Why You Should Never Use PowerPay (and a great alternative)

So, I’m going to tell you a little story about PowerPay, First Data, and Stripe. Call it my Saga. I am publishing this in hopes that you read it and never, ever do business with PowerPay.

Let’s go back to square one.

PowerPay is a credit card processing company. They are recommended and pushed by Infusionsoft for some unknown reason – probably somebody is friends with somebody. In many ways it is too bad, because I love Infusionsoft, and I wish they had never introduced me to this friend.

To be fair, I’ve processed credit cards with PowerPay for years. It all started when I decided to get official and set up a corporation. To do that I needed a new merchant processing account. So I called my processor – PowerPay – and asked them if I could set up a second account. I explained in detail my situation. I explained I needed to keep processing on the old account until the new one was up. I explained I didn’t even have a bank account for the new business yet as it wasn’t starting until January 1st, and this was early December.

They assured me it was all fine. They then proceeded to create havoc. They created the new account. They shut down the old account. They started processing all transactions that should have been going into the old account through the new one, but they weren’t depositing them anywhere, because, as I had told them, that bank account wasn’t set up yet. So then, even though they told me it was impossible, they started depositing the new corporations funds into the old corporations bank account.

This is an accounting nightmare.

I called to explain to them that this was all wrong, and this is where it gets good. The guy on the other end yelled at me. I calmly told him exactly what had happened, and he yelled ‘You’re Wrong!’. I said ‘Really, I’m wrong? I don’t think so. I’m just telling you exactly what happened to my accounts. It is all trackable.’ and he yelled ‘You’re Wrong!’. This happened something like four times in a row (in a minute). I couldn’t really believe it.

Here I thought I was their customer. I’d been processing over $150,000 a year for years through their company. I had NEVER had a single chargeback – I’ve only had one chargeback in 15 years of business, and that was before I was with their company.

To cut a long story short, they also had been holding 10% of my funds as a ‘high risk’ business (with a history of zero chargebacks), and were supposed to be releasing it on a rolling 6 month basis, but weren’t. They were holding $14,000 of my funds when we talked. I asked how to get that – well, I had to cancel the account, and then they’d ‘review my file’ and let me know when I could have the money that was mine.

To sweeten the deal, it cost me $250 per account to cancel – so $500 down the tubes – half of it on a new account that I was never able to use because of their idiocy, and half of it on an account they cancelled when I asked them not to.

The saga continues.

I decided to move on with my life. My bank recommends First Data, and I called them to set up a merchant account. The sales process was smooth, the guy was really nice. I explained in detail my situation. I told him I process one high ticket item a month, and the rest is mostly $20 to $100 transactions. I explained I needed to be able to process the one high ticket item – he said no problem, the account was set up in two days, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Then I processed the high ticket item – and it came through! And then two days later, after I’d paid people and moved money around – they pulled it back out! Awesome – so I called their security department, who then told me they had to cancel my account because I violated their terms. I have a contract with a high amount over the high ticket I processed. WTF? Not question – account cancelled.

Now, I asked what I thought was a reasonable question – you took money from my client, put it in my account, took it back out of my account- now what? Are you going to refund the client? Or are you going to settle it back into my acccount?

‘All I can tell you sir is you should call your bank and reject the withdraws we made’ says Colleen Lewis (oh yes, at this point I started taking names.

I said, but is that going to put me into a compromised situation? I want do do this above board – how can we handle that?

I can’t even begin to get into this – I tried to ask this simple question 8 times, really wanting an answer (any answer), but all I got was:

‘All I can tell you sir is you should call your bank and reject the withdraws we made’

Yep – eight times in a row, and then she hung up on me.

Next day, she calls me (I’d left a voicemail with her the previous day). Doesn’t really remember who I am. I say ‘remember me? we talked in some length yesterday.’ I’m almost crying. I say ‘Please don’t hang up on me, I have one question I really need answered. You took money from my client. I rejected the charges like you said. Are you going to refund my client, and have me owe you money, or are you going to settle this one charge?’

This is the same question I asked the day before. She says – we are going to settle that charge. I didn’t ask why she didn’t tell me that yesterday.

So now I’ve had three accounts closed by rude idiots in two weeks.

Enter Stripe. I had set up a stripe account and run a $4,000 transaction in the middle of this as a test. It went through without a hitch, and showed up in my bank account exactly when they said it would. Since then I’ve pushed several more through – no problem.

On the down side, there is no ‘built in’ integration with Infusionsoft, so I have to do a bit of manual labor to move into this system, which is why I didn’t in the first place. And I’m paying StripeyFuse $300 / year for their integration, which isn’t perfect, but is good enough.

But hey – this is a program you can sign up for in 2 minutes, their customer support answers your questions, and it works, and no one yells at you! Yaay Stripe.

May I recommend everyone go out, migrate to stripe, and close your traditional merchant account. I don’t know what makes these companies believe that they can act the way they do, but in my opinion, it is completely unacceptable. I am the customer. They are making thousands of dollars a year off of me. They should be treating me well. When they no longer believe that, they should be put out of business.

Sorry for the rant. If you want to move to Stripe and find it confusing, post a comment and I’ll help you.

Comments ( 15 )
  • Andy says:

    Hey Justin,

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve been burnt by processors in the past too (PayPal) and am using Stripe now as well. So far so good. Interesting to see other processors take the default stance of treating you like a criminal AND stealing your money in the process. At least you were able to talk to people – PayPal really have it down pat and just won’t discuss issues at all.

    The lack of Stripe integration with Infusionsoft is a pain, and I’ve been told they don’t plan on adding anymore gateways so third party solutions are pretty much the only option right now if you’re an Infusionsoft user. Not too flash considering Infusionsoft’s high fees, but it is what it is.

    I’m not using Stripeyfuse – I do my payments from my accounting package (Xero) which does integrate with stripe, then get the data into IS after the fact. Won’t work for all business models, but does the trick for me. Would be interested to hear more about your experience with the plugin and IS/Stripe integration.

    Andy

    • Justin Handley says:

      Hey Andy – the reason I went with StripeyFuse is that I have existing recurring subscriptions. I needed them to continue billing. Really the only seamless way to do that is with a Merchant account, but StripeyFuse has what I would call a hack at best, but that does the trick. It allows you to put your existing subscriptions into StripeyFuse and have them triggered from Infusionsoft.

      For future orders, you create the order forms through StripeyFuse, and it pushes them.

      Another option I’m considering for carts is Woocommerce + Stripe + InfusedWoo – don’t know if all three will play together, but if they did, that should be a complete shopping cart solution that integrates seamlessly.

      For Xero – you know that Zapier integrates with Xero and Stripe and Infusionsoft – you could probably get the last step of manual entry out of the way with that – not 100% sure.

  • Jason Esterline says:

    Justin,

    Sorry to hear about the problems you had with PowerPay and First Data. I’ve got a couple clients looking for solutions and I will make sure I steer them clear.

    My own experience with processors isn’t good either…. Another business of mine is being charged random amounts by them and I find it impossible to get answers from them. To a total of $1600 PLUS the fees I expected.

    I’ll check out Stripe… But hate to think we have to pay for integration when good integration should be built into Infusionsoft.

  • Core says:

    I got screwed over by first data and powerpay as well. Woocommerce, Infusedwoo, Stripe and Infusionsoft do all work together. I use imember360 as the membership plugin, connects to infusionsoft, to control access. I use it on my new member site and I am really happy with it.

  • Misty Kortes says:

    Thanks for sharing Justin. I actually wish this was posted just a couple of months earlier though because my recent experience cost me $364 in penalty fees with Power Pay and I never even got to use the service!!! I will NEVER recommend this company (actually I am now on a personal mission to share my poor experience with them with any person who will listen…..at least for a while 🙂 I even shared this with them….they didn’t care in the least. “Frustrating” doesn’t even come close.

    • Justin Handley says:

      I’m on a bit of a life mission track as well. It is one thing to get terrible service, or even abused by a corporate machine. It is completely another when the people doing it are inhuman and rude to you. They need to learn something about corporate culture.

  • Danielle Greason says:

    Thanks for this post Justin, appreciate it. I don’t have any experience with PowerPay, but found you searching for Stripeyfuse reviews. I too have had a fantastic customer service experience with Stripe so far. Do you happen to have any experience with how Stripeyfuse works with Infusionsofts referral partner tracking links. I see they say they do say that they do on the Stripeyfuse site, but keen to track down any insider tips there. Thanks so much.

    • Justin Handley says:

      Hi Danielle,

      To be honest, I had to give up on StripeyFuse. I think if you aren’t currently running subscriptions it is fine, but the migration of existing subscriptions into their system is a nightmare right now. Rumor has it they are going to make it easier, but it killed it for me. I actually ended up writing my own stripe integration. Marc is a reliable guy, though, and I’m sure if they say that they work with the referral program they do. Please post back if you try it out about your experience.

  • Scott Morley says:

    Sorry to hear that you had problems with PowerPay and First Data. This is not uncommon with many large processors, and frankly it happens more often with PSP accounts such as PayPal, Stripe and Square than standard merchant account providers. In the future you may want to look consider working with a smaller processor that is more comfortable managing one off large tickets without simply shutting the account down without explanation.

    • Justin Handley says:

      Hi Scott,

      Can you substantiate this regarding Stripe? I can’t find evidence that it is common practice for them to hold funds or shut accounts down. Paypal I have had issues with, and I can’t comment on Square as I don’t know enough. I would be careful if I were in your position – you are clearly here advertising your own company, which is fine (hey, if you really are a merchant processor that is small business friendly I’m sure everyone here wants to know about you). So, I’m going to invite you to answer a couple of questions. One – do you integrate with Authorize.net? Two – and you can read my post to understand – I am a US business operating out of Puerto Rico. My average transaction is $19.95 but I process at least one $4,000 transaction per month. Volume can vary widely month to month. I have NEVER had a single chargeback. Knowing that, do you believe you could open a credit card processing account for me, or really, am I doing well sticking with Stripe which so far has worked with absolute ease?

  • Beverly Bergman says:

    Hi Justin,

    We just met at Inside Edge in Phoenix. And I am your client Mary’s copywriter. I wanted to thank you for your post and sorry to hear about your dreadful experience with PowerPay. Good to know. I hope you have this all resolved, but in case you don’t or someone else needs a recommendation, I wanted to offer one.

    After having a horrible experience with a previous processor that US Bank uses, I switched to another processor two years ago that Mary recommended and has been using for about eight years. I sure wish I had gone with them in the first place! The account is processed through First Data, via Pay It Forward Processing and our account rep, Debbie Mendoza with Cardfinity is fantastic. On a few occasions where I was unsure about something, she checked into it and got back to me right away. She is always available and insists on taking care of virtually everything personally to make it easy for her clients. I have a $10,000 per transaction limit and process tickets in the $3,500 to $6,500 range on a monthly basis with no problem. When I have occasion to process a ticket over $10,000, Debbie told me to call her and she will raise the limit temporarily. She is the best customer service rep I have ever dealt with and I have had zero problems. She’ll take care of you or anyone who contacts her. Let me know if you want her contact info.

  • Chad says:

    Did you get your reserve money back from Powerpay yet?

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