in the Terms and Agreement was applied. Lastly, the merchant was told by a Senior Technical Support Rep, the Technical Support Division Mgr. and the Operations Mgr. that the ETF would not be refunded but refused to accept it. Since I was traveling when the merchant requested to speak to me, **** was told to send me an email and he would receive a reply. Two days after the email was sent, on the day I returned from my business trip, the BBB complaint showed up so there was no opportunity to respond to ****'s email.
This complaint is unfounded and completely based on lies. **** ******' horrible disposition is what created the situation. The ETF is written in the agreement which Mr. ****** personally guaranteed so any actions taken by Bancard Payment Systems were legal and legitimate.
Final Consumer Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
The response by Bancard Payment Systems to the BBB complaint contains substantial inaccuracies and outright misstatements, but essentially confirms the basis of my complaint, that employees of BPS engaged in retaliatory conduct and selectively applied an Early Termination Fee to our account based on a dispute that had occurred over four years prior to the closing of the account.
Below is our rebuttal to the following assertions made in the company's response.
"Telling the merchant that we would be happy to close his account is not retaliation"
Perhaps not, but threatening to close the merchant's account the next day during the middle of the holiday sales season over that merchant's objections most certainly is.
"Both times after the encryption loss the terminals were still able to accept all cards and even Check/debit cards through signature capture; just not PIN."
The wireless terminals we used (Nurit 8000 in 2009 , Verifone 8020 in 2012) are not capable of signature capture, so we were totally unable to process debit transactions.
"**** was told by our support rep that we would send a new encrypted terminal overnight, second day or ground, but according to the terms of the agreement which he signed and were clearly explained about, he would need to pay for the encryption fee and the shipping, we would cover the cost of the new terminal replacement."
The Nurit 8000 we were using in 2009 was not purchased from BPS, but had been brought over from an earlier merchant account at Nova Systems (now Elavon), so BPS most definitely did not offer a free replacement for that terminal. They offered to sell us a new terminal, but we were told that would take at least 7 - 10 days unless we paid extra for overnight or second day delivery.
"**** ******' horrible disposition is what created the situation." / "**** proceeded to curse at E___ profusely" / "**** proceeded to yell at him using all sorts of profanity"
We have a staff of capable and professional women who run the retail sales counter at our business. These service calls were escalated to my desk when they were unable to come up with solutions that would work for our business. These were blunt calls where I told BPS I considered their service to be unacceptable and they told me that was the best they could do for me. During those discussions I am sure my naturally salty language crossed the line somewhat, but to depict that as my having screamed obscenities or abusively berated their employees is a gross mischaracterization.
"Over the past 4 plus years, the technical support staff at Bancard Payment Systems has given Mr. ****** company excellent service or someone with his attitude would have not stayed with BPS."
One might wonder why we continued to do business with BPS after being threatened with retaliation. Like any small business person who has operated a payroll over a long period of time, I recognize that there are moments when an employee behaves in a way that is contrary to both company policy and good standards of conduct. I chose to recognize and forgive the confrontation in 2009 as simply an overzealous attempt by an HR manager to rise to the defense of an embattled employee.
"Since I was traveling when the merchant requested to speak to me, **** was told to send me an email and he would receive a reply."
Phone calls are neither answered nor returned. I would refer to our call log from June 15th - 19th. I was told only ******* could handle our complaint and at no time was I told he was traveling. Instead each time, after being placed on hold I received these explanations as to why he could not take the call.
6/17/2013 2:15pm In a meeting, call back after 4pm
6/17/2013 4:50pm Gone for the day, call tomorrow
6/18/2013 12:30pm At lunch, call later
6/18/2013 1:40 pm Unavailable. (When I requested his voice mail I was actually told that their phone system was incapable of transferring the call. Laughable)
6/19/2013 10:00am Told he would not be able take my call but I was provided with an e-mail address.
"The merchant agreement term would have ended in September 2013 and in the agreement it states that a 90 day written notice prior to the end of the term will be needed to cancel or the ETF will be billed. Once again, **** refused to abide by the terms of the agreement so the Early Termination Fee which is clearly stated in the Terms and Agreement was applied."
To be clear, this account was opened in September 2009 with a three year contract. After that BPS put the account on automatic one year renewals. Our request to close the account was made on March 2013. It is my contention that this Early Termination Fee was applied selectively to our account based on the negative interactions with our company that BPS has cited in their response.
"The ETF is written in the agreement which Mr. ****** personally guaranteed so any actions taken by Bancard Payment Systems were legal and legitimate."
The basis of this BBB complaint is the $395 Early Termination Fee that was withdrawn from our checking account after we requested that our four year old account be closed.
Complaint Resolution: BBB determined that while the company addressed the complaint issues, the complainant was dissatisfied and the matter was outside BBB Rules of Arbitration.