Updated on November 22, 2021

Payment Jack Unleashes Many Benefits to Mobile Merchants….Gregory Bair

Total Merchant Services offers a great solution for mobile merchants. The Payment Jack mobile phone credit card reader works with most smart devices to make mobile credit card processing quick, easy, and accurate with the portability and convenience that only Mobile Merchants devices can offer. Payment Jack is a secure hardware swiping processor that plugs into more the 400 devices. It provides a quick activation with no additional costs for hardware, and is DES3 secure, as well as PCI compliant.

Payment Jack is a great option for direct sellers, mobile business owners and general contractors—any merchant who does business on the go. Backed by Total Merchant Services’ A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, 24/7 technical and customer supports, and clear contract terms, Payment Jack is an excellent opportunity for the mobile merchant.

Introduction

Total Merchant Services (TMS) has been in business since 1996 and has become a small to mid-sized business leader in the credit card processing industry. TMS is a registered ISO/MSP of HSCB Bank. Now headquartered in Woodland Hills, California as of 2013, TMS serves their more than 100,000 merchant clients. They use independent sales agents (ISAs) to recruit and serve clients and have earned the Electronic Transactions Association ISO of the year award for 2012 because of their excellent sales and marketing programs. TMS is known for their low-cost/high-level service and technology-based marketing solutions.

TMS has worked very hard in the last few years to improve their service to merchants. They now offer education, marketing tools and clearer, fair contract stipulations.

Mobile Processing

For Mobile Merchants processing, Total Merchant Services has the Payment Jack swipe device which turns smartphones into secure credit card terminals. The magnetic swiper is free, as is its software. There are many benefits Payment Jack can provide for the mobile merchant:

  • Real-time authorization for both swiped and keyed transactions, with fast deposit
  • Signature capture on touchscreen devices
  • Receipts emailed to customers upon transaction
  • History and reports of customers and transactions
  • Single account, or connect to other accounts
  • DES3 secure
  • PCI Compliant

Payment Jack is perfect for these industries:

  • Direct sellers
  • Gardeners and landscapers
  • General contractors, electricians, masonry and carpentry contractors
  • Taxi, limo and airport services
  • Mobile Merchants business owners
  • Mobile market vendors: artists, farmers, antique sellers

Payment Jack is free, but the pricing program for the service is separate from the regular pricing and is non-negotiable. It is listed in the Rates and Fees section below.

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Products and Services

Total Merchant Services offers standard essentials and more, listed below:

  • Merchant accounts
  • Check services
  • Virtual terminal
  • Terminal sales and leases
  • Mobile Merchants processing through Payment Jack
  • Mobile/social marketing
  • Free QuickBooks and USB reader
  • Merchant advantage program
  • Check guarantee services
  • Gift card services
  • Cash Advance

Equipment and Software

Total Merchant Services offers free equipment to their new merchant customers. There are no long-term contracts or hidden fees and TMS supplies terminals and swiper readers for the duration of the contract. Depending on the needs of the merchant, they may use a virtual terminal which allows users to process from an internet connected computer though their web browser, a standalone terminal which works vie an IP or phone line, or Payment Jack for Mobile Merchants processing. They also include free Quickbooks and a USB reader.

Groovv

In April, 2014, Total Merchant Services announced their launch of Groovv. With its introduction the merchant can do so much more than market to their customers, but also Groove, an unrivaled technology platform, provides these key business management solutions and benefits:

Groovv Register provides a POS solution to small and medium retail merchants. It is powered the formerly named Registroid technology, acquired by TMS in 2013. This POS system operated on Android devices and empowers mobile merchants growth using customizable software and hardware bundles, all optional to meet the specific needs of the merchant.

Loyalty card programs are an excellent way to boost sales. The customers keep coming back for discounts, specials, and coupons offered to them on social networking sites and email, as well as their Mobile Merchants apps. Customer loyalty makes for return customers and a great return on the merchant investment. The best news: it’s free through Groovv for Total Merchant Services merchants. Groove offers helps merchants build their customer contact database too, using easy web forms and import tools.

Groovv API is a strong and reliable secure integration platform which allows third party developers to integrate customer data, payments, and online marketing (Groovv Offers). Real-time access to data is provided for merchants in a very user friendly manner, which aids in managing the retail business in the most effective way.

Merchant Advantage Program

The Merchant Advantage program provides these benefits:

  • Overnight replacement of defective terminals
  • Terminal paper receipt rolls
  • Anytime access to merchant accounts
  • Savings on FedEx shipping and business services
  • Discounts on Dell computer equipment
  • Discounts from Office Depot
  • Discounts from iContact email marketing

It is free for the merchant’s first 3 months, then $10 per month after, but the merchant must cancel service to avoid these automatic charges.

If $10 per month is too steep, TMS offers their Online Advantage program for $5 per month, it includes:

  • Anytime access to merchant accounts
  • Savings on FedEx shipping and business services
  • Discounts on Dell computer equipment
  • Discounts from Office Depot

Rates and Fees

Total Merchant Services’ rates or fees are listed below with these caveats: the corporate office may price differently than an independent agent, the type of business and volume of processing further changes the rates by providing discounts through tiered pricing. It is best to talk to an agent for each merchant’s accurate pricing.

TMS does offer interchange plus pricing and seasonal downtime for most merchants. Below are the documented fees:

  • Monthly Statement Fee$0
  • Customer Service Fee$7.50
  • Batch Fee$0.25 per batch, per location
  • Chargeback/Retrieval Fee$20 average
  • Voice Authorization Fee$0.95
  • Minimum Monthly Fee$25.00 (mandatory for free terminal program)
  • Visa/MC/Discover Authorization Fees$0.10 average
  • PIN-Based Debit Fee$0.32 plus applicable interchange item fees
  • Non-Bankcard Card Authorization Fees (Amex, EBT, JCB, Diner$0.10
  • PCI Compliance FeeFree for first 12 months and then $4.95/month thereafter.
  • AVS (Address Verification Service) Fee5¢ assessed any time card not present

Payment Jack Account Fee Structure

  • First unit free ($49 value)
  • Additional units offered at $19.95
  • Flat rate of 1.69% on volume
  • Each transaction is 30¢
  • Monthly fee of $12.50
  • NO monthly minimums
  • NO commitment
  • Month-to-month agreement
  • One-on-one customer support
  • $500 meet or beat guarantee

Contract Terms

Total Merchant Services has a standard termination fee of $295. They now do offer no early termination fee contracts, merchants should ask about it and get it in writing. With no early termination fee contracts are for three years and auto renew, so merchants should take the correct steps if they wish out of the contract.

Customer Service

TMS offers customer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There have been some negative reviews about customer service. This may be due to the independent sales force offering different service rates than corporate and customer service being a corporate entity.

And on that note, a google search for Total Merchant Services bring up a host of sites with the TMS Logo and branding, yet most of them are set up by the independent sales force.

Technical Support

TMS also offers 24/7 Terminal Support which will cover all issues with the terminal. There have been no recorded issues with this service.

Reviews / Testimonials

As of this year, TMS has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. They have worked very hard to achieve this after many bad reviews. Despite this great rating, it was difficult finding positive reviews to display in this review. TMS does not display merchant testimonials on their site, only sales agent testimonials.

I could not find any glowing customer reviews of TMS online, but I did find many great reviews from the sales force about working there. I did find one semi-positive customer review from 2010:

  • …I use Total Merchant Services to set up retail customers with updated equipment and rates. I consider myself independent of TMS because I maintain the customer service with my accounts. I don’t even give them the main number to TMS because I want the customer to know I care. They call me or my wife with any question or issue. I started in Oct of 2007. I have nearly 300 customers today. I have never lost a customer due to poor service, lack of response or inaccurate rate quotes. I can resolve 99% of any issues myself…. I train every customer on the use of the equipment…. some of TMS BBB issues are due to poor reps. From my perspective, I do have problems with TMS withholding funds at the drop of a hat. But, I have learned to resolve those issues within 72 hours and the customer only had to wait one extra day. TMS sends me an e-mail every time one of my customers has had any unusual activity. I respond to every e-mail. It is the rep’s responsibility to maintain that account. That’s why we get paid. You cannot sign up an account and disappear. Which, unfortunately, so many companies do in this industry…. I treat the customers like gold. And I have been well rewarded.

Complaints

Despite the A+ rating with the BBB, TMS had 98 complaints earlier this decade, worked hard to resolve these issues, deleted their BBB account and reopened it in 2013. There are 27 complaints in the last 2 years which have been resolved. This seems like they are trying to do the right thing, yet trying shield past issues to look like the company they are today with their new stance on better service. Sadly, the internet has a long memory and customers don’t have to look hard to find this information. To be fair, the bulk of complaints are not about TMS as a company and are more targeted at the independent sales agents. The overall portrait of the company is hard to view, because there are over 30 BBB accounts set up by the independent sales agents with varying data.

Conclusion

In the past couple of years Total Merchant Services has made strives to improve their business model and communication with merchants. They now offer contracts with no early termination fees. They have moved into a tech-savvy small business market. They have worked to improve their independent sales force. There is still room for improvement and it seems that TMS is moving that direction.

TMS is doing a better than average job for the mid-sized credit processing business. Their effort to improve speaks volumes. Since the sales force is independent, the merchant experience can be highly dependent on their agent relationship. Each merchant should find one that resonates positively with them and that provides trustworthy and honest advice. Since TMS offers more than average for their business size finding the right agent partner shouldn’t be an issue.

Their focus on the small to medium sized merchant is allowing TMS to offer some great incentives such as tiered pricing, free hardware and software, merchant advances and social marketing efforts for the merchant’s business.  TMS is a great partner for your merchant processing needs.