WOODLAND HILLS, CALIFORNIA -- In January 2009 I was considering starting my own business and attended an e-commerce business seminar held by a company called Auction Teacher. Several hundred people were in attendance. At the end of the seminar a business package was offered to help start and develop an e-commerce web site. Included in the package was the Auction Teacher e-commerce website with help to develop and maintain the site, also in the package was an application to obtain a merchant account, and a telephone system.
After a month I realized that the Auction Teacher setup would not work for me since their software was based on PC/Microsoft Windows computers and I use Macintosh computers. I contacted Auction Teacher and they canceled my service and gave me a refund. No business was created or conducted. For the time I gave up on the idea of having my own business. About four months later I started receiving charges on my bank account from Innovative Merchant Solutions. I never received any notification that my application for a merchant account had been approved.
I contacted Innovative Merchant Solutions and informed them that the charges on my account had surprised me since I had never been informed about my application approval nor had I given them any financial information or authorized any charges to my bank account. The representative I spoke with said his name was Mark, and he looked up the account and said he would cancel it for me and refund the charges. However, over the next couple of months the charges continued.
I again contacted Innovative and this time spoke with a man named Leo. I asked Leo his last name and was told that for security purposes and company policy that he couldn't give me his last name. I informed Leo of my earlier conversation with Mark. Leo indicated that there were no notes in my record of the conversation. He said he could cancel the account but there was an account termination fee that I had to pay. This is the first time anyone mentioned to me a cancellation fee. Back in January when I signed up for the business package with Auction Teacher no mention was ever made of any termination fee.
Leo said he would have to transfer me to someone else to discuss the termination fee. Leo then transferred my call to a woman named Melissa. I spoke with Melissa and again related the entire story, I also asked her for her last name and was given the same response as Leo regarding giving out last names. She told me I needed to write a letter of cancellation and either mail it or fax it to her. I did this. She also mentioned the charges to my account would be refunded and that the account termination fee would be waived. Some charges were refunded to my account.
However the charges to my bank account continued for a few more months. I informed my bank of the entire situation and they reversed the charges and put a stop on my account to any future charges from Innovative Merchant Solutions. Finally mid-year 2009 it appeared that everything was cleared up and taken care of with regards to dealing with Innovative Merchant Solutions. Fast forward to one year later, here it is mid-year 2010 and I started receiving calls from Innovative that I owed them for the cancellation fee and charges that they tried to bill to my bank account.
Does this company not know what goes on within its walls? I've been contacted three times over the last few weeks by three different people about paying the cancellation fee and other charges. Each time I've related the story previously given. I've been told that there is no information in my account regarding previous contacts or having any fees waived. And now they are threatening legal action. I received a letter from someone named Al Sherman who lists the title Litigation Manager under his name.
In conclusion, I've been charged for services NOT received. Innovative Merchant Solutions Never informed me that my application for a merchant account had been approved. They charged and removed funds from my bank account without authorization, I never gave them my bank account information. How they managed to obtain my bank account information and levy charges without authorization appears to me to be fraudulent and criminal.
Do not use them! If you need a merchant account go to your local bank they will offer service superior to Innovative. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, US Bank, Chase, others; none of whom have any account termination fees. All who do business in a straight forward business manner.
CALIFORNIA -- This company has the worst and the most unqualified customer service ever. This includes basically all departments. I think they are all high school dropouts. The dumbest people I've ever had to deal with. It is sad that company like Intuit doesn't want to do anything about it. Unfortunately if you are merchant you may suffer financially because of that poor service. In my case, first time when I ran into trouble was when they withheld my deposit the first time.
Here is what happened. I process online orders in Quick Books. I need to obtain AVS and CVV match in order to protect myself from chargebacks. Unfortunately many customers don't know the difference between billing and shipping address and sometimes when I run the credit card payment, AVS comes back with 'no match', but the payment is still approved. Under QB you can't use risk tools to black transaction when AVS returns 'no match'. Innovative Merchant Solutions doesn't give you this popular tool. So when AVS comes back with no match, I would have to void transaction, call customer, obtain correct address and run transaction again.
I know it is a little technical here, but hopefully some of you know what I mean. The problem is that even if I void first transaction, authorization has been already placed on customer credit card. It will take 7 business days for this authorization to disappear. So in case when customer has limited funds, my other attempt of sale would be declined. Simply there is not enough available credit to put another authorization. Keep in mind that my sales are on average 1000-2000USD.
So I called Innovative Merchant customer service. First lady didn't know what AVS was. When I told her that transaction with AVS match are subject to discounted rates (2.4% instead of 3.1% with no AVS match) she said she had never heard about it and transferred me to another person. She probably has never seen statement that Innovative sends to me every month.
So here is another genius. He knows something about AVS. Good, so I asked him how can I run sale again without putting new authorization. Is there a way to cancel or use old authorization? He said yes, just run sale and enter authorization number from previous transaction. Great, so I did it with 2 transactions the very next day. It didn't take long, few hours later I received phone call from Innovative Merchant Risk Department. The guy says that I ran two sales without valid authorization and I need to refund it right away. On the top of it, he withheld two of my most recent batches.
When I told him that it was their mistake and they are responsible for misinforming me, he said that he has no record of me calling them the day before and basically called me a liar. So I refunded money, run transaction again, this time like I did it before, by obtaining new authorization. Thank god customers had enough available credit to cover it. But now my account is locked. The deposits stopped coming to my checking account. Of course when I call Risk Management, every person would have something different from say. In other words no one could explain me when I would start receiving deposits again.
It took me 3 weeks of phone calls and emails. Finally I ran into some more intelligent person. Maybe she even had high school diploma. Anyway, she looked at my account and said: "I see no reason for you not receiving deposits, let me fix it". Two days later money started coming to my account. For 3 weeks my business had been shut down since I ran out of funds and wasn't able to accept new orders. But Intuit doesn't care.
So here I am year later. One of my customers made a big purchase. I checked everything about him. Company is legit corporation and the guy is a president of it. AVS, CVV matches. Billing address matching shipping address. Order placed from company server, company email etc. Everything perfect. So I took the order, send them invoice and few days later they called me with credit card to pay for it. I ran authorization. It went through no problem. Next day we shipped the order and by the end of the day I ran charge. Sale was approved. Great.
Next day, Saturday I received an email from Innovative Merchant (I thought they were closed on weekends) requesting invoice for that order, shipping information and customer information. It said that IMS Risk Analyst was reviewing that transaction. I faxed documentation right away. 15 minutes later there is another email informing me that my batch was withheld for time of investigation. This time they refer to Article V section 5.01 of Merchant agreement and requested: bank statement, contract, invoice, shipping documentation. Just like that with no details. What bank statement?
So I faxed invoice and shipping documentation again, there was no contract just standard term and condition we have for online sales, and I asked what bank statement they needed. I also referred to Merchant Agreement and article V. Well, it says about accepting checks from customers and method of verifying them. None of this had anything to do with my case. I guess they thought I would never read Merchant Agreement. Of course I email my Analyst about it. No answer of course. But she did specify what bank statement she needed. She says "I need 6 months of your business bank statement summary page only". Well now you talking. So I faxed her summary pages from last six of my monthly statements.
2 days later I received another email. No "Hello" or anything like that in those emails, just plain text all in lower case. Just like a text message from the phone. It said: "I need 6-month business bank statement summary page only". OK, I called my bank and ask them about 6-month bank statement. They said: "we can give you 6 months of your monthly statements. We do not produce 6-month statements. If you need some specific information from last 6 months like average daily balance etc. we can get it for you too. What information do you need?" I said, "I don't know, it's not for me and my analyst wasn't very detailed."
So I emailed my analyst again telling the story. Never heard from her again. When I call her, voice mail kicks in right away and phone calls are not being returned. I emailed her again requesting status of my case. No answer. It is only 11 thousand dollars they hold hostage and no one can tell me when and if ever I will receive that money. I've already sent products so I have no money and no products at this point. Also I've read in Merchant agreement that they can set limit for transaction on your account without informing you about it. If you go over that limit they will charge you penalties 5%.
In my case it may be over $500 in addition to over $300 they will charge as processing fee. This is ripoff. I will barely get profit from this transaction. My advice, if you planning on growing your business and make sales of more than $500 stay away from Innovative Merchant Solution. How can you be punished for having more sales than you originally estimated in merchant application? This is what they do. If you go overestimated monthly limit you entered in your merchant application, they will charge you 5%.
Just read Merchant Agreement. They simply don't want your business to grow. And the customer service - oh please. How can you be more ignorant and more unprofessional? They do not care about your business. In fact they treat you as a criminal and punish you in advance. It reminds me PayPal. I guess they are not far from that. Although PayPal did improve. If there is anyone there who can help me with my situation, please let me know. Do I have any legal rights I can use in case like this?
The convenience of integrating credit card transactions with the Quickbooks accounting software is attractive because it reduces the chances of error. However, all this is useless if your money will not be released. We have almost $10k in approved credit card transactions that this company is not releasing even after going through the process of opening a merchant account. When you apply, your business will undergo an underwriting process to make sure that you will not be making fraudulent transactions. A guarantor was necessary in our case to make sure someone will be ultimately responsible in case of a fraudulent transaction. Apparently this was not sufficient.
We had to ask our customers to call their issuing banks and confirm the charges made on their credit cards, but Innovative will not recognize that. They will not make any effort to contact either the bank or the credit card holder to verify the charges. They will leave it up to the merchant to ask their customers to call Innovative Merchant Solutions and confirm the charge. I have been a credit card consumer for more than 2 decades, and I know that I can dispute any questionable charge that appears on my account. This was not even the case with any of our customers. They already had possession of the merchandise on the day of the transaction.
Even if our customers do contest the charges, we, especially the guarantor, would ultimately be responsible, and Innovative can issue a chargeback on your merchant account. At their request, we have submitted numerous documents about our company, but they do not seem to know exactly what proof they want to see to show that the business is legitimate. They have our Federal Tax ID#, Articles of Incorporation, Business Permit, and Seller's Permit, documentation on all the charges in question and more.
After having seen all these documents, they came back asking for more information. They will frustrate you asking for information on your company piecemeal. If you are attracted to the convenience of integrated credit card processing with quickbooks, think long and hard before opening a merchant account with Innovative Solutions. It is anything but convenient.
WOODLAND HILLS, CA, CALIFORNIA -- I have been a small business owner for over 15 years. For many years, I have used Innovative Merchant Solutions as my credit card processor, without any problems. However, beginning in August 2009, this company began withholding funds from credit card sales. For several weeks, I went from one incompetent representative to another trying to find out what was happening with my merchant account. I was told that my account was flagged for suspicious activity after we had a few charge-backs. Never mind the fact that each transaction was approved by them AND we won the disputed charges.
Innovative reps informed me that they were holding funds in a "reserve" in the case of any future charge-backs. They have been holding this money for over 7 months!! And to top that, when a few of my customers cancelled their orders and requested a refund (transactions where the funds were being withheld and NOT funded), Innovative credited the customers and immediately debited my bank account. I do not know how they can justify taking money from my account when the funds from each of these sales WERE NEVER DEPOSITED into it!
I have attempted numerous times to contact them to find out how much longer I have to wait to get my funds, and have been told they can hold the money for up to 270 DAYS!! When you add these headaches to the ugly fact that IMS plays dirty with hidden fees and and charges an excessive termination fee (regardless of how long you've been a customer), I strongly urge any and all businesses that accept credit cards to STAY FAR AWAY FROM THIS UNETHICAL COMPANY!