Do you currently process card payments?
Paymentsense is a UK based payment processing firm that specifically caters for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Officially, Paymentsense operates as an Independent Sales Organisation (ISO), which puts them in a different bracket from merchant account providers like HSBC or NETBANX.
Like other ISOs, Paymentsense acts as a third party firm that works with banks and merchant account providers. ISO’s typically have two roles: first, they play the “middle man” role in acquiring new customers for their partner firms, but they also typically handle the payment process and often technical support on behalf of banks.
In addition to these traditional ISO roles Paymentsense helps you find the right merchant provider from its large list of partners and then handles the payments for you itself. The big plus for SMEs is ISOs can often beat the rates of acquiring banks – and that’s certainly the case with Paymentsense.
The firm promises to have you set up with a merchant account and accepting payments in less than 5 days. Most accounts can expect to be up and running within 3 days, though, and online payments are usually active within the 24-hour mark. That’s pretty fast going for a firm in this industry, but speed isn’t all that counts when you’re profits are on the line, so let’s see how Paymentsense performs where it counts.
There are three main brackets for Paymentsense services, covering card, online and phone payments. These options are a little more streamlined than the packages you’ll find with larger merchant account providers, but that’s the nature of ISOs who are designed to work alongside the firms that offer more.
The full price you pay for Paymentsense’s services depends on the type of business you are and how much you turn over annually. Much of this comes down to the merchant provider you agree terms with so you’ll need to get in touch with their team for an accurate quote.
Your final price also depends on the type of payment services you sign up for and the card terminals you choose. Again, prices on the terminal vary, but Paymentsense does provide pricing for its online payment and virtual terminal packages:
Note that, while the names and prices for these packages are the same, they are in fact separate services. So, if you sign up to the Basic package for both online payments and a virtual terminal, you’ll be paying £29.90 per month for both services combined.
It’s also worth mentioning once again that Paymentsense offers capped rates on its services, so you pay the same throughout your contract. The only downside is the firm introduced sizeable fee increases in April 2015 following the changes to Visa debit interchange costs which left many merchants complaining their capped rates agreement had been breached. Some increases are understandable given the VISA cost increases they were incurring but they exceeded these by some margin which is why we’re giving Paymentsense a score of 7.5/10 for their fees, rather than the 9 or 10 we would have given if their increases has been more in proportion to those the fees increases they absorbed from VISA.
Increase From April 2015
Visa debit chip and pin
0.2% of transaction value (no cap) + old rate
Visa debit telephone
0.2% of transaction value + 50p (no cap) + old rate
Non-qualifying credit cards
0.5% of transaction value + old rate
Account on file charge
£47.88 per year
3.85p per transaction
In terms of the online and virtual terminal services, Paymentsense promises no fixed contracts, meaning you can opt out when you like, without the fear of early termination fees. Sadly, we can’t say the same for the contracts on its other services. In fact, we’ve had numerous people tell us they’re on a whopping five-year contract with the firm.
That’s pushing it to say the least, but the good news is Paymentsense is very competitive on pricing and those (almost always) capped rates mean most customers are generally happy for the duration of their contract. We recommend you try to negotiate that contract length down though, because we’re hearing the early termination fees are pretty steep.
We haven’t come across many customers who have terminated their contracts, but many businesses don’t make it through the first year of trading and you don’t want to add termination fees to your list of financial woes, if things don’t go as expected.
Like most ISOs, Paymentsense uses independent sales agents to sell its services and this always comes with some headaches for merchants. Aggressive sales tactics and false promises are pretty much guaranteed once sales reps enter the equation and that often means discrepancies between rates, contract lengths and services provided.
We should make it clear all of this comes from the reps, not Paymentsense directly and just about every firm in the industry uses independent sales agents to push their services. This doesn’t make it any less infuriating for the merchants who get suckered into dodgy sales tactics though. As always, we recommend you deal with the firm directly, get everything in writing and make sure you fully understand the terms before you sign anything.
Paymentsense gets off to a great start on the customer service front with its support team guiding you through the initial setup process. Then you have that all-important 24/7 customer support team, based in the UK – something that’s becoming increasingly rare with firms in the payment industry.
In terms of the quality of customer services and technical support, the overall response from existing customers is largely positive. That’s pretty unusual for a firm of this size and, while there are some complaints we want to cover shortly, Paymentsense’s support setup is a huge asset to the firm and its customers.
Before we get to the negative reviews let’s talk about the positives. you’ll find no short supply of positive reviews about Paymentsense on UK Trustpilot, where the firm currently scores an impressive 8.5 out of 10 from customer reviews.
Much of the praise comes down to the overall service and customer support offered by Paymentsense and numerous reviews mention support staff by name – always a good sign.
“Professional, informative, knowledgeable, helpful and totally trust worthy. Hetal was exceptionally brilliant to deal with and even when I was busy she was totally patient with me. If all staff were like Hetal every business would thrive. An asset to your company” – Galen Vickerman, UK Testpilot review.
Reviews are a little more mixed over at UK Business Forums, but you’ll find plenty of happy customers that have been using them for years:
“We use them in 3 shops, and they are really good. Prices are good and service is great. In the past we’ve used HSBC Global Payments & Streamline. Paymentsense are the best of those 3” – Strath, UK Business Forum review.
The first thing we should say about the negative reviews is you’ll find far less of them compared to many firms in the payment industry. This could be because Paymentsense positions itself as a firm that targets smaller businesses specifically or because they have been proactive in keeping these hidden.
We are becoming increasingly aware of how it is possible for companies to manipulate their average score on Trust Pilot by challenging negative reviews so the are removed
That’s not to say you won’t find negative reviews about them and the dirty topic of hidden charges unsurprisingly rears its ugly head.
“WOULD NOT RECOMMEND due to a lot of hidden charges, which when queried don’t get answered. They don’t work out any cheaper than the BIG boys just charge you in a different way!
Overall not a happy experience although the C/C machine itself is great!” – Marcus Cole, UK Trustpilot review.
We have to be careful with complaints like these though, as the customer doesn’t give any indication whether the ‘hidden’ fees were stated in the contract they signed, something third party sales reps failed to mention or if they feel the company itself really was misleading.
It’s not our place to question how thoroughly this particular customer reviewed their contract and there’s nothing in their message that hints either way (precisely why we chose it). However, we do see a lot of complaints about firms in this industry that suggest customers have signed contracts without fully understanding the terms. So we can’t emphasise enough how important it is you know what you’re signing up for.
Hidden fees aren’t the only complaints you’ll come across though, and even that gleaming customer support team is in for some flack:
“Been without a functioning card terminal for ten days. Spent hours on the telephone, being passed from pillar to post. Many of the technical support team didn’t know what to do. Been sent out three replacement terminals, with the same problem. On Friday I was told all would be up and running by 6pm, I returned from home to find nothing had changed. Yesterday I was assured that I would receive new power and Internet cables, which would solve the problem. They did not arrive, another phone call! They will be here Thursday! I am constantly being given numbers to ring, same result, or I am told I’ll get a call back, this doesn’t happen! It’s breath-ta kingly bad service.” – Schoolsin2012, UK Trustpilot review.
To sum up, we can only say again that the number of negative reviews is impressively low compared to many firms in the payment game. On the face of it that’s a huge testament to the quality of services you can expect from Paymentsense as it’s not often you find such an overwhelming majority of positive reviews about firms in this difficult industry. Unfortunately, we can not be 100% sure they are not removing some of the negative reviews from Trustpilot.
For an ISO firm that targets small business owners specifically the only concern we have about Paymentsense is the fee increases 2015 that raises questions about its fixed fees policy. Fair enough if this only applied to new customers and contracts, but we can understand customers who feel a little cheated by the move.
Then we have those long contracts which tie you in to the firm for longer than we’d like. But on the whole, Paymentsense boasts an impressive online profile of happy customers and its prices are still incredibly competitive (most firms had a rates hike this year).
Another huge selling point is the speed this company has you up and running – not to mention the customer support team, which we hear (almost) nothing but good things about. Probably more important than all of these points though, is the emphasis Paymentsense puts on small businesses, which sometimes get forgotten by the bigger names in payment services. So, we’d certainly recommend you take a look at these guys (and compare them with others, of course) if you’re a new or small business owner especially.
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