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Retail Merchant Services

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Thursday, March 15th, 2018
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What We Like

As a reseller for Elavon, customers of Retail Merchant Services has access to its entire inventory of products and services. Elavon offers cutting-edge products and services that wouldn’t be accessible to most smaller businesses.

What We Didn't Like

Contracts with Retail Merchant Services are for three years and there is a high fee if you want to terminate before the end of the agreement. Since it uses independent sales representatives and resellers, many customers have complained about misleading sales tactics and failing to disclose all fees.

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In 2007, Retail Merchant Services Ltd. (RMS) was founded by Paul Bentham to bring affordable card payment solutions to startups and midsized businesses that were overcharged or turned away by banks. It is an independent service organization or reseller for Atlanta, Georgia-based merchant account provider giant, Elavon, which is a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp. Bancorp is one of the largest merchant service providers in the world. It is based in Milton Keynes, UK, with other offices in North Lincolnshire, UK, and Dublin, Ireland. In February 2017, RMS was acquired by an investment firm called TCV.

RMS offers numerous products and services through Elavon. In addition to providing online and phone payment services, Retail Merchant Services provides software and technology, including card machines, online payment gateways, and virtual terminals.

According to Retail Merchant Services, it serves more than 27,000 merchants in the UK and Ireland.


Though Retail Merchant Service does not promote misleading rates on its site, there are numerous customer complaints about being quoted low rates but failing to mention the additional fees that come often come when signing up with a reseller. That is because Retail Merchant Services gains most of its customers through cold calling and commissioned independent selling agents. We appreciate that deceptive rates are not being promoted because that is something that really causes problems for businesses that are just beginning. However, the other tactics used are not much better.


On the surface, Retail Merchant Services appears honest, trustworthy, and above board. However, when you dive deeper into the company, its reviews, and complaints, the view changes. There are numerous complaints about the business’ hidden fees, high-pressure sales tactics, as well as unclear contract terms. On another note, we appreciate that RMS does not promote any misleading rates, gimmicks, or offers.


Like many card payment solutions providers, Retail Merchant Services uses independent sales organizations and resellers to boost its revenues. As an independent service provider and not an acquiring bank, Retail Merchant Services does not process funds, but rather connects merchants to Elavon merchant account services. This is where many of the customer service complaints and problems arise. Any time a merchant goes with an independent sales agent, it can expect to pay more because the reseller set its own fees.

Due to the fact that these agents are usually paid by commission and receive little oversight, the use of independent sales is often tied to a high number of merchant complaints. The same rings true for Retail Merchant Services. We don’t believe RMS condones deceptive practices but it is part of the way the overall industry appears to operate.


Talking to staff was no pleasant. They were smarmy, arrogant, and, at times, rude. All that mattered was the final sale. When questioned about contract terms or pricing, agents promised no hidden fees but when requests were made for a breakdown of rates versus monthly fees, compliance fees, etc., we were told that it was all part of the standard contract. At one point, an agent told us that we didn’t seem really interested in being in business and told us we were better off hanging up.

Staff Responsiveness

We were able to reach a representative via email, but it took several days to get a returned response. We would like to say that calling was the better option but that was more frustrating. Calls were dropped, we were patched to several representatives during one call, and hung up still pretty confused.


RMS offers customer support by phone, email, and customer inquiry form. However, our experiences, as well as customers’ reviews, indicate that these channels are not especially helpful to merchants. It would be extremely helpful if it offered a 24-hour live chat to deal with terminal issues or other customer support problems. In this day and age, we feel like it is old-fashioned to not have this tool available.


Retail Merchant Services doesn’t disclose its transaction fees and rates online. It is a reseller, but RMS has the option of setting its own fees. Depending on a business’ background, risk, and previous history, customers likely can expect to pay transaction fees starting at 2.95% plus 10p or more per transaction. That is where Elavon’s rates start, and all are contingent on an underwriter’s review.

According to customers, a typical RMS contract is a three-year agreement through Elavon that automatically renews for year-terms after the original 36 months.

Additionally, RMS charges a yearly PCI compliance fee of up £100 and a monthly fee per service, such as a payment gateway, merchant account, and virtual terminal, starting at £10.

Since the charges and rates change with every merchant, the only way to really compare prices with other merchant account service providers is to contact RMS for a personalized quote.

Termination Fees

A customer is charged a £180 fee for terminating a contract before it is up. Additionally, a £96 terminal refurbishment fee is charged upon cancellation. It is important to note that RMS requires customers to give it 30 days of notice in writing of the cancellation. The biggest blow is when a customer cancels a terminal lease – charge can total more than £1,000.

Hardware Costs

Retail merchant services offers countertop, portable, mobile, desktop, Bluetooth, and GPRS card machines from Verifone and Ingenico. Though card machine rentals start at £20 per month, merchants can expect a personalized quote based on the number of machines they require and the contract terms and details.

Card machine supplies, including printer rolls and ink, also are available at extra costs. RMS does not disclose these prices.

Additionally, many customers have reported that rental contracts cannot be cancelled.


RMS has received a combined hundreds of complaints on online forums, UK Business Forums, Google, and TrustPilot. Most customers complain about undisclosed fees, the high early termination fee, as well as the exorbitant terminal rental fees. Many customers have called Retail Merchant Services a scam or a con because they have been charged exorbitant fees and no customer service is willing to listen or try to rectify situations. Some customers have even complained of shady practices, such as asking for bank statements to be submitted via text messages.

Also, there are numerous complaints about the misleading and deceptive sales practices from sales agents. However, this is never surprising when customers work with resellers.

All of these complaints are concerning and should certainly be red flags for any new customers. Finally, it is important to note that there are many similar complaints from direct Elavon customers. With that in mind, the number of complaints is probably much higher than reported. Also, we find it very telling that Retail Merchant Services has turned off its commenting of Facebook.

All of these factors and the complaints make us pause and wonder what is going with this business.

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