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Local Businesses Upset with Credit Card Service Provider

After signing contracts to have a company handle their credit card transactions, several local businesses say they had unauthorized money taken out of their accounts and were misled about their agreement.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Small business owners like Chandra Gordon of Identity Salon know that dealing with credit card payments can be an expensive and hassle-filled problem.

"We get charged when people use credit cards," Gordon said. "You have monthly fees, you have the percentage they take off."

So when a representative from a company called Trans Tech Merchant Services came into Gordon's salon offering big savings on credit card transactions, she took him up on his offer. It was a decision she would soon regret.

"When I got my bank statement, I'd only used it for a week and they charged me an unbelieveable amount of money," Gordon said.

Gordon quickly cancelled her arrangement with Trans Tech within the 15 day window her contract allowed. But she was still responsible for her credit card terminal that was leased from the company. The company says she owes them more than $4,000 to be paid over five years.

"Terminal part, that's a non-cancellable lease. That's what they lied about. So now I'm paying $73 per month for a terminal lease I'm not using," she said.

Gordon wasn't going to give up her fight, however. She filed an official report with the St. Joseph Police Department and went out to see who else might have been solicited by Trans Tech.

"I drove around to all the small businesses and was asking them who their merchant company was through. When I would find out they were with the same people I had, they had all the same complaints I had," Gordon said.

One business Gordon found was AJ's Treasurers. They had also signed up with Trans Tech to handle their credit card charges.

"They were taking money out of our account that was unexplained," said Paul Roberts, co-owner of the store. "When confronted by it, they just blew us off."

Roberts has since done research on Trans Tech, finding hundreds of complaints against the company filed with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB says Trans Tech also uses the name Certified Payment Processing. The consumer watchdog agency gives them an "F" rating.

For Gordon at the hair salon, it's a learning experience and she has advice for other small business owners.

A local Trans Tech representative tells us he only sells the credit card plans to businesses and doesn't service the accounts.

He said for customers with questions, they're directed to call Trans Tech headquarters in Texas.

Our attempts to talk to someone at the Trans Tech corporate office were unsuccessful.

For Gordon, it's been a learning experience. She has advice for other small business owners.

"Don't trust what they say," she said. "I just urge everyone to research before you sign anything. Go online and check the company."
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