My merchant service provider froze my account and won’t help – what can I do?

Consider getting external help and switching to a more responsive merchant service provider


If your merchant service provider doesn’t cooperate with you when there’s an issue, it’s time to look for alternative providers – or even elevate an official complaint if the company is not providing the services you need.

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Dear Your Business Credit,

I had a charge on my account for $19.95 and when I questioned it with my bank, they did not know what it was for, so they did a stop payment on it.

Three days later, my merchant service froze my account saying that I owed them $44.95. Now I cannot reach them by the phone number listed. It just keeps me on hold. And any other customer service person I talk to says the account is on hold and that I need to have my bank send a letter for acceptance of deposits and credits, which I have done twice now.

They just keep telling me to send another one to a new number or email address. Any help on what I can do? – Renee

Dear Renee,

It’s no fun to get the runaround, and I can understand why you are frustrated.

I tried reaching out to the merchant account provider you named in your note, both through the company’s website and the LinkedIn profile of its chief executive. I did not receive any response. I also was not able to get through the phone system.

Check out all the answers from our credit card experts.

Ask Elaine a question.

See related: How long can a payment processor hold funds from my business?

If merchant provider doesn’t reply, get external help

Clearly, it’s going to be difficult for you to resolve this. I would recommend that you contact your state attorney general’s office for help.

You might also want to contact the Federal Trade Commission and file a complaint through the FTC’s Complaint Assistant.

The dollar amounts you are talking about are relatively small. However, as a small-business owner, you need to be able to accept credit cards through your merchant services account, and if you cannot get any customer service despite the attempts you made, you will probably need to get outside help to get the company’s attention.

You should not have to submit the requested information repeatedly with no resolution.

Consider alternative merchant processing services

In your situation, I would be inclined to close the account and start over with another provider who is more responsive. As an interim measure, you may want to use an option like PayPal Here or GoPayment.

If you do decide to find a new provider, look back at your merchant account contract and find out what processes you must follow to cancel the account.

Often, there are fees if you terminate a contract early. These can be steep. You may need to get legal advice on how best to handle the cancellation, so you don’t end up owing a lot of money to the merchant account provider.

For more detailed information, check out my previous column “How can I cancel my merchant agreement without incurring fees?”

Make sure as you work on resolving this that you keep excellent records. Save copies of any emails you have sent. Mail letters to the company by certified mail.

Before you select a new merchant account provider, I’d encourage you to reach out to other merchants you know for recommendations.

As a small-business owner, your time is too precious to spend chasing down providers who are supposed to be helping you.

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The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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