I have an online store and had a merchant account with Flagship Merchant Services. Recently a customer made a purchase on my storefront and apparently used fraudulent credit cards. I was unaware that they were fraudulent. This was around the last week of May, 2009.
My operations manager got a call from a man named Anthony, who works in the security department. He received the phone call on June 3, 2009 at 2:55 p.m. According to Anthony the customer who used these credit cards was being investigated for fraud. He wanted us to send him a copy of the customers invoice, which we did, and we were informed he would call us back as soon as he received it. We never got a call back from him.
The next morning I noticed that First Data had taken $214.13 out of my bank account. My operations manager tried to get in touch with Anthony and all he got was voice mail, so he called customer service. After being put on hold, transferred to six different people and departments, and also after spending two hours on the phone with this company trying to get a clear answer on why we were being charged, we were finally told by a customer service representative that the $214.13 was processing fees that Visa and Master Card charged for processing the customers cards, even though the cards were not supposed to be processed until after the investigation of the customer was complete. We were also told that due to the fact that the customer was under investigation, and the transaction from the customers credit cards to my bank account had not taken place yet, I should never have been charged the $214.13 to begin with. I should have only been charged when the funds were transferred to my bank account. I was told I could receive a refund, but had to discuss that with Anthony.
When my operations manager finally was able to get in touch with Anthony, he said that we would not get a refund for the $214.13 and that my merchant account was being closed, due to the cards being processed and turning out to be fraudulent, even though my company did not process the cards, Flagship Merchant Services did before the investigation of the customer was complete. We were also told by Anthony that since my account was going to be closed I would not be billed the monthly fee. On June 4, however, I was billed $51.95 anyway, which once again was taken out of my bank account and was given the same old song and dance when my operations manager inquired as to why we were being charged that fee.
I have a dispute filed through my bank on these charges and I also had to close my bank account on June 5, open a new one, and got fraud protection to keep this company from helping themselves to my bank account anymore in the future. Flagship Merchant Services had also informed us that the money taken off the fraudulent credit cards would be returned. This was on June 5. Then on June 8, 2009 this company once again pulled $47 out of my closed bank account. Once again I contacted my bank and they reversed the transaction. On June 24 and June 29 my operations manager received two separate phone calls, one from one of the credit card companies pertaining to the fraudulent cards, and the other was from one of the card holders stating that they had never gotten a refund from Flagship Merchant Services.
We called Flagship to find out why the charges had not been refunded and got, you guessed it, the usual run around. Their first story was that the credit card companies were rejecting the refunds. Then on June 29 we were told that a security representative, named Pete, had put a hold on the transactions from being refunded. The lame excuse was they were worried about charge backs. We were told that the funds would be released within 72 hours.
Then on July 1, 2009 this company once again decided to use my bank account as their piggy bank and pulled $401.15 out of my closed account. My operations manager contacted Flagship Merchant Services and talked to the operations manger, Sean McEvoy. He stated that there were no records showing that this transaction had taken place and actually wanted us to fax him a copy of our bank statement showing this transaction. We aren't that stupid! We contacted our bank and were informed that criminal charges will be filed against this company. Later in the day we got a call from Sean saying that we were charged the $401.15 for account closing fees since the credit card charges had been refunded and that the $401.15 would be refunded in 7-10 business days.
Then on 7/6/09 I received a letter in the mail dated 7/2/09 stating that I owe Cardservice International $388.90 for assessed charges. The hilarious thing was that they said if I didn't pay them I would have my merchant account privileges canceled, (obviously they didn't look at any paperwork. If they had they would have seen that my account has been closed since June 5). They also threatened to report me to credit reporting agencies. The funny thing about that is thanks to my fraud protection my credit report cannot be viewed unless they have permission.
I thought it was odd that I was getting a letter like that since I don't have a merchant account with this company. My operations manager called the number provided and got an automated service which gave him another number to call. He couldn't get through to anyone and was instead transferred to three different phone numbers which are: 888-280-8969; 877-274-7915; 800-762-6663, none of which had an actual person to speak with.
I noticed on the letter that it had the merchant account number I had had with Flagship Merchant Services and discovered that Cardservice International is just another alias of First Merchant Services aka First Data aka Flagship Merchant Services, the aka list goes on My operations manager called Flagship Merchant Services and spoke with Sean McEvoy and was told that he didn't know why we were sent the letter, we should have never have gotten it in the first place, and to just disregard it and shred it. (We didn't shred it and instead kept it for our records.)
My company received a threatening phone call from a representative of Cardservice International on the morning of July 7, 2009. At first she tried to say that she couldn't speak with my operations manager (he answered the phone) and then when he explained to her that they weren't getting a dime from us and that Sean McEvoy, the operations manager for Flagship Merchant Services, told us that we were to disregard the letter Cardservice International sent to us, she insisted that she be called by him to verify that we are to disregard the letter. My operations manager told me that the representative was rude and belligerent with him. He tried calling Cardservice International back with the number given to him by the representative and got transferred to the same three numbers listed above.
I guess since they are no longer able to get access to my bank account they are now resorting to using threatening tactics in letters and phone calls thinking Im going to be stupid enough to write them a check so they can get their hands on my new bank account information. Wrong!!! I might have been born at night but it wasn't last night!
Since my little experience with Flagship Merchant Services my company has been receiving phone calls from several companies associated with First Merchant Services, aka First Data, aka Flagship Merchant Services, etc; Rock Bottom Merchant Accounts and Leaders Merchant Services. My operations manager spoke to a representative by the name of Glenn Carpenter. He asked Mr. Carpenter a few questions regarding monthly fees, fraud protection, etc. and asked if Leaders was associated with First Merchant Services, aka First Data. Mr. Carpenter stated that no, leaders is not in any way shape or form associated with First Merchant Services or First Data. We did some checking and found numerous complaints about Leaders. Among one of the rebuttals on the BBB, which was posted on 9/26/07 and states, 'The Directors of Operations at Leaders told me First Data Resources (FDR) processes the transactions for Leaders...'
I just thought I would mention this in passing and am now trying to find a way for the phone calls from ANY company associated with First Merchant Services to stop. Also good luck trying to find any merchant service NOT associated with First Data. It seems like they are monopolizing the merchant service industry completely.