North American Bancard Complaint - Proceed At Your Own Risk
I signed up with NAB for a credit card terminal for my small business a couple of years ago. With the assistance of their "agent" I tried for over 4 months to install the terminal in my office and get it to work with my phone system, but for whatever reason, it did not work. I requested a 2nd unit, which NAB promptly delivered. After many more attempts, interfacing with their tech support department and my agent, still no connection. During this time, I could not make any charges with the terminal but I was still paying the minimum monthly fees.
Still wanting to make it work, I continued to bother my agent to help me with the installation or to do something with NAB to get them to either send me a working machine or to find some solution so that I could make credit card transactions. Shortly after that point (not necessarily NAB's fault), my agent stopped returning my calls and emails and stopped dealing with me, probably because he was also utterly frustrated.
What followed was several calls to NAB during which I explained the situation, asked if they would stop debiting my account until I could get the terminal situation worked out and asked for help on what to do. Each time they told me that they could not stop the debiting and said that only my agent could stop the charges. Of course, he was gone and out of the picture. By this point, including the start up costs, I was $500 in the hole, and not able to even make a single credit card charge.
Out of complete and utter frustration with the situation, I notified NAB in writing that I wanted to terminate the contract with them because I was getting nothing from them and despite all of my attempts to work with them and their agent, the machine simply did not work in my office. I even followed up my letter with a phone call and spoke to someone to make sure that they received the letter and was advised they had received it, that my contract would be canceled and that the monthly debits would stop.
PROBLEM SOLVED? Not quite.
Begin CHAPTER 2 Of my odyssey with NAB.
A month later, I received a letter from NAB informing me that because I canceled my contract, they were calling me in breach and they were going to charge me for all of the payments they were due on the balance of the contract (3 years) and that they would schedule an auto debit from my account of a little over $1,000 to cover the costs. I checked my online bank account and noticed that they did in fact take out the $1000. This auto debiting thing is something that I had never had much experience with and did not realize how lethal it can be and how powerless you are to challenge it. But NAB makes you agree to this in order to get their services.
Needless to say I was furious.
To make matters worse, the letter was sent out 3 weeks after it was dated. This conveniently allowed NAB to grab the money from my account before notifying me that they were going to do it - just in case I decided to close the account or otherwise outmaneuver them. And it worked because my bank told me that they couldn't even help me and that it was between me and NAB and I had to get NAB to stop the auto debiting....or close my account, but even this would not guarantee anything because the bank was obligated to honor the auto debit (since I agreed) and that I may still have to pay even if the account is closed.
Of course, I was furious over this whole thing. I got on the phone immediately and started the process of trying to get to the bottom of why they took my money. I was told that it was because I breached the contract and that the fine print legally entitles them to do that. I explained my situation: that I had no working terminal for 5 months, made so many calls I lost track, that nobody from NAB gave me any help or offered any solutions to get my machine up and running, and that their agent bailed on me. In short I was told that all of this was my problem and that their contract assumes that I would have a working phone line? Huh? I was talking to the NAB agent from the same business phone.
Yes, I did terminate the contract, but it was justifiable and with good reason. IN all of my discussions with NAB reps before I terminated, not one person ever hinted at what a disaster it would be for me to terminate or gave me a clue that they were going to make a run on my bank account to grab everything they thought they were due. No alternate arrangements were suggested, no attempts were made to help me or to work out the situation to get my continued business.
Even when I tried to go back and reinstate the agreement and try to work something out that would allow me to get my money back and just ride out the balance of the contract and see if I could try to get the terminal working or just ride out the contract and pay as I go and see what happens, but NAB told me that they could not reinstate or return my money and that all I could do was to SIGN ANOTHER CONTRACT? I wondered if I was talking to another human being??
At that point, I was also told that I had to send back the terminal or else I would owe another $850. This was confirmed in writing. After accepting my plight and resigning myself to the fact that I was screwed, I just decided to give in and take the whole thing as a lesson and I made immediate arrangements to send back the machine (which I did by certified mail and with USPS insurance). I later called to make sure that they received the machine and that everything was ok and concluded on their end. I was told they had received it and that everything was fine and that my account was paid.
END OF STORY? Not quite.
BEGIN CHAPTER 3.
Realizing that my bank account was not safe from NAB, I closed my account and opened up another one. Sure enough, several months later, I received a notice from my bank informing me that they refused a automatic withdrawal from my account for a $79 "compliance fee." I called NAB and told them that I was not going to pay the fee and that I no longer had an open account with them. I was surprised to hear the agent tell me that it was an error of some kind and that they would not debit my account.
Several months later, I received another notice from my bank, this time informing me that NAB was trying to withdraw $850 from my closed account. Again, I called NAB and asked them what was going on...etc. I was told that the $850 was to cover the cost of the terminal. I explained that I returned the terminal as requested and had proof of delivery and that I did not owe them any money. Again, the agent told me that it appeared that they had received the terminal and that everything was OK.
PROBLEM SOLVED? Not yet.
BEGIN CHAPTER 4 (THE GRAND FINALE!)
Months later, I started to receive letters, followed by phone calls from a collection agency, claiming that I owed NAB $850. I explained that my account with NAB was closed, that I did not owe and money and that there must be some kind of mistake. By this point it was becoming a sick joke and I felt like I had entered the Twilight Zone. After several months and several collection agents, my account apparently moved up to the head honcho who deals with the "refusal to pay" types, such as myself. This guy was able to explain to me that I owed $850 for the terminal. I explained to him that I sent it back to NAB and I even faxed him proof.
Several days later he called me back and acknowledged that NAB received the terminal, but that I still owed NAB $850 because all of the fine print in their contract says that it was being given to me for free, etc. etc. but that if I breached the contract I would have to buy it. I explained that he was completely wrong, that NAB demanded the terminal back in writing (or else they were going to hit my account again) and that I sent it back. "Too bad" he said, the terminal is not useful to them anymore because it was specifically coded for your office so you still owe the money. "Then send it back to me and I will pay for it and sell it on EBAY," I said. No can do, he told me. The terminal was probably already reconditioned and given to someone else. What? I thought it was coded for me? Was he making this stuff up as he went along?
I called NAB to talk about this and try and figure out if any of this was true, hoping somehow that they had made some internal error (again). The agent told me that my account was forwarded to a collection agency and that I had to deal with them and there was nothing else they could do for me.
Then I called back the collection agent and I dug in my heels and told him that he was wasting his time because I was not going to pay. Then he proceeded to try to negotiate with me and told me that he could settle it out for $295. I told him that I thought this was extortion and there was no way I was paying them anything.
He proceeded to tell me that it was my right to refuse but that I needed to understand that:
1. They would start by reporting me to all of the credit agencies and this would effect my credit score, of course.
2. NAB would file a lawsuit against me in Fulton County Georgia (which is in the contract) and I would have to travel there to deal with it.
3. That the Court in Fulton County "triple books" the docket and that there was a good chance that my case would not even be heard on the day of the hearing and that I would have have to come back for another hearing.
4. That if I wanted to challenge NAB I would have to go and personally appear in court in Fulton County, pay my own airfare and lodging, of course.
5. That I could hire a lawyer, but that would probably cost more than what they were willing to settle for, so it did not make sense to fight this on principle because I could save money by just settling.
6. That if I did not show up in court or have a lawyer appear, they would seek a default judgment against me, with all collection costs and attorneys fees, which would be a lot more than they were willing to settle for.
AND IN SHORT, that he understood that I was probably getting screwed but that it did not matter because the only thing that really made financial sense was to settle with them and not waste any more time and money on the case.
It seemed obvious to me that this collection agent had gone over this whole thing many many times with other "debtors" and he had it down to an art.
AND ALL THE WHILE, he practically laughed and smirked his way through the whole conversation, like it was some kind of joke to him.
IN THE END, I decided that it only made economic sense for me to settle the case, and so I made a counter-offer and settled for about 1/2 of the $295 he was demanding just to get them off my back and out of my life.
I STILL CANT BELIEVE THAT ALL OF THIS HAPPENED TO ME AND THAT I WAS BROUGHT TO MY KNEES AND HAD TO PAY THIS COLLECTION COMPANY MONEY THAT I DID NOT OWE. Sure, I could have challenged them, but at what cost and after how many more hours and time out of my life?
The moral of the story is that you should PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK with this company. Things may work out well for you if you don't step out of line and you are able to continue to fund NAB's money machine. Otherwise, if you need help or customer service, or find yourself in any kind of a situation that does not fit their expectations under the contract, you may be in for the ride of your life. The one thing that definitely saved me money was CLOSING MY BANK ACCOUNT. If I had not done that, NAB would have grabbed the full $850.
Maybe I am wasting more of my time by writing this review. Maybe I am wrong and NAB was right. We will never know. I am sure that their customer service representative will post some type of a follow up to this explaining how I was wrong. Personally, I don't think I was. Would have been nice to have some "human" intervention in this whole thing and someone who really cared and tried to understand my situation and help me so that I could get things set up and do business with my customers and with NAB. Maybe that takes too much time.
So you be the judge. JUST PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.