Credit Card Processors… you’re just the worst. Can I get little advice here?

Edit: sorry for long post. TLDR: I'm getting screwed by downgrade fees and need advice on how to get a better deal on cc processing.

Here's my processor history:

-Bank of america – was paying way too much. Switched to…

-Some sleazy sounding third party with a good salesmen – their rates actually seemed to be ok but they went under after about a year.

-Decided to do some research and find a good processor with good reviews… went with Mercury. Couldn't tell if if was actually any cheaper. Then they got bought out by Vantiv.

At some point around the time Vantiv took over my fees shot WAY up. In 2016 I paid 75% more than I did in 2016 with maybe a 15% gain in sales volume. So it wasn't just because I processed more cards.

Unfortunately my bookkeeper just paid all the bills without question and didn't really raise any alarms, my fault though, I know.

When I shopped around, I got a quote from BoA who explained that all of my transactions were being downgraded because I was using the old swipers. Now, I have tried to upgrade my equipment with them and asked to make sure it was okay that I was using these swipers LITERALLY dozens of times. I was concerned because I thought I needed a pin pad and certainly knew I needed a chip reader for some time now.

They would drop the ball EVERY single time I tried to get new equipment. I tried on and off to upgrade for probably about a year.

All the while they didn't tell me I was being downgraded and paying out the nose. This cost me in the order of $15-22k in 2016. So why would they tell me i guess. My loss is their gain.

So my pet theory is that Mercury was not downgrading my transactions for the swiper but Vantiv decided to downgrade them when they bought my account from Mercury. They neglected to tell me this, possibly on purpose. Then (maybe even intentionally) drug their feet when I tried to upgrade my equipment knowing they would lose money if I did so.

My effective rate is currently looking like it's somewhere in the 5-6% range and I am STILL trying to upgrade my equipment.

Any good advice on how to keep these people honest when their billing is indecipherable? I've read some things on how their fees work… it's absolutely nonsensical, intentionally I'm sure.

Should I get my lawyer involved in this? Or am I just being a poor sucker? My hunch is that I wont be able to show they did anything wrong but it sure would be nice to recoup some of these downgrade fees.

Only advice I can give all of you is don't trust any credit card processor AT ALL. You can't afford to not be on top of this one. in my experience they will jack up your fees as soon as you're not paying attention and tell you anything you need to hear to keep you in the dark.

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