I am the Owner of Gallerio Ventures I wish to warn all companies out there that are thinking of getting a merchant account in order to process credit cards for business purposess, to stay as FAR AWAY from 1st National Processing Company you can possibly get. Don't let them rip YOU off like they've ripped me off, and possibly others.
Gallerio Ventures is a small home-based company that has been taken advantage of, blatantly, by our processing bank.
They know we cannot afford legal assistance to clear this matter even though they have admitted on at least 6 different occasions that they have over charged us for monthly fees and STILL does nothing to correct this problem.
The fact is, they kept charging the overage SEVERAL months after they were initially notified of the problem.
I have since been trying to collect the amount of money they have taken from us, without permission for the past 10 MONTHS.
The ONLY way we were able to stop them from taking even more of our money was to physically close our local bank account BOTH OF THEM!
Let me start from the beginning
We first obtained our merchant account with 1st National Processing in January 2001.
At that time our company name was Herbal-Wholesale. We already had a merchant account through someone else for our retail ventures, but now we had decided to try to open a wholesale outlet for our retailers.
The merchant account number we were given by 1st National Processing was:
446825010802270. We did business under this account name and number until May of 2002, when I notified our representative of 1st National Processing (Michael DiGiovanni) that our sole proprietorship status had changed and we incorporated.
He was advised in writing of our new corporate name and we inquired what we needed to do to reflect the new name change with the bank.
We were advised that we needed to fill out another application with the new name and they needed a check for $50.00 to complete the change from Herbal-Wholesale to Gallerio Ventures Inc. At that time, I addressed my concern of filling out a new application, as I did NOT want to be tied up to that bank for another two-year contract.
I was advised in writing that it would be a name change ONLY; it would NOT require a new two-year commitment.
I was pleased with that, as we had already had numerous problems with 1st National processing and had absolutely NO INTENTION of renewing any accounts with them after the initial two year period had ended, which it did this past January 2003.
In February of 2003, my bookkeeper brought to my attention, that we had been over charged by 1st National Processing since the time of our incorporation. She showed me evidence that we were being billed electronically from both our Herbal-Wholesale account AND or Gallerio Ventures Inc. bank accounts ever month.
Our contract with 1st National Processing had stated that we had to keep our bank account open at least 3 months after notifying them of our intent to quit, which is the only reason we kept the Herbal-Wholesale account open after changing names to meet our contractual obligations. Every time a transaction occurred, we had to start the 3 month period over again.
At this point (Feb. 2003) I first contacted 1st National Processing to advise them of the error. I did this and was told by the representative they would have to consult their manager and they would call me back in a few days. After 2 weeks of waiting, I again called them back. Again I was told a "manager" was looking into the problem, they would call me back in a "couple days". This went on through the month of February
I was given all kinds of excuses, and they readily admitted that the error had occurred instead of changing the name, they issued a NEW merchant account in the name of Gallerio Ventures Inc. 4223692900908092 in addition to the old Herbal-Wholesale account, therefore creating a double billing.
Each month both accounts were charged a $35.00 fee. After notify them in Feb 2003, they CONTINUED to take 35.00 from each bank account.
Since we were not using the Herbal-Wholesale account for anything, and they had been notified of their error but continued to take from our account, it caused an overdraft fee of $18.00 starting in Feb. of this year on top of the $374.99 they had already taken from us.
(The fee they charged in Jan.2003 was a whopping $129.99 ON EACH ACCOUNT for some "Annual Fee")
I continued to call weekly, never able to speak with the same person twice, although, once I gave them the Herbal-Wholesale merchant number they seemed to know exactly why I was calling. It was always in "some other division" being reviewed because, they said that was an awful lot of money to have to refund. I pointed out it was an awful lot of money for a small company like us to have to do without!
Meanwhile, I kept waiting for someone, ANYONE to call me back. They never did.
They simply kept charging us on both accounts every month.
They charged us another $35.00 on each account in March 2003, which earned us another $18.00 NSF fee on the Herbal-Wholesale account.
They charged us another $35.00 on each account on April 7th, 2003 which earned us another $18.00 NSF fee on the Herbal-Wholesale account.
They charged us yet again $35.00 on each account on April 25th 2003 which earned us another TWO $18.00 NSF fees on the Herbal-Wholesale account.
This NOW brought us to a grand total of $602.89 they have taken from us, even though they KNEW for at LEAST THREE MONTHS of the error and they continued to take from us and I was still calling them almost weekly!
By April 15th, 2003 I had had enough of their lies to call me back. They NEVER called me back up to that point. I sent them a letter detailing everything I have told you (enclosed is a copy for your review) along with copies of every statement on both accounts, as well as the application for name change, the copy of the $50.00 check they cashed, the NFS fees EVERYTHING. I also told them I expected at the very least a call acknowledging they had received everything.
Of course I never received anything.
That is when I started taking notes every time I called them.
I called them on April 25th, 2003 and spoke with a representative who would only identify himself as "Josh". I once again explained EVERYTHING to Josh. I told him I was sick and tired of this game, where I am constantly told I will be called back, but never am. I told him of the packet I sent them 10 days before. He denied any knowledge of such a packet and asked if I could fax the info.
I did that on April 25th, 2003 at 5:01pm (CST) which is 3:01pm (their time).
42 pages of documents.
When I did not hear back from them in a few days, I called repeatedly and was advised to fax the documents, which I did, all 42 pages of documents a second time.
I got very busy with conventions, and business in general and let the matter lie for approx. 3 weeks. I called 1st National processing again on May 19th, 2003. This time I was told "Josh" no longer worked there, and that I was now dealing with Rayna White at ext. 8463.
After going through the entire scenario for what seemed the one thousandth, time, she admitted she was familiar with the problem. She said she understood they owed us for a year in over charges of $35.00 per month totaling $420.00. I told her that was incorrect, as they charged us $129.99 in January, NOT just $35.00, plus we had 4 $18.00 NSF fees because they kept taking even MORE money they were not entitled too, for a grand total of $ 602.89!
Rayna said, and I quote " whoa, that's a lot of money. I'm not sure we can do that."
I said, "Excuse me??? You had no problem TAKING all that money, it better NOT be a problem to put it back, and you were STILL taking our money as of a couple weeks ago in which we were forced to close our bank account to STOP you from taking even MORE of our money!"
She said she would have to talk to their dept. that handles such affairs and she would definitely call me back on 5-20-2003. I said I had heard that all before and I did not believe her. She stated she absolutely WOULD call me back.
On 5-20-03 they did NOT call me back.
I called 1st National Processing back on June 5th 2003. This time I was given "William" to speak with. After telling him why I was calling YET AGAIN, I was put on hold for a Supervisor, at 4:37pm CST. A supervisor named "Jenna" came on the line at 4:47pm CST. She explained my "claim" which they do acknowledge was in "review" as, once again I was told that was an awful lot of money I was expecting. I asked her if she was "Reyna's" supervisor and was told, "No, Reyna's out of the office today, I work for Reyna." Jenna promised to have "Reyna" call me the next day.
I told her just how much faith I had in that claim, as I had YET to EVER receive a call from 1st National Processing since FEB.
To my absolute surprise, Reyna DID call me back the following day, to tell me the claim was in with Crystal Shook who oversees and issues such claims and that it would take approx. 30 days before we'd have an answer and our money.
I said, "You've got to be kidding! You have had our money for over a YEAR, I have been trying since FEB to get what was owed, all this time they have been earning interest on OUR MONEY and they intended to keep it ANOTHER 30 DAYS?!?!!"
She said that is the procedure, because it is over $500.00, which is a lot of money.
I absolutely could NOT believe this.
On June 30th 2003 I called Reyna again. She was not available so I left a message inquiring as to our claim. I received a message back on my answering machine around July 5 stating the refund had been issued and would show up in our account in a few days.
I suffered a family emergency the following week and was gone several weeks. When I returned, I learned no refund had been deposited into our account.
I called 1st National processing again on August 28th, 2003.
I spoke with Edger Jumanez because neither Reyna White nor Crystal Shook apparently still work there.
I briefly went over the facts with Edger who seemed familiar with it.
He said to look for the refund in my account on Wed. due to the Labor Day Holiday.
I got his name and ext. number in case it did not happen. He said they would refund $250.00. I said ABSOLUTELY NOT.
That they owed us over $600.00 at the very least.
He brushed it off saying, well ok, and that we would have the refund by Wed. Sept. the 3rd. When it did not show up in my account by Thursday, I called Edger Jumanez back. I was informed he was on another call and to leave my number and he would call me back. I told the operator that it is my experience they never call anyone back and that I simply wished to hold. They said they would not allow me to hold the line and that I could leave a message or call back. I was given Edger's "voice mail" in which I explained who I was, how sick I am of being lied to and that I expect a call back. Of course it never came.
I am at my wits end. It would likely cost me more to consult an attorney about this matter than the amount of refund actually due. Will you Please, PLEASE help us get the money back they have taken from us, had use of and collected interest on for well over a year.
I am enclosing a copy of everything I have pertaining to this grievance.
If I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to call on me.
Rita L. LaGrow
CEO Gallerio Ventures Inc.
Name: Rita L. LaGrow
Company Name: Gallerio Ventures Inc.
Merchant Account # Overcharged: 446825010802270 (Herbal-Wholesale.com)
New Merchant Account #: 4223692900908092 (Gallerio Ventures Inc.)
Address: 51 Aberdeen Dr., Scottsboro, AL. 35769
Bank Name and Address of Complaint:
1st National Processing
9121 Oakdale STE 201
Chatsworth, CA. 91311
People contacted about this complaint documented:
1.) Michael DiGiiovanni 4-15-2003 ext. 999 (Sent 42 pages of faxed documents - received a reply when I phoned 10 days later that Michael no longer works here.)
2.) Josh 4-25-2003 5:01pm
3.) Rayna White 5-19-2003 ext. 8463
4.) William & Jenna 6-5-2003
5.) Rayna White 6-6-2003 ext. 8463
6.) Rayna White 6-30-2003 ext. 8463 left message
7.) Received a phone message from Crystal Shook- around 7-5-2003 (refund had been approved and issued)
8.) Edger Jumanez 8-28-2003 ext. 8546 promising refund by 9-3-2003
9.) I left message for Edger on 9-4-2003 to call, never returned my call.
10.) Contact Michael Digiovanni - 9-24-2003- Our original agent with 1st National processing.
He had moved and I finally received a letter advising us over a year after we lost contact of his new address and contact info. I out-lined the entire story (above) and asked for his help.
He replied by email (which I still have saying:Quote)
This is the 1st I have heard of all of these problems. I am your rep and the one that cares the most about your account. My staff and I are dedicated to seeing that each and everyone of our customers are treated fairly.
You should have let me know and all of these problems would have ended immediately. I work hand in hand with the managers in each and every department and they always do the right thing for me and each and everyone of my customers. If this was not the case I would not send them all of the business that I do. I spend a lot of money on Marketing and Advertising and work very hard to get clients. Losing even one upsets me.
In any event I will read through this and do what I can to clear this up.
1st National Processing
9-24-2003 - I wrote him back and replied:QUOTE
It has been an absolute nightmare dealing with 1st National Processing.
I am cutting and pasting the complaint I have sent to the Federal Reserve (before I knew that 1st National Processing wasn't actually a bank at all).
It explains the hell I have been through with them these past 7 months, and am still going through. I'm searching for the correct authority to file a complaint with for them taking and keeping unauthorized funds from us.
They admit their error, yet keep taking it and never return calls, never refunded the funds and they should not be allowed to take advantage of small business's and have no accountability on their part.
If this isn't bad enough, we cancelled our "association"(contract expired Feb. 2003) with them for Gallerio Ventures Inc. in March of this year and we are STILL having $35.00 taken from our bank account every month.
WHAT does a person have to do to get them to STOP taking our money and to reimburse us for all the money they took without authorization?
I have sent notice to the following:
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Division of Consumer and Community Affairs
20th and C Streets, N.W., Stop 801
Washington, DC 20551
(The Board of Governors could do nothing to help us as 1st National Processing is not actually a "Bank" even though their name used "Bank" in it's original Title.)
On 10-1-2003 I wrote to Micheal: QUOTE:
Subject: What is going on?
Can you please let me know what's going on with 1st national processing and all the money they owe me?
I received this response from Michael the same day:Quote:
To: Rita LaGrow - Customer Service at Gallerio.com
Subject: RE: What is going on?
Hi Rita. It has been quite a busy week. I am aware of your issue. I will get to the bottom of it. I submitted then info to a manger who solves these kind of problems for me. But I send her a lot, and resolutions take a couple of weeks.
Please be patient.
After waiting another 8 days for some form of resolution, I wrote back to Michael on 10/8/2003 inquiring status, as 1St National Processing had just debited my account AGAIN another 35.00 they were not authorized to take.
10-8-2003 - I wrote: Quote:
Sent: Wednesday, October 08, 2003 12:31 PM
Subject: RE: What is going on?
Are we getting anywhere with this?
His reply came that same day (Note the terseness beginning to creep into the conversation) Quote:
Sent: Wednesday, October 08, 2003 4:53 PM
To: Rita LaGrow - Customer Service at Gallerio.com
Subject: RE: What is going on?
If and when I am able to get somewhere for you, you will hear from me. I do not put any file away until I have a resolution whether it be bad or good. I have submitted an investigation request to a supervisor I have worked with for 5 years. She will get to the bottom of it. I have Jury Duty this week and it is also the busiest time of the season for us because of the approaching Holidays. You will hear from me.
To which I replied: Quote:
Meanwhile, they have taken yet another $35.00 from my bank account.
What do I have to do to get these people to leave my freaking money alone?
Rita L. LaGrow - Service Specialist
I received no reply.
I did not both Michael again, as requested until 10/31/2003 at which time I wrote: QUOTE:
It's been over 3 weeks since you submitted it to whom ever it was you said you deal with at 1st National Processing and I've yet to hear a word...
In addition, I could not get them to stop taking even more of our money (even though they were notified to quit on our Gallerio Ventures account in MARCH 2003) I had no other choice than to close that bank account as well.
At the time I sent you a copy of all the paperwork, I had submitted it at LEAST twice and had already been told by at least 3 people at 1st National Processing that the refund had been approved, so I really don't understand what is taking an additional three plus weeks...
have you heard anything on this?
I realize I am hardly a priority at this point, however I DO believe YOU take pride in your service which is the only reason I've waited this long... to give you the opportunity to make things right. Please give me an update.
Rita L. LaGrow -
To which he replied on 10/31/2003: Quote:
You are right. I do. I will look into it again and get back to you shortly.
That was well over a month and a half ago and I've never heard anothere word from him. I've sent two more emails recently requesting status, no answer. What a surprise.
That's where this whole mess stands right now, and I did have to close my 2nd bank account to stop their stealing, so now, they are sneding me bills through the mail! Can you believe the unmitigated GALL of this company?!
ADVOID 1ST NATIONAL PROCESSING/ MERCHANT ACCOUNT PEOPLE AT ALL COSTS!
If YOU or YOUR COMPANY have been a victim of 1st National Processing, I'd REALLY like to hear from you. Perhaps we can band together against this company and have some legal recourse.
As it stands right now, they owe me well over a thousand dollars they have taken from me and my company.