Flagship Merchant Services Review: What You Need to Know
The appeal of Flagship Merchant Services is undeniable. After all, Flagship was one of the first merchant services providers to waive account setup, application, and termination fees. Since Flagship was a pioneer in the fee-waiving arena back in the day, you may think that Flagship is an advocate for merchants. You may also believe Flagship’s website when it says that they offer a transparent fee structure that makes it easy to plan for your payment processing expenses at the end of the month. However, neither of these is the case––at least, not if you believe hundreds of customer reviews.
Let’s take a look at Flagship’s Merchant Services’ fees, reviews, pros & cons, and integrations, so you can decide if it’s the right payment processing platform for your business.
Flagship Merchant Services Overview
Flagship Merchant Services was founded in 2001 and was acquired by iPayment in 2012. Flagship provides real-time payment processing options, offering customers added features such as real-time reporting, sales tracking, and POS. Flagship doesn’t have its own technology solution and instead resells First Data and iPayment processing services to small business owners. Although Flagship was one of the first to waive signup and processing fees––as mentioned earlier––they aren’t necessarily the most cost-effective of credit card processing companies.
Flagship Merchant Services Pricing and Fees
Flagship Merchant Services doesn’t come right out and tell you about their fees. So, what you wind up paying depends on your sales representative.
But word on the street (via aggregate Yelp reviews) is that they charge a $119 annual service fee, a $40 a month non-compliance fee, and a $19 a month additional charge on the backend; in addition to the $7.95 monthly fee, $7.95 gateway fee, and percentage per transaction that they’re transparent about charging (similar to interchange plus pricing).
Keep in mind that although these numbers may provide you with a rough estimate, there’s really no way to know exactly how much you’re going to wind up paying in fees with Flagship Merchant Services. For instance, it’s unclear what their chargeback fees are.
Advantages to Flagship Merchant Services
Working with Flagship Merchant Services does have its benefits, however. Since Flagship works with First Data, you gain access to all Clover POS system variations when you partner with the brand. The month-to-month contract is another huge advantage and, since Flagship Merchant Services has one of the highest applicant approval rates in the business, it’s a great option if you’ve been declined by other payment processing providers.
Flagship Merchant Services also charges no fees where other payment processors pack ‘em on––no early termination fee, no account setup fee, no application fee, no gateway setup fee… nothing to sneeze at. Those fees can really pile on––cancellation fees are usually no joke. And of course, they may not charge any cancellation fees in name, but reviews mention that it’s very common for the company to pile on mystery fees at the end of their relationship or even continue charging monthly fees after deactivation.
Ultimately, it’s unlikely that Flagship will offer you the lowest total processing costs of all the merchant account providers.
Disadvantages to Flagship Merchant Services
Flagship receives quite a lot of criticism on public review sites. Among customer issues stated, the main two are 1) Flagship Merchant Service’s fees and 2) Flagship’s customer support which is odd because––like Payment Depot’s award-winning CS––they do all of their customer services in-house.
However, merchant complaints claim that Flagship’s customer service team is slow to answer queries and account representatives are difficult to reach––especially when it comes time to discuss additional fees on their statements. Scallywag’s Dog Grooming says on the Better Business Bureau site, “I canceled my service in December of 2017 with the provided form via email, and it turns out they continue to withdraw service fees for a service that I am not using any longer at my business. You can never speak with anyone. When you call you are directed to being put on hold.”
Merchants on Yelp state that Flagship’s hidden fees can result in hundreds of dollars in unexpected charges at the end of the month and there is really no way to plan for how much will be deducted since they don’t add the charges to the statement until after they withdraw the money.
Alejandra R, a reviewer on the BBB site says specifically, “Brendan was my account rep and he assured me multiple times that the only fee I had to pay was 9.85 a month. When I get the statement, I get charged 21.80 just in nonsense fees plus the 9.85 a month. What is even more upsetting is that Brendan promised a refund for 21.80 and it has been 4 weeks now and I am still waiting.”
What Other Merchants Say
While Flagship’s website says that they were voted “#1 Merchant Service Provider for the 8th Straight Year,” the reality is that only one website—Top Ten Reviews—gave Flagship this ranking.
And it says right on Top Ten Reviews’ page that they may earn an affiliate commission from certain sales. But you know what’s really interesting? Even on Top Ten Reviews, Flagship Merchant Services has fewer stars than other merchant services providers.
Flagship Merchant Services reviews are largely negative with the Better Business Bureau and the company is rated a paltry 1.5 stars, even though they apparently have an A+ rating from the BBB itself. It’s all pretty suspect if you ask me.
Flagship Merchant Services also only has a single star on Yelp and 3/5 stars on Consumer Affairs. Complaints from dealing with a dishonest salesperson to discovering hidden charges top the list of customer qualms with Flagship.
Flagship Merchant Services: Integrations, Software, and Hardware
One strength of Flagship Merchant Services is the hardware and software that are available to account holders. Flagship offers one free basic point of sale (POS) terminal with signup, as well as free POS reprogramming for merchants who use the service. Account-holders also have access to all of the Clover POS variations through Flagship’s relationship with First Data.
These POS solutions include Clover Flex, the fully integrated, handheld card reader/signature pad; Clover Station, the all-in-one POS system that stores customer data and tracks inventory; Clover Mini, the “full POS in a tiny package,” and even Clover Mobile and Clover Go for EMV chip cards. These in-store credit card processors adhere to PCI compliance guidelines, allowing you to handle EMV and NFC technology and all major credit cards. You can also take gift cards, debit cards, and mobile wallet payments from Android, Apple, and other providers.
Flagship offers in-house payment gateways through Quiq Payments or you can get an external gateway through Authorize.net. These give you virtual terminal options as well as online payment abilities for eCommerce stores. They also offer mobile payment options through iPayment’s Mobile Pay app for merchants who are on the go. Overall, hardware and software are a bright spot in Flagship’s Merchant Services catalog. Finding which integrations are available through Flagship, however, poses a significant challenge.
No solution provider is all good, or all bad. This is especially important to keep in mind with a payment processing provider like Flagship Merchant Services which has been saddled with so many negative customer reviews.
If you’ve been struggling to find a payment solution provider that will accept your small business, Flagship could be your knight in shining armor––just be sure to get written documentation of everything you are promised and review the fine print in your contract.
Everyone else will want to find a solution provider with a history of satisfied customers, such as Payment Depot. Payment Depot has literally thousands of satisfied customers of all business types singing their praises on customer review sites like Yelp and Consumer Affairs, and PD saves these customers an average of $400 a month on credit card processing fees. No hidden charges (really, this time). And no surprises. Contact us today to learn more.