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Retail Merchant Services Review

Retail Merchant Services (RMS) is a payment service provider for small businesses. Founded in 2007, the Milton Keynes based firm doesn’t have the decades of experience some payment providers boast, but it has managed to sign up more than 27,000 merchants in the UK and Ireland in its short lifetime.

RMS positions itself as a firm that helps small businesses delve into card payments, setting up online and simply creating a healthier business. You’ll find all kinds of advice on the firm’s blog – from how to capture more customers during the Christmas period to how the latest wage and pension changes affect small businesses. Clearly RMS wants you to know it can help you keep your business moving in the right direction, preferably with its payment services at the heart of things.

This means the firm puts a large emphasis on getting startups and small businesses set up quickly and without hassle. So whether you’re accepting card payments for the first time or switching provider, RMS aims to make the transition as seamless and possible.

Compare RMS to their competition in our list of payment processors

Products & Services

Merchant account services

  • Low cost card payments: RMS claims it has already cut the cost of card payments for more than 36,000 SME’s in the UK.
  • Fast payment: So you can make sure payments reach your bank within 24 hours (fees apply).
  • Card machines and online solutions: To suit every type of modern small business.
  • Additional services: 24/7 legal advice, tax and VAT investigation insurance and business utility check-up at no extra cost.

Face to face payments

  • Desktop card machines: Designed for checkouts, tills and other fixed payment points.
  • Portable card machines: Ideal for restaurants and other businesses where customers can pay anywhere in store.
  • Mobile card machines: Allow you to take payments on the go – vital if you have to visit customers as part of your business.
  • Easy install: RMS aims to have you setup and accepting card payments with every machine type you need as quickly as possible.
  • Built to last: RMS supplies durable, long-life card machines to cut down on maintenance costs and keep your business running smoothly.

Online payments

  • Payment gateway: Creates a seamless payment process for accepting card payments on your website.
  • Wide support: Integration with all the major shopping cart providers.
  • 3D Secure: To protect your online transactions from fraudsters.
  • eInvoices: So you can send invoices by email, which customers can pay by simply clicking a link.
  • Repeat billing: So you can set up rolling invoices for return customers.

Phone payments

  • Virtual terminal: Allows you to take payments from customers over the phone without using a physical card machine.
  • Customer Not Present (CNP): A setting on card machines that allows you to accept card payments without the customer being present.


RMS is confident it can beat your current provider for price (if you have one) and promises some of the lowest rates you’ll find in the industry. You won’t find any of these excellent rates listed on their website or anywhere else, sadly, so you’ll have to get a quote for an accurate picture.

We understand the firm levies variable rates for the card payments themselves – at different rates for swipe and keyed-in payments. That’s all we know at this stage about the regular service fees, but we’ll try to get our hands on something more concrete.

What we can tell you is the firm charges roughly £100 per year for its PCI compliance fee, somewhere in the region of £120 for early termination fees and another £100 for terminal refurbishment should you cancel. If you cancel the terminal lease without giving proper notice then you could be looking at a hefty bill of £1,000 or more from RMS.

Those figures are only slightly worse than the industry standard in truth. What this means is, if RMS really does offer cheap rates, the fees for individuals card payments will need to be considerably lower than its competitors. We’ve heard this is precisely the case, but we’ll have to stick with an average score because we can’t confirm how good the overall prices are.

To learn more about the types of fees you will be charged, checkout our guide to card processing fees.

Contract Length

RMS hands out contracts on a standard three year agreement (36 months) and that comes with an automatic renewal every year. So don’t fall into the trap of thinking your contract is up after three years. If you find a better deal with another supplier, under the assumption your contract with RMS is over, you’ll be facing those nasty termination fees.

What you’ll need to do is opt out of the contract renewal first, giving them enough notice (in writing, according to the terms of your contract) before you look elsewhere for payment services. This kind of rolling contract is becoming more common in the payment industry and they appear to be catching a lot of merchants out. It’s a bad mix of sales reps not mentioning the renewal policies and merchants not fully understanding the terms of their contract.

Sales & Advertising Transparency

Speaking of sales reps, RMS largely markets itself through independent representatives employing the good old cold calling approach. As always, this results in mixed reviews from customers who feel they have been sold misleading terms regarding their contracts.

Most of the complaints about this will mention early termination fees and surprise charges on terminal leases – things that should be clearly stated in any given contract. As for the misleading and sometimes aggressive sales tactics other reviews mention, this certainly dents the credibility of RMS and the vast majority of firms that employ independent sales reps.

Customer Service and Technical Support

When you come across negative reviews about payment firms you’ll often hear poor customer service mentioned in the same breath. This is only natural when you’re not getting very far with resolving an issue, but there’s far more to customer care than contract disputes.

There are plenty of customers who are happy with the service they receive from RMS too. Chances are these will be from customers who have dealt with the firm directly, rather than dealing with sales reps.

"No qualms with RMS. Few issues initially when the terminal arrived but resolved easily over the phone with Mark Wood. Even late in the day and over the weekend too. Terminal cost is a little higher than previous company but offset by much lower card fees. Would recommend this company."

- Zoe Dunn, Google Reviews.

The point is this customer had some teething issues getting set up with the initial system, but praises a certain Mark Wood by name for resolving the situation. And there are bonus points for RMS in there too with Zoe mentioning that the firm’s slightly higher terminal fees are made up for by their “much lower” card charges.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials

Aside from the largely positive reviews for RMS on Google Reviews (3.9/5 from 78 reviews) the company also boasts a near perfect score with Trustpilot. We’re seeing these impressive Trustpilot scores crop up a lot lately and many high-scoring firms proudly embed an entire TrustPilot page into their website full of glowing reviews.

RMS have claimed their Trustpilot page and are likely paying subscribers to the service which means you need to be aware the reviews are likely be skewed to the positive side. Businesses paying for Trustpilot’s services can have much more control over disapproving negative reviews which is why scores can be so different on other review sites where there is commercial partnership.

If you know and trust the aptly named Trustpilot then positive reviews commonly talk about that winning customer service. The only downside is most of these reviews start with some sort of technical issue, but that’s typically where the customer service process begins.

Negative Reviews and Complaints

There aren’t a huge amount of negative reviews about RMS, but you would hope not considering this is a fairly new firm that’s still growing its customer base. The bad news is the negative reviews you will find can be pretty scathing and you only have to visit UK Business Forums for a taste.

"They cold called me and basically lied about the terms and conditions included in the contract. More fool me for trusting the Retail Merchant Services rep! They have generated a cancellation fee which is around 25% more than I owe and simply won't listen to reason."

- Ddraffan, UK Forum Business post

This brings us back to the problem with employing third party sales reps – something the vast majority of payment firms do. And every time we mention this about a firm we have to go back to how important it is you understand your contract before signing anything. We can only say it’s far more common that customers fail to understand their obligations than payment firms breaking the terms of their own contract.

Final Verdict

Overall RMS offers a wide range of services tailored for new and smaller businesses. Customers regularly praise the firm for its setup process and good customer support, while we suspect the firm deserves a spot in the good-value category by undercutting its competition on card payment fees.

The problems with RMS start when customers want to cancel their contracts or switch to another supplier. You can normally thank third party sales reps for leaving out that vital piece of information. But RMS is hardly the only firm to employ those pesky sales folk, so we can’t single them out as the only perpetrator.

With all that in mind RMS gets a fairly average score overall, but the fact the UK firm specialises in services for SMEs, this is an option you’ll cert want to look at as a small business owner.

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