Our Overall Rating:

Merchant Scout

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Thursday, March 29th, 2018
Best Payment Providers

A Good Fit For:


What We Like

MerchantScout is high-risk merchant friendly and Interchange++ pricing is available to eligible merchants.

What We Didn't Like

Customer service needs to up its game. Calls were dropped, representatives were inconsistent, and they didn’t want to offer up specifics about contracts, terms, renewals, and other pertinent information without agreeing to start a formal application.


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Marketing

Sales

Support

Pricing

Overall

Overview

Founded in 2008, MerchantScout arranges e-commerce and high-risk merchant account solutions through a global acquiring network that includes more than 30 acquiring banks, payment providers, and payment facilitators. It has offices in London and Amsterdam and is a division of ccNetPay in London and Teranet d.o.o. in Slovenia.

Its experts use a customized, individualized approach to match merchants with suitable payment solutions globally, through a payment gateway that supports more than 150 currencies, recurring billing, and latest standards in credit card processing. It works with high-risk merchant accounts, including high-traffic online adult entertainment, gambling, and nutraceutical businesses.

When a merchant begins its application process, MerchantScout provides a 24/7 dedicated agent to the business to help guide them and help them negotiate with banking partners to get the best possible rates. MerchantScout gives merchants access to a network of banks, payment institutions, payment facilitators, and merchant service providers.

Through its partnerships, MerchantScout is able to provide the innovative solutions for retail, MOTO, or online credit card processing for most popular brands: Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Cartes Bancaire, China Unionpay, JCB, American Express and +30 other alternative payments methods such as SEPA DD, PaysafeCard (a member of The Skrill Group), iDeal, GiroPay, Bancontact, Sofort (better known as Payment Network), and more. Additionally, highriskgateway.in is one of its authorized marketing partners.

Marketing

MerchantScout has a clear, concise, easy to navigate website with up-to-date information. It’s user-friendly, professional-looking, and it doesn’t try to be over-the-top flashy promotions and gimmicks. On the surface, we found it to be very appealing. It contains a large amount of useful content.

However, overall, it doesn’t appear to have a strong marketing strategy. It has a blog, that offers some good industry news and some how-to information, however, it has no presence on social media.

Honesty

On its pricing page, MerchantScout notes that merchants can expect to pay merchant account rates between 0.95% and 5.50%. Though this is not a lie, we find it a bit misleading. According to its high-risk merchant account page, it is really more realistic for businesses to expect rates starting at 1.45%. That aside, we find MerchantScout’s approach honest and transparent, especially in terms of pricing.

Sales

MerchantScout partners with many payment gateways, providers, and acquirers, and it appears it uses a team of in-house salespeople and independent sales agents. Typically, that is a customer service nightmare. Though we did have our problems with customer service, we did not find high-pressure sales tactics to be a problem.

Availability

MerchantScout is available by phone and email. Live chat is available seven days per week during business hours. During the application process, support is available 24/7 via Skype.

Support

Staff Responsiveness

MerchantScout was definitely responsive. The best way to define its strategy would be competitive or energetically forceful. Minutes after an inquiry was sent triggered emails and several calls in a short period of time. At least two emails contained identical information. Though we appreciate a quick response, we found its approach to be too much, especially since the interaction we received with staff was lackluster, at best.

Staff Interaction

To say we were underwhelmed with our interactions would be an understatement. For the many times our calls were transferred and dropped, we started to feel like it was intentional. The staff members we did talk to were inconsistent and hurried us to move on to the next step. For a business that touts itself as a company that works diligently to customize solutions for merchants, we felt robbed of that experience.

Any specifics about contracts, terms, renewals, and any limitations were met with annoyance. It wasn’t helpful or appreciated. We felt that we could not get a step further without agreeing to commit to the formal application process. To be completely honest, we were unsure if moving forward meant we were agreeing to terms, a contract and a potential fee. They were great at being evasive. This was a disappointing and unpleasant experience.

Pricing

Since it partners with many providers and acquirers, Merchant Scout offers businesses opportunities to set up merchant accounts two pricing models: an Interchange++ rate or a fixed rate. When an account is charged using the interchange rate, this means the fee for every transaction is variable. Final rates, which start at 0.95%, are comprised of the interchange fee, the card scheme fee that is set by credit card brands and involved banks, and a fixed markup added by a processor.

If you opt for an account with a fixed rate, you pay the same amount for each transaction. The amount you pay will be in your contract. Payment providers determine final rates, which range between 0.95% and 5.50%, based on risk category, sales volume, and geographical distribution. With Merchant Scout, the fixed rate option is reserved mostly for high-risk merchants.

In addition to these merchant rates, most merchants can expect to be pay other fees. The fees include:

  • Gateway transaction fee €0.10 –  €0.25
  • Monthly maintenance fee €0 – €20
  • Chargeback fee €15 – €24
  • Refund fee €1
  • Merchant Identification Number (MID) fee (a one-time fee paid at the time of the first settlement and charged by the payment provider or acquiring bank €0 – €100
  • Bank annual registration fee €0 – €950 (some banks add their own MID fee and high-risk merchants, such as gambling businesses require registration with card schemes at a price between €500 – €1000 for each MID)

There is no transaction limitation fee, however, high-risk businesses may be subject to a monthly volume cap. Eventually, this can be lifted. There is no fee for the virtual terminal or for PCI-compliance scans.

Hardware Costs

Point-of-sale terminals can be leased at rates between €18 – €35 per month, according to MerchantScout.

Termination Fees

There are no terms and conditions or any references to contracts on MerchantScout’s site. Since it works with so many partners, it is difficult to say whether signing up with it will result in a contract, how long it will be, and if there is a penalty if you decide it’s not for you. All of this should be discussed when you contact MerchantScout directly.

Complaints

Not a single negative review could be found for MerchantScout. We found two or three positive comments in the digital space that said MerchantScout worked out for them. However, the reviewers were short on details.

MerchantScout does provide some positive testimonials on its site. The same exact testimonials can be found on highriskgateway.in. Their testimonials do include images of reviewers and their first names but not the companies where they work. Their businesses or employers, we feel, would make the testimonials much more credible.

Since MerchantScout works with a host of acquirers and gateways, it could be that its customers have instead filed complaints against them if they experienced issues. It’s difficult to accurately portray complaints when reviewers don’t explain all details of the problems they encountered and when their accounts originated.

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