Broken promises always infuriate the Rogue desk. Thus, we present Aloha-based Merchant Processing Inc., which last April contacted local acupuncturist Steve Snyder with a deal to process his clients' credit-card payments.
Snyder already had a three-year contract with another processing company. But he agreed to switch after sales rep Cynthia Howe assured him—twice—that MPI's handling of the contract cancellation included the fee for breaking that contract.
They sealed the deal via fax, and Howe typed in a note on the cover sheet, "We will take care of the Cancellation of your current processor." Then Snyder, like many of us, signed his name without reading the fine print on the one-page contract. "Like an idiot," he says, "I thought this woman had my interests at heart."
He was wrong. Come July, Snyder's bank statement showed the $500 contract-cancellation fee paid to the company he'd dropped. When he called MPI, Howe would no longer speak to him, forcing him to deal with customer-service representatives.
Snyder pressed the issue without success.
In September, Snyder says, MPI's attorneys told him there was "no way in H-E-double hockey sticks" they'd pay. A month later, they faxed him the contract, with print enlarged, one part reading: "Merchant further acknowledges that no other agreement or stipulations have been made either verbal or otherwise and that the Merchant Processing Agreement and this Addendum represent the entire agreement."
In other words, the company didn't back what Howe had promised. MPI officials say that their employees are trained not to make promises unless authorized in advance and that the company does not consider other promises binding.
But Erin May, public-relations manager with the Better Business Bureau chapter covering Oregon, says, "It's not an ethical business practice."
Snyder has filed a complaint with the business watchdog group. He's not alone. The BBB has gotten 100 complaints about MPI in the past three years. May admits it's difficult to gauge an appropriate amount of grumbling about a business, but calls that number "a large amount" for any company.