Why BBVA Compass Bank Preys on Customers

posted Jun 16, 2010, 8:34 AM by Edward Dziuk   [ updated Jun 18, 2010, 9:44 AM ]

In the interest of fair disclosure, a Compass bank manager in Texas contacted us after we posted the following article and tweeted its title and a link to the Compass Bank's Twitter account. The Compass Bank manager sent an email June 17 to say the Merchant Services account was closed and the early termination fees had been waived. The article has not been removed from our web site in the interest of providing an example for other customers in getting fair treatment from the banking industry in general, and because negotiations in Congress in connection with Consumer Protection in the financial services industry are ongoing.

My Company is a small business that retails products to end consumers at farmers markets and fairs. Last December I realized that my Company was losing sales because we were not accepting credit cards. I’d never processed credit cards as a merchant and not knowing better, I turned to my banker for help.

My BBVA Compass banker was more than happy to help me setup an account to accept credit card payments. He gave me a 4 page account agreement, and showed me where to sign. I took about 5 minutes. He didn’t mention that there would be large cancellation fees if I closed the account before 3 years. This information was buried in the middle of 3 inches of 8 point legalese. I soon learned that Compass bank does this because it can’t keep accounts by providing value.

BBVA Compass bank provided me with transaction forms and an imprint machine that may have cost it $5, certainly no more.

When I used the Compass system for the first time, I realized that it was causing me to lose even more sales because it took about 10 minutes to get all of the information needed to process a transaction. Worse yet, if the card was fraudulent or overdrawn, I bore the loss not Compass bank.

I went back to my banker and shared my experience with him. His solution was to offer me a wireless system that cost more than $800. That is a lot of money to a small company, so I started researching my alternatives.

What I learned was that the going market rate for these devices is closer to $200. Compass bank had no incentive to match this price because it had already entrapped me in a 3 year contract for an account that I couldn’t use.

My BBVA Compass banker didn’t understand my business, and he didn’t understand or care about the cost of using the system that he provided. He expected me to pay a premium price for a product that was not only inferior, it was worse than nothing.

Instead of providing professional service and value to its customers, BBVA Compass bank has adopted a business model based on treating its customers like prey. I hope that other small businesses can profit from my experience by avoiding a banking relationship with BBVA Compass bank.