In this case, our David is the small business owner of Sabretti's Hot Dogs & Wild Game Sausages, and Goliath is First Data a large multi-national credit card processing corporation.
Before we jump into our true-life story, let’s introduce the two main characters.
Introduction of Goliath: According to the reporting firm Merchant Maverick, “First Data (FD) is the 800 lb. gorilla of the credit card processing industry. They serve over six million merchant locations worldwide. That is a HUGE merchant base, about six times bigger than the already-enormous Chase.”
Introduction of David: David is the small business owner, Rohan Shetty of “Sabretti's Hot Dogs & Wild Game Sausages,” in Hopatcong. In order to stay profitable Rohan must work over 100 hours a week.
Now on to the True Life Story:
Our story begins to unfold in the fall of 2015 when Rohan signed a new three-year contract with First Data for a credit card processing fee of 2.39% with no additional charges. This rate is well below the national average charged by most Credit Card Processing firms.
“After about three months, I checked my statement,” stated Rohan, “and found that the charges were much higher than the 2.39%. When I spoke to First Data, they indicated that yes, I wasn’t being charged the correct rate and that starting January 1, 2016, they’d make the changes and I’d start to see the correct rate.”
Believing that they would follow through on what they promised, I didn’t think about it again until December 2016. Around this time, I received a letter indicating that they would be raising my rate. Knowing that I was under contract until 2018, I contacted First Data for clarification, and at the same time I went back and checked the charges and found that they had been charging me well over the agreed upon 2.39% since the beginning of the contract which started over 15 months ago.
Once again First Data indicated that yes, I was being over-charged and maybe they could make some type of adjustments moving forward. “This was totally unacceptable to me, so I further challenged them on why the rate was so high.”
Second Mysterious Contract Suddenly Appears
At about this time, First Data’s story changed, and “they now stated in the fall of 2015, three days after I signed the original agreement, I signed another agreement for a higher rate. When they sent me the second agreement, it was an un-signed generic contract, and the e-mail address was incorrect. I still have no idea on how this second agreement magically appeared after this issue has been going on for over a year.”
The Battle Starts
“At this point I pursued my only option; which was to try and work with First Data to not only get the money back they had over-charged me, but to also get the rate back down to the 2.39% as promised in the contract. After countless hours on the phone, on hold, and being transferred from person to person. I was able to reach someone who tried to help.”
On 3/1/2017, I spoke Tim with First Data Global Leasing, “who stated he understood the issue and he’d terminate the contract. He also stated that nothing more is owed and they are sending me a FedEx label to return the equipment at no charge. He then transferred me to Customer Service agent, where they said I am getting a letter of termination in the mail within 5-7 days.”
After approximately a week, "I called again to find out the status of the refund, and once again spent hours on hold and being transferred; To the best of my recollection I finally reached a person who stated;"
“We will not be issuing you a refund, it doesn’t matter what conversations or e-mails you have on record from us, I’m here to state that our policy is you are not going to receive a refund, you can choose to terminate the contract, however there is a termination fee, as well as additional charges and late charges. If you choose to not pay within 30 days, we will report it to your credit.”
Enter Channel 12 News
According to Rohan, “This was the last straw, since he kept full documentation on every correspondence as he requested a summary after every call, to be sent by e-mail. With having this information, he contacted Channel 12 News to request of they could help him recover this losses.
Recommendations to Other Small Businesses
Rohan said, “All small businesses should sit down with their Credit Card Agreement and their Bank Statements simultaneously and do the simple math to make sure they are not being charged inaccurately, at the least, once per quarter. He also suggests, to make sure you keep notes and time stamps on all conversations e-mails and request summaries sent by email of all conversations, as without a paper trail it’s difficult to prove any wrong doing in an unfair situation."
Rohan further stated, "if you feel you are in an unfair situation with a processing company, please visit him and he can explain his situation further and the steps he has taken to rectify his problem."
Feel free to contact him through Facebook as well: https://www.facebook.com/sabrettis.hotdogs