For Immediate Release
September 22, 2015
James T. Boffetti, Senior Assistant Attorney General
Consumer Protection Bureau
Attorney General Joseph A. Foster announces that his Consumer Protection Bureau has entered into an Assurance of Discontinuance with Merchants' Choice Payment Solutions and Merchants' Choice Payment Solutions of Florida, LLC to resolve allegations that both companies engaged in unfair or deceptive business practices in violation of the Consumer Protection Act, NH RSA 358-A.
Merchants' Choice Payment Solutions is located in The Woodlands, Texas. Merchants' Choice Payment Solutions of Florida, LLC is located in Largo, Florida.
These companies initiated thousands of solicitations calls, both in-person and through telephone contacts, to New Hampshire businesses who accept credit card payments from their own customers, attempting to solicit the businesses to enroll in payment processing services, merchant account monitoring and other ancillary services. Both companies were unable to quantify the exact number of these calls made to New Hampshire businesses.
These solicitations were conducted through a pre-approved script that failed to identify the legal name of the company and failed to inform consumers that the company making the calls is located in the state of Florida. In addition, the script failed to provide a phone number for consumers to call back with any follow-up questions or concerns. Further, the script characterized the offer being made as an "upgrade" of the existing payment processing equipment, when, in fact, the solicitations were an attempt to identify new customers to enroll in new services. Finally, the script made several references to a "free" replacement of card payment processing equipment without clearly communicating to the consumers that the new equipment was conditioned on purchasing and remaining enrolled in their services.
Neither company had registered to do business with the New Hampshire Secretary of State.
Under the terms of the Assurance, both companies agree that they will not renew solicitations in New Hampshire until they are duly registered with the Secretary of State and that, prior to renewing solicitations, they must submit a revised solicitation script for the Attorney General's approval. They must pay a combined sum of $5,000 to the State in lieu of a civil penalty and must reimburse the State for the cost of the investigation.
Any person with a consumer protection complaint can file a complaint with the Attorney General's Office at http://doj.nh.gov/consumer/complaints/index.htm. Consumers can also call the Attorney General's Consumer Information Line at 1-888-468-4454.
New Hampshire Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301