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Headquartered in Charlestown, Massachusetts, Flagship Merchant Services is a merchant account provider that was acquired by iPayment in 2012. These days, Flagship operates as an iPayment reseller, with many of its products and services provided by iPayment.
Flagship offers free account setup with no application fees, and month-to-month contracts with no early termination fees.
Flagship Processing Solutions
Flagship Merchant Services offers products and services that support retail, restaurant, eCommerce and mobile businesses.
Since its acquisition by iPayment, Flagship’s merchant accounts are primarily set up through iPayment. Rarely, however, First Data is also used.
Clover state-of-the-art POS systems and smart terminals can be customized with over 200 business apps designed to make running your business easier.
If you’re a retail merchant, you could get one “free” credit card terminal as part of your account setup. If you choose to provide your own terminals, which I recommend, Flagship will reprogram them for free as part of your account setup. Currently, the company features the Verifone VX520 which supports EMV and NFC payments.
Payment Gateway & Virtual Terminal
For eCommerce merchants, you can choose between the Authorize.Net payment gateway or their own Quiq gateway service. Setting up either one is free, but you will have to pay a gateway fee of $7.95 per month each month following setup. Both payment gateways include an online shopping cart and APIs for customized site integration.
Flagship uses iPayment’s MobilePay app and card reader. The app is available for both iOS and Android smartphones and tablets with an EMV-compliant card reader. The app and the reader themselves are free, but there is a monthly fee for the service. The MobilePay Merchant Portal is also included within the app. It’s an online system that provides inventory management, analytics reports, and other helpful features.
Value Added Services
Flagship Merchant Services also has a variety of value added services which you can take advantage of.
- Business Management Portal. Every account with Flagship includes iAccess, an online reporting tool that helps you track, monitor and review your business. This feature shows your transactions, provides you with e-statements, offers self-help tools and is a great resource center.
- Merchant Cash Advance. This feature is designed for small- and medium-sized businesses. Funding is quick and easy with advances up to $150,000 that you can use for just about any business need.
- Gift Cards. Increase your cash flow and stand out from the competition with custom gift cards. This flexible gift card solution helps to promote your brand and create loyal customers.
- Digital Loyalty Program. Rewarding your loyal customers will help drive repeat business. Whether you run a coffee shop or a salon, the digital loyalty program will let you track your customers’ buying habits so you can offer them the best deals at the right time.
There’s a “Rates & Fees” page on Flagship’s website, but don’t expect to get full disclosure of processing rate plans and account fees. Instead, you’ll get a wordy statement explaining why the company can’t disclose its numbers: because they’re highly variable.
With Flagship, you can choose from tiered or interchange-plus pricing rate plans. Generally speaking, merchants who process high volumes will be able to get lower rates.
Customer Support & Satisfaction
Flagship Merchant Services offers customer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but the quality of that support is lacking. During business hours, you’ll most likely connect to an in-house representative. If you call outside these hours, you will experience a decline in the quality of support.
The person who sold you Flagship’s service also continues to become your dedicated account manager. So, make sure to get a responsive account representative from the very start, otherwise, it could be bad for you in the long run. If this happens, you can ask to talk to his or her manager or ask to have your account transferred to another representative.
Flagship also has a company-wide customer contact reporting system. All your calls and emails are logged and reviewed, and its representatives are required to address your issue on the very same day you raise them.
Since 2015, Flagship Merchant Services has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and currently holds a B+ rating. In 2013, with the acquisition by iPayment, Flagship experienced a high volume of complaints. The company has struggled to recover since.
Several common complaints against Flagship include failing to help merchants avoid PCI non-compliance fees, difficulty canceling service, poor customer service after signing up, billing issues and funding holds.
Contract & Closing
Flagship offers month-to-month contracts with no early termination fees (ETFs). While this technically should make it much easier to close your account, the process can still be improved.
If your account is not properly closed, you can still incur monthly fees. To avoid this, follow closing instructions on your contract to a “T.” This includes returning all free equipment you received when you opened your account.
Flagship Merchant Services offers good value and lets you close your account without penalty. The freebies offered to new merchants are also a lovely touch. Some of the criticism pointed to Flagship are actually complaints to its processors. However, it is up to Flagship to offer arbitration, mediation, and prevention to its merchants and their processing issues.
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