UPDATED: PT business feels cheated by credit card processing company

By Robin Dudley of the Leader
Posted 4/19/16

UPDATED 12:25 p.m. April 28

The original April 20, 2016 story contained inaccurate information. Riverside Payments and National Paymentech (NPT) are wholly and legally separate businesses, …

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UPDATED: PT business feels cheated by credit card processing company


UPDATED 12:25 p.m. April 28

The original April 20, 2016 story contained inaccurate information. Riverside Payments and National Paymentech (NPT) are wholly and legally separate businesses, although they did at one time operate out of neighboring offices. Both entities operate in a manner common to the merchant services industry, according to Mark Sampath, an attorney representing Riverside Payments, which operates as a back-end merchant transaction servicer to NPT. Also, Jason Reese was incorrectly identified as being president of Riverside. Sampath notes that Reese appeared unhelpful to a customer only because he could not discuss the merchant services agreement between NPT and Bazaar Girls.

The story below has been edited to reflect the corrections.

Bazaar Girls Yarn Shop claims to have suffered fraud at the hands of a merchant-services provider, according to Numahka Swan, co-owner of the yarn shop, located at 126 Quincy St., Port Townsend.

"We don't have the money to go after them or to fight it," Swan said.

National Paymentech is a the merchant-services provider, based in Portland, Oregon.

The contract, fees and rates the company offered proved not to be true, Swan said. Instead of a fixed rate for the service, Swan said, "they just started taking money out of our account."

National Paymentech CEO Andrei Wirth told the Leader that he would need to do more research before explaining the problems encountered by Bazaar Girls Yarn Shop.

"I know we are working with them to get whatever problem it was resolved," Wirth said.

"We set up businesses with a means to accept credit cards," Wirth said. He did not tell the Leader how much National Paymentech charges businesses for that service. He could not provide any information about fees because "it's such a broad spectrum," he said.

"We customize our savings analysis and our programs for each business to make sure we're maximizing their savings," Wirth said. "We're working with this merchant [Bazaar Girls] to get this problem resolved. We can't discuss anything in detail with you."

Wirth also declined to explain how National Paymentech arranges credit-card machine equipment rentals with businesses. "It's confidential," he said. He also would not say how many people National Paymentech employs.

Sonja Hutton, the regional account manager for National Paymentech who first talked to the Bazaar Girls owners in late 2015, quit that job after about four months. "I quit working for them because I discovered that they were being dishonest," Hutton told the Leader.

"My job was to go out and talk to businesses and get a copy of their merchant statement, and then scan it and send it to a manager for them to prepare a quote." Her initial appointment with Bazaar Girls was set up by a National Paymentech marketing team, Hutton said.

Swan said Hutton came across as concerned about helping small, women-owned businesses.

Hutton said she was advised by her boss to show businesses that the "lease amount showing on the quote was ... showing the overall savings for them," she said. But the quote did not match the actual amount charged, she said. Hutton said she never was paid any commissions for the Bazaar Girls account. She now works in health insurance, and said she will not work for another merchant-services company.

"I don't think that it's just National Paymentech. I think that the entire industry is very shady ... " Hutton said.

When Swan called Hutton, Hutton told her to call Kevin McClain at National Paymentech. He didn't answer or return her calls, Swan said. She called Riverside Payments, and she was told it was no longer handling customer service for National Paymentech.

She called that firm again, and was told Wirth would get back to her; he hadn't, as of the end of March 2016, she said.

She reached Jason Reese of Riverside Payments, who she said "was very unhelpful and condescending," and transferred her to Joe Mason at National Paymentech.

"They're in the same building," Swan noted.

Mason allegedly promised Swan that the charges were wrong and promised he would take care of it. Nothing happened, Swan said.

"Basically, they drained our bank account," Swan said. "It was just a nightmare."

Swan said she's learned that a quilt shop in Oregon had the same experience.

Swan said Bazaar Girls can recover from the loss, but "it's disheartening to find out there are people out there" doing such things.

Luckily, Swan said, their "suppliers have been really nice." Bazaar Girls sells goods from 52 consignors and 23 other suppliers, she said. "Small companies, family-owned, many of them women."

Bazaar Girls has filed a complaint with the FBI against National Paymentech. Meanwhile, the yarn shop is considering starting an incentive program to encourage customers to use cash. "It's more about closing the gap between producer and consumer."


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