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Sales & Transparency 8
Payzone Review: Extensive Payment Services for UK Small Businesses
Things we like:
- Extensive payment services for every type of small business
- Choose the services you want
- Short 12-month contracts
Things we don’t like:
- No clear pricing policy
- Customer service reputation isn’t great
- No early termination fee promise is a little misleading
Payzone UK is one of the leading payment service providers for small businesses in Britain, handling more than £1.2 billion of transactions every year. The company has been helping small businesses in the UK accept card payments since 1995, making this one of the most experienced providers in the industry for smaller enterprises.
It offers a range of payments services – everything from merchant accounts and card machines to online payments and a virtual terminal for taking payments over the phone. In fact, there isn’t much Payzoen doesn’t offer in terms of payments services and features so this really could be the only company you need to deal with, no matter how complex your payment needs may be.
The question we’re going to answer in this review is how good these services are and whether Payzone is the payment provider for you.
Payzone Products & Services
As we say, there isn’t much Payzone doesn’t offer as a payment service provider and it’s easy to get lost in the company’s website menu due to all the sub-services pages. This can be a little confusing if your payment needs are relatively modest and many of these services are irrelevant to you but this is one of the key strengths of Payzone.
You can choose the payment services and features that matter to you without paying for the ones that don’t. And small businesses who have fairly demanding payment needs are going to be the ones who benefit most from this – for example, brick-and-mortar retailers who also run a fully-functional eCommerce store.
In terms of card support, you’re looking at the following:
- Visa Electron
- Contactless payments
- Apple Pay
- Android Pay
It’s not the most comprehensive list of card support but it will cover the vast majority of card payments any small business in the UK is going to process.
So, those are the cards you can expect to use with Payzone and here are the features that let you accept different types of payments.
To accept card payments of any kind you’re going to need a merchant account. Payzone takes care of this for you by setting you up with one of its partner acquiring banks and there are a number of benefits of going through Payzone:
- It’s generally cheaper: Major payment providers tend to get better rates as they process high volumes of transactions – and these rates are passed on to you.
- You’re more likely to be accepted: Acquiring banks are notoriously fussy about giving merchant accounts to small businesses but your chances are much higher by going through a company like Payzone.
- Merchant cash advance: Payzone customers can apply for a merchant cash advance from £5,000 to £500,000, which could provide essential funds to help your business grow.
Payzone also has dedicated services for companies looking to accept card payments for the first time and another for those looking to switch from a different provider. The company says it’s “free and simple” to find out if you could save money by switching – all you need to do is pick up the phone and speak to one of its sales reps for a quote.
Technically, it is both free and simple but getting an accurate quote from Payzone’s sales reps is another story and we’ll talk about this in more detail later in the review.
Payzone offers three different types of card machines for different business types and they all support contactless payments, which are now the most popular way for British shoppers to pay in-store.
Here are your options:
- Countertop card terminals: Designed for over-the-counter and till payments, these card readers are connected via phone/broadband, which means you can only use them at fixed locations. The upside is they generally take payments and print receipts faster than any other type of card reader.
- Portable payment machines: More suitable for restaurants, pubs and cafes that need to accept payments at the till and customers’ tables. Bluetooth connectivity should give you enough mobility to accept payments within 50m from your base unit but you sacrifice a bit of speed and also need to keep the battery charged.
- Mobile card readers: The smallest and most mobile of all card machines, these allow you to take payments anywhere in the UK with a mobile network connection – ideal for businesses with no fixed premises or professionals visiting customers on-site or at home.
The best card reader for you depends entirely on where you need to accept payments. More mobility gives you the freedom to accept payments in more locations but they come with increasing speed and battery restrictions.
You may even need a mix of different card reader types.
Generally speaking, Payzone’s countertop and portable card machines are about as good as they get but if you’re only in the market for a single mobile card reader and you process a relatively low number of card payments per month, you might want to take a look at our iZettle and Square reviews.
If you need to accept payments online, Payzone has you covered with its payment gateway that integrates seamlessly with 52 major shopping carts used by online retailers in the UK. The gateway is highly secure and fully customisable, allowing you to match the design of your website.
For online retailers in the UK, it’s difficult to find a more flexible payment gateway.
Aside from the Payzone’s gateway that allows customers to pay on your website, you can also eInvoicing which allows you to send email invoices directly to your clients. Alternatively, you can use Pay by link, which sends an email link to your customers and this will direct them to an automated payment page.
Payzone also provides a virtual terminal, allowing you to accept payments from customers over the phone. This can also be useful if there’s a technical issue with your card reader or a problem with one of your customer’s cards and you want to try and take a payment by typing in their card details.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to say what you’ll end up paying if you choose Payzone as your payment service provider. The company doesn’t have fixed fees and the amount you’ll pay per card transaction will vary on the type of payment you’re processing (eg: chip-and-pin vs keyed-in) and any number of specifics about your business: how long you’ve been trading; your annual turnover; the industry you’re in, etc.
In Payzone’s defence, a lot of this comes down to the fact it provides merchant accounts on behalf of acquiring banks. On the plus side, this gets you cheaper rates and a higher chance of being approved by banks that would otherwise reject smaller businesses. The downside is the rates charged by each of these acquiring banks varies and Payzone doesn’t know which of them are going to reject or approve you.
Payzone Contracts & Early Termination Fees
Unlike most payment service providers offering the full suite of services, Payzone works on a simple 12-month contract system. This is a lot better than most companies of this kind but keep in mind that you’ll need to give Payzone two months notice to cancel your contract or it will be automatically renewed for another 12 months.
We don’t like this and we know Payzone customers who get caught out by it certainly don’t like it. But it is there in the small print and this is by no means the worst behaviour we see from payment service providers – not that this is justification.
Another gripe with Payzone on the contract front is the way it words its no cancellation fee policy. While it’s true there’s no termination fee, you will have to pay out the remainder of your contract and this isn’t made particularly clear on the website or anywhere else, aside from the small print.
Takeaway: Read the small print.
Payzone Sales & Transparency
All in all, Payzone is relatively transparent and its sales team aren’t anywhere near as aggressive as many of its competitors. However, there are a few areas we’ve already mentioned where certain offers – like the no termination fees – could be stated more clearly. We also hear more complaints that we would like from customers who say promises made by the sales reps don’t always materialise in the services they receive.
It would be nice to see Payzone more closely with its reps to ensure customers know what they can expect.
All this aside, there are relatively few reports from customers getting stung by hidden fees, which is by far the most common complaint made against payment service companies. Payzone is by no means the worst when it comes to sales and transparency but there’s still room for improvement.
Payzone Customer Service & Technical Support
Rating Payzone’s customer service and technical support is a tricky one. For the most part, customer reviews about individual members of the support team are largely positive. Support members are regularly mentioned by name and thanked by customers but the overall customer service and support system Payzone has in place isn’t responsive enough.
We hear fairly regular complaints about the time it takes to get a response from support members and this suggests Payzone either needs more support members or a better software solution for dealing with customer issues.
When customers actually get to speak to an advisor, they rarely have a bad thing to say about the service they receive. Payzone just needs to make it easier for customers to get access to this support.
Payzone Reviews & Reputation
Payzone reviews are mostly positive and the vast majority of negative reviews revolve around a few negative points we’ve already covered:
- Services not living up to promises made by sales reps
- Difficulty in getting customer service (although the standard is highly rated when customers do get support)
- Contract cancellation and fees catch out some customers
Essentially, when Payzone works it works incredibly well and customers are generally very happy with the services they receive. Unfortunately, reviews tend to nosedive a little when customers need technical support – eg: a card reader stops working. While the standard of customers support is highly regarded amongst most reviews, the time it takes to get support is sometimes longer than busy merchants can afford to wait.
This is a common problem in the payments industry and Payzone is by no means the worst offender but it could significantly outperform many of its competitors with a few relatively simple improvements in sales and customer service.
Payzone Verdict: 4/5
With its extensive payment services, short 12-month contracts and (almost) no hidden fees, Payzone is one of the best options for small businesses with relatively demanding payment needs. We would still like to see it improve in some vital areas to ensure its customers avoid any nasty surprises but the standard of service in this industry is painfully low and Payzone is comfortably better than average.
If you’re processing a high value of card payments per month, then you might get better prices by dealing directly with acquiring banks but this doesn’t guarantee better service. If you’re at the opposite end of the scale and you’re processing a low volume of card payments per month, you might be better off dealing with a mobile payment specialist, as they can work out cheaper (at low volumes) and the standard of service is about the best you’ll find in this industry.
Otherwise, Payzone is up there with the best payment service providers for small businesses, even if it still has a few areas to improve upon.