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SagePay

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Thursday, August 31st, 2017
Best Payment Providers

What We Like

SagePay has a long history in the industry and has been doing great work to move their business forward for the past few years, including redesigning their website, and online, customer-facing portals.

What We Didn't Like

Their support could be a little more responsive in some areas, and their sales staff was educated, but took up too much of our time.


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Marketing

Sales

Support

Pricing

Overall

Overview

Sage Payment Solutions, part of the multinational British company, The Sage Group, established operations in 1981 as a startup accounting automation company. Sage was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1989, and entered the US Market in 1989. In 1999, Sage became part of the FTSE 100, where they remain to this day. With over 13,000 employees across the globe, Sage is what we consider a large service provider, although its focus and its messaging is geared towards small and medium businesses.

Sage positions itself as an accounting, payroll, and payment solutions provider, offering a wide range of services to merchants that makes them a one stop shop for many merchants’ needs.

Sage’s offices are located worldwide, with operations in 24 countries.

Marketing

Sage’s approach to marketing is direct and straightforward, which is something to appreciate in an industry that often skews towards dishonesty and nondisclosure to garner and retain customers. While Sage takes a more honest approach in its marketing, this is marred by what can only be described as an extremely poor and confusing customer-facing website that feels more like a warren, than a useful tool for its customer. With a completely different experience from one site to the next across its many Sage Group entities, it’s easy to get lost and find yourself clicking the same “Get More Info” call to action on multiple pages, often within a different vertical than the one you were intending to sign up for.

Honesty

As we always say, marketing is almost never completely honest. It is up to the consumer to do the work and dig into the fine print to find out the truth in advertising at the time they sign up for service. What Sage does now, may differ a week, a year, or even a day down the road.

As it stands at the time of this writing, Sage’s marketing is very direct and isn’t – we feel – misleading. Unfortunately, again, the experience of using the company’s numerous websites can make what is an honest and direct approach to marketing a wasted effort. As an example, we found ourselves navigating to one page to sign up for a service we found through promotional materials, only to end up on a completely different site with no real clue how to get back to the original page without using our back button.

Sage’s efforts seem genuine, but likely the long lifetime of its company, coupled with operating in many different markets around the globe, has led to a very confounding customer experience. Although we praise their honesty, they lose marks for not improving this aspect of their business, especially when finding good website developers is a very simple and painless process in this day and age.

Sales

Sage utilizes several resources in order to support its sales pipeline. Outside of the usual independent sales offices, and affiliate partners, they also supply resellers with the ability white label their credit card processing services, using the respective company’s own internal branding. While white-labeling is a common and oft used tactic of building revenue for companies who want to expand their reach without scaling themselves, it can often lead to serious customer service issues, not the least of which involves the white-labeled service being positioned in a misleading way.

Thankfully Sage appears to handle these situations gracefully, but it should be noted that the company does have a history of complaints involving agents who were misleading or disingenuous in their pitch. While there are complaints in the wild, we sincerely believe Sage finds these tactics impermissible and they often try to resolve those issues with their customers quickly and amicably.

Staff Education

Complaints aside, Sage’s internal staff seemed competent, and well-educated on the numerous verticals they were providing. Although we had questions that often crossed the areas of focus that the particular sales team member was operating within, we found they were able to answer our inquiries easily and without hesitation. Confidence is a very important trait in a sales team, as it very frequently means the staff understands and is confident about the company’s policies, procedures, and product offerings.

Staff Interaction

Sage is losing business, and that’s unfortunate. We tried, several times, to use their calls to action to acquire more information about their products and services, without so much as an automated response that our email was received and someone would get back to us shortly. Over the course of writing this review, we sent numerous emails, and not a single reply was received. We find this unacceptable, and in our eyes this means the same confusing experience of using their website crosses over into other aspects of their business. It is very likely that Sage’s size is influencing the process of customer acquisition, and we hope they do some work to improve this aspect of their business.

Fortunately, there is good news. While we often expect the opposite to be true, from most of our own experiences, we found getting Sage on a call to discuss the details of their services was simple, easy, and rewarding. Sales agents are quick to respond, answer questions, and even negotiate fees. Again, we found their confidence refreshing, and we enjoyed each of our experiences talking to their team.

Sadly, there is no live chat option available on Sage’s site; while this isn’t a mandatory feature, it can be extremely helpful and efficient in a world where you may not have the time to get on a call, or the patience (or luxury) to wait for an email. Most chat services are affordable, simple to operate and integrate, and can even work effectively across multiple domains and website entities, resolving one of Sage’s major issues with continuity and confusion.

It remains to be seen whether or not Sage will improve other aspects of its sales pipeline, but its sales team is top-notch and our experience with them was nothing short

Support

Responsiveness

While Sage’s sales staff was easily approachable via phone, but not so effective at returning our emails, Sage’s support team were all over the map. Emails were returned in adequate time, and we were able to get their support team on the phone without much effort, most of the time. There were times, however, where their responsiveness was abysmal, and we recommend caution as Sage doesn’t seem to be improving much in this area, with complaints being levied against them on a consistent basis.

Availability

Where availability is concerned, Sage, again, suffers from a very inconsistent experience. It can be either easy to get them involved in a support concern, and extremely frustrating. It’s our opinion that this is linked to their company’s size and general inability to scale all aspects of their business properly, or a disconnection between differing departments, or different support staff within different verticals. As with anything, the more complex it is, the more difficult it becomes to maintain.

Complaints

Sage receives consistent complaints about its contractual agreements and its customer support, and while we haven’t had any issues ourselves with the former, we can most assuredly vouch for the latter complaint.

That being said, Sage has what we’d consider a below average number of complaints for a provider of their size, and their community and support teams are proactive about replying to customer complaints quickly on many of the socially-driven sites. With many businesses, it’s often commonplace to respond to these complaints quickly because of the visibility of those complaints to the general public, but in the case of Sage the responses appear helpful, and their staff seems genuinely interested in clearing up the issue for the respective customer.

Pricing

Sage’s rates are competitive and in alignment with current industry standards. Although it’s nearly impossible to find any of their rates online, we didn’t have much difficulty garnering that information from the sales staff, and found that they were motivated to give us the details we were looking for, and even offered us (without any provocation on our part) an opportunity to negotiate the rates if they weren’t satisfactory to us.

We do not list rates within this section because of the ever-changing nature of this industry, but as it stands at the time of this writing, Sage is very competitively priced. We encourage all merchants to do the research themselves before signing a contract and entering into a long-term agreement with any service provider.

One area in which Sage can improve, is its numerous fees. While many of these fees are tied to early termination, its $100 PCI compliance fee seems erroneous and, frankly, insulting. It should be the responsibility of the payment provider to remain PCI compliant as a stipulation of their being able to operate as a processor, so levying that fee on its customers is nothing short of superfluous. Imagine a restaurant that charged you more to dine, simply because they remained sanitary.

Hardware Costs

Sage offers the usual fleet of hardware, and most of what they offer can be garnered without additional costs. While a lot of the industry is moving towards mobile payments, it is still important for many merchants to utilize a traditional terminal, and Sage offers EMV enabled terminals to keep up with mainstream payment industry demands.

Termination Fees

Sage’s termination and cancellation fees are exorbitant and is one of their major areas of complaint. These higher-than-average termination fees are compounded by an auto-renewing contract, which can often force merchants into difficult and challenging situations once it comes time to find a new platform, terminate their operations, or generally move away from Sage as their provider. While we understand and even appreciate why some of these fees exist, using the one-two punch of exorbitant termination fees on top of a contract that can (and usually will) renew under a merchant’s nose, is a very frustrating tactic.

What We Think

Like other providers that have been in business as long as Sage, there has been some growing pains and scalability issues that are obvious during the customer experience.

That being said, we found Sage’s service to be very good overall. Its sales team, while nearly unreachable via Email, was knowledgeable and easy to communicate with via phone. And the support team, when they were responsive, were highly effective at resolving problems.

It is unfortunate that some of Sage’s fees, including their exorbitant early termination fee, are as problematic as they are, especially when you consider that their long-term contracts are renewing automatically under most merchants’ noses. It would behoove them to move away from this model, offering month-to-month contracts like many of their younger competitors, and eliminating erroneous charges that are being positioned as some sort of benefit to the customer.

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